Monday, October 30, 2017

Who investigates the investigator?

Who investigates the investigator?
New York Post

What we had here wasn’t a leak from intelligence sources, but a piece of opposition research — contracted and paid for by President Trump’s opponents and prepared by a firm with a record of Russian-linked smears — which the FBI glommed onto.

Indeed, it looks very much like the whole Trump “collusion” probe was prompted by the Democrat-commissioned hit job. The same dossier seems to have been the FBI’s pretext for FISA warrants on Trump officials.

Meanwhile, the latest disclosures about the FBI, the Clintons and the Russian uranium scheme raise big questions about former FBI chief Robert Mueller — who’s now the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 race. Who investigates the investigator?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Comey and Mueller Imperil the Rule of Law

WSJ - Peter Berkowitz - 10/24/2017 Comey and Mueller Imperil the Rule of Law

“The former FBI directors tend to investigate Republicans far more zealously than Democrats.”

“The Hill reported that in 2009 the FBI “gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.”

“The FBI kept that information from Congress and the public, the Hill reported, even as Hillary Clinton’s State Department in 2010 approved a deal that transferred control of more than 20% of America’s uranium supply to a Russian company. The Hill also reported the FBI had documents showing that during this period Russia engineered the transmission of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.”

The FBI director at the time was Robert Mueller.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Clinton-Russia-FBI Scandal

Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier
Fusion GPS was hired by a Democratic lawyer acting on behalf of campaign and committee.

“Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.”

“People involved in the matter said that they would not disclose the dollar amounts paid to Fusion GPS but that the campaign and the DNC shared the cost.”

The FBI’s Political Meddling
The Wall Street Journal

“Mueller is the wrong sleuth when his ex-agency is so tangled up with Russia.”

Why Is The Press Ignoring The Exploding Clinton-Russia-FBI Scandal?

In other words, while top Obama administration officials were deciding whether to hand over control of one-fifth of the nation's uranium supplies to Russia, the FBI had piles of evidence that officials at Rosatom were flagrantly violating U.S. laws and possibly compromising national security. The FBI also had evidence that officials had directed millions of dollars to Hillary Clinton's family charity, creating a clear conflict of interest.

But as the Hill notes, none of this information was made public before the Obama administration approved the sale.

Even more intriguing, key people at the FBI at the time of the Uranium One deal are now spearheading the special counsel probe into allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to swing the November election.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Nothing on Health Care, Nothing on Taxes, Nothing on Immigration

Another “Do Nothing Congress” That didn’t work out too well for the Republicans in 1948. The “Resist Trump” Democratic Party will vote no on any proposals. There are four or five Republicans in the Senate who for their own reasons will not support bills on these issues. Thus nothing has been done and one cannot expect anything to be done without what will very soon be a train wreck in health care and probably a government shutdown or financial crisis related to taxes, the national debt, and the budget.

Immigration and DACA will be another issue which will remain unresolved. The Republicans would need to gain probably four seats in the Senate to pass the Trump agenda. The Democrats have at least three more years where they have to deal with President Trump. Congressional approval will continue to drop as these issues progressively continue to cause real harm to voters. The dysfunction is in Congress.

Real Clear Politics
Congressional Approval 13.4%

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Largely Overlooked Huge Mistake in Foreign Policy

A Largely Overlooked Huge Mistake in Foreign Policy
The Telegraph
US votes against UN resolution condemning death penalty for gay sex -- joining Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Human rights advocates and LGBT activists have condemned the US government as it became one of just 13 countries, including China, to refuse to condemn the "imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations". That resolution passed by a vote of 27 in favor, 13 voted against it and 7 abstentions. The UN ruling also condemned the use of the death penalty on people with "mental or intellectual disabilities, persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, and pregnant women".

The US has never supported any measure at the UN that condemns the death penalty.

The most powerful psychological tool of tyrannical governments is the use of executions. In 2015, the five countries with the most capital punishment executions worldwide were China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. This is the type of company that we continue to keep. These other countries are quick to point to the use of the death penalty in the United States to justify their use of coercive power and the death penalty. This is just one of the reasons why we should consider abolishing the death penalty as a matter of foreign policy. The UN resolution was just to place restrictions on the use of the death penalty.

After the tragedies of two world wars, the United Nations in 1948 set forth and aspired to a standard in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which began by stating, “ Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,”

Many of our elected leaders attended law school where the prevailing philosophy of law has been legal positivism which draws a separation between morality and law. The strong advocates of legal positivism then go further and argue that all morality as well as all law is relative. Legal positivism can be supported because it is merely descriptive of what is or has been the prevailing law without moral judgement. It is not prescriptive. It is thus entirely local and relative to time and place, with there being no universal values. The laws of Nazi Germany, for example, would simply be recognized as the laws of Nazi Germany.

Legal positivism is thus entirely relative and does not recognize any universal values or Natural Law concepts such as human rights. It is thus disarmed in an international “battle of ideas.” Perhaps this background of legal positivism is one of the reasons that our leaders have problems conveying American values even in the presence of radical terrorism with beheadings, the abduction of young girls into slavery, the burning and drowning of men in cages, and a genocide of minority groups and threats of a nuclear catastrophe.

Why are we not supporting the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family even in the issue of death penalty?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The North Korean Nuclear Dilemma

Kevin Rudd
The North Korean Nuclear Dilemma

An Address to the Swedish Institute of International Affairs
The Honourable Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia, President of the Asia Society Policy Institute Stockholm, Thursday 31 August 2017

The entire speech is worth reading. This is an excerpt:

Possible Scenarios

So what are the scenarios we face? Broadly and simply, there are three. One, that the United States, as the Chinese would wish, accepts the inevitability of North Korea becoming a full member of the international nuclear weapons club, and that the North develops its own sets of rules, procedures and nuclear doctrine that enables it behave “responsibly” as a nuclear weapons state.

Scenario two is that of the US unilateral military strike to destroy or to retard the North Korean nuclear capability. Scenario three is diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy. The current direction of diplomacy in terms of what is expected of China, North Korea and the United States appears not to be going very far.

But I think there is a broader proposition which is much discussed in the international media, and I’ve certainly sought to promote it myself in pieces I’ve written recently, which goes by the name of the “grand bargain”. The reason why we need a strategic grand bargain is because of the vast array of Chinese deep interests alive in the Korean Peninsula that I referred to earlier in this presentation, as well as core North Korean interests. Not to mention the fundamental interests of most of us in avoiding North Korea becoming a permanent nuclear weapons state in the first place.

So what would such a grand bargain entail?

First, Beijing needs to accept that the threat of a unilateral US strike is credible enough to warrant a change in Chinese diplomacy towards North Korea.

Second, the US would need to be clear with Beijing about what is at stake here for China. And if China succeeds in bringing about a cessation of North Korea’s nuclear program, and the destruction of its existing arsenal, the US would then accept the following:

  • a formal peace treaty following the armistice which has been in operation since 1953
  • formal diplomatic recognition of Pyongyang by the United States
  • external security guarantees for the future of the regime and the North Korean state, provided by the Chinese, the Americans and possibly the Russians
  • for the Chinese then to be able to assist North Korea to continue to reform and develop the North Korean economy; and possibly, and most problematically, a staged program for the eventual withdrawal step-by-step of US forces from South Korea.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Confronting Terrorism and Totalitarianism in Our Time

Confronting Terrorism and Totalitarianism in Our Time

What you have in North Korea is a replay of the atrocities of Stalinist communist totalitarianism in Russia and Hitler’s Nazi totalitarianism in Germany. These each resulted in the lost of about 20 million lives and these tragedies were possibly exceeded by the loss of life under Mao’s communist totalitarian rule in China. It is China and Russia that have sponsored and supported a similar totalitarian rule in North Korea.

The United States has consistently unvalued the role of ideas in foreign policy. First, we have not conveyed that our primary moral concept is equality, understood as a respect for human dignity and our common humanity. We have certainly struggled to live up to this ideal, but Jefferson, Madison, Tocqueville, Lincoln, and the great reformers such as the women suffragettes and Martin Luther King, Jr. all considered equality be our primary moral concept. It is the concept of a respect for personal dignity our common humanity that would make possible the accommodation of diversity and a wide variety of attributes possible in a pluralistic global community without coercion or alienation.

The political tragedies of the 20th Century bore witness to the need for a respect for human dignity and our common humanity. In 1948, the United Nations, for example, thus passed The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Preamble begins, “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

Second we have failed to effectively contrast the concepts of universal equality and human rights to even the most brutal tactics of ISIS and the totalitarian regime in North Korea. We have even been reluctant in these cases to even identify and condemn the extreme brutality of both terrorism and totalitarianism in our time. This ideological battle of ideas, however, should also be a foundational part of our foreign policy and our defense of civilization against both anarchy and totalitarianism.

Fox News -- Anne Pierce
Stress North Korean Atrocities and China’s Shameful Role

“Trump administration officials should more frequently condemn North Korea’s extreme human rights violations. It is the extremism of the regime that makes its nuclear weapons so dangerous.”

Monday, October 2, 2017

Justice is not blind with James Comey or the FBI

Justice is not blind with James Comey or the FBI

Baseball umpires and referees in basketball and football have leeway in how they apply the rules to the game. They are expected, however, the be consistent in how they call the game and thus treat each side the same and fairly. James Comey and the FBI by this standard have been very partisan, neither consistent nor fair.

James Comey was told to call the Clinton email inquiry a “matter” rather than an investigation by the Attorney General after she had had a meeting with Bill Clinton and that is what he did. Dr. Obama made his own declaration that Hillary had not done anything illegal.

We now learn that James Comey had been making plans to exonerate Hillary Clinton in the e-mail scandal even before all all of the witnesses, including Hillary, had been heard.

On the other hand, after there was a false leak that President Trump was under investigation for a collusion which the Russians, James Comey told Trump that he was not under investigation but he would not publically deny the false accusation which only fueled a media frenzy. Only after he was fired did Comey leak a conversation through a friend to the press with the intent of compelling the appointment of a special counsel. The only clear crime was the leak of information concerning General Flynn. Even though there was a very small number of people who had access to that information, The FBI did not determine the source of the leak.

American Thinker -- Daniel John Sobieski
Corrupt Comey Had the Fix In

Now we know why the FBI made the absurd claim that it would not release its files on the Hillary Clinton email investigation for alleged lack of public interest. The FBI was covering up its obstruction of justice in the, er, “matter” knowing full well that former Director James Comey had already exonerated Hillary Clinton before the alleged investigation was complete and all witnesses had been interviewed and months before Comey falsely claimed in his announcement that no competent prosecutor would take Hillary’s case.

National Review
Mueller Scorches the Earth

"The way it’s supposed to work, the Justice Department learns of a crime, so it assigns a prosecutor. To the contrary, this Justice Department assigned a prosecutor — make that: Seventeen hyper-aggressive prosecutors — and unleashed them to hunt for whatever crime they could find."

Washington Examiner
Stonewalling by the FBI on the “Dossier” issue

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Another Reason Ohio Should Reconsider the Death Penalty

Another Reason Ohio Should Reconsider the Death Penalty
Harvard University's Fair Punishment Project


“Ohio intends to execute three more people in 2017 and then 23 more between 2018 and 2020.2 We examined the cases of these 26 men, relying on available legal pleadings, court opinions, and where accessible, trial testimony. We found that these men are among the most impaired and traumatized among us – a pattern replicated across America’s death rows. At least 17 out of the 26 men experienced serious childhood trauma – horrifying instances of extensive physical and sexual abuse. At least 6 men appear to suffer from a mental illness, and at least 11 have evidence of intellectual disability, borderline intellectual disability, or a cognitive impairment, including brain injury. Three were under the age of 21 at the time they committed their offenses, a period during which an individual’s brain, especially the section related to impulse control and decision-making, is still undeveloped. Many of these men fall within several of these categories, which compounds the impairments.”

Read the article for the stories of these men on death row.

See also: Reconsidering the Death Penalty in Ohio