How the GOP Congress Killed it’s Majority

I admit I’m not much of an affecianto of Breitbart; however they had a story that caught my eye this week

“The House GOP leadership is responsible for blocking a pro-American immigration reform package which was backed by President Donald Trump, a top House chairman said Tuesday.

The GOP leadership let the House immigration reform die in June by allowing a critical bloc of GOP legislators to split their votes between two rival reform bills, said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the retiring chairman of the House committee on the judiciary.”

This more or less confirms what I’ve suspected the past two years: that the GOP House leadership was every bit in opposition to the Trump Presidency as any roundtable on MSNBC, and has been in opposition to him and his issues, even if it cost the Republicans the House majority.

The Paul Ryan strategy was summarized at the time fairly well here:

Well, it worked.  Ryan, as Speaker of the House, spent two years sabotaging not only any Trump friendly bills, such as the Goodlatte bill, but, with the exception of the tax cuts, all other GOP priorities.  Ryan’s legacy amounts to a bunch of massive spending bills and a tax bill that won’t survive a Democrat majority in the House and Senate.  But at least his donors will be happy.

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed Ryan’s perfidy. The multiple versions of the House “repeal and replace” health care plans seemed like they were designed to fail, and they certainly did, giving Trump the first of many failures in dealing with Congress.

With control of all three branches of government, the GOP accomplished virtually nothing and gave not a single reason to motivate GOP voters.  If the Democrats had not gone Kavanaugh crazy, I wonder what the damage to the GOP House would have been.  Of course, Goodlatte could have said something about this a lot earlier, instead of waiting until he’s out the door, but that, like any Republican chances for immigration reform, is water under the bridge.

So two years wasted and no chance in Trump’s first term to accomplish anything on immigration or again, anything else now.  If any party deserved to lose, it’s the House Republicans.

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About that Morning Joe Mid-Term Prediction

June 13th seems like a few years back, not merely a few months, however it stuck out for me because that day’s show had Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough go into a rant promising a massive Democratic wave this fall.” Joe even held up a newspaper to confirm the date, just like a hostage video; which in some ways describes Morning Joe fairly well.

As I had posted at the time: Challenge accepted.

In service to keeping Joe honest on his prediction, I watched the entire three hours of his show this morning.

Please thank me for my service.

As I suspected, Joe did not mention his June prediction once, although he did show a clip from the show made on the same day, one of Mark Sanford pouting after he lost his primary race, but reminding everyone of his big “massive democratic wave?”  No chance.

Of course I had made my own predictions about how the mid-term races were going to play out; the Republicans would maintain control of the House and the Senate.  So how did I do?  Well I only got that half right. The Democrats took the House, gaining 34 seats, while the Republicans maintained control, and gained seats, in the Senate.

As a point of comparison to other recent mid-term elections:

President Obama (D):

2014: 13 Democratic House seats were lost, from 201 to 188

2012:  62 Democratic House seats were lost, from 256 to 193

President Bush (R):

2006:  30 Republican House seats were lost, from 232 to 202

2002:  8 Republican House seats were gained, from 221 to 229

President Clinton (D):

1998:  5 Democratic House seats gained, from 206 to 211

1994:  54 Democratic House seats lost, from 258 to 204

So based on recent history, it’s pretty obvious that there was an opposition party “wave” in 2012 and 1994 for the Republicans.  Democrats have made up for that in Presidential year elections, but even in bad years for Republicans, the Democrats have not been able to reproduce a mid-term wave.  But a 34+ gain for Democrats this year is fairly equivalent to the damage Republicans took in 2006.

In other words, it was a fairly normal mid-term election.  It seems that normalcy was the biggest surprise of all.

 

The Trump Doctrine

At times I feel like the only person in the country not emotionally invested in the likely death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, killed, apparently, in quite the gruesome manner in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Instanbul, Turkey.  OK I get it, terrible story, but why exactly does this require a diplomatic response from the United States?  The US government doesn’t get involved in every foreign Coca-Cola employee in the third world who gets dragged away by a death squad.  And the death of a dissident to a despotic regime isn’t exactly breaking news.  It’s fair to say that this happens every day somewhere in the world, without the accompanying MSM hysterics.

The answer of course, is that he was employed as a journalist at The Washington Post, and in an age in which the West has abandoned religion, a new priestly caste has emerged, the MSM journalist.  That’s why the MSM has turned a minor story into a US foreign policy crisis.  This has already occupied the breaking news and top story for a week, and the new rule is if Eugene Robinson and the table at the MSNBC set are outraged, then everyone has to be.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for a sympathizer of the Muslim Brotherhood and someone who was a friend of Osama Bin Ladin, who mourned his death.  You really need to make a much stronger case to me on why his death shouldn’t be cheered, rather than causing spasms of outrage.  If there is a reason for outrage in this story, its how such a person got a green card in the first place?  Let’s investigate that.

Trump’s initial instincts on this seem to have been correct, dismissing it as not that big a deal, before the media blew it up into THE STORY of the week.  No doubt the view that this is THE STORY reflected the view of many of Trump’s advisors.  After all, doesn’t everyone seem to accept the judgement of the Post and other news outlets as to what is news, and what is major news?  It is interesting though that Trump’s default position is quite different from what the current White House line is…

Over at the Lion of the Blogosphere a few months ago, Lion did a post describing the “Trump Doctrine.

“If there is a Trump doctrine, it is that we have to accept foreign countries the way they are, and not turn them into copies of Western democracies. Russia has never had a democratic government like the United States, but the Trump doctrine is that we can still be friends instead of trying to sabotage their government for not being exactly like America or Germany.”

As a working definition, it’s not a bad one.  And why shouldn’t he define it?  It’s not as if Presidential “doctrines” are released as a White Paper or press release.  They are discovered by observing the administration in action.  Most famously the “Bush Doctrine” was ham-handedly used by Charlie Gibson in a rather famous gotcha interview with Sarah Palin in which she described the Bush Doctrine, just not the way Charlie Gibson wanted.  However the actual author (or discoverer) of the Bush Doctrine, the late Charles Krauthammer, defended Palin’s take.

But I had been thinking of this for a while.  Back in 2014, I had started, but never finished, a draft of a post called, “Realpolitik,” to describe what I thought should be the style and direction of US foreign policy.  Inspired, of all people, by neo-con former Wall Street Journal columnist and current New York Times official Never-Trumper Bret Stephens, in a column he wrote for the WSJ called, Relearning Republican Foreign Policy.  With the line, “A policeman is not a priest,” Stephens made the case for a muscular foreign policy without the moralizing and messaging of either George Bush’s freedom agenda or Obama’s “reputation of a faithless friend and feckless foe.”  This line, though, is the killer:

“Someday, maybe, a Republican will be in the White House again. If that’s to happen, Americans will need some reassurance that the GOP knows how to steer a straight course between the temptations of Barack Obama’s strategic timidity and George W. Bush’s idealistic excess.“

In probably the greatest Monkey’s Paw wish of all time, Stephen’s got exactly what he asked for in this 2014 op-ed with the election of President Donald Trump.

Stephens must be exhausted from all of his spinning around and changing positions, since in this week’s NYT post, Khashoggi’s Killing Isn’t a Blunder. It’s a Crime, Stephens is back to his neo-con roots, ready to lead a new moralistic crusade against the Saudi’s.

It’s actually fair to say that a more moralistic foreign policy has a time and place.  It was integral to Reagan’s policy initiatives in fighting the Cold War, but Reagan didn’t shy away with allying with some less than savory folk in order to oppose what he saw as the graeter evil: the Soviet Union.  But we are in a different time and place, and our foreign policy challenges are totally different than the bi-polar cold war steady state which occupied US foreign policy for decades.

In the current era it seems clear to me that not every struggle around the world is our struggle, and not every fight all over the world is our fight.  We have limited resources, not just of military might or money, but time and attention.  Time wasted on this Khashoggi matter is time not spent on other foreign policy issues like trade, or domestic ones, like immigration.  And no outcome in running down every Saudi royal guard is likely to benefit US foreign policy in the slightest.

Trump’s instincts, the “Trump Doctrine,” are Realpolitik; a foreign policy based on US national interests and practical benefits rather than ideology or faux outrage.  If the GOP picks this up as a foreign policy template, that’s yet another Trump “win.”

FBI Double Down’s on Corruption: Used Leaked Stories to get FISA Warrants

What the…I had just wrote a few days ago how the former FBI Director James Comey lied about reviewing emails having to do with the reopened Clinton email investigation during the final days of the 2016 election. Now in the “hold my beer” department the FBI tries to beat that breach of trust with another.

“An FBI intelligence analyst admitted to House committees last week that bureau officials were known to leak information to the press and then use the resulting articles to help obtain surveillance warrants, according to a source with knowledge of his testimony.

Jonathan Moffa, who worked with controversial former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, testified last Friday behind closed doors before the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee.

The source with knowledge of his statements confirmed to Fox News that Moffa said FBI personnel would use media reports based on information they leaked to justify applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants.

The source told Fox News that Moffa acknowledged this “had been a practice in the past.””

So I feel vindicated in my belief that the FBI needs to be broken apart and demolished.  A free society cannot have this sort of routine lawlessness from their chief law enforcement agency.  Or we can choose not be a free society.

Comey Lied-FBI Hardest Hit

In the hardly breaking news department, comes this story at Real Clear Investigations, “Despite Comey Assurances, Vast Bulk of Weiner Laptop Emails Were Never Examined.”

“When then-FBI Director James Comey announced he was closing the Hillary Clinton email investigation for a second time just days before the 2016 election, he certified to Congress that his agency had “reviewed all of the communications” discovered on a personal laptop used by Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, and her husband, Anthony Weiner.

At the time, many wondered how investigators managed over the course of one week to read the “hundreds of thousands” of emails residing on the machine, which had been a focus of a sex-crimes investigation of Weiner, a former Congressman.”

Yeah, no shit.  I remember pondering that very same thing in 2016.  The FBI announced that they had found almost 690,000 emails on Huma Abedin’s laptop, then days later the FBI announced, nothing to see here, they’ve all been checked and everything’s fine.  Here’s the thing though, even though I was incredulous that so many emails could actually have been checked so quickly, I believed them.

What a naïve fool I was.

“But virtually none of his account was true, a growing body of evidence reveals.

In fact, a technical glitch prevented FBI technicians from accurately comparing the new emails with the old emails. Only 3,077 of the 694,000 emails were directly reviewed for classified or incriminating information.”

What a difference two years makes.  Now, I think to myself, “Of course they lied!” I regard the FBI as an inherently corrupt institution, one that should be disassembled with the law enforcement functions sent over to the US Marshal’s and spin the counter intelligence functions…somewhere else.  I don’t know if we need a new agency for counterintelligence or  it’s function’s need to be absorbed into another existing agency, but I don’t see how the FBI, as currently constructed, can be allowed to continue to exist.  It’s already shown it’s more than willing to put its thumb on the scale of a US election, and  no government agency should be doing that.

I may still be a naïve fool but I would like to think such reform is still possible.

 

With Sarah Jeong’s Tweets, the Left embraces Tribalism

The New York Times provided several days of amusement this week after hiring racist technology writer Sarah Jeong, with full knowledge of her twitter history.  That history?  Here’s a small sample:

The Times was in full bore defense mode of their pick:

On Thursday, The Times released a statement saying that it knew about the tweets before hiring Ms. Jeong, 30, and that she would stay on the editorial board.

“Her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment,” The Times said in its statement. “For a period of time she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers. She sees now that this approach only served to feed the vitriol that we too often see on social media.”

So virulent racism is OK as long as it’s used as a counter attack against trolls?  It’s a brand new argument which isn’t even remotely intellectually defensible, but it’s one I’ve seen copied across forums and message boards throughout the week.  Of course at this point I fully expected a defense of her hiring, I was just curious as to what form it would take.  It’s almost disappointing that they put such little effort in mounting a defense.  What makes Jeong’s tweets perfectly acceptable compared to say, Roseanne Barr’s comes down to, “it’s just different OK?”

Just a couple of observations…

In a political sense, this is good news for the GOP. The Democrats have really been driven off the rails this year with the party being pushed into indefensible positions on abolishing ICE and embracing socialism (whatever that means, and I suppose that most have no clue).  This is all in a year when the Democrats should have expected some Congressional gains. Instead, it’s turning into the “I don’t believe in borders, #CancelWhitePeople” party.  If Trump and the GOP have any wit about them, they’ll capitalize on this.  Every Democratic Congressional candidate should be asked about Jeong’s tweets, whether they are acceptable, is the New York Times supporting #CancelWhitePeople? “Candidate A, do you believe that white men are bullshit?”  They need to be made to own their crazy.

Also in a political sense, but in a more long run view, how does being the anti-white party influence Democratic Party prospects?  During the 2016 election, I observed that some of these guys really were serious about having a case of the ass for white people. Key to the Democrat’s “Demography is Destiny” voter replacement plan is that at least for the short run (the next two decades) white voters will continue to vote for the Democrats at about the same percentages.  But how much comparison to white people as “groveling goblins” can Democrat white voters handle?  I’ve no doubt that a certain type of NPR listening, sweater wearing, herbal tea drinking white person, reading Jeong’s tweets, could chuckle and say, “Yes we are the worst!”  Nor would this be anything but catnip to your typical white college radical; but what about families? Does the typical white Democratic voter with children really want to support a party that targets their children and see them as a problem?  I’m not so sure.

And that brings me to my final observation, that the lack of even a pretense of intellectual evenhandedness in the defense of Jeong shows that the left has gone full tribalism.  They are defending Jeong, not because she’s misunderstood, or there is merit to her tweets, but simply because they are in the same tribe and are defending one of their own. We live in an age when intellectual and political arguments are passé. The only thing that matters is which side you are one.

So how will this play out in the midterm elections?  I’ve already made my predictions, but hopefully at least through October Trump should be reminding voters what the “failing New York Times” thinks of them.

 

 

Reuter’s Fake News on the Mueller Indictment

In a busy news week (but aren’t they all these days?) I can barely keep up to read what’s going on, never mind look more deeply into an issue and analyze it.  However, certain things stick out.  And with the latest Mueller indictment of 12 Russian GRU Cyber warriors, a couple of things stuck out.

The Reuters headline to the story, “U.S. indictments show technical evidence for Russian hacking accusations,” was eye popping because I’m not familiar with indictments actually containing evidence, but it wasn’t just a headline blurb that some editor pasted on someone else’s story, it was in the body of the story too:

“SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. indictments against a dozen Russian intelligence officers on Friday provided detailed technical evidence to back up allegations of Russian hacking and leaking of information to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

The indictment tells a compelling and detailed story, but no evidence.  But such is the strength of Reuter’s reputation that I had a weekend long online argument about whether the indictment consists of “evidence” or not.  But the story in the indictment is good that I didn’t believe that Mueller’s team could have gotten this information.  It had to come from US intelligence sources.  If there is any “evidence’ it resides there, as the article seemed to admit further down:

“Some researchers said the indictment might have depended on U.S. signals intelligence, the fruits of which are rarely revealed, because it quotes electronic messages sent to an unidentified organization presumed to be London-based WikiLeaks.”

Signals Intelligence from the NSA or some other agency makes more sense, but how in the world would that end up in a Justice Department Independent Counsel indictment?  Was it declassified?  Where did it come from?

Well according to Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House select committee on intelligence, in a Daily Caller article:

“…an Intelligence Committee report released to the public on April 27 contained “almost everything” laid out in Mueller’s indictment, which was handed down Friday.

The indictment accuses military intelligence officers with Russia’s GRU of hacking into the DNC and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton campaign’s computer networks and releasing stolen documents through the fake online personas, Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks.

Nunes said in an interview on “Fox Sunday Futures” that much of the information was included in Chapter 2 of the House Intelligence Committee’s report, but it was heavily redacted in response to requests from the Department of Justice and intelligence community.”

Hmm.

“Nunes said that the committee’s investigators have had information on the Russian spies for over a year. The committee began investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign back in January 2017. Committee Republicans ended their investigation on March 12, saying that they found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

Nunes said that if the information in the Intelligence Committee’s report had been declassified, “the American people would have known we basically wrote the indictment for Mueller.””

So Nunes is claiming that virtually the entire indictment was lifted from the classified portion of his committee’s report.  A couple of questions come to mind.

Did Mueller get those portions of the report declassified so he could include it on his indictment?

If so, why couldn’t the House Intelligence Committee release these portions of their report?

If Mueller didn’t get the story of the indictment from the House report, where did he get it from?  An intelligence community leak?

If this information wasn’t declassified, didn’t someone or multiple someone’s release that information illegally?

In any case, whether the release was legal or not, it seems the only place this could have come from was the intelligence community, meaning the actual evidence, sources and methods and classified reports, would NEVER be used in an open court.  There is no way to actually prosecute these 12 Russians, even if you get them in the United States and standing before a judge.

It’s Concord Management all over again.

So this is not only fake news, it’s a fake indictment as well.  It’s a good thing that I no longer concentrate on every detail of these investigations in the same way I used to do.  It seems every time I do, I discover I’ve wasted my time on fake news and fake investigations.