Oct 28, 2016
To paraphrase an old song, the editorial collective at The Economist magazine doesn’t know much about geography – but they are enthusiastic promoters of military escalation in Syria. The magazine recently asserted that “The wisest strategy for retaking Mosul is to leave [ISIS] an exit, eastward to Syria, to avoid a situation with Ramadi.”
Washington has consistently arranged convenient escape routes for ISIS fighters in both Syria and Iraq, and coverage of the ongoing battle to retake Mosul indicates that the policy remains in place. However, the escape route into Syria is westward: Heading east from Mosul would lead to the Iranian city of Erbil. The same interests promoting the overthrow of Syria’s government have Iran in their sights as well, but promoting an ISIS invasion of Iran at this point would probably be regarded by them as premature.
Oct 28, 2016
Liberals need to come to terms with the fact that “sometimes Trump is right,” declares CounterPunch, a left-leaning investigative journal. The essay provides a brief list of subjects where, the author believes, Trump is reasonable, such as his opposition to NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and his “stated desire to work with Russia rather than antagonize the Kremlin in the Strangelovian nightmare that is Hillary’s vision of a foreign policy.”
The most unsettling truth spoken by Trump, the article continues, is his “assertion that the election is rigged, and that the outcome is not something to automatically accept as valid… And whether it’s Trump that says it, or a talking unicorn that shoots rainbows from its eyes, the fact remains. Trump being a reprehensible degenerate real estate vulture does nothing to change the fact that US elections are undeniably manipulated,” the essay continues. The impeccably liberal Brennan Center has issued a report entitled “America’s Voting Machines at Risk” documenting that the majority of machines used at polling places today are old and vulnerable to critical malfunctions – or deliberate sabotage.
Oct 28, 2016
Fox News legal affairs analyst and retired Judge Andrew Napolitano reports that "There are probably 100 FBI agents who worked on the investigation of Mrs. Clinton-- hardworking men and women in field who gathered evidence and interviewed witnesses--...and are furious at the decision not to prosecute her.” One source of their frustration has been made clear through the recent disclosure that the wife of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who was in charge of the Clinton investigation prior to his promotion, received more than a half-million dollars in cash and in-kind political contributions during her senate campaign from Virginia Governor Terri McAuliffe, a long-time Clinton friend and ally.
The disgruntled FBI field agents, Judge Napolitano told Fox News host Megyn Kelly, “are the ones leaking information to undermine the decision not to prosecute, to demonstrate that it was not professionally made, that it was made for political reasons.”
Oct 28, 2016
Portland resident Teressa Raiford has been protesting police corruption for years, and the accumulated scandals involving the Portland Police Bureau and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office have given her abundant cause for complaint. In February, an internal audit of the sheriff’s department documented abusive treatment of black inmates in the county jail system. Former Sheriff Dan Staton was driven out of office amid abundant sexual harassment claims and misallocation of official funds – and was replaced by former Portland Police Chief Mike Reese, whose tenure was also marked with high-profile incidents of abuse of mentally ill residents.
Rather than merely complaining, Raiford has launched a write-in campaign against Reese, who would otherwise run unopposed.
Oct 28, 2016
Taxpayers residing in Santa Ana, California will be forced to underwrite a $100,000 settlement to a lawsuit arising from a May 27, 2015 police raid on Sky High Holistic, a medical marijuana dispensary. Behaving like any other gang of armed robbers, the cops forced customers to prone themselves out on the floor, then systematically disabled security cameras – all except one, which recorded the invaders stealing and eating marijuana-infused snacks while mocking a terrified handicapped woman.
The lawsuit alleged that the raid grew out of what could be called a municipal protection racket. Mayor Miguel Pulido and his associates created a ballot measure in November 2014, then solicited payments from various dispensaries “with the promise of winning a spot in an eventual marijuana permit lottery,” observes the Los Angeles Times. This gave the officials financial ties to the clinics that competed with Sky High Holistic.
Oct 28, 2016
The purported charity operated by Bill Clinton was actually “Bill Clinton Inc.,” according to former aide Doug Band, as documented in a memo recently published by WikiLeaks. Tens of millions of dollars channeled through the Clinton Foundation were used to enrich the family in an arrangement frequently described by Republican candidate Donald Trump as a “Slush fund.”
“We … have solicited and obtained, as appropriate, in-kind services for the president and his family – for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like,” Brand admitted in the document.
The Band memo “detailed a circle of enrichment in which he raised money for the Clinton Foundation from top-tier corporations such as Dow Chemical and Coca-Cola that were clients of his firm, Teneo, while pressing many of the same donors to provide personal income to the former president,” observes the Washington Post.
Oct 28, 2016
Citing official sources, Reuters reports that Washington “has begun using a Tunisian air base to conduct surveillance drone operations inside Libya” in what is described as an expansion of a campaign against Islamic State forces in Northern Africa. ISIS, it should be recalled, is Washington’s de facto ally in Syria.
Unarmed Air Force Reaper drones have reportedly been flying out of Tunisia for several months in support of troops fighting on behalf of the UN-installed Libyan government.
Colonel Mark Cheadle, spokesman for US Africa Command, has acknowledged that “There are US service members working with Tunisian security forces for counter terrorism and they are sharing intelligence from various sources, to include aerial platforms.”
Oct 28, 2016
Addressing a rally for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Little Haiti, Florida, former Haitian senate president Bernard Sansaricq accused Bill Clinton of offering him a bribe to support the 1994 UN-mandated US invasion that re-instated Marxist President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been deposed in a military coup.
According to Sansaricq, his urgent messages prompted a visit from an anonymous messenger who encouraged him to support the invasion, promising that afterwards he would be “the richest man in Haiti.”
The former Haitian politician also demanded a full audit of donations raised by the Clinton Foundation for the supposed purpose of humanitarian aid following the Haitian earthquake.
“No even two percent of that money went back to Haiti,” Sansaricq asserted.
Oct 28, 2016
Two Portland-area residents have received a steady stream of abuse from others living in that conspicuously progressive city for driving a car with a vanity license plate that reads “TRUMP.” The car’s owner reports being the recipient of “vulgar language, mean looks, flipping [me] off, that kind of thing.”
All of this began months ago, coinciding with Donald Trump’s emergence as the Republican presidential front-runner, and then as the party’s nominee. This is, in fact, a coincidence, because the license plate is not a political statement: The car’s owner is Brian Trump.
“I thought it would be cool to have my name on there, proud of the name,” Mr. Trump told a local NBC affiliate. The plates are actually nine years old. His wife has her own version of the plates, which has led to three confrontations in which she was intimidated by male strangers who took offense.
Nonetheless, Trump insists, “I’m sticking with it. I’m not going to let someone bully me out of my plate.” He will make one small concession by displaying a custom-made bumper sticker that explains, “It’s my last name and I’ve got better hair.”
Oct 28, 2016
Long-time State Department functionary Thomas Pickering, who is now chief foreign policy advisor to Hillary Clinton, “was a paid director for the Russian company Trubnaya Metallurgicheskaya Kompaniya [TMK] from June 30, 2009 to June 26, 2012,” reports Christine Brim of The Federalist. “TMK is majority-owned by Russian billionaire oligarch Dmitry Pumpyansky, a close Putin ally,” she elaborates. TMK has extensive business dealings in Iran and Syria, including sales of oil and gas pipelines.
Those sales are prohibited under US laws – a fact that might not have mattered to Moscow, but that does pose legal complications to Pickering, who was on the company’s board at the time.
Oct 28, 2016
Talk radio host Dennis Prager and a group of like-minded commentators and scholars have produced a series of 16 videos under the name “Prager University.” The brief presentations examine a variety of controversial subjects, from climate change to the nature of Islam.
Fifteen of the videos, however, are “restricted” on YouTube, which means that the clips will not be visible to any potential viewer that has activated a filtering feature. In addition to explicitly violent or sexual content, YouTube’s algorithms will filter videos that are subjected to “community flagging” – which can happen as a result of orchestrated campaigns to suppress politically incorrect content. Among the banned videos by Prager University were presentations dealing with race issues, abortion, Islam, and the plague of political correctness itself.
“YouTube is free to set its own standards, but the company is undercutting its claim to be a platform for `free expression,’” acknowledged a Wall Street Journal editorial on the matter
Oct 28, 2016
A mass campaign mailing by the Nevada Democratic Party that targets Republican Congressman Cresent Hardy may lead to a change of venue for Cliven Bundy and other defendants awaiting trial on federal conspiracy charges. The fliers depict a booking photo of Bundy framed by prison bars and surrounded by text declaring that “This man’s armed standoff led to the deaths of two Las Vegas Police Officers and he’s supported by Congressman Hardy.”
The impression left by the mailing – which went to an estimated 700,000 Nevada residents – is that police officers were killed during the April 2014 standoff at Bunkerville, when Bundy and his supporters compelled the BLM to return cattle they had unlawfully confiscated from the family. Several weeks later, former police informants Jared and Amanda Miller, who had briefly been present at Bunkerville but were compelled to leave, murdered two police officers in Las Vegas while they were eating lunch.
At the time of the murders, Sheriff Douglas Gillespie of Clark County, who was involved in the Bunkerville confrontation, explicitly said that there was no connection between Bundy’s protests and the criminal actions of the Millers.
Oct 28, 2016
Tony Podesta, brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, “is not only a powerful Democratic Party lobbyist, but a registered foreign agent receiving a hefty monthly paycheck from the nefarious government of Saudi Arabia,” reports The Free Thought Project. John and Tony Podesta created the Podesta Group in 1988, and it has become one of the major Washington lobbyist firms. A March 2016 filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act describes Tony Podesta as an agent of the Saudi government through the Center for Studies and Media Affairs at the Saudi Royal Court, and he acts as an officer of the Saudi Arabia account.
The Podesta Group is paid $140,000 a month by Riyadh for its services.
Oct 28, 2016
In a special video message for his supporters in Jerusalem, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said that his administration would “make America and Israel safe again” and promised he would “stand side-by-side with the Jewish people.”
“Together we will stand up to enemies like Iran bent on destroying Israel and her people,” Trump declared in the taped message. CNN reports that the crowd of roughly 200 people, some wearing Trump’s familiar “Make America Great Again” golf caps, “cheered and chanted `Trump! Trump’ and `Lock her up!’”
Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence, who also appeared in the video-recorded presentation, referred to Jerusalem as “the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish people and the Jewish state” and described Israel as “our strongest ally in the region” and “our most cherished ally in the world.”
“Donald Trump and I stand with Israel because Israel’s fight is our fight,” Pence maintained. “Israel’s cause is our cause. And Israel’s fate is our fate.”
Neither Trump nor Pence explained how those assurances can be reconciled with Trump’s “America First” campaign theme.
Oct 28, 2016
Donald Trump is running “the worst campaign I have ever seen in my professional life” – and yet he remains competitive against an exceptionally weak Democratic nominee, pollster Frank Luntz told Katie Couric of Yahoo Global News. Luntz lamented what he saw as an historic opportunity that was squandered by a candidate who tapped into potent mainstream concerns – but who doesn’t have the discipline to focus on anything other than the needs of his own ego.
“Every day there’s another batch of [damaging Clinton campaign emails] and every day we learn more about what she has done,” observes Luntz. “No one knows about it because [Trump] speaks so loudly that all the cameras are on him, removing the oxygen in the room that should also be about her.”
In one focus group, Luntz shared news reports of email disclosures about Clinton’s conduct, “and it changed an entire room of undecided voters” – that is, they became opponents of Hillary. After he showed the group a sizzle reel of Trump’s attacks on Clinton regarding the emails, however, “They all went back to being undecided…. Not only did he not win them over, he actually turned them off because his language is wrong, his presentation is wrong.”
Oct 28, 2016
NATO member states, including the US, Britain, Canada, and Germany, are planning what has been described as the “biggest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the Cold War,” according to a Reuters report.
On October 26, the British government said it will dispatch fighter jets to Romania early next year, and the United States promised to send troops, tanks and artillery to Poland. Germany, Canada and other NATO allies also offered pledges of military personnel and equipment during a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Secretary-General, described the creation of a new, 4,000-man NATO task force in the Baltics and Eastern Europe a “measured response” to what the alliance believes to be 330,000 Russian troops stationed on Russia's western flank near Moscow.
Coincident with the NATO meeting, two cruise missile-equipped Russian warships entered the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Denmark. According to the Spanish foreign ministry, Moscow withdrew a request to refuel three warships in Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta after NATO allies said they could be used to target civilians in Syria.
The Russian warships belong to an eight-ship carrier battle group that includes Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov. NATO sources report that the Russian armada is expected to join around 10 other Russian vessels already off the Syrian coast.
Oct 28, 2016
Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has warned that imposing a US-enforced no-fly zone over Syria, a policy supported by Democratic contender Hillary Clinton, would lead to a military engagement with Russia and precipitate World War III. While sharing those concerns, veteran foreign affairs commentator Juan Cole suggests that the situation is not quite as dire as some insist – assuming, of course, that the US government has not surrendered to hubris.
“Superpowers don’t fight one another in the nuclear age,” Cole asserts. “If Russia brandishes enough threats and weaponry, it will simply dissuade Clinton from her proposed no-fly zone. Ike Eisenhower backed down over Hungary in 1956, and Johnson did nothing about the crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968. Russia is claiming Syria as a sphere of influence, and while the US is contesting that claim, it is unlikely to go mano-a-mano with Moscow over it.” A Clinton administration might fight a proxy war by giving Islamist radicals shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles, as the Reagan administration did in Afghanistan three decades ago, which does present the possibility of dangerous escalation.
Cole cites a recent Kremlin press release expressing hope that “pragmatism will prevail in US foreign policy after the presidential election,” which it anticipates that Clinton will win.
Oct 28, 2016
A key political adviser to Hillary Clinton expressed concerns that her husband Bill might be compared to another prominent figure of that name associated with predatory sexual behavior – the disgraced comedian and television star Bill Cosby, now facing trial over accumulated, decades-old allegations of sexual assault.
In an email to campaign chair John Podesta last January, political adviser Ron Klain listed a number of “WJC Issues,” or potential problems involving William Jefferson Clinton. One of them was summarized in the question “How is what Bill Clinton did different from what Bill Cosby did?”
Budding off from that topic are a number of related questions Hillary was expected to face, such as: “You said every woman should be believed. Why not the women who accused him?” and “Will you apologize to the women who were wrongly smeared by your husband and his allies?”
The Trump campaign has tried to raise those issues, only to find them neutralized by their candidate’s own personal history, which includes nearly identical behavior. Trump’s liabilities in this respect probably explain why, early in the primary season, his name was prominently listed in internal Clinton campaign documents as among the beatable “pied piper” candidates they would prefer to see as the Republican nominee.
Oct 27, 2016
A comprehensive national survey of the electorate conducted by the PRRI polling firm found an population increasingly pessimistic about the status and direction of the country, deeply divided along partisan lines regarding the question of whether the culture has changed for the better or worse since the 1950s, and surprisingly receptive to the idea that the country is in need of authoritarian-style political leadership.
According to the new report, “Americans are closely divided over the question of authoritarian leadership. Forty-six percent of Americans agree with the statement, `Because things have gotten so far off track in this country, we need a leader who is willing to break some rules if that’s what it takes to set things right,’ compared to 52% who disagree.”
A solid majority of Republicans – 55% -- agree with that proposition, while a slightly larger majority of Democrats – 57% -- disagree.
The study also found that the social networks created by Americans “are strongly segregated by party loyalties.” Three-quarters of black Americans and a majority of Hispanics report not having a single family member or close friend who supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, as compared to 24% of white Americans offering the same response. A little less than half – 46% -- of white working-class Americans told the survey that they didn’t have a relative or close friend who supports Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Oct 27, 2016
During the mid-1980s, as the Reagan administration and Congress dramatically escalated the federal war on drugs, a ubiquitous public service announcement from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America showed a droll, sarcastic man who used a frying man to demonstrate the effect of narcotics on the human brain.
“Is there anyone out there who still isn’t clear about what doing drugs does?” the man asked the camera. “OK, last time,” he sighs, wearily picking up an egg. “This is your brain,” he explains, cracking it into an oil-covered frying pan. “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”
The actor hired for that TV ad, John Roselius, is now 72 years old – and describes himself as “one hundred percent” in favor of decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Pot is “healthier than alcohol,” Roselius told the Colorado-based publication The Rooster. “And the violence is 99 percent down from alcohol.”
As a young Marine stationed in San Francisco during the Vietnam War, the future anti-drug spokesman would frequently smoke marijuana with his comrades. He did the advertisement out of pure economic desperation, the producers paid him $360 for an afternoon’s work, and never paid him residuals for the ad, despite the fact that it ran for nearly a decade and a half.
Oct 27, 2016
Former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, like millions of others who lived under that regime, suffered torture at the hands of the KGB. Ten years ago, as the Bush administration became the first in U.S. history openly to endorse the practice of torture as an interrogation technique at Guantanamo Bay and in CIA-run black sites, Bukovsky warned that the practice would corrupt, degrade, and actually victimize those who inflict it, as well as those on the receiving end.
“Our rich experience in Russia has shown that many [CIA and military personnel who commit torture] will become alcoholics or drug addicts, violent criminals or, at the very least, despotic and abusive fathers and mothers,” wrote Bukovsky in a Washington Post op-ed column.
Jason Leopold of Vice News describes how Bukovsky’s grim prediction has been vindicated. Citing a 77-page study compiled by the Army Institute of Public Health, Leopold reports that more than one-third of the 1,422 troops surveyed “developed behavioral conditions and showed signs of post-traumatic stress that were directly associated with their Guantanamo deployments.” Twenty percent are considered a high behavioral health risk – meaning that they suffer from anxiety, severe depression, or suicidal impulses that require “intensive medication management and/or therapy.”
Within that group, forty-four percent have engaged in “potentially hazardous alcohol use.” Among Navy Gitmo veterans specifically, forty-four percent said their deployment was “harming my relationship with my spouse [or] significant other.” Constant exposure to the degrading conditions of Gitmo inmates, and participation in a regimen that included torture, had a measurable psychological impact akin to the most severe combat deployments in Iraq.
Oct 27, 2016
The Marxist government of Venezuela has suspended a constitutionally legitimate referendum on recalling President Nicolas Maduro, which means that it is now, in the strictest sense, a dictatorship.
“Even for battle-hardened Venezuelans, it all came as a shock,” observed an on-site report by the Washington Post. “No one, not even the military, seemed to have been expecting this.”
While the rank-and-file might have been caught by surprise, the top leadership quickly adapted to the new order. Vladimir Padrino, head of the armed forces and defense minister to Maduro, declared his “unconditional loyalty” to the president on October 25 – thereby formally abrogating his oath to the constitution.
A few days after the country’s court system – which is packed with hand-picked Maduro loyalists – shut down the referendum, opponents of the regime rallied in the streets of Caracas. Henrique Capriles, a leader of the opposition party, described the protest as a mobilization “in defense of our constitutional rights and against the coup.
A recent public opinion survey found that more than three-quarters of the population disapprove of Maduro, who has presided over an economic catastrophe with few precedents in Latin American history.
Oct 27, 2016
Where Donald Trump has displayed little knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, Hillary Clinton has exhibited contempt for the document, contends Reason magazine commentator Jacob Sullum.
During the final pre-election debate, “Clinton promised her Supreme Court nominees `will stand up and say no’ to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,” Sullum recalls. “As usual when she discusses the case, Clinton neglected to mention that it involved suppression of a movie that made her look bad.”
As a Senator, cabinet secretary, and private activist, Clinton has frequently manifest what Sullum calls an “eagerness to suppress speech that offends her.” In addition, she “is hostile to the Second Amendment as well as the First,” promising new impediments to the exercise of the individual right to armed self-defense.
She likewise favors new restrictions on encryption – which invades the liberties guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment – and her promotion of undeclared wars, from Kosovo to Libya, “shows she has little respect for the Constitution’s limits on executive power, just as her belief in a federal government that has a solution for every problem shows she has no regard for the principle that Congress may not exercise powers the Constitution does not grant,” Sullum concludes.
Oct 27, 2016
Three weeks after Indiana State Police raided the offices of the state’s largest voter registration operation, it remains unclear whether an estimated 45,000 registered voters – most of them black – will be permitted to cast ballots on November 8. Indiana’s Republican Governor Mike Pence, of course, is Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate.
The Intercept reports that roughly one dozen police officers entered the office of the Indiana Voter Registration Project (IVRP), brandished a warrant, and seized computers, personal cellphones of employees, and documents relating to the group’s state-wide operations. One volunteer was told she was not allowed to film the raid, and officers tried to prevent workers from contacting legal counsel.
In mid-September, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a Republican, claimed that at least 10 voter registration applications submitted by the IVRP had been forged. In a letter to the state’s 92 county elections administrators, Lawson declared that “nefarious actors are operating here in Indiana” and instructed them to “contact the Indiana State Police Special Investigations.”
The IVRP points out that by the time Lawson issued that directive, the group had submitted tens of thousands of incontestably valid registrations. The State Police has indicated that what it describes as a “complex” and “nuanced” investigation will not be completed until after the election. State Police Information Officer Bill Bursten told the left-leaning media outlet ThinkProgress that “It will be up to each prosecutor to review the completed investigation and take whatever action they … deem appropriate.”
At present it is unclear whether the people registered by the IVRP will be allowed to participate.
Oct 27, 2016
An LBGT pressure group called Equality Utah has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Utah State Board of Education, its superintendent, and three school districts of instituting policies that violate Title IX by discouraging a “supportive” environment for young people who identify themselves as gay or transgendered.
The group claims that this lawsuit is the first in the country “to challenge anti-gay school policies.” School personnel in Utah are not allowed to discuss homosexuality in a positive light, and restrictions are placed on the creation of LGBT student clubs.
“These are some of the last remaining anti-LGBT laws that are currently being enforced in the country, and they’re especially odious, because they explicitly apply to school classes on every subject,” asserts Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah. By not openly affirming teen homosexuality, the group insists, the school districts “create a deadly culture of silence and non-acceptance, causing harms that can never be fully undone.”
Chris Stoll, attorney for the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, predicts that the Utah lawsuit, if successful, “could set the precedent for … striking down these laws nationally.”
Addressing these developments from a different perspective, columnist Rod Dreher of The American Conservative tells traditionalists that the LGBT lobby “will not leave you alone. There is no neutral ground. You must affirm. If you do not intend to capitulate, you had better prepare to be hated, and you had better learn to regard that hatred as a blessing.”
Oct 27, 2016
Jury deliberations were briefly interrupted on Tuesday in the Portland, Oregon trial of Ammon Bundy and five other land rights activists accused of conspiracy when trial Judge Anna Brown was asked for a ruling regarding a jury member’s conflict of interest.
One member of the panel, identified as Juror 4, sent a handwritten note to Judge Brown asking the question, “Can a juror, a former employee of the Bureau of Land Management, who opens their [sic] remarks in deliberations by stating, `I am very biased…’ be considered an impartial judge in this case?”
The self-identified biased panel member, Juror 11, admitted during jury selection that he had been a ranch tech and firefighter for the BLM for a period of four years roughly two decades ago.
Bundy and his co-defendants have been in an open conflict with the BLM for years, culminating in the protest occupation of the National Wildlife Refuge outside of Burns, Oregon earlier this year. Bundy and several others also face an impeding federal trial in Nevada on charges arising from the April 2014 stand-off in Bunkerville, in which the BLM was compelled to return cattle the agency illegally confiscated from the Bundy family.
Assistant US Attorney Ethan Knight, one of the prosecutors in Portland, complained that the question about the impartiality of the BLM employee was improper. Defense attorney Per Olson maintains that the admitted bias on the part of the panelist “has potentially tainted this jury” and requested that he “simply be dismissed.”
Oct 27, 2016
Richard Black, a Virginia state senator, traveled to Syria in search of an answer to a nagging question: Why has Washington targeted relatively secular governments in the Middle East, while promoting the most radical sectarian elements in the region?
“What I had learned before I left was that Syria had enjoyed forty years of peace with Israel, it had the greatest women’s rights and the greatest religious freedom of any nation in the Arab world,” Sen. Black asserted in an interview on the Ron Paul Liberty Report. “It was one of the safest nations on earth – certainly one of the safest nations in the Arab world.”
Black wrote to Syrian President Assad in 2014 to thank him for his government’s effort to rescue a group of Catholic nuns being held hostage. Things eventually developed to where Black was able to visit Palmyra, which had just been taken back from ISIS by the Syrian Army. This happened after the US-led coalition had allowed ISIS fighters to cross one hundred miles of “open desert without dropping a single bomb or doing a single thing to interfere with the advance of ISIS.”
“I think what they were hoping was that … ISIS could seize Palmyra, which is mid-way on the road to Damascus,” Black observes. “And if they could take Palmyra, ISIS could perhaps take Damascus.”
“We were so intent on bringing about the downfall of Syria, that we were willing to subject the entire population of Syria to the enormous horrors of ISIS,” declares Senator Black, referring to the Obama administration’s policy in the region. “I already knew what we had done, but to see it, and actually drive the terrain was quite impressive.”
Oct 27, 2016
Although he is nominally the Libertarian Party’s Vice Presidential nominee, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld has obliquely urged voters to cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton, rather than his own running mate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.
In a statement addressing “those in the electorate who remain torn between two so-called major party candidates,” Weld admonished the undecided not to vote for Trump out of what he described as “fear for our country.”
“A President of the United States operates every day under a great deal of pressure – from all sides,” Weld points out. “I have come to believe that Donald Trump, if elected President of the United States, would not be able to stand up to this pressure and this criticism without becoming unhinged and unable to perform competently the duties of his office,” Weld advised his readers. “Donald Trump should not, cannot, and must not be elected President of the United States.”
Although Weld expressed gratitude to Johnson for the “privilege and honor” of participating in the campaign, Weld did not use his statement to solicit votes on behalf of the ticket.
Oct 27, 2016
Federal District Judge Charles Breyer has approved a $14.7 billion settlement between the government and Volkswagen AG to resolve a claim that the auto maker supposedly cheated on EPA emissions tests. The automaker said that it would begin buying back the 475,000 diesel vehicles covered in the settlement in mid-November – but more than a few very satisfied owners aren’t interested in selling them.
Volkswagen’s supposed offense was to install a software program that allegedly cheated exhaust emissions tests by making them appear cleaner than they are. The vehicles purportedly emitted up to 40 times the legally allowable levels of pollutants. Automotive expert Eric Peters points out that this description is deliberately deceptive, given that new vehicles have cleaned up exhaust streams so thoroughly that they emit practically no harmful pollutants.
Over the past two decades, the automotive industry “has been chasing diminishing returns,” Peters writes. “Internal combustion is always going to produce some emissions…. But the EPA insists on what amounts to a zero emissions internal combustion engine. Which, of course, is impossible. Which may be just the point.”
Unobtainable regulatory standards likewise provide the EPA and federal prosecutors with a pretext to shakedown successful companies. Prior to the manufactured controversy, Volkswagen was the world’s largest car company.
Oct 27, 2016
Imposing a peculiar definition of a familiar virtue, a Swiss court has ordered a Christian nursing home to permit so-called assisted suicide – or lose its status as a state-recognized charity.
A year ago, the Swiss government issued regulations requiring all charities that care for the sick or the elderly to offer physician-administered homicide – euphemistically called “assisted suicide” – upon the request of a patient or resident. The nursing home in the canton of Neuchatel, operated by the Salvation Army, objected to the new ordinance as a violation of freedom of conscience. The Federal Court rejected that claim, demanding that the faith-based charity either submit to the new policy or surrender its legal standing.
This comes a few months following a similar case in which a Catholic nursing home in Belgium was fined 6,000 euros for refusing to commit euthanasia on a lung cancer patient.
“The law across Europe, and indeed the West, seems to be saying that organizations can’t have conscientious objection, but only individuals,” observes Neil Addison of the Liverpool-based Thomas More Legal Center. “This is hitting at the very core of the religious hospitals and religious institutions, because in essence it is saying that those organizations, if they provide services, can’t act in a religious way.”
Oct 27, 2016
Peter Tatchell, a veteran British gay rights activist, condemned a ruling by an appellate court in Belfast upholding a fine imposed on Ashers bakery, a Christian-owned business that declined to produce a cake celebrating the novel institution called same-sex marriage.
“This verdict is a defeat for freedom of expression,” Tatchell complained. “Although I strongly disagree with Ashers’s opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be compelled to facilitate a political idea they oppose.”
“Ashers did not discriminate against the customer, Gareth Lee, because he was gay,” Tatchell continues. “They objected to the message he wanted on the cake: `Support gay marriage…. [I]n a free society, people should be able to discriminate against ideas they disagree with. I am saddened that the court did not reach the same conclusion.”
Oct 26, 2016
Risperidone is a dangerous and sometimes deadly anti-psychotic medication prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Autism, and similar conditions. Its known side-effects can include dyskinesia, tachycardia, problems with vision and balance, sleep disruption, and in some extreme cases, heart attack.
Madyson Osborne, a grade-school-age girl from Gooding, Idaho, has suffered from seizure-like symptoms since she was 18 months old. Doctors prescribed Risperidone for the child’s condition, despite its serious potential side effects. On October 4, Madyson suffered an unusually severe fit that involved vomiting and disruptive behavior her mother, Kelsey, had not previously seen. Desperate to obtain relief for her child, and understandably concerned about the cumulative effect of the dangerous antipsychotic drug she had been taking, Kelsey made the girl a smoothie with marijuana butter – which immediately calmed her down and helped her get to sleep.
In most western states, medicinal use of cannabis is permissible. Last year, acting on behalf of the pharmaceutical cartel, Idaho’s Republican Governor Butch Otter vetoed a measure that would not have decriminalized the use of medicinal marijuana but would have allowed parents a positive legal defense of necessity if they are charged with an offense for using medicinal cannabis to treat children suffering from seizures. Kelsey was arrested, and her children taken away by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, after Madyson tested positive for marijuana during a medical examination.
Oct 26, 2016
Aaron Black, a former Occupy Wall Street organizer who is an associate with Democracy Partners, was featured in the recent undercover video produced by Project Veritas, in which he claimed to have helped organize protests in Chicago that shut down a Trump campaign rally. Although Black is not an employee of the Democratic National Committee, as he was identified in the video, his professional bio claims that he had worked closely with the DNC during the 2012 campaign.
Black is a museum-quality specimen of a paid agitator – and he hasn’t worked only with leftist or Democratic Party-connected causes. Politico reports that Black “coordinated with reporters from the conservative news site Breitbart during the primaries to cover his disruption of events for candidates such as Sen. Marco Rubio.”
According to a source close to the events, “Black coordinated with Breitbart via email, phone and in person” in what was described as a “very friendly” relationship. One product of that collaboration was an event in which Black provoked Rubio’s New Hampshire campaign chairman into a physical confrontation that was covered by Breitbart.
“He worked directly with Breitbart’s political team on the ground in the primary states to sabotage Marco Rubio & Ted Cruz, and elect Trump as nominee,” the source told Politico.
Oct 26, 2016
Early voting for the 2016 election began on October 24, and residents of at least two cities in Texas are complaining that they cast ballots for Donald Trump -- only to see the machines switch their ballots to Hillary Clinton, according to early reports. In Amarillo, a woman was shocked to see her ballot flip from Republican to Democrat.
News of an apparent ballot-flipping incident in Texas understandably prompted outrage in social media, as it resonated with repeated claims from the Trump campaign that this year’s election has been “rigged.” Local officials moved quickly to assuage those concerns.
Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner insisted that “There is nothing wrong with any of the machines we use for voting, They do not flip your vote. They do not flip parties. Humans do that.”
According to Tanner, “There was one incident in Randall County where a voter voted straight ticket and when they hit the vote button, it flipped parties…. The machine was then checked and nothing was wrong with the machine.” This was reported to the on-site election official and the improperly flipped ballot was cancelled and the voter was allowed to vote on another machine. The judge reports that “We are calibrating our machines daily as well as testing them daily.”
Oct 26, 2016
The Media Research Center, a long-standing and widely respected watchdog group, has compiled a report documenting that nearly all recent television news coverage of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been negative.
By that group’s tabulation, 91 percent of all stories broadcast about Trump have been critical, and the networks spent more than twice the amount of time focusing on Trump’s personal controversies than about similar issues involving Hillary Clinton – 440 minutes, as compared with 102 minutes of evening news airtime. During the same period, networks allotted more airtime – 102 minutes – to examination of Trump’s treatment of women than it did to Clinton’s illegal diversion of official correspondence as Secretary of State – 53 minutes – and the Clinton Foundation pay-to-play scandals (40 minutes) combined.
To be fair, Trump’s background of sexual self-indulgence left him more vulnerable to this kind of lurid, sensationalistic coverage than any previous presidential candidate, and the media has a built-in bias favoring the salacious over the substantive. A disparity in coverage as dramatic as the one documented by the MRC, however, can fairly be described as inspired by ideology.
Oct 26, 2016
The chief selling point of the so-called Affordable Care Act is, obviously, is its affordability. Just weeks before the end of his presidency, Barack Obama is admitting, along with a number of leading Democrats, that the system they imposed on the country during his first term is not affordable.
On October 24, the administration announced that in the coming year, the premiums charged for the middle-tier of the program’s coverage options will increase by an average of 25 percent. Comments Reason magazine: “Obamacare is facing sharply rising premiums and reduced choice, and while this is not a huge surprise … the news contributes to an overall picture of a law that is struggling to overcome serious challenges to its viability.”
In a speech last week, Obama conceded that “there are going to be a lot of people who are hurt by premium increases” – which is precisely the outcome that Obamacare was supposed to prevent. Scrambling to respond to an entirely predictable development, Hillary Clinton has proposed a new tax credit of up to $5,000 to help people pay for premium costs as well as out-of-pocket costs like deductibles, which can also be a major problem under Obamacare.
Oct 26, 2016
The Obama administration’s brinksmanship with Moscow over the Syrian conflict – a policy Hillary Clinton helped create, and that she intends to continue if elected president – may “lead to World War Three,” warned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in an interview with Reuters.
“What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria,” Trump maintains. If the US insists on creating no-fly zones and “safe zones” in Syria, it risks a lethal force confrontation with Russian pilots and other military personnel. According to Trump, “You’re going to end up in World War Three over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton.”
The GOP standard-bearer also asked if a Clinton administration would be able to conduct productive negotiations with Putin’s Russian government after demonizing him and accusing the Russians – without providing evidence – of seeking to subvert this year’s presidential election.
Oct 26, 2016
The GEO Group, one of the nation’s two largest private prison companies, has made more than $670,000 in contributions through its political action committee through the end of September. Not surprisingly, it has backed the self-described “Law and order” presidential candidate, Donald Trump, in addition to Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund.
In a June interview with Chris Matthews of MSNBC, Trump stated that as president he would “do a lot of privatizations and private prisons” because this approach “seems to work a lot better.” Trump’s aggressive immigration enforcement and deportation proposals would require a dramatic expansion of existing detention facilities, many of which are currently operated by GEO. Reason magazine takes note of the fact that Donald Trump’s proposed agenda for the first 100 days of his presidency includes “new mandatory minim sentences for illegal border crossings, which already make up nearly half of all annual federal prosecutions annually.” This would require even further expansion of the already-massive US prison system.
GEO and Corrections Corporation of America -- the nation’s other leading private prison company -- have tirelessly promoted “Three Strikes” laws and aggressive anti-drug laws, which have contributed to the unprecedented boom in prison construction over the past two decades.
Oct 26, 2016
One year ago, Christoph Biro, editor of Austria’s largest-circulation newspaper, Kronen Zeitung, published an essay referring to the majority of migrants “testosterone-driven Syrians” who were carrying out a rampage of property damage and what he called “extremely aggressive sexual assaults.” In the same article Biro described incidents in which Afghan men had reportedly slashed the seats of the trains that were transporting them to Germany because they refused to sit where Christians had previously sat. That last claim was denied by the Austrian train company OBB, which operated the trains in question. Others challenged Biro’s assertion that Muslim migrants were responsible for a wave of sexual assaults.
Contending factual claims and strongly expressed disagreements are to be expected in a reasonably free society. Being prosecuted for expressing opinions, however, is not – yet Biro now faces a criminal prosecution after 37 complaints were lodged against him from people who were triggered by his views. The complaints were filed by a left-wing pressure group called SOS Mitmensch, which has published a how-to guide for other Austrians seeking to pursue hate speech prosecutions against their supposedly less enlightened fellow citizens.
Oct 26, 2016
Federal prosecutors “plan to aggressively pursue charges against NYPD cop Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Eric Garner” two years ago, reports the New York Post. Garner was swarmed by cops and arrested shortly after he had broken up a petty theft. Pantaleo and his colleagues were enforcing the city’s draconian cigarette tax, and claimed to suspect that Garner had been selling untaxed cigarettes, commonly called “loosies.” Garner, who had frequently been the target of what he called police harassment, appeared to provoke the arrest by telling the officers to leave him alone. Video of the arrest showed Pantaleo using an illegal chokehold on Garner, who died of cardiac arrest on the scene. His last words were a complaint that he couldn’t breathe. Garner, it is worth noting, was not suspected of a property crime or a violent offense.
A local grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo on criminal charges. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn were replaced by colleagues from Washington because of their reluctance to pursue civil rights charges, according to the Post. One federal official complained to the paper that the Washington-based prosecutors are seeking to “make an example out of Pantaleo,” and took over the case because “we already … came to a conclusion which they didn’t like. It’s truly disgraceful what they’re doing,” complained the official.
Oct 26, 2016
Donald Trump has been a repeat guest-host of Saturday Night Live, but recently called for its cancellation after taking offense at the way the sketch comedy program has parodied him. While the unabashedly liberal SNL writing staff is obviously not enamored with Trump, their depiction of Hillary Clinton as a power-lusting automaton isn’t much kinder than their portrait of the Republican nominee. A remarkable October 22nd sketch suggests that they are at least somewhat sympathetic to the stereotypical Trump voter – brought to life, in this instance, by Tom Hanks, one of the most beloved contemporary movie stars.
Hanks played “Doug,” a middle-aged, blue-collar white contestant anomalously invited to play “Black Jeopardy” – an urban-flavored version of the long-running game show. After some predictably awkward moments, both the host and the fellow contestants are surprised to learn that Doug shares many of their concerns about a bad economy, a political system rigged to favor an entrenched elite, a distrust of government and politically connected corporations, and a love for neighbors, friends, and family.
It may seem like a trivial thing, but this widely viewed comic sketch – which ended on an ambiguous and bittersweet note – resonates with a public that is starting to become weary of an elite that encourages Americans to grab each other by the throat, rather than taking each other by the hand.
Oct 26, 2016
Abortion industry apologists are celebrating a decision by the Virginia Board of Health to lift a requirement that child-killing facilities in the state meet the same building codes as hospitals and other facilities that provide legitimate health care services. At present, a total of 14 abortuaries disfigure Virginia’s countryside.
Anna Scholl, executive director of the leftist Progress Virginia Education Fund, said that the Board of Health’s ruling struck down what she called “sham restrictions to cut off women’s ability to access comprehensive reproductive health care services” and meant that women would “continue to have access to safe and legal abortion.”
Apart from the fact that abortion is not in any sense related to “reproductive health,” it isn’t clear to reasonable people how exempting abortion mills from professional requirements imposed on legitimate health care clinics enhances the safety of those who seek the procedure. This development underscores once again the fact that the abortion industry is the only one that leftists consistently seek to deregulate.
Oct 26, 2016
Once derided as a traitor and subversive for his anti-war and counter-cultural activism in the 1960s, Tom Hayden, who died on October 23 at age 76, eventually carved out a political career in the California state legislature. A founder of the radical Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Hayden was chief author of its manifesto, the Port Huron Statement.
“We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably at the world we inherit,” began Hayden’s opus, setting a tone for subsequent leftist agitation on behalf of civil rights and in opposition to the Vietnam War. Hayden was involved in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, which participated in civil rights protests in the south. He went on to become an organizer of the tumultuous demonstrations in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and was one of four members of the so-called Chicago 8 to be convicted on charges of crossing state lines to incite a riot. Those convictions were later overturned by an appellate court.
Hayden made two trips to North Vietnam, one in 1965 and the second in 1967. Those actions, and his outspoken opposition to the war, led to surveillance by the FBI and charges of seditious disloyalty. He went on to marry a similarly controversial figure, the actress and left-wing icon Jane Fonda. They divorced in the early 1990s.
Oct 26, 2016
As the presidential nominee of his party, Donald Trump is also the GOP’s top fundraiser. His responsibilities are not limited to his own electoral prospects, but include raising money to retain and, if possible, expand the Republican Party’s congressional majority. Yet the Washington Post reported on October 25 that Trump “has no further high-dollar fundraising events planned for the remainder of the campaign, dealing another serious blow to the GOP’s effort to finance its get-out-the-vote operation before Election Day.”
Campaign spokesmen told the Post that Trump will continue to carry out ad hoc fundraising and that his schedule during the homestretch is intended to emphasize political events, rather than soliciting money on behalf of the party.
Oct 26, 2016
Robert Caruso, a former official in Hillary Clinton’s State Department and an associate of the Hillary for America PAC, pushed for a US-enforced “No-Fly Zone” in Syria and cited Henry Kissinger’s covert action tactics as a potential model for US policy in the region.
According to Caruso, “Russia intends to exert political pressure and create the illusion a `shooting war’ would erupt if a no-fly zone was constituted. This is unserious, and should be dismissed as the naked Kremlin talking points they are where ever encountered,” he declared. “It is Russia, not the United States, that should fear American intervention in Syria,” Caruso insisted.
“By no means is the United States limited to overt military intervention in Syria,” wrote Caruso in the Huffington Post. “Henry Kissinger’s strategies in Laos and Chile are models of success that should be emulated, not criticized.”
Traditional military operations should be paired with “covert action programs” involving deployment of Special Forces troops and also working with indigenous insurgencies, “winding them up, arming them to the teeth, and letting them loose,” Caruso recommended.
That section of Caruso’s essay, significantly, was removed from theHuffington Post after it attracted criticism – but WikiLeaks preserved screen grabs of particularly incriminating passages from it. Caruso responded to WikiLeaks by asserting that “from now on anyone repeating what you say about me is working for Russia.”
Oct 24, 2016
Gavin MacFayden, the Founder and Director of the Center of Investigative Journalism and publisher of WikiLeaks, died of lung cancer in London last Saturday. A statement issued by his wife, Susan Benn, recalled that MacFayden founded the CIJ in 2003 “to address the worsening media climate for in-depth, skeptical and adversarial reporting.” The organization has trained thousands of reporters in 35 countries, many of which have governments that are aggressively hostile to investigative journalism. WikiLeaks describes MacFayden as a “mentor” to the group’s founder, and his closest friend in London.
Oct 24, 2016
Peyton Pruitt, a 19-year-old Autistic man who has an IQ in the 50s, was acquitted of terrorism charges on the basis of “mental defect” in a bench trial and freed after spending a year in pre-trial detention.
As a small child, Peyton was diagnosed with “Mental Retardation, Intellectual Disability, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and Attention Deficit Disorder.” Educators have described him as unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy. He was of no imaginable use to actual terrorists, but vulnerable to enticement by FBI operatives looking for an easy bust.
Despite a mental disability and social impediments so severe that he couldn’t use the bathroom without assistance, Pruitt was described by the FBI and the St. Clair, Alabama Sheriff’s Office as part of a conspiracy to provide “material assistance to terrorism” after he had been lured into online conversations with FBI agents posing as recruiters for ISIS and the Taliban.
Pruitt’s father Anthony explained to a judge that he had given a laptop computer to his son as a Christmas present, and enrolled him in a program for mentally handicapped people at the E.H. Gentry Technical Center. He was in that program until May 2015, and during that period Peyton was enticed into the supposedly incriminating chats with FBI provocateurs.
If he had been aware that his son was being trolled by federal terrorism facilitators, Pruitt told the trial judge, “I would have gone to the school, smashed his computer into a billion pieces and grounded him for life.” As a result of the legal expenses incurred by the pointless federal sting operation, Mr. Pruitt laments, he “lost everything – my home, my land, my job.”
Oct 24, 2016
“In an election flush with conspiracy theories,” writes Damon Linker of The Week magazine, “here’s one that’s real: Both major party nominees, as well as the journalists who cover the election and moderate the debates, are actively conspiring to avoid talking about the fact that the United States is waging war in at least five countries simultaneously – Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.”
The major party presidential nominees have occasionally exchanged jabs over Syria and the rise of ISIS. But neither has addressed the escalating US involvement in the battle to retake Mosul, the so-called secret war against Shabab militants in Somalia, or Washington’s active support for Saudi Arabia’s relentless air assault against Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen. This reflects the partisan priorities at work in the foreign policy discussion, Linker asserts.
“Republicans have an incentive to avoid a conversation about our multiple wars because the GOP finds it more politically advantageous to portray Barack Obama as a feckless commander in chief who has made the country less safe…. To put our wars on the table for discussion and debate would expose the actual truth, which is that Obama has very much governed as a hawk.”
For their part, the Democrats have chosen not to reveal that their party has been “closely following the foreign policy vision of their nemesis, George W. Bush.”
Oct 24, 2016
Craig Murray, the former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan who was fired for blowing the whistle on the CIA-backed torture program carried out by the late dictator Islam Karimov, knows a great deal about the ex-Soviet intelligence apparatus. He is also a close friend of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. As someone who has suffered professional retaliation for exposing the crimes of a Soviet-trained despot, Ambassador Murray brings substantial moral stature to the discussion of the DNC email hack.
“I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that it is not any Russian state actor or proxy that gave DNC and Podesta material to WikiLeaks,”Ambassador Murray said following a visit with Assange in his refuge at the Ecuadorian consulate in London.
Oct 24, 2016
Ashers Baking Company, a Christian-owned business in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has lost its appeal of a judicial ruling that they supposedly committed an act of unlawful discrimination by declining to bake a cake containing a depiction of Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and an inscription reading “Support Gay Marriage.”
The cake order had been placed by homosexual activist Gareth Lee of the organization QueerSpace. Two days later Ashers issued a refund and explained that they could not endorse a message that is entirely incompatible with their moral and ethical beliefs. In 2015, District Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled in favor of the plaintiff and inflicted a fine of five hundred pounds.
In his appeal ruling, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan breezily cast aside centuries-old protections of property rights and freedom of conscience by declaring that the bakery owners are not entitled to “provide a service that only reflects their own political or religious message in relation to sexual orientation.” John O’Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, insisted that the “expense and division” of the court case could have been avoided if the Christian owners of the Ashers Baking Company would have submitted to re-education about their supposed civic responsibilities under the new legal regime.
Oct 24, 2016
In a significant October 22 policy address delivered in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump offered details on his proposed “End Illegal Immigration Act,” which among other things would fully fund “the construction of a wall on our southern border,” with the understanding “that the country of Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such a wall….”
The problem with that proposal, obviously, is that the government of Mexico has not agreed, through a treaty or other agreement, to pay such reimbursement, and has repeatedly insisted that it has no intention of doing so. Some of Trump’s advisers have suggested that an executive order could be issued under the so-called PATRIOT ACT that would confiscate remittances to Mexico from the United States. Trump’s newest proposal makes it clear that American taxpayers would shoulder the financial burden of building the wall – at an estimated price that begins at $25 billion – and then would be asked to confide in the government’s ability to extract reimbursement from Mexico later. In other words, the taxpayers would, in any case, be required to pay for the wall.
Oct 24, 2016
The Wall Street Journal reports that “The political organization of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, an influential Democrat with longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, gave nearly $500,000 to the election campaign of the wife of an official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use.”
The 2015 senate campaign of Dr. Jill McCabe, the wife of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, received $467,500 from McAuliffe’s political action committee, and $207,788 in material support from the Virginia Democratic Party. These combined donations add up to more than one-third of all the funds raised by Dr. McCabe’s campaign.
The New York Post points out that “The money directed by McAuliffe began flowing two months after the FBI investigation into Clinton began in July 2015.” At that time, McCabe, who had been running the FBI’s Washington field office, was promoted to the third highest-ranking position in the Bureau. A few months later, he became the agency’s second-in-command
McAuliffe served as chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Oct 24, 2016
Although most mainstream surveys of likely voters show Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton comfortably leading her Republican rival, Donald Trump, this year’s campaign, already filled to the brim with surprises, might yet defy conventional wisdom.
While most polls suggest that Clinton has an insurmountable lead, “a few still show the Republican nominee leading,” points out the Oregonian, a liberal newspaper that has pointedly declined to endorse the Democratic nominee. “The Rasmussen and Investors’ Business Daily polls are the two key surveys that continue to show Trump with the edge.” The Rasmussen survey is “landline-heavy,” meaning that it tends to skew toward older potential voters who tend to favor Republicans. The IBD poll, which shows the race as a dead heat, follows a methodology that tracks closely with other polls that show Clinton with a substantial lead. Sixty-five percent of its “randomly selected live interviews” are drawn from respondents using cell phones.
Oct 24, 2016
If Donald Trump were not the mercurial, self-absorbed, frequently vituperative figure the campaign has proven him to be, and if he had run a campaign focusing on his policy positions rather than the needs of his personality, he would be well ahead of a weak and incurably unpopular Democratic nominee, argues former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Noonan refers to her hypothetical candidate as “Sane Donald Trump.” That nominee, she believes, would have acted as a negotiator seeking to persuade skeptical Republicans and Democrats alike by explaining “the moral and practical underpinnings of my stand on refugees from terror nations,” as well as his views on trade, immigration, regulatory reform, and other issues, rather than engaging in caustic tweetstorms against his critics. Aware of the liabilities inherent in his colorful personal life, Sane Donald Trump would “be able to hear and act on good advice” regarding his conduct and owning up to his prior behavior.
“Sane Donald Trump would have given an anxious country more ease, not more anxiety,” Noonan continues. “He would have demonstrated that he can govern himself. He would have suggested through his actions, while still being entertaining, funny and outsize, that yes, he understands the stakes and yes, since America is always claiming to be the leader of the world … a certain attendant gravity is required of one who’d be its leader.”
The tragic missed opportunity for the GOP, she contends, is that “Sane Trump would have won in a landslide.”
Oct 24, 2016
During the 2008 presidential campaign, and for years thereafter, Fox News and talk radio personality Sean Hannity routinely denounced Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as an anti-Semitic agitator and terrorist ally. Until about a year ago, Hannity insisted that Farrakhan was a key perpetrator in the mythical “war on police.”
Last week, however, Hannity suddenly discovered that Farrakhan is a fascinating man and gifted orator whose views are worthy of a hearing.
“I always wanted to meet Farrakhan,” Hannity said during an installment of his Fox News program. “I’ve listened to hours and hours of his speeches – he’s mesmerizing. He’s an unbelievable orator. What he says about individual responsibility, and morality, and being fathers, and starting businesses is brilliant. Then he adds the racism and the anti-Semitism,” Hannity concluded, ruefully saying that this is what presently defines Farrakhan’s “legacy.”
Hannity didn’t offer a similarly nuanced treatment of Farrakhan in 2008, when he demanded that Barack Obama denounce him, or in 2011, when he condemned Michelle Obama for appearing on a magazine cover with Farrakhan’s wife.
Hannity’s sudden revision of his view on Farrakhan was apparently prompted by a comment from radio host Larry Elder that the Nation of Islam leader “has said positive things” about Donald Trump. Hannity has been an unabashed supporter of the Republican nominee, and his radio and television programs are effectively in-kind donations to the Trump campaign.
Oct 24, 2016
In libel actions filed through British courts, it is the defendant, not the plaintiff, who bears the burden of proof. This is why international figures offended by global press coverage will often file lawsuits in British courts against non-British journalists whose work is republished there.
Donald Trump, who is currently involved in more than four thousand lawsuits – including hundreds in which he is a plaintiff – has threatened to sue women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. He has also spoken of his interest in “opening up our libel laws” if he becomes president, in order to make it easier to sue media organs whose negative coverage he finds offensive. In a recent radio interview, Trump spoke of his desire to institute libel standards in the U.S. that resemble British law.
Insisting that he is a “tremendous believer in the freedom of the press,” Trump demonstrated that this was entirely untrue.
Asked “Do you think there’s too much protection allowed in the First Amendment?” Trump replied: “In England, they have a system where you can actually sue if somebody says something wrong. Our press is allowed to say whatever they want, and they can get away with it, and I think we should go to a system where if they do something wrong … if they make terrible, terrible mistakes, and those mistakes are made on purpose, to injure people … then yes, I think you should have the ability to sue them.”
Under existing US precedents, to be successful a defamation claim must prove deliberate malice that injures the reputation of a private individual. The truth of a claim is generally a perfect defense against a libel accusation, and “terrible mistakes” can be indemnified through a published retraction. English defamation law was amended in 2013 to include a “public interest” exemption, which would probably protect media outlets whose coverage of political candidates is deemed excessively negative, or even unreliable, by the candidates in question.
Oct 24, 2016
The Obama administration is still considering the possibility of providing CIA-supported Syrian insurgents with truck-mounted anti-aircraft weapons that could be used against Russian aircraft and artillery, reports the Washington Post. This option, called “Plan B” by administration officials, was discussed during an October 14 meeting of the National Security Council and reportedly has not been approved or rejected.
Approval of that approach would create the strong possibility that Russian military personnel would be killed through the use of American weapons, which would in turn increase the likelihood of a direct confrontation between Washington and Moscow.
Oct 24, 2016
After a meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Abdel al -Jubeir, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the two of them had discussed a potential “fix” in a recently enacted law allowing 9/11 victims and survivors to sue the Saudi government for its reported material support to the hijackers. Riyadh has threatened economic retaliation against the U.S. as a result of the measure, which was enacted through a congressional override of Barack Obama’s veto. The administration claims that the law, called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), places U.S. military and diplomatic personnel at risk by undermining the principle of sovereign immunity.
Terry Strada, a 9/11 widow who was active in the campaign to enact JASTA, complains that in the press conference following the meeting with Jubeir, Kerry “led off his public remarks not by talking about ISIS or Iraq, but instead by assuring the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that he would work to destroy the … bill”
Oct 24, 2016
The US Customs and Border Protection agency wants to start collecting social media information on travelers from countries eligible for visa waivers, which include the UK, most of Europe, and a handful of other countries, reports The Intercept. The agency has proposed that customs forms be expanded to include a requirement that visitors list social media “identifiers” and information about the providers and platforms that host their publicly accessible online comments. If approved by the Office of Management and Budget, this change could go into effect in December.
The information harvested through social media need not contain evidence of criminal designs by the people who supply it in order for them to be denied entrance – or to become the subject of a criminal probe. Through a method called “pattern-of-life analysis,” social media interactions with friends or online “followers” on social media accounts can be used against applicants.
Oct 24, 2016
After resigning from office in order to avoid impeachment, Richard Nixon famously claimed that “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” This doctrine of self-ratifying executive power had been tacitly followed by Nixon’s predecessors, and it has been vastly expanded by his successors to include such acts as committing the US military to war without congressional approval, and the summary execution of US citizens through drone strikes.
The administration of George W. Bush invoked Nixon’s doctrine of unfettered executive power as it implemented a system of interrogation through torture.
A unanimous panel of judges from the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected this claim of expansive executive authority by reinstating a lawsuit filed against a military contractor for its role in torturing four detainees held at Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib dungeon. A federal district court had ruled in June that owing to a “cloud of ambiguity” regarding the definition of torture, the presidential decision to authorize that practice was a “political question” not subject to judicial review.
Brushing aside that claim as sophistry, the Fourth Circuit ruled that “While executive officers can declare the military reasonableness of conduct amounting to torture, it is beyond the power of even the president to declare such conduct lawful.”
The lawsuit was filed against CACI Premier Technologies, which oversaw the use of torture methods that included electric shocks, broken bones, death threats, and sexual abuse.
Oct 24, 2016
During the depth of the US occupation of Iraq, the California National Guard offered reenlistment bonuses of at least $15,000 for soldiers who were willing to remain in the service for combat duty. Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom had multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, re-upped and received bonuses – and now the Pentagon is demanding a refund.
An investigation by the Department of Defense revealed “widespread overpayments … lack of oversight … fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Despite the financial hardship involved, soldiers who receive notices to reimburse the Pentagon face being “slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments, and tax liens if they refuse.”
Oct 24, 2016
Enlisted personnel in the US Air Force who identify as members of the opposite biological sex will be permitted to skip physical fitness tests during their period of physical “transition,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James has decided.
A new “Air Force Policy Memorandum for In-Service Transition for Airmen Identifying as Transgender” – a document, it should be noted, that presumptuously uses a gender-specific pronoun, in defiance of politically correct language protocols – says that service members in the middle of hormone treatments can decline their physical fitness tests “during their period of transition, prior to a gender marker change in the MilPDS [that is, Military Personnel Data System] if they have already failed a test.”
Secretary James issued a self-congratulatory press release describing this latest derogation from unit cohesion and individual performance standards as “another step in allowing transgender Airmen to serve openly, receive medical care relating to gender transition and allow transgender individuals to join the Air Force.”
According to James, “Our strengths as a military are the quality and character of our people, and those things that make us unique are the same things that make us strong.” Potential adversaries would certainly appreciate the Obama administration’s emphasis on indulging diversity, rather than the development of combat competence.
Oct 24, 2016
When Republicans are in power, left-leaning celebrities praise dissent. When Democrats reign, they seek to criminalize it. This may help explain why Joy Behar of ABC’s morning show “The View” believes that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump should face a formal charge of sedition.
“He basically disses our country and our president and praises dictators and people who use chemical weapons on their people,” Behar claimed during an October 20 discussion. Hillary Clinton is “going to win, and that’s it,” Behar continued. “Because he basically is a traitor. He should be brought up on charges of sedition,” meaning “conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or a monarch. I think that making jokes about assassinating your fellow … nominee, Hillary Clinton, is the definition of sedition.”
In this election, both sides have threatened official retaliation against the other. Donald Trump, it should be said, has said that if elected he would pursue a criminal investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s illegal diversion of official correspondence and pay-to-play activities at the State Department, but has also promised to use the powers of the executive branch against Washington Post publisher Jeff Bezos and other media critics.
Oct 24, 2016
“There is no US election,” proclaimed the WikiLeaks transparency organization in a remarkably blunt statement on Twitter. “This is power consolidation. Rigged primary, rigged media and rigged `pied piper’ candidate drive consolidation.”
An analysis of recent WikiLeaks releases by YourNewsWire.com concludes that John Podesta’s emails from 2008, when he was a key adviser to Barack Obama, “show a transition plan was being worked on long before the 2008 election had taken place,” and that “Obama was already discussing his transition to office with members of the Bush Administration, including then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, prior to the election.”
“Normally these decisions could be made after the election, and ideally after the selection of a National Economic Advisor, but, of course, these are not normal times,” one newly revealed memo observes.
Oct 24, 2016
In December 2015, a key media ally of the Clinton campaign suggested to campaign chairman John Podesta that the Democratic candidate should depict Republican candidate and eventual nominee Donald Trump as a tool of the Kremlin – and that this would help distract the public from Hillary’s role in helping facilitate the rise of ISIS – and the likelihood of a significant US military escalation in the region.
Mrs. Clinton “Will never state what I believe we need to do – [deploy] at least 20,000 ground troops with 3,000 American and at least 10,000 from Sunni Muslim nations – because she is consumed with keeping Obama’s goodwill and afraid of liberal backlash,” wrote columnist Brett Budowski in a recently leaked email to Podesta. He urged the campaign to have Hillary “Walk back and escape from her statement that `finally we are where we need to be’ against ISIS. We are not where we need to be, we are far from it, most voters do not believe it, and when the next terror attack comes in America – which it certainly will – she will be branded with a hot iron with that statement.”
After Podesta responded that Clinton had clarified her statements about ISIS and Syria, Budowski suggested that the best approach “is to slaughter Donald for his bromance with Putin.”
The Clinton campaign has consistently claimed that Russian intelligence is behind the DNC hack, and in recent weeks Hillary has bluntly, and repeatedly, accused Trump of being Putin’s “puppet.”
Oct 24, 2016
On dozens of occasions, Donald Trump has defended the use of the illegal torture method called waterboarding as a means of simultaneously interrogating and punishing suspected terrorists – and has promised that as president he would authorize even harsher methods. One of his most outspoken campaign surrogates, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, has accused Trump’s critics of doing much the same to him through a steady stream of sexual misconduct accusations.
“He’s been waterboarded by these issues,” Brewer complained during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It seems like it’s really been somewhat of a put-up oppression of Donald Trump from all of these people lining up. It’s just unbelievable. And anybody that’s been under those kind of assaults wants to defend themselves.”
Brewer offered that assessment in the context of Trump’s statement that he is looking forward to suing each of the women who have accused him of unwanted intimate contact following publication of a 2005 video in which Trump acknowledged conduct meeting the legal definition of sexual assault. Whatever the merits of the accusations against Trump – and at least some of them seem clearly opportunistic – his recorded admissions and high-profile celebration of his personal promiscuity would make it almost impossible for him to prevail in a defamation action. In addition, any lawsuit filed by Trump would allow defendants to conduct discovery regarding his personal conduct.
Oct 24, 2016
Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin is largely unknown outside of the Intermountain States, but he is leading both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Utah. Within that region of the country that might be called the “Mormon Corridor,” McMullin may have an impact – and if the race is closer than mainstream polls suggest that impact might be felt nation-wide.
McMullin is a regional candidate, focusing his efforts entirely on Mormon-heavy population centers. Salt Lake Tribune commentator John Matthias observes that in an election offering two unsatisfactory candidates, “many Mormons are seeking shelter in casting their votes for the nationally unknown Mormon candidate,” despite “a poorly articulated work history, no leadership skills and no special competencies of any kind.”
Author and political analyst Justin Raimondo disagrees with that assessment, insisting that enough is known of McMullin’s background to demonstrate a dangerous competence in covert operations.
"McMullin’s role at Goldman Sachs was in the investment banking division, where the underwriting of foreign government bonds and some pretty dicey financial shenanigans occur mostly in the dark,” Raimondo writes. “He is the archetypal neoconservative: a full-bore interventionist, who is clearly making foreign policy the centerpiece of his campaign...In a speech he declared that the US role is to police the world in order to stop `genocide.’”
"As a key player in the neocon wing of the CIA, which ginned up phony `intelligence’ to drag us into the Iraq war, McMullin wants us to re-invade Iraq,overthrow Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and longs for a US confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe,” continues Raimondo.
Oct 24, 2016
Major Todd Pierce (Retired), a former defense attorney at Guantanamo Bay, warns that under the next administration – irrespective of the candidate who wins – mass military detention of political dissenters is a legitimate possibility.
“[L]et’s say we do ramp up a war with Russia and we do get a more active antiwar movement,” Major Pierce said in a lengthy and far-ranging interview with the Mondoweiss website. “Say a Donald Trump, who’s already let everybody know what he thinks of the Constitution, or Hillary Clinton [is in office]. And Obama has said he can kill American citizens. The military goes to [the new president] and says, hey, these dissenters are going to cause us to lose a war, like the Vietnam war. Let’s put them in military detention, let’s impose censorship. Everything’s in place right now.”
Pierce buttresses his alarming claims with a detailed review of the national security state’s activities from World War II through the interminable war on terrorism, so-called. He also points to a recent poll indicating that 55 percent of Republicans, and up to 43 percent of Democrats, would accept and support a military junta in the event of a significant international or domestic crisis.
Hillary Clinton, Pierce observes, “was part of the administration that argued that they could kill American citizens purely on the president’s say-so.” Donald Trump was not implicated in the policy decisions of the Obama or Bush administrations, but his authoritarian instincts would be dangerous “because of the way the office of the presidency has accumulated power in the last fifty years,” Pierce insists.
Oct 24, 2016
A wave of cyberattacks on October 21 disrupted Twitter, Netflix, and PayPal, and temporarily closed down a major internet firm. A cyber-collective calling itself New World Hackers claimed responsibility for the disruptions, which they said involved the creation of a massive botnet that generated 1.2 trillion bits of data per second at servers operated by Dyn, Inc., a major internet provider based in New Hampshire. From there the outages were propagated across the East Coast and overseas. A second attack later in the day disrupted networks on the West Coast as well.
Internet security analysts have suggested that these recent attacks, and several previous similar ones, may have exploited vulnerabilities in the so-called “internet of things” – computer-linked devices such as thermostats, security cameras, and smart TVs. The average North American Home, according to research firm IHS Markit, contains 13 internet-connected devices. This has vastly increased the number of potential devices that can be weaponized by hackers, warns the Associated Press.
Oct 24, 2016
An email snatched from John Podesta’s server documents that Hillary Clinton planted gun control advocates in the audience of a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire.
An email thread dated October 4, 2015 included a “speech draft” that was provided “on behalf of Megan Rooney.” Contained within that text were several talking points for the candidate to use in discussing gun violence. While the event was “not a town hall exclusively about gun violence,” the person who would introduce the candidate “will tell a story about gun violence in her life, and there will be people in the audience from gun violence org[anizations],” explained the email.
The prescribed talking points for Mrs. Clinton prompted her to begin her remarks by declaring, “We’ve seen yet another mass murder – this time, in a community college in Oregon that’s probably a lot like this one.” Her prepared remarks contained a promise to “make gun control a top priority” in the event she is elected president.
Oct 24, 2016
Committee operatives to bus paid agitators to Trump rallies in order to incite violent confrontations with Trump supporters. Undercover operatives acting as fundraisers secretly recorded leading DNC activists admitting to the dirty tricks. The disclosures led to the resignation of Democratic National Committee operatives Scott Foval, the national field director of Americans United for Change, and Robert Creamer, the head of Democracy Partners.
The reports, entitled “Rigging the Election,” were produced by controversial activist James O’Keefe, whose previous endeavors, it should be noted, led to a criminal conviction for tampering with the office telephones of Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. The recent 32-minute video expose was released online in two installments. In one segment, an undercover filmmaker posing as a donor is seen attempting to engage Foval and Creamer in discussions of voter fraud and other schemes. Creamer doesn’t bite, but Foval fills the filmmaker in on supposed plots and implicates Creamer.
The Daily Caller reports that Creamer is deeply involved in political activism and has visited the Obama White House no fewer than 342 times, including meeting President Obama on 47 occasions, according to White House records.
Oct 24, 2016
Election fraud is almost as old as democracy itself. Voter intimidation has a similarly ancient pedigree, and has led to violence in local and national elections in U.S. history. In New York City, the political machine called “Tammany Hall” held most of the reins of power for nearly two centuries, and would often deploy thugs to intimidate voters known to be critical of labor unions or the Tammany Hall machine itself.
Registering dead people is another storied way of increasing a party’s voter rolls. The largest source of illegitimate votes today is illegal immigrants and refugees, declares geopolitical analyst Joel Skousen. “This process is enhanced by the passage of motor-voter laws in states like California which allow illegals to have a normal driver’s license which, in turn, gives them automatic access to voter registration,” Skousen observes. “As Trump correctly said inWednesday’s debate, there are literally millions of ineligible, non-citizen voters on the rolls.”
Skousen goes on to explain that “The courts are in collusion with the tactic, almost uniformly striking down any attempt by the states to require proof of citizenship or residency to vote—claiming it discriminates against the poor or minorities. In reality, it only discriminates against those who can’t establish their eligibility to vote.”
Oct 24, 2016
The City of Chicago mandates an audit of the computer voting process, but as the DailyKos reported, even though the audit showed numerous discrepancies between the computer ballot and the paper receipts, the election board simply modified a few numbers and never accepted that the computer may vave been deliberately tampered with to skew the results:
“In one example noted during the video [of the audit process], 21 Bernie votes were erased and 49 Hillary votes added to audit tally in order to match machine count. In this one precinct, this change from the actual results accounted for nearly 20% of overall votes cast. The actual tally was 56.7% in Bernie's favor. After count was manipulated by machine he lost with 47.5% of vote. A whopping 18.4% swing.”
Despite this significant change in the results, the final tally was not changed to match the more accurate paper receipts, instead the hand-count was “adjusted” to match the machine total.
“Other electoral observers at the meeting testified they had seen similar behavior on the part of other CBOE employees conducting the audit — for example, counting ballots up to a predetermined number found by the machine, then ignoring additional ballots beyond that number that showed the machine undercounted,” continues the Daily Kos account.
This open disregard for the vote process by CBOE employees is frightful and seems to indicate a culture of fudging results to match the machines which makes news analysts like Joel Skousen suspect that such fraud originates at higher levels within the organization. “No one doing an audit would dare fudge the results without knowing such fraud had official sanction.” He reasons.
Oct 24, 2016
Russia’s ongoing modernization of her military is putting significant focus on improving its blue water navy with an expected 100 new ships by 2020. This massive output is accompanied by efforts to improve Russia’s naval bases around the globe. Naval bases and airstrips are critical for extending a nation’s military reach around the world. Stratfor’s Geopolitical Diary reports that Russia is starting with restoring Soviet-era bases in Egypt, Vietnam and Cuba.
“Russian newspaper Izvestia reported Monday that Cairo and Moscow are negotiating a deal that would grant Russia access to military facilities in Egypt and refurbish a former Soviet air base in the Mediterranean town of Sidi Barrani,” Stratfor observes. “The intent behind these explorations is fairly straightforward: When locked in a multi-theater confrontation with the United States, what better way for the Russian bear to trample the U.S. security umbrella than with a growing military footprint?”
Moscow currently enjoys privileged access to Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay, although she shares it with other nations’ navies including France and Japan.
Cuba is also a strategic base location that Russia is in talks to reopen, but Havana has yet to formally allow the Russians to return. Cuba does not want to damage the prospects for the US to continue dismantling the trade embargoes against that country that have gone forward last year despite continued human rights violations by Havana.
Oct 24, 2016
On September 19, 2005 the last of the US Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) was dismantled in the US. The largest missile in America’s arsenal was dismantled as part of START II even though Russia had withdrawn from the treaty clear back in 2002 and continues to grow their stockpile of large ICBMs. The last deterrence against a nuclear strike on the US is the remaining Minuteman III missiles of which just over 400 remain. Built back in the 1950s these missiles have a superb reliability rating, performing flawlessly in all flight tests in spite of their age. Despite this impressive record the US Defense Department again fired off a Minuteman III missile last week (without a warhead of course) as part of its yearly testing procedure. The spent missiles are never replaced.
Oct 21, 2016
For weeks prior to the final presidential debate on Wednesday night, Donald Trump has described this year’s presidential election as “rigged.” Beginning shortly after receiving the Republican presidential nomination in Cleveland, the candidate has repeatedly told his supporters that the only way Hillary Clinton will prevail is through cheating.
As the gap has widened between the expectations of Trump’s adherents and the findings of mainstream polls that show Clinton in the lead, a growing number of Trump’s followers have insisted that any outcome other than victory would be illegitimate. Trump himself suggested as much at the end of the October 19 debate by saying that he would leave the country “in suspense” as to whether he would acknowledge the legitimacy of Hillary Clinton’s election, should she prevail at the polls on November 8.
Seeking to contain the predictable outrage from commentators and political figures on both sides of the partisan divide, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN immediately after the debate that “Donald Trump will accept the results of the election because he will win the election.” That is a much better answer than the one her candidate actually provided.
Oct 21, 2016
The third and final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was the first in which the issue of abortion was discussed. Clinton pledged fealty to the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that overturned existing restrictions on abortion and created the spurious right to discretionary child-killing; extolled the supposed virtues of Planned Parenthood, the eugenicist and explicitly racist organization that evolved into a highly subsidized, superficially respectable corporate entity that is the world’s largest abortion provider; and didn’t flinch from defending the practice of partial-birth abortion.
Donald Trump, who until very recently described himself as a supporter of the supposed right to abortion and has also defended Planned Parenthood, denounced partial-birth abortion. He also encouraged pro-life advocates by reiterating his promise to appoint strict constitutionalist judges to the Supreme Court. For decades, the consensus of legal scholars has been that the Roe v. Wade decision cannot survive a literal reading of the text of the Constitution.
Oct 21, 2016
According to “The Perpetual Line-Up,” a study recently released by the Georgetown Law School Center for Privacy and Technology, it is quite possible that police facial recognition databases contain the faces of half the American population.
Roughly one-quarter of all local police agencies have face recognition software, which is used to identify potential criminal suspects. At least 26 states allow law enforcement agencies to run face recognition searches against databases containing driver’s license information – including photographs. This creates the likelihood that police departments are using that software in ways that “may undermine longstanding, legally recognized rights,” concludes the study.
Oct 21, 2016
Like countless other political officials, Miami Beach, Florida Major Philip Levine has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Like a growing number of elected officials, Levine occasionally hosts a radio program. And like many social media users, Mayor Levine will occasionally block Facebook or Twitter accounts operated by people who criticize or disagree with him.
Local mortgage broker Grant Stern, who has been an outspoken critic of the mayor, has filed a lawsuit seeking to compel Levine to provide “the list of people Levine has blocked on his Facebook page and satellite radio broadcasts he’s done on Sirius/XM,” reports the Miami Herald. The Miami Beach City Attorney rejected a public records request for that list, claiming that it was not a public record. However, a 2009 legal opinion issued by then-Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum held that social media posts on Facebook pages maintained by public agencies are part of the public record.
Daniel Bevarly, executive director for the National Freedom of Information Coalition, told the Herald that if Levine used his personal Facebook page or Twitter account to discuss public business as the mayor, all of those discussions are part of the public record. This would include unpleasant exchanges that ended with the mayor blocking access by those who disagree with him – which is what happened to his long-time critic Grant Stern.
Oct 21, 2016
The Pennsylvania Senate has approved a bill that would permit police departments to deny requests for video collected by body and dashboard cameras. The measure, which enjoyed the predictable support of police unions, was approved on October 19 without debate.
State Senator Stewart Greenleaf, who sponsored the bill, insists that it will encourage police departments to outfit their officers with body cameras. He doesn’t explain what use those cameras would serve if the footage they collect can be denied to the public in cases of suspected police misconduct.
Oct 21, 2016
Although the expression is odd and unfamiliar to contemporary American ears, the term “habeas corpus” represents the foundational due process guarantee. This ancient principle of Anglo-Saxon common law, which was enshrined in the Magna Carta and in Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution, dictates that an individual suspected of a crime must be brought quickly before a magistrate and either formally charged with an offense or released. This is intended to prevent prolonged detention without trial or conviction.
Despite this 800-year-old civil liberties guarantee, Jessica Jaunch of Ackerman, Mississippi was imprisoned for more than three months without seeing a judge, receiving legal representation, or even being offered a chance to make bail, reports the AP. After being pulled over for a minor traffic violation in 2012, Jaunch was indicted for a felony drug charge on the basis of a secretly recorded video that prosecutors were compelled to admit exonerated her of any offense – but she had to wait 96 days for that vindication.
The lawsuit filed by Jaunch was dismissed by a federal judge, who insisted that the spurious indictment left her without legal recourse for her patently unjust incarceration.
Oct 21, 2016
Mayors from sixty cities around the world attending a conference in Ecuador have endorsed a UN-created proposal for a “global parliament” of municipal leaders to address management of city growth, urbanization, and challenges posed by mass migration.
Montreal mayor Denis Coderre told the assembly that “with migration the world is not defined any longer by countries or continents but by cities. We, local government, are the ones at the frontline to address many of the most pressing issues.” With that view in mind, the meeting inaugurated an as-yet informal group called the Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM), which will take as its manifesto the book “If Mayors Ruled the World” by political scientist Benjamin Barber. The central concept of Barber’s approach is that city mayors should seek pragmatic means to implement UN mandates at the local level, an arrangement that bypasses national and state governments. This vision is summarized in Coderre’s proposed slogan for the GPM: “Together, we conquer.”
Oct 21, 2016
Abraham Lincoln once asked an adviser how many legs a cow has if the tail is called a leg. The correct answer, of course, is “four,” because calling a tail a leg doesn’t change what it is. Al Gore and his disciples in the cult of climate alarmism either don’t understand that principle, or don’t consider themselves bound by it: In an effort to validate their ideology, they are redefining the meaning of the word “hurricane” in support of the claim that the supposed climate crisis has created a growing number of such disasters.
“Eleven years ago, Gore swore that `the science is extremely clear now.’ Global warming was `magnifying ‘the `destructive power’ of the `average hurricane,’ he said,” recalls Investor’s Business Daily. “Man’s impact on the environment `makes the duration, as well as the intensity of the hurricane, stronger.”
Prior to the recent arrival of Hurricane Matthew, however, the United States went eleven years without seeing a hurricane make landfall. The absence of hurricanes – let alone the apocalyptic super-hurricanes clearly predicted by Gore – can’t be reconciled with doctrinal pronouncements from high priests of the Climate Change cult. Accordingly, that movement is redefining its terms “so that what had before been tropical storms” well short of hurricane status “will in the future be catastrophic … `extreme weather’ events they can point to as proof that their fever dreams are indeed reality,” continues IBD.
Oct 21, 2016
Hillary Clinton is poised to become the first woman in American history to succeed her husband as President of the United States. Michelle Obama may seek to follow in Hillary’s footsteps.
Like Hillary, Michelle Obama was an attorney with a dubious background when her husband was elected. Hillary’s first stop after leaving the White House was the U.S. Senate, where she served a single term before announcing her candidacy in 2008. Her ambitions took an unwelcome and unexpected detour when Barack Obama’s candidacy caught fire, which made it necessary for Hillary to spend a single, scandal-plagued term as Secretary of State, a position she used to enrich the family slush fund called the Clinton Foundation.
Hillary’s political career might serve as a template for Michelle Obama’s aspirations. The Washington Examiner reports that “top Democrats back home in Illinois [are readying] an effort to recruit [Michelle Obama] to run for the Senate or mayor of Chicago.”
Given the nearly invincible Democratic Party political machine in Chicago, if Mrs. Obama were to announce her candidacy, it’s a practical certainty that she would win. If she obtains a seat in the US Senate, she could be ready for her own White House run in 2024.
Oct 21, 2016
During the early years of the George W. Bush administration the U.S. public was warned that the so-called war on terror would be a “generational conflict.” That warning was revived by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein in an address to a gathering of spouses and families of active-duty airmen.
“We’ve been deploying now for 15 years, we’ve probably got 15 [or] 20 years to go,” Goldfein told his audience. The anticipated conflicts aren’t limited to regional counter-terrorism operations, but may include confrontations with nuclear-armed major powers Russia and China, as well.
Goldfein’s projections are sobering in light of James Madison’s 1798 admonition that Americans remember that “no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of perpetual warfare.”
Oct 21, 2016
Speaking in Beijing, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced that his country is divorcing itself from its long-time ally, and one-time colonial master, the United States.
“I announce my separation from the United States,” stated Duterte to the applause of Chinese officials. “America does not control our lives,” he continued. “How can you be the most powerful industrial country when you owe China and you are not paying it?”
The Philippines, along with several neighboring countries, has been involved in a legal, diplomatic, and strategic conflict with Beijing over expansive Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea. Although he had campaigned as a nationalist determined to confront Beijing, Duterte has become increasingly conciliatory toward the Communist government, even has he has been openly contemptuous toward the Obama administration.
The U.S. seized control of the Philippines in the early stages of the 1898 Spanish-American War. After promising its inhabitants freedom from Spanish colonial rule, Washington reneged on promises of independence, which led to a decade-long conflict that by some estimates resulted in the death of more than 100,000 Filipinos. The islands were coveted as a base from which the US government could project power in Asia – including into China.
Oct 21, 2016
In previous generations, politicians have occasionally described legislative proposals as being so obviously correct that voting against them would be akin to being against motherhood. That cliché became obsolete in Ontario Canada with the provincial government’s introduction of a bill that would literally banish the term “mother” from official use.
“People in Ontario value diversity and equality – that’s why all parents and their kids need to be treated equally under the law,” insisted Clare Graham, a spokes-entity for provincial Premier Kathleen Wynne. For now, Wynne insists, the terms “mother” and “father” would remain on birth certificates.
Legislator Queenie Yu criticized the proposal for trivializing the roles of mother and father, comparing it to attempts by Communist governments to re-engineer the family.
“The government is trying to erase all trace of biological parents from these children for an ideological motive,” Yu correctly observes. “It’s just unnatural.”
Oct 21, 2016
“What has been made clear by current events and financial upheavals since 2008 is that the global economy has become truly that – global,” wrote a world-renowned business figure in January 2013 at the beginning of the annual elitist gathering in Davos, Switzerland. Touting the EU as a prime economic opportunity, the writer urged investors to set aside petty, provincial concerns based on national identity, and to embrace a globalist perspective.
“We are now closer to having an economic community in the best sense of the term -- we work with each other for the benefit of all,” he continued, reciting a familiar internationalist refrain. “I think we've all become aware of the fact that our cultures and economics are intertwined. It's a complex mosaic that cannot be approached with a simple formula for the correct pattern to emerge….There won't be any winners or losers as this is not a competition. It's a time for working together for the best [interests]of all involved. Never before has the phrase `we're all in this together’ had more resonance or relevance….I've long been a believer in the "look at the solution, not the problem" theory. In this case, the solution is clear. We will have to leave borders behind and go for global unity when it comes to financial stability.”
Thus wrote Donald J. Trump in an op-ed column for CNN, roughly two and a half years before announcing his presidential candidacy on an “America First” platform.
Oct 20, 2016
U.S. troops have taken a front-line role in the invasion of Mosul, an ISIS-controlled city in Iraq. Foreign affairs correspondent Jason Ditz notes that the US troops involved in the massive operation “are special forces [operators] who are being used as `forward air controllers,’ and are meant primarily to do targeting for US warplanes that are constantly pounding the city from above.” Despite their hands-on participation in combat operations, the Obama administration insists on describing their role as a “non-combat” function.
One inevitable result of the assault on Mosul, warns veteran Middle East expert and war correspondent Robert Fisk, will be a massive surge of ISIS fighters into Syria.
“The real purpose behind the much-trumpeted US-planned `liberation’ of the Iraqi city, the Syrian military suspects, is to swamp Syria with the hordes of ISIS fighters who will flee their Iraqi capital in favor of their `mini-capital’ of Raqqa inside Syria itself,” Fisk writes. “Already, Syrian army intelligence has heard disturbing reports of a demand by ISIS in towns and villages south of Hasaka – a Syrian city held by regime forces and Kurds in the north of the country – for new electricity and water supplies to be installed for an influx of ISIS fighters from Mosul…. [I]f Mosul falls, the entire ISIS caliphate army could be directed against the Assad government and its allies – a scenario which might cause some satisfaction in Washington.”
The Ron Paul Institute observes that the US-orchestrated assault on Mosul is leaving a western corridor open to retreating ISIS fighters that would help facilitate the scenario Fisk describes.
Oct 20, 2016
Canada is a country whose inhabitants are renowned for their politeness – but the aggressive, preening vanity of Cultural Marxism knows no national boundaries. This explains why two law professors used a Toronto Star op-ed column to condemn the Cleveland Indians – not for opposing the hometown Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series, but for daring to exist under that team’s century-old name.
Although they will enjoy the playoff championship series, write Signa Daum Shanks and Adam Dodek, “we shudder when we imagine the phrase `Blue Jays pummel Indians.’ There is no longer any place for indigenous mascots to represent sports teams. Not in the United States, and certainly not in Canada.”
One way to avoid the use of that phrase would be to arrange for the Blue Jays to forfeit the series, of course, thereby indulging the sanctimonious desires of the politically correct, albeit at the expense of their fellow Canadians who would like to see their team go to the World Series.
The use of expressions such as “Indians,” “Chiefs,” “Braves,” and “Redskins” is “the worst form of cultural appropriation,” lecture the self-appointed moral tutors. “It takes an entire people and reduces them to the basest of stereotypes.” Indigenous team names, they contend, “threaten our personal security” by riling up sentiments that may even become “hate crime” precursors.
Given that sports teams do not name themselves after people they despise, the “stereotype” in question is actually an ennobling one, celebrating the courage and competitive spirit of American Indians (of whom this correspondent is one, in the interests of full disclosure).
“In a baseball game, the umpire calls out strikes loudly for all to hear,” the barristers write in a painfully condescending passage. “So too should fans of the game call out racism.”
A worthier suggestion would be to send Cultural Marxism to the showers.
Oct 20, 2016
No evidence has yet been produced in support of the Obama administration’s claim that the hacked Clinton campaign emails published by WikiLeaks were provided by Russian intelligence operatives – yet Florida Senator and former presidential hopeful Marco Rubio is demanding that fellow Republicans accept those assertions on faith, and refrain from discussing their damaging contents.
“As our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process and I will not indulge it,”Rubio told ABC News. “Further, I warn my fellow Republicans who may want to capitalize politically on these leaks: Today it is the Democrats. Tomorrow it could be us.”
Oct 20, 2016
Reduced to its essence, writes Chicago Tribune commentator John Kass, the 2016 election is a contest between the “Evil Queen” and the “Evil Clown.”
“Hillary Clinton, the ice queen of the American political establishment, [is] a practiced deceiver who will make Nixon look like an angel before she's through,” Kass predicts. “She is the darling of the frightened bipartisan elites, and she is protected by their imperial guard, those in the media who ignore her sins to focus on Trump's.”
For his part, Trump “is the meat-faced barbarian at the establishment gates, swinging his angry rhetorical axe against the arrogant elites, like an Andrew Jackson of our time,” Kass continues. “Trump spent years bragging about his sexual prowess, acting like a pig (or Bill Clinton) around women. And now he's so enraged by allegations of sexual aggression that he threatens, like an angry clown, to use the power of the federal government against his enemies.”
For Americans seeking a return to a constitutionally restrained federal government, neither candidate holds out any promise.
“Both Clinton and Trump are statists,” Kass points out. “Both believe in using the federal hammer. Clinton would appoint liberals to the Supreme Court, weaken the Second Amendment if not others, and most likely end federalism. Trump promises to appoint conservatives to the court, but there’s nothing remotely conservative about promising to use the government to carry out a political vendetta,” as Trump has repeatedly done by threatening media critics with libel prosecutions, and specifically warning that Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos would face retaliation under a Trump administration.
Although Kass doesn’t mention this point, Trump’s threat against Bezos and the Washington Post is similar to threats issued by FDR against Kass’s own paper, the Chicago Tribune, and its legendary publisher, Robert McCormick.
Oct 20, 2016
A year and a half ago, the US Supreme Court redefined the institution of marriage to suit the desires of the politically powerful LBGT lobby, which coined the triumphalist slogan “Love wins!” to celebrate this development. Since that time, that lobby has tirelessly campaigned to punish those holding themselves aloof from that celebration – in the name of “love,” naturally. In addition to escalating legal persecution of private businesses and entities that do not recognizd so-called same-sex marriage, the LBGT lobby has pressured some apparently unlikely institutions into acting as deputies in the thoughtcrime crackdown.
Five years ago, the Society of Biblical Literature, which was founded in 1880, adopted a “Strategic Vision Statement” in which its “core values” included “openness to change,” “respect for diversity,” “inclusivity,” and “tolerance.” In predictable fashion, that nominally Christian organization has displayed its commitment to “diversity,” “inclusivity,” and “tolerance” by banning the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship from its 2017 convention in Boston because of the latter group’s unyielding commitment to Bible-derived teachings regarding sexual morality and the nature of marriage.
A less dramatic but financially more consequential development of a similar kind took place in the highly lucrative field of collegiate athletics. Following a nation-wide pressure campaign mounted by the LBGT lobby and its allies in academia, the Big 12 college athletic conference has decided not to invite Brigham Young University to join in the event it expands to include new schools. BYU’s institutional honor code dictates premarital sexual abstinence and strict fidelity within marriage, and does not recognize the novel social arrangement some call “same-sex marriage.” This prompted retaliation from the LBGT lobby that left BYU “toxic,” in the assessment of one Big 12 official who spoke to ESPN.
Oct 20, 2016
The FBI flinched from prosecuting Hillary Clinton’s repeated and well-documented violations of federal laws dealing with classified and sensitive correspondence – but now seeks to be commended for building a case against former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman James E. Cartwright for similar conduct.
Cartwright has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of lying to the FBI in its investigation into leaks of classified information about covert operations targeting Iran. The former general has admitted to speaking with reporters from the New York Times and Newsweek about a cyber-warfare operation in which the Stuxnet computer virus was infiltrated into the computer systems of Tehran’s nuclear program. Cartwright’s offense was not to provide information about the program, but merely to confirm what they already knew. He then attempted to mislead FBI investigators when interviewed about his conduct.
As a result, the retired general now faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Last year, former CIA director David Petraeus arranged a deal with the Justice Department that avoided a felony conviction and prison time but imposed two years of probation and a fine of $100,000. Petraeus had passed hundreds of highly classified documents to Paula Broadwell, his mistress and biographer.
By way of contrast, the Washington Post observes, “Clinton was not charged at all for what FBI Director James B. Comey called `extremely careless’ handling of `very sensitive, highly classified information.’” FBI Director Comey said that although there was “evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information,” his judgment was that “no reasonable prosecutor” would have filed charges against the Democratic presidential contender. If that assessment is valid, the hypothetical “reasonable” prosecutor would be acting on the basis of something other than the law and the evidence – perhaps in the interest of professional, or even personal, self-preservation.
Oct 20, 2016
Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University and high-profile supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, apparently wants the campus newspaper to provide a “safe space” for the candidate and his supporters. Joel Schmieg, a contributor to the student newspaper, was ordered by Falwell to spike a column he had written condemning Trump’s notorious statements in which he boasted about his sexual infidelities and actions that meet the legal definition of sexual assault.
“Yesterday I was told [that Falwell] was not allowing me to express my personal opinion in an article I wrote for my weekly column in the Liberty Champion about Trump and his `locker room talk,’” wrote Schmieg on his Facebook page. He later told The Daily Beast that his editors read to him an email from Falwell that said his opinion column was not to run. Schmieg, the sports editor for the paper, said in his essay that in all his time spent in locker rooms and around athletes at various levels, “I have never in my life heard guys casually talk about preying on women in a sexual manner.”
Cierra Carter, opinion editor for the paper, confirmed to Politico that the column had been suppressed on Falwell’s orders.
“I understand Joel’s frustration regarding the situation,” Carter declared. “Our [university] president has been very vocal with his opinions during this election season and we’d like the same privilege.”.
A week ago, reacting to an open letter by Liberty University students condemning his support for Trump, Falwell insisted that “Liberty University promotes the free expression of ideas unlike many major universities where political correctness prevents conservative students from speaking out.”
“I find these words from Jerry amusing and extremely hypocritical,” Schmieg wrote in his Facebook post.
Oct 20, 2016
Asma Assad, the wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told a government-backed Russian television channel that enemies of her husband had offered her an opportunity to flee from Syria as a way of demoralizing him, but that she has chosen to remain in the country. In fact, she has not left since the civil war began.
“Yes, I was offered the opportunity to leave Syria, or rather to run from Syria,” Mrs. Assad, a London-born former investment banker, said in the English-language interview obviously intended for a Western audience. “These offers included guarantees of safety and protection for my children, and even financial security. It doesn’t take a genius to know what these people were really after. It was a deliberate attempt to shatter people’s confidence in their president.”
Mrs. Assad, a 41-year-old mother of three, insisted that “I’ve been here since the beginning and I never thought of being anywhere else at all.” She declined to specify the identity of the parties who made the offer, but dismissed it as “stupid.”
Oct 20, 2016
In a speech promoting what he described as an ethics reform plan, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of being corrupted by the influence of foreign lobbyists – to the detriment of America’s national independence and economic well-being. This was demonstrated, the candidate continued, by Mrs. Clinton’s support for multilateral trade agreements. His speech included a call to ban foreign lobbyists from donating to US political campaigns.
“The reason Hillary Clinton pushes for NAFTA, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and for completely open borders, is because her international donors control her every move,” accused Trump.
Assuming the soundness of that very compelling indictment, there is evidence that Trump is also guilty of that offense. Citing recent campaign filings, The Intercept reports that there have been “several donations from foreign lobbyists into Trump’s campaign, as well.”
Those donors “are among a tide of other lobbyists, mainstream special-interest groups and consumer facing companies that have begun to heavily fund Trump’s political campaign, which was previously fueled by small donors,” the report continues.
Among the registered foreign lobbyists who have donated to the Trump campaign are Marc Lampkin, a former aide to ex-House Speaker John Boehner who now represents the Saudi Arabian government and several corporations; David Tamasi, chairman of the Trump Victory committee, who is a registered agent of the ruling party in the Republic of Congo; and former Republican Congressman Bob Livingston, who is a registered lobbyist on behalf of St. Maarten and the Central Bank of Curacao.
Oct 20, 2016
Several months ago, wire services reported that if Donald Trump were to win the presidency in November, a large number of career bureaucrats would resignen masse. Intended as a warning, this news item was seen by millions of Americans as an endorsement of the Republican contender. Some officials at the National Security Agency have expressed similarly deep misgivings about Trump, and at least a few have suggested that they would resign if he is elected. This is a more complicated proposition, in that this critique is rooted in professed concerns for civil liberties on the part of people who are employed by an agency that routinely violates the same.
Ex-NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has been denigrated as a traitor by Trump and a criminal by Hillary Clinton, warned several years ago that an authoritarian-minded president, given access to the vast apparatus of domestic surveillance, would be handed a “turnkey tyranny.”
Former NSA attorney Susan Hennessey told Wired magazine that “No one should kid themselves about the idea that in the wrong hands, [the NSA’s] surveillance program] couldn’t do quite a bit that’s very scary.” That assessment, of course, begs the question of whether any hands are suitable to control such a system. Another former NSA attorney told the publication that “The idea of a Trump presidency to me is horrifying as a citizen. If I were still in the executive branch, I’d be thinking, `Will I have a crisis of conscience if the president is directing policy in ways I disagree with?’”
Oct 20, 2016
By conventional measures of public opinion, Donald Trump appears to be losing badly to Hillary Clinton. At the same time, he has opened a second front by attacking the leadership of the Republican Party, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, for urging GOP congressmen to do what they regard as necessary to retain their seats – including, if necessary, distancing themselves from the party’s presidential nominee.
If Mrs. Clinton is elected, the only potential restraint on her ambitions would be a solid Republican majority in both the House, where revenue bills must originate, and the Senate, which must approve all judicial appointees, particularly to the US Supreme Court. As the GOP’s down-ticket prospects diminish in this election, so does the likelihood of any effective opposition to a Clinton presidency – a prospect that alarms most Republicans and at least a sizeable plurality of the electorate. Rather than acting to shore up the party he nominally leads, however, Donald Trump appears to be treating the GOP-led Congress as an adversary. This explains, in part, his proposal for a constitutional amendment “to impose term limits on all members of Congress” in order to end “decades of failure in Washington."
The idea of term limits is popular with an electorate that already has the ability to remove its respective congressional representatives when they run for re-election every two years. However, the reelection rate for incumbent congressmen reveals that they are roughly as secure in their positions as the members of the Soviet Politburo were in theirs.
Oct 20, 2016
An ancient common law principle dictates that legitimate laws will be relatively few in number, comprehensible to people of normal intelligence, and well-publicized. The more tyrannical a government becomes, laws will become too numerous to learn, difficult to be understood, and often secret in nature.
A recent report from the Brennan Center for Justice finds that the US government’s behavior is much closer to the second standard than the first.
“The Justice Department has kept classified at least 74 opinions, memos and letters on national security issues, including interrogation, detention and surveillance,” reports the Washington Post, summarizing the Brennan Center report. “Also still classified are between 25 and 30 significant opinions issued between 2003 and 2013 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” a secretive body that reviews surveillance requests from intelligence agencies seeking to conduct domestic operations. That court is notorious for approving every request submitted to it – even when those seeking a warrant issued after the fact.
Despite Barack Obama’s insistent promise to preside over the most transparent administration in U.S. history “federal agencies are still keeping a considerable amount of policy and legal interpretations under wraps,” observes the Post. Those covert findings deal with the myriad ways that U.S. citizens can be treated like criminals by the federal government.