Newsgeeker.com news site RSS Email Alerts

Search:obama


   
[Markets] "The White House Is Running This": Grassley Demands DOJ Unredact Mystery Strzok-Page Texts

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) fired off a letter to the Department of Justice Wednesday demanding unredacted versions of text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and former bureau attorney Lisa Page, including one exchange which took place after Strzok had returned from London as part of the recently launched "Operation Crossfire Hurricane" - referring to the White House "running" an unknown investigation.

After Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) fought tooth-and-nail for their release, the DOJ provided heavily redacted texts on May 1 and May 18. The visible portions of the texts, however, are troubling in light of recent developments - prompting Grassley's request for unredacted copies.  

“When viewing the still redacted portions in context with the unredacted material, it appeared that the redacted portions may contain relevant information relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the matter in which the Department of Justice and FBI handled the Clinton and Russia investigations.” -Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

In particular, Grassley notes: 

  • "As one example of redacted material, in a text message produced to the Committee, the price of Andrew McCabe’s $70,000 conference table was redacted."
  • "In another, an official’s name was redacted in reference to a text about the Obama White House ‘running’ an investigation, although it is unclear to which investigation they were referring"

What's notable about the message referring to the White House is that Strzok had returned from London to interview Australian ambassador Alexander Downer about a drunken conversation with Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who - after reportedly being fed information - mentioned Russia having Hillary Clinton's emails. 

Strzok: And hi. Went well, best we could have expected. Other than [REDACTED] quote: “the White House is running this.” My answer, “well, maybe for you they are.” And of course, I was planning on telling this guy, thanks for coming, we’ve got an hour, but with Bill [Priestap] there, I’ve got no control….

Page: Yeah, whatever (re the WH comment). We’ve got the emails that say otherwise.

Grassley requested that the DOJ turn over unredacted copies of the exchanges by June 6. 


Strzok and Page were kicked off of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe over the summer when the Justice Department's Inspector General, Michael Horowitz discovered over 50,000 texts between the two FBI employees - many of which showed clear bias for Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump. 

In a Monday meeting with President Trump, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein agreed to instruct Horowitz to investigate how the FBI “conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election.”

“Based on the meeting with the President, the Department of Justice has asked the Inspector General to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump Campaign,” a White House statement said.

“It was also agreed that White House Chief of Staff [John] Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with Congressional Leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested.”

Published:5/24/2018 9:33:57 AM
[Markets] More Police State Surveillance: Courtesy Of The Pentagon

Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via SHTFplan.com,

There was an article by Joseph Marks of Nextgov published on 5/16/18 that was neither picked up by the larger news networks nor kept in view for long. The article is entitled The Pentagon Has a Big Plan to Solve Identity Verification in Two Years, and here is a portion of it:

The Defense Department is funding a project that officials say could revolutionize the way companies, federal agencies and the military itself verify that people are who they say they are and it could be available in most commercial smartphones within two years. The technology, which will be embedded in smartphones’ hardware, will analyze a variety of identifiers that are unique to an individual, such as the hand pressure and wrist tension when the person holds a smartphone and the person’s peculiar gait while walking, said Steve Wallace, technical director at the Defense Information Systems Agency. 

Organizations that use the tool can combine those identifiers to give the phone holder a “risk score,” Wallace said.

If the risk score is low enough, the organization can presume the person is who she says she is and grant her access to sensitive files on the phone or on a connected computer or grant her access to a secure facility. If the score’s too high, she’ll be locked out.

Amazing. The Pentagon’s technical director omitted much in his quest to act as if such actions are “government streamlining” and occurring matter-of-factly, in the interests of securing information for the government and its contractors.

The problem: if it’s in the software of all the commercial smartphones (the ones bought in the stores), that biometric data will be transmitted by all the phones, not just the contractors to the federal government.

We also know where this is heading. The government will back-door everyone’s cell phones and make tracking and surveillance even more ubiquitous than it is now, and that’s saying something. Read this portion:

Another identifier that will likely be built into the chips is a GPS tracker that will store encrypted information about a person’s movements, Wallace said. The verification tool would analyze historical information about a person’s locations and major, recent anomalies would raise the person’s risk score.  The tool would be separate from the GPS function used by mapping and exercise apps, he said. The tool does not include biometric information, such as a thumbprint or eye scans at this point, Wallace said, because DISA judged that existing commercial applications of biometric information are too easy to spoof.

So, they’re telling us up front. GPS tracking will be used to monitor... and store... your movements... deciding if you’re a “risk” by where you go. “Anomalies,” the actions are termed, that “would raise the person’s risk score.”

Anomalous (an anomaly) is defined as something “deviating from a general rule; abnormal,” (Webster). Such a subjective assessment could literally be applied for anything outside of normative and fostered “Fisher-Price” conduct: Awake at 7am, breakfast at 8am, work by 9am, lunch 12-1pm, work until 5pm, drive to obtain gas/grocery store/bank, and then home, dinner at 6pm, tv 7-9pm, and go to sleep…repeat ad nauseum.

Anything outside of that basic, predictable “matrix” can be listed as an anomaly to increase your risk-score. This out of the Pentagon, mind you: the embodiment of the Military Industrial Complex warned about by Eisenhower (who ironically played a big part in its creation). It is not unpredictable: the militarization of the police departments, the sprouting of the fusion centers (with PO box addresses and not physical addresses, mind you), the “green light” from the FCC or a blind eye toward “Oath” (the company that gobbled up Yahoo, and forces you to allow it to read your e-mails and access your bank accounts), and other giants such as Google.

The Pentagon used to handle military matters, but the NDAA initiated by Bush Jr. and perfected under Obama redefines the “battlefield” as being the whole world (including the domestic, continental United States). The “War on Terrorism” was created to “justify” military actions against the citizens of the United States, hence to take measures heretofore forbidden under Constitutional law. In the interests of national security, the “protectors” have become the jailers…the police state that is being crafted by the day as the Statists concurrently work on removing all our rights as enumerated under the Constitution. The war is being conducted by the State against the citizens, the new “enemy” against the conformity of globalism and the totalitarian dictatorship that will eventually be complete in the United States.

Published:5/23/2018 11:02:54 PM
[World] Laura Ingraham Rips James Clapper for Spying on Americans and Trump Campaign

In her Angle commentary, Laura Ingraham ripped Obama-era Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for purportedly lying about surveilling members of the Trump presidential campaign.

Published:5/23/2018 10:03:34 PM
[Markets] Sharyl Attkisson: 8 Signs Pointing To A Counter-Intel Op Deployed Against Trump

Authored by Sharyl Attkisson, op-ed via The Hill,

It may be true that President Trump illegally conspired with Russia and was so good at covering it up he’s managed to outwit our best intel and media minds who've searched for irrefutable evidence for two years. (We still await special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings.)

But there’s a growing appearance of alleged wrongdoing equally as insidious, if not more so, because it implies widespread misuse of America’s intelligence and law enforcement apparatus.

Here are eight signs pointing to a counterintelligence operation deployed against Trump for political reasons.

1. Code name

The operation reportedly had at least one code name that was leaked to The New York Times: “Crossfire Hurricane.”

2. Wiretap fever

Secret surveillance was conducted on no fewer than seven Trump associates: chief strategist Stephen Bannon; lawyer Michael Cohen; national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn; adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner; campaign chairman Paul Manafort; and campaign foreign policy advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

The FBI reportedly applied for a secret warrant in June 2016 to monitor Manafort, Page, Papadopoulos and Flynn. If true, it means the FBI targeted Flynn six months before his much-debated conversation with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

The FBI applied four times to wiretap Page after he became a Trump campaign adviser starting in July 2016. Page’s office is connected to Trump Tower and he reports having spent “many hours in Trump Tower.”

CNN reported that Manafort was wiretapped before and after the election “including during a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Trump.” Manafort reportedly has a residence in Trump Tower.

Electronic surveillance was used to listen in on three Trump transition officials in Trump Tower — Flynn, Bannon and Kushner — as they met in an official capacity with the United Arab Emirates’ crown prince.

The FBI also reportedly wiretapped Flynn’s phone conversation with Kislyak on Dec. 31, 2016, as part of “routine surveillance” of Kislyak.

NBC recently reported that Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, was wiretapped. NBC later corrected the story, saying Cohen was the subject of a “pen register” used to monitor phone numbers and, possibly, internet communications.

3. National security letters

Another controversial tool reportedly used by the FBI to obtain phone records and other documents in the investigation were national security letters, which bypass judicial approval.

Improper use of such letters has been an ongoing theme at the FBI. Reviews by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General found widespread misuse under Mueller — who was then FBI director — and said officials failed to report instances of abuses as required.

4. Unmasking

“Unmasking” — identifying protected names of Americans captured by government surveillance — was frequently deployed by at least four top Obama officials who have subsequently spoken out against President Trump: James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence; Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Susan Rice, former national security adviser; Sally Yates, former deputy attorney general.

Names of Americans caught communicating with monitored foreign targets must be “masked,” or hidden within government agencies, so the names cannot be misused or shared. 

However, it’s been revealed that Power made near-daily unmasking requests in 2016.

Prior to that revelation, Clapper claimed ignorance. When asked if he knew of unmasking requests by any ambassador, including Power, he testified: “I don't know. Maybe it's ringing a vague bell but I'm not — I could not answer with any confidence.”

Rice admitted to asking for unmasked names of U.S. citizens in intelligence reports after initially claiming no knowledge of any such thing.

Clapper also admitted to requesting the unmasking of “Mr. Trump, his associates or any members of Congress.” Clapper and Yates admitted they also personally reviewed unmasked documents and shared unmasked material with other officials.

5. Changing the rules

On Dec. 15, 2016 — the same day the government listened in on Trump officials at Trump Tower — Rice reportedly unmasked the names of Bannon, Kushner and Flynn. And Clapper made a new rule allowing the National Security Agency to widely disseminate surveillance material within the government without the normal privacy protections.

6. Media strategy

Former CIA Director John Brennan and Clapper, two of the most integral intel officials in this ongoing controversy, have joined national news organizations where they have regular opportunities to shape the news narrative — including on the very issues under investigation.

Clapper reportedly secretly leaked salacious political opposition research against Trump to CNN in fall 2017 and later was hired as a CNN political analyst. In February, Brennan was hired as a paid analyst for MSNBC.

7. Leaks

There’s been a steady and apparently orchestrated campaign of leaks — some true, some false, but nearly all of them damaging to President Trump’s interests.

A few of the notable leaks include word that Flynn was wiretapped, the anti-Trump “Steele dossier” of political opposition research, then-FBI Director James Comey briefing Trump on it, private Comey conversations with Trump, Comey’s memos recording those conversations and criticizing Trump, the subpoena of Trump’s personal bank records (which proved false) and Flynn planning to testify against Trump (which also proved to be false).

8. Friends, informants and snoops

The FBI reportedly used one-time CIA operative Stefan Halper in 2016 as an informant to spy on Trump officials. 

Another player is Comey friend Daniel Richman, a Columbia University law professor, who leaked Comey’s memos against Trump to The New York Times after Comey was fired. We later learned that Richman actually worked for the FBI under a status called “Special Government Employee.”

The FBI used former reporter Glenn Simpson, his political opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and ex-British spy Christopher Steele to compile allegations against Trump, largely from Russian sources, which were distributed to the press and used as part of wiretap applications.

*  *  *

These eight features of a counterintelligence operation are only the pieces we know.

It can be assumed there’s much we don’t yet know. And it may help explain why there’s so much material that the Department of Justice hasn’t easily handed over to congressional investigators.

Published:5/23/2018 9:31:52 PM
[Education] Obama’s Education Secretary Is Wrong About Gun Control Being Best Way to Keep Kids Safe

Educrat (ED-yoo-krat): noun, usually pejorative. A government school official or administrator whose primary function is to spend tax dollars telling other parents what to do... Read More

The post Obama’s Education Secretary Is Wrong About Gun Control Being Best Way to Keep Kids Safe appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:5/23/2018 1:31:56 PM
[World] Let the Farm Bill Stay Dead

Michael D. Tanner

On Friday, as the Republican-controlled House of Representatives continued its descent into chaos and irrelevance, the farm bill went down to defeat amidst dueling immigration proposals. Yet while this latest snafu makes the Republicans look feckless once again, they should probably be thankful that they have been saved from this legislative dog’s breakfast.

All farm bills are bad, pure creatures of the D.C. swamp, regardless of which party is in power, but Republicans appear to have worked overtime to make certain that this one confirmed the party’s worst stereotypes.

Unsurprisingly, the bill cuts food stamps. There is a strong argument for this. The food-stamp program has expanded enormously in recent years, essentially doubling under President Bush and doubling again under President Obama. Despite the economic recovery, the program shows no signs of returning to pre-recession levels.

Welfare for farmers is every bit as destructive as welfare for poor people - and even less justifiable.

But Republicans somehow managed to cut benefits for recipients without actually reducing spending on the program. The bill would trim benefits by roughly $9.2 billion over ten years (for a program that will cost around $650 billion over that period). But it would increase administrative costs by $7.7 billion over the same period, and when other new costs are included, the program would cost an additional $500 million. That’s not a lot of money by Washington standards, of course, but less money for poor people, more money for bureaucracy is not the best message.

Republicans also strengthened the program’s work requirements, actually something of a return to pre-recession work mandates. This too is entirely defensible, given the ongoing decline in unemployment and the increasing shift of the program from temporary to long-term participation. But the Republicans combined the requirement with a massive increase in funding for a job-training program whose effectiveness was last evaluated more than 20 years ago, when the Department of Agriculture found no evidence that it helped recipients find jobs. (That’s one driver of the new costs mentioned above.)

While getting tough on food-stamp recipients, Republicans simultaneously opened the floodgates for corporate welfare. As usual, the big winners are corn, wheat, soybean, cotton, rice, and peanut farmers, who receive more than 90 percent of subsidies. And though farm subsidies are often sold through nostalgia for hardscrabble family farmers, the reality is that this bill is welfare for corporate agriculture. According to a 2017 report of the Congressional Research Service, “farms with market revenue equal to or greater than $250,000 accounted for 12 percent of farm households, but received 60 percent of federal farm program payments.” Maybe that’s why just 600 companies spent half a billion dollars lobbying for the bill.

There are new welfare queens as well, including sheep farmers, who will see their subsidies restored after they were stripped out of the last farm bill. The bill also restored subsidies for “natural stone” (yes, rocks) exporters. There’s a special piece of the pie for everyone from dairy farmers to rural broadband providers.

Nor would any farm bill be complete without a variety of measures designed to protect the U.S. sugar industry from competition. Those benefits help drive up U.S. sugar prices to double those of the rest of the world.

And to cap it all off, the bill actually expands a provision that makes it possible for cousins, nieces, and nephews of farm owners — who are not actively engaged in farming and who may not even live on a farm — to qualify for commodity subsidies.

Somehow Republicans still haven’t figured out that welfare for farmers is every bit as destructive as welfare for poor people — and even less justifiable.

The Republican leadership will eventually find a way to deal with the immigration rebellion (or rebellions) that killed this bill. At that point, we can expect the farm bill to return to the floor. Republicans would be far better advised to let it stay dead.

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis.
Published:5/23/2018 11:57:48 AM
[Markets] Ron Paul: Haspel Is Not The Problem...The CIA Is The Problem

Authored by Ron Paul via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

As a general rule, when Dick Cheney favors a foreign policy position it’s best to be on the opposite side if you value liberty over war and authoritarianism. The former vice president’s enthusiastic endorsement of not only Gina Haspel as CIA director but of the torture program she oversaw should tell us all we need to know about Haspel.

Saying that Haspel would make a great CIA director, Cheney dismissed concerns over the CIA’s torture program.

Asked in a television interview last week about the program, Cheney said, “if it were my call, I’d do it again.”

Sadly, the majority of the US Senate agreed with Cheney that putting a torturer in charge of the CIA was a good idea. Only two Republicans – Senators Paul and Flake – voted against Haspel. And just to confirm that there really is only one political party in Washington, it was the “yes” vote of crossover Democrats that provided the margin of victory. Americans should really be ashamed of those sent to Washington to represent us.

Just this month, the New York Times featured an article written by a woman who was kidnapped and send to the secret CIA facility in Thailand that Haspel was said to have overseen. The woman was pregnant at the time and she recounted in the article how her CIA torturers would repeatedly punch her in the stomach. She was not convicted or even accused of a crime. She was innocent. But she was tortured on Haspel’s watch.

Is this really what we are as a country? Do we really want to elevate such people to the highest levels of government where they can do more damage to the United States at home and overseas?

As the news comes out that Obama holdovers in the FBI and CIA infiltrated the Trump campaign to try and elect Hillary Clinton, President Trump’s seeming lack of understanding of how the deep state operates is truly bewildering.

The US increasingly looks like a banana republic, where the permanent state and not the people get to decide who’s in charge.

But instead of condemning the CIA’s role in an attempted coup against his own administration, Trump condemned former CIA director John Brennan for “undermining confidence” in the CIA. Well, the CIA didn’t need John Brennan to undermine our confidence in the CIA. The Agency itself long ago undermined the confidence of any patriotic American. Not only has the CIA been involved in torture, it has manipulated at least 100 elections overseas since its founding after WWII.

As President Trump watched Gina Haspel being sworn in as CIA director, he praised her: “You live the CIA. You breathe the CIA. And now you will lead the CIA,” he said. Yes, Mr. president, we understand that. But that’s the problem!

The problem is not Haspel, it’s not John Brennan, it’s not our lack of confidence. The problem is the CIA itself. If the president really cared about our peace, prosperity, and security, he would take steps to end this national disgrace. It’s time to abolish the CIA!

Published:5/22/2018 10:24:20 PM
[World] Donald Trump Mueller Probe: Former Bush CIA Official Jailed Warns President About Brennan

A former CIA officer who was imprisoned for leaking classified information to journalists said he was initially was cleared of charges until Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan got involved.

Published:5/22/2018 8:26:10 PM
[Markets] John Brennan's Plot To Infiltrate The Trump Campaign Exposed

Authored by George Neumayr via The Spectator,

It came out of his “inter-agency taskforce” at Langley...

As Trump won primary after primary in 2016, a rattled John Brennan started claiming to colleagues at the CIA that Estonia’s intelligence agency had alerted him to an intercepted phone call suggesting Putin was pouring money into the Trump campaign.

The tip was bogus, but Brennan bit on it with opportunistic relish.

Out of Brennan’s alarmist chatter about the bogus tip came an extraordinary leak to the BBC:

that Brennan had used it, along with later half-baked tips from British intelligence, as the justification to form a multi-agency spy operation (given the Orwellian designation of an “inter-agency taskforce”) on the Trump campaign, which he was running right out of CIA headquarters.

The CIA was furious about the leak, but never denied the BBC’s story. To Congress earlier this year, Brennan acknowledged the existence of the group, but cast his role in it as the mere conduit of tips about Trump-Russia collusion:

“It was well beyond my mandate as director of CIA to follow on any of those leads that involved U.S. persons. But I made sure that anything that was involving U.S. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign, was shared with the bureau.”

But if his role had truly been passive, the “inter-agency taskforce” wouldn’t have been meeting at CIA headquarters. By keeping its discussions at Langley, Brennan could keep his finger wedged in the pie. Both before and after the FBI’s official probe began in late July 2016, Brennan was bringing together into the same room at CIA headquarters a cast of Trump haters across the Obama administration whose activities he could direct - from Peter Strzok, the FBI liaison to Brennan, to the doltish Jim Clapper, Brennan’s errand boy, to an assortment of Brennan’s buddies at the Treasury Department, Justice Department, and White House.

The bogus tip from Estonia led the group into its first cock-up: sending FBI agents to sniff around the computer server connected to Trump Tower. After that effort flopped, Brennan’s group had to go back to the drawing board (on the electronic intelligence front, it had already hatched plans for national security letters and FISA warrants).

Someone in the group must have proposed blasting a swampy old CIA source and Hillary supporter, Stefan Halper, into the Trump campaign orbit to see if he could catch a couple of minor campaign volunteers out in collusion.

Halper had entered the Deep State through a door opened by his father-in-law, Ray Cline, whose work for the CIA was legendary. Behind that door Halper found a treasure trove of jobs and government contracts, making his life as a transatlantic jet-setting academic possible. Brennan’s Langley group had access to Halper’s file and sized him up as the perfect embed: a Republican-oriented foreign policy scholar who could plausibly interact with Trump officials while serving as a nexus between the CIA and Brennan’s friends in British intelligence. Halper’s ties to Richard Dearlove, a former head of British intelligence, are well known, and Halper knows Alexander Downer, the pub-crawling Aussie diplomat, through a mutual association with Cambridge University.

That Halper came out of the brainstorming of Brennan’s group is clear from the fact that his first known meeting with Carter Page preceded the formal opening of the FBI’s probe. The Washington Post hinted at the role of Brennan’s group in hatching Halper:

Many questions about the informant’s role in the Russia investigation remain unanswered. It is unclear how he first became involved in the case, the extent of the information he provided and the actions he took to obtain intelligence for the FBI. It is also unknown whether his July 2016 interaction with [Carter] Page was brokered by the FBI or another intelligence agency [italics added].

The FBI commonly uses sources and informants to gather evidence and its regulations allow for use of informants even before a formal investigation has been opened. In many law enforcement investigations, the use of sources and informants precedes more invasive techniques such as electronic surveillance.

A veteran of the intelligence community tells TAS that Brennan’s CIA was full of Hillary supporters, some of whom decorated their desks with her campaign paraphernalia. Brennan, whom the press noted would walk the halls of the CIA in an LGBT rainbow lanyard, encouraged this open political atmosphere. While Brennan knew his spying operation on the Trump campaign was an “exceptionally, exceptionally sensitive” matter (as reported by journalists David Corn and Michael Isikoff), he assumed its machinations would never come to light.

The members of Brennan’s working group at Langley “were just a bunch of out-of-control idiots,” says a former high-ranking CIA official to TAS. He finds it flabbergasting that Brennan would bring CIA officials and FBI officials into the same room to cook up schemes to send a spy into the Trump campaign’s ranks. One of those schemes involved money (Halper paid George Papadopoulos $3,000 for a phony research paper as a way of luring him into a London meeting); another involved sex (Halper’s assistant, with a name out of a bad spy novel, Azra Turk, tried to coax information from Papadopoulos at flirty bar outings, according to the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross).

Like Brennan, Halper didn’t bother to hide his support for Hillary even as he conducted this infiltration. He told the press that he feared a Trump presidency, as it could harm the “special relationship” between the United States and Great Britain. That rationale must have figured into Alexander Downer’s motivation for working with Brennan’s Langley group too. Downer traveled in the same elitist circles as Christopher Steele, Halper, and John Kerry. It appears he sent word of his boozy evening with Papadopoulos back to Brennan’s group through these circles — either through Hillary partisans at the State Department or through Clinton Foundation channels, for whom he had worked as a kind of bag man.

Halper had come up empty, so Brennan’s group at Langley went with Downer’s tale, as feeble as it was. But it at least had the advantage of coming from a “diplomat.”

Yet if Congressman Nunes is right and the originating document for the FBI probe doesn’t even contain a reference to an official intelligence product passed to Brennan from the Australian government, Downer’s hearsay must have been exceedingly flaky, so flaky no one would want to be on the record treating it as “evidence” for something as momentous as a probe into a presidential campaign.

According to press accounts, Downer’s bumptiousness caused a diplomatic row of sorts between the two countries.

Who resolved it? John Kerry? Susan Rice? Or was this another case of Obama leading from behind - behind a CIA director briefing him daily on “Russian interference” while running an anti-Trump spy ring out of Langley.

Published:5/22/2018 5:23:48 PM
[Politics] Mueller Goes to Israel News that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has sent his gumshoes to Israel certainly does bring this matter full circle. The report is that they are looking into the activities of what the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news wire characterizes as "an Israeli-run social media firm that may have led a social media manipulation effort to help Donald Trump get elected."Good luck to Mr. Mueller, is our sentiment. And, say, while he's at it, maybe he can look into what the President Obama and his political... Published:5/22/2018 4:52:31 PM
[Politics] Podcast: Former Obama Voter Antonia Okafor Explains Why She’s Now Conservative

Antonia Okafor is now a gun rights supporter and political commentator. But in college, she found her political beliefs shifting from left to right. She... Read More

The post Podcast: Former Obama Voter Antonia Okafor Explains Why She’s Now Conservative appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:5/22/2018 4:22:23 PM
[Politics] ‘Good Morning America’ Praises Obama Netflix Deal: ‘We Need That Kind of Programming’

The post ‘Good Morning America’ Praises Obama Netflix Deal: ‘We Need That Kind of Programming’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:5/22/2018 3:26:05 PM
[] Honorary Members of the Media, Barack and Michelle Obama, Become Official Members of the Media with Netflix Production Deal Netflix announced today that former President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama have struck a "storytelling partnership" with the video-on-demand service that will unfold in front of and behind the camera. ... The agreement with the Obamas is... Published:5/22/2018 3:26:05 PM
[Markets] The Pentagon Is About To Do Something Stupid

Authored by Derek Hunter, op-ed via The Daily Caller,

By now, there’s a fairly good chance your personal information has been exposed, to one degree or another, to hackers. Personally, I’ve received notifications from several companies and my college about hacking attempts they’ve suffered that made my personal information vulnerable to identity thieves, and you or someone know likely has, too. It’s the reality of living in the 21st century - hackers are constantly attempting to access our information, which requires us to take extra precautions to protect our important information. If only government were so concerned.

In 2013, 40 million customers of Target stores had their credit and debit card information stolen. The Equifax hack exposed nearly half the country, almost 150 million people’s personal information to hackers. Even the federal government suffered a breach when, in 2015, it was announced that the records of 21.5 million government employees and others who had gone through background checks for security clearances for the Office of Personnel Management had been stolen, likely by Chinese hackers.

If it’s digital, it vulnerable.

That truth presents the federal government with a special problem. The feds amass more data than just about anyone. And, more importantly, more sensitive data than anyone. And that sensitive data is a prime target for hackers, both from hostile states and anyone willing to sell to them. The potential rewards for bad actors are limitless, which makes the danger limitless as well.

The federal government is left scrambling to stay one step ahead of the hoard seeking to breach those secrets. This race had led to some necessary innovations and strategic thinking, like a decentralized system so no one can access everything by accessing one system.

Well, they used to have a decentralized system, but in a boneheaded move only the government could concoct, the Pentagon is looking to create a single, giant database for our nation’s secrets in the cloud.

Being the government, they don’t have the ability to create their own cloud; they’re farming it out. Just imagine: the most important bits of intelligence our nation gathers — names, dates, spy satellite photos, bank accounts, everything required for our intelligence agencies to keep us one step ahead of our enemies, to keep us safe — all entrusted to one company.

And which company? Amazon. It’s not yet official, but the Pentagon has a “winner-takes-all” bidding process they’re advancing that even the other competitors for the contract admit Amazon will win.

This decision is, quite simply, crazy. Why would the government award a contract, this contract, to a company the president routinely puts in his crosshairs? As it turns out, you can thank President Barack Obama for that.

“To reward tech companies that supported his campaign, Obama populated the government’s digital services with their flunkies,” the Weekly Standard reported,including the fact that the Defense Innovation Board is “chaired by Bezos’s partner and fellow Clinton supporter Eric Schmidt.”

The swamp didn’t become so swampy by itself.

As the Standard put it, this situation “created an environment where political enemies of President Donald Trump can continue to give kickbacks to the groups and individuals who opposed him, undermining his ability to lead our national security efforts.”

So, we have a national security system on the verge of consolidating all of its intelligence in one place, making it a prime target for hacking. And the company set to get the multi-billion-dollar, multi-year contract to house all of those secrets is owned by the richest man in the world, who just happens to be one of President Trump’s targets for criticism.  Add to that the fact that the government bureaucracy that set this in motion is populated with people loyal to the previous administration and you begin to see the scope of this mess.

With all that has come to light about the intelligence community in the past month, the exposure of the Obama administration’s spying on the Trump campaign, the idea of trusting his appointees with protecting our nation’s secrets seems, at a minimum, ill-advised. And putting them all under one umbrella while trusting Amazon with them makes even less sense.

This is the swamp President Trump promised to drain.

The president, at a minimum, needs to stop the centralizing of our national security data. Unless and until we can protect our personal data and our credit card transactions, we should not put the biggest prize in international intelligence in one place. That would just be stupid.

Published:5/22/2018 1:22:46 PM
[Markets] After Spying On Trump Campaign, Did Stefan Halper Try To Infiltrate State Department?

FBI "infiltrator" Stefan Halper tried to worm his way into a senior role within the Trump administration, according to a Monday report by Jonathan Swan of Axios.

During the transition following the 2016 election, while still being paid by the Department of Defense for "research" papers, Halper - nicknamed: "the walrus," allegedly approached Trump's top trade advisor, Peter Navarro for a job as an ambassador to an unnamed Asian country. 

Halper, who already knew Navarro in the context of being a China scholar and interviewing for his anti-China book and film, pitched himself for an ambassadorship in Asia, according to a source briefed on their interactions. Navarro says he submitted Halper’s name for the Asian ambassadorship — we have not been able to confirm the country — along with around a dozen other people for roles in the region. -Axios

Halper, a Clinton supporter, former government official and longtime spook for the CIA and FBI, was outed as the FBI informant who infiltrated the Trump campaign after the Washington Post and the New York Times ran reports that corroborated a March report by the Daily Caller detailing Halper's outreach to several low-level aides to the Trump campaign, including Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, and a cup of coffee with campaign co-chair Sam Clovis. 

Halper, 73, cut a colorful figure as he strolled through diplomatic, academic, and espionage circles, having served in the Reagan, Ford, and Nixon administrations. -Daily Mail

These contacts are notable, as Halper's infiltration of the Trump campaign corresponds with the two of the four targets of the FBI's Operation Crossfire Hurricane - in which the agency sent counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and others to a London meeting in the Summer of 2016 with former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer - who says Papadopoulos drunkenly admitted to knowing that the Russians had Hillary Clinton's emails.

The 73-year-old American who split his time between his Virginia farm and teaching at Cambridge, approached several Trump campaign aides during the 2016 US election for purposes of espionage - on behalf of the FBI, headed at the time by the recently very quiet James Comey. Halper continued to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page well after the election, and now we find that he was trying to infiltrate the Trump administration

In short:  

  • The FBI recruited Halper to spy on the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016
  • After forming relationships with two Trump campaign aides, Halper invited one of them, George Papadopoulos, to work on a policy paper in London, where the 73-year-old professor/spy brought up Russian emails
  • Halper approached Trump aide Carter Page during an election-themed conference at Cambridge on July 11, 2016. The two would stay in contact for the next 14 months, frequently meeting and exchanging emails.
  • Then, after the election, Halper reportedly tried to infiltrate the Trump administration, pushing for a job in the State Department, according to Axios

All the while, Halper had been paid handsomely by the Obama administration through a Department of Defense contract, one of four going back to 2012. The most recent contract had a start date of September 26, 2016 - three days after a September 23 Yahoo! News article by Michael Isikoff about Trump aide Carter Page, which used information fed to Isikoff by "pissgate" dossier creator Christopher Steele. The FBI would use the Yahoo! article along with the unverified "pissgate" dossier as supporting evidence in an FISA warrant application for Page. 

Spying on Page after the election...

The second installment of Halper's 2016 DoD contract is dated July 26, 2017 in the amount of $129,280 - around three months before the FISA warrant on Carter Page was set to expire following repeated renewals signed by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and a federal judge.

On July 28, he emailed Page with what the Trump campaign aide describes as a "cordial" communication, which did not seem suspicious to him at the time. 

In the email to Page, Halper asks what his plans are post-election, possibly probing for more information. "It seems attention has shifted a bit from the 'collusion' investigation to the ' contretempts' [sic] within the White House and, how--or if--Mr. Scaramucci will be accommodated there," Halper wrote. 

So, it appears that Halper was paid - or at least received suspiciously timed payments - to infiltrate and spy on the Trump campaign, not just during the 2016 election, but well into Trump's presidency. 

After a Monday meeting between President Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Chris Wray and the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to discuss the Halper revelations, the White House issued a statement according to which the DOJ said it has asked the inspector general to "expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump Campaign" and adds that "White House Chief of Staff Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with Congressional Leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested."

Full statement below:

"Based on the meeting with the President, the Department of Justice has asked the Inspector General to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's or the Department of Justice's tactics concerning the Trump Campaign. It was also agreed that White House Chief of Staff Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with Congressional Leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested."

Translated: a lot of dirty laundry is about to become public.

Published:5/22/2018 12:52:06 PM
[Markets] 'Russiagate' Unveils The Depths Of Corruption In American Politics

Authored by Seraphim Hanisch via The Duran,

For the last seventeen months now, the daily serving of American political news has included a generous helping of Robert Mueller, the Russiagate investigation that has morphed into an “is there any way possible we can get rid of Trump?” investigation, and a never changing but frothy lack of evidence to show that anything dishonest or disingenuous happened in Donald Trump’s campaign to be President of the United States.

Now, according to an opinion piece released by the Hill on Sunday 20 May, one of the issues that has been hiding in plain sight is getting some attention.

That issue is the increasingly evident amount of corruption in the US government agencies, notably the intelligence services and the Justice Department.

Mark Penn, the writer of this piece, puts his thought forward:

At this point, there is little doubt that the highest echelons of the FBI and the Justice Department broke their own rules to end the Hillary Clinton  “matter,” but we can expect the inspector general to document what was done or, more pointedly, not done.

It is hard to see how a year-long investigation of this won’t come down hard on former FBI Director James Comey and perhaps even former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who definitely wasn’t playing mahjong in a secret “no aides allowed” meeting with former President Clinton on a Phoenix airport tarmac.

With this report on the way and congressional investigators beginning to zero in on the lack of hard, verified evidence for starting the Trump probe, current and former intelligence and Justice Department officials are dumping everything they can think of to save their reputations.

But it is backfiring. They started by telling the story of Alexander Downer, an Australian diplomat, as having remembered a bar conversation with George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. But how did the FBI know they should talk to him? That’s left out of their narrative. Downer’s signature appears on a $25 million contribution to the Clinton Foundation. You don’t need much imagination to figure that he was close with Clinton Foundation operatives who relayed information to the State Department, which then called the FBI to complete the loop. This wasn’t intelligence. It was likely opposition research from the start.

This is a very clear conclusion. The use of intelligence services - which are supposed to help protect the American people from dangers foreign and domestic - as tools of opposition research, (slander in six syllables) has become increasingly transparent, even as the investigation that this “research” helped launch was supposedly intended to find fault with the candidate Donald Trump and so set the wheels of outrage in motion so as to have him removed from office.

But it is not working.

And as time goes on, these selfsame groups appear to be impugning themselves in a manner that is actually amazing to see. The amazement comes from how such a corrupt operation could be put in motion, and how that operation is only succeeding in outing itself, and yet, it continues, on and on.

The fanciful “dossier” assembled by Christopher Steele and its use by the Clinton camp to create a story out of nothing is one aspect of this level of corruption.

Another is the fact that no evidence against Mr. Trump has arisen that connects him in any way to some sort of illicit or illegal interference with the American election.

A third one is the strange circumstance of Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of a special counsel after his personal recommendation calling for the firing of James Comey from the Director’s post of the FBI. After Comey was gone, Rosenstein and Robert Mueller joined forces to go forward on this “investigation.”

Sixteen prosecutors are on this team. The budget is not disclosed and is presumed to be unlimited. The team also has on it a former attorney for the Clinton Foundation, and the team has overturned facts, files and people’s lives in order to intimidate and press the idea that “something had to have gone wrong for this man to be elected President.”

Bob Mueller’s own behavior is also a mystery in this. The fact that he is still going at this process after such a long time of finding nothing seemed a mystery to even former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani.

However, if there is a takeaway from this whole story, politically, according to Mr. Penn, it appears to be this:

…[T]he Mueller investigation became a partisan, open-ended inquisition that, by its precedent, is a threat to all those who ever want to participate in a national campaign or an administration again.

In other words, If you are not going to play by the Deep State playbook, get out. If you don’t get out, we will make your life hell until you do.

There seems to be no question left about the legitimacy of the 2016 US Presidential election. Donald Trump won the contest. It would seem that he won because... he won. Enough people wanted him in the right states that they voted for him, and he won.

An interesting, and perhaps, alarming question still remains.

“Why?”

The Trump victory was unexpected by almost all political polls. It was apparently completely unexpected by President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and many others who include Republicans as well as Democrats. This election seems to have defied the common cynicism that many Americans developed, that being that “the game is rigged.”

In a sense, as we see from Mr. Penn’s piece, this cynicism was actually proven correct. The game has indeed been rigged for a long time. Mr. Trump beat the game because he went totally outside it and got the American people engaged in numbers great enough to break the hold this “deep state” has on the process. This was perhaps an example of what happens when the Republic actually works as it should.

And there is something about that that seems to have these embeds very worried. President Trump has not pleased everyone in his Presidency. Sometimes he even displeases his supporters. But his will to win through to what he wants has proven indomitable, and his ability to outthink and outmaneuver his opposition is surprising. It would be no surprise to presume that the deep state will continue its attacks, only switching narrative gears when it has to. After all, this has already been shown to be the case while the Mueller investigation has been running.

The final question all this raises is this.

“What would have happened had Hillary won?”

Published:5/22/2018 12:21:32 PM
[Barack Obama] The Obamas move upstream (Paul Mirengoff) Barack Obama wasn’t much of a president. His signature accomplishment may turn out to be paving the way for Donald Trump. Obama isn’t the genius his boosters (with his encouragement) made him out to be, either. I don’t consider him a first rate or deep thinker. If you disagree, identify one of his deep thoughts. Claiming to be on “the right side of history” doesn’t count. Neither does “let’s funnel Published:5/22/2018 11:22:28 AM
[Media] Getting REAL! Sharyl Attkisson tweets 3 words that should TERRIFY the Obama administration

This sounds ominous from Sharyl Attkisson, but only if you’re a member of the Obama administration. "Flood is coming." — Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) May 22, 2018 Whatever could this mean? "Flood is coming." "Sensitive Matters Team." New FBI emails. @SenRonJohnson @realDonaldTrump https://t.co/CW1XAvPNll pic.twitter.com/0cuaN3vTzX — Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) May 22, 2018 From SharylAttkisson.com: Based on the […]

The post Getting REAL! Sharyl Attkisson tweets 3 words that should TERRIFY the Obama administration appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/22/2018 10:22:14 AM
[Donald Trump] Trump top 10 (or so), cont’d (Scott Johnson) I’m beginning to think my “Trump top 10 (or so)”this is an infinitely expanding universe. I want to add a few items. • His great undoing of the Obama regime (a work in progress). • His refusal to bow down to the gods of political correctness. • His prompt killing of the congealing conventional wisdom promoted by Obama for entirely self-serving reasons that we were condemned to 2 percent GDP Published:5/22/2018 10:22:14 AM
[Markets] Second Spy Tried To Infiltrate Trump Campaign Says Former Adviser: "This Is Just The Beginning"

Republican consultant and former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo claims that a different spy working for the Obama administration approached him in an attempt to infiltrate the Trump campaign during the 2016 US election.

Appearing on Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle" along with former Trump aide Carter Page, Caputo's comments come amid recent revelations that Stefan Halper, a 73-year-old University of Cambridge professor, was enlisted by the Obama FBI/DOJ to perform espionage on four members of the Trump campaign - both before and after the election. Halper then tried to infiltrate the Trump administration, asking top trade adviser Peter Navaro to recommend him for a job at the State Department according to Axios. 

Halper has been paid over $1 million by the Department of Defense since 2012, with over $400,000 of it occurring in 2016 and 2017. 

And now we have word of yet second spy - possibly from another agency within the Obama administration - approaching yet another member of the Trump campaign. 

“Let me tell you something that I know for a fact. This informant, this person that planted, that they tried to plant into the campaign and even into the administration if you believe Axios–he’s not the only person that came at the campaign," Caputo claimed. "And the FBI is not the only Obama agency who came at the campaign,” Caputo continued.

I know because they came at me. And I’m looking for clearance from my attorney to reveal this to the public."

Watch: 

Halper, who served in three Republican administrations, approached campaign aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos in July and September of 2016 respectively - maintaining a dialogue with Page throughout 2017, and paying Papadopoulos $3,000 for work in London for a policy paper on energy.

Halper and Papadopoulos met several times in London where the FBI spy asked the Trump aide whether he knew about Russian hacking of Democrats' emails, according to the Daily Caller.

Sam Clovis, the Trump campaign's national co-chairman, was also approached by Halper - meeting once for coffee just days before Halper first contacted Papadopoulos. 

Caputo did not say why he believes he was contacted by a second government informant. Reached by TheDCNF, he declined to offer additional details, saying he needed clearance from his attorney. He did say the encounter occurred prior to Halper’s outreach to Page. -Daily Caller

"This is just the beginning," Caputo told Fox News. "And I’ll tell ya, when we finally find out the truth about this, Director Clapper and the rest of them are gonna be wearing some orange suits."

Published:5/22/2018 8:51:13 AM
[Fracking] America! Frac Yeah! Guest commentary by David Middleton How American Science Made Government Regulations On Emissions Unnecessary By Hank Campbell — May 18, 2018 In 2009 the U.S. government attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and pledged to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020. To make it happen, the Obama administration directed the U.S.… Published:5/22/2018 8:26:55 AM
[Media] Kimberley Strassel LEVELS Obama Bro Jon Favreau after spat with Maria Bartiromo

Obama Bro Jon Favreau got into a spat with Maria Bartiromo over Bartiromo’s questioning of “an abuse of power at the top of the FBI,” but the WSJ’s Kimberley Strassel was having none of that and absolutley leveled Favreau over his comments. First up, here’s the bro vs the B-romo: Add @MariaBartiromo to the long […]

The post Kimberley Strassel LEVELS Obama Bro Jon Favreau after spat with Maria Bartiromo appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/22/2018 7:50:49 AM
[Issues] Unions Steamrolling Quickie Elections

President Obama's rules speeding up the union election process increased the chances of union victory, according to a new analysis.

The post Unions Steamrolling Quickie Elections appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:5/22/2018 4:50:48 AM
[Politics] UH OH: Former Trump advisor says FBI wasn’t the only Obama agency to SPY ON TRUMP!!! From the sounds of this things are about to get juicy. According to former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo, there were other Obama agencies that had infiltrated the Trump campaign. Watch (it’s . . . Published:5/21/2018 10:47:45 PM
[Politics] HERE WE GO: Former Trump advisor says FBI wasn’t the only Obama agency to SPY ON TRUMP and he can’t wait to talk about it! From the sounds of this things are about to get juicy. According to former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo, there were other Obama agencies that had infiltrated the Trump campaign. Watch (it’s . . . Published:5/21/2018 10:47:45 PM
[World] Sally Yates and Spying on Donald Trump: Joe DiGenova Rips Obama Officials in FBI DOJ Probe

After a former Obama administration official accused President Donald Trump of launching an "assault" on the rule of law, former U.S. attorney Joe diGenova fired back on "Hannity."

Published:5/21/2018 9:17:59 PM
[Politics] BOYCOTT breaks out against Netflix over Obama deal!! A new boycott jihad has been declared after far-right twitter issued a fatwa against Netflix for penning a deal with Barry Soetero and Michelle Obama!!!! CHAAAAARGE!!! NETFLIX deserves a boycott or a . . . Published:5/21/2018 9:17:58 PM
[Barack Obama] “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

Will a famous quotation from the Watergate hearings about presidential involvement in a scandal come back to haunt former President Barack “Nixon” Obama? If you were around during the Watergate hearings, even if you were a disinterested child, as I was, there was one question you simply could not avoid. Sen. Howard Baker’s simply phrased […]

The post “What did the president know and when did he know it?” appeared first on Bookworm Room.

Published:5/21/2018 9:17:58 PM
[Politics] BOYCOTT breaks out against Netflix over Obama deal!! A new boycott jihad has been declared after far-right twitter issued a fatwa against Netflix for penning a deal with Barry Soetero and Michelle Obama!!!! CHAAAAARGE!!! NETFLIX deserves a boycott or a . . . Published:5/21/2018 8:49:48 PM
[The Blog] Obama TV: Netflix signs deal with Barack and Michelle to produce original content

Soon.

The post Obama TV: Netflix signs deal with Barack and Michelle to produce original content appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:5/21/2018 7:23:36 PM
[Climate News] WINNING: Trump removes global warming from Obama-era executive order BY TIMOTHY CAMA President Trump late Thursday replaced an executive order signed by former President Obama that sought to reduce federal agencies’ energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The revocation came as part of a late-night executive order that instructs agencies to set their own goals for efficiency and “prioritize actions that reduce waste, cut costs, enhance the resilience… Published:5/21/2018 7:23:36 PM
[Politics] Obama’s Education Secretary Defends Call to Pull Kids Out of School: ‘Less Guns’ Is the Answer

The post Obama’s Education Secretary Defends Call to Pull Kids Out of School: ‘Less Guns’ Is the Answer appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:5/21/2018 5:47:23 PM
[Iran] After the deal (Scott Johnson) This morning Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered his first public address on President Trump’s termination of the absurd and humiliating nuclear deal with Iran. The speech cane less than two weeks after President Trump’s May 8 announcement that the United States would withdraw from President Obama’s deal with the Iranian regime, a/k/a the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. Heritage President Kay Coles James briefly introduced Secretary Pompeo and Published:5/21/2018 5:18:19 PM
[US News] Flashback: This tweet from David Plouffe about ‘destroying Trump thoroughly’ didn’t age well

Obama senior advisor David Plouffe gives a clear snapshot of the administration's mindset about Trump in the months before the election.

The post Flashback: This tweet from David Plouffe about ‘destroying Trump thoroughly’ didn’t age well appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/21/2018 5:18:19 PM
[Entertainment] For SHAME! How can Barack Obama ink such a ‘MORALLY WRONG’ deal with Netflix?

Tsk tsk tsk.

The post For SHAME! How can Barack Obama ink such a ‘MORALLY WRONG’ deal with Netflix? appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/21/2018 4:50:41 PM
[World] Donald Trump spanks yet another Barack Obama-era regulation

It's spanking time. President Donald Trump, yet again, has sent another Barack Obama-era rule and regulation a-packing.

This one? An environmental atrocity.

Obama, in November 2015, signed an executive order that required a reel-back of greenhouse gas emissions by the federal government to the tune of 41.8 percent by 2025 ... Published:5/19/2018 2:33:18 PM

[Markets] FBI Spy-Op Exposed, Trump Campaign Infiltrated By Longtime CIA And MI6 Asset

Following two weeks of mounting speculation over the FBI's so-called "mole" inside the Trump campaign, the New York Times and Washington Post published separate accounts on Friday detailing the infiltration of the Trump campaign - a scheme revealed in a Wednesday report by the New York Times in which "at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos." The Wednesday report also disclosed the existence of "Operation Crossfire Hurricane" - the FBI's code name for their early Trump-Russia investigation.

Thanks to Friday's carefully crafted deep-state disclosures by WaPo and the Times, along with actual reporting by the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross, we now know it wasn't a mole at all - but 73-year-old University of Cambridge professor Stefan Halper, a US citizen, political veteran and longtime US Intelligence asset enlisted by the FBI to befriend and spy on three members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 US election.

While Halper's name remains undisclosed by the NYT and WaPo, a quick read of all three articles linked above makes it abundantly clear that the "American academic who teaches in Britain" described by The Times, who "met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos" is none other than Halper - whose meetings with the Trump aides were revealed by the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross in late March.

Two months before the 2016 election, George Papadopoulos received a strange request for a meeting in London, one of several the young Trump adviser would be offered — and he would accept — during the presidential campaign.

The meeting request, which has not been reported until now, came from Stefan Halper, a foreign policy expert and Cambridge professor with connections to the CIA and its British counterpart, MI6.

Halper’s September 2016 outreach to Papadopoulos wasn’t his only contact with Trump campaign members. The 73-year-old professor, a veteran of three Republican administrations, met with two other campaign advisers, The Daily Caller News Foundation learned. -Daily Caller

These contacts are notable, as Halper's infiltration of the Trump campaign corresponds with the two of the four targets of the FBI's Operation Crossfire Hurricane - in which the agency sent counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and others to a London meeting in the Summer of 2016 with former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer - who says Papadopoulos drunkenly admitted to knowing that the Russians had Hillary Clinton's emails.

George Papadopoulos

Interestingly Downer - the source of the Papadopoulos intel, and Halper - who conned Papadopoulos months later, are linked through UK-based Haklyut & Co. an opposition research and intelligence firm - founded by three former British intelligence operatives in 1995 to provide the kind of otherwise inaccessible research for which select governments and Fortune 500 corporations pay huge sums

Downer - a good friend of the Clintons, has been on their advisory board for a decade, while Halper is connected to Hakluyt through Director of U.S. operations Jonathan Clarke, with whom he has co-authored two books. (h/t themarketswork.com)

Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner to the U.K. Downer said that in May 2016, Papadopoulos told him during a conversation in London about Russians having Clinton emails.

That information was passed to other Australian government officials before making its way to U.S. officials. FBI agents flew to London a day after “Crossfire Hurricane” started in order to interview Downer.

It is still not known what Downer says about his interaction with Papadopoulos, which TheDCNF is told occurred around May 10, 2016.

Also interesting via Lifezette - "Downer is not the only Clinton fan in Hakluyt. Federal contribution records show several of the firm’s U.S. representatives made large contributions to two of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign organizations."

Halper contacted Papadopoulos on September 2, 2016 according to The Caller - flying him out to London to work on a policy paper on energy issues in Turkey, Cyprus and Israel - for which he was ultimately paid $3,000. Papadopoulos met Halper several times during his stay, "having dinner one night at the Travellers Club, and Old London gentleman's club frequented by international diplomats." 

They were accompanied by Halper’s assistant, a Turkish woman named Azra Turk. Sources familiar with Papadopoulos’s claims about his trip say Turk flirted with him during their encounters and later on in email exchanges.

...

Emails were also brought up during Papadopoulos’s meetings with Halper, though not by the Trump associate, according to sources familiar with his version of events. The sources say that during conversation, Halper randomly brought up Russians and emails. Papadopoulos has told people close to him that he grew suspicious of Halper because of the remark. -Daily Caller

Meanwhile, Halper targeted Carter Page two days after Page returned from a trip to Moscow

Page’s visit to Moscow, where he spoke at the New Economic School on July 8, 2016, is said to have piqued the FBI’s interest even further. Page and Halper spoke on the sidelines of an election-themed symposium held at Cambridge days later. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6 and a close colleague of Halper’s, spoke at the event.

...

Page would enter the media spotlight in September 2016 after Yahoo! News reported that the FBI was investigating whether he met with two Kremlin insiders during that Moscow trip.

It would later be revealed that the Yahoo! article was based on unverified information from Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier regarding the Trump campaign. Steele’s report, which was funded by Democrats, also claimed Page worked with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on the collusion conspiracy. -Daily Caller

A third target of Halper's was Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis, whose name was revealed by the Washington Post on Friday. 

In late August 2016, the professor reached out to Clovis, asking if they could meet somewhere in the Washington area, according to Clovis’s attorney, Victoria Toensing.

“He said he wanted to be helpful to the campaign” and lend the Trump team his foreign-policy experience, Toensing said.

Clovis, an Iowa political figure and former Air Force officer, met the source and chatted briefly with him over coffee, on either Aug. 31 or Sept. 1, at a hotel cafe in Crystal City, she said. Most of the discussion involved him asking Clovis his views on China.

“It was two academics discussing China,” Toensing said. “Russia never came up.” -WaPo

Who is Stefan Halper?

After attending Stanford and Oxford, Halper worked for the Nixon administration, where he ended up in the Office of Management and Budget as an Assistant Director, then moved to the Chief of Staff's office in the Carter White House from 1974-1977. 

Halper was involved in US politics at the highest levels for decades, becoming George H.W. Bush's National Director for Policy Development during his presidential campaign. After Bush lost to Reagan, Halper worked as Reagan's Deputy Assistant Secretary of State - where he served under three different Secretaries.

He then became a senior advisor to the Department of Defense and DOJ between 1984 and 2001. Halper's former father-in-law was Ray Cline, former Deputy Director of the CIA. He also allegedly spied on the Carter administration - collecting information on foreign policy (an account disputed by Ray Cline).

As one can clearly see, Halper has been around the block a few times.

We can't imagine he thought his legacy would be cast as the man who infiltrated the Trump campaign in what is shaping up to be the largest political corruption scandal in the history of the United States, which of course would have been swept under the rug had Hillary simply won the election as all the "experts" predicted.

Published:5/19/2018 8:32:34 AM
[Markets] The "Fake News" Story Is Fake News

Authored by Philip Weiss via MondoWeiss.net,

Almost every day on public radio or public television, I hear reports about how fake news is undermining our democracy.

These high-minded reporters and anchors seem truly to believe that a feverish menace is overwhelming the minds of once-sensible people.

This story is itself fake news for several obvious reasons.

We’ve never had more good information than we have now; people are as well-informed as they want to be. There will always be outlets purveying lies; that is the nature of communication. And the insistence on the “fake news” issue is an effort to assign Trump’s victory not to those who brought it to us (the electorate, and the incompetence of the Clinton campaign) but on some nefarious agents.

The fact that we have more and better information today than ever almost goes without saying. When I started in the news business more than 40 years ago, few reporters carried tape recorders, largely because they worked for a guild and were never subject to correction. Today there are countless outlets, thanks to the internet, and important events are almost always recorded. The amount of data we have on public figures is vast compared to even ten years ago.

We can all argue about whether this is a good thing or a bad thing; but we are today awash in information. That information is more reliable than it has ever been before. My own work on Palestine and the Israel lobby has shown me that global consumers can get more accurate information about that conflict than they’ve ever had. Yes, as we assert here all the time, the mainstream US media is in the tank for Israel; but it’s not as if better information is not available at your fingertips, much of it from Europe and Palestine, often citizen video.

Before the internet, alternative sources were much harder to obtain. You had to subscribe to journals, or go to Hotaling’s newsstand in Times Square for out-of-town papers. The best example is  sports. I had to hope the newsstand had the late edition of the Times, or that the Times carried the box score for my hometown team. Today I can find out any score and see videos of my team’s performance in an instant. And the destruction of the guilds by the internet has brought us sharp commentators who would never had access to the media traditionally (like this tweeter I turn to every morning to get the score).

“Do you trust everything you read on social media?” an ad for WNYC radio asks. They used to say the same thing about newspapers when I was a kid! The idea that information used to be a clean pool before all the clever internet liars arrived is a delusion on the part of entitled reporters of the fake news storyline. Storytelling is a primordial human experience. It is rooted in the need for knowledge to enhance our survival. We tell stories in an effort to make our lives better, more fulfilling, more understandable. And from the beginning of the story, there were lies. Some say that human beings have tongues in their mouths to deceive others, while some fiction writers will tell you that artifice is the soul of story. We all learn to sort out sincere and truthful from exaggerated and bogus. No, we don’t always succeed as readers and listeners at that job, but we try. Just as reporters seek to convey accurate versions of events despite their limitations; and artificers seek to construct more perfect tales to relate social and psychological quandaries.

There are surely hundreds of thousands of news sites today (millions?) where there used to be thousands of news outlets. The great preponderance of these sites do as we do here, try and present the most genuine version of events they are able to. As Ezra Pound once said, there is only one standard for writing: accuracy of statement. It’s not rocket science, but it is a struggle.

Are there sites that try to hoodwink readers? Of course. There have always been sensational papers, yellow journalism, scandal sheets, rumors, disinformation, boys crying wolf, and unreliable sources. Readers have always had a duty to sort this out. How many of us feel that we can size up the accuracy of an unknown site in a few seconds, from one sign or another? Readers are way more sophisticated than the fake-news reporters believe them to be. More than that, we know that some of the biggest lies originate from authorities. Which gives rise to conspiracy stories, going back to Shakespeare…

The claim that liars and fake-news sites handed the election to Donald Trump is fiction. A democracy gives the franchise to a lot of stupid people, on all sides. People believe what they want to believe. No doubt the internet has served to socialize information, tailoring it to tribal audiences (I seek out that baseball tweeter because we are likeminded, still our team can’t win), but it’s not as if information was objective before. The belief that people were manipulated into voting for Trump may be comforting to those who love the neoliberal elitism and interventionism of the post-9/11 world, but it doesn’t answer the complex reality that is American society.

The smartest reporting on the 2016 election was the study showing that Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin all had high casualty rates from America’s wars; and that these voters regarded Clinton as pro-war. And Clinton failed to campaign in Wisconsin and Michigan, even as her surrogates advocated for regime change in Syria on the cables. Those factors would seem to be as determinative as anything else that the big papers have told us about the debacle November 8. It would be a lot better if they would actually interview Trump voters, rather than lecturing us about fake news.

The claim that the Russians are behind fake news and they threw the election is just more fiction from a Democratic Party determined to have a new cold war in order to excuse itself from its failures to reach the white Obama voters who voted for Trump. Do people really think that the ads Russians placed on Facebook, or the data that Trump allies had access to through Cambridge Analytica, swayed people to vote for Trump? Is that how you made up your mind? Maybe a few fools changed their vote because of lies; but again that does not go to the real dynamics of the 2016 race. People disliked Clinton for good reasons. People sought a disrupter for good reasons.

If Russians were behind the Wikileaks hack of the Democratic National Committee emails, maybe we should be thanking them. The hack exposed real corruption: on my issue, the Clinton team’s active efforts to sell Clinton’s stance on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to big pro-Israel donors as a way to salve them for her support for the Iran deal. No one has disputed the accuracy of these emails, and they are a disturbing window on how politics works. It would be nice if the media would spend a little time on the substance of those emails. But no, the fake news story has a life of its own.

P.S. Judy Woodruff’s picture is atop this post because she and the PBS News Hour have taken the fake news story way too seriously. In fairness, I urge readers to watch her interview of two Boko Haram survivors, some of the best journalism you will ever see. 

Published:5/18/2018 10:29:17 PM
[Markets] One Angry, Disillusioned Philly Resident Reflects On "30 Blocks Of Slavery"

Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

“Trump is my brother. You don’t have to agree with Trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.” – Kanye West

The last few weeks has seen far too much honesty for the Democrat Party slave owners in Washington D.C. and the other liberal urban ghetto strongholds, as a couple uppity blacks have dared to question the liberal narrative. It all started when Kim Kardashian’s better half – Kanye West – dared to go off the plantation and speak his mind about Donald Trump, Candace Owens and black people in general. His tweet about Candace Owens started the shitstorm.

“I love the way Candace Owens thinks.”

It seems innocent enough, but Candace Owens happens to be a young black woman who has become a social media Twitter sensation because she promotes conservative values and criticizes the black victim-hood narrative promoted by liberal politicians and their mainstream media mouthpieces. Twitter exploded with outrage from the left and accolades from the right. Never to let an opportunity pass, Trump promptly tweeted:

“Thank you Kanye, very cool!”

The outrage and vitriol only grew more intense as Twitter exploded over the next few days. Trump, who Democrats and the left wing media constantly portray as a racist, again received props from another well known black rap artist – Chance the Rapper—who tweeted:

“Black people don’t have to be democrats.”

You could practically see the heads of Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, Chuckie Schumer, Rachel Maddow, and Chris Cuomo exploding simultaneously as their black victim-hood narrative began to unravel. How dare these rogue black men and woman question the standard orthodoxy of the left, used to elect Democrats for decades in the deteriorating urban shitholes in which blacks overwhelmingly inhabit.

The left’s powerful hold on black voters is dependent upon them believing the welfare state benefits the black community. Any discussion of personal responsibility, jobs, marriage, and real education would loosen the chains enslaving blacks in Democrat controlled districts across the country. Smelling liberal bloodletting, Trump immediately poured gasoline on the growing fire with this tweet:

“Kanye West has performed a great service to the Black Community – Big things are happening and eyes are being opened for the first time in Decades – Legacy Stuff! Thank you also to Chance and Dr. Darrell Scott, they really get it (lowest Black & Hispanic unemployment in history).”

Trump conveniently ignores the fact the number of blacks not in the labor force is also at a record high. It’s amazing how low you can drive the unemployment rate if you pretend tens of millions are not really in the labor force. But why let some facts get in the way of a feel good story about black people. As liberals condemned Kanye and inferred he had lost his mind again, he managed to take the outrage to level 11 with this doozy of a tweet:

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years … For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.”

It was priceless watching left wing nutjob rage, anger and wrath against such an outrageous traitorous statement by this presumptuous black man with 28 million Twitter followers. The faux outrage on MSNBC and CNN revealed them to be as vacuous and weak minded as all critical thinking people know them to be. West was not saying slavery was not a terrible scourge and negative era in our history. He was telling black people slavery was abolished over 150 years ago, so stop blaming your problems on something that hasn’t impacted them in generations. The liberal race baiter politicians use the slavery narrative to keep blacks downtrodden on their urban ghetto plantations.

This is the same Kanye West who shocked the world by declaring Bush didn’t care about black people on national TV during a telethon for Hurricane Katrina victims. Along with his no talent fat assed reality TV star wife Kim Kardashian, Kanye West is an attention whore. It’s good for business. His tweets have elevated his name recognition and will generate more CD sales and concert sellouts. The conservative twitterphere has gone bonkers over Kanye, especially after a minuscule Reuters poll of 200 black men showed a doubling in Trump support from 11% to 22% after Kanye’s tweets.

The slavery and plantation analogy used by Kanye strikes me as appropriate, since I’ve been trekking through the urban ghetto plantation of West Philly for the last twelve years observing the slaves in their natural habitat. With the recent acquisition of a basic cheap smart phone a few months ago, I’ve been unleashed to document the 30 Blocks of Squalor with my camera. Mistimed stop lights and gaping potholes along the route make progress very slow, offering plenty of opportunity to take pictures. I believe the observable reality of West Philly confirms the points of view offered by Kanye West and Candace Owens.

In 59 voting divisions in Philadelphia, mostly in North and West Philadelphia, Mitt Romney received ZERO votes in the 2012 presidential election. The communities I pass through in West Philly are 95% occupied by black folks. In Philadelphia, Obama beat Romney by 486,000 votes in 2012 and Clinton beat Trump by 455,000 in 2016. Every urban ghetto shithole across the land, controlled by the Democrat plantation owners, sees the same result in every election. The black slaves vote overwhelmingly for their continued poverty and enslavement. The welfare mentality has been ingrained in their psyches after 50 years of Great Society programs  worked their magic.

Democrats have had complete control of Philadelphia for the last six decades. The downward spiral has been accelerating as the Democrat solutions are always higher taxes, more welfare payments, bowing down to unions, corruption, and awful government run schools. The result has been white flight, business flight, dependency mentality, poverty, unpayable government union pension liabilities, politicians in prison, crime, gaping potholes, exploding water pipes, houses that collapse during a heavy rainstorm, and ever expanding squalor. The implementation of the welfare state has strengthened the chains of black slavery, insuring their subjugation in squalor.

When viewing the dilapidated hovels I’ve photographed on my daily commute through the 30 Blocks of Squalor, remember these were once well built sturdy housing occupied by people who worked for a living and took care of their homes and neighborhood. Of course, that was prior to LBJ’s Great Society promises in 1965. This despicable excuse for a human being is still revered by Democrats and black leaders despite his true thoughts about his Great Society legislation that has destroyed the black community. But, so far, his prediction has been accurate through the first 53 years:

“I’ll have those niggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

This lovely duplex is located on Girard Avenue in West Philly. The city’s response to abandoned properties is to board up the windows and let nature eat away at the structure until it collapses during a heavy rainstorm (I’ve seen it happen). Notice the multiple Direct TV dishes on the building, including the boarded up side. It is baffling to me that in neighborhoods where the average household income is $15,000 (mostly welfare payments) and the average house is worth $25,000, every house has a satellite dish, every person shuffling along the streets has a smartphone, and there are a multitude of $40,000 vehicles parked on the garbage strewn streets.

The hand written sign on the side of this dilapidated crumbling fleapit says “Everything Must Go”. Everything went a long time ago. The orange sticker from the city says it’s condemned, but it looks to be in the same shape as 50% of the occupied buildings along Market Street in West Philly. It’s shocking that an Obama inspired black entrepreneur hasn’t snatched up this prime retail location and started a thriving business.

This picture captures so much of the ambiance of West Philly. You’ve got a couple ramshackle boarded up houses, the required roll down steel security shutters for every business, graffiti applied by some fine upstanding scholars, an abandoned vehicle, and garbage and trash littering the entire scene. The degradation, apathy and descent into societal abyss of this black community all wrapped up in one photograph.

I wonder if the houses in Baghdad require bars across both the downstairs and upstairs windows. It appears the two best businesses to be in along the 30 Blocks of Squalor is selling security gates and plywood. I guess if you feel it is OK to throw your trash on the street, shoveling your sidewalk is probably out of the question.

I can honestly say there are absolutely no retail establishments in my slice of suburbia that feel the need to install roll down steel security shutters or security gates when they close up shop for the evening. This requirement along the 30 Blocks of Squalor reveals an uncivilized, lawless, dangerous community, inhabited by people lacking comprehension of right and wrong. They have no sense of community or morality, as stealing, killing and throwing garbage on their streets is deemed acceptable. The local news, every evening, details the murders, robberies, rapes and assaults in this urban kill zone.

I’ve determined a perfect test for how dangerous and run down a section of West Philly is with my mural index. Democrat politicians and black community leaders seem to believe having white artists painting glorious murals portraying the black people of that community as fearless leaders, academics and heroes will actually inspire the downtrodden, ignorant, welfare dependent residents to rise up in the world. Instead, the irony is lost on these bozos, as the mural index shows – the more murals per square block, the more likely you are to be murdered on that block. With two murals side by side, you should be ducking while driving by. Interpreting the meaning of the murals must require a PhD in ebonics.

I’ve always found this biker bar to be amusing in a warped sort of way. The sign on their entrance says “Death to the KKK”. That’s an interesting message, considering the KKK is not and never has been an organization prominent in any way in Philadelphia or the Northeast United States. I’m guessing they aren’t too welcoming towards white people in that bar. I picture the black bar scene in Animal House with Otis Day singing Shama lama ding dong.

You know you are in a bad neighborhood when the Pest Control business (probably the most profitable business in West Philly) is completely encased in bars to keep the feral neighborhood dogs at bey. They are peerless in exterminating rats, roaches, mice and any other varmints frequenting your dilapidated dump.

Just before reaching the West Philly border in Upper Darby (the nice Darby – lower Darby might be worse than West Philly) a large building filled with crappy furniture pretends to be a retail store. When your main marketing message is OPEN, the quality of your merchandise is probably iffy. The little blue sign says NO CREDIT needed. They know their clientele.

A billboard further down the road for another furniture store also touts NO CREDIT NEEDED. This is the ghetto. The real unemployment rate is north of 50%. The other 50% are working at low paying shit service jobs. Only a fool would lend them money to buy furniture. Unless it’s just the plantation owners keeping the slaves subservient and subdued. The Wall Street cabal has a monopoly on credit through their control of the Federal Reserve. If the Fed provides free money to Wall Street and they charge 29% interest to poverty stricken black people who don’t understand math, they can afford high default rates. Great business plan. And if it all goes to shit, the American taxpayer will bail them out.

There is no way for poor black people in West Philly to escape their chains of debt enslavement when their only options are subprime debt to finance furniture, appliance and auto purchases. They are dependent upon the state for their welfare subsistence and eternally dependent upon the Wall Street cabal to finance their living at loan shark level interest rates and terms. The Great Society programs were supposed to lift minorities up, but they have created generations of bitter, dismayed, ignorant, dependent, poor, Democratic voters. And it all revolves around the engineered destruction of the family unit and purposeful failure to educate the children.

Government programs promoting the destruction of the black family unit have created havoc in West Philly and in urban ghettos across the land. In 1960 22% of black children lived with single parents. By 2006, the 1960 percentage had more than doubled to 56%. Less than 20% of black children were born out of wedlock in 1960. Today, 73% of black children are born out of wedlock. Amazingly, government will always get more of what it incentivizes. When welfare programs pay people more money to have children out of wedlock and not marry, this is the result. The destruction of the black family unit by Democrat policies has wrought destruction, poverty and generations of helpless slaves.

“If you want to see the poor remain poor, generation after generation, just keep the standards low in their schools and make excuses for their academic shortcomings and personal misbehavior. But please don’t congratulate yourself on your compassion.” – Thomas Sowell

Education was the only way for black people to cast off their chains, obtain jobs paying middle class wages, and rising out of poverty. Faux liberal compassion, government run schools with dumbed down standards, unionized teachers matriculating unmotivated, fatherless, ignorant kids through a demented socialization program disguised as education for an average cost of $12,000 per student has destroyed any chance for generations of black children to succeed in life and elevate their community. It’s almost as if corrupt politicians and feckless government bureaucrats want to keep their black constituents ignorant, dependent and helpless.

Despite billions spent on welfare programs to supposedly elevate poor blacks, virtually all businesses along the 30 Blocks of Squalor are owned and operated by whites and Asians. The old building on Market Street that formerly housed Dick Clark’s American Bandstand now houses the government funded Enterprise  Center, an organization that counsels minority-owned businesses and disadvantaged entrepreneurs. The counseling hasn’t worked. Without strong two parent households and a good education, black entrepreneurs are more scarce in West Philly than a woman with a wedding ring. It is a wonder the white and Asian owners of steak shops and delis stay. They are robbed and shot on a regular basis.

Another fascinating observation on the 30 Blocks is the presence of H&R Block, among other national tax preparation firms. Why would this be? With average household incomes below $20,000, most of the people in West Philly pay no Federal Income taxes. Chalk it up to another welfare scam designed to help the poor and downtrodden. The Earned Income Tax Credit is available to people who don’t work and earn no income. You, the taxpayer, pay your taxes so they can be handed as tax refunds to people who pay no income taxes. The fine folks at H&R Block fill out all the forms, charge the poor people outrageous fees and then lure them into borrowing against their refunds at Shylock level interest rates.

This is how corporate America extracts their crops from the plantation. H&R Block utilizes the rampant ignorance in West Philly to generate profits. They capitalize on their lack of impulse control and delayed gratification abilities to offer them their refunds before the IRS sends the check. Meanwhile, H&R Block extracts a “fee” that equates to north of 50% interest. It’s the same story with the $70 billion food stamp program. JP Morgan administers the program and extracts hundreds of millions in fees. Wal-Mart and the other corporate mega-retailers reap the windfall of the spending. Corporate America loves the welfare state.

I have far more respect for the Muslim dude selling baby turtles next to the Phila Zoo at 34th and Girard than I do for Wall Street bankers and mega-corporations raping the poor. On hot days you will find young black guys selling cold water bottles in the stopped traffic. Given some skills and opportunity, these guys might succeed in this world. But on most days they are usually outnumbered by the lazy beggars.

As you motor around these days you might notice most of the newly constructed buildings are either banks or government offices. That should tell you everything you need to know about the winners and losers in the economy today. The newest building on the 30 Blocks of Squalor is a Social Security Administration Building. Why in the ghetto of West Philly? My guess is that after the Obama extended unemployment scam ended, deadbeats needed to fake disabilities in order to get onto the SSDI gravy train. So they made it easy for the “not in the labor force” West Philly patrons to shuffle on over to the Social Security office and pretend they have a soft tissue disability or depression or diabetes because they weigh 350 pounds. The victim-hood mentality is ingrained in this community.

I found it amusing a couple weeks ago when liberals screamed in outrage at Ben Carson’s proposal to increase the amount residents must pay towards their public housing rent from 30% to 35% of their household income. Carson, who grew up in extreme poverty in Detroit and became a neurosurgeon, captured the essence of what these welfare programs should do:

“Government should not keep people in a dependent state. It should be used as a springboard, and not as a hammock.”

The formula for public housing subsidies is warped. Just like all these programs, they encourage people not to work and not to generate “too much” income. The history of public housing has been a disaster. The picture below represents the old and the new of public housing. Both buildings are located at 45th and Market. The rat and drug infested tenement  on the left is a 20 story crime scene built in the 1970s. Cops are afraid to enter this building. It will eventually be imploded, like many before it.

The new and improved public housing is of the townhouse variety. Some even have gated parking and retail storefronts built within them. Democrat politicians are sure if they build retail storefronts, retailers will come. The 8 storefront shops in the Mantua Square low income housing mecca are 100% unoccupied four years after being built with your tax dollars. Notice the gate around the low income housing townhouses. There are deadly spikes on the top of the gate. Seems like a great neighborhood where you can safely raise your fatherless children. These townhouses will deteriorate and crumble, as the residents feel entitled to free housing and will not take care of them. The spiked gate should remind them, they are still on the government plantation.

In 2014 Obama designated the 2 square miles of Mantua, in West Philly, as one of his Promise Zones, promising to redevelop the neighborhood, create jobs, and make it safe again. I drive through this neighborhood every day. Absolutely nothing has changed since 2014. A few dilapidated buildings have been bulldozed, but nothing replaced them. No new businesses. No jobs. The schools are as pathetic as ever. The murders and robberies haven’t ceased. And drug dealing is still the top job in the community. Thomas Sowell had Obama pegged:

“One of the reasons it has taken so long for some people to finally see through Barack Obama is that people do not like to admit, even to themselves, that they have been played for fools by a slick-talking politician.”

Black people have been played by Obama and other race baiting liberal politicians for decades. After spending over $10 trillion on welfare programs since 1965, the poverty rate has barely budged. The dependency mentality has been passed down though multiple generations. Liberal politicians, in conspiracy with Wall Street, the liberal media, and corporate America, have enslaved urban blacks in chains of ignorance, welfare addiction, blaming white people, immorality, and criminal mentality.

Highly educated conservative minded black men like Thomas Sowell, Walter E. Williams, and Ben Carson are scorned and ridiculed by the left. But when a rapper like Kanye, hero to millions of young black people, breaks with the plantation owners and speaks the truth, panic ensues. The liberals will circle the wagons to protect their black voting block. They will likely succeed, as it will be tough to break 50 years of trained dependency. If Trump can pull off convincing 20% of black people to vote for him and the Republican party, he will become a legend.

George Carlin’s American Dream tirade captures the essence of our predicament, and it particularly applies to the inhabitants of West Philly and all the other urban ghettos in Democrat strongholds around the country.

“There’s a reason education sucks, and it’s the same reason it will never, ever,  ever be fixed. It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you’ve got. Because the owners, the owners of this country don’t want that.

They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests.

You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shitty jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, and the reduced benefits.” –George Carlin

Published:5/18/2018 9:59:20 PM
[World] Hannity: Obama FBI Spying on Trump Campaign Is Worse Than Watergate and Nixon

Sean Hannity said that new reports that the Obama-era FBI placed a spy inside the Trump campaign are "worse than Watergate."

Published:5/18/2018 8:59:23 PM
[Markets] Clapper Says "Good Thing" FBI Was Spying On Trump Campaign

Following the president's tweet Thursday morning:

The Daily Caller's Julia Nista pointed out the hypocrisy of former Director of Intelligence James Clapper, who said Thursday night on CNN that it was “a good thing” there was an FBI informant spying on the Trump campaign.

Clapper admitted the FBI “may have had someone who was talking to them in the campaign,” referring to President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

He tried to explain away the possibility of an FBI informant spying on the campaign as the bureau was trying to find out “what the Russians were doing to try to substantiate themselves in the campaign or influence or leverage it.”

Obama’s Director of National Intelligence then went on to say,

“So, if there was someone that was observing that sort of thing, that’s a good thing.”

Nista then tweeted a quick summary of the sheer farce...

Clapper then concluded, that he believes:

“it’s hugely dangerous if someone like that is exposed because the danger to that person” and the potential “reluctance of others to be informants for the FBI” could possibly devastate the FBI.

In other words - don't try to find out who the spy was because it's just too dangerous to national security!!

We leave it to Fox's Sara Carter to summarize...

Published:5/18/2018 12:56:45 PM
[Politics] What the hell is this, the Soviet Union?!?!?! – Mark Levin on Hannity Mark Levin was on Hannity last night discussing the new revelations that Obama’s FBI spied on the Trump campaign and he had a lot to say. Watch: Levin argues that the FISA . . . Published:5/18/2018 11:26:22 AM
[Politics] What the hell is this, the Soviet Union?!?!?! – Mark Levin on Hannity Mark Levin was on Hannity last night discussing the new revelations that Obama’s FBI spied on the Trump campaign and he had a lot to say. Watch: Levin argues that the FISA . . . Published:5/18/2018 10:56:25 AM
[Political cartoons] How the world’s cartoonists are skewering Trump’s global diplomacy
How the world's cartoonists are skewering Trump's global diplomacy

FROM LAMBASTING the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran to embracing the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — while also racing to tweet-announce a now-imperiled nuclear summit with North Korea — President Trump’s brand of showmanship as global diplomacy (a.k.a. “diplotainment”) has been on full-plumage display. And behind such a parade of loudly touted […]
Published:5/18/2018 8:25:50 AM
[Markets] Europe: National Sovereignty Vs. International Conquest, At Stake Over Iran

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Europe now faces its ultimate ideological fork-in-the-road, which it has thus far ignored but can no longer ignore:

They need to decide whether they seek a world of nations that each is sovereign over its own territory but over no other (and this would not be a world at war);

or whether they seek instead a world in which they are part of the American empire, a world based on conquests - NATO, IMF, World Bank, and the other US-controlled international institutions - and in which their own nation’s citizens are subject to the dictatorship by America’s aristocracy: the same super-rich individuals who effectively control the US Government itself (see this and this — and that’s dictatorship by the richest, in the United States).

Iran has become this fateful fork-in-the-road, and the immediate issue here is America’s cancellation of the Iran nuclear deal that America had signed along with 6 other countries, and America’s consequent restoration of economic sanctions against Iran — sanctions against companies anywhere that continue trading with Iran.

First, however, some essential historical background on that entire issue: 

The US aristocracy overthrew Iran’s democratically elected Government in 1953 and imposed there a barbaric dictatorship which did the bidding of the US and allied aristocracies, by installing the Pahlavi Shah there, just as they had earlier, in 1932, installed the Saud King in Saudi Arabia — which land never ever had known democracy. As Wikipedia says of Ibn Saud, who became King in 1932, “After World War I, he received further support from the British, including a glut of surplus munitions. He launched his campaign against the Al Rashidi in 1920; by 1922 they had been all but destroyed,” with Britain’s help.

Similarly, the US and its British Imperial partner installed Pahlavi as Iran’s Shah in 1953. This was done by US President Dwight David Eisenhower. After the death of the anti-imperialistic US President FDR, in 1945, the US Government quickly became pro-imperialistic under President Harry S. Truman (whom imperial England’s Winston Churchill wrapped around his little finger), and then even more so under Eisenhower, so that during the brief presidency of Ike’s successor President JFK, the anti-imperialistic ghost of FDR was coming to haunt the White House and thus again threaten the conjoined US-UK’s aristocracies’ surging global control. Kennedy was quickly souring on, and coming to oppose, imperialism (just as FDR had done) - he was opposing conquest and dominion for its own sake.

So, he was assassinated and the evidence was covered-up, so that the CIA, which Truman had installed and which Eisenhower placed firmly under the control of America’s aristocratically controlled military-industrial complex, became increasingly America’s own Deep State, designed for global conquest (though using an ‘anti-communist’ excuse and cover for their real and ruling motive of global conquest and dominion). 

When the US-imposed Shah was overthrown by an authentic revolution in 1979, America’s continued alliance with the UK-US-installed Saud family turned into a US-UK alliance against Iran, which nation has ever since been demonized by the US and UK aristocracies as being a ‘terrorist regime’, even though Saudi Arabia actually dominates global Islamic terrorism, and Iran is opposed to terrorism (except to terrorism that’s aimed against Israel). And everybody who knows anything on sound basis is aware of these established historical facts. But, actually, the US-Saudi alliance is even worse than that: global Islamic terrorism was invented and organized by the US aristocracy in conjunction with the Saud family starting in 1979 when Iran freed itself from the US-UK dictatorship and restored Iranian sovereignty (even though in a highly compromised Shiite theocratic way, nothing at all like the secular Iranian democracy that had been overthrown by the US and UK aristocracies in 1953).

The US and Sauds created Islamic terrorism in 1979 in order to draw the Soviet Union into Afghanistan and ultimately used these terrorist proxy "boots on the ground" so as to force the Soviets out of Afghanistan — thereby draining the Soviet economy in the hope of ultimately conquering the USSR and then conquering Russia itself, which the US President GHW Bush on the night of 24 February 1990 made clear that the US and its allies must do — he gave the European vassal-nations their marching-order on that date, and they have reliably followed that order, until now.

Russia, which the US aristocracy craves to conquer, is an ally of Iran (which they hope to re-conquer).

The basic principle of America’s aristocracy is repudiation of national sovereignty. That’s what the US Government globally stands for today.

Russian Television headlined on May 11th, “‘Are we America’s vassals?’ France vows to trade with Iran in defiance of US ‘economic policeman’” and reported that US President Donald Trump’s re-imposition of US economic sanctions against any companies that do business with Iran, is being resisted by all the other nations that had signed the Obama-Kerry nuclear accord with Iran, the “JCPOA” treaty: UK, France, China, Russia, US, and EU (which is led by Germany).

The US regime knows that if even America’s allies — UK, France, and Germany — hold together with Iran, to defy the Imperial actions punishing them for continuing with Iran even after the US pull-out from the treaty, then the Western Alliance will be jeopardized, if not terminated altogether, and finally the Cold War, which GHW Bush had ordered the allies to continue even after the end of the USSR, and of its communism, and of its Warsaw Pact military alliance mirroring America’s NATO alliance, will finally end also on America’s side, just as it had ended in 1991 on the Soviet Union’s side. Such an end to the Cold War would possibly cause America’s military-industrial complex — and the stock values of mega-corporations such as Lockheed Martin — to collapse. 

Thus, the US aristocracy is afraid of peace replacing their existing permanent-war economy. All those trillions of dollars that have been invested in machines of mass-murder abroad, could plunge in value, if UK, France, and Germany, terminate the Western Alliance, and become individual sovereign nations who join with Iran — another individual sovereign nation — to say no to the Imperial power (the US), and yes to national sovereignty, which sovereignty constitutes the sole foundation-stone upon which any and all democracies are constructed. No democracy can exist in any nation that is a vassal to some other (the imperial power). In a world where national sovereignty is honored, democracy would not necessarily exist everywhere, but it would no longer be internationally prohibited by an imperial power, which inevitably is itself a dictatorship, no real democracy at all.

On March 3rd, the 175-year-old imperial magazine, The Economist, headlined against China as an enemy in this continuing Cold War, “How the West got China wrong” and explained “the Chinese threat”: 

“China is not a market economy and, on its present course, never will be. Instead, it increasingly controls business as an arm of state power… Foreign businesses are profitable but miserable, because commerce always seems to be on China’s terms.”

The imperialistic view is that the international dictator and its corporations should rule — there should be no real sovereign other than this dictatorship, by the US regime now, since America is today’s imperialist nation.

Perhaps Europe now will make the fateful decision, between international dictatorship on the one side, or else the supreme sovereignty of each and every nation on the other, to determine its own laws — and to require any corporation that does business there to adhere to its legal system and to none other: the supremacy of each nation within its own territory, not of any international corporations, not even of ones that are based in some international-bully country that says it’s “the one indispensable nation” — meaning that every other nation is “dispensable.” Russia won’t accept that. Iran won’t accept that. China won’t accept that. Will Germany accept it — the land of the original: “Deutschland über alles”? Will France? Will UK? 

Americans accept it. The US public are very effectively controlled by America’s aristocracy. A Yougov poll at the start of 2017 (the start of Trump’s Presidency) asked over 7,000 Americans to rate countries as “enemy”, “unfriendly”, “friendly”, “ally”, or “not sure”; and, among the 144 rated countries, Americans placed at the most hostile end, in order from the very worst, to the 13th-from-worst: North Korea, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan. Other than Saudi Arabia, which the US Government treats as being its master if not as being its very top ally, and which is, in any case, by far the US military’s biggest customer (other than the US Government, of course), that list from Yougov looks very much like, or else close to, what America’s aristocracy would want to see targeted, as being America’s ‘enemies’. So, other than Americans’ including the top ally both of America’s aristocracy and of Israel's aristocracy, Saudi Arabia, on that list of enemies, the list was very much what the US aristocracy’s ’news’media had been promoting as being America’s ‘enemies’.

In fact, even though those ‘news’media haven’t informed Americans that 92% of Saudi Arabians approve of ISIS, or that the Saudi royal family financed and organized the 9/11 attacks (in conjunction with others of George W. Bush’s friends), Americans view Saudi Arabia hostilely. That’s acceptable to America’s aristocracy, because the Saud family’s hatred is focused against Iran, the main Shiite nation, and the US public (have been deceive to) prefer Saudi Arabia over Iran. In fact, a 17 February 2016 Gallup poll showed that Iran was seen by Americans as being even more hostile toward Americans than is Saudi Arabia.

So, America’s aristocracy have no reason to be concerned that their chief ally and second-from-top governmental customer, the Saud family, are unfavorably viewed by the US public. Both in America and in Saudi Arabia, the aristocracy effectively controls its public. Thus, the American people think in the way that the American aristocracy want them to — supporting any conquest (e.g., Iraq 2003, Libya 2011, Syria 2012-) that the aristocracy want to perpetrate. Of course, the way to achieve this control is by means of the windows through which the public get to see the world around them, which windows on the world are the nation’s ‘news’media.

On May 12th, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) reported that the American people are very effectively controlled to believe Iran to be America’s enemy and very dangerous to us. The headline was “Media Debate Best Way to Dominate Iran” and the article documented that the American people are being very intensively propagandized by the aristocratically controlled media, to favor aggression against Iran, and are being heavily lied-to, in order to achieve this.

So, though the American public will continue to support the American Government (despite distrusting both their government and their ‘news’media), foreign publics aren’t so rigidly under the control of America’s aristocracy; and therefore Europe’s aristocracies could abandon their alliance with the US aristocracy, if they strongly enough want to. Their ‘news’media would obediently do whatever they’re told, and could begin immediately portraying the reality of the US Government, to their people — including, for example, the reality that the US stole Ukraine, and some of the participants have even confessed their rolesRussia did not steal Crimea (and the Crimea-Ukraine issue was the alleged spark for the ‘restoration’ of the Cold War — which The West never actually ended on its side, only Russia did on its side). 

An end of The Western Alliance (America’s empire) could happen. But it would require — from the EU’s leaders (and/or from Turkey’s Erdogan) — courage, conviction, and a commitment to national sovereignty’s being the foundation-stone to any democracy anywhere, and this change-of-political-theory would be something drastically new in Europe (and-or in Turkey), which is a region that has historically been staunchly supportive of empires, and thus supportive of dictatorships (ones that are compliant — foreign stooge-regimes). It would require a historic sea-change.

Published:5/18/2018 1:09:59 AM
[World] Jim Acosta Says Just as Tough on Barack Obama as Donald Trump White House

CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta visited comedian Jimmy Kimmel's ABC talk show and discussed his coverage of the Obama and Trump administrations.

Published:5/17/2018 9:22:37 PM
[Politics] ‘A short con shell game’ – EVEN Obama’s presidential library is SHADY… People are suing to block Obama’s presidential library in Chicago because they say it’s not really a library, but a “a short con shell game.” Apparently, the #ObamaLibrary is being sued by . . . Published:5/17/2018 8:53:37 PM
[Politics] ‘A short con shell game’ – EVEN Obama’s presidential library is SHADY… People are suing to block Obama’s presidential library in Chicago because they say it’s not really a library, but a “a short con shell game.” Apparently, the #ObamaLibrary is being sued by . . . Published:5/17/2018 8:53:37 PM
[Markets] Rigged? Circuit Judge Says Ballots Were Illegally Destroyed In Wasserman Schultz' House Race

Authored by Nick Givas via The Daily Caller,

Florida circuit court Judge Raag Singhal ruled the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office violated state and federal law Friday, after the office destroyed ballots from a 2016 House race for Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s seat.

The elections office may also be on the hook for $200,000 in attorneys fees for Tim Canova, who brought a lawsuit against them after he lost to Wasserman Schultz in 2016, the Sun Sentinel reported. Canova lost by a final tally of 28,809 to 21,907 in a Democratic primary.

Canova requested a closer look at the paper ballots from the race to check for anomalies in March 2017, but Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes did not respond to his requests so he took her to court, according to the Sun Sentinel. Snipes had signed off on the destruction of the ballots in September 2017.

Snipes made a “mistake,” she said during testimony in court and claimed the boxes were mislabeled. She maintained the destruction of the ballots was entirely unintentional.

“When I sign, I sign folders filled with information,” Snipes said in her testimony, according to the Sun Sentinel.

“I trust my staff. They have the responsibility of giving me information that’s correct.”

Singhal ruled Snipes had wrongly destroyed public records because her office is required to maintain documents from the election for 22 months after it’s conclusion. Snipes destroyed the ballots after only one year.

Snipes’ attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, also admitted her client made a mistake but said the ballots were scanned and preserved before being disposed of.

“It was a mistake [destroying the original ballots], but the ballots were preserved,” Norris-Weeks told the Sun Sentinel.

“They were scanned shortly after the election.”

Canova claimed he contacted the FBI twice to complain, but didn’t receive a response.

The ruling will allow for Canova to have his attorney fees reimbursed by the elections office, but he still wants Snipes fired for her role in the alleged fraud.

“I think dismissal is an appropriate remedy,” Canova told the Sun Sentinel.

Published:5/17/2018 5:53:11 PM
[Markets] Was Gina Haspel, Trump's New CIA Chief, Involved In Secret Spy Op On Trump Campaign?

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) expressed concern on Fox News Tuesday over CIA director-designate Gina Haspel's potential involvement in a recently exposed surveillance campaign against Donald Trump's campaign, noting her close relationship with former CIA Director John Brennan. 

Speaking with host Neil Cavuto, Paul said he doesn't want "people running our intelligence agencies that have an axe to grind or have some sort of partisanship lurking beneath the surface."

Paul connects the dots: 

Well, you know, I’m concerned that there are reports that John Brennan, the former head of the CIA under President Obama that he was cooperating with British intelligence to spy on the Trump campaign. This is a big deal.

...

I think that she is a close acolyte of John Brennan. So, I think some have called her a protégé. 

...

There are some accusations it was actually ordered by President Obama`s administration, either through John Brennan or others. Gina Haspel is the acting director of the CIA. She is high enough up in the CIA. I think we should know what she knows about whether the Trump campaign was surveilled upon. 

The biggest dot?

Yesterday we profiled a puff piece "planted" in the New York Times which effectively attempts to mount a public defense of the FBI ahead of a much anticipated report later this year by the DOJ's Inspector General, Michael Horowitz. Horowitz's first report on the Clinton email investigation is expected within weeks, however he is also investigating the FBI's conduct during the 2016 US election. 

And as we found out last week, it's looking fairly certain that the FBI embedded at least one mole, and possibly more, inside Trump's 2016 campaign.

The NYT piece reveals that the FBI launched "Operation Crossfire Hurricane" against the Trump campaign, sending anti-Trump agent Peter Strzok to London 90 days before the 2016 election to meet with Alexander Downer. According toi the Times, Strzok and Downer met to describe his meeting with Trump campaign advisor, George Papadopoulos - in which Papadopoulos purportedly said he knew that the Russians had Hillary Clinton's hacked emails. 

The meeting with Downer was described as "highly unusual," and "helped provide the foundation for a case that, a year ago Thursday, became the special counsel investigation." The FBI kept details of the operation secret from most of the DOJ - with "only about five Justice Department officials" aware of the full scope of the case.

Moreover, we know that several other meetings of high profile individuals involved in the anti-Trump effort occurred in London, where former MI6 agent Christopher Steele is based. Steele

What does this have to do with Haspel? OAN's Jack Posobiec lays it out: 

Brennan, by all appearances, was deeply involved in the operation against the Trump campaign. As Paul Sperry of RealClear Investigations reported on Wednesday, Two former colleagues of ex-CIA Director John Brennan have contradicted his claim that the unverified "Steele Dossier" was not part of the US Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Brennan was feeding some of the dossier material to President Obama and passing it off as credible, reports Sperry.

Brennan put some of the dossier material into the PDB [presidential daily briefing] for Obama and described it as coming from a ‘credible source,’ which is how they viewed Steele,” said the source familiar with the House investigation. "But they never corroborated his sources.” -RCI

And while Brennan was feeding Obama unverified information from the Steele dossier, his "Acolyte" Gina Haspel ran the London CIA station - in very close proximity to nearly the entire cast of characters involved in the alleged setup.

Published:5/17/2018 4:51:57 PM
[Markets] Former CIA Employee Suspected In "Vault 7" WikiLeaks Disclosure

U.S. authorities have identified a suspect in last year's "Vault 7" leaks of CIA hacking and electronic surveillance tools used in foreign espionage operations, reports the Washington Post

The Vault 7 release - a series of 24 documents which began to publish on March 7, 2017 - reveal that the CIA had a wide variety of tools to use against adversaries, including the ability to "spoof" its malware to appear as though it was created by a foreign intelligence agency, as well as the ability to take control of Samsung Smart TV's and surveil a target using a "Fake Off" mode in which they appear to be powered down while eavesdropping. 

The CIA's hand crafted hacking techniques pose a problem for the agency. Each technique it has created forms a "fingerprint" that can be used by forensic investigators to attribute multiple different attacks to the same entity.

...

The CIA's Remote Devices Branch's UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques 'stolen' from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.

With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the "fingerprints" of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.

UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques. -WikiLeaks

Joshua Adam Schulte, 29, a former employee in the CIA's Engineering Development Group, is believed to have provided the agency's top-secret cyber warfare tools to WikiLeaks - according to a disclosure by federal prosecutors at a January hearing in a Manhattan court on unrelated charges of possessing, receiving and transporting child pornography. Schulte, who has been in jail for months, has pleaded not guilty on the child porn charges. 

Schulte previously worked for the NSA before joining the CIA, then "left the intelligence community in 2016 and took a job in the private sector," according to a statement reviewed by The Post.

Schulte also claimed that he reported “incompetent management and bureaucracy” at the CIA to that agency’s inspector general as well as a congressional oversight committee. That painted him as a disgruntled employee, he said, and when he left the CIA in 2016, suspicion fell upon him as “the only one to have recently departed [the CIA engineering group] on poor terms,” Schulte wrote. -WaPo

Prosecutors allege that they found a large collection of child pornography on a server maintained by Schulte, however his attorneys argue that anywhere from 50 to 100 people had access to it, which Schulte set up several years ago to share movies and other digital files.  

Federal authorities searched Schulte’s apartment in New York last year and obtained personal computer equipment, notebooks and handwritten notes, according to a copy of the search warrant reviewed by The Washington Post. But that failed to provide the evidence that prosecutors needed to indict Schulte with illegally giving the information to WikiLeaks. -WaPo

And while Schulte "remains a target of that investigation," prosecutor Matthew Laroche, assistant US attorney in the Southern District of New York, said that the investigation is "ongoing." Part of that investigation, reports WaPo, is analyzing whether the Tor network - which allows internet users to hide their location (in theory) "was used in transmitting classified information." 

In other hearings in Schulte’s case, prosecutors have alleged that he used Tor at his New York apartment, but they have provided no evidence that he did so to disclose classified information. Schulte’s attorneys have said that Tor is used for all kinds of communications and have maintained that he played no role in the Vault 7 leaks. -WaPo

“Due to these unfortunate coincidences the FBI ultimately made the snap judgment that I was guilty of the leaks and targeted me,” Schulte said. He has launched Facebook and GoFundMe pages to raise money for his defense, as well as post articles critical of the criminal justice system.

As The Post notes, the Vault 7 release was one of the most significant leaks in the CIA's history, "exposing secret cyberweapons and spying techniques that might be used against the United States, according to current and former intelligence officials." 

The CIA's toy chest includes:

  • Tools code named "Marble" can misdirect forensic investigators from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to their agency by inserted code fragments in foreign languages.  The tool was in use as recently as 2016.  Per the WikiLeaks release:

"The source code shows that Marble has test examples not just in English but also in Chinese, Russian, Korean, Arabic and Farsi. This would permit a forensic attribution double game, for example by pretending that the spoken language of the malware creator was not American English, but Chinese, but then showing attempts to conceal the use of Chinese, drawing forensic investigators even more strongly to the wrong conclusion, --- but there are other possibilities, such as hiding fake error messages."

  • iPads / iPhones / Android devices and Smart TV’s are all susceptible to hacks and malware. The agency's "Dark Matter" project reveals that the CIA has been bugging “factory fresh” iPhones since at least 2008 through suppliers. Another, "Sonic Screwdriver" allows the CIA to execute code on a Mac laptop or desktop while it's booting up.
  • The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell’s 1984, but “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.
  • The Obama administration promised to disclose all serious vulnerabilities they found to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US-based manufacturers. The US Government broke that commitment.

"Year Zero" documents show that the CIA breached the Obama administration's commitments. Many of the vulnerabilities used in the CIA's cyber arsenal are pervasive and some may already have been found by rival intelligence agencies or cyber criminals.

In addition to its operations in Langley, Virginia the CIA also uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base for its hackers covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

CIA hackers operating out of the Frankfurt consulate ( "Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe" or CCIE) are given diplomatic ("black") passports and State Department cover. 

  • Instant messaging encryption is a joke.

These techniques permit the CIA to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by hacking the "smart" phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.

  • The CIA laughs at Anti-Virus / Anti-Malware programs.

CIA hackers developed successful attacks against most well known anti-virus programs. These are documented in AV defeatsPersonal Security ProductsDetecting and defeating PSPs and PSP/Debugger/RE Avoidance. For example, Comodo was defeated by CIA malware placing itself in the Window's "Recycle Bin". While Comodo 6.x has a "Gaping Hole of DOOM".

You can see the Vault7 release here.

Published:5/17/2018 3:56:44 PM
[Climate News] U.S. Coal Industry Growth By Andy May U.S. coal production declined from 2011 through 2016 as it was displaced in U.S. power plants by cheaper and cleaner natural gas. Some of the reduction was also due to the Obama Clean Power Plan regulations. However, the shale gas revolution in the U.S. has not spread to other countries, perhaps due… Published:5/17/2018 1:20:37 PM
[] Grandstandin' Jim Acosta: I Was Just As Hard on Obama as Trump, You Know Yeah, Obama really got tired of your pouty blowjob lips, I'm sure. I'm sure he was like "Eww, I don't do that with men, lately."... Published:5/17/2018 1:20:37 PM
[Media] Just WOW: Kimberley Strassel’s thread on NYT ‘Hurricane Crossfire’ piece incredibly DAMNING for Obama DOJ/FBI

Obama might want to read through Kimberly Strassel’s thread on the so-called ‘Hurricane Crossfire’ piece released by the New York Times, since you know, he gets his news from reading the paper … or in this case it would be Twitter. Strassel lays it out PERFECTLY (even Obama would understand it): 1. So a few […]

The post Just WOW: Kimberley Strassel’s thread on NYT ‘Hurricane Crossfire’ piece incredibly DAMNING for Obama DOJ/FBI appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/17/2018 10:21:06 AM
[Culture] Jim Acosta to Schumer ‘Spokesman:’ I Was ‘Tough’ on Obama Too

The post Jim Acosta to Schumer ‘Spokesman:’ I Was ‘Tough’ on Obama Too appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:5/17/2018 9:50:40 AM
[Markets] Blowback Begins: EU To Ditch Dollar In Payments For Iranian Oil

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

The dollar’s collapse is nearing.  The European Union is planning to switch it’s payments to the Euro for its oil purchases from Iran, eliminating United States dollar transactions.

Just one more nail to the US dollar’s coffin.  Its collapse is all but imminent at this point. The EU has successfully found a way to scoff at potential future sanctions on Iran by openly defying the US; and as an “added bonus,” they’ve helped seal the dollar’s fate.  According to RT, a diplomatic source with the EU has told a news outlet of the decision. 

 “I’m privy to the information that the EU is going to shift from dollar to euro to pay for crude from Iran,” said the diplomatic source. 

Brussels has been at odds with Washington over the US’s decision to withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which was reached during the administration of Barack Obama. President Donald Trump has pledged to re-impose sanctions against the Islamic Republic as soon as he is able to do so. The Trump administration also has had plans to topple the current regime in Iran, according to leaked documents, and it looks like they’ve just given themselves the go-ahead:

The Washington Free Beacon has obtained a three-page white paper being circulated among National Security Council officials with drafted plans tospark regime change in Iranfollowing the US exit from the Obama-era nuclear deal and the re-imposition of tough sanctions aimed at toppling the Iranian regime.

The plan, authored by the Security Studies Group, or SSG, a national security think-tank that has close ties to senior White House national security officials, including – who else – National Security Adviser John Bolton, seeks to reshape longstanding American foreign policy toward Iran by emphasizing an explicit policy of regime change, something the Obama administration opposed when popular protests gripped Iran in 2009, writes the Free Beacon, which obtained a leaked copy of the circulating plans. –Zerohedge

However, it in the process, it is highly likely that the US dollar will collapse as nations distance themselves from the United States’ often disastrous foreign policies.  As RTreported, dozens of contracts signed between European businesses and the Islamic Republic could be at risk of cancellation if Brussels obeys Washington’s sanctions. This would damage Iran’s economy and European firms would lose a huge market in the Middle East. Switching to alternative settlement currencies allows both sides to continue trading despite US sanctions and will damage the dollar in the process. 

Earlier this week, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the foreign ministers of the UK, France, Germany, and Iran had agreed to work out practical solutions in response to Washington’s move in the next few weeks. The bloc is reportedly planning to maintain and deepen economic ties with Iran, including in the area of oil and gas supplies.

Published:5/17/2018 4:18:44 AM
[Markets] Putin Drives Dump Truck Across $3.6 Billion Bridge He Built To Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled the auto section of a $3.6 billion (223 billion rouble) road-and-rail bridge over the Kersch Strait on Tuesday linking Russia to the Crimean peninsula - much to the consternation of Ukrainian officials who said the bridge showed "disregard for international law." 

The bridge will be the longest dual-purpose span bridge in Europe, with the rail section expected to be completed at the end of 2019. 

The road stretch of the bridge was due to be completed by the end of 2018, but the opening was moved up at Putin's request. He inspected the bridge in March ahead of the presidential election he won, saying it was important to have the link to the Black Sea peninsula open for the summer tourist season. -CBC

"Putin initiated this project himself. Many didn't believe these plans were possible," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday before the ceremony, adding "This is an extremely important day from this point of view and in a practical sense and in symbolic terms."

Putin drove the Russian-made KAMAZ dump truck in a convoy of vehicles across the 19-kilometre [11.8 mile] bridge over the Kerch Strait. Some Russians are calling it "Putin's bridge," designed to link Crimea into Russia's transport network. -CBC

Putin, dressed in blue jeans, was met by cheering workers on the Crimean side who he told "At last, thanks to your talent, this project, this miracle, has happened."  

[insert: 0917_Ukraine_Russia_infra_kerch_bridge Crimea Cropped.jpg , DdP3YlMX4AIxpCr.jpg ]

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko slammed Putin's actions from Kiev.

"The illegal construction of the Kerch bridge is the latest evidence of the Kremlin's disregard for international law," Poroshenko said, adding "It is particularly cynical that its opening is happening on the eve of the latest anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean-Tatar people by the Stalin regime."

Meanwhile, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the United States condemns the construction and partial opening of the bridge, which it says was done "without the permission of the government of #Ukraine. Crimea is Ukraine." 

The United States condemns Russia’s construction and partial opening of the Kerch Strait Bridge between Russia and occupied Crimea, which was done without the permission of the government of Ukraine. Crimea is part of Ukraine. Russia’s construction of the bridge serves as a reminder of Russia’s ongoing willingness to flout international law.

The bridge represents not only an attempt by Russia to solidify its unlawful seizure and its occupation of Crimea, but also impedes navigation by limiting the size of ships that can transit the Kerch Strait, the only path to reach Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Sea of Azov. We call on Russia not to impede this shipping. -US Department of State

The bridge also drew criticism from Europe, after the French foreign ministry said "France condemns the construction by Russia of the Kerch Bridge, which deprives Ukraine of full access and the use of its internationally recognized territorial waters." Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the European External Action Service said on Tuesday that the bridge was "another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity." 

"The European Union continues to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia and will not recognize this violation of international law," the spokesperson said.

Crimea broke away from Ukraine following a bloody US-sponsored coup, when in a March 2014 Crimean referendum 95% of participating voters were in favor of secession of the ethnically Russian region. Ukrainian officials disputed the vote, with then-acting President Oleksander Turchinov stating that "The authorities in Crimea are totally illegitimate, both the parliament and the government." 

The State Department-backed fiasco led to the Obama administration imposing harsh sanctions on the Russian Federation, after Obama told Putin during a phone call that "Russia's actions were in violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity." 

Putin pushed back, likening Crimea's self-determined referendum to Kosovo's breakaway from Serbia in 2008. 

"Regarding the March 16 referendum in Crimea, Mr Putin said that the decision to hold the referendum was in line with international law and the U.N. Charter, and was also in line with the precedent set by Kosovo," the Kremlin said.

While the reaction on Twitter was mostly tepid, there were a few tweets of support for the bridge: 

Published:5/17/2018 2:01:03 AM
[PAID] Funny Business at the Trump Labor Board How dubious backstage politics saved a pro-union Obama ruling. Published:5/16/2018 11:49:41 PM
[World] Hannity Monologue Rips John Brennan Exposed as Liar on Trump Russia Probe

Sean Hannity ripped Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan for being allegedly exposed as a "liar" on whether the unverified Trump-Russia dossier was used as material in his bureau's assessment of election meddling on the part of Russia.

Published:5/16/2018 9:21:04 PM
[Markets] Just How Deep Does The Deep State Go?

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Most don’t have to look very hard to see clear evidence that there’s a deep state But now it’s becoming even more clear that president Donald Trump’s White House, at least in some capacity, is a part of the same deep state the president promised to eliminate by “draining the swamp.”

Trump does indeed have a problem with people working against him, but some of those people are awfully close by

Leaks to the media have plagued Trump’s presidency since his first day in office, and a new report on leakers’ motives opens a window into the extent of the subterfuge. “To be honest, it probably falls into a couple of categories,” one White House official told Axios‘s Jonathan Swan. “The first is personal vendettas. And two is to make sure there’s an accurate record of what’s really going on in the White House.”  Many of those with ties and puppet strings connecting them to the deep state are actually in Trump’s White House, according to The Washington Post.

A wave of leaks from government officials has hobbled the Trump administration, leading some to draw comparisons to countries like Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan, where shadowy networks within government bureaucracies, often referred to as “deep states,” undermine and coerce elected governments. Though leaks can be a normal and healthy check on a president’s power, what’s happening now extends much further.

A former White House official who, according to Swan, “turned leaking into an art form,” said that “leaking is information warfare; it’s strategic and tactical — strategic to drive [the] narrative, tactical to settle scores.”

Edward Curtin sounded a more alarming note, however, accusing the Deep State of a “Reality-TV Coup d’etat in Prime Time”:

The day after his surprise election, the interlocking circles of power that run the show in sun and shadows — what C. Wright Mills long ago termed the Power Elite — met to overthrow him, or at least to render him more controllable. These efforts, run out of interconnected power centers, including the liberal corporate legal boardrooms that were the backers of Obama and Hillary Clinton, had no compunction in planning the overthrow of a legally elected president. –WhoWhatWhy

Axios reported that Mike Allen, who has spent nearly 20 years covering the White House, says we learn more about what’s going on inside the Trump White House in a week than we did in a year of the George W. Bush presidency. This White House leaks so much that meetings called to bemoan leaks begin with acknowledgment the bemoaning will be leaked, which is promptly leaked…by several leakers in a smallish room.

Most in the mainstream media find the links almost humorous, if not political gold mines.  But that leads us further down the rabbit hole.  We already know the media is nothing more than a propaganda arm for the federal government, and Trump has to know by now that anything said will be leaked.

So is Trump also then, a part of the deep state he claimed he wanted to take on? Is he aiding in some of these leakers for political reasons?  Maybe, maybe not.  But what is clear, is that the government isn’t operating as a “service” to the public and they haven’t in a very long time.

They are taking over completely, consolidating their power, and eliminating our wealth and personal freedoms. And that hasn’t slowed with the election of Trump.  The federal government hasn’t gotten smaller, deficits haven’t decreased, and taxes are still astronomically high even after the cuts.

All of this begs the question: just how deep does the deep state go?

Published:5/16/2018 8:09:18 PM
[Markets] Senate Votes To Save Net Neutrality

The Senate voted on Wednesday to restore the FCC's rules on net neutrality, passing a bill which will probably die on the floor of the House, but may ignite a fierce debate among Democrats ahead of midterm elections.

Senate Democrats managed to force the Wednesday vote using a rare legislative tool called the "Congressional Review Act" (CRA) - which allows Congress, with a majority vote in each chamber along with the president's signature, to overturn recent policy changes. 

Democrats argue that without the FCC's net neutrality rules, companies such as Comcast and Verizon will have free reign to discriminate against certain content, or allow superior access to partner websites and services. Under the old rules, internet service providers (ISPs) are required to treat all internet traffic equally.

In order to pass through the House, the bill would need 25 Republicans to support the Democratic effort in order to even bring it up for a vote. 

Most Republicans have argued that the FCC's net neutrality rules are overkill and not required for broadband providers - urging Democrats to come to the table and negotiate a legislative solution to replace the FCC rules. The broadband industry is predictably very supportive of this effort. 

Supporters of net neutrality, however, flatly reject the notion that the GOP-controlled Congress can come up with solutions which protect content as well as the FCC rules. The proposed GOP legislation, for example, would allow internet service providers (ISPs) to create "fast lanes" which would charge websites to provide faster speeds to end users. 

Of course, as Recode pointed out last year, Obama's net neutrality rules were celebrated by websites and content providers who could be subjected to throttling by telecom and cable companies who own distribution networks.

Adopted in 2015 under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. government’s current approach to net neutrality subjects the likes of AT&T, Comcast, Charter and Verizon to utility-like regulation. That legal foundation prevents them from blocking or throttling web pages, while banning content-delivery deals known as paid prioritization. And it grants the FCC wide legal range to review virtually any online practice it deems harmful to consumers.

Such strong rules always have been popular in Silicon Valley, where startups in particular fear they could not compete without tough net neutrality safeguards. But they long have drawn sharp opposition from the telecom industry, which sued the FCC in 2015 in a bid to overturn them.

Before that case could come to its conclusion, however, Trump entered the White House, ushering in a new era of Republican control at the nation’s telecom agency. And Pai, a fervent opponent of utility-like regulation of net neutrality, set about undoing the Obama-era rules almost as soon as he took over the FCC. -Recode

In addition to the Senate bill, there is a separate battle in court to fight the FCC's repeal - however that is likely to drag on for months. 

Published:5/16/2018 4:15:02 PM
[Illustrated editions] Bookworm Beat 5/16/2018 — the vanishing Obama legacy edition

Last week saw Trump almost completely erase the Obama legacy — an event that, peculiarly enough, coincided perfectly with delightful benefits for America. *****

The post Bookworm Beat 5/16/2018 — the vanishing Obama legacy edition appeared first on Bookworm Room.

Published:5/16/2018 12:44:17 PM
[Politics] Voters Think Trump Gaining Favor Among World Leaders

President Trump has dealt with many world leaders lately over his unprecedented upcoming summit with North Korea and his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Voters here are growing more optimistic about how world leaders view the president.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 40% of Likely U.S. Voters think most world leaders see President Trump as stronger than President Obama, up slightly from 37% when Rasmussen Reports first asked this question in November. Slightly more (45%) still think most world leaders see Trump as weaker than his predecessor, but that’s down five points from the previous survey. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on May 10 & 13, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:5/16/2018 12:14:37 PM
[Democrats] Grounds for optimism on the confirmation front? I’m not convinced (Paul Mirengoff) Some of us have been clamoring for Mitch McConnell to take special measures to break the logjam on Senate confirmation of Trump nominees for the judiciary and key sub-cabinet positions. One such measure would be to limit the number of hours nominees can be debated on the Senate floor, as the Senate agreed to do when Obama nominees were waiting their turn. Another would be to have the Senate work Published:5/16/2018 11:15:27 AM
[Uncategorized] Chicago advocacy group files federal lawsuit to block Obama Presidential Center Plaintiffs accuse Obama center organizers of pulling an 'institutional bait and switch'. Published:5/16/2018 6:13:18 AM
[US News] Chelsea Clinton aims for Donald Trump on migrant children, KNOCKS OUT Barack Obama by accident

Former Hillary Clinton spox Jesse Lehrich caused quite a stir today when he tweeted this Washington Post article out titled, “Trump administration preparing to hold immigrant children on military bases” with the added commentary that the “Trump admin is preparing to put migrant children in warehouses…”: Trump admin is preparing to put migrant children in […]

The post Chelsea Clinton aims for Donald Trump on migrant children, KNOCKS OUT Barack Obama by accident appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/15/2018 9:10:37 PM
[Markets] Baltimore Police Commissioner Resigns After Admitting He Did Not File Taxes For Years

Less than a week after the Department of Justice charged Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa with failure to file federal and state income taxes for three consecutive years, Baltimore’s top cop resigned on Tuesday after being suspended last Friday with pay.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa Resigns After Being Charged With Failing To File His Taxes. (Source: The Baltimore Sun)

“Today I received the resignation of Darryl De Sousa as Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department and have accepted it,” Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh said in a statement, reprinted below:

“I want to reassure all Baltimoreans that this development in no way alters our strategic efforts to reduce crime by addressing its root causes in our most neglected neighborhoods. This broad-based, grassroots approach – underpinned by the utilization of new crime-fighting technology – is working and will continue to be effective as indicated by the downward trend in violence. The Baltimore Police command staff is fully committed to bringing about the reforms to the practices and culture of the department that we are implementing and which are vital to ensuring the trust and confidence of all our citizens.”

“As mayor, I will not let up in pursuing my top priority of making our City safe and our neighborhoods worthy of the lives of all residents.”

According to Jayne Miller, an investigative reporter for WBAL, the mayor’s office has already started a national search for a new police commissioner, while deputy commissioner, Gary Tuggle serves as Interim-Commissioner.

De Sousa’s downward spiral started last Thursday when he was charged with three misdemeanor counts of failing to file income taxes. Federal investigators said he “willfully failed to file a federal tax return” for tax years 2013, 2014 and 2015, while he was employed with the Baltimore Police Department.

In a statement on Twitter, De Sousa admitted to failing to file his federal and state taxes, but within the statement, he did add that his 2016 taxes were filed, and 2017 had an extension.

“While there is no excuse for my failure to fulfill my obligations as a citizen and public official, my only explanation is that I failed to sufficiently prioritize my personal affairs,” he said.

“Naturally, this is a source of embarrassment for me and I deeply regret any embarrassment it has caused the Police Department and the City of Baltimore. I accept full responsibility for this mistake and am committed to resolving this situation as quickly as possible.”

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 President Gene Ryan said in a statement, “The men and women of the Baltimore Police Department are aware of the resignation of Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa today. We are anxious to put these events behind us and hope that Mayor Pugh can quickly find a suitable replacement. Our members deserve consistency in their leadership; however, as they are all highly trained professional law enforcement personnel, they will stay fully mission focused in the interim.”

De Sousa became Baltimore’s top cop in January, after Mayor Pugh fired ex-Commissioner Kevin Davis, citing a surge of violent crime after the 2015 Baltimore Riots.

“I’m impatient,” Pugh said at a news conference in January. “We need more violence reduction. We need the numbers to go down faster than they are.”

CNN explains how Baltimore was transformed into one of the most dangerous cities in America:

“Baltimore had 343 homicides in 2017, according to the city’s police department. Baltimore had a rate of 51.4 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2016, well above Chicago’s 28.07 homicides per 100,000 residents and New York City’s 3.9 per 100,000 residents.

Baltimore was the site of riots in April 2015 after 25-year-old Freddie Gray died in police custody. The Justice Department, under President Barack Obama, later issued a report saying that black residents were subject to disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests.

Last year, several police officers with the now-defunct Gun Trace Task Force were indicted on federal racketeering charges of robbing people, claiming fraudulent overtime and filing false affidavits. Two officers were convicted and six other officers pleaded guilty to federal charges.”

Meanwhile we hope that Baltimore is successful in its search for a top cop replacement, although we realize that finding that rare public servant who believes in paying their fair share while protecting and upholding the law is not going to be an easy task.

Published:5/15/2018 9:10:37 PM
[Markets] Washington Judge Kills Manafort's Motion To Dismiss, Setting Stage For September Trial

A Washington judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss the charges pending against former Trump campaign executive Paul Manafort, dashing his hopes of walking away just as the investigation is entering what many expect will be its home stretch.

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected the dismissal motion filed by Manafort's legal team on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Eastern District of Virginia Judge T.S. Ellis, a Reagan appointee, said Mueller shouldn't have "unfettered power" to prosecute Manafort on charges that have nothing to do with Russia.

Ellis added that he's concerned Mueller is only pursuing charges against Manafort to pressure him into turning on Trump. The Judge added that the charges brought against Manafort didn't appear to stem from Mueller's collusion probe. Instead, they resulted from an older investigation carried out by the Obama Justice Department that was eventually abandoned, Bloomberg reported.

Manafort

Ellis also required Mueller's prosecutors to turn over an unredacted version of the August 2, 2017 memo that Deputy AG  Rod Rosenstein used to describe the criminal allegations Mueller's team could investigate.

Yet Judge Berman Jackson said it was within Mueller's mandate to investigate "any links" between Trump campaign people and Russia.

"It was logical and appropriate for investigators tasked with the investigation of 'any links' between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign to direct their attention to him," Jackson wrote in her ruling.

Her decision will clear the way for Manafort to stand trial in September.

Manafort is charged in Virginia with financial violations related to his lobbying work in Ukraine - work that occurred long before he joined the Trump campaign. Other charges are being heard in federal court.

As one Bloomberg editorial writer pointed out on Twitter, not one of the charges filed against Manafort has anything to do with collusion.

Published:5/15/2018 4:48:28 PM
[] North Korea Threatens to Withdraw From Planned Summit Over Continued Joint US-South Korea Military Drills It's possible that North Korea's pint-sized potentate was #Triggered by Trump bragging about getting the hostages back without paying $150 billion dollars (as Obama did with Iran), and maybe this is attempt to show that he's a Big Boy too.... Published:5/15/2018 4:48:28 PM
[Markets] Prop Trading Returns As Volcker Rewrite Allows Banks To Engage In Short-Term Trades

And just like that, after a ten year hiatus, prop traders are about to become the most desired job on Wall Street (now that hedge funds are replacing their trading desks with algos).

As a reminder, the main component of Volcker Rule which was implemented in 2010 in response to perceived shortcoming from the financial crisis to limit risk-taking by commercial bank trading desks, had banned prop trading, which contrary to "flow", allowed banks to trade for their own accounts rather than for clients.

Well, as Bloomberg reports, Wall Street is set to win the biggest reprieve since the implementation of the Volcker Rule nearly a decade ago, as U.S. regulators are set to scrap the key restrictive presumption that most short-term trades violate the post-crisis regulation. Specifically, as part of the anticipated overhaul of Volcker, the Fed and other regulators will drop an assumption written into the original rule that positions held by banks for less than 60 days are speculative, and therefore banned.

Instead, it will be up to banks to determine and conclude that their trades comply with the rule, putting the onus on regulators to challenge such judgments; the architect? A former Goldman banker of course: Steven Mnuchin.

Many of the Volcker revisions under consideration adhere to a blueprint issued last year by Trump’s Treasury Department, which advised doing away with many of the rule’s more subjective demands. Asking banks to figure out the purpose of each purchase or sale of an asset “effectively requires an inquiry into the trader’s intent at the time of the transaction, which introduces considerable complexity and subjectivity,” Treasury argued. Its report said the rule’s complexity had caused banks to be overly conservative in their trading activity, a contention also made by industry lobbyists.

Of course, banks had previously found numerous loopholes to engage in prop trading, the most infamous of which was JPM's 2012 "London Whale" fiasco, when billions in prop CDS trades masked as "hedges" went spectacularly wrong, resulting in huge losses for the bank, numerous terminations, lawsuits, and even Jamie Dimon appearing in Congress. JP Morgan was eventually slapped on the wrist with a token fine.

Fast forward 6 years, when while banks will still be allowed to prop trade, at least they won't have to come up with silly ways to pretend they aren't.

The result: banks are delighted and as the American Bankers Association said in a Sept. 21 comment letter to the OCC, presuming all short-term trades are prohibited transactions "has undercut banks’ ability to serve customers, out of concern that such services would be deemed proprietary trading."

To be sure, opinions were mixed about the Volcker ban: while on one hand the rule was meant to limit excessive risk-taking by restricting speculative trading by banks, and curtailing lenders’ investments in hedge funds and private-equity firms, the offset was a collapse in liquidity across Wall Street, as banks no longer held securities in inventory making procurement problematic and costly, while expanding bid/ask spreads; all this in addition to being overly complex and is difficult to comply with.

Meanwhile, demonstrating just how political every financial regulation really is, the same Fed which led the implementation of Volcker, was just as fast in undoing it: and while the Fed led the rewrite, there is broad agreement among all five agencies responsible for Volcker on how to proceed. Accoridng to Bloomberg, the other watchdogs involved in the process are the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Additional changes the regulators intend to propose include making it easier for banks to stockpile assets that their customers may want to buy in the near term and dialing back compliance burdens for smaller lenders, the people said. The agencies expect to release the proposal by the end of the month -- a timeline confirmed publicly by Joseph Otting, the former banker who leads the OCC. Spokesmen for the five agencies declined to comment.

It's not just the big banks' trading floors that will benefit from the revision: a separate objective that’s also making headway in Congress is to easy life for smaller banks. The Senate passed a bill earlier this year that would exempt all lenders with less than $10 billion from Volcker and the legislation is expected to clear the House as soon as next week.

As Bloomberg notes, criticism of Volcker hasn’t been limited to Republican regulators nominated by Trump. Former Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo, who frequently battled with Wall Street over post-crisis rules, said before he stepped down last year that it was “too complicated” and may hurt banks’ ability to make markets for customers. And Martin Gruenberg, the current head of the FDIC who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, has cited Volcker as an example of a good place to start simplifying regulations.

The best news, however, is for junior hedge fund traders and PMs, who have become disenchanted with the buyside: instead of having to do something actually socially constructive with their lives, traders and portfolio managers will be given one last chance to make a killing by investing deposits in the latest and greatest super risky investment, with the hopes that it either soars, or if it crashes, that enough banks are invested in it that another government bailout will follow.

 

Published:5/15/2018 1:38:13 PM
[Obama administration] John Brennan, lying nutter (Scott Johnson) According to former Communist Party voter and Obama CIA Director John Brennan, the dodgy Steele Dossier played no role whatsoever in the intelligence community assessment of Russian interference in the election. Brennan so testified before Congress under oath and emphatically asserted elsewhere including an interview with Chuck Todd. Now comes Paul Sperry to report, however, that “retired National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers stated in a classified letter to Congress Published:5/15/2018 1:38:12 PM
[International events] ‘ABSOLUTE BS’! Dem rep and proud ‘Obama alum’ sinks to DESPICABLE low to slime Netanyahu and Israel

"Do you believe your own lies?"

The post ‘ABSOLUTE BS’! Dem rep and proud ‘Obama alum’ sinks to DESPICABLE low to slime Netanyahu and Israel appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/15/2018 11:37:58 AM
[Markets] First British Citizen Deported Under Trump Urges "Give Him A Chance"

Authored by Tony Parton via NewRightNetwork.com,

Watching the acorn raise up on New Year’s Eve 2016, I was a man filled with anticipation for the future. Raleigh, North Carolina was filled with people, and there was a genuine sense of celebration that interlaced the throngs of people. It was cold and I do not like the cold, but there was a sense of electrified victory in the crisp air and hope for a bright future.

The Celebration Was Short-Lived

A few weeks later, I was in Nash County Jail waiting to be picked up by immigration police. I was taken to Wake County Jail and then to Atlanta City Detention Center, or as I politely call it-hell on earth. Seriously, if you are planning to commit a crime in Atlanta, please think again. I lost 40lbs in three months of incarceration waiting to be deported and banished from the nation that I love.

I could blame circumstance. I could blame President Trump's tough stance on immigration. I could blame myself, or I could blame what happened to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Obama administration. I am going to choose the last two. I had ample time to apply for my Green Card, and as a man married to an American citizen, while it was expensive, we could have gotten it done.

The USCIS helpline, under Obama, told me that I did not really need to worry about a green card, that I could work in the USA as long as I had a tax code, which I had. They also told me that as a man married to an American Citizen, I had the right to abode. My wife had four children from a previous marriage, and I did all that I could to keep them while working low-level manual jobs.

On The Very Cusp

Under Obama, the USCIS became a watered down government department of limited means and authority. There seemed to be no threat, and I was about to apply for my Green Card. I had finally made enough to pay a lawyer the funds necessary to start the application. I wanted nothing more than to be able to work, take care of my family and pledge my allegiance to the most relaxed country in the world to call home because America is wonderful.

Sadly, it was not to be. President Trump changed nothing on immigration with the exception that it was finally given its teeth back, having been all but neutered under the Obama administration. He did everything that he said that he would, and he did it at a speed that I have never seen a politician move unless it was the queue to file illegal expense reports in the British Government.

Now, I am here in London, watching history happen, and I have come to the conclusion that I have no one to blame but myself. Uncle Sam gave me the opportunity to do it right, and I failed to act in time.

Loving From Afar

I have since seen a President of the United States end the second war that my grandfather fought in alongside American forces in the Korean War. I have seen a President reduce the tax burden on his entire country. I filed my taxes, and I am proud of that. I read an article that informed us of a late night phone call from the Kremlin to the White House where an overjoyed Vladimir Putin thanked Donald Trump for permitting the CIA to share intelligence with the FSB that enabled them to thwart a planned terrorist attack on the Cathedral in St Petersburg on Christmas Day 2017.

I have seen a president watch as North Korea fired an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile over the Bow of Japan, an act of war that would have seen a lesser man invade North Korea, risking the lives of hundreds of thousands of American military personnel. What a cold way to describe them; They are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers; brave men and women who also believe in America.

I have seen a president wisely hold back from leading the world into an all-out war that could have only ended with Nuclear weapons being used. I am not angry at the president of the United States. I love him, and I owe the man my life and the lives of the people that I love. In this politically charged world, Europe seems desperate for a war with Russia.

Iran seems to have a fully funded nuclear weapons program, whose funding has come directly from the Obama administration on your tax dollars and mine, and seeks to destroy Israel. In this world where Britain will blame Russia for just about anything, I am truly in awe of President Trump. He is a president who can not only manage all of these threats but calmly (Twitter feed notwithstanding) take control in a way that leads the entire world to a place of peace summits, trade negotiations and rebuilding of relationships with former enemies. I am referring to the relationships that America has with China, Russia, and North Korea.

What, Exactly, Are You Protesting?

If you are a Democrat, perhaps you protested against the Trump election. I cannot blame you, having had to look at this grumpy old man who will say anything he wants and seems like he could do anything. I understand your fears and I applaud them. I always encourage caution. Are you able to see how your life is better under his presidency? The tax cuts have added more money in your pockets, and there are more jobs than there are people to fill them. Your nation is stepping back from embroiling itself in wars it would have jumped on in the past [ZH: maybe not].

Nobody likes to be associated with the right wing. The very mention of the word conjures up images of skinhead barbarism, lynchings, and separatism. This is the New Right, we hold out open arms of welcome to all people. We want to continue a pursuit of peace in the entire world and want to bring everyone in with us.

Bernie Sanders has gone out of his way to show hatred to Christianity, Hillary Clinton has done nothing but throw temper tantrums over how she feels she has been ill-treated, and Joe Biden continues to fondle little girls in public and on YouTube videos. I urge you to do a YouTube search to see for yourselves.

Open Your Eyes, America

This world is in a real state of decay. Donald Trump, love him or despise him, has brought a new order to the world and has raised the standards for the entire planet. I implore you to give him a chance. I honestly do not think he is going to let any of us down. You may be wondering who am I to say this to you.

My wife has filed for divorce. Those people that I love have been taken from me. I am currently hunting for work in a nation that persecutes Christians and employs foreign labor at will because they are cheaper. I am one of the people who has more reasons to bitterly resent Donald Trump than most.

Instead, I choose to support him because he has quite literally saved the life of every man, woman, and child on this planet. It is time for you to see your good fortune in this man, and to support him in all that he does.

*  *  *

I am the first British citizen to be deported under Donald Trump and have become a Pro-Trump voice from here in the U.K.

Published:5/15/2018 2:36:36 AM
[Political Cartoons] Obama’s Legacy Comes to an ‘End’

        Check out more of A.F. Branco’s Great Work at Comically Incorrect…

The post Obama’s Legacy Comes to an ‘End’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:5/14/2018 11:35:29 PM
[Political Cartoons] Obama’s Legacy Comes to an ‘End’

        Check out more of A.F. Branco’s Great Work at Comically Incorrect…

The post Obama’s Legacy Comes to an ‘End’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:5/14/2018 11:07:25 PM
[US News] PERFECT! Obama presidential center to feature ‘augmented virtual reality’ experience

This "describes Obama's legacy to perfection."

The post PERFECT! Obama presidential center to feature ‘augmented virtual reality’ experience appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/14/2018 4:03:04 PM
[Liberals & Democrats] Democrats Haven’t Beat Their Insurgents Just Yet

Democrats in the Trump era are successfully avoiding the traps into which the GOP fell in the first years of the Obama administration. At least, ...

The post Democrats Haven’t Beat Their Insurgents Just Yet appeared first on Commentary Magazine.

Published:5/14/2018 2:33:29 PM
[Uncategorized] Requiem for the Nuclear Deal The deal failed even by Obama's standards Published:5/14/2018 2:05:00 PM
[Media] It’s sexist NOW?! Michelle Obama gets a RUDE awakening about another MAN who women helped beat Hillary

Michelle Obama sure seems angry with ‘women’ for letting Trump beat Hillary. Maybe she missed it, but Hillary was one of the most unpopular and baggage-heavy candidates maybe EVER from the Democratic party … and they ran Andrew Jackson. But yeah, tell us more about how it’s women’s fault. It’s so helpful to the Dems during […]

The post It’s sexist NOW?! Michelle Obama gets a RUDE awakening about another MAN who women helped beat Hillary appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/14/2018 1:02:13 PM
[World] How Trump Is Really Changing Immigration: Making It Harder for People to Come Here Legally

Alex Nowrasteh

A Trump supporter named John B. who emailed me recently wrote that, “No one is against legal immigration.” President Trump and his administration are, I replied.

Yes, Trump still wants his big, beautiful wall to stop illegal border crossings. But he’s been railing against all forms of immigration since his campaign. And he’s having a much easier time chipping away at legal immigration than funding his wall. In some cases, the methods are strict quotas or new rules. But paperwork and red tape work, too. For instance, this administration tripled the number of pages in green card applications. Forms for sponsoring a foreign-born spouse are nine times longer than they used to be.

Here’s an overview of key ways Trump has made it more difficult and expensive to come here legally for foreign students, skilled temporary workers, green cards holders, refugees and others.

H1-B visas

The Trump administration has piled new compliance rules, documentation requirements and other regulations on H-1B visas. These changes make it much more costly for employers to use H-1B visas to hire skilled foreign workers, which is a likely reason that applications dropped by 20% from 2016 to 2018.

Trump needs legal immigrant entrepreneurs, investors and workers to keep expanding economic growth — especially with unemployment now below 4%

H4 visas

The Trump administration announced plans to take away work permits from those with H-4 visas — the visa for spouses of H-1B workers. In 2015, the Obama administration allowed H-4s to work, and about 91,000 of these visa holders, many of whom are as skilled as their spouses, leaped at the opportunity.

Foreign students

The number of foreign students at U.S. universities was down about 17% in 2017 and likely will fall further this year. A major draw of studying in the United States is the ability to work here after graduation. Those on student visas can legally work for 12 months after earning their degrees, and STEM graduates can stay for three years under a program called Optional Practical Training. In 2016, about 200,000 students signed up for OPT, which is often a first step toward an H-1B visa.

Foreign students fear that President Trump will restrict OPT or the H-1B visa. Trump hasn’t canceled OPT yet (and his administration even defended it in court) but $63,000 a year (the cost of tuition and living expenses at UCLA) starts to look like a very risky investment if paying for it depends on getting a work visa in a few years.

Refugees

Trump temporarily halted the entire refugee program last year, claiming that terrorists would get into the country masquerading as refugees. It started up again for most countries, but Trump precipitously cut the number of refugees the U.S. will accept. If admissions for 2018 continue at their current pace, 75% fewer refugees will arrive this year than in 2016. Trump even canceled a planned pilot program that would have allowed private individuals or charities to sponsor refugees and absorb all welfare costs — the kind of program Canada has had for more than a decade.

Muslim ban

Preventing terrorism was the reason given for Trump’s so-called Muslim ban, an executive order that limits or altogether bars visas for citizens of several Muslim-majority countries, North Korea and Venezuela. Lower courts keep ruling against it, but the ban and related policies are having a big effect. For instance, while all refugee numbers are down from 2016, the number of Muslim refugees has been cut by 91%. Immigrant visas issued to people from Muslim-majority countries are down 26%, and temporary visitors from Muslim-majority countries by 32%.

‘Extreme vetting’

Last year, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ordered additional security screenings for all immigrants and visitors seeking visas — a move also presented as a way of keeping out terrorists. Immigration attorney Shabnam Lotfi told me that these new procedures, “are causing significant and expensive delays for visa applicants who have already been vetted under the current effective security procedures.”

Asylum

The administration has directly and indirectly hampered the ability of foreigners to ask for asylum in the U.S. For instance, it cut the number of visas issued to Venezuelans by as much as 74% relative to 2013. That country is in political and economic crisis, but Venezuelans have to get to the U.S. to request asylum — and they can’t get here without a visa. Meantime, the Border Patrol is discouraging asylum-seekers from Central America by breaking up families who arrive at the southern border. The government places parents and children in separate immigration detention cells, sometimes for months.

Temporary Protected Status

In a string of announcements over recent months, Trump has said he’ll end Temporary Protected Status by 2020 for about 437,000 migrants mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti. TPS allowed them to stay here legally after natural disasters struck their home countries. More than 80% of TPS migrants from those countries have jobs here. They have about 273,000 U.S.-born children. Many have been here for decades; they won’t leave now, just as Salvadorans didn’t leave between 1996 and 2001 when their TPS was rescinded.

This is just the low-hanging fruit on the immigration tree. Trump would happily prune more if he could get Congress to go along. He endorsed the RAISE Act, which would cut legal forms of immigration by 50%. He so badly wants to eliminate diversity visas and severely restrict family-based immigration that he seemed willing to trade partial amnesty for some Dreamers (the young people enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program). Still, the changes Trump pushed for would have resulted in the largest policy-driven gutting of legal immigration since the 1920s. Thankfully, they didn’t make it through the Senate.

Trump campaigned that he would take steps to grow the economy by 3% per year or more. To that end, he’s cut taxes and slashed regulation. But he needs legal immigrant entrepreneurs, investors and workers to keep expanding economic growth — especially with unemployment now below 4%. He won’t make America great again without letting in more

Alex Nowrasteh is the senior immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute and a Los Angeles native.
Published:5/14/2018 10:02:05 AM
[Markets] Former Obama Officials Suggest European Allies Expel American Diplomats

Authored by Peter Hasson via The Daily Caller,

Two former Obama administration officials suggested that America’s European allies should punish President Donald Trump for withdrawing from the Iran deal and levying additional sanctions on the Islamic republic.

The European Union and individual European countries are obligated to take aggressive steps to preserve the Iran deal, in order to avoid becoming Trump’s “doormat,” Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson argued in an op-ed that ran in The New York Times Thursday. Both Simon and Stevenson were directors on former President Barack Obama’s National Security Council (NSC).

The European Union could, for instance, announce the withdrawal of member-states’ ambassadors from the United States. Isn’t this what states do when diplomatic partners breach solemn agreements, expose them to security risks and threaten to wreak havoc on their economies? That is, after all, what the administration is threatening to do by courting the risk of a Middle Eastern war and applying secondary sanctions to European companies,” they argued.

“Depending on the American response, European capitals might even follow up with expulsion of American ambassadors.”

It would be hard to fault these moves as irresponsible, given that they would not impair vital security functions like intelligence-sharing and law enforcement coordination. They would, however, symbolize a stark diplomatic breach that could extend to other areas in which the Trump administration needs allied support,” the former Obama officials wrote.

Thus, the White House would face the first hard choice in this whole process: a full-blown crisis in trans-Atlantic relations. If the administration’s next move were to impose secondary sanctions on Europe, the Europeans could slap its own penalties on American multinational corporations, which in turn would place additional pressure on the White House.”

Simon and Stevenson conceded it would be “radical” for Europe to sanction American companies in order to protect the Iran deal, but claimed that “it would arise in response to correspondingly egregious American behavior.”

Obama himself sharply and publicly criticized Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal — breaking with precedent that presidents refrain from criticizing their successor. The former president and former first lady Michelle Obama have publicly slammed Trump a dozen times since they left the White House.

Published:5/14/2018 3:00:53 AM
[Markets] If Europe Wants To Remain On The World Stage, It Must Resist Trump On Iran

Authored by Patrick Cockburn via Counterpunch.org,

“Iraq is at the muzzle of the gun,” says Ali Allawi, Iraqi historian and former minister, speaking of the increased turmoil expected to follow the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement.

It is not only Iraq which is in danger: an escalating confrontation between the US and Iran will affect the whole region, but its greatest impact will be in Syria and Iraq where wars have long been raging and Washington and Tehran are old rivals.

The US will rely at first on the reimposition of economic sanctions on Iran to force it to comply with US demands and hopefully bring about regime change in Tehran. But, if this does not work – and it will almost certainly fail – then there will be a growing risk of military action either carried out directly by the US or through “green-lighting” Israeli airstrikes.

Iran is for the moment reacting cautiously to Trump’s denunciation of the 2015 accord, portraying itself as the victim of arbitrary action and seeking to spur the EU states into taking practical steps to resist imposing draconian sanctions along the lines of those that were imposed before 2015. Even if this does not happen, it will be important for Iran that the Europeans should only grudgingly cooperate with the US in enforcing sanctions, particularly on Iranian oil exports.

A problem for the US is that Trump has made the Iranian nuclear deal negotiated by Barack Obama the issue on which he will test the limits of US power which he had pledged to expand. But the agreement is internationally popular and is seen to be working effectively in denying Iran the ability to develop a nuclear device. The US is therefore becoming self-isolated, with full support only from Israel and Saudi Arabia, in the first weeks of a crisis that could go on for years.

Already Trump’s determination to sink the deal forever has involved marginalising and humiliating France, Germany and UK. They had pleaded for it to be preserved but made more palatable to the US by separate agreements on ballistic missiles and other issues. Trump seems to have enjoyed the procession of European leaders from Emmanuel Macron to Boris Johnson asking for compromise, only to go away empty-handed.

If the European leaders now go along with sanctioning Iran, there will be even less reason for Trump to take their views seriously in future. They have already seen their attempt to appease him on climate change fail to produce anything, so they either have to accept that they have less influence and a reduced role in the world or make a serious attempt to preserve the nuclear accord.

But even if they do so, the US will be able to put intense economic pressure on Iran and its trading partners. Banks and companies are terrified of incurring the ire of the US Treasury and facing massive fines for even an unintentional breach of sanctions. Even if EU governments want their companies to go on investing in Iran, they may consider the risk too great.

Sanctions are a powerful but blunt instrument, take a long time to work and usually do not produce the political dividends expected by those who impose them. The Iranian rial may fall and hyperinflation return to 40 per cent, but this will most likely not be enough if Iran returns to enriching uranium. It has already said that it is not going to keep abiding by its part of the nuclear agreement if it is not getting any of the economic benefits promised.

What will the US do then? This is the crucial question for the Middle East and the rest of the world. Trump has just torpedoed any diplomatic solution to what he sees as the threat of Iran developing a nuclear bomb. The only alternative is a military response, but this would have to be more than a few days of intense airstrikes. Anything less than total war would not win for Trump the kind of results he says he wants.

Iran may be weak economically, but politically and militarily it is in a strong position in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, the countries likely to provide the main arena for the coming crisis. In all three places it is Iran’s fellow Shia who are in control and see the US as an ally of the Sunni states in what is in large part a sectarian Shia-Sunni conflict.

Has the Trump administration thought any of this through? The crisis is beginning to feel very much like that in the buildup to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Some of the same figures, such as the national security adviser John Bolton, are the very same neoconservatives who believed that invading and occupying Iraq would be an easy business. They sound as if they are bringing the same blend of arrogance and ignorance to their coming confrontation with Iran.

Published:5/14/2018 1:30:10 AM
[Markets] Iran And Syria: Why Regime Change In One Means Regime Change In Both

Authored by Cailtin Johnstone via Medium.com,

Probably the weirdest, dumbest, most annoying thing about writing on US foreign policy right now is the fact that regime change in Iran and regime change in Syria have been falsely spun into the illusion of two separate issues along partisan lines.

People who are more aligned with America’s Democratic Party are a lot more opposed to the overthrow of the Iranian government and a lot more sympathetic to the idea of getting rid of Assad, and with those who are more aligned with the Republican party it’s the exact opposite.

Partisan politics turn people into such drooling idiots. 

Democratic Party-aligned Americans oppose Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal because it was Obama’s baby, while Republican-aligned Americans support it for the exact same reason. This is a deliberate provocation designed to enable crushing economic sanctions, which the US-centralized war machine always uses as a prelude to war, to weaken and destabilize the nation. Plan A will be for imperial intelligence agencies to stage a coup or fund a violent uprising in order to either throw Iran into impotent chaos or replace its government with a puppet regime (either one satisfies Plan A). Plan B will be something more direct.

We’re seeing the reverse in Syria: Democratic Party-aligned Americans are virulently opposed to Assad because Russia is actively fighting on his side, and the Russiagate psyop has Democrats hating anyone who they suspect might have anything to do with Vladimir Putin. They also need to justify the fact that the Obama administration helped stage a premeditated violent uprising and flooded Syria with terrorists with the goal of destabilization or regime change. Trump supporters, meanwhile, oppose regime change in that nation largely because it’s a secular government besieged by violent deep state-funded jihadists.

I am of course painting with a broad brush here; there are Democrats who oppose any kind of interventionism in Syria and there are Trump supporters who oppose it in Iran, but as someone who’s been writing about US-led interventionism in both countries I can say from experience that there is a clear partisan split in public sympathy for each of them. I’m getting liberals agreeing with me about Iran who’ve aggressively denounced my writings on Syria, and a bunch of conservatives who supported my Syria writings now loudly objecting to my writings on Iran. Which is absolutely insane, because it’s the same goddamn war.

Iran and Syria are plainly allies. They are both longtime targets for regime change by neocon think tanks and western defense/intelligence agencies, and they are both being aggressively targeted by Israel and Saudi Arabia. It is very clear that the tightly allied nations on the side of the United States (which I call “the western empire” or the blob) view both nations in the same light. If you ignore the babbling narratives and just look at the behavior of the blob, it is clear that it is working against both nations as though they are a single entity.

If the government of either Iran or Syria falls, it will either be replaced with a puppet government or allowed to collapse into a failed state, in either case unable to assist the other in defending itself from imperial regime change interventionism. Cheerleading for regime change in one nation is necessarily cheerleading for regime change in the other, and all the death, suffering and devastation that necessarily goes with it. You can’t install a puppet regime in one without facilitating the destruction of the other.

Conservatives who support the longstanding neoconservative agenda of regime change in Iran: you are supporting regime change in Syria. You are supporting the installation of a government that will no longer assist Syria in fighting against the western-armed jihadist factions, and you are helping to ensure that Damascus falls to violent Islamist factions. Consenting to American regime change interventionism of any kind in Iran is an endorsement of the enemies that Assad is fighting in Syria.

Liberals who support the longstanding neoconservative agenda of regime change in Syria: you are supporting regime change in Iran. You are supporting the collapse of a key Iranian ally which will no longer be there to help stave off the agenda to plunge Iran into chaos and terror. You are supporting the anti-Iranian agendas of warmongering neocons like Trump, Pompeo and Bolton.

Partisan minds may see Iran and Syria as two completely different situations, but the leaders of the western empire see them as one and the same. With the constantly fluctuating political leadership of Official Washington and the continued agendas of America’s permanent government, the unelected power establishment knows that if it takes out one nation it’s only a matter of time before it will be politically convenient to take out the other.

Fox News babbles nonsense about freedom and democracy and Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, CNN babbles nonsense about Assad targeting civilians with barrel bombs and chemical weapons, but this has nothing to do with any of those things. This is about a transnational alliance of plutocrats and intelligence/defense agencies targeting all governments which don’t bow to its interests, with the ultimate goal of world domination. They target the weaker and smaller nations first in order to weaken their bigger allies, Russia and China, which are the ultimate target.

A powerful group of plutocrats have built their kingdoms on a specific status quo, and they are therefore naturally opposed to rising governmental powers like China which threaten that status quo. These plutocrats have built up their power and influence to the point where they are able to use the governments in the western empire as weapons to attack, bully and subvert any potential geopolitical challengers of the status quo.

That’s all this is. All the propaganda, all the nonsense about Mullahs and chemical weapons and Russian hackers, all the war and terror and suffering, is all because a few sociopathic individuals have been able to claw their way up the capitalist ladder to such a height that they can use governments to advance their insatiable power-grabbing agendas. Different political factions are being propagandized in different ways along their respective paths of least resistance into supporting these agendas, but as always the fake partisan divide always benefits the same group of depraved ruling elites.

Oppose these elites by opposing interventionism across the board. It isn’t okay for a few wealthy oligarchs to use governments to destroy and subvert entire nations. It isn’t okay that governments which should be helping their people are instead stretched all across the globe bending over backwards to make sure a few plutocrats don’t get dethroned. It isn’t okay that oligarchic domination has taken precedence over the basic human impulse to survive and thrive. We must all cease consenting to this together, regardless of political ideology.

*  *  *

Internet censorship is getting pretty bad, so best way to keep seeing my daily articles is to get on the mailing list for my website, so you’ll get an email notification for everything I publish. My articles and podcasts are entirely reader and listener-funded, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalor buying my new bookWoke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

Published:5/13/2018 9:28:58 PM
[Markets] Iran Threatened To Name Politicians Who Took Bribes To Pass Nuclear Deal

Authored by Joe via ILoveMyFreedom.org,

President Trump announced early this week that the US will withdraw from the deceptive Iranian nuclear deal. President Trump made his position on the terrible Iran deal clear during his 2016 campaign.

This didn’t stop former Secretary of State John Kerry from acting as a rogue government agent against the Trump administration, in order to redeem the lame deal with the oppressive Iranian regime.

Many have referred to this as “Shadow diplomacy,” we prefer to call it treason.

The President was quick to call Kerry out:

During his speech to the NRA, Trump criticized Kerry for his fundamental role in negotiating the Iran deal.

“We have the former administration as represented by John Kerry, not the best negotiator we’ve ever seen,” Trump stated. 

“He never walked away from the table, except to be in that bicycle race where he fell and broke his leg.”

Naturally, the Iranian regime is extremely upset with President Trump and his decision to re-impose a great number of sanctions on Iran.

Here’s where it gets good...

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari has just warned Western politicians that if they do not put pressure on the Trump administration the Iranian regime will leak the names of all officials who accepted bribes to pass the disastrous deal in the first place!

Stay tuned, and grab the popcorn!

We know someone will...

Published:5/13/2018 5:56:59 PM
[Media] Not Obama? Christiane Amanpour’s ‘necessary’ observation about the Trump admin is DRIPPING with bias

All about what's "necessary."

The post Not Obama? Christiane Amanpour’s ‘necessary’ observation about the Trump admin is DRIPPING with bias appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/13/2018 3:26:43 PM
[Markets] The Deep State Mob Targets Nunes

Authored by Julie Kelly via The Center for American Greatness,

In an absurd tweet on Wednesday, Lawfare’s executive director suggested that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) should be replaced as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee:

That wasn’t even the most moronic tweet in Susan Hennessey’s arsenal. She went on to warn how “the intelligence oversight system is based on trust. Without trust it is irretrievably broken. The [Intelligence Community] and [Department of Justice] don’t trust Nunes and he cannot perform his job functions.” Get that? The Intelligence Community and the Justice department—which have proven to be as political and devious as a Chicago ward boss—are the white hats and Nunes is the black hat.

That is not ignorance on Hennessey’s part: it’s calculated deception.

Fortunately, it’s unlikely that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will heed an unreasonable demand from a political partisan tied to the left-leaning Brookings Institution.

But it does unveil the latest tactic of the Left (and some on the Right) to discredit and ultimately oust Nunes, the only Republican on Capitol Hill who appears to have his act together when it comes to exposing the players behind the Trump-Russia election collusion scheme.

The Deep State Mob is continuing to squeeze the California congressman after he again threatened to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for ignoring congressional subpoenas and withholding crucial documents from Congressional investigators. Nunes has minced no words about how the Justice Department and FBI have been “stonewalling” his committee’s investigation for months. And as Nunes inches closer to revealing the stinking core of what is potentially the biggest political corruption scandal in U.S. history, the Deep State Mob is trying to close in on him first.

Nunes and other House Republicans want to find out exactly how and why the FBI’s counterintelligence operation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government began in the summer of 2016, and what intelligence sources either aided or instigated that probe. The latest showdown, according to the Washington Post, is because Nunes has issued a subpoena demanding that the Justice Department provide information about an unnamed individual referenced in a classified letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month.

While there are few details about the individual in question, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel intimates that the person could have been a mole inside the Trump campaign:

We know Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. We might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

Strassel, who has been carefully covering this scandal, has a hunch of who the source is but couldn’t confirm it.

The Justice Department is fighting Nunes’s request on the basis that any disclosure would “risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives, damage to relationship with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations and interference with intelligence activities.” While Justice officials met with Nunes and committee member Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) late Thursday, they did not allow them to see the information in question. Nunes indicated that he would continue to press the department to fulfill his request.

Now Nunes’s foes are portraying him as a rogue actor - perhaps even a traitor - who is willing to see intelligence assets killed in order to carry water for President Trump. CNN national security analyst Asha Rangappa echoed the Justice Department’s warning that Nunes is risking lives to achieve political ends.

In a one-two punch, Hennessey’s boss upped the attacks on Nunes during a discussion with former FBI Director James Comey on Friday. Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare’s editor and close Comey pal, rhetorically asked Comey, “what’s Devin Nunes gonna be able to tell his grandchildren? It’s a serious question. He is affirmatively acting in a fashion that some of us judged, you know, Edward Snowden very harshly for behaving in a fashion that puts at risk intelligence sources and methods when being told so by the senior levels of the Justice Department.” (Others have tried to get the “Nunes-Is-Literal-Snowden” trope going before. We’ll see if it finally takes off next week.)

Comey, the consigliere of the Deep State Mob, anguished to his buddy about the lost values of the Republican Party: “This is my hope for the Republicans as a whole, that they realize that only a fool would trade the institutions and the values that actually unite us for the policy gains they think they’re getting from a president who is eroding and attacking those values.” Sounds like some sour grapes from the guy who lost his battle against Nunes to keep his memos secret.

Fellow fired prosecutor Preet Bharara joined Comey in mocking Nunes this week. After a bogus storysurfaced that Nunes doesn’t read the intelligence information he receives, the former head of the DOJ’s Southern District of New York (yes, the same office assigned with investigating Trump lawyer Michael Cohen) tweeted this:

But it’s not just the Deep State Mob on the Left that is after Nunes: Their soulmates in the smoldering political ash heap that is the neoconservative movement are speaking out, too. In an egregiously flawed assist in Commentary, Noah Rothman gives aid and comfort to the Deep State Mob, incredibly by making Nunes the bad guy. Rothman accuses Nunes of causing the trust breakdown in the House Intelligence committee, the same committee whose ranking member is the despicable leaker Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Rothman smugly claims that “there is no impartial assessment of his tenure as House Intelligence Committee chair in which he comes off as a competent steward of American national security or capable of the dispassionate oversight of the institutions that safeguard U.S. interests at home and abroad.”

Rothman suggests that even Trump doesn’t trust Nunes and that’s why the president (for now) has acquiesced to the Justice Department’s stonewalling on the source subpoena. He wrongly claims that Nunes recused himself from the investigation early on, then calls Nunes an “obstacle in the way of truth” who should be removed.

Any close observer of the unfolding story of how the disaster of the Obama Justice Department exploited our most trusted federal agencies to hatch the Trump-Russia scheme is either on the floor laughing or smashing things at Rothman’s absurd accusation.

The Deep State Mob wants to destroy anything and anyone associated with Trump, particularly those who are brave enough to incur their wrath to get to the truth on behalf of the American people. Nunes isn’t a traitor: He’s a hero.

Published:5/12/2018 9:53:07 PM
[Markets] Trump's Neocon Folly: Goodbye Nuke Deal, Hello Global Debt Crisis

Authored by Tom Luongo,

At least it is confirmed for us.  Donald Trump wants regime change in Iran.  His cancellation of the JCPOA was a decision born his myopia.  He has surrounded himself with people who reinforce his view and manipulate him via his vanity.

And the price of implementing his current plan will be a global debt crisis which no one will escape.  The problem will be very few will see the links.

He wants to remake America and the world in his image while undoing anything President Obama touched.  Most of this I’m wholly on board with.  Obama was a vandal.  So, however, were Bush the Lesser and Bill Clinton.

We’re All Neocons Now

We have a leaked (yeah, right) memo explaining this is the plan.  But, we didn’t need this if we were being honest with ourselves.  Nothing Trump has done since he’s been in office has been contra to this goal; overthrowing the theocracy in Iran.

In fact, it has been a step-wise move in this direction with each decision he’s made.  Commentators I respect and have learned at the knee of still want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt.  Not me.

It’s right there in plain text.

Trump has capitalized on the insane Deep State opposition to his presidency to politicize this goal and get his base to ab-react for regime change, when he explicitly said that was off the table at his inauguration.

If the Democrats and Merkel want to stay in the deal, then the deal must be bad.  Obama Bad, Trump Good.  Trump is Orange Jesus.  He knows stuff, man.

What was a worry about Israeli influence in his administration in 2017 has now morphed into a call to duty to create chaos in Iran to assuage the American ego by saving the Iranian people from themselves.

You have to hand it to these folks, they understand how to run a successful mass psy-op.  Beware the Master Persuader, as Scott Adams would put it, his skills can be put to any use.

These men and their Deep State handlers/billionaire donors have had a strategic goal for decades, remake the Middle East for Israel and the Oil Complex, bottle up Russia and China.

Donald Trump’s patriotism is revealed to be jingoism.  But, he made this clear in his speech to the U.N. last year.  At some point you have to put away childish things and face the world we’ve got.

And that world is one of extreme uncertainty.

Back to the Future

As I said the other day, Trump wants to reset the clock back to 2012.  Bottle up Iran, cut its ties to the world.  Remove 1 million barrels of oil per day from the markets (for his Saudi weapons customers “Look!  Yuge JOBS!”). And bully our allies into getting the plan to atomize Syria back on track.

But, it’s not 2012.  It’s 2018 and everything is different.  Iran has friends it didn’t have then.  Yes, there is local unrest and unhappiness which could grow.  The rial is falling like a rock, people in Iran can’t get dollars.  Not solely because Trump has cut them off from the dollar but because Iran has.

It anticipated this move by him and the chaos of today turns into the de-dollarization of tomorrow.  These people still think destroying a national currency is the path to political change. It’s a dangerous gambit that doesn’t always work.

It didn’t work with Russia in 2014/5.  It’s not working in Venezuela today. And if those countries have friends, China for Russia in 2015, Russia and others for Venezuela today, then the longer the regime stays in power once the worst of the crisis hits, the lower the probability regime change becomes.

I told everyone last year the Saudi gambit to isolate Qatar wouldn’t work.  If they didn’t get regime change in Doha within two weeks, then the government would survive.  It has and now it is free to pursue whatever it wants, having finally bought a 19% stake in Russian state oil giant Rosneft.

Trump has been signaling this moment for almost two years.  Do you think Russia, Iran and China have not been game-planning this?  When the attack on the ruble began in 2014, Putin did the unthinkable.  In doing so revealed his central bank’s disloyalty.

By demanding to free-float the ruble, under objection from his economic advisor Alexander Kudrin and central bank President Elvira Nabullina, Putin stabilized the situation quickly.  Then he ordered the Bank of Russia to assist payment of more than $50 billion in Russian corporate debt denominated in dollars from central bank reserves.

China opened up ruble/yuan swap lines to help funnel dollars into Russia.  The Bank of Russia had to abandon IMF-style austerity and serve Russian interests first rather than continue playing into the hands of U.S. hybrid war tactics.

Iran has these people as its friends now.  They are committed to its survival.  They may not be committed to the IRGC staying in Syria post-ISIS/Al-Qaeda, but they are committed to an Iran aligned with them for the road ahead.  And that Road has a Belt attached to it.

Because they know that if they lead the opposition to U.S. aggression, then they will gain allies over time.  In acting this way Trump is revealing the U.S. to be the repressive, messianic global oligarch of the world order it claims the Iranian Islamic Republic to be over its citizens.

Everyone will get in line behind the Orange Emperor or suffer his wrath.  Why?  Because Bibi Netanyahu can’t sleep at night?  Get that psychopath a plushie and leave a night light on for pity’s sake.

It also has an EU wanting to establish itself as a separate power from the U.S.  Angela Merkel and French Poodle Emmanuel Macron both want an independent EU foreign policy and a Grand Army of the EU to put down any internal rebellions.

China can and will assist Iran in overcoming the sanctions.  So will Turkey, who did so in 2012. Will it be enough save the Islamic Republic?  Possibly.  If that happens will the U.S. get what it wants?

Most probably not.  National Security Advisor and Certified Crazy Person John Bolton wants to put the Saudi-backed MEK (Mujahedeen-e-Khalq), a cult-like Sunni group with zero support in Iran.  You’ll hear in the coming days about how great these guys are.

Just like U.S. NGO-backed Russian agitator Alexei Navalny is promoted in the Western press even though he can’t get 2,000 people to march in Moscow on the day of Putin’s inarguration.

Sanctions Cut Both Ways

Russia, ultimately, has the sanctions hammer in its control of the uranium market.  It’s also a major supplier of both titanium and aluminum.  The U.S. has never considered sanctioning the first two and it’s plan to sanction Rusal has been close to a disaster.

Trump believes in the primacy of the U.S. threat both militarily and financially so much that he’s willing to project it everywhere and at everyone to get what he wants in Iran.  We thought he reluctantly signed those new sanctions last summer.  Nonsense.

If so, he wouldn’t be using those new powers in ways that are the height of hubris.  Explicit in his threats to Iran and his demands that are, as Alexander Mercouris put it at The Duran yesterday, “so extreme that no sovereign state could ever accept them and retain its independence.”

So, let’s again put away childish things and think that Trump will not take this to whatever point he thinks is necessary to get his desired outcome.

But, in doing this he will upset world financial markets already fragile from a decade of QE and an explosion of cheap dollar-denominated debt.  The Fed is raising interest rates. Bond traders are resisting raising rates at the long-end of the U.S. Treasury yield curve, causing it to flatten dangerously.

Trump wants a continued weaker dollar but geopolitical uncertainty creates dollar demand because so much of the world’s debt and trade is based in it.  For over a year Foreign Central Banks have been parking U.S. Treasury purchases with the Fed as the dollar weakened.

Now that trend has firmly changed.

The Dollar Debt Bomb

Moreover, the ECB is trapped at the negative-bound.  Mario Draghi keeps telling everyone he has no Plan B.  He will keep being the marginal (or only) buyer of EU sovereign debt until the market finally pukes all over him.

If Trump is serious about putting sanctions on any foreign entity that does any business with Iran then that will set off chain reactions around the globe.  It’s why I’m not sanguine about EU leadership standing up to Trump in the long run.

But it’s a real opportunity for Merkel et. al. to establish a new pole in the proposed multi-polar world advocated by Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping.

The worry now is a technical breakout of the U.S. 10 year above 3.05%.  U.S./EU credit spreads   With the dollar strengthening low loan servicing costs become big quick.  Anyone who has/had an adjustable rate mortgage understands this viscerally.

With China no long buying U.S. debt, it is free to funnel dollars to Iran through proxies and its own oil trade to keep things from escalating.  That lack of recycling of its trade surplus is part of what kept the dollar weaker longer.  Now that the dollar is rising, we can safely say that that effect has been over-run.

China can and will put pressure on the Saudis by buying more Iranian oil.  Expect Iran now to cut it’s monthly tender price to undercut Saudi Arabia on a forward basis.  In 2012 U.S. sanctions made it difficult for shippers to insure oil shipments and that was part of the reason they were initially so successful.

With the Fed tightening, reserves of the U.S. banking system are falling thanks to excess reserves being mobilized. The U.S. budget will strain from rising debt servicing costs, now above 8.6% of total outlay, compared to less than 8% this time last year.  Again this puts upward pressure on the dollar as foreign markets are starved of dollars.

Next, Trump wants more balanced trade with China and Europe and he’s willing to guy global trade to do it.  But that also means a stronger dollar in the long run as debt still needs to be serviced while trade is falling.

Again, fewer exported dollars while the budget deficit grows.  Emerging Markets are already suffering horrendous capital outflows.  Just wait until things actually get bad.

Eurodollar markets have been drained of their liquidity in recent months as U.S. corporates repatriate funds and, like Apple, buy back their stock.

All of this points to reaping a whirlwind of dollar strength, not weakness, which to me, looks like the spark of the global debt crisis the Fed delayed for over a year by not raising interest rates sooner.  It bowed to IMF pressure in 2014/15 to delay raising rates.

And the world is not prepared for the dollar spiking 20 or 30% over the next year.  It is not prepared for a shift in risk assets stocks to bonds.  A spiking dollar will create a perfect storm of debt defaults that will unleash chaos which will topple governments (and not Iran’s).

Trump will not react well to this, claiming, like all U.S. Presidents that China is manipulating its currency down to harm us.  That’s utter nonsense.  As I’ve laid out, Trump is creating the very whirlwind he’s trying to avoid.

It’s why the DOW is holding above 24,000.  And why the euro is about to collapse.

Survival is Winning

So, here we are.  This is why I keep saying China, Russia and Iran’s best moves politically are to do nothing overt.  Iran was not the aggressor the other day.  That’s another of Bibi’s blatant lies.

Russia looks weak by not responding to Israel’s spastic flailing the other day, but it knows that time is on its side.  The SAA/IRGC and Russian forces continue to destroy pocket after pocket of resistance in Syria.

Putin will continue to hold his water, waiting for the opportune moment to reverse his opponent.  Russia’s limit has not been reached in Syria yet.  Putin always does this.  It drives his critics and his supporters crazy.

It’s geopolitical judo and he’s the master at it.  And when that reversal comes and Israel has been thrown flat on its back, Trump’s only move will be to settle.  Why speculate on what he’ll do.  Just watch and wait it out.  The signs are all there.

When that happens John Bolton will retreat farther into madness, hopefully he’ll throw himself off a building and put us all out of his misery.  Let’s hope someone’s iPhone captures it for posterity’s sake.

After a brief spasm in the financial markets thanks to Trump’s insane aluminum tariffs, Russian equities and the ruble are rallying.

In fact the MICEX Index just put in its all-time highest weekly closing price.  Its sovereign debt markets are stable and the yield curve is widening.  Capital is flowing into Russia despite horrific U.S. sanctions.

This is the model for Iran’s resistance.

Russia is winning the financial war of attrition and the stronger it gets the more it can support Iran in the long run alongside China.

This is the limit of Trump’s unwillingness to update his worldview from 2003.  He’s held this view of Iran his entire life and surrounded himself with the ‘experts’ to take Iran out.  Even if the Mullahs fall, the backlash from the process whatever form it takes will set the global debt markets aflame, a bonfire of Trump’s vanity.

*  *  *

To support work like this and find out how you can de-stress your investment portfolio as we live through a period of global geopolitical strife sign up for my Patreon and subscribe to the Gold Goats ‘n Guns Investment Newsletter.

Published:5/12/2018 7:51:32 PM
[Markets] UN Chief Nuclear Inspector Abruptly Resigns As Iran FM Embarks On Global Tour To Salvage Deal

Just days after President Trump announced the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal brokered under Obama, the U.N.'s top nuclear inspector has abruptly and unexpectedly resigned after a tense week in which Iran's facilities have again become the focus of the organization's mission. 

Veteran nuclear weapons inspector Tero Varjoranta announced his resignation as chief inspector of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) effective May 11th but didn't provide explanation, only citing "confidential personal matters" according to the AP.

Tero Varjorantadeputy (pictured furthest left), director general of the IAEA and head of its Department of Safeguards, sitting next to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. Image source: IAEA

Varjoranta, a Finn, served for five years as a deputy director general of the IAEA and head of its Department of Safeguards, which verifies countries’ compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The AP further reports:

Varjoranta, who was in the role for almost five years, will be replaced temporarily by Massimo Aparo, an Italian nuclear engineer who was most recently the agency’s top inspector for Iran.

The move comes just days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord designed to keep Tehran’s atomic weapons program in check.

The Vienna-based IAEA is the U.N.'s top nuclear watchdog which coordinates in tandem with U.N. decisions and directives, and hasn't been shy in stating it's official position of finding no evidence showing Iran to be in breach of the nuclear deal.

Tero Varjoranta in 2014. Image via AFP/Getty

Indeed the very day after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's televised speech claiming "evidence" that Iran is actually hiding an active nuclear program, the IAEA issued an assessment directly negating Israel's claims, firmly asserting that there are "no credible indications" supporting the charge of a continued illegal Iranian nuclear weapons program after 2009. Netanyahu has long maintained Israel's position that the nuclear deal “doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, but actually paves it,” and has sought all available means to dismantle it.

According to the AP summary of that IAEA assessment:

The U.N. nuclear agency says it believes that Iran had a “coordinated” nuclear weapons program in place before 2003, but found “no credible indications” of such work after 2009...

The documents focused on Iranian activities before 2003 and did not provide any explicit evidence that Iran has violated its 2015 nuclear deal with the international community.

Though IAEA leadership is now being tight-lipped about the sudden transition in leadership — notably not a single among the dozens of international press articles have given any hint as to the specifics — the past week has brought intense pressure to bear on the U.N. mission which ensures Iran's compliance to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) terms.

The original brokers still backing the deal include the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, and Germany — all signatories — with Germany, France, and Russia specifically warning this week that US withdrawal could further destabilize the Middle East. 

This warning already seems to be materializing with Syria/Iran and Israel exchanging rocket fire this week, and as all signs point to further escalation.

* * *

Meanwhile, Tehran has repeatedly affirmed its position that the existing terms of the JCPOA are non-negotiable.

In what's being widely described as a last-ditch effort to salvage the deal Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has this weekend embarked on a tour of global capitals. On Saturday Iran announced the initiative on orders from President Hassan Rouhani for FM Zarif to visit European countries, China and Russia in the coming weeks to negotiate ensured continuance of the deal.

President Rouhani said, “If at the end of this short period we conclude that we can fully benefit from... [the nuclear accord] the deal would remain."

Iran is seeking to protect its economy from aggressive impending new US sanctions, especially key sectors like oil, which many analysts say can survive and flourish so long as European countries uphold their end of the agreement, in spite of the US now threatening sanctions against countries that continue to deal with Iran. 

Likely the other five signatories will continue to honor the deal, but it will be interesting to see which European powers eventually cave under US pressure, at which point they might only pay lip service to the terms of the agreement while gradually rolling back economic and tried ties with Iran.

No doubt both Israel and the United States are even now behind the scenes maneuvering to make this happen — a likely reason for IAEA chief inspector Tero Varjoranta's shock resignation in the first place. 

But meanwhile in Tehran, the clerics look preoccupied with other things at the moment...

Will Zarif's international lobbying efforts save the deal in spite of US withdrawal? The coming weeks will tell, unless war breaks out first.

Published:5/12/2018 6:21:46 PM
[Obama Foreign Policy] Obama Staffers Try to Undermine U.S. Foreign Policy (John Hinderaker) It is hard to be surprised these days, but this New York Times op-ed by former Obama staffers Steve Simon and Jonathan Stevenson is genuinely shocking: it urges European countries to withdraw their diplomats from the U.S. and expel American ambassadors. Seriously: After months of swaggering hesitation, President Trump finally announced the United States’ withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, to which Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and the Published:5/12/2018 3:20:17 PM
[World] Students Dismiss Trump Nobel Prize, Defend Barack Obama's Award

Some students at the University of California, Santa Cruz, shot down the idea of President Trump receiving the Nobel Peace Prize but defended former President Barack Obama's award in 2009.

Published:5/12/2018 9:52:59 AM
[US News] UNREAL: Ex Obama officials call on Europe to wage diplomatic war against U.S. over erased Iran Deal legacy

"They are desperate. Obama's library is going to be empty."

The post UNREAL: Ex Obama officials call on Europe to wage diplomatic war against U.S. over erased Iran Deal legacy appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/12/2018 8:18:55 AM
[Politics] What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

In the backdrop of a resurging economy, the Trump administration this week secured the release of three U.S. citizens from North Korean prisons, announced the president would meet with Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore and withdrew from the Obama administration’s troubled Iran nuclear deal — all the while trailed by the lingering 2016 Russia probe.

Published:5/12/2018 7:18:34 AM
[Markets] Army Major Warns Don't Poke The Dragon, War With China Would Be An Unnecessary Disaster

Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via AntiWar.com,

The Non-Options: 4 Wars the Military Prepares for But Shouldn’t Fight: Volume II

There’s nothing military men like more than obsessively training for wars they will never have to fight. The trick is not to stumble into a conflict that no one will win.

Let’s everyone take a breath. Yes, China presents a potential threat to American interests in the economic, cyber, and naval realms. The U.S. must maintain a credible defensive and expeditionary posture and be prepared for a worst case scenario. What we don’t need is to blunder into a regional, or, worse still, all-out war with the Chinese dragon. Not now, probably not ever.

And yet, in Washington today, and within the Trump administration in particular, alarmism seems the name of the game. This is risky, and, ultimately, dangerous. In his 2018 National Defense Strategy, Secretary of Defense Mattis, a known hawk, refers to Russia and China as "revisionist powers," and announces that the US military must now pivot to "great power" competition. Look, I’m all for extricating our overstretched armed forces from the Middle East and de-escalating the never-ending, counterproductive "war on terror." What doesn’t make sense, is the reflexive assumption that (maybe) dialing down one war, must translate into ramping up for other, more perilous, wars with nuclear-armed powerhouses like Russia or China.

The usual laundry list of Chinese threats is well-known: China is (how dare they!) building a sizable blue-water navy and (gasp!) patrolling around sandy islands in the South China Sea. They conduct cyber-attacks (so do we) and steal intellectual property. They are planning a new “Silk Road” to integrate much of Eurasia into a China-centric trade and transportation system. No doubt, some of those items may be cause for measured concern, but none of the listed "infractions" warrants war!

Bottom line: China, like Russia, possesses neither the capacity nor intent for global domination or the subjugation of the United States. Period.

Let’s start with the capacity problem. China has a growing military. That is to be expected of one of the world’s top-two economies and a nation with more than 1 billion people. Don’t act so surprised. Still, China spends only one thirdas much as the US on defense. It has one leaky, outdated former Russian aircraft carrier and is building a few more. The US has about a dozen and our local Asian partners (India, Japan, Australia, and South Korea) – count another nine between them.

China has 14 foreign powers – some hostile – on its land borders. One of those is Russia, with whom the Chinese have a long history of border disputes. The last thing the US should want to do is drive those two unnatural allies into each other’s arms with overly bellicose rhetoric and military posturing. Another Chinese neighbor is India, which is strengthening its own military and also has 1+ billion citizens (and a much higher birthrate than China).

Then there’s the intent issue. China is not after global domination and no longer possesses a true internationalist communist ideology. It wants regionalsuperiority and a measure of global respect to make up for its perceived (and actual) embarrassment by European and American imperialists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It wants a powerful trade block across Eurasia and a measure of control of its own "lake" – the South China Sea. Is that so unreasonable? The US has outright supremacy in its bordering seas, such as the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Pacific. The US military has even sponsored coups and conducted outright invasions of nearby islands that didn’t sufficiently march to Washington’s tune.

Switch places with Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a moment. How would Trump(or Obama) respond, if the Chinese insisted they had a right to supremacy in the Caribbean? My guess: outright war.

Finally, there are the reasons not to fight, the reasons why a war would be catastrophic for both sides. China is huge, both in landmass and population(of 1.3 billion!). We’ve all heard the (accurate) trope warning against starting a land war in Asia. There’s good reason for that. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is huge and is capable of bogging the relatively small, all-volunteer US military in a nightmarish quagmire.

Nor could the US count on an easy projection of its naval and airpower into, say, the Taiwan Strait. China (and other competitors) have invested heavily in A2AD (Anti-Access, Area-Denial) systems that could thwart such attempts, inflict heavy casualties, or, at the least, maintain standoff. This would force the US military to preemptively escalate with attacks on Chinese homeland defenses. There is very little opportunity, therefore, to wage a limited war. Any fight with China will force the US"all-in" as a matter of course.

Furthermore, China’s booming and growing economy is both its strength and a sort of financial doomsday device. The US, European, and Chinese economies are by now inextricably linked. Hot war means trade war; and that would likely result in a cataclysmic global financial collapse. The US military is the most well-funded and equipped force on earth. Still, the backbone and foundation of that military rests with the power of the US economy. A new crash and potential depression would permanently damage our economy (along with China’s, no doubt).

Most importantly, China maintains an arsenal of at least 250 nuclear warheads. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to America’s 6000+ weapons, but more than enough to deter any serious invasion. Here’s the trick: never to fight a nuclear power, so long as it can be avoided. Anything else is insanity – ever heard of Nuclear Winter? Yea, it’s a real thing! The lesson: tread lightly, be cautious, and avoid unnecessary brinksmanship. That’s called statesmanship, something the US seems to have forgotten about these last 17 years.

Truth is, most of this threat inflation is really about cooking the books to justify gross overspending and a profits bonanza for the military-industrial complex. That’s a concern in itself, because a $700+ billion military budget is unsustainable, requiring either tough cuts to domestic programs, increased taxes, a ballooning national debt – or all of the above.

The real danger, though, is military brinksmanship. And the inescapable fog of war. It’s not impossible to imagine a dispute in the distant South China Sea (7000 miles from California) resulting in combat and casualties between the US and China. This could quickly escalate out of control. And remember, we both have loads of nuclear weapons!

It’s time to realistically weigh US interests, display some humility and craft a sober strategy for the Pacific. The sea coast of China cannot forever remain an "American lake." We would never accept a foreign power in the Caribbean and can’t expect China – with over a billion citizens and a growing economy – to cede their local waters to a distant American Navy in perpetuity.

The US must appeal to local Asian partners based on our (ostensible) shared values of open trade and open society – a challenge to the more authoritarian Chinese value system. After all, soft power goes a long way, especially when all-out war is a non-option! That, of course, will require more consistency from the US We’ll have to walk the walk on our values and quit backing our "partners’" military campaigns – Saudis in Yemen, Israel in Gaza, etc. – when they often add up to veritable war crimes.

Remember, we owe the Chinese a lot of money. That gives them leverage, but it also gives us leverage. They want to be paid back and Beijing knows it needs the American market for its goods. Besides, our economies are actually highly intertwined. XI doesn’t want a major war with the US He is playing the long game, a chess match as compared to our bumbling checkers!

If there is a war in the Pacific with nuclear-armed China it will most likely not be of XI’s doing. Only American hubris can lead to what would inevitably be a disastrous war.

Given our recent track record – an Icarus-syndrome par excellence – that seems frighteningly likely.

*  *  *

Read The Non-Options: 4 Wars the Military Prepares for But Shouldn’t Fight, Volume I

Danny Sjursen is a US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.com. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

Published:5/11/2018 9:45:29 PM
[Politics] The dismantling of Obama’s legacy proves our government still works It’s strange that a president who had such a transformative effect on our national discourse will leave such a negligible policy legacy. But Barack Obama, whose imperial term changed the way Americans interact and in some ways paved the way for the Trump presidency, is now watching his much-celebrated and mythologized two-term legacy be systematically... Published:5/11/2018 7:16:11 PM
[World] Tomi Lahren: Great Week for Trump, Bad Week for Iran, 'Fake News Media' & Obama's Legacy

It’s been a great and productive week for our president, and for our country. Which means it’s been a rather bitter week for ISIS, Iranian mullahs, the fake news media, Democrats, Never-Trumpers and and Barack Obama’s legacy.

Published:5/11/2018 6:15:52 PM
[Media] An Obama Bro from @CrookedMedia is fighting with the enviro nuts from @NextGenAmerica over Tom Steyer’s dumb ads

Get the popcorn! To add to the stupid Nazi comparison we told you about earlier from billionaire lib Tom Steyer, one of the Obama Bros from Crooked Media fighting with Styer’s enviro nut group NextGen America over the later’s anti-Trump ads. For example, here’s the latest: Note to country: how long can we afford to normalize this […]

The post An Obama Bro from @CrookedMedia is fighting with the enviro nuts from @NextGenAmerica over Tom Steyer’s dumb ads appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/11/2018 6:15:51 PM
[Iran] A cynical moan about leaving the Iran deal (Paul Mirengoff) President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal has produced much hand-wringing from its supporters. Some of the angst is understandable. Former administration officials and many in the foreign policy establishment thought the deal was our best option for dealing with the threat of Iran developing nuclear weapons. I don’t agree, but acknowledge that the path Trump has chosen carries considerable risks (as, of course, did Obama’s). However, one Published:5/11/2018 12:14:41 PM
[Media] The HUME-ANITY! Brit Hume just needs 5 words and 1 tweet to HUMBLE Ben Rhodes on N. Korea

It has been a GREAT week for the Trump administration. Which means it has been the exact opposite for members of the Obama administration, particularly Ben Rhodes. You know, if Ben would just stifle every once in a while and realize he doesn’t have to comment and complain about every little thing Trump does he’d […]

The post The HUME-ANITY! Brit Hume just needs 5 words and 1 tweet to HUMBLE Ben Rhodes on N. Korea appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/11/2018 9:43:00 AM
[Politics] Consumer Spending Update: Consumer Confidence Back On Path of Growth?

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average still more than 20% higher than during President Obama’s last full-month in office and last week’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing the unemployment rate dipping below four percent (4%) for the first time since December 2000, Americans seem to have let go of March’s rocky month on the stock market and are again thinking more positively about the economic outlook.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.  

The survey of 1,500 American Adults was conducted on May 1-2, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:5/11/2018 9:43:00 AM
[World] Growing chatter over Trump's Nobel Peace Prize prospects WASHINGTON (AP) — Barack Obama won it. Published:5/11/2018 8:42:33 AM
[Markets] Beware Of The Coming Economic Debt Bomb

Authored by Peter Tanous, originally posted at The Street.com,

"There is a sword of Damocles hanging over the head of every American. Sadly, it is about to drop."

Sorry for the drama, but I need to get your attention.

We know that the Fed has kept interest rates low for many years until recently. Why did it do so? Here are some of the reasons we have been told:

  • The Fed wanted to stimulate the economy.

  • The Fed wanted to make it easier for Americans to borrow.

  • The Fed wanted to create a "wealth effect" to encourage spending.

Which of these statements do you think explains the primary reason for the Fed's decision to keep interest rates low? Don't bother. It is none of the above.

The primary reason the Fed kept interest rates low was to avert an economic catastrophe. Today, that catastrophe can no longer be avoided.

The trigger for the economic explosion is the rising interest payments on the federal debt.

Let's go through the numbers.

During the eight years of the Obama administration, our total national debt rose from $12.3 trillion to $20 trillion while interest rates sank to a new all-time low. (The national debt figure includes money owed by the government to itself. The debt held by the public is what interests us since the government must pay out the interest to those bond holders.)

In 2009, the year President Obama took office, the national debt held by the public was $7.27 trillion. At the end of fiscal 2016, that had soared to approximately $14 trillion. Given that our marketable debt doubled from 2009 to 2016, it's remarkable that the annual cost of the interest on the debt rose far less, from $185 billion to $223 billion.

The long march of rising rates that began recently is a dramatic reversal after nearly 40-years of declining interest rates. The new trend portends a return to more historic rates. You may be asking: what are the historic rates? We calculate that the average rate paid on the federal debt over the last 30 years was close to 5%.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has just raised its estimate that debt held by the public will rise to $17.8 trillion in 2020. Some economists believe that the figure will be much higher. For our exercise though, let's stick with the CBO estimate. We are postulating that the interest rate on our national debt may return to the long-term, 30-year average of 5%. Note, too, that Treasury debt rolls over every 3 to 4 years so the maturing bonds at low interest rates will be refinanced at the then current higher rates.

Let's do the math together.

Take the CBO estimate of debt held by the public of $17.8 trillion in 2020, a 5% average interest on that amount comes to annual debt service of $891 billion, an unfathomable amount. (In 2017, interest on the debt held by the public was $458.5 billion, itself a scary number.) In its current report, the CBO added: "It also reflects significant growth in interest costs, which are projected to grow more quickly than any other major component of the budget."

Here's the danger:

  • According to CBO, individual income taxes produced $1.6 trillion in revenue in fiscal year 2017.

  • Under this 2020 scenario, over half of all personal income taxes will be required just to service the national debt.

  • Annual debt service in 2020 will exceed our newly increased defense budget of $700 billion in FY 2018.

  • Annual debt service would exceed our Social Security obligations.

Note: We are using fiscal year 2017 budget numbers for comparison. It is likely that all the numbers will be higher in 2020, but the proportions will likely be similar or worse.

These numbers are staggering, more so because the assumptions we use are reasonable and predictable. This dangerous trend is the consequence of our failure to pay enough attention to the national debt, and especially to the effect of rising interest rates.

What can we do about this coming crisis? As investors, we should prepare for higher inflation and higher interest rates. Investors should consider these moves:

  1. Sell all medium and long-term bonds.

  2. Consider diversifying into reasonable amounts of gold and selected commodities.

  3. Buy TIPS (Inflation protected treasury bonds).

This last suggestion is an exceptionally interesting investment because these are U.S. Treasury bonds that adjust for inflation by adding to the principal every six months. So long as you buy the bonds at par, you will get all your principal back at maturity, even in the unlikely event we have a long bout of deflation. On the upside, if there is a spike in inflation, these bonds could increase substantially in value, a welcome and unusual occurrence for a bond guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury.

In time, the responsibility for solving the crisis will fall on the Administration and Congress, who have successfully ignored this predictable problem for years.

Published:5/11/2018 7:16:07 AM
[Markets] When Washington Think Tanks Call For "Action" In The Balkans, Expect Trouble

Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Any time two prestige think tanks in Washington issue a report calling for US “action” in any region of the world, hold onto your hat – you can be sure that trouble is a-brewing. That’s doubly true if the call relates to the Balkans, the place where in the 1990s the post-Cold War pattern was set for American wars of choice and then taken on the road to Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

On May 1, the über-establishment National Committee on American Foreign Policy and the East-West Institute jointly issued a report, “Time for Action in the Western Balkans.” As stated in the summary:

‘Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been engaged in the Western Balkans to ensure a Europe that is “whole, free and at peace” and a reliable partner for dealing with global challenges. Our goal has been to stabilize the Balkans, and to enhance security throughout Europe, through the integration of the Western Balkans into trans-Atlantic structures. We have succeeded only in part.  Although the Western Balkans are better off now than they were in the 1990s, they are stagnating and risk instability as a result of three factors: deficient internal governance and weak economies, continuing tense relations between ethnic groups and neighboring states, and the malign influence of outside forces.’

One is reminded of the famous quip by Mary McCarthy about Lillian Hellman: “every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’  

Perhaps that’s too harsh. Not every word in the summary paragraph is false. There is indeed a region in Europe known as the Balkans, and as the report notes, some countries lie in the western part of it: “Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.” (Wait, there’s some fibbing here too. Kosovo is not a country, it’s an occupied province of Serbia. Nobody is quite sure what exactly Bosnia-Herzegovina is supposed to be. Why no Croatia, is it located in another part of Europe now?)

Each sentence in the summary encapsulates a deception further elaborated in the main report. The following is a handy sentence-by-sentence explanation in normal, straightforward English:

‘Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been engaged in the Western Balkans to ensure a Europe that is “whole, free and at peace” and a reliable partner for dealing with global challenges.’

The phrase “whole, free and at peace” is ideological claptrap. It is reminiscent of the Soviet Union’s claims of advancing “peace, progress, and socialism.” No one can say precisely what the words really mean but they’re meant to evoke a favorable psychological and emotional response, especially – and ironically – the “peace” reference common to both formulations.

The current phrase seemingly originated in 1989, even before the reunification of Germany or the breakups of Yugoslavia and the USSR, in remarks by George Bush the Elder, but only as “Europe whole and free.” The Orwellian addition of the words “and at peace” evidently occurred in 2001 under the peace-loving, NATO-expanding, and Iraq-invading Bush the Younger.

Still, how does the expression relate to the United States’ being a “reliable partner for dealing with global challenges”? As summarized in 2014 by the Atlantic Council, another top-flight Washington think tank:

‘In 1989, with Central and Eastern Europe still dominated by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact alliance, President George H. W. Bush, addressed the citizens of then-divided Germany with his vision for Europe’s future. He foresaw a united continent, built on a foundation of lasting security and shared values of democracy, freedom, and prosperity. That vision of a “Europe Whole and Free” became a cornerstone of President Bill Clinton’s foreign policy and of NATO’s “open door” policy for membership. At its 1999 Washington summit, NATO swept aside much of Europe’s Cold War division by welcoming three former foes – Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary – to the Alliance. Five years later [under George H.W. Bush], Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia joined NATO in the broadest enlargement of its history. In 2009 [under Barack Obama], the Alliance welcomed Albania and Croatia as members. [JGJ: Now, under Donald Trump add Montenegro in 2017.]

‘In 1993, the European Union established its “Copenhagen criteria,” the principles under which it would welcome new members, unifying most of the continent. This paved the way for the transformation of Central and Eastern Europe toward democracy, the rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights, and market economies. Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined the EU in 1995, followed on May 1, 2004 by eight Central and Eastern European countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia), and two Mediterranean countries (Malta and Cyprus). Bulgaria and Romania became EU member states in 2007, and Croatia in 2013.’

In other words, the phrase that never leaves the lips of establishment figures of both parties, from Bush 41 down to the present day, almost exclusively means one thing: expansion of NATO and the European Union. The corollary is isolation, exclusion, vilification, and encirclement of Russia.

‘Our goal has been to stabilize the Balkans, and to enhance security throughout Europe, through the integration of the Western Balkans into trans-Atlantic structures.’

If tearing apart Yugoslavia by unilateral recognitions (Slovenia and Croatia, 1991; Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992) and illegally bombing Serbia (1999) are examples of efforts to “stabilize” the Balkans, one shudders to think what a goal to destabilize would look like.

The report also warns that “Kosovo and Bosnia have been recruiting grounds for radical groups in Syria and Iraq, and a potential staging area for radical incursions in Western Europe.” There’s no hint that the presence of these “radical groups” (What kind? Buddhist? Rastafarian?) has anything to do with earlier US/NATO/EU efforts to “stabilize” the areas in question by arming and funding jihadist fighters, including those affiliated with al-Qaeda.

As for “trans-Atlantic structures” (a rough equivalent of another ideological buzzword, “Euro-Atlantic integration”), we’re back again to the inexorable expansion of NATO and the EU. It seems the goal of stabilization boils down to little more than making sure every country in the region eventually is under secure lock and key as a member of at least one and preferably both of the Brussels-based bureaucracies.

Throughout the report, puzzlingly little attention is given to another certified Goodthink word, democracy Perhaps that’s because no regard is given to what people in the region really think or whether or not they want to join NATO or the EU under the conditions demanded. For example, despite polls showing pro-NATO sentiment in Montenegro was at best a bare majority, and more probably the minority position, the corrupt administration of Milo Ðukanovic in Podgorica and the NATO countries insisted on ramming membership through without risking a popular referendum. The same contempt for democracy is shown in the report’s recommendation that the unelected so-called “High Representative” of Somebody or Other should autocratically “use his powers to intervene, to include drafting and promulgating” a new election law for Bosnia-Herzegovina whether the benighted locals like it or not.

Regarding Serbia, the report states: “NATO membership should remain an option for Serbia, but any U.S. expectations must be tempered by the historical legacy of NATO’s military operations in the region, as well as the likelihood of vociferous Russian opposition.” As euphemisms go, “the historical legacy of NATO’s military operations in the region” as a stand-in for “people resenting the aggressive alliance that bombed them” is hard to beat. Still, Serbs no doubt would be banging on NATO’s door if not for the machinations of those nasty Russians.

As for the EU, the report urges the US to support Belgrade’s accession “while supporting the E.U.’s position that new members comply with its Russia policy and that Serbia will not join unless it recognizes Kosovo.”  Translation: Just roll over and die, and you’re in... maybe.

‘We have succeeded only in part. [JGJ: Such humility!] Although the Western Balkans are better off now than they were in the 1990s, they are stagnating and risk instability as a result of three factors: deficient internal governance and weak economies, continuing tense relations between ethnic groups and neighboring states, and the malign influence of outside forces.’

Here it’s time to cut to the chase: “malign influence of outside forces” means Russia, Russia, Russia. The entire region, Serbia included, would long since have happily been absorbed by the NATO-EU Borg if not for Moscow’s malign meddling:

‘The U.S. and the E.U. should counter Russian interference by (i) re-affirming the continued opportunity for Western Balkan countries to join the E.U., NATO, or both, (ii) countering Russian media manipulation with objective alternative sources of information, and support for independent media [JGJ: Like those “independent” media controlled by western governments and George Soros fronts, one presumes], (iii) advancing the region’s cooperation with NATO and E.U. efforts to promote cyber-security [JGJ: You can never have too much NATO and EU!], and (iv) analyzing the extent to which other energy sources, including U.S. liquefied gas (LNG), can serve as exceptional alternatives to Russian energy [JGJ: According to the report, cheap Russian energy is a “potential threat to some countries in the region” providing “an opportunity for significant economic leverage” that could be “abused to achieve Russian geopolitical desires,” while by contrast expensive US energy is strictly nonpolitical].’

To sum up, “action” means intensification of the same policies that not only have made a wreck of the Balkans for a quarter of a century but now have brought us a new Cold War and the renewed threat of another world war. But the only warning for American and western policy identified in the report is the “dangers of continued inaction” – we just haven’t been aggressive enough!

Get ready for that to change.

Alright, though – so what? This is just a report from a couple of nongovernmental, independent think tanks. Why does it matter?

In Washington think tanks are far more dangerous than the kind of tanks that have gun turrets and caterpillar tracks. No less than the other organs of power, such as government agencies and the obedient corporate media, think tanks are an integral part of the governing establishment. Like government contractors (who provide a significant portion of think tank funding), think tanks almost exclusively represent the views of a few hundred certified “experts” sharing a remarkable uniformity of opinion regardless of party affiliation. These experts, who inhabit a closed loop of Executive Branch departments and agencies, Congress, media, contactors, think tanks, and NGOs, are responsible for the generation of policy initiatives and their implementation. It should also be noted that many of the most prominent NGOs themselves receive significant funding from government agencies and could more properly be termed “quasi-nongovernmental,” or QuaNGOs.

The people who play key roles in the government and purportedly nongovernmental sectors like think tanks not only think alike, in many cases they are in fact the very same people who have simply switched positions within what could best be understood as a single, hybrid public-private entity that in recent years has come to be known as the Deep State. These sources of expert views also overwhelmingly dominate the content of news and information (for example, serving as media “talking heads” or publishing commentaries), ensuring that what the public sees, hears, and reads is in accord with the analytical papers issued by think tanks, Congressional reports, and official press releases. The result is a closed loop that is almost completely impervious to views regarded as “outside the mainstream” because they do not originate in or accord with the incestuous “consensus” that exists inside the loop.

In short, think tanks like those cited above are an integral part of the ruling apparatus. Their policy recommendations in reports like “Time for Action in the Western Balkans” will be seriously heeded and put into action by the official organs of government. In fact, those recommendations very likely were solicited by the latter precisely for the purpose of providing rationales for a course of action already decided upon.

Published:5/11/2018 1:10:42 AM
[Markets] Escobar: The Art Of Breaking A Deal

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

Donald Trump's decision to leave the JCPOA will not open the path to an Iranian nuclear weapon

Breaking the unwritten rules of global diplomacy, the Trump administration is now in violation of the multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or in plain language the Iran nuclear deal. Nuance is notoriously absent in what can only be described as a unilateral hard exit. 

All suspended United States sanctions against Iran will be reinstated, and harsh additional ones will be imposed.

It does not matter that the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, repeatedly confirmed Iran was complying with the JCPOA as verified by 11 detailed reports since January 2016. Even US Secretary of Defense James Mattis vouched for the stringent verification mechanisms.

Facts appear to be irrelevant, though. The JCPOA is the Obama administration’s only tangible foreign policy success, so, for domestic political reasons, it had to be destroyed.

President Donald Trump’s opening address to the “Iranian people” during his White House speech also does not cut it. The overwhelming majority of Iranians support the JCPOA, and counted on it to alleviate their economic plight.

Moreover, Trump’s regime change advisers support the exiled People’s Mojahedin Organization, or MEK, which is despised beyond belief inside Iran.

As a minor subplot, rational geopolitical actors are asking what sort of national security advisor would strategically “advise” his boss to blow up a multilateral, United Nations-endorsed, working nuclear deal? 

To cut to the chase, the US decision to leave the JCPOA will not open the path to an Iranian nuclear weapon. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the last word, repeatedly stressed these are un-Islamic.

Regime change

It will not open the path toward regime change. On the contrary, Iran hardliners, clerical and otherwise, are already capitalizing on their interpretation from the beginning – Washington cannot be trusted. 

And it will not open the path toward all-out war. It’s no secret every Pentagon war-gaming exercise against Iran turned out nightmarish. This included the fact that the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC, could be put out of the oil business within hours, with dire consequences for the global economy. 

President Hassan Rouhani, in his cool, calm, collected response, emphasized Iran will remain committed to the JCPOA. Immediately before the announcement, he had already said: “It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this.”

Responding to Trump, Rouhani stressed: “From now on, this is an agreement between Iran and five countries … from now on the P5+1 has lost its 1… we have to wait and see how the others react.

“If we come to the conclusion that with cooperation with the five countries we can keep what we wanted despite Israeli and American efforts, Barjam [the Iranian description of the JCPOA] can survive.”

Clearly, a titanic internal struggle is already underway, revolving around whether the Rouhani administration – which is actively working to diversify the economy – will be able to face the onslaught by the hard-liners. They have always characterized the JCPOA as a betrayal of Iran’s national interest.

Following Rouhani, “others” reacted quickly. The European Union’s big three of Germany, France and Britain made it clear that trade and investment ties with Iran would not be sacrificed. Those views were echoed by the EU’s leading diplomat Federica Mogherini in a statement.

Still, the key question now is how, in an interlinked global economy, European banks will be able to manage trade facilitation. 

Diplomats in Brussels told Asia Times that the EU is already devising a complex mechanism to protect European companies doing business in Iran. This is something that has been discussed between Iranian and the EU3 diplomats.

Yet in the event the EU3 capitulates, even with support from Russia and China, the JCPOA will be effectively over with unpredictable consequences. These would include Iran’s possible exit from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

On the crucial oil front, Gulf traders told Asia Times that even with new US sanctions, and the possibility of crude being priced way beyond the current US$70-a-barrel, up to 1 million barrels a day of Iranian oil would simply disappear from global markets.

If the EU, which imports 5% of its oil from Iran, buckles under too much pressure, these exports will be relocated to Asian customers such as China, India, Japan and South Korea. 

The US decision has also cast a shadow over the upcoming US-North Korea summit. The perception in Pyongyang – not to mention Beijing and Moscow – will be inevitable – the US can not be trusted.

For all its faults, the JCPOA remains a complex, painstakingly designed multilateral agreement, which took 12 years of diplomacy to broker, and was sanctioned by the UN.

Key hub

The geopolitical consequences are massive. To start with, strategically, Washington is isolated. The only actors applauding the decision to rip up the deal are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

As Iran is a key hub of the ongoing Eurasia integration process, the trade-investment partnership with both Moscow and Beijing will be even stronger as Asia Times has reported.

On the military front, nothing will prevent Russia from supplying Iran with S-400 missile systems or China with its “carrier-killers.”

The JCPOA was a dizzyingly complex technical undertaking. In parallel, it is no secret the US establishment never got over the 1979 Islamic revolution. The privileged roadmap in the Beltway remains regime change.

The real US objective – way beyond the JCPOA’s technicalities – was always geopolitical. And that meant stopping to Iran from becoming the leading power in Southwest Asia.

That still applies as seen by the United States Central Command’s recent drive “to neutralize, counterbalance and shape the destabilizing impact Iran has across the region…” Or, in Trump terminology, to curtail Iran’s “malign activities.”     

CENTCOM commander, Gen. Joseph Votel, went straight to the heart of the matter when he told the US House Armed Services Committee in February that “both Russia and China are cultivating multidimensional ties to Iran … Lifting UN sanctions under the joint comprehensive plan of action opens [the] path for Iran to resume application to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.” 

In a nutshell, this betrays the entire project which is to thwart the Eurasia integration process, which features Russia and China as peer competitors aligning with Iran along the New Silk Roads. 

Predictably, we are back to the late Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book, The Grand Chessboard.    

“…Potentially the most dangerous scenario would be an ‘anti-hegemonic’ coalition united not by ideology but by complementary grievances… a grand coalition of China, Russia, perhaps Iran… reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time, China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower,” he wrote. “Averting this contingency… will require US geostrategic skill on the western, eastern, and southern perimeters of Eurasia simultaneously.” 

So, Trump has reshuffled the Grand Chessboard. Persians, though, happen to know a thing or two about chess.

Published:5/10/2018 10:10:15 PM
[Markets] WSJ: The FBI Hid A Mole In The Trump Campaign

On Wednesday we reported on an intense battle playing out between House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (D-CA), the Department of Justice, and the Mueller investigation concerning a cache of intelligence that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein refuses to hand over - a request he equated to "extortion."

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that Nunes was denied access to the information on the grounds that it "could risk lives by potentially exposing the source, a U.S. citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI."

After the White House caved to Rosenstein and Nunes was barred from seeing the documents, it also emerged that this same intelligence had already been shared with Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 US election.

On Wednesday afternoon, however, news emerged that Nunes and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) would receive a classified Thursday briefing at the DOJ on the documents. This is, to put it lightly, incredibly significant.

Why? Because it appears that the FBI may have had a mole embedded in the Trump campaign

In a bombshell op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel shares a few key insights about recent developments. Perhaps we should start with the ending and let you take it from there. Needless to say Strassel's claims, if true, would have wide ranging implications for the CIA, FBI, DOJ and former Obama administration officials.

Strassel concludes: 

"I believe I know the name of the informant, but my intelligence sources did not provide it to me and refuse to confirm it. It would therefore be irresponsible to publish it."

Authored by Kimberley Strassel, op-ed via The Wall Street Journal,

About That FBI ‘Source’

Did the bureau engage in outright spying against the 2016 Trump campaign?

The Department of Justice lost its latest battle with Congress Thursday when it allowed House Intelligence Committee members to view classified documents about a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Even without official confirmation of that source’s name, the news so far holds some stunning implications.

Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.

House investigators nonetheless sniffed out a name, and Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in “loss of human lives.”

This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.

The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting. It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough. Obama political appointees rampantly “unmasked” Trump campaign officials to monitor their conversations, while the FBI played dirty with its surveillance warrant against Carter Page, failing to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that its supporting information came from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now we find it may have also been rolling out human intelligence, John Le Carré style, to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

Which would lead to another big question for the FBI: When? The bureau has been doggedly sticking with its story that a tip in July 2016 about the drunken ramblings of George Papadopoulos launched its counterintelligence probe. Still, the players in this affair—the FBI, former Director Jim Comey, the Steele dossier authors—have been suspiciously vague on the key moments leading up to that launch date. When precisely was the Steele dossier delivered to the FBI? When precisely did the Papadopoulos information come in?
And to the point, when precisely was this human source operating? Because if it was prior to that infamous Papadopoulos tip, then the FBI isn’t being straight. It would mean the bureau was spying on the Trump campaign prior to that moment. And that in turn would mean that the FBI had been spurred to act on the basis of something other than a junior campaign aide’s loose lips.

We also know that among the Justice Department’s stated reasons for not complying with the Nunes subpoena was its worry that to do so might damage international relationships. This suggests the “source” may be overseas, have ties to foreign intelligence, or both. That’s notable, given the highly suspicious role foreigners have played in this escapade. It was an Australian diplomat who reported the Papadopoulos conversation. Dossier author Christopher Steele is British, used to work for MI6, and retains ties to that spy agency as well as to a network of former spooks. It was a former British diplomat who tipped off Sen. John McCain to the dossier. How this “top secret” source fits into this puzzle could matter deeply.

I believe I know the name of the informant, but my intelligence sources did not provide it to me and refuse to confirm it. It would therefore be irresponsible to publish it. But what is clear is that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the FBI’s 2016 behavior, and the country will never get the straight story until President Trump moves to declassify everything possible. It’s time to rip off the Band-Aid.

Published:5/10/2018 9:39:28 PM
[Obama Foreign Policy] Sarah Sanders Responds to Iran Critics (John Hinderaker) This is an example of why I like Sarah Sanders. From yesterday’s press briefing: Q Thank you, Sarah. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and former President Barack Obama all weighed in on the President’s Iran decision. A sampling of what they said: John Kerry was, it “weakens our security, breaks America’s word, isolates us from our European allies.” President Obama — former President Obama said that — called for, “principled, Published:5/10/2018 8:41:13 PM
[Markets] The US-Israeli Plan To Assassinate Iran's Elite Revolutionary Guard Commander

The United States gave Israel the green light to assassinate Iran's top military officer, Iranian Revolutionary Guards al-Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, according to a widely circulated report in Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida published earlier this year. News of the agreement, first published in Arabic in January, is now resurfacing in both Russian and Middle East regional media the day after Syria and Israel engaged in a massive overnight exchange of fire in what constitutes the most sustained Israeli attack on Syria in decades

In the Arab world Al-Jarida is generally considered to be a platform through which Israel circulates news and its perspective to neighboring countries in the region. The newspaper first published report based on an Israeli government source who was cited as saying, "there is an American-Israeli agreement" that Soleimani is a "threat to the two countries' interests in the region"—which reportedly led to a Washington green-light for the Israelis to assassinate him. 

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani (left), photographed in Iraq in 2015. Image source: Reuters via Al Monitor

General Soleimani, as leader of Iran's most elite force, also coordinates military activity between the Islamic Republic and Syria, Iraq, Hezbollah, and Hamas - a position he's filled since 1998 - and as Quds Force commander reports directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, and oversees Iran's covert operations in foreign countries. 

Israeli officials initially "leaked" the story after days of internal Iranian anti-government protests gridlocked the country in late December and early January, bringing international media attention and discussions in Tel Aviv and Washington of a potential coup attempt in the works. Whether or not there actually ever was such a green-light given by the American side, Al-Jarida report ultimately served the purpose of a semi-official threat issued through the media by the Israelis. 

The threat of assassinating Iran's most elite military commander has taken on new importance and urgency after Israel laid official blame on Gen. Soleimani on Thursday, alleging that he personally ordered a rocket attack against Israeli bases on the Golan Heights from within Syria, which triggered a massive escalation overnight. "It was ordered and commanded by Qassem Soleimani and it has not achieved its purpose," Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-General Jonathan Conricus claimed, as cited by Reuters.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect to the report, and worth revisiting, is the revelation that Israel was supposedly "on the verge" of killing Soleimani three years ago in an operation near Damascus; however, the Obama administration was said to have warned the Iranians of the impending Israeli plot which according to Israeli sources was thwarted because of US intervention, resulting in "a sharp disagreement between the Israeli and American security and intelligence apparatuses regarding the issue."

But the Trump administration now appears to be quite at home with a "gloves off" approach as this week more evidence emerged suggesting the White House is now eyeing regime change in Tehran. As we previously reported, the Washington Free Beacon has obtained a three-page white paper now being circulated among National Security Council officials with drafted plans to spark regime change in Iran, following the US exit from the Obama-era nuclear deal and the re-imposition of tough sanctions aimed at toppling the Iranian government.

The plan, authored by , including - who else - National Security Adviser John Bolton, seeks to reshape longstanding American foreign policy toward Iran by emphasizing an explicit policy of regime change. 

"The ordinary people of Iran are suffering under economic stagnation, while the regime ships its wealth abroad to fight its expansionist wars and to pad the bank accounts of the Mullahs and the IRGC command," writes the Security Studies Group, or SSG, a national security think-tank that has close ties to senior White House national security officials. "This has provoked noteworthy protests across the country in recent months" it further claims as an argument to push a "regime change" policy.

No doubt, a targeted strike or clandestine assassination attempt on Soleimani is likely now very high on the Israeli agenda and perhaps even the US agenda, especially after this week's military escalation and Israeli claim that the Iranians are firing rockets into Israel (something for which there's currently not a shred of evidence). 

* * *

A recent history of high level Israeli assassinations abroad also suggests such a plan is on the books, as Israeli intelligence has been known to conduct high-risk secretive assassinations in foreign countries over the past years and decades. One notable headline grabbing operation, reportedly by Mossad agents, occurred in 2010 and resulted in the assassination of a top Hamas commander who had checked into a high end Dubai hotel after flying in from Syria.

An eleven man Israeli hit squad had entered the hotel while dressed in tennis gear and carrying tennis rackets, and were later reported to be traveling on fake Irish and French passports. After conducting surveillance the Mossad agents got Hamas' Mahmoud al-Mabhouh to open his hotel room door and quickly suffocated him without arousing suspicion from other hotel guests. By the time the body was discovered, the assassins had flown out of Dubai to various locations around the world and were never seen again. 

And in 2015 a secret document revealed by The Intercept as part of the Edward Snowden leaked NSA archives confirmed that Israeli agents had assassinated a top Syrian general and personal aide to President Assad in 2008 while the general dined at his family home near Tartus, along the Syrian coast. The daring operation involved Israeli naval commandos and snipers targeting Gen. Muhammad Suleiman's house from the waters of the Mediterranean and shooting him in the head and neck. Israel considered him responsible for coordinating weapons and supplies between Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, as well as overseeing an alleged nascent nuclear development program at Syria’s Al Kibar facility which had previously been bombed by Israeli jets

Six months prior to Syrian General Suleiman's murder, a top Hezbollah officer was killed by a joint CIA-Mossad operation in the heart of Damascus. According to former intelligence officials who confirmed the assassination plot to the Washington Post, a car bomb planted near a Damascus downtown restaurant instantly killed Imad Mughniyah - Hezbollah's international operations chief who was believed to have masterminded several terror attacks targeting Americans. 

Furthermore, Palestinian activists have pointed to a long history of Israeli assassinations of Palestinian, Iranian, and Syrian scientists, engineers, and notable figures living abroad. Most recently a Palestinian engineer was assassinated near his home in Malaysia, which was widely suspected to be the work of a Mossad hit team

So concerning reports that Iran's Qassem Soleimani might be in Mossad's crosshairs, while such a high risk operation against a top Iranian official would be unlikely to succeed, it is certainly not without precedent. 

Published:5/10/2018 7:09:11 PM
[Markets] Leaked Doc Reveals White House Planning "Regime Change" In Iran

It appears Rudy Giuliani wasn't joking.

Just a few days after the former NYC mayor and latest member of President Trump's unexpectedly let it slip that "we got a president who is tough, who does not listen to the people who are naysayers, and a president who is committed to regime change [in Iran]", the Washington Free Beacon has obtained a three-page white paper being circulated among National Security Council officials with drafted plans to spark regime change in Iran, following the US exit from the Obama-era nuclear deal and the re-imposition of tough sanctions aimed at toppling the Iranian regime. 

The plan, authored by the Security Studies Group, or SSG, a national security think-tank that has close ties to senior White House national security officials, including - who else - National Security Adviser John Bolton, seeks to reshape longstanding American foreign policy toward Iran by emphasizing an explicit policy of regime change, something the Obama administration opposed when popular protests gripped Iran in 2009, writes the Free Beacon, which obtained a leaked copy of the circulating plans.

The regime change plan seeks to fundamentally shift U.S. policy towards Iran and has found a receptive audience in the Trump administration, which has been moving in this direction since Bolton—a longtime and vocal supporter of regime change—entered the White House.

It deemphasizes U.S military intervention, instead focusing on a series of moves to embolden an Iranian population that has increasingly grown angry at the ruling regime for its heavy investments in military adventurism across the region. -Free Beacon

"The ordinary people of Iran are suffering under economic stagnation, while the regime ships its wealth abroad to fight its expansionist wars and to pad the bank accounts of the Mullahs and the IRGC command," SSG writes in the paper. "This has provoked noteworthy protests across the country in recent months" it further claims as an argument to push a "regime change" policy.

For now - at least - overthrowing the Iran government, with its extensive and close ties to the Kremlin, is not official US policy; SSG president Jim Hanson told the Free Beacon that the Trump administration does not want to engage in direct military intervention in Iran - and is instead focusing on other methods of ridding Iran of its "hardline ruling regime." 

"The Trump administration has no desire to roll tanks in an effort to directly topple the Iranian regime," Hanson said. "But they would be much happier dealing with a post-Mullah government. That is the most likely path to a nuclear weapons-free and less dangerous Iran."

That will likely change, however.

One source close to the White House who has previewed the plan told the Free Beacon that the nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA, solidified the Iranian regime's grip on power and intentionally prevented the United States from fomenting regime change

"The JCPOA purposefully destroyed the carefully created global consensus against the Islamic Republic," said the source, who would only speak to the Free Beacon on background about the sensitive issue. "Prior to that, everyone understood the dangers of playing footsie with the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism. It's now Trump, Bolton, and [Mike] Pompeo's job to put this consensus back in place."

The source tells the Beacon that Bolton is "acutely aware of the danger the Iranian regime poses to the region." 

"John is someone who understands the danger of Iran viscerally, and knows that you're never going to fundamentally change its behavior—and the threats against Israel and the Saudis especially—until that revolutionary regime is gone," the source said, adding that "nothing's off the table right now if Israel is attacked."

That said, Bolton is confident that an Iranian regime change will occur in the next six months:

A second source tells The Beacon that the Trump administration recognizes that the "chief impediment to the region is Iran's tyrannical regime." 

"The problem is not the Iran nuclear deal it's the Iranian regime," said the source. "Team Bolton has spent years creating Plans B, C, and D for dealing with that problem. President Trump hired him knowing all of that. The administration will now start aggressively moving to deal with the root cause of chaos and violence in the region in a clear-eyed way."

Regional sources who have spoken to SSG "tell us that Iranian social media is more outraged about internal oppression, such as the recent restrictions on Telegram, than about supporting or opposing the nuclear program. Iranian regime oppression of its ethnic and religious minorities has created the conditions for an effective campaign designed to splinter the Iranian state into component parts," the group states. -Free Beacon

"More than one third of Iran's population is minority groups, many of whom already seek independence," the paper explains. "U.S. support for these independence movements, both overt and covert, could force the regime to focus attention on them and limit its ability to conduct other malign activities." 

Without a regime change, the United States will continue face threats from Iranian forces stationed throughout the region, including in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon.

"The probability the current Iranian theocracy will stop its nuclear program willingly or even under significant pressure is low," the plan states. "Absent a change in government within Iran, America will face a choice between accepting a nuclear-armed Iran or acting to destroy as much of this capability as possible."

That said, President Trump made clear earlier in the week that US officials must make efforts to differentiate between the people of Iran and its ruling regime.

"Any public discussion of these options, and any messaging about the Iranian regime in general, should make a bright line distinction between the theocratic regime along with its organs of oppression and the general populace," according to the plan. "We must constantly reinforce our support for removing the iron sandal from the necks of the people to allow them the freedom they deserve."

Published:5/10/2018 3:40:49 PM
[US News] ‘Fact Check: TRUE!’ Ben Rhodes’ DELUSIONAL take on Obama’s ‘legacy’ gets TORCHED in FOUR words

"Exactly!"

The post ‘Fact Check: TRUE!’ Ben Rhodes’ DELUSIONAL take on Obama’s ‘legacy’ gets TORCHED in FOUR words appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/10/2018 1:09:36 PM
[Media] OMG so triggered! Ben Shapiro tweets the key to Trump’s successful week, PISSES off Obama zombies

Trump has had a helluva week, between bringing three American hostages home from North Korea to capturing five top ISIS officials, dude is kicking a*s and taking names. And in a big way. Hey, even if you’re not a huge Trump supporter, you have to admit this has been a good week for ‘The Donald.’ […]

The post OMG so triggered! Ben Shapiro tweets the key to Trump’s successful week, PISSES off Obama zombies appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/10/2018 12:09:25 PM
[Media] DAMN son! Hale Razor compares Trump and Obama’s ‘record’ with hostages and terrorists, WINS Twitter

With the news about Trump bringing home American hostages from North Korea and catching five top ISIS officials, this tweet from Hale Razor seriously wins Twitter. Truly. It sums up both men’s presidencies … perfectly. And brutally. 44: frees American hostage, releases 5 terrorists 45: frees American hostages, captures 5 terrorists — Razor (@hale_razor) May […]

The post DAMN son! Hale Razor compares Trump and Obama’s ‘record’ with hostages and terrorists, WINS Twitter appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/10/2018 11:40:41 AM
[Markets] Five "Most Wanted" ISIS Leaders Captured, Trapped Using Smartphone App

Out of the blue, on Thursday morning a euphoric President Trump tweeted on Thursday that five of the "Most Wanted leaders of ISIS" have been captured.

Hours before, a security advisor to Iraq's government said that Iraqi agents had detained a top aide to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, then used an app on his smartphone to lure four commanders from the terrorist organization into a trap - convincing the four Iraqis and one Syrian to cross the border from Syria to Iraq where they were captured by officials.

Iraqi state television broadcast images of four of the men arrested in the operation.

The aide, Ismail al-Eithawi (a.k.a. Abu Zaid al-Iraqi) was captured in Turkey by authorities and handed over to Iraqi counterparts, according to an account told to Reuters by Iraqi security advisor Hisham al-Hashimi. What followed was a three-month operation to track a group of senior Islamic State leaders hiding in Syria and Turkey.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, believed to be in hiding in the Iraqi-Syria border region

Those arrested included Saddam al-Jammel, a Syrian who had been the head of the Islamic State territory around Deir al-Zour, and Abu Abdel al-Haq, an Iraqi who had been the head of internal security for the group. Two other Iraqis were also arrested, the officials said. -New York Times

Iraqi agents used the Telegram messaging app on Eithawi's mobile phone to lure other Islamic State commanders to cross the border from Syria into Iraq, where they were captured. Those held include Saddam Jamal, a Syrian who served as the group's governor of Syria's eastern Euphrates region.

Hashimi described Eithawi and Jamal as the two most senior Islamic State figures ever to be captured alive. The capture of all five was announced on Iraqi state TV on Wednesday.

Hashimi said the operation was carried out in cooperation with U.S. forces, part of an American-led coalition fighting against Islamic State on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border. -Daily Mail

Following the capture of Eithawi, US and Iraqi intelligence agents worked to uncover bank accounts used by the terrorist organization, as well as secret communication codes they had been using, Hashimi said. 

The other three men captured were ISIL field commanders: Syrian Mohamed al-Qadeer and two Iraqis, Omar al-Karbouli and Essam al-Zawbai, according to Hashimi - who said 'The noose is tightening around him,' referring to Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim al-Samarrai. 

Baghdadi is believed to be in hiding in the Iraqi-Syrian border region after the loss of once-captured cities and towns of his self-proclaimed caliphate. 

Iraq, meanwhile, is committed to eradicating Syrian-based militants, according to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. 

The Iraqi air force has carried out several air strikes since last year against Islamic State positions in Syrian territory.

Abadi declared final victory last December over the ultra-hardline group within Iraq. But the militants still pose a threat along the border with Syria and have continued to carry out ambushes, killings and bombings across Iraq.

Islamic State militants last month restated their loyalty to Baghdadi, in what is believed to be their first public pledge of allegiance to him since his self-proclaimed caliphate collapsed last year in both Syria and Iraq. -Daily Mail

Adding this to the three rescued hostages from North Korea, and it's clear that the Trump administration is having a very good day. 

Published:5/10/2018 11:40:41 AM
[Politics] Senate Republicans Poised to Fast-Track Judge, Despite Precedent Senate Republicans are on the verge of filling the nation's longest appellate court vacancy and in the process softening a tool the GOP successfully employed to block several of President Barack Obama's nominees. Published:5/10/2018 7:38:19 AM
[World] Donald Trump vs. Barack Obama: Veni, vidi, vici

For eight years, the sane-minded of America suffered under a socialist-minded Barack Obama who scoffed law, mocked the Constitution and destroyed all that mattered on pretty near all matters tied to virtue, tradition, humble service and competent leadership.

Now Donald Trump has come and with just over a year of ... Published:5/10/2018 5:08:41 AM

[32bc64e5-c1de-413e-aeca-79e79f1bdc39] ObamaCare Medicaid expansion hurts people with disabilities and the seriously ill Nearly eight years after President Obama signed ObamaCare into law, its effects are still impacting Americans in terrible ways. Published:5/10/2018 3:06:12 AM
[Politics] When Reagan Spurned A Soviet Arms Deal And Won the Cold War The Remember Reykjavik. That's my advice to those panicking over President Trump's decision to walk away from President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.Reykjavik was the site of a summit in Iceland where, in October 1986, a nuclear-arms deal was proffered by the Soviet party boss, Mikhail Gorbachev. Ronald Reagan stunned the world by walking out.It turned out that his move set up our victory in the Cold War.Reagan faced enormous pressure from a nervous world to get a deal from the Soviet... Published:5/9/2018 10:35:49 PM
[US News] ‘Awesomely savage’! Sarah Sanders minces NO words about criticism from Kerry, Clinton & Obama

'Nuff said.

The post ‘Awesomely savage’! Sarah Sanders minces NO words about criticism from Kerry, Clinton & Obama appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/9/2018 6:07:29 PM
[Markets] Will Trump Pay The Price For What He Wants From Iran?

Authored by Tom Luongo,

“We will pay the price, but we will not count the cost.” – Rush, “Bravado”

Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal could spark a major reset of foreign relations.  Is this a mistake or the right course of action?

That depends on your perspective.  It depends on whether you believe, as the Israelis do, that Iran is ready to build a nuclear weapon to point at them.

But the bigger question to me is whether Trump is willing to put on the table what he needs to get what he wants, a secure Israel and an Iran without nukes.  Tearing up the deal may be the first step towards that end, but not in the way he’s thinking.

Where’s the Beef?

Now, thousands of column inches have been spilled detailing how inordinately stupid it would be for either Israel or Iran to lob nukes at one another.  No matter who starts it, the ending will be tragic for much of the world.

So, no sane person would do this right?  The narrative has been spun up that Israel is rational and Iran is not. Pure and simple. That’s the narrative. That justifies taking away Iran’s ultimate right to defend itself against aggression from foreign powers.

Both sides of this conflict can rightly point fingers at the other as to their adventures beyond their own borders.  And here I break with my libertarian brethren.  It does little good today to say who is more justified.  To argue about who started it.  Because we are well beyond that point.

So, what does Donald Trump want?  What’s his main beef with the JCPOA?

The sunset clause.

He wants a guarantee in writing from Iran to forever stop development of a nuclear weapon.  Israel has been pushing for this policy point since the end of the Iran/Iraq war, which is where all of this likely started.

Iran, in response to Saddam Hussein’s own tactical nuclear weapons development, began work on theirs.  After this the whole thing gets murky.  But, let’s assume that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right about one thing; that Iran is year or two away from a nuclear weapon.

So, to Trump the sunset clause is moronic.

And, rightly so.  But, that’s not the whole story.

The Price of the Deal

Now let’s go back to 2012.  The U.S. and its partners – Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey – begin the regime change operation in Syria.

We use the financial equivalent of a nuclear strike, cutting them from the SWIFT electronic payment network.  We freeze hundreds of billions in Iranian assets.

The U.S. cuts Iran out of the global financial system to effect regime change.  The Iranian Rial devalues 50% overnight.

Syria’s biggest ally other than Russia is neutralized through financial warfare.

Nuclear weapons are only effective as a deterrent to behavior.  They cannot actually be used.  Obama’s first mistake was going to this option weaponizing SWIFT.  We’d used it successfully on Switzerland in 2010 to hunt down tax evaders.  But everyone watching this play out knew it was a bad idea.

I remember Jim Sinclair saying this over and over again.  You can’t go to the nuclear well.  Because if it doesn’t work, you have nothing left to threaten anyone with.  Financial wars eventually become hot wars.

In short, Iran survived, with the help of a lot of people, including Turkey who altered its banking regulations to re-monetize gold as a bank asset to help Iran process international oil payments through Turkish banks.

Now, fast forward to 2015.  The Syria operation is nearly over.  Assad is hanging on by a thread.

The Sunni animals we used as proxies were about to take power.

Hezbollah would be isolated in Lebanon.  Russia’s access to the Mediterranean would be blocked, especially after thwarting our attempt to take Sevastopol and Crimea.

Negotiating a deal to let Iran back into the world market had little downside.  In fact, at that point, opening up Iran to international capital would hasten the overthrow of the theocracy.

U.S. and European oil contractors wanted access to Iran. With Syria destroyed, pipelines coming in from Saudi Arabia and Qatar through Turkey into Europe would hurt Gazprom and Russia.

At that point letting Iran back into the world would have been a win for the West.  Isolated and alone, with radical Sunnis in power all through the region Iran would never become the kind of power that could threaten Israeli and Saudi dominance.

So, the JCPOA was a pantomime.  Iran agrees to a moratorium on nuclear development it may or may not have been engaging in and in return, it gets sanctions relief and its stolen assets returned.

If Syria fell to the Wahabists then Iran would need that nuclear capability to defend itself. So, getting that moratorium in writing, the thinking likely went, would be enough because in 10 years the current Iranian government wouldn’t exist.

The threat would be moot.

Looking at it this way, 10 years was as good as forever.

The Bear Trap

Now, here’s the rub.  In July of 2015 when the deal was being finalized, were Iran and Russia negotiating the sunset clause in ‘bad faith’ because they knew Putin would militarily intervene in Syria three months later?

If so, then I fully understand the frustration coming from Israel and the U.S., particularly Trump.  It’s a bad deal because the sunset clause solves nothing permanently. The return of Iranian capital has allowed them to support winning the war in Syria.

But, at the end of the day, that’s Monday morning quarterbacking.  The Obama administration and the entire geopolitical sphere didn’t expect Russia to intervene militarily, and if they did they would be bogged down in a nightmarish quagmire.

That was the thinking in 2015.

Trump’s analysis of this situation is that the JCPOA got the U.S. nothing but heartache and Iran won the deal. But, this was an outcome no one expected.  No one expected Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and China to stand up to the U.S. in Syria.

Maybe Netanyahu, but I doubt it.

And if you think that Iran’s money has been the game changer I say nonsense.  The real financial backer of Assad has been the silent partner, China.

China threatened to send troops into Syria in an uncharacteristic display of partisanship.  They ultimately didn’t, but don’t take that to mean they haven’t provided a lot of soft support to those fighting in Syria.

The rest, after that, is history.  And the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia have been scrambling ever since.

This Syrian Cross

Syria is the U.S.’s Rubicon.

It’s the line we should have never crossed. To win we engaged in tactics and strategies that laid bare to the world the depth of our foreign policy depravity.

Moreover, it exposed us as far weaker than was previously thought.  Iran’s successful resistance to the 2012 sanctions, no matter how painful, created responses that today have changed the game completely.

The emperor is only powerful as long as no one challenges his authority.  First the mullahs, then Putin, then Xi and now Kim.  They have all defied the U.S. and won to some extent and each small victory exposes a little bit more of the emperor’s nudity.

The Syrian Operation has failed in any geopolitical sense of the term.  The basic goal of removing Assad and isolating Iran and Hezbollah were not achieved.  Russia is stronger, with operational experience for its troops using some of its best weapons against U.S.-backed forces.

When an operation like this fails those that instigated it wind up losing the most.  Qatar and Turkey cut bait in 2016.  Any support from Egypt is also gone.

But the U.S., Israel and the Saudis are pot-committed.  And so now they have to salvage what they can.  And that means getting rid of the deal to regain some control over the situation.

But, Syria and Afghanistan will be the U.S. empire’s graveyard.  I only hope that Trump gets past his blind hatred of Iran to see this clearly after he pulls out of the JCPOA.

What Can Trump Salvage?

By tearing up the JCPOA Trump is trying to force the situation back to 2012 to gain some leverage.  But, it’s 2018.  Oil prices are $70 a barrel, which the Saudis desperately need.  The EU is teetering on the edge of political and financial collapse.

Russia survived the ruble crisis and China is the world’s largest economy from a purchasing-power-parity perspective (the only perspective with any validity).  Both have SWIFT-compliant internal financial communications networks that can assist Iran if sanctions are put back on.

Hell, there are blockchains out there that can help Iran get paid for its oil.

The EU signatories want to continue the deal and could very well defy Trump on this, not adhering to new sanctions.

Today, Trump tries to force wins on trade policy that will only destroy global trade and harm U.S. producers in the long run.  He wants a guarantee from Iran that they will remain without nukes to threaten Israel or Saudi Arabia with.

It’s a noble goal.

He won’t get that without giving up something substantial.  Obama traded Iran’s money back to them, which he stole, for a moratorium on nuclear development at a time when he felt the U.S. was winning on every front.  He gave up little to get what looked like a lot at the time.

Again, was this a classic Russian cauldron?  Invite your enemy in, let them over-extend themselves and then encircle?  Possibly.  We’ll only know after Putin retires and writes his memoirs.

Today the deal looks like the reverse.  Obama gave up everything for nothing solid.  But, given what he was willing to put on the table that was all he was going to get.

When Trump tears up this deal to negotiate a new one he’s going to sell Iran and Russia the same false value that Obama did in 2015.  The U.S. will give up trying to oust Assad if you guarantee to never develop nukes.

But, that deal is a non-starter. Because the U.S. will eventually be routed from Syria lest we move to a hot war with Russia, which no one wants.

The U.S. has to swear off regime change by removing its troops from both Syria and Afghanistan as a starting point and guaranteeing that the Saudis never get nuclear weapons.  Iran may also demand Israel finally sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  I’m sure that deal is a non-starter as well.

But, our military commitments in these places is gutting the U.S. budget.  Trump thinks that he can pull a Reagan and grow his way out of the deficits he’s encumbering us with.  But, he can’t.  The situation is too dire.  We’re not at the beginning of the dollar reserve standard, we’re at the end of it.

So, Russia, China and Iran will all hold their water and negotiate knowing that the war of financial attrition is theirs to win.

Just like it was in 2012.  And, deal or no deal, the bigger threat to the U.S. is the further deterioration of diplomatic respect we have with the rest of the world.

Since taking office all Trump’s done is betray his base by doubling down in Afghanistan, striking Syria over false flags, selling weapons to Ukraine and further entrenching us in a nightmarish war in Yemen.

None of these things screams ‘no regime change.’

They all scream war with Iran which has been his position since day one.  The Koreas are forcing his hand on peace there over the objections of his foreign policy team.

So, if this is his way of keeping a foreign policy promise to his base, to satisfy them politically before the mid-terms, he has only himself to blame.  No matter how much he tries to blame Obama.

This whole affair highlights the most important axiom about war, ‘the only way to win is not to play.’

*  *  *

To support work like this and gain some much-needed help in navigating these stressful financial times, sign up for my Patreon and subscribe to the Gold Goats ‘n Guns Investment Newsletter for just $12/month. 

Published:5/9/2018 5:33:50 PM
[Opinion] With Trump The Age Of Appeasement Is Over!

By Jim Clayton -

        President Donald Trump’s announcement Tuesday that the U.S. is leaving the Iran deal marks the end of what his predecessor, Barack Obama, considered his main foreign policy legacy. Earlier Tuesday, both Obama and John Kerry were furious with Trump after he nixed their Iran deal. Trump ...

With Trump The Age Of Appeasement Is Over! is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:5/9/2018 4:04:00 PM
[Markets] BTFINDWD!!

So the world (including former president Obama) exclaimed at the chaos that Trump withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal would unleash... and yet, VIX is monkey-hammered to a 13 handle and stocks surge...

BTFINDWD!!

(Buy The Fucking Iran Nuke Deal Withdrawal Dip)

"Something very important is happening here guys... we are breaking out of a range" admired Bob Pisani, adding "maybe the bulls are starting to regain control of the narrative."

However, today's momo ignition was the perfect mini-storm, running the S&P through green for the year stops, 50DMA, and testing the down-trend-line as well as the 100DMA...

Don't hold your breath Bob.

 

All major indices are green for the week...after Iran Nuclear Deal Withdrawal Dip...

 

VIX plunges to its lowest close since Feb 1st and tests the 200DMA...

 

Tesla stocks continue to buck the bond battering trend...

 

The Solar ETF surged after California mandated every new home have solar installed...

 

Bank stocks continue to rebound...

 

Meanwhile Tech continues to surge ahead of Financials... to levels only seen at the ultimate peak of the dotcom idiocy...

 

Defense stocks remained positive post-Trump BUT faded all day today...

 

Treasury yields rose 2-3bps today...

 

10Y Yields topped 3.00% again today.. and it seems this time stocks don't care...

 

5Y Breakevens are back at their highest since April 2013...

 

 

The Dollar Index ended the day practically unchanged with the dollar selling off since Europe opened overnight...repeating the same pattern of the last few days...

 

The Ringgit was routed (along with the Malaysian stock market) as the opposition (who has previously pegged the Ringgit and installed capital controls) looks to win the election...

 

Cryptocurrencies rebounded modestly during the US day session but remain lower oin the week (aside from Bitcoin Cash)...

 

Gold, Silver, and Copper trod water today as Crude spiked...

 

WTI Crude topped $71 (and Brent is trading at more than $6 premium to WTI - spiking from $5.20 yesterday)...WTI has retraced over 50% of the 2013 to 2016 slump...

Published:5/9/2018 3:06:03 PM
[Iran] The Iran Deal’s Disastrous Legacy Has Nothing to Do with Nukes

In March, State Department veteran and former adviser to Barack Obama, Frederic Hof, bid farewell to public life with a stunning admission. Amid a confession ...

The post The Iran Deal’s Disastrous Legacy Has Nothing to Do with Nukes appeared first on Commentary Magazine.

Published:5/9/2018 2:03:41 PM
[Politics] Here’s a solid list of all the major Obama policies rolled back by Trump! Fox News Research has published a list of all the major Obama policies that have been rolled back under the Trump administration and it’s a pretty good list! DACA has been rolled . . . Published:5/9/2018 11:03:30 AM
[Politics] Here’s a solid list of all the major Obama policies rolled back by Trump! Fox News Research has published a list of all the major Obama policies that have been rolled back under the Trump administration and it’s a pretty good list! DACA has been rolled . . . Published:5/9/2018 11:03:30 AM
[Markets] Top Secret Intel Source Aiding Mueller Probe Is Behind Latest Clash Between DOJ And Nunes

House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) was denied a cache of classified information by the Department of Justice (DOJ) after the White House backed senior FBI and national intelligence officials who told them the materials were too hot to give to him - and "could risk lives by potentially exposing the source, a U.S. citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI, reports the Washington Post, citing multiple sources. The FBI made the urgent request to the White House last Wednesday claiming that even a redacted version of the request could risk lives by exposing a top-secret intelligence source.

Which begs the question:

White House officials agreed to the DOJ's request with President Trump's blessing - however the Post notes "it is unclear whether Trump was alerted to a key fact -- that information developed by the intelligence source had been provided to the Mueller investigation." 

Whatever the case, the U.S. intelligence community clearly doesn't trust Nunes with this information. 

For the intelligence agencies, Nunes’s request threatened to cross a red line of compromising sources and methods of U.S. intelligence-gathering, according to people familiar with their views. Intelligence officials fear that providing even a redacted version of the information Nunes seeks could expose that person and damage relationships with other countries that serve as U.S. intelligence partners. -Washington Post

Nunes requested the information in a classified April 24 letter to the Justice department. Due to the confidential nature, we don't know exactly what the DOJ is holding back, however he told reporters this week that he is investigating FBI Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse and "other matters.

The Post notes that the involvement of the White House marks a rare "moment of alignment between the Justice Department and Trump, who has relentlessly criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other top Justice officials for the probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 election led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III." 

House Republicans and the DOJ are now in a heated battle over the actual risk to the agency's top-secret source - with Nunes saying Sunday that he may try to hold Sessions in contempt for refusing to comply with his request. 

Nunes told OAN News: "The bottom line is we've had this investigation going for a long time into FISA abuse that occurred by the executive branch."

"We need documents to be able to verify if things were done properly or improperly, so that's what we're waiting on. So we sent a letter a few weeks ago, a classified letter. That letter was not responded to, it was ignored. We issued a subpoena... We got back on Thursday that they will not comply, so now we have no other choice but to move to hold the Attorney General in contempt if they don't provide the documents."

They are citing spurious national security concerns to evade congressional oversight while leaking information to The Washington Post ostensibly about classified meetings,” Nunes told The Post. “Congress has a right and a duty to get this information and we will succeed in getting this information, regardless of whatever fantastic stories the DOJ and FBI spin to the Post.”

Administration officials tell The Post that they are concerned Trump will change his mind and support Nunes' argument. 

The role of the intelligence source in the Mueller investigation may now be seized upon by conservative Republicans who have publicly accused the Justice Department and intelligence agencies of overreach and misuse of their surveillance powers. -WaPo

To that end, several House GOP drafted articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as a "last resort" if he doesn't hand Congress more information. 

In a similar vein, Nunes threatened to impeach DAG Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray if they didn't immediately hand over an unredacted copy of the two-page document outlining the original scope and mandate of the Mueller Special Counsel investigation. The DOJ eventually acquiesced to Nunes' threat, providing him with access to modestly redacted copies - for which Nunes thanked Rosenstein.

That said, Rosenstein pushed back in comments at the Freedom Forum Institute - telling the audience that while he is willing to work with Congressional investigators - he will draw the line when he needs to, exclaiming that the Justice Department was "not going to be extorted" into handing over documents that could harm national security or interfere with ongoing investigations. 

If we were to just open our doors to allow Congress to come and rummage through the files, that would be a serious infringement on the separation of powers, and it might resolve a dispute today, but it would have negative repercussions in the long run, and we have a responsibility to defend the institution,” Rosenstein said.

Not everyone agrees...

Published:5/9/2018 9:32:48 AM
[Iran] Killing the worst deal ever (9) (Scott Johnson) On her FOX News show last night Laura Ingraham had a fantastic segment interviewing National Security Advisor John Bolton last night following President Trump’s speech announcing our withdrawal from the Iran deal. Laura played clips of Democrats denouncing the deal in 2015, of John Kerry explaining himself on MSNBC yesterday, of John Brennan fulminating, also on MSNBC, of Samantha Power peddling the Obama line on Twitter and more. Sense meets Published:5/9/2018 9:02:07 AM
[Markets] Iran Deal, Disney's Earnings and Changes at Facebook - 5 Things You Must Know U.S. stock futures were gaining Wednesday, May 9, as markets digested President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. President Trump announced Tuesday afternoon plans to pull out of the Obama-era deal, which had established an international agreement that lifted U.S., U.N. and European Union sanctions against Iran in return for the country accepting limits on its nuclear program. Published:5/9/2018 5:31:29 AM
[Media] D’OH! Jim Acosta’s list of ‘Obama policies dumped by Trump’ is a MASSIVE Resistance backfire

"Acosta is selling me on Trump right now."

The post D’OH! Jim Acosta’s list of ‘Obama policies dumped by Trump’ is a MASSIVE Resistance backfire appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/9/2018 12:29:20 AM
[PAID] After Obama's Iran Deal Trump can exit because Obama never built U.S. support for the pact. Published:5/8/2018 11:59:12 PM
[Media] Puh-LEEZE! Andrea Mitchell helps Obama sound Iran Deal alarm, FAIL ensues

Looks like a "Schoolhouse Rock" marathon is in order.

The post Puh-LEEZE! Andrea Mitchell helps Obama sound Iran Deal alarm, FAIL ensues appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/8/2018 11:30:07 PM
[Uncategorized] Iran Nuke Deal just another Obama legacy sandcastle An increasingly aggressive Iranian Mullah regime at war with us and our allies is Obama's lasting legacy, and it will be more difficult to wash away than the nuke deal. Published:5/8/2018 8:30:30 PM
[Politics] DeWine, Cordray Win Primaries in Race for Ohio Governor Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, one of the state's best-known politicians, and Democrat Richard Cordray, who headed a federal consumer protection agency in the Obama administration, are headed into their third career match-up this fall after a raucous... Published:5/8/2018 7:59:33 PM
[2018 News] Trump vows to withdraw from Iran nuclear agreement, calls pact ‘defective at its core’ Trump vows to withdraw from Iran nuclear agreement, calls pact ‘defective at its core.’  Yet another Obama screw up down the drain. The left will whine like they did when they said we’d have nuclear war with North Korea. Now it will be nuclear war with Iran. We’ll see how long it takes the Iranians […] Published:5/8/2018 7:28:29 PM
[Iran] Obama Killed His Own Iran Deal

President Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, triggering a paroxysm of fury among liberals, Never Trumpers, and the keepers of conventional foreign-policy ...

The post Obama Killed His Own Iran Deal appeared first on Commentary Magazine.

Published:5/8/2018 7:28:28 PM
[Politics] Trump Redeems a Promise President Trump's decision to abrogate the articles of appeasement is his finest hour so far. Its message is woe to him who takes the American people for granted. That was the fundamental mistake made by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry. They proceeded with a deal they knew the Congress of the United States opposed. They took it to the United Nations Security Council and voted there against our Congress and for the Iranians. Published:5/8/2018 7:28:28 PM
[Politics] Michelle Obama Is ‘Concerned’ for Women Who Voted for Trump

Still struggling to come to terms with the results of the 2016 election, former first lady Michelle Obama said she’s concerned for women and “how... Read More

The post Michelle Obama Is ‘Concerned’ for Women Who Voted for Trump appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:5/8/2018 12:14:24 AM
[Markets] Social Media, Not Religion, Is The Opium Of The People

Via Global Macro Monitor,

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. – Karl Marx,  A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

Social media is becoming the new whipping boy and poster child for all that ills our culture and contributing to its decline.

We added our two cents in a recent post,  Why Google Is A Short,

…social media probably generates negative productivity.  We read some time ago the average American spends 40 minutes per day playing Farmville.   How does planting virtual corn add to the GDP?

Though we are more ambivalent about Google, Facebook is doing some severe psychological damage to an entire generation, including my 15-year daughter.   They spend much of their time competing with trophy photos loaded up on Instagram.  Never gonna win that game, which leads to increased anxiety and depression for an entire generation.

The Google Short

That brings us to the Google (we are old school and can’t bring ourselves to call it Alphabet) short.

Imagine when a politician has his/her epiphany that all those porn searches they have done over the years on Google are stored somewhere and could be hacked and released to the public?  That will ignite a prairie fire of potential legislation, which will spread faster than you can say SNAP.  – GMM, Apr 24th

Our Friend Weighs In

We received this email from a very close friend yesterday,

Yesterday I downloaded the data Facebook has stored on me.  407 pages including every message I sent, every like, every picture, on and on.  Below I pasted just one of these pages, the list of advertisers who requested all my data.  I know nothing about most of these companies and to my knowledge do not use them. Just saying.

Psychological Damage On Children

In 2013, one of my daughters was seeing a therapist to help her work through the psychological complications of her just diagnosed epilepsy.   She is  in good company –  Julius Caesar and Chief Justice Roberts.

The therapist had all the right credentials from all the right institutions,  Harvard grad, Ph.D. from Stanford.   Until I asked her about the damage smartphones are doing to children.

She began to justify, almost saying they were good for kids.

The takeaway quote I recall, she had just attended a seminar and smartphones are good for children, “it is changing their brains.”

No shit.  I fired her on the spot.

Moreover, I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with friends who have trouble with their children’s use of social media.

Nefarious Activity On Social Media

By the way, I came out of that meeting with my daughter’s therapist to find my trading account had lost several thousand dollars as some dickhead  ‘bots hacked into AP’s twitter account posting the White House had been bombed and President Obama was injured.   Stocks plunged and I was sold out of my long postions by deep out-of-the-money stops.

 The FBI and SEC are to launch investigations after more than £90bn was temporarily wiped off the US stock market when hackers broke into the Twitter account of the Associated Press and announced that two bombs had exploded at the White House, injuring Barack Obama. – The Telegraph

I couldn’t figure out what happened to my account as the S&P was higher than before I entered the meeting.  Until I looked at the chart.

F-tards!

We are not as negative on Twitter as much as Facebook but this is just another example of why the government has to take a closer look at social media.   Furthermore,  and more important, many believe that even the  fate of democracy hinges on the future of clickbait.

Noah At Bloomberg Opines

The great Noah Smith of Bloomberg penned a must-read yesterday,  Social Media Looks Like the New Opiate of the Masses, with the subtitle, Researchers have found some troubling parallels with addictive drugs.

Here are the non-wonkish money quotes:

  • I suspect it will be many years before the true scale and scope of the changes are appreciated, and even then much will never be fully understood. The era when humans interacted mainly by gathering in physical space, or maintained personal networks through one-to-one connections, has drawn to a close, and the next generation won’t even really understand what that era was like. Social media has changed the meaning of human life itself.

  • But many of us who lived through the shift from Internet 1.0 to the new age of social media can’t help but feel a nagging worry. In addition to concerns about privacy, electoral influence and online abuse, social media seems like it has many of the qualities of an addictive drug.

  • Research isn’t conclusive on whether social-media addiction is real. But it certainly has some negative side effects that loosely resemble the downsides of recreational drugs.

  •  experiments found that smartphone deprivation induced anxiety among young people, a phenomenon that certainly has parallels to drug withdrawal.

  • once the internet offered an escape from the real world, now the real world is a much-needed escape from the internet.

  • If social media really does act on many users in a manner loosely analogous to cigarettes or heroin, that means the benefits are less than people’s willingness to pay. Junkies would pay quite a lot for their fix, but that doesn’t mean the money would be well-spent.

  • before we conclude that social media is like tobacco. And even if it is, the harm would need to be very substantial in order to get government policy involved in limiting social-media use.

  • Whereas Karl Marx declared that religion is the opiate of the masses, our modern capitalists may have invented a better one.

Upshot

Who in their right minds would have thought five years ago we would be comparing Facebook use to tobacco addiction?

We are less sanguine than Noah on the future of our social media economy.

More so, not because of the addiction thing, but because of privacy issues.  The behemoths will surely try and adapt their business models to survive. Will you pay $120 per year for Facebook?   There is no free lunch, right?

That brings us to investing.

Are the toothless F$%Gs out of the woods?  Hardly.  It is only two outs in the top of first, in our opinion.   The blowback is just getting started.

For the above reasons,  a long-term sword of Damocles is hanging over the market and these companies, in particular.  Their stocks, which have heavy weights in the indices,  will experience fits of volcanic eruptions and existential crises to periods of calm and euphoria.   In other words, prepare for a Key Stone Cops chase scene.

Is Our Social Media Economy Good For The Economy

This is one issue where the president is right-freaking-on.    Building a ballroom trumps building a chatroom, as it creates more income and real wealth.

Think back when GM and Ford dominated the economy.   How many secondary jobs were created when a car rolled off the assembly line?   Gas stations, tire shops, mechanics, smog inspectors, auto body painters?

They still do with imported BMWs (especially German cars, they are so expensive to repair) but the input multiplier is not as great.

We won’t fix our economic problems by reducing trade, especially with tariffs, but by making auto workers more productive with both human and physical capital investments.  Maybe 3-D printed cars will eventually rule the day?

This type of anufacturing is more likely (cannot say with certainty, we have not done the research) to have a greater jobs multiplier than the social media economy, and is more egalitarian in income and wealth distribution.

We will concede that the social media jobs  multiplier is not zero.  For example, vendors of, say, banana flavored condoms can sell their junk over these platforms.   But, come on, man!

The Bigs And AI

The one big caveat to our view is that the Facebooks and Googles are big spenders and on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence (AI), which is subsidized by their advertising revenues.  Soomeday they may be big players in the AI/robotic manufacturing displacement that is already here and only  surely to accelerate.

But will they have enough time? Uhh...probably.

Published:5/6/2018 1:48:55 PM
[World] Candace Owens Blasts Barack Obama for Damaging Race Relations While In Office

Candace Owens blasted former President Barack Obama on Sunday, saying that he caused "damage" to race relations in the United States during his two terms in office.

Published:5/6/2018 11:47:09 AM
[Politics] Continetti: ‘Trump’s Message on Manufacturing and Trade is Strengthening His Base’ of Obama Voters

The post Continetti: ‘Trump’s Message on Manufacturing and Trade is Strengthening His Base’ of Obama Voters appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:5/6/2018 8:17:59 AM
[Media] Paging Sally Yates (Scott Johnson) Victor Davis Hanson is an author, classicist, military historian, former university teacher, and incredibly prolific columnist. Like a writer of science fiction, he calls on a vivid imagination to conjure an alternative universe. In the alternative universe of his imagination, Democrats are held to the same standards as Republicans. Take, for example, his column “What if Mueller questioned Barack Obama?” It is in its own way a Swiftian satire of Published:5/6/2018 8:17:59 AM
[Education] We Hear You: Betsy DeVos ‘Headed in Right Direction’ at Education Department

Editor’s note: The Daily Signal’s audience sees Betsy DeVos as a stronger champion of improved public education than her  predecessors in the Obama administration, judging... Read More

The post We Hear You: Betsy DeVos ‘Headed in Right Direction’ at Education Department appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:5/6/2018 5:12:11 AM
[Politics] Report: Trump's Aides Hired PI's to Dig Up Dirt on Obama Aides Who Helped Negotiate Iran Deal President Donald Trump's aides last year hired Israeli private investigators to dig up dirt on two Obama diplomats who negotiated the Iran deal with Tehran, the Guardian reports. Published:5/5/2018 9:40:02 PM
[Markets] As US Military Effectiveness And Diplomacy Fade, Many Countries Start Ignoring Washington

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Diplomatic work continues in some of the areas with the highest geopolitical tensions in the world. In recent days there have been high-level meetings and contacts between Turkey, Iran and Russia over the situation in Syria; meetings between Modi and Xi Jinping to ease tensions between India and China; and finally, the historic meeting between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un. The common component in all these meetings is the absence of the United States, which may explain the excellent progress that has been seen.

The last seven days have brought a note of optimism to international relations.

The meeting between Modi and Xi Jinping in China offered a regional example, confirmed by the words of Wang Yi, member of the State Counsel of the People's Republic of China:

"Our [India and China] common interests outweigh our differences. The summit will go a long way towards deepening the mutual trust between the two great neighbors. We will make sure that the informal summit will be a complete success and a new milestone in the history of China-India relations".

Given the tensions in August 2017 in the Himalayan border area between the two countries, the progress achieved in the last nine months bodes well for a further increase in cooperation between the two nations. Bilateral trade stands at around $85 billion a year, with China as India’s largest trading partner. The meeting between Modi and Xi also serves to deepen the already existing framework between the two countries in international organizations like BRICS, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in which they are integral participants. It is imaginable that negotiations on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will be in full swing, with Beijing keen to involve New Delhi more in the project. Such a prospect is particularly helped by three very powerful investment vehicles put in place by Beijing, namely, the New Development Bank (formerly the BRICS Development Bank), the AIIB, and the Silk Road Fund.

Xi Jinping will be seeking to ??progressively entice India closer to the BRI project through attractive and mutually beneficial commercial arrangements. However, this objective remains complicated and difficult to implement. Beijing is aware of this and has already expressed its intention not to impose the BRI on the neighboring country. With much of the future global and regional architecture depending on these two countries, the good understanding shown between Xi Jinping and Modi bodes well, especially given the commonly aligned objectives represented by the multitude of international organizations and frameworks on which China and India sit side by side.

Another bit of important news for the Asian region has been the meeting between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un, which was recently examined in an article published in Strategic Culture Foundation. As discussed in that article, the intention of the two leaders is to reunite the two Koreas, to denuclearize the peninsula, and to sign a peace treaty between the North and South, whose unprecedented implications entail such questions as whether there is a future role of for the United States on the peninsula. As stated before, the rapprochement between the two Koreas does not play into Washington’s favor, which relies on the South as a strategic foothold to contain China, justifying its presence on the purported need to confront North Korea. With an all-encompassing peace agreement, this justification would cease to exist. It seems that the goal for US policy-makers will be to find an opportunity to sabotage the North-South agreement and blame Kim Jong-un for its failure. Without engaging in a diplomatic tiff with its South Korean ally, the deep state in Washington does not intend to surrender one inch of its military presence on the peninsula, and would even look favorably on the negotiations failing to further damage Trump and his administration.

This is an internal deep-state war that has been going on for years. Obama wanted to abandon the Middle East in order to focus on containing China, altering the military’s structure accordingly to return to a more Cold War stance. This explains the agreement with Iran in order to free the US from its Middle East involvement so as to be able to focus mainly on Asia and to promote it as the most important region for the United States. This strategic intention has met with enormous opposition from two of the most influential lobbies in the American political system, the Israeli and Saudi Arabian. Without the United States, these two countries would be unable to stop Iran's peaceful but impressive ascent in the region.

Listening to four-star generals like Robert Neller (Commandant of the Marine Corps) and others less distinguished, one comes to appreciate the extent to which the US military is in strategic chaos. The military has been the victim of epochal changes with each presidency. Pentagon planners would like to simultaneously confront countries like Russia, China and Iran, but in the process only decrease effectiveness due to imperial overstretch. Other politicians, especially from the neocon area, argue for the need to transform the US armed forces from a force suitable for fighting small countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria), Middle Eastern insurgencies, or terrorist groups (a pretext originating from the 1990's and the first Gulf War), to a military able to face its peer competitors with all weapons available. Such a realignment does not occur over a short period of time and requires an enormous amount of money to reorganize the armed forces.

In this struggle between components of the deep state, Trump lumbers into a policy that stems from his electoral campaign rather than a considered strategy. Trump showed himself in his campaign to be strongly pro-Israel and strongly pro-armed forces, which has had the practical result of increasing military spending. Tens of billions of dollars worth of agreements have been realized with the richest country in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, for arms purchases, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is viewed negatively. Trump’s interventions in Syria confirm that he is under the strong influence of that part of the deep state that is adamant that the United States should always be present in the Middle East, should openly oppose Iran, and, above all, should prevent the Shiite arc from extending its influence to cover Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

The reasoning employed by Trump and his administration confirms this direction in Washington’s strategy, involving greater cooperation with Beijing to solve the Korean issue; less of an effort to decrease Moscow’s influence in Syria and in the Middle East in general; and greater belligerence towards Iran, with a general shift away from Asia and towards the Middle East, backtracking away from Obama’s pivot to Asia.

Trump seems to give the impression of wanting to face China from an unprecedented direction, with a trade war that would inevitably end up damaging all sides.

In this ad hoc strategy, the European allies play an important role in Washington’s intention to cancel or modify the Iranian nuclear agreement. Following the meetings in Washington between Trump and Macron, and then with Merkel, both European leaders seem more or less open to a modification of the JCPOA, provided that Trump backs away from placing tariffs on European countries, an appeal to which the English premier Theresa May adds her name. It seems a desperate tactic, given that one of the issues Trump is pinning his 2020 campaign on is being able to fix the trade imbalances between the US and the EU, without which he will be unable to claim to have kept his promises.

The United States has many cards to play, but none is decisive. In Korea, the peace process depends very little on Trump's intentions and more on the willingness of the two key parties to reach a historic agreement to improve the lives of all citizens of the peninsula. I predict the deep state will try to blame the DPRK for a failure of the negotiations, thereby bringing to Asia the chaos in international relations that the US has successfully brought to other parts of the world. The People's Republic of China will therefore try to replace the United States in negotiations in order to bring the two negotiating parties closer together.

In the same way, an attempt to sabotage the JCPOA will only drive Russia, China and Iran into a strategic triangle, about which I was writing more than a year ago. A unilateral exit from the nuclear agreement will help delegitimize Washington's international role, together with the sabotage by the deep state of the peace agreement in Korea. It will be a pincer effect resulting from the chaos and the internal struggle of North American and European elites.

Success in the negotiations in Korea could pave the way for a protection umbrella for the DPRK guaranteed by China and Russia, in the same way the two could grant Iran all the diplomatic support necessary to resist the American and European pressure to cancel the JCPOA. Ultimately, the rapprochement between India and China, in view of important agreements on the BRI, could seal comity and cooperation between the two giants, leading the Eurasian area under the definitive influence of India, China, Russia and Iran, and guaranteeing a future of peaceful economic development to the most important area of ??the globe.

The United States finds itself divided by a war within the elite, where Trump's presidency is continually attacked and de-legitimized, while the coordinated assault on the dollar continues apace through gold, the petroyuan, and blockchain technology. US military power is showing itself to be a paper tiger unable to change the course of events on the ground, as seen recently in Syria. The loss of diplomatic credibility resulting from the sabotage of the JCPOA, and Washington’s inability to sit down and sincerely negotiate with the DPRK, will deliver the final coup de grace to a country that is struggling to even remain friendship with her European allies (sanctions imposed on Russia, sanctions on European companies participating in the North Stream 2, and tariffs in a new trade war).

The US deep state remains on this path of self-destruction, perennially torn between opposing strategies, which only accelerates Washington’s unipolar decline and the emergence in its place of a multipolar world order, with New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran as new poles over an immense area  comprising the Middle east and all of Eurasia.

Published:5/5/2018 9:40:02 PM
[Markets] Happy Birthday Karl: Top 10 Goals Of Marx' Manifesto Accomplished In America

By Joe Jarvis Via The Daily Bell

Plenty of stupid ideas kill people. But one man’s stupid ideas have killed over a hundred million people.

Karl Marx was born 200 years ago today. And despite the utter failure of his communist philosophy in practice, the cult lives on. Still people want to try again… this time they will get it right.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels originally published The Communist Manifesto in 1848. It laid out the beliefs and action plan of the Communist Party. The goal was to get communists of every nationality to rise up and unite to overthrow their “capitalist oppressors.”

Little did they know their words would be used by the likes of Stalin and Mao as justification for over 100 million murders meant to supposedly move society forward.

In America, the goals of the communists have crept their way into society with little fanfare. Many people have no idea that public schools, the graduated income tax, and even a central state-controlled bank (like the Federal Reserve) were tenets of the Communist Manifesto.

The points are boiled down in one section of the manifesto to a list of ten main goals. These are the goals, in Marx and Engels’ own words, followed by an analysis of how deeply they have seeped into the United States governing structure.

“1. Abolition of all public land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.”

Also known as property taxes. Can you really say you own land if you must pay the government every year in order to keep it? Fail to pay your rent, and they will eventually confiscate “your” land. This money is then used for “public purposes” like public schools(just wait for #10) and police, who will remove you from the government’s land if you fail to pay your rent.

And if the local government can fine you for keeping a front yard garden, or backyard chickens, do you really own the land anyway? Sounds like the proletariat traded capitalist oppressors for government oppressors.

The federal government owns outright 28% of all land in the United States, 640 million acres. This includes the Bureau of Land Management’s 248 million acre turf used to control or oppress political dissidents like Cliven Bundy. “The BLM is also responsible for subsurface mineral resources in areas totaling 700 million acres.” That means they control almost three times as much land as they own.

Each state government owns an average of 8.7% of its state’s land. This source claims the feds own over 31% of the U.S. landmass, which brings the combined state and federal total ownership to almost 40% of all land in the USA.

And let’s not forget about eminent domain, where the government can just take your land for “public use” (or public benefit) with “just compensation.” If the compensation isn’t just, simply take the most powerful government on Earth to court–courts that they own. I’m sure you will be treated fairly.

“2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.”

Even after the latest tax cuts, the federal income tax rates range from 10% to 37%.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the top 20% of income earners in the U.S. will pay 87% of all income taxes this year. These people who earn $150,000 or more account for 52% of the income earned in the USA, but will pay almost all of the income taxes, 87%.

The top 1% of earners– the evil bourgeois making over $730,000 per year–will actually pay over 43% of all income taxes this year.

So 1% of earners who make 16% of the country’s total income will pay 43% of the total income tax.

Sounds like way more than their “fair share” to me, but the communists won’t be satisfied until everything is owned by the state.

“3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.”

They want to fleece the rich one more time when they die, even though all that wealth was taxed already as income or capital gains.

Estate Tax, or Death Tax, is one of the more egregious oppressions of the federal government.

There is a hefty exemption–the first $11 million is not taxed. While that means few typical people will be affected, it still fits with the communist strategy of demonizing the rich.

And every dollar over that exemption is taxed at 40%.

When you think about it, $11 million is not so much money when you are talking about a business, even relatively small family businesses that might be passed down through inheritance.

If a business is worth $15 million, the family of the deceased would owe $1.6 million. If they don’t have $1.6 million hanging around, they might have to dismantle the business in order to pay the taxes. That could mean a loss of good proletariat jobs and a hit to the economy.

The same could happen to a piece of land or estate that has been in the family for generations.

State level estate taxes add additional costs, sometimes with lower exemptions.

But the communists are smart, they demonize the people they rob. So no one feels bad for “the rich” because they will have plenty left over when the government is done with them. Although that too could change…

“4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.”

Let’s start with the Exit Tax.

Why don’t you just move out of America if you don’t like the taxes?

Well, America taxes it’s citizens worldwide, even if they do not live or work in the USA.

Why not renounce your citizenship then?

That is one option. But it’s actually not free. In fact, the U.S. confiscates a serious percentage of property from emigrants.

It is called the Exit Tax. It gets complicated, but basically, the government is going to tax you on your net worth, as if you just sold all your assets.

If you don’t have the liquid cash to cover that, you would actually have to start selling assets–property, stocks, etc.–in order to pay the Exit Tax. Of course, you would be taxed on the income or capital gains first, and then would have to pay the exit tax with what is left over… The good news (?) is you would have less overall net worth to be taxed upon your renunciation.

Okay, but again, a big part of being a communist is hating rich people. People with less than $700,000 of capital gains in their net worth are much less affected by the exit tax.

So let’s turn to confiscation of rebel’s property that affects the poorest proletariat… civil asset forfeiture.

This is often used again poor people who cannot afford to defend themselves in court. The police simply steal property or cash that they “suspect” was involved in some type of crime, without having to prove anything. You have to prove your innocence if you want your car, house, or cash back.

So if cops think a wad of cash came from selling drugs, it’s theirs. If they think your car was bought with the proceeds of drug sales, maybe because they found an ounce of weed and some baggies, they can take the car, without charging you with a drug dealing.

Police seized over $50,000 from a Christian Rock band that had collected donations for an orphanage. Between 2001 and 2016, “more than $2.5 billion in cash seizures had occurred on the nation’s highways without either a search warrant or an indictment.”

And that’s not even counting the more than $3.2 billion the DEA has seized since 2007without filing civil or criminal charges.

Just having cash is a pretty low bar to be considered a rebel. Then again, what should we expect from a communist doctrine?

“5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.”

I wonder if today’s communists are aware of this one. They can’t possibly think the Federal Reserve helps the proletariat, yet that is exactly what the manifesto describes.

Some people might disagree that the Federal Reserve is state owned. Technically it has a private board, although board members are appointed by politicians. I suppose in that sense you could call it more fascist than communist–the government doesn’t own the bank, the bank owns the government.

The Fed sets the interest rates, prints money, and finances much of the debt of the United States government. Without the Fed, it would be much harder for the government to control the people–the homes they buy, the loans they get, the interest on their savings, and even how much of that savings is robbed through inflation.

“6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.”

FCC, FTC, DOT, FAA, TSA, CBP–oh it’s an alphabet soup of communications and transport regulators.

They regulate the phone lines, the roadways, air traffic, rails, mail and package delivery.

This is nothing new. Around the same time, Marx was writing the manifesto, Lysander Spooner was doing something productive with his time. Spooner started the American Letter Mail Company to compete with the U.S. Postal Service. He undercut their prices and provided better customer service, but was fined and cited for breaking laws which protected the government monopoly. He was forced out of business in 1851.

The government doesn’t quite have control over the internet, but they did create the conditions to allow a handful of companies control access to the internet.

The NSA monitors every communication, and the Department of Homeland Security commissioned a database to track all journalists and media influencers who mention the DHSCustoms and Border Protection performs unconstitutional searches at the border,whether you are an American or foreign.

And of course, you can’t go out in public without running the risk of being harassed by local, state, and federal police. You don’t have the right to travel without justifying every action to a police officer, while they often get off scot-free for murder.

“7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.”

The state has certainly dabbled in factory ownership, like the GM bailout. They control utilities like water and power. And they have certainly subsidized their fair share of business from oil and solar panels to sugar and corn.

We can refer back to #1 to see how much land the government controls, often under the auspices of improving soil and protecting wastelands.

Then there are plenty of government contractors which are basically the same thing as a government-owned company. If 100% of their revenue comes from the government, they are not a private company. This is especially prominent in the defense industry, which is where the term military-industrial-complex comes from. And then think about the roads the government contracts out to build.

The government spends about 34% of the GDP every year. That is a significant percentage of the economy which the government owns.

“8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.”

Yes, the Communist Manifesto proposes enslaving all those unwilling to work.

Now, it might not seem like the U.S. government forces people to work. But you have to make money just to park your ass on a plot of land. Local governments want property taxes, which means you must make a certain amount of money just to have a place to live.

Otherwise, you could conceivably save up for a piece of land, and once you buy it outright, you would be done. But even renting has the built-in costs of property tax.

And the fact that the government claims the authority to tax you on everything you earn basically means you have a liability to labor for the government if you want to labor at all.

Most of us cannot go through life without earning something to pay for necessities. But we can’t just earn what we need, we must earn way more than we need because the government will take a huge chunk of our income.

We tend to think about taxes as a percentage of our income. But what about as a percentage of our time? The government forces you to work as its slave from about January through April every year. In a typical career, you will spend in total more than 14 full years working as a slave for the government.

“9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.”

The government helped create factory farming by regulating all the small-scale producers out of business.

Reason reports that USDA regulations have forced small slaughterhouses to close in favor of large factory-style slaughterhouses. This might sound like a good idea at first. But consider that when one infected animal makes its way to a slaughterhouse, it can contaminate so much meat.

Having many slaughterhouses distributed across the U.S. meant that any infections were localized, and affected far fewer people. Plus when the slaughterhouse is local, it is easier to know the owners and see the conditions for yourself. The animals are raised closer to home, also providing more opportunity for market oversight of the process. No hiding away from the consumers on a vast gated factory ranch.

The U.S. government has long subsidized large crop producers, which makes it that much harder for smaller farms to compete.

It started with the Farm Bill in 1933 and continues to this day.

What we get is cheap, but unhealthy products. And even though the products on the shelf look cheap, we already paid for them with our tax dollars.

The problem is, I don’t want to buy unhealthy things loaded with high fructose corn syrup. But my money will pay for that crap whether I like it or not. Then I have to spend my money on healthy items that are more expensive because they have to compete with subsidized products.

That’s where the government incentives for factory farming have got us.

“10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.”

This may be tenth on the list, but it is number one in ensuring all the rest fall into place.

American communists got this goal in place just four years after the Communist Manifesto was published, with Massachusetts enacting the first compulsory public education law in 1852. After that, it was only a matter of time until the population was indoctrinated to believe whatever the government taught them.

The book Teen 2.0: Saving Our Children and Families from the Torment of Adolescence delves in depth into the history and injustice of compulsory schooling.

It was designed so that the state and corporations could work together to train an obedient workforce, with the public footing the bill.

The point was not open minds and a desire to learn. The aim of the education was setting students up for whatever mediocre to low paying jobs the industrialists wanted them to fill.

The communists succeeded in getting exactly what they wanted out of American schools. And today we see the growing gap between what people learn in school, and what skills they actually need for good jobs. The communists have got the American education system stuck in a stagnant philosophy of industrial labor.

Of course, they did it with supposedly the best intentions. Sounds like a good idea to save kids from dangerous work. But in the process, they also robbed children and young adults of their autonomy and choice. They forced kids against their will into a government institution and set the course for their entire lives.

And that is the most important lesson that the communists want to teach in schools. It is all about obedience to government.

Karl Marx is like the anti-Midas. Everything his philosophy touches turns to shit. Is it any wonder that America is stagnating? You cannot grow with a communist philosophy. It doesn’t take into account the beautiful creative independence of individuals. It treats people like cattle. It robs people of the rewards of their labor.

I rue this day, 200 years ago.

You don’t have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

Published:5/5/2018 8:15:36 PM
[Markets] The Beginner's Guide To American Political Ironies

Authored by 'Dr.D' via Raul Ilargi Meijer's Automatic Earth blog,

“It’s hard enough to find a candidate that will even promise to do something right so it doesn’t help that they do the opposite 90% of the time.”

Who wrote “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal”? Jefferson, a slave owner.

Who was one of the most ardent Abolitionists? Alexander Hamilton.

Was he a slave owner? Yes.

Who won the election of 1824? No one, it was decided by the House of Representatives.

So which party lost? None: all four candidates were Democratic-Republicans.

In response, Andrew Jackson, a slave owner, created the Democratic Party.

Jackson created the Democratic Party as an anti-bank, anti-oligarch, states-rights platform the Tea Party would recognize.

Martin Van Buren, a Democrat, created the first concentration camp for Cherokee Indians in 1838.

Those 17,000 Cherokees owned 2,000 slaves.

Did Lincoln create the Republican Party? No, it was an amalgamation of failed parties: Lincoln was their 1st candidate.

What was the Lincoln campaign of 1860? Non-interference in state slavery.

Why? The decision of Dred Scott in 1857, a slave owned by abolitionists in a state he did not reside. Overturning 250 years of history, the case determined that no slave could ever become a citizen, i.e. freed.

Who was the best known Confederate General? Stonewall Jackson.

What did he do when he sided with the Southern cause? Freed his slaves.

Who else was a top Confederate General? William Mahone.

What did he do? He was the creator of the most successful interracial alliance in the post-war South. His name was purged first by Southern Democrats (for integration), then by modern Democrats (for being a Confederate).

Woodrow Wilson (D) ran an anti-collectivism, limited government, anti-monopoly, anti-bank campaign in 1912. He created the Federal Reserve and is known for founding the modern welfare state.

Wilson was re-elected on the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War.” He immediately forced the reluctant nation into WWI.

Herbert Hoover, as Secretary of Commerce under Calvin Coolidge during the Crash of ’21, demanded economic aid and bailouts, but Coolidge, “the great refrainer,” refused. The market immediately recovered.

Hoover was President during the Crash of ’29. He gave unprecedented bailouts to help the economy recover. It never did.

Roosevelt campaigned against Hoover for being “ the greatest spending Administration in peacetime in all our history.” He outspent Hoover tenfold.

Did Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” the greatest stimulus and spending program up to that time, end the Great Depression? No. It was going strong in 1939.

What did Roosevelt campaign on? He promised to keep us out of war in Europe.

Who was Time’s Man of the Year in 1938? Adolf Hitler.

Who was Man of the Year in 1939? Joseph Stalin.

1942? Joseph Stalin.

Wars under “anti-war” Democratic Party: 93 years, 46.5%. 625K deaths since 1864.

Wars under “pro-war” “Republican” Party: 107 Years 53.5%. 12K deaths since 1864.

Who voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act? Republicans 80% vs. Democrats 69%.

Who filibustered it? Southern Democrat Strom Thurmond.

Who signed it? Lyndon Johnson, a southern Democrat.

Where did Thurmond go? The GOP, who had voted against him and against southern segregation.

What did Richard Nixon campaign on? “Law and Order” and a “secret plan” to exit Vietnam. He immediately bombed Cambodia and was later impeached for a burglary.

Who said “the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut rates now” and “Every dollar released from taxation that is spent or invested will help create a new job and a new salary” ? John F. Kennedy.

Who gave the greatest modern tax cut? John F. Kennedy (income and capital gains, signed by Johnson).

Who most increased the postwar Federal deficit? Ronald Reagan 186%.

Who most increased taxes? Ronald Reagan, 1982 (as % of GDP, excluding Obamacare and Johnson’s one-year tax).

Who called young blacks “Superpredators”? Hillary Clinton, 1996.

Who put the most black men in jail? Bill Clinton, under the 1994 Violent Crime Control Act.

Who cut welfare most? Bill Clinton, 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Act.

Who was called the first “Black President”? Bill Clinton (“white skin notwithstanding, this is our first black President. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime.” –Toni Morrison, 1998. I swear this is true).

What was George W. Bush’s platform? Smaller, less-invasive government, lower taxes, and no foreign wars.

Who are the Neoconservatives? “Liberal hawks who became disenchanted with the pacifist foreign policy of the Democratic Party”.

Where did these Liberal Democrats finally prosper? Under G.W. Bush and on Fox News, e.g. Bill Kristol.

Which President won the Nobel Peace Prize? Barack Obama. (As did Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter)

What was his legacy? War every day of all eight years, with +50,000 official strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Syria and unofficial attacks in Ukraine, Sudan, Niger, Cameroon, Uganda, and elsewhere, as well as 3,000 drone deaths.

Wow, anything else? Due to his intervention, Obama, the first black president, caused the creation of an open-air black slave market in Libya.

Who campaigned advocating a Syrian no-fly zone expected to cause WWIII with Russia? Hillary Clinton (D).

Who campaigned for peace talks and de-escalation with Russia? Donald Trump (R).

Who sent 164 missiles into Russian ally Syria? Donald Trump (R).

Who advocated against the recent attacks? “Far-right” speakers Rand Paul and Tucker Carlson of Fox News.

Who advocated for the attacks? “Left” speakers Fareed Zakaria, and Rachel Maddow with left media Slate and Mother Jones.

What was the actual breakdown? 22% of GOP supported Syrian airstrikes in 2013 vs 86% for the same strikes in 2017.

And on and on. Got it? Know which side you’re on? History, party platforms, personal beliefs, economy, all clear?

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

P.S. Mark Twain never said this.

Published:5/5/2018 5:10:20 PM
[Uncategorized] John Kerry secret meetings with Iran to salvage nuke deal – shadow diplomacy or undermining Trump foreign policy? The Obama admin just can't help itself and seeks to undermine Trump at every turn Published:5/5/2018 3:10:12 PM
[Markets] John Kerry Tries To Salvage Iran Deal Behind Trump's Back; Secretly Meets With Top Iran Official

Obama's Secretary of State, John Kerry and a group of his former State Department officials, have been busy unofficial diplomats in recent weeks. While President Trump prepares to pull the plug on the infamous Iran deal, Kerry has been sneaking around the world trying to salvage the pact he presided over ahead of its May 12 renewal deadline, the Boston Globe reported Friday.

John Kerry’s bid to save one of his most significant accomplishments as secretary of state took him to New York on a Sunday afternoon two weeks ago, where, more than a year after he left office, he engaged in some unusual shadow diplomacy with a top-ranking Iranian official.

He sat down at the United Nations with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to discuss ways of preserving the pact limiting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It was the second time in about two months that the two had met to strategize over salvaging a deal they spent years negotiating during the Obama administration, according to a person briefed on the meetings. -Boston Globe

Kerry has also met with leaders from Europe, including German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, EU official Federica Mogherini and French President Emmanuel Macron in both Paris and New York, where they discussed sanctions and regional nuclear threats in both French and English. 

This type of "rogue" diplomacy is very rare for a former Secretary of State.

As The Globe notes, the effort to salvage the Iran deal "highlight the stakes for Kerry personally, as well as for other Obama-era diplomats who are dismayed by what they see as Trump’s disruptive approach to diplomacy, and who view the Iran nuclear deal as a factor for stability in the Middle East and for global nuclear nonproliferation."

It is unusual for a former secretary of state to engage in foreign policy like this, as an actual diplomat and quasi-negotiator,” said foreign policy expert Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. “Of course, former secretaries of state often remain quite engaged with foreign leaders, as they should, but it’s rarely so issue-specific, especially when they have just left office.

Kerry has flown under the radar in this quiet lobbying campaign in order to avoid provoking President Trump into pulling the United States out of the deal.

“Part of the equation is if Ernie [Ernest Moniz, the former US energy Secretary] or John made a bold statement, [Trump] is . . . crazy, and he might do the opposite just to spite them,” one source who has worked with Kerry told The Globe. “You’re liable to spur this guy in a direction you don’t want him to go in, just to be spiteful.”

Moniz was a key negotiator of the Iran deal, along with his Iranian counterpart, as they hammered out some of the technical scientific details. 

Democratic lawmakers in Congress also have been relatively quiet, and not all share Kerry’s belief that the deal is essential for preventing a nuclear arms race in the volatile region. Kerry has quietly tried to bolster support in Congress. In recent weeks he’s placed dozens of phone calls and, often with Moniz by his side, has lobbied members of Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan. While he is not negotiating as he did as secretary of state, he is attempting through quiet advocacy to preserve what he accomplished.

Kerry supporters see in this campaign some of his trademark traits, especially his unflagging energy even in the face of potential failure. Critics see something else, a former office holder working with foreign officials to potentially undermine the policy aims of a current administration. -Boston Globe

Logan act violation?

Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz says Kerry's push to salvage the Iran deal would be violating the Logan Act, if it was enforced. 

The act prohibits private citizens from acting on behalf of the United States while negotiating with foreign governments without authorization. Fortunately for Kerry, nobody has ever been prosecuted under the 200+ year old act.

Fortunately for everybody, the Logan Act [is a] dead letter but if it were in existence, my friend John Kerry would be violating the Logan Act,” Dershowitz told Fox & Friends, adding “He is negotiating, though he is not in the administration, and there are real problems with doing that."

Meanwhile, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of developing a secret project to "test and build nuclear weapons" before the 2015 Iran deal was reached.

In a global televised address, Netanyahu  unveiled a cache of 55,000 pages of documents and 183 CDs, comprising Iran's alleged "atomic archive" of documents on its nuclear program; the files allegedly prove Tehran ran a secret program, called Project Amad, to "test and build nuclear weapons."

While Iranian leaders have long said their nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, Netanyahu claimed this was not the case according to tens of thousands of pages of documents, which he said were copied from a "highly secret location" in Iran. 

Those files allegedly detail Project Amad, which Netanyahu described as "a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons."

“These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it says it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said. “The files prove that.”

Kerry responded to Netanyahu's evidence - stating that the documents were nothing new, and simply prove that all that's needed are inspections to ensure that Iran is complying with the current agreement.

“Every detail PM Netanyahu presented yesterday was every reason the world came together to apply years of sanctions and negotiate the Iran nuclear agreement — because the threat was real and had to be stopped,” Kerry tweeted Tuesday. “It’s working!”

Kerry is coordinating his push with a group of officials who were his top advisers at the State Department, and who helped craft and negotiate the Iran deal in the first place. The group, called Diplomacy Works, has an advisory council that includes lead Iran-deal negotiator Wendy Sherman, former State Department chief of staff Jon Finer, and former spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

The group claims to be responsible for 100 news articles, 34 television and radio hits, and 37 opinion pieces on the Iran question. They do fact checks of criticisms of the agreement and blast them out to an e-mail list of nearly 4,000 policy makers and foreign policy experts. -Boston Globe

In other words, a former US Secretary of State is working with his former colleagues to conduct United States diplomacy with foreign leaders with no official permission. We can only guess what the pitch is "He'll be out in 2020, just hang on..."

Critics of Kerry's rogue diplomacy had some choice words for the former Secretary of State:

Published:5/5/2018 1:08:20 PM
[Markets] FBI Chaos: Comey Caught In Lie Over Flynn Investigation; Anti-Trump "Lovebird" Lisa Page Quits

Quite a bit of FBI-related news broke late Friday;

  • A newly unredacted section of a House Intel Committee report reveals that former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told Congressional investigators that the FBI had virtually no case against Mike Flynn
  • The same report reveals that James Comey contradicted himself during a recent interview with Bret Baier
  • Comey, McCabe and then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord gave the committee "conflicting testimony"
  • Anti-Trump FBI "Lovebird" Lisa Page (with whom Peter Strzok was having an affaird) has flown the coop, tendering her resignation on Friday
  • One of Comey's closest confidants, former FBI top lawyer James A. Baker also resigned Friday

A newly unredacted version of the House Intelligence Committee's final report on Russia was released on Friday, containing bombshell revelations stemming from the Congressional testimony of former FBI and DOJ officials Andrew McCabe and James Comey.

For starters, the redacted section of the report covers up the fact that former deputy director Andrew McCabe told Congressional investigators the FBI had virtually no case against former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn.

McCabe also says that former FBI Director James Comey spearheaded the "ambush" of Flynn at the White House - in which two FBI agents, one of whom was Peter Strzok dropped in unannounced to interrogate him.

McCabe told the committee that "The two people who interviewed [Flynn] didn't think he was lying[.]" as well as "[N]ot [a] great beginning of a false statement case."

“Deputy Director McCabe confirmed the interviewing agent’s initial impression and stated that the 'conundrum that we faced on their return from the interview is that although [the agents] didn’t detect deception in the statements that he made in the interview … the statements were inconsistent with our understanding of the conversation that he had actually had with the ambassador,'” the report states.

Next, we learn that Comey lied (or had a terrible lapse in memory) when he told Fox News host Bret Baier that he didn't tell Congressional investigators what McCabe told them; that the two FBI agents who interviewed former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn didn't think he was lying to them.

“Director Comey testified to the Committee that ‘the agents…discerned no physical indications of deception," reads the new report. "They didn’t see any change in posture, in tone, in inflection, in eye contact. They saw nothing that indicated to them that he knew he was lying to them.” 

Here's what Comey told Fox's Baier last week: 

Baier: Did you tell lawmakers that FBI agents didn't believe former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was lying intentionally to investigators?

Comey: No. And I saw that in the media. I don't know what - maybe someone misunderstood something I said. I didn't believe that, and didn't say that.

As Sean Davis of The Federalist notes, the DOJ and FBI "demanded significant redactions to the document not to protect national security or sources and methods, but to protect potentially corrupt officials from accountability"

House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) weighed in, pointing out to Fox News's Laura Ingraham that his committee had "been fighting with the Department of Justice and the FBI, for six weeks, to release this information to the American people."

Flynn, who has been cooperating with Mueller's investigation, was forced to resign as Trump's National Security Advisor last February after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about perfectly legal and to-be-expected conversations he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition. 

So why would Flynn plead guilty?

Some have suggested that Flynn pleaded guilty due to the fact that federal investigations tend to bankrupt people who aren't filthy rich - as was the case with former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo, who told the Senate Intelligence Committee "God damn you to hell" after having to sell his home due to mounting legal fees over the inquiry. 

“Your investigation and others into the allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russia are costing my family a great deal of money — more than $125,000 — and making a visceral impact on my children."

Thus, it's entirely possible Flynn pleaded guilty in order to avoid financial ruin - though like Caputo, he didn't escape having to sell his house in March.

Another thought is that the FBI simply called Flynn's bluff and said they caught him in a lie. While perhaps a stretch at this point and certainly unconfirmed, some have suggested that Andrew McCabe instructed Peter Strzok and the other FBI agent who interviewed Flynn to alter their "302" forms - the document FBI investigators use to document an interview.

Investigative journalist Sara Carter has reported that FBI sources maintain the FBI’s deputy director under Comey, Andrew G. McCabe, may have asked FBI agents to alter or change their findings in their 302s; Carter alleges that OIG Inspector General Michael Horowitz is looking into this. -The Hill

So we know that innocent people plead guilty all the time, and that Flynn faced significant financial pressure were he to remain in the Trump administration and fight the claims against him. Also recall that during December 2016, when Flynn spoke with the Russian ambassador, the Russiagate narrative was in a full frenzy. It's possible that although Flynn and Kislyak's contact was perfectly legal and to-be expected, he may have been hesitant to tell the FBI about some or all of his communications out of an abundance of caution. It should also be noted that Flynn may have considered the obviously pro-Clinton top brass of the US intelligence community to be "the enemy" and been hesitant to tell them the full truth. 

Until we know more, we can only speculate. 

In other FBI news - Lisa Page and James Baker quit on Friday

Two top Comey advisors announced their departure from the FBI on Friday, leading to speculation that some bad information is about to come out regarding the pair.

Resignations were handed in by James Baker - former top lawyer for the NSA specializing in FISA matters before becoming the FBI's top lawyer, and lawyer Lisa Page - one of the two "lovebirds" who sent anti-Trump text messages with her co-worker with whom she was having an extramarital affair - special agent Peter Strzok (who spearheaded the Clinton email investigation, the early Trump investigation and interviewed Mike Flynn).

Mollie Hemmingway of The Federalist notes that Page and Baker quit as a highly anticipated report by the DOJ's Inspector General is "looming," suggesting that the report will reveal violations of the law egregious enough to call for both of them to hand in their resignations on the same day.

One Twitter user takes it a step further... 

And, oddly, James Comey forgot to mention Page's name when he was praising Baker on Friday night:

Perhaps Page and Baker can set up legal defense funds like Andy McCabe and convince people to give them a half-million dollars to cover upcoming expenses.

Published:5/5/2018 9:09:00 AM
[Politics] Report: John Kerry Working Quietly to Preserve Iran Nuclear Deal Former Secretary of State John Kerry met two weeks ago with a top Iranian official at the United Nations to try to use shadow diplomacy to keep the U.S. from scuttling the nuclear deal that he negotiated in 2015 under President Barack Obama.Kerry met with Iranian Foreign... Published:5/4/2018 9:03:16 PM
[Markets] War & The Imperial Presidency: Congress Offers Bipartisan Blank-Check To Trump

Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via TomDispatch.com,

It may be too late. The president of the United States is now a veritable autocrat in the realm of foreign policy. He has been since at least 1945, when the last congressionally declared war finally ended. Wars in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen (among other places) were all waged via executive fiat or feeble, open-ended congressional authorizations for the use of military force, aka AUMFs. So it has been with increasing intensity for 73 years and so, most likely, it will remain.

Along with many others, this military officer has repeatedly decried the no-longer-new normal of congressional acquiescence to presidential power to no avail. When, in September 2017, Republican Senator Rand Paul sought to repeal (and replace within six months) the existing 2001 AUMF, which had authorized the president to use force against the perpetrators and enablers of the 9/11 attacks, he could barely muster 35 votes. Given that any president, Republican or Democrat, would veto such a curtailment of the essentially unlimited executive prerogative to make war, that’s still some 32 votes short of a Senate override. In hopelessly divided Washington, that’s the definition of impossibility.

Fear not, two brave “centrist” senators, Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Tim Kaine, are riding to the rescue. Their recently announced bill to repeal and replace the existing AUMF promises to right seven decades of wrong and “establish rigorous congressional oversight,” “improve transparency,” and ensure “regular congressional review and debate.”

In reality, it would do none of those things. Though Senator Kaine gave a resounding speech in which he admitted that “for too long Congress has given presidents a blank check to wage war,” his bill would not stanch that power. Were it ever to pass, it would prove to be just another blank check for the war-making acts of Donald Trump and his successors.

Though there have certainly been many critiques of their piece of legislation, most miss the larger point: the Corker-Kaine bill would put a final congressional stamp of approval on the inversion of the war-making process that, over the last three-quarters of a century, has become a de facto constitutional reality. The men who wrote the Constitution meant to make the declaration of war a supremely difficult act, since both houses of Congress needed to agree and, in case of presidential disagreement, to be able to muster a supermajority to override a veto.

The Corker-Kaine bill would institutionalize the inverse of that. It would essentially rubber stamp the president’s authority, for instance, to continue the ongoing shooting wars in at least seven countries where the U.S. is currently dropping bombs or firing off other munitions. Worse yet, it provides a mechanism for the president to declare nearly any future group an “associated force” or “successor force” linked to one of America’s current foes and so ensure that Washington’s nearly 17-year-old set of forever wars can go on into eternity without further congressional approval.

By transferring the invocation of war powers to the executive branch, Congress would, in fact, make it even more difficult to stop a hawkish president from deploying U.S. soldiers ever more expansively. In other words, the onus for war would then be officially shifted from a president needing to make a case to a skeptical Congress to an unfettered executive sanctioned to wage expansive warfare as he and his advisers or “his” generalsplease.

How to Make War on Any Group, Any Time

Should the Corker-Kaine bill miraculously pass, it would not stop even one of the present ongoing U.S. conflicts in the Greater Middle East or Africa. Instead, it would belatedly put a congressional stamp of approval on a worldwide counter-terror campaign which isn’t working, while politely requesting that the president ask nicely before adding new enemies to a list of “associated” or “successor” forces; that is, groups that are usually Arab and nominally Muslim and essentially have little or no connection to the 9/11 attacks that produced the 2001 AUMF.

So let’s take a look at just some of the forces that would be preemptively authorized to receive new American bombs and missiles, Special Operations forces raids, or whatever else the president chose under the proposed legislation, while raising a question rarely asked: Are these groups actually threats to the homeland or worthy of such American military efforts?

Al-Qaeda (AQ) proper naturally makes the list. Then, of course, there’s the Afghan Taliban, which once upon a time sheltered AQ. As nearly 17 years of effort have shown, however, they are militarily unbeatable in a war in their own homeland that is never going well for Washington. In addition, there are no significant al-Qaeda forces left in Afghanistan for the Taliban to potentially shelter. AQ long ago dispersed across the region. The age of plots drawn up in the caves of the Hindu-Kush is long over. In addition, the focus of the Taliban remains (as it always was) highly local. I fought those guys for 12 months and, let me tell you, we never found any transnational fighters or al-Qaeda vets. The vast majority of the enemies Washington mislabels as “Taliban” are poor, illiterate, unemployed farm boys interested, at best, in local power struggles and drug running. They rarely know what’s happening just one valley over, let alone in Milwaukee.

Then there’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a particularly vicious AQ franchise in Yemen. These are genuine bad actors and, for a while during the Obama administration, were considered the top terror threat to the U.S. Still, that’s not who the American military actually fights in Yemen most of the time. U.S. Air Force fuelers provide in-flight service, U.S. analysts provide updated targeting intelligence, and U.S. megacorporations sell guided bombs to the Saudis, who mostly bomb Shia Houthi rebels (and often civilians) unaffiliated with -- in fact, opposed to -- AQAP. Worse still, the U.S.-backed campaign against the Houthis actually empowers AQAP by sowing chaos and creating vast ungoverned spaces for it to move into. The Houthis aren’t on the Corker-Kaine list yet, but no doubt (amid increasing military tensions with Iran) Mr. Trump would have little trouble adding them as “associated forces.” Are they brown? Yes. Do they worship Allah? Sure. Throw ‘em on the list.

Al-Shabaab in Somalia is also included. Its nasty militiamen do make life miserable in Somalia and have occasionally called for attacks on U.S. targets. There’s no evidence, however, that U.S. military operations there have ever stabilized the region or improved long-term security. Meanwhile, al-Shabaab tries to radicalize young Somali-American youth in immigrant communities like cities like Minneapolis. Their main gripe: the U.S. military presence and drone strikes in East Africa. And on and on the cycle goes.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM), which operates in North Africa, is another “associated force” that’s taken on the AQ moniker, though with a distinctly local flavor. AQIM operates in several countries. Does the Corker-Kaine bill then imply that the U.S. military may conduct strikes and raids anywhere in North Africa? Odds are that it does. Again, though AQIM is violent and problematic for local African security forces, they’ve never successfully attacked the United States. As professor and Africa expert Nathaniel Powell has shown, more often than not U.S. military operations in the Maghreb or the Sahel (just south of the Sahara desert) tend only to exacerbate existing conditions, motivate yet more Islamists, and tangle Washington up in what are essentially local problems and grievances.

Finally, there’s al-Qaeda in Syria, as the bill labels them. This is the crew that used to be known as the al-Nusra Front. The Islamic State, or ISIS, eventually brokeoff from AQ and has even fought al-Nusra Front militants on occasion. No doubt, U.S. interests are never served when any al-Qaeda franchise gains power and influence. Still, there’s little evidence that the former al-Nusra Front, which is losing the civil war inside Syria, has either the staying power or capacity to attack the U.S. homeland.

Add in this: the U.S. military in Syria has rarely attacked al-Nusra, focusing instead on ISIS or occasional strikes at the regime of Syrian autocrat Bashar al-Assad. In addition, in the past, America’s Saudi allies have supported and funded this and other radical Islamist groups and some U.S. aid has even inadvertently fallen into the hands of al-Nusra Front fighters in the mess that passes for the Syrian civil war.

And don’t let me get started on those “successor forces” -- think ISIS and its brands around the world -- a term so vague as to ensure that any Islamist organization or country, including Iran, could, by a stretch of the imagination, be defined as a target of the U.S. military.

Lumping these various groups under the umbrella of “associated” or “successor” forces ignores the agency and specificity of each of them and so provides any president with a blank check to fight anyone he deems loosely Islamist the world over. And if he cares to, he can just add any new gang he chooses onto the list and dare the Senate to muster 67 votes to stop him.

Consider it a remarkable formula for forever war.

The Dangerous Evolution of Article II of the Constitution

When you get right down to itall the debate over AUMFs is little more than a charade. It hardly matters whether Congress ever updates that post-9/11 document. When, for instance, President Trump recently sent missiles soaring against the Assad regime in response to an alleged chemical attack on a suburb of Damascus, neither he nor his advisers even bothered to suggest that the strike fell under that AUMF. Instead, they simply claimed that Trump was exercising his presidential prerogative under Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, which makes him commander-in-chief.

In such moments, right-wing presidents and their advisers have no compunctions about turning the standard liberal argument about the Constitution on its head -- that it’s a “living document” subject to the exigencies of changing times. Of course, it’s not exactly an obscure fact of history that the framers of that document never meant to grant the chief executive unilateral authority to start new conflicts -- and “strictly constructionist” conservatives know it. The Founders were terrified of standing armies and imperial overreach. After all, when they wrote the document they’d only recently brought their own revolt against imperial England and its vaunted army of redcoats to a successful conclusion. So, to construe the Constitution’s commander-in-chief clause, which gave the president the authority to oversee the generals in an ongoing war, as letting him declare wars or even expand them qualifies as absurd. Nonetheless, that’s just what recent presidents have claimed.

What they like to say is that times have changed, that warfare is now too swift for an eighteenth-century recipe involving Congress, and that, in such abbreviated circumstances, presidents need the authority to apply military force at will on a global scale. The thing is, Congress has already recognized this potential reality and codified it into law in the 1973 War Powers Act. This fairly sensible, though generally ignored, piece of legislation requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of a military deployment and remove the troops after 60 days unless legislation officially sanctions the escalation. Presidents tend to be meticulous about the first requirement and then -- like Congress itself -- pay no attention to the second.

Obviously, Bashar al-Assad’s regime had nothing to do with 9/11 and so falls under no imaginable interpretation of that 2001 AUMF. Therefore, President Trump has on his own essentially launched a new conflict, with a new enemy, in western Syria. He’s “notified” Congress of the latest missile strikes, of course, and that’s that.

Salvation Will Not Come From the “Bipartisan” Center

Early indications are that the Corker-Kaine bill is unlikely to pass the Senate (no less the House) and, if it did, wouldn’t have a hope in hell of outlasting a presidential veto. You know that the system is broken, possibly beyond repair, when the secretary of defense -- one “Mad Dog” Mattis -- is reportedly the only figure around Donald Trump to have argued for getting a congressional stamp of approval before launching those missiles against the Assad regime. Think of it this way: a retired general, the official top dog of destruction in this administration, was overruled by the civilian leadership in the White House when it came to an act of imperial war-making.

In other words, we’re through the looking glass, folks!

As a thought experiment: What would it actually take for a supermajority of both houses of Congress to curtail a president’s unilateral war-making power? Liberals might have thought that the election of a boorish, uninformed executive would embolden moderates on both sides of the aisle to reclaim some authority over the lives and deaths of America’s soldiers. It didn’t, nor did such passivity start with Donald Trump. Mainstream liberals certainly treated the presidency of George W. Bush as if it were the worst disaster since Richard Nixon, Watergate, and Vietnam. Even so, they never had the guts to cut off funds for the obvious, ongoing folly in Iraq. Mostly, in fact, they first voted for a resolution supporting that invasion and then heckled pointlessly from the sidelines as Bush waged a dubiously legal, unwinnable war to his heart’s content.

Conservatives absolutely hated Obama. They questioned his very legitimacy and even his citizenship (as did Citizen Trump, of course) -- or at least stayed conveniently silent while the far right of the GOP caucus did so. Still, Republicans then essentially did nothing to curtail his unilateral decision to expand drone attacks to a kind of frenzy across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa and oversee a special operations bonanza. Rarely, for example, in the bazillion hearings the Republicans sponsored on the deaths of an American ambassador and others in Benghazi, Libya, did anyone call for a serious reappraisal of executive war-making authority.

Despite the paltry Corker-Kaine bill, expect no respite or salvation from Congress, which is, in truth, at the heart of the problem. To move the needle on war-making would take grassroots pressure similar to that applied by the Vietnam-era antiwar movement. But such a movement looks highly unlikelywith the draft long gone, few citizens engaged in foreign policy issues, and even fewer seeming to notice that this country has now been involved in still-spreading wars for almost 17 years.

To recapture military authority from an imperial president and inject sanity into the system, “We the People” would have to break out the pink pussy caps, gather the young and their social media skills -- Parkland-style -- and bring the sort of energy now going into domestic crises to issues of war and peace. Suffice it to say, I’m not hopeful.

Whether noticed or not, whether attended to or not, there is, however, a grave question before the American people: Is the United States to remain a democracy (of sorts) within its borders, but a war-making empire beyond its shores? Certainly, it’s most of the way to such a state already with its “all volunteer” imperial military and unrestrained war presidency.

Just about everything is in place for an (elected) executive emperor to move his imperial chess pieces wherever he pleases. Nothing in the Corker-Kaine cop-out of a bill can or will change that. In truth, it doesn’t even pretend to.

When it comes to war, the president reigns supreme -- and so, it seems, he shall remain.

Hail, Caesar!

*  *  *

Major Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular, is a U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. He lives with his wife and four sons in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his podcast "Fortress on a Hill," co-hosted with fellow vet Chris ‘Henri’ Henriksen.

Published:5/4/2018 7:33:49 PM
[Opinion] Hillary Refuses To Leave The Stage!

By Jim Clayton -

The Clintons are like herpes: Just when you think they’re gone, they show up again.”- Tim Allen When Hillary Clinton lost the election, instead of resigning gracefully she chose to lead the resistance again  Trump and stay in the middle stage front and center. She and Obama are working behind ...

Hillary Refuses To Leave The Stage! is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:5/4/2018 1:32:00 PM
[Markets] Trump Cuts Off Funding For Syria's "White Helmets"

The Trump State Department has frozen funding to the controversial Syrian aid group known as the White Hemlets, a non-governmental organization (NGO) which provided the sole evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reportedly used chemical weapons on his own people in an April 7 attack on the city of Douma, according to CBS News.

Having not received U.S. funding in recent weeks, White Helmets are questioning what this means for the future. They have received no formal declaration from the U.S. government that the monetary assistance has come to a full halt, but the group's people on the ground in Syria report that their funds have been cut off. -CBS News

The evidence provided by the White Helmets of the alleged chemical attack was used by the West to justify several airstrikes on Syrian scientific and military facilities throughout April - the first one conducted on Syria's T4 airbase by Israel 48 hours after the White Helmets' report. Many Douma residents, meanwhile - including Hospital personnel, say the chemical attack never happened.

The White Helmets are a 3,000 member NGO formally known as the Syrian Civil Defense. Established in "late 2012 - early 2013" after a group of 20 Syrians were trained and organized by former British army officer James Le Mesurier. The group then received funding from Le Mesurier's Netherlands-based non-profit group, Mayday Rescue - which is in turn funded by grants from the Dutch, British, Danish and German governments

The US has provided at least $32 million to the group - around 1/3 of their total funding - through a USAID scheme orchestrated by the Obama State Department and funneled to the White Helmets using a Washington D.C. contractor participating in USAID's Syria regional program, Chemonics. 

According to their website, the White Helmets have been directly funded by Mayday Rescue, and a company called Chemonics, since 2014.

Yet there’s evidence that both of those organizations started supporting the White Helmets back in early 2013, right around the time the White Helmets claim to have formed as self-organized groups.

Mayday Rescue, as we said, is funded by the Dutch, British, Danish and German governments. And Chemonics?

They are a Washington, D.C. based contractor that was awarded $128.5 million in January 2013 to support “a peaceful transition to a democratic and stable Syria” as part of USAID’s Syria regional program. At least $32 million has been given directly to the White Helmets as of February 2018. -TruthInMedia

So the US, Dutch, British, Danish and German governments have been funding the White Helmets, a non-governmental organization, through proxies for around five years.

Shut It Down

Perhaps fueled by troubling reports that the White Helmets have been accused of staging incidents, the Trump administration has now frozen funding to the group, and has placed support under "active review." 

Now they are not getting any U.S funding as the State Department says the support is "under active review." The U.S had accounted for about a third of the group's overall funding.

An internal State Department document said that its Near East Bureau needed confirmation from the administration to green light funding for the White Helmets in Syria by April 15th or the department would initiate "shut-down procedures on a rolling basis." -CBS News

"This is a very worrisome development," an official with the White Helmets told CBS. "Ultimately, this will negatively impact the humanitarian workers ability to save lives."

Or not, depending on how one feels about the White Helmets... 

Questions over authenticity

Last week, Russian officials brought fifteen people to The Hague from the city of Douma, Syria said to have been present during the alleged April 7 chemical attack, including 11-year-old Hassan Diab who was seen in a widely-distributed White Helmets video receiving "emergency treatment" in a local hospital after the alleged incident. 

“We were at the basement and we heard people shouting that we needed to go to a hospital. We went through a tunnel. At the hospital they started pouring cold water on me,” said Diab, who was featured in the video which Russia's ambassador to the Netherlands says was staged.

The boy and his family have spoken to various media outlets, who say there was no attack

Others present during the filming of Diab's hospital "cleanup" by the White Helmets include hospital administrator Ahmad Kashoi, who runs the emergency ward. 

There were people unknown to us who were filming the emergency care, they were filming the chaos taking place inside, and were filming people being doused with water. The instruments they used to douse them with water were originally used to clean the floors actually,” Ahmad Kashoi, an administrator of the emergency ward, recalled. “That happened for about an hour, we provided help to them and sent them home. No one has died. No one suffered from chemical exposure.” -RT

Also speaking at The Hague was Halil al-Jaish, an emergency worker who treated people at the Douma hospital the day of the attack - who said that while some patients did come in for respiratory problems, they were attributed to heavy dust, present in the air after recent airstrikes, but that nobody showed signs of chemical warfare poisoning.

The White Helmets have previously come under fire for allegations of fabricating evidence and staging bodies. Several of their members have been pictured with, or bear an uncanny resemblance to fighters from the various anti-Assad terrorist groups operating in the region.

Photographic and video evidence gathered over social media and elsewhere depicting White Helmets who appear to be affiliated with terrorist groups can be found here.

And Donald Trump just yanked 1/3 of their funding... 

 

Published:5/4/2018 11:31:51 AM
[US News] ‘OMG LOL!’ Valerie Jarrett just took her Obama hilarity to the NEXT LEVEL

"HAHAHAHA"!

The post ‘OMG LOL!’ Valerie Jarrett just took her Obama hilarity to the NEXT LEVEL appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/4/2018 11:00:52 AM
[Iran] Killing the worst deal ever (5) (Scott Johnson) The media continue studiously to ignore the meaning and revelations of the Israeli intelligence coup announced this week. The media were of course willing tools of the Obama administration’s promotion of the deal. There is no reason they might want to reconsider their role in the context of the Trump administration’s great undoing. I want to pause over this episode in a few more posts. To the extent attention has Published:5/4/2018 8:30:05 AM
[Markets] Exposed: The Naked Truth About Robert Mueller

Authored by Rep Louis Gohmert via Director Blue blog,

Robert Mueller has a long and sordid history of illicitly targeting innocent people. His many actions are a stain upon the legacy of American jurisprudence. He lacks the judgment and credibility to lead the prosecution of anyone.

I do not make these statements lightly. Each time I prepared to question Mueller during Congressional hearings, the more concerned I became about his ethics and behavior. As I went back to begin compiling all of that information in order to recount personal interactions with Mueller, the more clearly the big picture began to come into focus.

At one point I had to make the decision to stop adding to this compilation or it would turn into a far too lengthy project. My goal was to share some firsthand experiences with Mueller -- as other Republican Members of Congress had requested -- adding, “You seem to know so much about him.”

This article is prepared from my viewpoint to help better inform the reader about the Special Prosecutor leading the effort to railroad President Donald J. Trump through whatever manufactured charge he can allege.

Judging by Mueller's history, it doesn't matter who he has to threaten, harass, prosecute or bankrupt to get to allege something or, for that matter, anything. It certainly appears Mueller will do whatever it takes to bring down his target -- ethically or unethically -- based on my findings.

What does former Attorney General Eric Holder say? Sounds like much the same thing I just said. Holder has stated, "I've known Bob Mueller for 20, 30 years; my guess is he’s just trying to make the case as good as he possibly can."

Holder does know him. He has seen Mueller at work when Holder was obstructing justice and was therefore held in Contempt of Congress. He knows Mueller’s FBI framed innocent people and had no remorse in doing so.

Let’s look at what we know. What I have accumulated here is absolutely shocking upon the realization that Mueller's disreputable, twisted history speaks to the character of the man placed in a position to attempt to legalize a coup against a lawfully-elected President. Any Republican who says anything resembling, “Bob Mueller will do a good job as Special Counsel,” “Bob Mueller has a great reputation for being fair,” or anything similar; either (a) wants President Trump indicted for something and removed from office regardless of his innocence; (b) is intentionally ignorant of the myriad of outrageous problems permeating Mueller’s professional history; or (c) is cultivating future Democrat votes when he or she comes before the Senate someday for a confirmation hearing.

There is simply too much clear and convincing evicdence to the contrary. Where other writers have set out information succinctly, I have quoted them, with proper attribution. My goal is to help you understand what I have found.

ROBERT MUELLER - BACKGROUND

In his early years as FBI Director, most Republican members of Congress gave Mueller a pass in oversight hearings, allowing him to avoid tough questions. After all, we were continually told, “Bush appointed him.” I gave him easy questions the first time I questioned him in 2005 out of deference to his Vietnam service. Yet, the longer I was in Congress, the more conspicuous the problems became. As I have said before of another Vietnam veteran, just because someone deserves our respect for service or our sympathy for things that happened to them in the military, that does not give them the right to harm our country later. As glaring problems came to light, I toughened up my questions in the oversight hearings. But first, let's cover a little of Mueller's history.

MUELLER: THE WHITEY BULGER AFFAIR

The Boston Globe noted Robert Mueller’s connection with the Whitey Bulger case in an article entitled, “One Lingering Question for FBI Director Robert Mueller.” The Globe said this: “[Mike] Albano [former Parole Board Member who was threatened by two FBI agents for considering parole for the men imprisoned for a crime they did not commit] was appalled that, later that same year, Mueller was appointed FBI director, because it was Mueller, first as an assistant US attorney then as the acting U.S. attorney in Boston, who wrote letters to the parole and pardons board throughout the 1980s opposing clemency for the four men framed by FBI lies. Of course, Mueller was also in that position while Whitey Bulger was helping the FBI cart off his criminal competitors even as he buried bodies in shallow graves along the Neponset…”

Mueller was the head of the Criminal Division as Assistant U.S. Attorney, then as Acting U.S. Attorney. I could not find any explanation online by Mueller as to why he insisted on keeping the defendants in prison that FBI agents—in the pocket of Whitey Bulger— had framed for a murder they did not commit. Make no mistake: these were not honorable people he had incarcerated. But it was part of a pattern that eventually became quite clear that Mueller was more concerned with convicting and putting people in jail he disliked, even if they were innocent of the charges, than he was with ferreting out the truth. I found no explanation as to why he did not bear any responsibility for the $100 million paid to the defendants who were framed by FBI agents under his control. The Boston Globe said, “Thanks to the FBI’s corruption, taxpayers got stuck with the $100 million bill for compensating the framed men, two of whom, Greco and Tameleo, died in prison.”

The New York Times explained the relationship this way: “In the 1980's, while [FBI Agent] Mr. Connolly was working with Whitey Bulger, Mr. Mueller was assistant United States attorney in Boston in charge of the criminal division and for a period was the acting United States attorney here, presiding over Mr. Connolly and Mr. Bulger as a ’top echelon informant.'

Officials of the Massachusetts State Police and the Boston Police Department had long wondered why their investigations of Mr. Bulger were always compromised before they could gather evidence against him, and they suspected that the FBI was protecting him.”

If Mr. Mueller had no knowledge that the FBI agents he used were engaged in criminal activity, then he certainly was so incredibly blind that he should never be allowed back into any type of criminal case supervision. He certainly helped continue contributing to the damages of the framed individuals by working relentlessly to prevent them from being paroled out of prison even as their charges were in the process of being completely thrown out.

Notice also the evidence of a pattern throughout Mueller's career: the leaking of information to disparage Mueller’s targets. In the Whitey Bulger case, the leaks were to organized crime --- the Mafia.

One of the basic, most bedrock tenets of our Republic is that we never imprison people for being “bad” people. Anyone imprisoned has to have committed a specific crime for which they are found guilty. Not in Mueller’s world. He has the anti-Santa Claus list; and, if you are on his list, you get punished even if you are framed.

He never apologizes when the truth is learned, no matter how wrong or potentially criminal or malicious the prosecution was. In his book, you deserve what you get even if you did not commit the crime for which he helped put you away. This is but one example, though -- as Al Pacino once famously said -- “I’m just getting warmed up!” 

REP. CURT WELDON ATTACKED AND CRUSHED BY ROBERT MUELLER

During my first term in Congress, 2005 to 2006, Congressman Curt Weldon delivered some powerful and relentless allegations about the FBI having prior knowledge that 9/11 was coming. He repeatedly alleged that there was documentary evidence to show that 9/11 could have been prevented and thousands of lives saved if the FBI had done its job. He held up documents at times while making these claims in speeches on the floor of the House of Representatives.

I was surprised that FBI Director Mueller seemed to largely ignore these allegations. It seemed to me that he should either admit the FBI made significant mistakes or refute the allegations. Little did I know Mueller’s FBI was preparing a response, but it certainly was not the kind of response that I would have expected if an honorable man had been running that once hallowed institution.

You can read two of Congressman Weldon’s speeches on the House floor that are linked below. After reading the excerpts I have provided, you may get a window into the mind of the FBI Director or someone under Mueller’s control at the FBI. The FBI literally destroyed Congressman Weldon's public service life, which then foreclosed his ability to use a national platform to expose what he believed were major problems in the FBI fostered under the Clinton administration. Here is but one such excerpt of a speech wherein he spoke of the failure of FBI leadership, then under the direction of the Clinton administration and as came within Mueller’s control just before 9/11. Shockingly, the Mueller FBI failed to even accept from the military any information on the very terrorists who would later go on to commit the atrocities of

9/11, much less act upon it.

The U.S. gleaned this information through development of a surveillance technology called Able Danger. On October 19, 2005, Rep. Curt Weldon delivered the following statement on the House floor.

Mr. Speaker, back in 1999 when I was Chair of the Defense Research Subcommittee, the Army was doing cutting-edge work on a new type of technology to allow us to understand and predict emerging transnational terrorist threats. That technology was being done at several locations but was being led by our Special Forces Command. The work that they were doing was unprecedented. And because of what I saw there, I supported the development of a national capability of a collaborative center that the CIA would just not accept.

In fact, in November 4 of 1999, two years before 9-11, in a meeting in my office with the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Deputy Director of the CIA, Deputy Director of the FBI, we presented a nine-page proposal to create a national collaborative center.

When we finished the brief, the CIA said we did not need that capability, and so before 9/11 we did not have it. When President Bush came in after a year of research, he announced the formation of the Terrorism Threat Integration Center, exactly what I had proposed in 1999. Today it is known as the NCTC, the National Counterterrorism Center.

But, Mr. Speaker, what troubles me is not the fact that we did not take those steps. What troubles me is that I now have learned in the last four months that one of the tasks that was being done in 1999 and 2000 was a Top Secret program organized at the request of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, carried out by the General in charge of our Special Forces Command, a very elite unit focusing on information regarding al Qaeda. It was a military language effort to allow us to identify the key cells of al Qaeda around the world and to give the military the capability to plan actions against those cells, so they could not attack us as they did in 1993 at the Trade Center, at the Khobar Towers, the USS Cole attack, and the African embassy bombings.

What I did not know, Mr. Speaker, up until June of this year, was that this secret program called Able Danger actually identified the Brooklyn cell of al Qaeda in January and February of 2000, over one year before 9/11 ever happened.

In addition, I learned that not only did we identify the Brooklyn cell of al Qaeda, but we identified Mohamed Atta as one of the members of that Brooklyn cell along with three other terrorists who were the leadership of the 9-11 attack.

I have also learned, Mr. Speaker, that in September of 2000, again, over one year before 9-11, that [the] Able Danger team attempted on three separate occasions to provide information to the FBI about the Brooklyn cell of al Qaeda, and on three separate occasions they were denied by lawyers in the previous administration to transfer that information.

Mr. Speaker, this past Sunday on “Meet the Press,” Louis Freeh, FBI Director at the time, was interviewed by Tim Russert. The first question to Louis Freeh was in regard to the FBI's ability to ferret out the terrorists. Louis Freeh's response, which can be obtained by anyone in this country as a part of the official record, was, ‘Well, Tim, we are now finding out that a top-secret program of the military called Able Danger actually identified the Brooklyn cell of al Qaeda and Mohammed Atta over a year before 9/11.’

And what Louis Freeh said, Mr. Speaker, is that that kind of actionable data could have allowed us to prevent the hijackings that occurred on September 11.

So now we know, Mr. Speaker, that military intelligence officers working in a program authorized by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the General in charge of Special Forces Command, identified Mohammed Atta and three terrorists a year before 9/11, tried to transfer that information to the FBI [and] were denied; and [that] the FBI Director has now said publicly if he would have had that information, the FBI could have used it to perhaps prevent the hijackings that struck the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the plane that landed in Pennsylvania and perhaps saved 3,000 lives and changed the course of world history.

Curt Weldon gave a series of speeches, recounting what he saw and what he knew, regarding the failures of the FBI and the Clinton administration to share information that could have prevented 9/11.

Congressman Weldon tried to hold those accountable in the FBI and CIA that he felt had mishandled actionable intelligence which he said could have thwarted the 9/11 attacks. He recounted many examples of similar intelligence failures.

In 2006, the Robert Mueller-led FBI took horrendously unjust actions to derail Curt Weldon’s reelection bid just weeks before the vote—actions that were later described as a “hit job”: “Each of Weldon’s 10 previous re-elections had been by sizable margins. Polls showed he was up by 5-7 points [in the fall of 2006]. Three weeks prior to the election, however, a national story ran about Weldon based upon anonymous sources that an investigation was underway against him and his daughter, alleging illegal activities involving his congressional work. Weldon had received no prior notification of any such investigation and was dumbfounded that such a story would run especially since he regularly briefed the FBI and intelligence agencies on his work.

A week after the news story broke, alleging a need to act quickly because of the leak, FBI agents from Washington raided the home of Weldon’s daughter at 7:00AM on a Monday morning… Local TV and print media had all been alerted to the raid in advance and were already in position to cover the story. Editor's note: Sound familiar?

Within hours, Democratic protesters were waving “Caught Red-Handed” signs outside Weldon’s district office in Upper Darby. In the ensuing two weeks, local and national media ran multiple stories implying that Weldon must also have been under investigation. Given the coverage, Weldon lost the election… To this day, incredibly, no one in authority has asked Weldon or his daughter about the raid or the investigation. There was no follow up, no questions, no grand jury interrogation, nothing.

One year after the raid the local FBI office called Weldon’s daughter to have her come get the property that had been removed from her home. That was it…The raid ruined the career of Weldon and his daughter.”

Though some blamed the Clintons and Sandy Berger for orchestrating the FBI “hit job,” we can’t lose sight of the fact that the head of the FBI at the time was Robert Mueller. Please understand what former FBI officials have told me: the FBI would never go after a member of Congress, House or Senate, without the full disclosure to and the blessing of the FBI Director. Even if the idea on how to silence Curt Weldon did not come from Director Mueller himself, it surely had his approval and encouragement.

The early morning raid by Mueller’s FBI -- with all the media outside -- who had obviously been alerted by the FBI, achieved its goal of abusing the U.S. Justice system to silence Curt Weldon by ending his political career. Mueller’s tactics worked. If the Clintons and Berger manipulated Weldon’s reelection to assure his defeat, they did it with the artful aid of Mueller, all while George W. Bush was President. Does any of this sound familiar?

People say those kinds of things just don’t happen in America. They certainly seemed to when Mueller was in charge of the FBI and they certainly seem to happen now during his tenure as Special Counsel. It appears clear that President Obama and his adjutants knew of Mueller’s reputation and that he could be used to take out their political opponents should such extra-legal actions become politically necessary.

To the great dismay of the many good, decent and patriotic FBI agents, Obama begged Mueller to stay on for two years past the 10 years the law allowed. Obama then asked Congress to approve Mueller’s waiver allowing him to stay on for two extra years. Perhaps the leaders in Congress did not realize what they were doing in approving it. I did. It was a major mistake, and I said so at the time. This is also why I objected strenuously the moment I heard Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed his old friend Bob Mueller to be Special Counsel to go after President Trump.

ROD ROSENSTEIN

I was one of the few who were NOT surprised when Mueller started selecting his assistants in the Special Counsel’s office. Many had reputations for being bullies, for indicting people who were not guilty of the charges, for forcing people toward bankruptcy by running up their legal fees (while the bullies in the Special Counsel’s office enjoy an apparently endless government budget), or by threatening innocent family members with prosecution so the Special Counsel’s victim would agree to pleading guilty to anything to prevent the Kafka-esque prosecutors from doing more harm to their families.

AN ILLEGAL RAID ON CONGRESS BY MUELLER

There is a doctrine in our governmental system that mandates each part of government must have oversight to prevent power from corrupting --- and absolute power from corrupting absolutely. The Congress and Senate are accountable to the voters as is the President. Our massive and bloated bureaucracy is supposed to be accountable to the Congress.

A good example would be complaints against the Department of Justice or, specifically, the FBI.

If constituents or whistleblowers within those entities have complaints, a Congressman’s office is a good place to contact. Our conversations or information from constituents or whistleblowers are normally privileged from review by anyone within the Executive Branch. It must be so.

If the FBI could raid our offices anytime an FBI agent were to complain to us, no FBI agent could ever afford to come forward, no matter how egregious the conduct they sought to disclose.

Whistleblowers in the FBI must know they are protected. They always have known that in the past. As I learned from talking with attorneys who had helped the House previously with this issue, if the FBI or another law enforcement entity needed to search something on the House side of the Capitol or House office buildings, they contacted the House Counsel, whether with a warrant or request. The House Counsel with approval of the Speaker, would go through the Congress Members' documents, computers, flash drives, or anything that might have any bearing on what was being sought as part of the investigation.

They would honestly determine what was relevant and what was not, and what was both irrelevant and privileged from Executive Branch review. Normally, if there were a dispute or question, it could be presented to a federal judge for a private in-chamber review to determine if it were privileged or relevant. If the DOJ or FBI were to get a warrant and gather all of the computers and documents in a Congressman’s office without the recovered items being screened to insure they are not privileged from DOJ seizure, the DOJ would be risking that an entire case might be thrown out because of things improperly recovered and “fruit of the poisonous tree,” preventing the use of even things that were not privileged.

FBI Director Mueller, however,, seemed determined to throw over 200 years of Constitutional restraints to the wind so he could let Congress know he was the unstoppable government bully who could potentially waltz into our offices whenever he wished.

In the case of Congressman William Jefferson, Democrat of Louisiana, Mueller was willing to risk a reversal of a slam dunk criminal case just to send a message to the rest of Congress: you don’t mess with Mueller. That Congressman Jefferson was guilty of something did not surprise most observers when, amidst swirling allegations, $90,000 in cold hard cash was found in his freezer. As we understood it, the FBI had a witness who was wired and basically got Jefferson on tape taking money. They had mountains of indisputable evidence to prove their case. They had gotten an entirely appropriate warrant to search his home and had even more mountains of evidence to nail the lid on his coffin, figuratively speaking.

The FBI certainly did not need to conduct an unsupervised search of a Congressman’s office to put their unbeatable case at risk. Apparently, the risk was worth it to Mueller --- he could now show the members of Congress who was in charge. Apparently, the FBI knew just the right federal judge who would disregard the Constitution and allow Mueller’s minions to do their dirty work.

I read the Application for Warrant and the accompanying Affidavit for Warrant to raid Jefferson’s office, as I did so many times as a judge.

I simply could not believe they would risk such a high-profile case just to try to intimidate Members of Congress.

In the opinion of this former prosecutor, felony judge and Appellate Court Chief Justice, they could have gotten a conviction based on what they had already spelled out in the very lengthy affidavit. The official attorneys representing the House, knowing my background, allowed me to sit in on the extremely heated discussions between attorneys for the House, DOJ attorneys, and, to my recollection, an attorney from the Bush White House, after Jefferson’s office was raided.

The FBI had gathered up virtually every kind of record, computerized or otherwise, and carted them off. I was not aware of the times that the DOJ and House attorneys, with the Speaker’s permission, had cooperated over the years. No Congressman is above the law nor is any above having search warrants issued against them which is why Jefferson’s home was searched without protest.

However, when the material is in a Congressional office, there is a critical and centuries’ old balance of power that must be preserved.

The Mueller FBI, along with the DOJ, assured everyone that all was copacetic. They would ask some of the DOJ’s attorneys review all of the material and give back anything that was privileged and unlawful for the DOJ to see. Then they would make sure none of the DOJ attorneys who participated in the review of materials (that were privileged from the DOJ’s viewing) would be allowed to be prosecutors in Jefferson’s case.

If you find that kind of thinking terribly flawed and constitutionally appalling, you would be in agreement with the former Speakers of the House, the Vice President at the time, and ultimately, the final decisions of our federal appellate court system. They found the search to be illegal and inappropriate. Fortunately for the DOJ, they did not throw the entire case out. In retrospect, we did not know at the time what a farce a DOJ “firewall” would have been. Now we do!

MUELLER'S 5-YEAR UP-OUR-OUT

In federal law enforcement, it takes a new federal agent or supervisor about five years or so after arriving at a newly assigned office to gain the trust and respect of local law enforcement officers. That trust and respect is absolutely critical to doing the best job possible. Yet new FBI Director Robert Mueller came up with a new personnel policy that would rid the FBI of thousands of years of its most invaluable experience.

In a nutshell, after an FBI employee was in any type of supervisory position for five years, he or she had to either come to Washington to sit at a desk or get out of the FBI.

In the myriad of FBI offices around the country, most agents love what they do in actively enforcing the law. They have families involved in the community; their kids enjoy their schools; and they do not want to move to the high cost of living in Washington, DC, and especially not to an inside desk job. What occurred around the country was that agents in charge of their local offices got out of the FBI and did something more lucrative. Though they really wanted to stay in, they were not allowed to do so if they were not moving to DC. Agents told me that it was not unusual for the Special Agent in Charge of a field office to have well over 20 years of experience before the policy change. Under Mueller’s policy that changed to new Special Agents in Charge having five to ten years of experience when they took over.

If the FBI Director wanted nothing but “yes” men and women around the country working for him, this was a great policy. Newer agents are more likely to unquestioningly salute the FBI figurehead in Washington, but never boldly offer a suggestion to fix a bad idea and Mueller had plenty of them.

Whether it was wasting millions of dollars on a software boondoggle or questionable personnel preferences, agents tell me Mueller did not want to hear from more experienced people voicing their concerns about his ideas or policies. An NPR report December 13, 2007, entitled, “FBI'S 'Five-And-Out' Transfer Policy Draws Criticism” dealt with the Mueller controversial policy: “From the beginning of this year (2007) until the end of September (2007), 576 agents found themselves in the five-and-out pool. Less than half of them — just 286 — opted to go to headquarters; 150 decided to take a pay cut and a lesser job to stay put; 135 retired; and five resigned outright.”

In the period of nine months accounted for in this report, the FBI ran off a massive amount of absolutely priceless law enforcement experience vested in 140 invaluable agents. For the vast part, those are the agents who have seen the mistakes, learned lessons, could advise newer agents on unseen pitfalls of investigations and pursuit of justice.

So many of these had at least 20-30 years of experience or more. The lessons learned by such seasoned agents were lost as the agents carried it with them when they left. In the 2007 NPR report, the FBI Agents Association indicated that the Five-Year-Up-or-Out program hobbles field offices and takes relationships forged there for granted. In other words, it was a terrible idea.

The incalculable experience loss damages the FBI by eliminating those in the field in a position to advise the FBI Director against his many judgment errors, which were listed in the NPR article. But this was not the only damage done.

If an FBI Director has inappropriate personal vengeance in mind or holds an inappropriate prejudice such as those that infamously motivated Director J. Edgar Hoover, then the older, wiser, experienced agents were not around with the confidence to question or guide the Director away from potential misjudgment. I also cannot help but wonder: if Mueller had not run off the more experienced agents, would they have been able to advise against and stop the kind of Obama-era abuses and corruption being unearthed right now?

Rather than admit that his 5-Year program was a mistake, Mueller eventually changed the policy to a Seven-Year-Up-or-Out Program. I once pointed out to him at a hearing that if he had applied the Five Year Up-or-Out Policy to literally everyone in a supervisory position, he himself would have had to leave the FBI by September of 2006. He did not seem to be amused.

One other problem remained that will be discussed in more detail later in this article. Before Mueller became Director, FBI agents were trained to identify certain Muslims who had become radicalized and dangerous. Mueller purged and even eliminated training that would have helped identify radical Islamic killers. By running off the more experienced agents who had better training on radical Islam before Mueller, “blinded us of the ability to identify our enemy,” as I was told by some of them, Mueller put victims in harm’s way in cities like Boston, San Diego and elsewhere.

NATIONAL SECURITY LETTER ABUSES

National Security Letters (NSL) are a tool that allows the DOJ to bypass the formality of subpoenas, applications for warrants with affidavits in support, and instead simply send a letter to an individual, business or any entity they so choose to demand that records or documents of any kind must be produced and provided to the sender.

The letter also informs the recipient that if the he or she reveals to anyone that the letter was received or what it requires to be produced, then the recipient has committed a federal felony and will be prosecuted.

It is a rather dramatic event to receive such a letter and then realize that this simple letter could have such profound power and consequences.

The Committee in the House of Representatives that has oversight jurisdiction over the DOJ is the Judiciary Committee of which I am a member. We have grilled DOJ personnel in the past over the potential for NSL abuse, but both the House and Senate Committees were reassured that there were no known abuses of this extra-constitutional power.

Unfortunately, the day came when we learned that there had been an extraordinary number of abuses.

Apparently, some of Mueller’s FBI agents had just been sending out demands for records or documents without any probable cause, which the Fourth Amendment requires. Some agents were on outright fishing expeditions just to find out what different people were doing. We were told that there may have even been thousands of NSL’s dispatched to demand documents without following either the Constitutional requirements or the DOJ’s own policy requirements.

When the Inspector General’s report revealed such absolutely outrageous conduct by FBI agents, some in Congress were absolutely livid. An NBC News report on March 9, 2007, had this headline and sub-headline: “Justice Department: FBI acted illegally on data; Audit finds agency misused Patriot Act to obtain information on citizens.”

The report went on to say, “FBI Director Robert Mueller said he was to blame for not putting more safeguards into place. ‘I am to be held accountable,’ Mueller said. He told reporters he would correct the problems and did not plan to resign. ‘The inspector general went and did the audit that I should have put in place many years ago,’ Mueller said.” Some Republicans wanted to completely eliminate such an extraordinary power that was so widely abused. Nonetheless, I could not help but wonder that if Mueller had not run off thousands of years of experience though his “Five Year Up-or-Out Policy,” perhaps young, inexperienced agents would not have been so tempted to vastly abuse the power of the NSL.

In fact, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lost his job over the widespread, pervasive abuses under Mueller’s supervision. In retrospect, Mueller probably should have been gone first. It was his people, his lack of oversight, his atmosphere that encouraged it, and his FBI that did virtually nothing to hold people accountable.

SENATOR TED STEVENS

With Mueller as his mentor and confidant, is it any surprise that we’re now finding James Comey’s FBI found additional ways to monitor Americans and plot with Democrat loyalists in an attempt to oust a duly-elected President?

Ted Stevens had served in the U.S. Senate since 1968 and was indicted in 2008 by the U.S. Justice Department. One would think before the U.S. government would seek to destroy a sitting U.S. Senator, there would be no question whatsoever of his guilt. One would be completely wrong, at least when the FBI Director is Robert Mueller. Roll Callprovides us with General Colin Powell’s take on Ted Stevens.

“According to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had worked closely with the senator since his days as President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser, the senator was ‘a trusted individual ... someone whose word you could rely on. I never heard in all of those years a single dissenting voice with respect to his integrity, with respect to his forthrightness, and with respect to the fact that when you shook hands with Ted Stevens, or made a deal with Ted Stevens, it was going to be a deal that benefited the nation in the long run, one that he would stick with.’”

Such a glowing reputation certainly did not inhibit Mueller’s FBI from putting Stevens in its cross-hairs, pushing to get an indictment that came 100 days before his election, and engaging in third world dictator-type tactics to help an innocent man lose his election, after which he lost his life. As reported by NPR, after the conviction and all truth came rolling out of the framing and conviction of Senator Stevens, the new Attorney General Eric Holder, had no choice. He “abandoned the Stevens case in April 2009 after uncovering new and ‘disturbing’ details about the prosecution…”

Unfortunately for Ted Stevens, his conviction came only eight days before his election, which tipped the scales on a close election.

Does this sound familiar yet? The allegation was that Senator Stevens had not paid full price for improvements to his Alaska cabin. As Roll Call reported, he had actually overpaid for the improvements by over twenty percent. Roll Callwent on to state:

“But relying on false records and fueled by testimony from a richly rewarded ‘cooperating’ witness… government prosecutors convinced jurors to find him guilty just eight days before the general election which he lost by less than 2 percent of the vote.”

After a report substantiated massive improprieties by the FBI and DOJ in the investigation and prosecution of Senator Stevens, the result was ultimately a complete dismissal of the conviction.

At the time there was no direct evidence that Director Mueller was aware of the tactics of concealing exculpatory evidence that would have exonerated Stevens, and the creation of evidence that convicted him in 2008. Nearly four years later, in 2012, the Alaska Dispatch News concluded: “Bottom line: Kepner (the lead FBI investigator accused of wrongdoing by Agent Joy) is still working for the FBI and is still investigating cases, including criminal probes. Joy, the whistleblower (who was the FBI agent who disclosed the FBI’s vast wrongdoing, especially of Kepner), has left the agency.”/p>

Director Mueller either did control or could have controlled what happened to the lead FBI agent that destroyed a well-respected U.S. Senator. That U.S. Senator was not only completely innocent of the manufactured case against him, he was an honest and honorable man. Under Director Mueller’s overriding supervision, the wrongdoer who helped manufacture the case stayed on and the whistleblower was punished. Obviously, the FBI Director wanted his FBI agents to understand that honesty would be punished if it revealed wrongdoing within Mueller’s organization. Further, not only was evidentiary proof of Senator Stevens’ innocence concealed from the Senator’s defense attorneys by the FBI, there was also a witness that provided compelling testimony that Stevens’ had done everything appropriately. That witness, however, was who agents sent back to Alaska by FBI Agents, unbeknownst to the Senator’s defense attorneys. This key exonerating testimony was placed out of reach for Senator Stevens’ defense. Someone should have gone to jail for this illegality within the nation’s top law enforcement agency. Instead, Senator Stevens lost his seat, and surprise, surprise, Mueller’s FBI helped another elected Republican bite the dust. Unfortunately, I am not speaking figuratively.

In August of 2010, former Senator Stevens boarded his doomed plane. But for the heinous, twisted and corrupt investigation by the FBI, and inappropriate prosecution by the DOJ, he would have still been a sitting U.S. Senator.

Don’t forget, one vote in the Senate was critical to ObamaCare becoming law. If Senator Stevens was still there, it would not have become law. In the following month after Senator Stevens’ untimely death, in September of 2010, a young DOJ lawyer, Nicholas Marsh -- who had been involved in the Stevens case -- committed suicide at his home as the investigation into the fraudulent case continued. The report expressed, "no conclusion as to his (Marsh’s) conduct," given his untimely death. Robert Luskin, an attorney for Marsh, said, "he tried to do the right thing."

If you're wondering what happened to the valuable FBI agent who was an upstanding whistleblower with a conscience, you should know that inside Mueller’s FBI, Special Agent Joy was terribly mistreated.

Orders came down from on high that he was not to participate in any criminal investigation again, which is the FBI management’s way of forcing an agent out of the FBI. On the other hand, the FBI agent who was said to have manufactured evidence against Senator Stevens -- while hiding evidence of his innocence -- was treated wonderfully and continued to work important criminal cases for Director Mueller.

If you wonder if mistreatment of an FBI agent who exposed impropriety was an anomaly in Mueller’s FBI, the Alaska Dispatch noted this about another case:

“Former FBI agent Jane Turner was treated much like Joy (the whistleblower agent in the Stevens case) after she blew the whistle on fellow agents who had taken valuable mementos from Ground Zero following the 9-11 terrorist attacks. She took the FBI to court over her treatment and ended up winning her case against the agency after a jury trial. When you blow the whistle on the FBI, ‘it's death by a million paper cuts,’ she told Alaska Dispatch. Turner said that agents who violate the FBI's omerta -- those who internally challenge the agency -- are undercut and isolated. ‘They (Mueller’s FBI supervisors) do everything they can to get you to quit’ she said.”

THE DISGUSTING TREATMENT OF DR. STEVEN HATFILL

Here is how Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist described this combined Mueller-Comey debacle:

“The FBI absolutely bungled its investigation into the Anthrax attacker who struck after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Carl Cannon goes through this story well, and it’s worth reading for how it involves both Comey and his dear ‘friend’ and current special counsel Robert Mueller. The FBI tried — in the media — its case against Hatfill. Their actual case ended up being thrown out by the courts: Comey and Mueller badly bungled the biggest case they ever handled. They botched the investigation of the 2001 anthrax letter attacks that took five lives and infected 17 other people, shut down the U.S. Capitol and Washington’s mail system, solidified the Bush administration’s antipathy for Iraq, and eventually, when the facts finally came out, made the FBI look feckless, incompetent, and easily manipulated by outside political pressure. More from the Carl Cannon cited above, recounting how disastrous the attempt to convict Dr. Steven Hatfill for a crime he didn’t commit was: In truth, Hatfill was an implausible suspect from the outset. He was a virologist who never handled anthrax, which is a bacterium. (Ivins, by contrast, shared ownership of anthrax patents, was diagnosed as having paranoid personality disorder, and had a habit of stalking and threatening people with anonymous letters – including the woman who provided the long-ignored tip to the FBI). So what evidence did the FBI have against Hatfill? There was none, so the agency threw a Hail Mary, importing two bloodhounds from California whose handlers claimed could sniff the scent of the killer on the anthrax-tainted letters. These dogs were shown to Hatfill, who promptly petted them. When the dogs responded favorably, their handlers told the FBI that they’d “alerted” on Hatfill and that he must be the killer.

Unfortunately, both Mueller and Comey were absolutely and totally convinced of the innocent man’s guilt. They ruined his life, his relationship with friends, neighbors and potential employers. And from Carl Cannon, Real Clear Politics:

You’d think that any good FBI agent would have kicked these quacks in the fanny and found their dogs a good home. Or at least checked news accounts of criminal cases in California where these same dogs had been used against defendants who’d been convicted -- and later exonerated. As Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times investigative reporter David Willman detailed in his authoritative book on the case, a California judge who’d tossed out a murder conviction based on these sketchy canines called the prosecution’s dog handler “as biased as any witness that this court has ever seen.” Instead, Mueller, who micromanaged the anthrax case and fell in love with the dubious dog evidence, and personally assured Ashcroft and presumably George W. Bush that in Steven Hatfill, the bureau had its man… Mueller didn’t exactly distinguish himself with contrition, either. In 2008, after Ivins committed suicide as he was about to be apprehended for his crimes, and the Justice Department had formally exonerated Hatfill – and paid him $5.82 million in a legal settlement ($2.82+150,000/yr. for 20 yrs) – Mueller could not be bothered to walk across the street to attend the press conference announcing the case’s resolution. When reporters did ask him about it, Mueller was graceless. “I do not apologize for any aspect of the investigation,” he said, adding that it would be erroneous “to say there were mistakes.”

Though FBI jurisdiction has its limitations, Mueller’s ego does not. Mueller and Comey’s next target in the Anthrax case was Dr. Bruce Ivins. As the FBI was closing in and preparing to give him the ultimate Hatfill treatment, Dr. Ivins took his own life. Though Mueller and Comey were every bit as convinced that Dr. Ivins was the Anthrax culprit as they were that Dr. Hatfill was, there are lingering questions about whether or not there was a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Since Dr. Ivins is deceased, we are expected to simply accept that he was definitely the Anthrax killer and drop the whole matter. That's a difficult ask after taxpayer money paid off Mueller’s previous victim. Mueller had relentlessly dogged Dr. Hatfill using lifedestroying, Orwellian tactics. Either Mueller was wrong when he said it would be a mistake, “to say there were mistakes,” in the railroading of Hatfill or Mueller did intentionally and knowingly persecute an innocent man.

THE FRAMING OF SCOOTER LIBBY

In 2003, there was yet another fabricated and politically-charged FBI investigation: this one "searching" for the leak of CIA agent Valery Plame's identity to the media. Robert Mueller’s close friend James Comey was at the time serving as the Deputy Attorney General. Comey convinced then Attorney General John Ashcroft that he should recuse himself from the Plame investigation while Ashcroft was in the hospital.

After Deputy A.G. Comey was successful in securing Ashcroft's recusal, Comey then got to choose the Special Counsel. He then looked about for someone who was completely independent of any relationships that might affect his independence and settled upon his own child’s godfather, nameing Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the source of the leak. So much for the independence of the Special Counsel.

The entire episode was further revealed as a fraud when it was later made public that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald, FBI Director Mueller, and Deputy Attorney Comey had very early on learned that the source of Plame’s identity leak came from Richard Armitage. But neither Comey nor Mueller nor Fitzgerald wanted Armitage’s scalp. Oh no. These so-called apolitical, fair-minded pursuers of their own brand of justice were after a bigger name in the Bush administration like Vice President Dick Cheney or Karl Rove. Yet they knew from the beginning that these two men were not guilty of anything.

Nonetheless, Fitzgerald, Mueller and Comey pursued Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, as a path to ensnare the Vice President. According to multiple reports, Fitzgerald had twice offered to drop all charges against Libby if he would ‘deliver’ Cheney to him. There was nothing to deliver. Is any of this sounding familiar? Could it be that these same tactics have been used against an innocent Gen. Mike Flynn? Could it be that Flynn only agreed to plead guilty to prevent any family members from being unjustly prosecuted and to also prevent going completely broke from attorneys’ fees? That’s the apparent Mueller-ComeySpecial Counsel distinctive modus-operandi. Libby would not lie about Cheney, so he was prosecuted for obstruction of justice, perjury, making a false statement. This Spectator report from 2015 sums up this particularly egregious element of the railroading.

“… By the time Scooter Libby was tried in 2007 it wasn’t for anything to do with the Plame leak — everyone then knew Armitage had taken responsibility for that — but for lying to federal officials about what he had said to three reporters, including Miller. It is relating to this part of the story that an extraordinary new piece of information has come to light. After her spell in prison, and with her job on the line, Miller was eventually worn down to agree to hand over some redacted portions of notes of her few conversations with Libby. Several years on, she could no longer recall where she had first heard of Plame’s CIA identity, but her notes included a reference to Wilson alongside which the journalist had added in brackets ‘wife works in Bureau?’

After Fitzgerald went through these notes it was put to Miller that this showed that the CIA identity of Plame had been raised by Libby during the noted meeting. At Libby’s trial Miller was the only reporter to state that Libby had discussed Plame. His conviction and his sentencing to 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine, rested on this piece of evidence. But Miller has just published her memoirs. One detail in particular stands out. Since the Libby trial, Miller has read Plame’s own memoir and there discovered that Plame had worked at a State Department bureau as cover for her real CIA role. The discovery, in Miller’s words, ‘left her cold’. The idea that the ‘Bureau’ in her notebook meant ‘CIA’ had been planted in her head by Fitzgerald. It was a strange word to use for the CIA. Reading Plame’s memoir, Miller realized that ‘Bureau’ was in brackets because it related to her working at State Department. (Emphasis added)

What that means is that Scooter Libby had not lied as she originally thought and testified. He was innocent of everything including the contrived offense. For his honesty and innocence, Scooter Libby spent time behind bars, and still has a federal felony conviction he carries like an albatross. The real culprit of the allegation for which the Special Counsel was appointed, and massive amounts of tax payer dollars expended was Richard Armitage. A similar technique was used against Martha Stewart. After all, Mueller’s FBI developed both cases. If the desired crime to be prosecuted was never committed, then talk to someone you want to convict until you find something that others are willing to say was not true. Then you can convict them of lying to the FBI. Martha Stewart found out about Mueller’s FBI the hard way. Unfortunately, Mueller has left a wake of innocent people whom he has crowned with criminal records. History does seem to repeat itself when it is recording the same people using the same tactics. Can anyone who has ever actually looked at Robert Mueller’s history honestly say that Mueller deserves a sterling reputation in law enforcement? One part of his reputation he does apparently deserve is the reputation for being James Comey’s mentor.

MUELLER'S EMBRACE OF THE FRIENDS OF ISLAMIC TERROR

In 2011, in one of the House Judiciary Committee’s oversight hearings, FBI Director Mueller repeatedly testified during questioning by various Members about how the Muslim community was just like every other religious community in the United States. He also referenced an “Outreach Program” the FBI had with the Muslim community.

When it was my turn to question, I could not help but put the two points of his testimony together for a purge question:

GOHMERT: Thank you, Director. I see you had mentioned earlier, and it's in your written statement, that the FBI’s developed extensive outreach to Muslim communities and in answer to an earlier question I understood you to say that you know Muslim communities were like all other communities, so I'm curious as the result of the extensive outreach program the FBI's had to the Muslim community, how is your outreach program going with the Baptists and the Catholics?

MUELLER: I'm not certain of, necessarily the rest of that, the question I would say -- there are outreach to all segments of a particular city or county or society is good.

GOHMERT: Well do you have a particular program of outreach to Hindus, Buddhists, Jewish community, agnostics or is it just an extensive outreach program to –

MUELLER: We have outreach to every one of those communities.

GOHMERT: And how do you do that?

MUELLER: Every one of those communities can be affected can be affected by facts or circumstance.

GOHMERT: I've looked extensively, and I haven't seen anywhere in any one from the FBI's letters, information that there's been an extensive outreach program to any other community trying to develop trust in this kind of relationship and it makes me wonder if there is an issue of trust or some problem like that that the FBI has seen in that particular community.

MUELLER: I would say if you look at one of our more effective tools or what we call citizens academies where we bring in individuals from a variety of segments of the territory in which the office operates . . . look at the citizens’ academy, the persons here, they are a crosssection of the community, they can be Muslim, could be Indian, they can be Baptists – GOHMERT: Okay but no specific programs to any of those. You have extensive outreach to the Muslim community and then you have a program of outreach to communities in general is what it sounds like.

We went further in the questioning. The 2007 trial of the Holy Land Foundation, the largest terrorism financing trial in American history, linked the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations (CAIR) to the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas. CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. Because of this affiliation, the FBI issued policy and guidance to restrict its non-investigative interactions with CAIR in an effort to limit CAIR’s ability to exploit contacts with the FBI. As a result, FBI field offices were instructed to cut ties with all local branches of CAIR across the country.

GOHMERT: Are you aware of the evidence in the Holy Land Foundation case that linked the Council on American-Islamic relations, CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America and the North America Islamic Trust to the Holy Land Foundation?

MUELLER: I'm not going to speak to specific information in a particular case. I would tell you on the other hand that we do not –

GOHMERT: Are you aware of the case, Director?

[CROSSTALK] MUELLER: – relationship with CAIR because of concerns –

GOHMERT: Well I've got the letter from the Assistant Director Richard Powers that says in light of the evidence – talking about during the trial – evidence was introduced that demonstrated a relationship among CAIR, individual CAIR founders, including its current president emeritus and executive director and the Palestine committee, evidence was also introduced that demonstrated a relationship between the Palestine committee and Hamas, which was designated as a terrorist organization in 1995.

In light of that evidence, he says, the FBI suspended all formal contacts between CAIR and FBI. Well now it's my understanding, and I've got documentation, and I hope you've seen this kind of documentation before, it's public record, and also the memo order from the judge in turning down a request that the unindicted co-conspirators be eliminated from the list, and he says the FBI's information is clear there is a tie here, and I'm not going to grant the deletion of these particular parties as unindicted coconspirators.

So, I'm a little surprised that you're reluctant to discuss something that's already been set out in an order, that's already been in a letter saying we cut ties in light of the evidence at this trial. I'm just surprised it took the evidence that the FBI had, being introduced at the trial in order to sever the relationships with CAIR that it (the FBI) had that showed going back to the 1993 meeting in Philadelphia, what was tied to a terrorist organization. So, I welcome your comments about that.

MUELLER: As I told you before, we have no formal relationship with CAIR because of concerns with regard to the national leadership on that.

What Director Mueller was intentionally deceptive about was that the FBI had apparently maintained a relationship and even “community partnership” instigated on his watch with CAIR and other groups and individuals that his FBI had evidence showing they were co-conspirators to terrorism. That, of course, is consistent with his misrepresentation that Mueller’s FBI had outreach programs to other religious communities just like they did with the Muslim community. They did not. He was not honest about it. In a March 2009 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) questioned Mueller over the FBI move to cut off contact with CAIR. Mueller responded to Kyl’s pressing over how the policy was to be handled by FBI field offices and headquarters with the following:

MUELLER: We try to adapt, when we have situations where we have an issue with one or more individuals, as opposed to institution, or an institution, large, to identify the specificity of those particular individuals or issues that need to be addressed. We will generally have -- individuals may have some maybe leaders in the community who we have no reason to believe whatsoever are involved in terrorism, but may be affiliated, in some way, shape or form, with an institution about which there is some concern, and which we have to work out a separate arrangement. We have to be sensitive to both the individuals, as well as the organization, and try to resolve the issues that may prevent us from working with a particular organization.

KYL: They try to “adapt” with members of terror-related groups? Are they as “sensitive” with other organizations? Do they work out “separate arrangements” with members of, say, the Mafia or the Ku Klux Klan for “community outreach”? Why the special treatment for radical Islamic terrorism?

A March 2012 review of FBI field office compliance with this policy by the Office of Inspector General found a discrepancy between the FBI’s enforcement policy restricting contact and interaction with CAIR and its resulting actions. Rather than FBI headquarters enforcing the rules, they hedged. Mueller set up a separate cover through the Office of Public Affairs and allowed them to work together, despite the terrorist connections.

That was the cultivated atmosphere of Mueller’s FBI. The DOJ actually set out in writing in an indictment that CAIR and some of the people Mueller was coddling were supporters of terrorism. I had understood that the plan by the Bush Justice Department was that if they got convictions of the principals in the Holy Land Foundation trial, they would come right back after the co-conspirators who were named in the indictment as co-conspirators but who were not formally indicted. In late 2008, the DOJ got convictions against all those formally indicted, so DOJ could then move forward with formally indicting and convicting the rest—EXCEPT that the November 2008 election meant it was now going to be the OBAMA DOJ with Eric Holder leading. The newly-named but not confirmed Attorney General apparently made clear they were not going to pursue any of the named co-conspirators. That itself was a major loss for the United States in its war against terrorism in the Obama administration. It was a self-inflicted refusal to go after and defeat our enemies. All of the named co-conspirators would not likely have been formally indicted, but certainly there was evidence to support the allegations against some of them, as the federal district court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had formally found. One of the problems with FBI Director Mueller is that he had already been cozying up to named co-conspirators with evidence in hand of their collusion with terrorists. That probably was an assurance to President Obama and Attorney General Holder that Mueller would fit right in to the Obama administration. He did. It also helps explain why President Obama and AG Holder wanted him to serve and extra two years as FBI Director. Mueller was their kind of guy. Unfortunately for America, he truly was!

PURGING THE FBI OF ANTI-TERROR INFORMATION

We repeatedly see cases where people were radicalized, emerge on the FBI's radar, but federal agents are instead looking for Islamophobes, not the terrorists standing in front of them. That is because Mueller’s demand of his FBI Agents, in the New Age to which he brought them, was to look for Islamophobes.

If a Mueller-trained FBI agent got a complaint about a potential radical Islamist who may pose a threat, the agent must immediately recognize that the one complaining is most likely an Islamophobe. That means the agent should first investigate whether the complainant is guilty of a hate crime. Too often it was after an attack occurred that Mueller-trained FBI agents would decide that there really was a radical Islamic threat to the United States.

The blinding of our FBI agents to the domestic threat of radical Islam is part of the beguiling damage Robert Mueller did as FBI Director. That is also the kind of damage that got Americans killed, even though Mueller may have avoided offending the radical Islamists who were killing Americans. As terrorism expert Patrick Poole continually points out in his “Known Wolf” series, the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil are committed by those the FBI has interviewed and dismissed as a threat. Here are three of the more high-profile cases:

ORLANDO: The mass killer who attacked the Pulse nightclub in June 2016, Omar Mateen, had been interviewed by the FBI on three separate occasions. The open preliminary investigation in 2013 lasted 10 months, after Mateen had told others about mutual acquaintances he shared with the Boston bombers and had made extremist statements. He was investigated again in 2014 for his contacts with a suicide bomber who attended the same mosque. At one point, Mateen was placed on TWO separate terrorism databases. He was later removed from them.

NORTHWEST AIRLINES: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarded Detroitbound Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009 with 289 other passengers wearing an underwear bomb intended to murder them all. He was well-known to U.S. intelligence officials before he boarded.

Only one month before the attempted bombing, Abdulmutallab’s father had actually gone to the U.S. embassy in Nigeria and met with two CIA officers. He directly told the CIA that he was concerned about his son’s extremism. Abdulmutallab's name was added to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) database. However, his name was not added the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database. Or even the no-fly list. So, he boarded a plane. When asked about the near-takedown of the flight and these missteps, then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano remarkably told CNN that “the system worked.” The only "system" that worked in this incident: a culture that values bravery, already instilled in the passengers who acted.

BOSTON: Prior to the bombing of the Boston Marathon by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in April 2013 that killed three people and injured 264 others, the FBI had been tipped off. Twice. Russian intelligence warned that Tamerlan was “a follower of radical Islam.” Initially, the FBI denied ever meeting with Tamerlan. They later claimed that they followed up on the lead, couldn’t find anything in their databases linking him to terrorism, and quickly closed the case. After the second Russian warning, Tamerlan’s file was flagged by federal authorities demanding “mandatory” detention if he attempted to leave or re-enter the United States. But Tsarnaev's name was misspelled when it was entered into the database.

An internal FBI report of the handling of the Tsarnaev’s case -unsurprisingly -- saw the FBI exonerate itself. When I asked at yet another House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, Mueller himself admitted in response to my questioning, that the FBI had indeed gone to the Boston mosque the bombers attended. Of course, The FBI did not go to investigate the Tsarnaevs. The bombers' mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston, was incorporated by known and convicted terrorists. The incorporation papers were signed by none other than Abduram Al-Amoudi who is currently serving 23 years in a federal prison for funding terrorism. One of the members of the Board of Trustees included a leader of the International Muslim Brotherhood, Yusef al-Qawadari, who is barred from entering the United States due to his terrorist ties. Did Mueller’s FBI go to the Boston bombers’ mosque to investigate the Tsarnaevs? This is from the House Judiciary oversight hearing transcript:

GOHMERT: The FBI never canvassed Boston mosques until four days after the April 15 attacks. If the Russians tell you that someone has been radicalized and you go check and see the mosque that they went to, then you get the articles of incorporation, as I have, for the group that created the Boston mosque where these Tsarnaevs attended, and you find out the name Al-Amoudi, which you will remember, because while you were FBI Director this man who was so helpful to the Clinton administration with so many big things, he gets arrested at Dulles Airport by the FBI and he is now doing over 20 years for supporting terrorism. This is the guy that started the mosque where the Tsarnaevs were attending, and you didn’t even bother to go check about the mosque? And then when you have the pictures, why did no one go to the mosque and say, who are these guys? They may attend here. Why was that not done since such a thorough job was done?

MUELLER: Your facts are not altogether——

GOHMERT: Point out specifically. MUELLER: May I finish my——

GOHMERT: Point out specifically. Sir, if you’re going to call me a liar, you need to point out specifically where any facts are wrong.

MUELLER: We went to the mosque prior to Boston.

GOHMERT: Prior to Boston?

MUELLER: Prior to Boston happening, we were in that mosque talking to the imam several months beforehand as part of our outreach efforts. “Outreach efforts”? Yes. That is apparently Mueller’s efforts to play figurative pattycake with the leaders and tell them how wonderful they are and how crazy all those Islamaphobes out there are, but they surely got assurance that Mueller’s FBI is after those bigots. Maybe they sat around on the floor and had a really nice meal together. One thing for certain, they weren’t asking about the Tsarnaevs! But the hearing got even worse:

GOHMERT: Were you aware that those mosques were started by Al-Amoudi?

MUELLER. I’ve answered the question, sir.

GOHMERT. You didn’t answer the question. Were you aware that they were started by Al-Amoudi?

MUELLER. No. . .

Then my time for questioning expired, leaving many questions unanswered. Why was the FBI unaware of the origins of the mosque attended by the Boston bombers? This was arguably the most traumatic Islamic terrorist attack in America since 9-11 because the explosions happened on live television at the Boston Marathon. When did the FBI become an outreach-to-terrorism organization to the detriment and disregard of its investigations? Under Director Robert Mueller’s tenure, that’s when!

In Director Mueller’s efforts to appease and please the named co-conspirators of terrorism, he was keenly attuned to their complaints that the FBI training materials on radical Islam said some things about Islamic terrorists that offended some Muslims. Never mind that the main offense was done to the American people by radical Islamists who wanted to kill Americans and destroy our way of life. Mueller wanted to make these co-conspirators feel good toward Mueller and to let them know he was pleased to appease. Director Mueller had all of the training materials regarding radical Islam “purged” of anything that might offend radical Islamic terrorists. So, in addition to using his “Five Year Up-or-Out” policy to force out so many experienced FBI agents who had been properly trained to identify radical Islamic terrorists, now Mueller was going even further. He was ensuring that new FBI agents would not know what to look for when assessing potentially radicalized individuals.

When those of us in Congress learned of the Mueller-mandated “purge” of FBI training materials, we demanded to see what was being removed. Unfortunately, Mueller was well experienced in covering his tracks, so naturally the pages of training materials that were purged were ordered to be “classified,” so most people would never get to see them.

After many terrorist attacks, we would hear that the FBI had the Islamic terrorists on their radar but failed to identify them. Now you are beginning to see why FBI agents could not spot them. They were looking more at the complainant than they were at the radical Islamist because that is what Mueller had them trained to do.

Michele Bachmann and I were extremely upset that Americans were being killed because of the terribly flawed training. We demanded to see the material that was “purged” from the training of FBI agents regarding radical Islam. That is when we were told it could not be sent over for review because the purged material was “classified.” We were authorized to review classified material, so we demanded to see it anyway. We were willing to go over to the FBI office or the DOJ, but we wanted to review the material.

We were told they would bring it over and let us review it in the Rayburn Building in a protected setting. They finally agreed to produce the material. Members of Congress Michele Bachmann, Lynn Westmoreland, and I went to the little room to review the vast amount of material. Lynn was not able to stay as long as Michele and I did, but we started pouring through the notebooks of materials. It was classified so naturally I am not allowed to disclose any specifics, but we were surprised at the amount of material that was purged from the training our agents. Some of the items that were strictly for illustration or accentuation were removed. A few were silly. But some should clearly have been left in if an FBI agent was going to know how and what a radical Islamic terrorist thinks, and what milestone had been reached in the radicalization process.

It was clear to Michele and me as we went through the purged materials that some of the material really did need to be taught to our FBI agents. For those densely-headed or radical activists who will wrongly proclaim that what I am writing is an Islamophobic complaint, please note that I have never said that all Muslims are terrorists. I have never said that, because all Muslims are not terrorists. But for the minority who are, we have to actually learn exactly what they study and learn how they think. As Patton made clear after defeating Rommel’s tanks in World War II, he studied his enemy, what he believed and how he thought. In the movie, “Patton,” he loudly proclaims, “Rommel, you magnificent ___, I read your book!”

That is how an enemy is defeated. You study what they believe, how they think, what they know. Failure to do so is precisely why so many “Known Wolves” are able to attack us. Clearly, Mueller weakened our ability to recognize a true radical Islamic terrorist. As one of my friends in our U.S. Intelligence said, “We have blinded ourselves of the ability to see our enemy! You cannot defeat an enemy you cannot define.” Robert Mueller deserves a significant amount of the credit for the inability of our federal agents to define our enemy.

PURGING COUNTER-TERRORISM TRAINING MATERIALS

FBI Special Agent Kim Jensen had spent a great deal of his adult life studying radical Islam. He is personally responsible for some extraordinary undercover work that remains classified to this day. He was tasked with putting together a program to train our more experienced FBI agents to locate and identify radicalized Muslims on the threshold of violence.

Jensen had done this well before Mueller began to cozy up with and pander to groups such as CAIR. Complaints by similar groups caused Mueller to once again demand that our agents could not be properly instructed on radical Islam.

Accordingly, Jensen’s roughly 700-pages of advanced training material on radical Islam were eliminated from FBI training and all copies were ordered destroyed.

When Director Mueller decides he wants our federal agents to be blind and ignorant of radical Islam, they are indeed going to be blind and ignorant.

Fortunately, in changing times well after Mueller’s departure as FBI Director, a new request went out to Mr. Jensen to recreate that work because at least someone in the FBI needed to know what traits to look for in a terrorist. It still did not undo the years of damage from Mueller’s commanded ignorance of radical Islam.

MUELLER'S UNETHICAL ACCEPTANCE OF APPOINTMENT AS SPECIAL PROSECUTOR

Robert Mueller had more than one direct conflict of interest that should have prohibited him from serving as the Special Counsel to investigate President Donald Trump.

For one thing, President Trump fired his close friend and confidante, disgraced FBI Director James Comey. Mueller had long served as a mentor to Comey, who would most certainly be a critical witness in any investigation of Donald Trump.

Mueller and Comey had also been exceedingly close friends beyond the mentor relationship. But Comey’s insertion of himself into so much of the election cycle -- and even its aftermath -- in conversations he had with the President himself made him a critical witness in the investigation. There is no way Mueller could sit in judgment of his dear, close friend’s credibility, and certainly no way he should be allowed to do so.

Gregg Jarrett explained one aspect of this situation quite clearly and succinctly at FoxNews.com in an article titled, “Gregg Jarrett: Are Mueller and Comey ‘Colluding’ against Trump by acting as co-special counsel?” A portion of that article reads:

The law governing the special counsel (28 CFR 600.7) specifically prohibits Mueller from serving if he has a “conflict of interest.” Even the appearance of a conflict is disallowed. The same Code of Federal Regulations defines what constitutes a conflict. That is, “a personal relationship with any person substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution” (28 CFR 45.2).

Comey is that person. He was substantially involved in the conversation with President Trump who may be the subject of an obstruction investigation. In fact, the former Director is the only other person involved. There were no witnesses beyond himself. A conflict of interest is a situation in which an individual has competing interests or loyalties. Here, it sets up a clash between the special counsel’s self-interest or bias and his professional or public interest in discharging his responsibilities in a fair, objective and impartial manner. His close association with the star witness raises the likelihood of prejudice or favoritism which is anathema to the fair administration of justice.

Mueller has no choice but to disqualify himself. The law affords him no discretion because the recusal is mandatory in its language. It does not say “may” or “can” or “might”. It says the special counsel “shall” recuse himself in such instances.

An excellent post by Robert Barnes, a constitutional lawyer, identifies five statutes, regulations and codes of conduct that Mueller is violating because of his conflict of interest with Comey. Byron York, chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner recounts in detail the close personal relationship between Mueller and Comey which gives rise to the blatant conflict of interest.

Another deeply troubling aspect of Mueller’s conflict of interest is and was his role in the investigation of Russia’s effort to illegally gain control of a substantial part of United States’ precious supply of uranium. That investigation was taking place within the Mueller FBI, which should have had a direct effect on prohibiting Secretary of State Clinton from participating in the approval of the uranium sale into the hands that were ultimately the Russian government.

Of course, then U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein had direct control over that Russiauranium investigation in conjunction with FBI Director Mueller. It certainly appears that with what they had gleaned from that undercover investigation, they should never have been involved in any subsequent investigation that might touch on potential collusion and millions of dollars paid to the Clinton’s foundation by the very beneficiaries of the Russians' uranium schemes. Rosenstein and Mueller’s failure to warn against or stop the sale reeks of its own form of collusion, cooperation, or capitulation in what some consider a treasonous sale.

Quite the interesting duo is now in charge of all things investigatory surrounding their own actions. In fact, Rosenstein and Mueller are now in a position to dissuade others from pursuing them for their own conduct.

SPECIAL PROSECUTOR MUELLER'S TROUBLINGLY BIASED HIRES

Through it all, Mueller’s modus operandi does not seem to have ever changed. He has hired nine Democrat-supporting lawyers and zero Republicans. Certainly all attorneys likely have political views and that is not a problem so long as they do not affect their job. But not a single Republican was worthy of Mueller’s selection?

Were there no establishment Republicans who wanted to join his jihad? Mueller’s hand-picked team of Democrats reveal political views that distinctly conflict with Trump and the conservative agenda, raising questions about Mueller’s bias and his ability to conduct a fair investigation. At least nine members of Mueller’s team made significant contributions to Democrats or Democratic campaigns, while none contributed to Trump’s campaign and only James Quarles contributed to Republicans in a drastically smaller amount than what he gave to Democrats.

Analysis of Federal Election Commission records shows that Andrew Weissmann, Jeannie Rhee, Andrew Goldstein, James Quarles, Elizabeth Prelogar, Greg Andres, Brandon Van Grack, Rush Atkinson, and Kyle Freeny all contributed over $50,000 in donations to Democrats including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s Presidential campaigns, various Democratic non-presidential candidates, and the Democratic National Convention. Mueller also has surprisingly strong personal ties to a number of the lawyers he hired.

Three former partners with Mueller at the Boston law firm of WilmerHale are on the payroll: Aaron Zebley, Jeannie Rhee, and James Quarles. In addition to strong personal ties to Mueller, many of the attorneys have potential conflicts in working for persons directly connected to the people and issues being investigated.

Jeannie Rhee represented Ben Rhodes, ex-Obama National Security Adviser, and the Clinton Foundation in a 2015 racketeering lawsuit, as well as Hillary Clinton in a lawsuit probing her private emails.

Aaron Zebley, former Chief of Staff to Mueller while Director of the FBI, represented Justin Cooper in the Clinton email scandal as he was responsible for setting up Clinton’s private email server. He admitted to physically damaging Clinton’s old mobile devices.

Andrew Goldstein joined the team after working under major Trump critic Preet Bharara in the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York. Bharara became a strong critic after Trump fired him as an Obama-holdover and spoke on ABC News that “there’s absolutely evidence to launch an obstruction of justice case against Trump’s team with regard to the Russia probe.” Does he sound a bit prejudiced?

Andrew Weissman, notoriously a “tough” prosecutor previously accused of “prosecutorial overreach,” has a less than stellar career after various courts reversed his prosecutions due to his questionable conduct and tactics. As director of the Enron Task Force, Weissman shattered the Arthur Andersen LLP accounting firm and destroyed over 85,000 jobs. In 2005, the conviction was reversed by the Supreme Court. In other words, the only true crime in the case was the murderous destruction of 85,000 jobs and the lives they ruined.

Weissman’s next conviction threw four Merrill Lynch executives into prison without bail for a year, only to be reversed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Weissman subsequently resigned from the Enron Task Force. A suspiciously timely move, as the public eye had just caught sight of his modus operandi. Additionally, Weissman has unsightly political ties, having attended Clinton’s electionnight celebration in New York City. He also sent an email to Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, praising her boldness on the night she was fired for refusing to enforce President Trump’s travel ban. President Trump was trying to enforce the law; Weissman was trying to enforce his bigotry against Trump and Republicans.

Peter Strzok was removed from Mueller’s team after more than 10,000 texts between him and former Mueller investigator Lisa Page were found to contain vitriolic anti-Trump tirades. They were not simply anti-Trump. They were more in the nature of desperate attempts to stop him from becoming President and talk of a nefarious insurance policy to orchestrate his removal if he were elected.

GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN

Michael Flynn is a man entangled in manufactured controversy from the moment he stepped into his role in the Trump administration. The circumstances surrounding his take-down have become one of the more puzzling aspects of the TrumpRussia investigation. His career took him from three decades in the U.S. Army to overseeing the Pentagon’s military intelligence operation and directing the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn was more than qualified to act as the first national security adviser in a new administration. However, his influence and zeal made him a clear target for the Trump-Russia investigation.

As a strong supporter and friend of Donald Trump’s from the onset, he campaigned and publicly supported then-candidate Trump throughout 2016. As best I can sort it out through the media hype and hysteria, having no first-hand knowledge like the rest of America: after the successful election, during the transition period, in December 2016, Flynn reportedly conversed with a Russian ambassador.

He was “accidentally” swept up in an intelligence foreign surveillance recording. When this happens, the names of American citizens are supposed to be masked in the transcripts. Somehow Flynn’s name was magically unmasked, which apparently allowed the Obama administration to peruse his meetings and conversations. Parts of the classified transcript of that conversation were leaked to the media by rogue Deep State law breakers (criminals who Mueller seems completely disinterested in). This appears to be what fueled the media-driven narrative of Trump campaign “collusion” with Russia because Flynn had a discussion with a Russian ambassador, which conversation is absolutely legal and advisable. A media-generated doubt clouded Flynn’s reputation, as the discussion was longreported as having taken place during the campaign (which could possibly be illegal) but was later proven to have been after the election and during the transition which should not have been illegal.

After a complete pounding of media-driven hysteria, in mid-February of 2017, Flynn resigned having served only 23 days as National Security Advisor. Mueller targeted Flynn using illicitly-gathered and leaked foreign intelligence and surveillance as evidence. Nine months later after Flynn and his family were subjected to Mueller’s usual threats and intimidation, a financially exhausted Flynn entered a guilty plea on one count of lying to the FBI—the result of a Mueller-technique perjury trap as was used on Scooter Libby and Martha Stewart. What is Flynn guilty of? He apparently misremembered a conversation that took place 33 days previously? The FBI had a transcript of that conversation and already knew what information was there. They went into a conversation with Flynn not seeking answers to questions, but to try to trip him up on exact statements made in a conversation when they were already in possession of the transcript.

Flynn's unmasking has become the center of a controversy wherein those transcripts were procured under exceedingly questionable circumstances before a judge who had a questionable and undisclosed relationship with part of Mueller’s team. That judge was appointed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the secretive court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that allows federal law enforcement to seek secretive warrants to surveil foreign persons outside of the United States who are suspected of terrorism. But the Obama administration and Mueller seemed to find it much more politically expedient to use the secret court to go after Americans who were part of the Trump team for actions that did not occur while they were part of the Trump campaign team. Strange goings-on.

One could argue that Judge Rudolph Contreras, the federal judge who accepted Flynn’s guilty plea, conveniently misremembered that he also served on the FISA court as a judge and conveniently misremembered his friendship with the FBI agent whose interview was used as evidence against Flynn. As it turns out, the FBI interview notes of that very encounter with Flynn may exonerate Michael Flynn, crushing Mueller’s case against him, not to mention the highly questionable hearing before a judge who may well have been recused much too late to save the Flynn prosecution.

FISA ABUSE

The FISA-authorized FISC is built upon the principle that highly delicate cases dealing with government surveillance of foreign agents and officials would be handled in an unbiased and respectful environment where secrecy at all costs was critical. There is supposed to be an added precaution to prevent any potential for bias in a FISA Judge by having a rotation of judges. That is why it is such a shock to find out now that Mueller’s case against Michael Flynn would happen to end up before the “randomly selected” very dear close personal friend of FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, who hated President Trump with a passion, as evidenced in his text messages with colleague and paramour, Lisa Page. U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras, or “Rudy” as Strzok likes to refer to him, should have recused himself from such a highly sensitive case involving the ultimate attempted removal of the duly-elected President of the United States who happened to be despised by the very people who by law were required to prosecute with fairness. He was later forced to ‘recuse’ himself and be removed from the Flynn proceedings, without public explanation.

This forced recusal was an unmistakable indication that he never should have been involved in the Michael Flynn plea agreement. Judge Contreras’ conflict of interest has yet to be explained by the court. Contreras’ is one of only three local FISA court judges, and by default, is likely one of the judges who have on four occasions approved the Title I surveillance of another character in this melodrama, Carter Page. This is the case where the FBI is known to have intentionally misled the FISA court by using as evidence the illustrious “Steele Dossier,” a sordid opposition research document paid for by Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Oh, what a tangled web of crime Special Prosecutor Mueller’s team appears to have helped weave, and of which Mueller appears to be completely disinterested, all while he searches high and low for an elusive crime to pin on the President.

MUELLER IGNORES PROVABLE CRIMES BY THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN, THE FBI, THE FISC, ETC.

Strategically timed leaks of selective classified information are being used to target individuals for investigation in order to create the appearance of some sinister crime are committed.

Upon closer scrutiny, the cases fall apart.

Yet, slam dunk federal criminal cases of leaking classified material are going on under Mueller’s nose, and by those within his purview and his team. When we think of all the leaks from Mueller’s investigation, it brings to mind Wilford Brimley’s quote from Absence of Malice: “You call what's goin' on around here a leak? Boy, the last time there was a leak like this, Noah built hisself a boat.”

Case in point: Erik Prince. As Lee Smith put it in a recent article from TabletMag.com, Robert Mueller’s Beltway Cover-Up:

News that special counselor Robert Mueller has turned his attention to Erik Prince’s January 11, 2017 meeting in the Seychelles with a Russian banker, a Lebanese-American political fixer, and officials from the United Arab Emirates, helps clarify the nature of Mueller’s work. It’s not an investigation that the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is leading—rather, it’s a cover-up…

Mueller is said to believe that the Prince meeting was to set up a back channel with the Kremlin. But that makes no sense. According to the foundational text of the collusion narrative, the dossier allegedly written by former British spy Christopher Steele, the Kremlin had cultivated Trump himself for years. So what’s the purpose of a back channel, when Vladimir Putin already had a key to the front door of Mar-a-Lago? Further, the collusion thesis holds that the Trump circle teamed with high-level Russian officials for the purpose of winning the 2016 election. How does a meeting that Erik Prince had a week before Trump’s inauguration advance the crooked election victory plot? It doesn’t—it contradicts it. The writer goes on to point out that serious crimes have been committed which Mueller is purposefully ignoring. Prince was thrown into the middle of Russiagate after an April 3, 2017, Washington Post story reported his meeting with the Russian banker. But how did anyone know about the meeting? After the story came out, Prince said he was shown “specific evidence” by sources from the intelligence community that the information was swept up in the collection of electronic communications and his identity was unmasked. The US official or officials who gave his name to the Post broke the law when they leaked classified intelligence. “Unless the Washington Post has somehow miraculously recruited the bartender of a hotel in the Seychelles,” Prince told the House Intelligence Committee in December, “the only way that’s happening is through SIGINT [signals intelligence].” Prince’s name was unmasked and leaked from classified signals intelligence. Oddly enough, it’s the same modus operandi used in the targeting of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. It is a federal felony to publish leaked classified information.

Ask WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about that particular unequal application of the law. The Deep State felons who are strategically leaking this information have politically weaponized our justice system and should be prosecuted for their attempts, with malice aforethought, to manufacture the overthrow of a duly elected President of the United States. The leaks and publication of classified information alone warrant investigation and prosecution to the fullest extent of the law in this matter, yet Mueller appears utterly uninterested in those crimes even as they go to the very heart of the credibility of his investigative mandate.

Yet, as I’ve demonstrated here, the man put in charge of the investigation of "Russian Collusion"; case, Robert Mueller, has perfected the art of abuse of the justice system for personal and political gain. He is uninterested in any criminal activity that does not further his cause of damaging this President. If you think that is harsh, consider the criminality of the FISA court abuses by the Obama Department of Justice and FBI. We have all heard ad nauseum about the infamous “Steele Dossier,” the opposition research document paid for by the Clinton campaign that was used to manufacture the Russia collusion narrative and spark what became the Mueller investigation into our President. On June 18, 2017, Muller protégé and disgraced former FBI Director James Comey testified in front of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the Clinton campaign-funded document, telling Congress that the document was, “salacious and unverified.” https://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/08/full-text-james-comey-trump-r…)

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, created a court called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to allow secret warrants to surveil agents of foreign governments, be they U.S. citizens or non-U.S. actors. In October of 2016, the Obama DOJ/FBI successfully applied for one of these secret warrants to surveil Carter Page, a short-time Trump campaign volunteer. Since these warrants against U.S. citizens are outside of the bounds of the Constitution, they have to be renewed by applying to the court every 90 days after the first warrant application is approved. These secret warrants are so serious they have to be signed off on at the highest levels. The applications in question would have been signed off on by Obama administration FBI and DOJ officials including then FBI Director James Comey. At least one of the renewal applications would have been signed off on by our current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. At the time of the signing, they all would have had the knowledge and/or the professional and legal duty to know that the dossier was used as evidence and also had the legal duty to know the evidence origins. The same would apply to the knowledge of the penalty for submitting unverified information to the FISC for the purpose of obtaining a warrant. It is a crime to submit under the color of law an application to the FISC that contains unverified information 50 U.S. Code § 1809).

Comey’s “salacious and unverified” testimony before the Senate occurred eight months after the Clinton campaign-funded dossier was used in the first successful FISA court application to obtain a surveillance warrant against Carter Page, a Trump campaign volunteer for several months. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence examined the documentation submitted to the court and concluded that the unverified information contained in the Steele dossier was in fact used in the FISC application, without disclosing to the court that it was an opposition research document paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.

Neither the initial application in October of 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, the Clinton campaign, or any other partyn in funding Steele's efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials. The timing of the applications, the inclusion of material the DOJ/FBI knew to be unverified at the time, and the successful result after this fraudulent inclusion speak to the level of criminal corruption of those who sought to destroy Donald Trump’s candidacy and still seek to overturn his election. The widespread abuse of the FISA-authorized court, FISC, was laid bare in a court memorandum of review of these abuses that was declassified in 2017 and went virtually unnoticed by the media because it didn’t fit their narrative.

These are serious crimes that, left unchecked, lead nations down the path to tyranny at the hands of people who think they know better than citizens. It’s an age-old struggle America’s Founding Fathers knew well and did everything they could to prevent from happening. The FISC judges themselves have a duty to police their own courts and call to account these bad actors who, by all facts in the documentation I’ve personally seen, have committed a fraud upon the court. If these judges do not have the integrity to self-police in this matter, we in Congress must hold them accountable using the power granted to us in the Constitution. Congress has created every single federal court in the country except the Supreme Court. We have the duty to phase out, change or disband the FISC, all while developing a better solution to address the authorization of this sort of surveillance of foreign agents and actors. It is our duty to clean up the mess that the Obama administration demonstrated is far too easy to create.

If you want answers, and you can handle the truth, join me in demanding those answers from “Special Counsel” Robert Mueller, along with his resignation. If he were to resign, it could well be the only truly moral, ethical and decent action Mueller has undertaken in this entire investigation.


Hat tip: BadBlue Uncensored News.

Published:5/3/2018 11:28:27 PM
[World] Trump economy not performing as robustly as hoped

The American stock market soared in anticipation of President Trump's sweeping tax cuts and in the aftermath of their enactment.

The long, painful economic anemia of the Obama years appeared to be over, and the economy was racing toward faster growth rates, increased employment and a stronger economy.

But lately ... Published:5/3/2018 7:27:54 PM

[Markets] Irony Defined: Eric Holder's Firm Enlisted By Facebook To Investigate Bias Against Conservatives

Whatever happened to "it takes one to know one"?

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

The amount of irony here is astounding. Leftist liberal and former attorney general Eric Holder’s firm was enlisted by the leftists over at Facebook to investigate the social media giant’s bias against conservatives. There couldn’t be a more humorously ironic story than this one.

At first, it seemed like Facebook might be trying to do the right thing: investigate the bias against those who aren’t leftists using the social media platform.

The tech company enlisted a team from law firm Covington and Burling to advise them on combating perceptions of bias against conservatives. But there’s one minor detail that Breitbart happened to pick up on: Covington and Burling is the firm of Barack Obama’s left-wing former attorney general, Eric Holder.

Eric Holder was a part of the very administration that weaponized the IRS against conservatives during Barack Obama’s reign of terror.

In issuing an “apology” to the clients represented by the ACLJ, the IRS admitted that it was wrong to use the United States tax code simply because of an entity’s name. They also admitted the bombshell fact that this discrimination happened specifically because of the applicants’ political viewpoints. Keep in mind the fact that the mainstream media has spent years telling the American people that this didn’t happen.

In other words, outlets such as The Washington Post, CNN, and The New York Times directly lied to their readers and viewers to protect a Democratic president whose administration was openly breaking the law. –SHTFPlan

After the apology from the Department of Justice, Eric Holder flat out said that the DOJ should not have apologized to conservatives for using the IRS as a weapon against their political enemies.

Former Attorney General Eric H. Holder said the Trump administration was wrong to have apologized to tea party groups snared in the IRS’s targeting scandal, saying it was another example of the new team undercutting career people at the Justice Department who’d initially cleared the IRS of wrongdoing.

That apology was unnecessary, unfounded and inconsistent, it seems to me, with the responsibilities that somebody who would seek to lead the Justice Department should have done,” Mr. Holder said. –The Washington Times

Holder had ordered a criminal probe into the IRS’s handling of tea party applications after the 2013 revelation by an inspector general that the tax agency had subjected conservative groups to intrusive and inappropriate scrutiny when they applied for nonprofit status.

And not surprising in the least, that probe eventually cleared the IRS, saying that while there was bungling, there was no ill intent. The probe specifically cleared former IRS senior executive Lois G. Lerner, saying rather than a problem, she was actually a hero, reporting bad practices when she spotted them.

But have no fear, conservatives! Now this same guy’s firm has your back and will be helping Facebook with the same problem. To sum up: Facebook, a California-based company, has enlisted the same firm that is providing legal advice to their state against the Trump administration, through none other than Eric Holder, to advise them on combating perceptions of bias against conservatives.

The good news is that The Heritage Foundation will also be working with Facebook on the same issue. According to Axios, the conservative think-tank will “will convene meetings on these issues with Facebook executives.” Klon Kitchen, a former adviser to Senator Ben Sasse who now works as a tech policy expert at Heritage, has reportedly hosted an event with Facebook’s head of global policy management.

Published:5/3/2018 7:27:54 PM
[Markets] Soros-Funded Group Creates App To Help Illegal Aliens Avoid Arrest, Tip Off Others

A Soros-funded "open borders" group has developed a smartphone application to assist illegal immigrants by sounding the alarm if they have been apprehended by US authorities - tipping off anyone from immigration attorneys to friends and family.

The app, Notifica (Notify), allows users to program a set of automated messages to alert a pre-selected group of individuals with the press of one button. It is available on the Google and Apple app stores. 

So when an illegal immigrant is in the process of being apprehended by US authorities, they will frantically dig around in their pockets to whip out their phones and activate the app - hopefully without being mistaken for drawing a gun.

The group which developed the app, United We Dream, describes itself as the country's largest immigrant youth-led community - boasting over 400,000 members nationwide. They claim to “embrace the common struggle of all people of color and stand up against racism, colonialism, colorism, and xenophobia.” The group advocates for protections and rights for illegal immigrants - including defending against deportation, obtaining education and acquiring “justice and liberation” for undocumented LGBT “immigrants and allies," according to Judicial Watch

United We Dream started as a project of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), according to records obtained by Judicial Watch. Between 2008 and 2010, NILC received $206,453 in U.S. government grants, the records show. The project funded was for “immigration-related employment discrimination public education.” Headquartered in Los Angeles, NILC was established in 1979 and is dedicated to “defending and advancing the rights of immigrants with low income.” The organization, which also has offices in Washington D.C. and Berkeley, California claims to have played a leadership role in spearheading Barack Obama’s amnesty program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which has shielded hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens from deportation. “Ultimately, NILC’s goals are centered on promoting the full integration of all immigrants into U.S. society,” according to its website. -JW

Adrian Reyna, director of Membership and Technology Strategies for United We Dream says the app was designed "precisely to have a plan of action at your" fingertips.

"My mom doesn’t have documents, so I want to make sure that we are prepared and know what to do if something happens,” said Damaris González, an organizer with United We Dream who was brought to the US illegally in 1985 when she was nine-years-old.

Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division has arrested 42% more illegal immigrants from President Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017 to the end of Sept. 30 vs. the same period if 2016 according to Pew Research Center's analysis of ICE data. 

ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations made a total of 143,470 arrests in fiscal 2017, a 30% rise from fiscal 2016. The surge began after President Donald Trump took office in late January: From his Jan. 20 inauguration to the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, ICE made 110,568 arrests, 42% more than in the same time period in 2016. -Pew

Notifica offers users information and guidance on the rights of immigrants, along with tips on how to get through different scenarios. United We Dream says they are working on a second version of the app, which will include the ability to use more languages than just Spanish and English. A Summer upgrade will include Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese - as well as the ability to determine the location of where a detained individual is being held.

 

Published:5/3/2018 6:26:55 PM
[Markets] Support For Trump Among Black Men Doubled After Kanye West's "MAGA Meltdown"

Kanye West's outspoken support for President Trump appears to be having an impact on popular opinion, much to liberals' chagrin.

Democrats vehemently slammed West in April after he reaffirmed his support for President Trump in a series of tweets published after a one-year absence from Twitter. During his infamous "MAGA Meltdown",  where he showed off his signed "MAGA" hat. Later, he published texts sent by none other than singer-songwriter John Legend wherein Legend was begging him to rethink his vocal support for the president.

Kanye

But though they failed to change West's mind, it appears that his support (and the subsequent backlash, which only served to amply West's message) is having an impact.

According to a Reuters poll (a media organization that can hardly be described as "pro-Trump"), support for President Trump among black men doubled in the course of a week, the Daily Caller reports.

The president also saw a bump in support among black Americans more broadly.

A poll taken on April 22, 2018 had Trump’s approval rating among black men at 11 percent, while the same poll on April 29, 2018 pegged the approval rating at 22 percent. It should be noted that Reuters only sampled slightly under 200 black males each week and slightly under 3,000 people overall.

Trump experienced a similar jump in approval among black people overall, spiking from 8.9 percent on April 22 to 16.5 percent on April 29.

Still, the number of black voters who say they have "mixed feelings" about Trump climbed following West's remarks.

On the 22nd, 1.5 percent said they had mixed feelings, while 7.1 percent said the same on the 29th.

While some liberals have called for West to be institutionalized, not everybody agrees. Indeed, another high-profile rapper, West protege Chance the Rapper, affirmed that "not all black people need to be Democrats."

Chance - real name Chancellor Bennett - is the son of a former Obama staffer. He first met President Obama and his wife Michelle Obama when he was "13 or 14".

Of course, black men who followed the West drama might've noticed that black unemployment briefly touched 6.8% in December - an all time low.

And at 48.2, black consumers are the most content with their take home pay and personal finances since early 2015, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index.

Chart

Unfortunately for West - who must now be on the look out for gang assassins coming after him - not all black men have had such a positive reaction to his comments.

Published:5/3/2018 4:28:16 PM
[World] Don't Trust Benjamin Netanyahu on Claims About Iran's Nuclear Program

John Glaser

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cynical presentation revealed nothing new about Iran’s nuclear activities and, contrary to his intention, further demonstrated the necessity of the nuclear deal.

If Trump does scuttle the Iran deal, it will be a rogue action with grave implications for global peace and stability.

Virtually all of the material he reviewed has been known for years. In 2007, the U.S. intelligence community concluded “with high confidence” that Iran halted all active weaponization activities by 2003.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reviewed the past military dimensions of Iran’s program and issued a statement this week reiterating that there are “no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.”

By reviewing this old news about Iran’s pre-Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action activities, Netanyahu was fear-mongering in an attempt to undermine the deal.

Meanwhile, President Trump is expected to abrogate the Iran nuclear deal later this month, despite the fact that the IAEA has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance. Trump’s own military and intelligence officials concur that Iran is complying, and that America should stay in this deal.

Trump’s hostility toward the deal isn’t based on its specifics, nor is it based on a rational assessment of the Iranian threat. Instead, Trump hates the nuclear deal because his predecessor brought it to fruition and he has long been determined to undo Barack Obama’s legacy.

If Trump does scuttle the Iran deal, it will be a rogue action with grave implications for global peace and stability. Iran will likely consider itself unburdened by the various restrictions on its enrichment capabilities, which will then lend credence to arguments, such as those of Trump’s top advisers John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, that war is the only option.

The same voices that pushed for the disastrous war in Iraq are now pushing for scrapping this successful non-proliferation agreement with Iran. War with Iran would be an order of magnitude worse than what we saw in Iraq. Unfortunately, it seems America has not learned the lessons of history.

John Glaser is the director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute.
Published:5/3/2018 12:25:47 PM
[World] Michelle Obama Says I'm Your 'Forever First Lady' to Students

Michelle Obama referred to herself as the "forever First Lady" in a speech to a group of high school students.

Published:5/3/2018 11:29:52 AM
[Media] Suck it UP! Brian Stelter plays the ‘poor, heroic media’ card AGAIN, face-plants spectacularly

Awww, the poor media. How do they do it? Honestly, if this editor rolled her eyes any further back into her head they would probably get stuck there. "Under the Obama administration, we often focused on one or two stories every day. Now it is not unusual to cover five or six!" —@kwelkernbc https://t.co/5bpVkL0blk — […]

The post Suck it UP! Brian Stelter plays the ‘poor, heroic media’ card AGAIN, face-plants spectacularly appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/3/2018 10:56:04 AM
[Markets] Eurasia Is Torn Between War & Peace

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

Iran's top trading partner is China, while Tehran and Moscow have been improving ties as the three countries move closer to cementing a solid alliance...

Two summits the cross-border handshake that shook the world between Kim and Moon in Panmunjom and Xi and Modi’s cordial walk by the lake in Wuhanmay have provided the impression Eurasia integration is entering a smoother path.

Not really. It’s all back to confrontation: predictably the actual, working Iran nuclear deal, known by the ungainly acronym JCPOA, is at the heart of it.

And faithful to the slowly evolving Eurasia integration roadmap, Russia and China are at the forefront of supporting Iran.

China is Iran’s top trading partner – especially because of its energy imports. Iran for its part is a major food importer. Russia aims to cover this front.

Chinese companies are developing massive oil fields in Yadavaran and North Azadegan. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) took a significant 30% stake in a project to develop South Pars – the largest natural gas field in the world. A $3 billion deal is upgrading Iran’s oil refineries, including a contract between Sinopec and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to expand the decades-old Abadan oil refinery.

In a notorious trip to Iran right after the signing of the JCPOA in 2015, President Xi Jinping backed up an ambitious plan to increase bilateral trade by over tenfold to US$600 billion in the next decade.

For Beijing, Iran is an absolutely key hub of the New Silk Roads, or the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). A key BRI project is the $2.5 billion, 926 kilometer high-speed railway from Tehran to Mashhad; for that China came up with a $1.6 billion loan – the first foreign-backed project in Iran after the signing of the JCPOA.

There’s wild chatter in Brussels concerning the impossibility of European banks financing deals in Iran – due to the ferocious, wildly oscillating Washington sanctions obsession. That opened the way for China’s CITIC to come up with up to $15 billion in credit lines.

The Export-Import Bank of China so far has financed 26 projects in Iran – everything from highway building and mining to steel producing – totaling roughly $8.5 billion in loans. China Export and Credit Insurance Corp – Sinosure – signed a memorandum of understanding to help Chinese companies invest in Iranian projects.

China’s National Machinery Industry Corp signed an $845 million contract to build a 410km railway in western Iran connecting Tehran, Hamedan and Sanandaj. And insistent rumors persist that China in the long run may even replace cash-strapped India in developing the strategic port of Chabahar on the Arabian Sea – the proposed starting point of India’s mini-Silk Road to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

So amid the business blitz, Beijing is not exactly thrilled with the US Department of Justice setting its sights on Huawei, essentially because of hefty sales of value-for-money smart phones in the Iranian market.

Have Sukhoi will travel

Russia mirrors, and more than matches, the Chinese business offensive in Iran.

With snail pace progress when it comes to buying American or European passenger jets, Aseman Airlines decided to buy 20 Sukhoi SuperJet 100s while Iran Air Tours – a subsidiary of Iran Air –  has also ordered another 20. The deals, worth more than $2 billion, were clinched at the 2018 Eurasia Airshow at Antalya International Airport in Turkey last week, supervised by Russia’s deputy minister of industry and trade Oleg Bocharov.

Both Iran and Russia are fighting US sanctions. Despite historical frictions, Iran and Russia are getting closer and closer. Tehran provides crucial strategic depth to Moscow’s Southwest Asia presence. And Moscow unequivocally supports the JCPOA. Moscow-Tehran is heading the same way of the strategic partnership in all but name between Moscow and Beijing.

According to Russian energy minister Alexander Novak, the 2014  Moscow-Tehran oil-for-goods deal, bypassing the US dollar, is finally in effect, with Russia initially buying 100,000 barrels of Iranian crude a day.

Russia and Iran are closely coordinating their energy policy. They have signed six agreements to collaborate on strategic energy deals worth up to $30 billion. According to President Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov, Russian investment in developing Iran’s oil and gas fields could reach more than $50 billion.

Iran will become a formal member of the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) before the end of the year. And with solid Russian backing, Iran will be accepted as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) by 2019.

Iran is guilty because we say so

Now compare it with the Trump administration’s Iran policy.

Barely certified as the new US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s first foreign trip  to Saudi Arabia and Israel  amounts in practice to briefing both allies on the imminent Trump withdrawal of the JCPOA on May 12. Subsequently, this will imply a heavy new batch of US sanctions.

Riyadh – via Beltway darling Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, (MBS) – will be all in on the anti-Iran front. In parallel, the Trump administration may demand it, but MBS won’t relinquish the failed blockade of Qatar or the humanitarian disaster that is the war on Yemen.

What’s certain is there won’t be a concerted Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) front against Iran. Qatar, Oman and Kuwait see it as counterproductive. That leaves only Saudi Arabia and the Emirates plus irrelevant, barely disguised Saudi vassal Bahrain.

On the European front, French president Emmanuel Macron has stepped up as a sort of unofficial King of Europe, leveraging himself to Trump as the likely enforcer of restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, as well as dictating Iran to stay out of Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Macron has made a direct – and patently absurd  connection between Tehran abandoning its nuclear enrichment program, including the destruction of uranium stockpiles enriched to less that 20%, and being the guilty party helping Baghdad and Damascus to defeat Daesh and other Salafi-jihadi outfits.

No wonder Tehran – as well as Moscow and Beijing – is connecting recent, massive US weapons deals with Riyadh as well as MBS’s hefty investments in the West to the Washington-Paris attempt to renegotiate the JCPOA.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has been adamant; the JCPOA  was the product of a strenuous seven-country negotiation over many years: “The question is, will it be possible to repeat such successful work in the current situation?”

Certainly not

Thus the suspicion widely floated in Moscow, Beijing and even Brussels that the JCPOA irks Trump because it’s essentially a multilateral, no “America First” deal directly involving the Obama administration.

The Obama administration’s pivot to Asia – which depended on settling the Iranian nuclear dossier – ended up setting off a formidable, unintended chain of geopolitical events.

Neocon factions in Washington would never admit to normalized Iranian relations with the West; and yet Iran not only is doing business with Europe but got closer to its Eurasian partners.

Artificially inflating the North Korea crisis to try to trap Beijing has led to the Kim-Moon summit defusing the “bomb the DPRK” crowd.

Not to mention that the DPRK, ahead of the Kim-Trump summit, is carefully monitoring what happens to the JCPOA.

The bottom line is that the Russia-China partnership won’t allow for a JCPOA renegotiation, for a number of serious reasons.

On the ballistic missile front, Moscow’s priority will be to sell S-300 and S-400 missile systems to Tehran, sanctions-free.

Russia-China might eventually agree with the JCPOA 10-year sunset provisions to be extended, although they won’t force Tehran to accept it.

On the Syrian front, Damascus is regarded as an indispensable ally of both Moscow and Beijing. China will invest in the reconstruction of Syria and its revamping as a key Southwest Asia node of the BRI. “Assad must go” is a non-starter; Russia-China see Damascus as essential in the fight against Salafi-jihadis of all stripes who may be tempted to return and wreak havoc in Chechnya and Xinjiang.

A week ago, at an SCO ministerial meeting, Russia-China issued a joint communiqué supporting the JCPOA. The Trump administration is picking yet another fight against the very pillars of Eurasia integration.

Published:5/3/2018 1:23:18 AM
[Markets] Syria & Iran Prove There's No Chance For North Korean Peace

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

There is a saying in geopolitics that peace summits are generally a perfect time to prepare for war. This thinking stems from the military philosophy of Sun Tzu, who believed that when a nation is weak it is important to appear strong, and when a nation is at its most dangerous it is important to appear weak or “diplomatic.” Sun Tzu also often praised the virtues of distraction and sleight of hand, not only in war, but in politics as well.

I would note that Sun Tzu and the Eastern “sleight of hand” methodology is not only a mainstay of Chinese as well as North Korean thought, but also required reading for Western covert intelligence agencies. It is important to fully understand this methodology when examining the East vs. West paradigm, because almost everything you see and hear when it comes to relations with countries like China and North Korea is theater. Their governments have hidden schemes, our governments have hidden schemes and the globalists manipulating both sides have plans that trump everything else.

Keep all of this in mind when you hear about the sudden and almost inexplicable announcements of peace summits with North Korea in May or June between Pyongyang and the Trump administration.

Looking at the scenario purely from the perspective of political motive, it’s difficult to discern why Trump has been so obsessed with North Korea since he first entered office. North Korea has always had nuclear capability as well as the ability to deploy those nukes in one form or another against the U.S. North Korea has also always been involved in further nuclear testing and missile testing. The idea that such testing today is somehow a “violation” of arbitrary international standards and etiquette is absurd. Almost every nation in the world is engaged in military expansion and development.

Then again, if one only looks at surface rhetoric and policy, it is difficult to discern why the Trump White House is equally obsessed with Syria and the Assad regime. One of the primary driving forces behind the Trump election campaign was the idea that this was a candidate that would break from establishment elites in the tradition of perpetual war. Trump’s criticisms of past presidents and their handling of Iraq and the Middle East was supposed to represent a sea change in American policies of aggression. Instead, his cabinet is now laced with the cancers of neo-conservative warhawks (fake conservatives) and globalist banking proponents.

The U.S. was supposedly mere months away from completely removing its military presence from Syria. Yet a well timed “chemical attack” on a Damascus suburb, blamed on Assad, gave Trump a perfect rationale for keeping troops in the region as well as escalating the use of force through missile bombardment. The original claim under President Obama was that we were in Syria because of the growing threat of ISIS (a terrorist movement supported by western covert intelligence). Now, the new enemy is the target globalists always intended — the Syrian government itself.

When I see news of North Korea abruptly embracing peace talks just after meetings with China and not long after wild threats were tossed around of impending nuclear conflict, I wonder about the true nature behind the abnormal shift in rhetoric. When I see Trump suddenly speaking of Kim Jong-un as “very honorable” after months of trading character attacks on social media, I have to wonder when the next false flag event similar to the Damascus farce will take place?

There are already clear signs that all is not as it seems when it comes to a potential North Korean peace agreement.

North Korea’s offer to halt nuclear testing in exchange for a truce with the U.S. rings a bit hollow when one realizes Pyongyang’s primary nuclear testing site has recently collapsed in on itself from overuse. Any halt on testing by North Korea is likely temporary as secondary sites are prepared.

It also should come as no surprise that North Korea is willing to enter into diplomatic talks only months after achieving successful tests on their first ICBMs capable of reaching the eastern seaboard of the US. Again, as Sun Tzu taught, when you are most dangerous it is important to appear weak to your enemies.

Trump’s newest National Security Adviser and neo-con warmonger, John Bolton, expressed "doubts" in interviews that North Korea will “give up” its nuclear armaments. Bolton and other globalists know full well that North Korea has no intention of disarming, and if this is going to be a prerequisite to any peace agreement then I would expect talks to fall apart before they ever begin.

During initial talks to engineer “peace” in Syria under the Obama administration, the establishment argument was that Assad would have to step down as president of Syria in order for diplomacy to move forward. Of course, as noted above, western covert agencies created ISIS out of thin air just as they created the Syrian civil war out of thin air. They caused an extreme civilian genocide through their ISIS proxies, blamed the Assad regime for the instability in the region and then, when their color revolution failed to unseat Assad, they ask him to relinquish power as a good will offering towards the peace process. See how that works?

Obviously, globalists knew Assad was never going to step down. Why would he when he knows that this was the goal behind the creation of ISIS from the very beginning? And so, Syria remains a useful point of chaos in the globalist arsenal as a larger war is an ever present possibility. It is a perpetual powder keg that could be set off anytime the globalists choose.

Iran is also an excellent example of the fraudulent nature of establishment peace agreements.  The initial agreement arrived at in 2015, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), listed a drastic reduction in Iran's Uranium stockpile and enrichment facilities.  Iran seems to have complied with this request according to initial reports, and has complied with IAEA requests for inspections.  However, globalist peace deals are never fixed - they can be changed at a moment's notice to facilitate a breakdown in the agreement.

The US has recently made demands for the IAEA to inspect not only Iran's nuclear facilities but also its military sites, which were not under the original IAEA purview.  Iran, of course, is not too happy about the idea of having its military bases subject to foreign inspections.  US officials have also claimed Iran is not following the "spirit of the agreement"; not because of any supposed nuclear development, but because of Iran's support for the Assad regime in Syria.

On top of this, the US is seeking to change the original JCPOA while refusing to label the changes a "renegotiation".  Officials have called for a "supplementary deal", which to my mind is in fact a renegotiation of the original deal.  This is clearly meant to cause a collapse in the JCPOA, as Iran is unlikely to ever accept a renegotiation.

Finally, Israel is now claiming that Iran has broken the JCPOA by secretly developing nuclear technology.  Once again, like WMDs in Iraq and chemical weapons attacks in Syria, no hard evidence whatsoever has been produced to support this claim.  But, that might not matter at all as Israel has already initiated strikes against Iranian targets in Syria (Syria and Iran have a mutual defense pact), and they may very well attack Iran directly within the next year.

Globalists do not care about peace, they only care about timing their wars properly.  The same reality applies to North Korea. Here is how this situation is probably going to play out…

The Trump administration will enter into peace talks with outlandish demands of complete nuclear disarmament. North Korea has so far offered a freeze on testing, but again, this is probably due to the collapse of their main testing site. A freeze on testing is not the same as total disarmament.

North Korea will of course refuse disarmament. The establishment will push harder, causing North Korea to pull back from the talks, to reschedule talks multiple time or to abandon talks altogether. Then, the establishment will say North Korea is not serious about peace, therefore, the force of action may be justified. They will say they gave North Korea a chance to do things the easy way, but now the hard way is necessary.

North Korea missile tests will continue, and new nuke facilities will open. Trump will call for the kinetic termination of such sites.

People who actually believe that globalists will abandon one of its best geopolitical Pandora’s boxes in North Korea have still not learned their lesson from the Syrian debacle, or from Iran. These regions represent a gold mine of potential international chaos which can be used as cover for all sorts of misdeeds as well as continued economic decline.

As I have noted in past articles, it is rather convenient for the banking elites at the Federal Reserve that every time they make an announcement of further cuts to their balance sheet as well as continued interest rate hikes a new geopolitical crisis involving Donald Trump simultaneously erupts. Is this mere coincidence, or should we view it as a discernible trend?

If it is a trend, then I would expect further crisis events involving Syria, Iran and North Korea in May and June as the Fed is set to increase the size of its balance sheet reductions thereby pulling the plug on its long time policy of artificially supporting markets.

More strikes in Syria as well as destabilizing relations with Iran are likely. A collapse in talks with North Korea should be expected, followed by more plunges in stocks and other assets.

Published:5/2/2018 10:53:09 PM
[Markets] Hillary Clinton Now Blaming Socialist Democrats For Historic Election Loss

Just when we thought Hillary Clinton had run out of people to blame for her 2016 defeat, the former Secretary of State has come up with a new one we never saw coming: Socialist Democrats.

When asked on Wednesday at the Shared Value Leadership Summit in New York City if she thought that declaring herself  to be a "capitalist" Democrat hurt her in the primaries, Clinton replied, "probably." 

“It’s hard to know but I mean if you’re in the Iowa caucuses and 41 percent of Democrats are socialists or self-described socialists, and I’m asked ‘Are you a capitalist?’ and I say, ‘Yes, but with appropriate regulation and appropriate accountability.’ You know, that probably gets lost in the ‘Oh my gosh, she’s a capitalist!’” Clinton concluded, referring in part to the popularity of her Democratic Socialist rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

So aside from socialists, as a friendly reminder since everyone's scroll wheel needs a workout every now and again, below is a list of all the "reasons" Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 US election courtesy of the Daily Mail - because it certainly wasn't her fault

JAMES COMEY

Clinton is furious that Comey, then the FBI director, publicly revealed the re-opening of the secret email server investigation just before election day - and has said so time after time after time.

THE FBI  

Comey's entire organization does not escape her wrath. 

'The FBI wasn't the Federal Bureau of Ifs or Innuendoes. Its job was to find out the facts,' she writes in What Happened.

VLADIMIR PUTIN

'There's no doubt in my mind that Putin wanted me to lose and wanted Trump to win,' she told USA Today in September last year while promoting What Happened. 

It was hardly a new theme. As early as December the New York Times obtained audio in which she told her donors: 'Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election.'  

THE RUSSIANS

Putin's entire apparatus gets a name-check. In May she told the Codecon convention how '1,000 Russian agents' had filled Facebook with 'fake news'.

She told NPR 'my path toward November was being disrupted with Russians'.

WIKILEAKS 

The 'transparency website' is consistently ranked along with Comey by Clinton at the top of her blame list.

She told NPR : 'Unfortunately the Comey letter, aided to great measure by the Russian WikiLeaks, raised all those doubts again.'

And she writes of its founder Julian Assange in What Happened: 'In my view, Assange is a hypocrite who deserves to be held accountable for his actions.'

LOW INFORMATION VOTERS

'You put yourself in the position of a low information voter, and all of a sudden your Facebook feed, your Twitter account is saying, "Oh my gosh, Hillary Clinton is running a child trafficking operation in Washington with John Podesta.",' she told the Codecon convention in May.

'Well you don't believe it but this has been such an unbelievable election, you kind of go, 'Oh maybe I better look into that.''

THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE

'We have an electoral college problem. It's an anachronism,' she told Vox. 

ANTI-AMERICAN FORCES

'I think it's important that we learn the real lessons from this last campaign because the forces that we are up against are not just interested in influencing our elections and our politics, they're going after our economy and they're going after our unity as a nation,' she told Codecon in May.

'What is hard for people to really accept - although now after the election there's greater understanding - is that there are forces in our country - put the Russians to one side - who have been fighting rear guard actions for as long as I've been alive because my life coincided with the Civil Rights movement, with the women's rights movement, with anti-war protesting, with the impeachment.

EVERYONE WHO ASSUMED SHE WOULD WIN

'I was the victim of a very broad assumption that I was going to win,' she told the Codecon convention.

BAD POLLING NUMBERS

Clinton says polls in key states did not serve her. 

'I think polling is going to have to undergo some revisions in how they actually measure people,' she told the Codecon convention.

'How they reach people. The best assessments as of right now are that the polling was not that inaccurate, but it was predominantly national polling and I won nationally.'

BARACK OBAMA 

Clinton has two beefs with Obama: one of them being that he won two terms. Clinton says that succeeding an incumbent is almost impossible for a Democrat.

'No non-incumbent Democrat had run successfully to succeed another two-termer since Vice President Martin Van Buren won in 1836,' she writes in What Happened.

But she also says his response to the Russian campaign of interference wasn't enough.

'I do wonder sometimes about what would have happened if President Obama had made a televised address to the nation in the fall of 2016 warning that our democracy was under attack,' she writes in What Happened. 

WHITE WOMEN

'I believe absent Comey, I might've picked up 1 or 2 points among white women,' she told Vox in September.

'White woman... are really quite politically dependent on their view of their own security and their own position in society what works and doesn't work for them.'

THE NEW YORK TIMES

The newspaper was blamed as early as May at the Codecon conference in Rancho Palos Verde, California.

She singled out its managing editor Dean Baquet - the paper's most senior editor - and said of coverage of her email issue under his direction: 'They covered it like it was Pearl Harbor.'

JOE BIDEN

Biden could have run against her and didn't. But Clinton writes: 'Joe Biden said the Democratic Party in 2016 'did not talk about what it always stood for—and that was how to maintain a burgeoning middle class.'

'I find this fairly remarkable, considering that Joe himself campaigned for me all over the Midwest and talked plenty about the middle class.'

BERNIE SANDERS

'His attacks caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump's 'Crooked Hillary' campaign,' she writes in What Happened.

'I don't know if that bothered Bernie or not.'

BERNIE BROS 

'Some of his supporters, the so-called Bernie Bros, took to harassing my supporters online. It got ugly and more than a little sexist,' she writes in What Happened. 

PEOPLE WANTING CHANGE

'I thought, at end of day, people would say, look, we do want change, and we want the right kind of change, and we want change that is realistic and is going to make difference in my life and my family's life and my paycheck,' she told Vox.

'That's what I was offering. And I didn't in any way want to feed into this, not just radical political argument that was being made on other side, but very negative cultural argument about who we are as Americans.'

MISOGYNISTS

Asked by CNN's Christine Amanpour at the Women for Women International event in new York in May if misogyny was to blame she said: 'Yes, I do think it played a role.'  

TELEVISION EXECUTIVES

'When you have a presidential campaign and the total number of minutes on TV news, which is still how most people get their information, covering all of our policies, climate change, anything else was 32 minutes, I don't blame voters,' she told The View.

'They don't get a broad base of information to make decision on. The more outrageous you are, the more inflammatory you are, the higher the ratings are.'

NETFLIX

Hillary does not do Netflix and chill - or if she does, she doesn't find it very relaxing.

'Eight of the top 10 political documentaries on Netflix were screeds against President Obama and me,' she claimed at the Codecon convention.

FACEBOOK

'If you look at Facebook the vast majority of the news items posted were fake. They were connected to as we now know the 1,000 Russian agents who were involved in delivering those messages,' she told Codecon.

TWITTER

Usually mentioned in the same breath as Facebook, the micro-blogging site is seen by Clinton as one of the reasons for her loss. 

She told the Codecon convention in may that Trump had a method in his tweets.

'They want to influence your reality. That to me is what we're up against, and we can't let that go unanswered,' she said.

CONTENT FARMS IN MACEDONIA

'Through content farms, through an enormous investment in falsehoods, fake news, call it what you will - lies, that's a good word too - the other side was using content that was flat out false,' she told the Codecon convention in May. 

'They were conveying this weaponized information and the content of it, and they were running, y'know there's all these stories, about y'know, and you know I've seen them now, and you sit there and it looks like you know sort of low level CNN operation, or a fake newspaper.'

CAMPAIGN FINANCE

'You had Citizens United come to its full fruition.' she told Codecon in May.

'So unaccountable money flowing in against me, against other Democrats, in a way that we hadn't seen and then attached to this weaponized information war.

THE MEDIA

'American journalists who eagerly and uncritically repeated whatever WikiLeaks dished out during the campaign could learn from the responsible way the French press handled the hack of Macron,' she writes in What Happened. 

Now-president Macron had a massive tranche of his emails hacked and released shortly before the French voted. Many outlets did not report on their contents.  

STEVE BANNON AND BREITBART

'Provided the untrue stories,' she told the Codecon convention in May. 

THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY 

'I set up my campaign and we have our own data operation. I get the nomination. So I'm now the nominee of the Democratic Party. I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party,' Clinton said told the Codecon convention in May.

 'I mean, it was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it.'

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY

The Republicans were far better prepared for a campaign than the Democrats she claimed, when it came to money and data, telling the Codecon convention: 'So Trump becomes the nominee and he is basically handed this tried and true, effective foundation.' 

CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA

The data-targeting firm ultimately owned by Robert Mercer, the billionaire Breitbart backer, and his family, is said to have targeted voters to drive them away from Clinton.

'They ultimately added something and I think again we'd better understand that. The Mercers did not invest all that money for their own amusement,' she told the Codecon convention.

WOMEN PROTESTERS

The massive demonstrations in Washington and other cities in the wake of the election were organized as an immediate response to Clinton's shock defeat.

But that did not stop Clinton from writing in What Happened: 'I couldn't help but ask where those feelings of solidarity, outrage and passion had been during the election.'

MATT LAUER

The NBC Today show anchor quizzed both candidates at a 'commander-in-chief forum' on board Intrepid in New York. 

But Clinton - who went first in the back-to-back interviews, complained about Lauer focusing on her secret server and whether it raised questions over her trustworthiness.

'Lauer had turned what should have been a serious discussion into a pointless ambush. What a waste of time,' she writes in What Happened. She later delighted in his firing for sexual misconduct, saying in December: 'Every day I believe more in karma.' 

WHITE VOTERS

'White voters have been fleeing the Democratic party ever since Lyndon Johnson predicted they would,' she told Vox.  

DEMOCRATIC DOCUMENTARY MAKERS 

'We're not making the documentaries that we're going to get onto Netflix,' she told Codecon.

She was asked by the interviewer: 'This is because Hollywood isn't liberal enough?'

'No, it's because Democrats aren't putting their money there,' she replied. 

BENGHAZI INVESTIGATORS

The attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi on September 11, 2012, happened when Clinton was Secretary of State. It claimed four American lives, and was the focus of intense investigation by Congress.  

Clinton told the Today show: 'Take the Benghazi tragedy - you know, I have one of the top Republicans, Kevin McCarthy, admitting we're going to take that tragedy - because, you know, we've lost people, unfortunately, going back to the Reagan administration, if you talk about recent times, in diplomatic attacks.

'But boy, it was turned into a political football. And it was aimed at undermining my credibility, my record, my accomplishments.'

VOTER SUPPRESSION

Suppressing her voters was named by Clinton as one of the major factors in her defeat in her interview on the Today show when she rattled off her laundry list. 'What was at work here?' she said.

'In addition to the mistakes that I made, which I recount in the book, what about endemic sexism and misogyny, not just in politics but in our society, what about the unprecedented action of the FBI director,  what about the interference of an adversary nation, what about voter suppression?' 

It was a return to a theme - she suggested it was a problem in Wisconsin in an interview in May with New York magazine.

'I would have won had I not been subjected to the unprecedented attacks by Comey and the Russians, aided and abetted by the suppression of the vote, particularly in Wisconsin,' she said. 

'Republicans learned that if you suppress votes you win.'

MITCH McCONNELL

The Senate majority leader is accused of stopping the Obama administration from revealing what Clinton says the Russians were up to, helping tip the balance against her because he did not want a third successive Democratic term in the White House.  

'Mitch McConnell, in what I think of as a not only unpatriotic but despicable act of partisan politics, made it clear that if the Obama Administration spoke publicly about what they knew [on Russia], he would accuse them of partisan politics, of trying to tip the balance toward me,' she told the New Yorker.   

THE SUPREME COURT

Clinton claims the Supreme Court watered down the Voting Rights Act at the Codecon convention.

'You had effective suppression of votes,' she said.

'I was in the senate when we voted 98-0 under a Republican president, George W Bush, to extend the Voting Rights Act and the Supreme Court says 'oh we don't need it any more' , throws it out, and Republican governors and legislatures began doing everything they could to suppress the votes.'

Clinton appears to be referring to Second 4(b) of the Act being ruled unconstitutional by the court in 2013, because it relied on out of date data which meant it was not in line with the 15th Amendment. 

FATHERS, HUSBANDS, BOYFRIENDS, AND MALE BOSSES

Clinton says that James Comey's actions in re-opening the FBI investigation allowed men to influence their wives or girlfriends.

'Women will have no empathy for you because they will be under tremendous pressure - and I'm talking principally about white women - they will be under tremendous pressure from fathers, and husbands, and boyfriends and male employers, not to vote for 'the girl',' she told NPR. 

THE INVISIBLE STATE

The newest addition to the list: named by her confidante Lanny Davis as the reason she lost at a reading of his book while Hillary nodded along in approval. 

Published:5/2/2018 10:22:14 PM
[Markets] Trump "All But Decided To Withdraw" From Iran Deal As IAEA Refutes Netanyahu Speech

Soon after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a televised address in which he unveiled a cache of 55,000 pages of documents and 183 CDs that he claimed comprised Iran's alleged "atomic archive" of documents on its nuclear program, supposedly proving the existence of an illegal and ongoing secret program to "test and build nuclear weapons" called Project Amad, the UN's atomic agency weighed in to directly negate the claims. 

But right on cue, Reuters now reports that "Trump has all but decided to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord by May 12 but exactly how he will do so remains unclear, two White House officials and a source familiar with the administration’s internal debate said on Wednesday."

Image source: The Jerusalem Post

On Tuesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued an assessment in response to Netanyahu's speech firmly asserting that there are "no credible indications" supporting Netanyahu's claims of a continued Iranian nuclear weapons program after 2009.

According to the AP summary of the IAEA assessment:

The U.N. nuclear agency says it believes that Iran had a “coordinated” nuclear weapons program in place before 2003, but found “no credible indications” of such work after 2009...

The documents focused on Iranian activities before 2003 and did not provide any explicit evidence that Iran has violated its 2015 nuclear deal with the international community.

The IAEA statements followed on the heels of a number of international Iran analysts weighing in to say there appeared "nothing new" in terms of "evidence" which Netanyahu confidently presented as if it were an open-and-shut bombshell revelation of Iranian malfeasance.

One such specialist in an op-ed for the New York Times called the supposed Israeli Mossad intelligence haul a big "nuclear nothingburger" full of things already well-known to the world, with the further implication that the intelligence operation that netted the files itself appears hokey and untrustworthy.

Middle East analyst Steven Simon noted in the Times piece that:

The archive had been stored in what Mr. Netanyahu described as a derelict warehouse in Tehran. The photos he displayed indicated that there did not even appear to be a lock on the door. One wonders how important the Iranians thought these documents were, given the slapdash approach they took to storing them. In any case, the Mossad operation that netted this haul apparently took place in January and President Trump was briefed on it shortly afterward.

Meanwhile, former Israeli National Security Advisor Uzi Arad in response to Netanyahu's claim that Iran lied about its nuclear program, said that "at no point was there any indication that Iran violated the agreement."

Indeed, after Netanyahu's bizarre performance which in typical fashion made heavy use of stage props and simplistically styled visuals (who can forget the absurd bugs bunny cartoon bomb image he held up at the U.N. in 2012?), there's been little reporting focused on just how a team of Mossad agents waltzed into Iran to steal from "a dilapidated warehouse" over 100,000 of the country's most sensitive and damning documents.

To underscore this far-fetched scenario is literally the claim being made — that a large Mossad team walked into an Iranian warehouse to physically carry and secretly transport bulk print files and CDs out of the country — a senior Israeli intelligence official was widely quoted as saying of the covert operation, "We didn’t take everything because it was too heavy."

To this we might reply it was so nice of the Iranians and their feared and paranoia-driven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to leave their most secretive and "hidden" files so unguarded and out in the open, and in an old unsecured building in which there "did not even appear to be a lock on the door" according to the NY Times.

Below is the official account currently circulating of the details of the Mossad operation inside Iran, sourced to high level Israeli officials and posted to Axios by Israeli national security reporter Barak Ravid:

  • Israeli officials say the Mossad received intelligence that showed the Iranians were trying to hide all documents concerning the military dimensions of their nuclear program.
  • The official said that in a highly secret operation known to a handful of Iranian officials, the Iranians transferred tens of thousands of documents and CD's from several different sites around the country to a civilian warehouse in Tehran. The Israeli official said the Iranians did all that because they were afraid IAEA inspectors would find the documents.
  • The Mossad put the warehouse under surveillance and started preparing for a possible operation to seize the documents. According to Israeli officials, more than 100 Mossad spies worked on this operation and, in January 2018, it was implemented.
  • A senior Israeli intelligence official said the Mossad managed to put its hands on most of the documents in the warehouse. "We didn’t take everything because it was too heavy", he said.

The trove of Persian language documents are still being reportedly translated and analyzed by separate teams of Mossad and CIA specialists.

Assuming any of the details of the claimed Mossad "secret files" heist are accurate, the likely correct version of events is that being offered by the IAEA,  while the Iranians themselves remained unmoved by the strange presentation, slamming  the Israeli PM's accusations, calling him "an infamous liar" who "can't stop crying wolf." As evidence for this assertion, the Iranians can simply point to Netanyahu's testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2002 on Iraq's mythical WMD program. 

Netanyahu argued in the lead up to the disastrous Iraq war: "There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing toward the development of nuclear weapons, no question whatsoever."

And asserted that the United States must pursue regime change because, “make no mistake about it, if and once Saddam has nuclear weapons, the terror network will have  nuclear weapons.” He said there was “no question (Saddam) hadn’t given up on his nuclear program” and that the Iraqi leader was “hell-bent on achieving an atomic bomb, atomic capabilities.”

Of course, all of this was dead wrong. 

And then there's this stellar track record: 

Though it's possible that Trump might not actually go through with unilaterally collapsing the deal altogether, the possibility of that Obama-era 2015 deal surviving through 2018 is hanging by a thread.

While Reuters further reports Trump's top aides are attempting to talk him down from nixing it all together, citing a White House source who said "it was possible Trump will end up with a decision that 'is not a full pullout' but was unable to describe what that might look like" — current momentum since Netanyahu's speech seems going in the direction of a pull-out. 

If so, this will not bode well for the prospects of a greater Israeli-Iran-Syria-Hezbollah war that is sure to set the whole region on fire. 

Published:5/2/2018 9:22:01 PM
[Politics] Ugh: Michelle Obama refers to herself as the ‘FOREVER FIRST LADY’ I have to think that Michelle Obama is just baiting people to respond with bitter angry barbs at this because what possible reason would she have to call herself such a grandiose . . . Published:5/2/2018 8:51:24 PM
[Politics] Ugh: Michelle Obama refers to herself as the ‘FOREVER FIRST LADY’ I have to think that Michelle Obama is just baiting people to respond with bitter angry barbs at this because what possible reason would she have to call herself such a grandiose . . . Published:5/2/2018 8:51:24 PM
[Uncategorized] We can now conclusively say the Iran nuke deal was induced by fraud By the Obama administration and the Mullah regime. Published:5/2/2018 7:52:17 PM
[US News] ‘GAG ME’! Michelle Obama proclaims herself ‘forever First Lady’

"Narcissism much?"

The post ‘GAG ME’! Michelle Obama proclaims herself ‘forever First Lady’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/2/2018 7:22:46 PM
[Markets] DOJ Probe Demanded After "Very Pissed Off" Obama Official Reamed McCabe Over Clinton Investigation

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) fired off a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday demanding that the Department of Justice investigate allegations that a "very pissed off" Obama administration official called then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, allegedly pressuring him to shut down the FBI's investigation into the Clinton Foundation. 

According to the account contained within an official report by the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General (OIG), McCabe was rattled by the call - reportedly made by senior Obama DOJ official Mattnew Axelrod and pushed back.

According to McCabe, he pushed back, asking ‘are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?’” the report said. “McCabe told us that the conversation was ‘very dramatic’ and he never had a similar confrontation like the PADAG call with a high-level department official in his entire FBI career.”

During the aforementioned phone call, the IG report recounts that the PADAG called Mr. McCabe and “expressed concerns about FBI agents taking overt steps in the CF [Clinton Foundation] Investigation during the presidential campaign.”  This corresponds to reporting by the Wall Street Journal which detailed, “a senior Justice Department official called Mr. McCabe to voice his displeasure at finding that New York FBI agents were still openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation probe during the election season…. The Justice Department official was ‘very pissed off,’ according to one person close to McCabe, and pressed him to explain why the FBI was still chasing a matter the department considered dormant.” -Bob Goodlatte to Jeff Sessions

Goodlatte notes that Axelrod was "inquiring into why the FBI was pursuing a case against the Clinton Foundation during the election, and at worst, attempting to improperly and illegally influence the status of an ongoing investigation for purely partisan purposes." 

"It is important to determine whether the PADAG’s directions to Mr. McCabe resulted in any “stand down” order being given to agents in these offices," the letter reads. 

Undue Pressure?

Goodlatte's letter also suggests that while McCabe was fired for "behaving in a matter unworthy of a public servant and, in particular, and FBI agent," that he may have been under "undue pressure and influence asserted by the Department - and possibly even higher levels of the U.S. government during the Obama Administration - to ensure that a validly predicated investigation of the Clinton Foundation was terminated." 

McCabe was fired on March 16 after the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that he "had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor - including under oath - on multiple occasions." 

Specifically, McCabe allegedly authorized an F.B.I. spokesman and attorney to tell Devlin Barrett of the Wall St. Journal, just days before the 2016 election, that the FBI had not put the brakes on the Clinton Foundation investigation - right around the time McCabe was coming under fire for his wife taking a $467,500 campaign contribution from Clinton proxy pal, Terry McAuliffe. 

Meanwhile, McCabe and former FBI Director James Comey are setting up for quite the battle over whether or not Comey knew of the leaks. While peddling his book on ABC's The View, Comey called McCabe a liar - and admitted that he ordered the IG report that found him guilty of leaking to the press.

Comey was asked by host Megan McCain how he thought the public was supposed to have "confidence" in the FBI amid revelations that McCabe lied about the leak. 

It’s not okay. The McCabe case illustrates what an organization committed to the truth looks like,” Comey said. “I ordered that investigation.” 

Comey then appeared to try and frame McCabe as a "good person" despite all the lying. 

“Good people lie. I think I’m a good person, where I have lied,” Comey said. “I still believe Andrew McCabe is a good person but the inspector general found he lied,” noting that there are "severe consequences" within the DOJ for doing so.

Goodlatte's letter to Sessions can be read below:

Published:5/2/2018 6:51:52 PM
[World] Your Taxes at Work: Some Foreign Arsenal Assembly Required

Caroline Dorminey

The Trump administration finally released its updated US Conventional Arms Transfer Policy and, within about a week, notified Congress of over a billion dollars worth of sales. The new document reads very similar to the Obama administration’s policy published in 2014, with a few very important differences — one of which is the incorporation of profit into the equation.

There has always been a strong case for the economic-driven side of arms sales from the defense industry — after all, arms sales do affect their bottom lines. But the Trump administration has added several important phrases, including a new tenet: that arms sales should increase “economic security” and “create jobs.”

Profit — a factor that had been secondary to national security and foreign policy concerns — is front and center in Trump’s new policy, in keeping with his deal-oriented mindset. This could have significant implications if the government switches the means by which it entices customers from offsets to financing options. The first option burdens the defense industry, while the second burdens the defense budget.

Which is to say, this should concern you not just from a strategic perspective, but also as a taxpayer.

Trump’s new policy encourages a “whole of government” approach to pitching arms sales abroad. The change will effectively turn civil servants who had been third-party brokers between foreign governments and American defense contractors into de facto salespeople. Officials talking up American defense products isn’t new, but giving them the directive to increase “economic security” gives profit a greater emphasis — with the commander-in-chief and his 2017 sales pitches to the Saudis, for example, offering model behavior in this regard.

Currently, the majority of incentives to foreign buyers of American weapons come in the form of offsets. These agreements are made once the US government has cleared a sale and the company can liaise with whichever foreign government is purchasing the product. Offsets are meant to make the deals more attractive, and can include anything from co-production to technology transfer to Foreign Direct Investments. This takes a major cut out of any profit for the defense contractors, who shoulder most of the cost. In 2014 alone, contractors reported $20.5 billion in defense-related merchandise exports, with $13 billion worth of those sales including some kind of offset. The total value of reported offset agreements for that year was $7.7 billion — over one-third the value of total defense exports for that year.

Obviously, this makes offsets an unattractive option for increasing economic security. The defense industry would prefer not to bear that burden — so then how will diplomats sweeten the deal for interested buyers while still protecting profit margins?

Foreign Military Financing to the rescue. The Arms Export Control Act authorizes the president to financially assist nations interested in US defense products and services. While all that sounds technically sound, this financing comes in the form of either a grant (free money to never be repaid) or as direct loans (which are then sometimes forgiven).

This type of financing comes directly out of the US federal budget — specifically out of the State Department’s portion. The final budget omnibus that was signed into law in March settled on $6.1 billion to give freely to other countries to purchase American weapons.

Profit is front and center in Trump’s new arms policy, and taxpayers are footing the bill.

That’s right — $6 billion of American taxpayer dollars this year alone will go towards subsidizing the arsenals of other nations so that they too can “Buy American.” Foreign Military Financing had, until now, been on the decline. From 1985 to 2015 the program decreased 50 percent in real terms. With this new economic security component to stated guidance on arms sales, there is a very real possibility that Foreign Military Financing could continue to rise.

Equally frustrating is Trump’s sound bite that arms sales will preserve and create more jobs back home — particularly in manufacturing. Jonathan Caverley, a professor at the US Naval War College, recently pointed out that the “Commerce Department estimates that a billion dollars of defense exports would ‘create or sustain’ 3,918 jobs.” That’s 1,782 fewer jobs than the 5,700 that would be generated just by increasing US exports more broadly, according to the Commerce Department’s numbers. In fact, research shows thatvirtually any other sector — health care, education, infrastructure — would be a better place to seek job creation.

While the arms trade sustains some jobs in the United States, it also creates jobs abroad. A frequently used offset is licensed production, which means that the US sells the information and parts to a weapons system but then it’s assembled partly or entirely in the recipient nation. The F-35 deal Trump touted back in November of 2017 as creating jobs will in fact do so — but in a Japanese production facility, not an American one. Other deals following this model include a recent sale of Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky helicopters that will be assembled in Saudi Arabia.

The defense industry takes these trends to heart — Raytheon has already announced the creation of Raytheon Arabia, a “Saudi entity owned by the Massachusetts-based firm.” Lockheed Martin and Boeing have also already pitched joint-venture projects with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — America’s number one client. With more and more companies creating defense jobs overseas, it’s clear that arms sales will have an even more diminished impact on the creation of jobs stateside.

So unless you’re already employed by the defense industry, there’s a good chance that the taxes that come out of your paychecks will be paying for Trump’s increased sales.

Caroline Dorminey is a policy analyst in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.
Published:5/2/2018 3:51:12 PM
[World] Hedging Bets on the Future of U.S.-China Economic Relations

Daniel J. Ikenson

This year has witnessed a series of U.S. trade actions that threaten to throw the U.S.-China economic relationship and the global economy into turmoil. Following five investigations launched under three rarely invoked trade laws, President Trump has imposed — or announced plans to impose — tariffs on thousands of products from China.

Beijing has responded in kind, so prospects for an escalation of tit-for-tat protectionism are ripe, and a debilitating trade war is not out of the realm of possibilities. But, ironically, reduced tensions and improved opportunities for trade and investment are also possible as a result of Trump’s aggressive approach.

U.S. trade policy under President Trump has departed sharply from the course pursued over the past 85 years. Whereas the previous 13 presidents — Democrats and Republicans, alike- have viewed trade as a mutually beneficial, win-win proposition that fosters economic growth and good relations among nations, Trump sees trade as a zero sum game with distinct winners and losers. To Trump and his advisors, the large U.S. trade deficit with China means the United States is losing at trade and that it’s losing because Beijing cheats. Hence, Trump speaks of waging and winning trade wars because the Chinese are more dependent on the U.S. market than Americans are on the Chinese market.

Trump speaks of waging and winning trade wars because the Chinese are more dependent on the U.S. market than Americans are on the Chinese market. That thinking is absurd.

All of that thinking is absurd. But even though Trump attaches meaning to irrelevant metrics like bilateral trade deficits in a global economy, where two-thirds of trade flows are intermediate goods and only 3.6 percent of the value of an Apple iPhone is Chinese (yet the entire $179 cost is chalked up as an import from China, exacerbating the bilateral deficit), the fact is that frictions in the relationship have been increasing since well before this president assumed office.

Concerns over trade imbalances, alleged trade-rule violations, subsidization and state-owned enterprises, metastasizing industrial policies, discriminatory treatment of non-Chinese companies, and other forms of trade and investment protectionism have preoccupied Washington for a decade- ever since the United States limped out of a debilitating recession to find that China had supplanted it as the world’s largest manufacturer and had set its sights on leapfrogging the United States, at all costs, to the technological fore. President Obama- and to a lesser extent, President George W. Bush- pursued resolution of trade issues with China through dispute settlement at the World Trade Organization and by pointing aggrieved domestic industries to familiar U.S. trade laws for the mitigation of problems. Wisely, neither made it a U.S. policy aim to “fix” the trade imbalance. But, in retrospect, there may have been too much complacency about condemning China’s technology mercantilism and compelling Beijing to refrain from forcing technology transfers and stealing intellectual property.

As far as Trump’s actions are concerned, the Section 201 safeguards on solar cells and large residential washers are small potatoes. The actions make for stupid, self-flagellating economics, but they are disputes that won’t leave deep marks on the relationship. The Section 232 “national security” tariffs on steel and aluminum provoked some retaliation from Beijing, but again it’s just not that significant a scuffle, and will be put behind us without long-lingering animus.

What is of major importance, however, is the Section 301 case, which gets to the crux of the most important issues in the economic relationship. Trump’s unilateralism puts the rules-based trading system at greater risk of collapse.

The Trump administration sounds serious about punishing the Chinese government and Chinese companies that allegedly have benefited from years of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer policies. But U.S. businesses and consumers will pay a steep price, as well, if the raw materials, components, and other intermediate goods they require to manufacture their own output are hit with tariffs. Moreover, Chinese retaliation would also seriously impede — and likely reduce — revenues on export sales. Meanwhile, if the United States follows through with the proposed tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods, there will be nothing stopping other governments from going rogue when it suits their needs. The collateral damage will be broad and deep.

Trump administration officials are visiting Beijing this week, presumably to find a way to negotiate trade peace. The Chinese may seek to purchase that peace with promises to buy more Boeings and grain. The Americans may demand reciprocal access to services and investment markets, as well as tariff reciprocity. But what will remain an enduring source of friction in the relationship is the absence of rules and trust that must underpin each country’s commitment to innovation and commercialization of technology. The high-tech trade skirmishes over the past decade are close to devolving into a state of technological autarky, where foreign firms, foreign capital, and foreign researchers are banned from each other’s markets. That outcome would punish businesses and consumers in both countries and make the world a poorer place.

A stable and growing commercial relationship between the United States and China is essential to the well-being of the global economy. A smarter, more durable approach to the problems we confront would be for Washington and Beijing to make lists of all of their gripes, put them on the table, and see whether, and to what extent, they can be resolved or mitigated in a bilateral trade or investment agreement. The United States and China have not yet dealt seriously with the prospect of a bilateral free trade agreement, and, given the current climate, such talks may be difficult to commence. However, what better way is there to avert a deleterious trade war than to resolve issues by putting them in writing and signing the document for all the world to see?

Daniel J. Ikenson is director of the Cato Institute’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies.
Published:5/2/2018 1:50:10 PM
[Media] Day 2: Obama Bros Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor are now angry at Seth Mandel

The Obama Bros are at it again today, this time attacking the New York Post’s Seth Mandel for using an exact quote from Tommy Vietor against him. First up, this is the exchange that set Jon Favreau and Vietor off today (“Dancing Israelis” is a 9/11 conspiracy theory that Israelis celebrated as the towers came […]

The post Day 2: Obama Bros Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor are now angry at Seth Mandel appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/2/2018 12:19:39 PM
[5bf30f93-b77f-41bd-96d7-6066f196a854] Kanye West's most controversial recent comments about Harriet Tubman, slavery, Obama and more Kanye West has ignited a firestorm of reactions with recent comments about President Trump, former President Barack Obama and even Harriet Tubman. Published:5/2/2018 11:18:46 AM
[Politics] Americans See Trump, Obama Equally Worthy of Nobel Peace Prize

If President Trump brings the North Korea crisis to a peaceful end, Americans think he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize as much as former President Obama now merits the one he received in 2009.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 42% of American Adults believe Trump should be given the Nobel Peace Prize if he engineers the end of the North Korean nuclear threat. Forty-five percent (45%) disagree, while 13% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on April 30-May 1, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology

Published:5/2/2018 9:48:48 AM
[National Security] New Evidence of Iran Nuclear Arms Program Likely to Doom Obama-Era Deal

President Trump, backed by a new hardline national security team along with new evidence uncovered by Israel, is likely to end U.S. participation in the controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The post New Evidence of Iran Nuclear Arms Program Likely to Doom Obama-Era Deal appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:5/2/2018 7:20:43 AM
[World] California sues over plan to scrap car emission standards SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California and 16 other states sued the Trump administration Tuesday over its plan to scrap Obama-era auto-emissions standards that would require vehicles to get significantly higher gas mileage by 2025. Published:5/1/2018 3:56:54 PM
[ab978e23-210e-431b-9184-0b03951ee6c5] DACA should be overturned -- A new lawsuit might succeed in doing that A lawsuit filed Tuesday by Texas and six other states may finally result in the long-overdue termination of the DACA program, which was created without legal authority by President Obama in 2012 to allow children brought into the U.S. illegally to temporarily remain here under certain conditions. Published:5/1/2018 3:56:54 PM
[Markets] How China's "Pragmatic Authoritarianism" And Russia's "Illiberal Democracy" Have Averted "The End Of History"

Since the historic triumph of President Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election, political analysts have pontificated about how the rise of Trumpism was a direct repudiation of a popular idea advanced by Francis Fukuyama in his 1992 book: "The End of History and the Last Man". That book, published shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, speculated that liberal Western democracy had categorically defeated Communism to become the world's de fact dominant ideology. It was only a matter of time, Fukuyama posited, before the rest of the world embraces democracy, and, once this happens, the world will settle into an enduring peace.

For better or worse, the events of the last few years have eroded the credibility of liberal democracies to the point that their continued dominance no longer looks assured even in the west. For evidence of this, one need look no further than Hungary, Poland and Russia, "illiberal democracies" - a term coined by popular Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban - that have won the popular support of the people.

But by far the biggest threat to US-style democracy is, of course, China - which is already the world's most populous country and will soon surpass the US as the world's largest economy, too.

Communism

China's model of pragmatic authoritarianism has succeeded in delivering sustained benefits to even the poorest Chinese - the country's middle class is growing at a rate unmatched anywhere in the developing world.

One need only compare its political system to India's shambolic democracy to see the stark difference in outcomes. India has failed to implement the reforms it needs to maximize its growth potential, while China has proven itself capable of radical and muscular policy changes like doubling the number of solar panels in use over the course of a single year (2016).

Cambridge Professor David Runciman examined these issues in greater detail in an essay that's essentially a condensed version of his upcoming book "How Democracy Ends". It was published as this week's "Saturday Essay" in the Wall Street Journal.

Read it in full below:

In his 1992 book “The End of History and the Last Man,” Francis Fukuyama famously declared the triumph of liberal democracy as the model of governance toward which all of humankind was heading. It was a victory on two fronts. The Western democracies held the clear advantage over their ideological rivals in material terms, thanks to their proven ability to deliver general prosperity and a rising standard of living for most citizens. At the same time, to live in a modern democracy was to be given certain guarantees that you would be respected as a person. Everyone got to have a say, so democracy delivered personal dignity as well.

Results plus respect is a formidable political mix. The word “dignity” appears 118 times in “The End of History,” slightly more often than the words “peace” and “prosperity” combined. For Mr. Fukuyama, that is what made democracy unassailable: Only it could meet the basic human need for material comfort and the basic human desire for what he called “recognition” (a concept borrowed from Hegel, emphasizing the social dimension of respect and dignity). Set against the lumbering, oppressive, impoverished regimes of the Soviet era, it was no contest.

Yet today, barely two decades into the 21st century, the contest has been renewed. It is no longer a clash of ideologies, as during the Cold War. Western democracy is now confronted by a form of authoritarianism that is far more pragmatic than its communist predecessors. A new generation of autocrats, most notably in China, have sought to learn the lessons of the 20th century just like everyone else. They too are in the business of trying to offer results plus respect. It is the familiar package, only now it comes in a nondemocratic form.

Since the 1980s, the Chinese regime has had remarkable success in raising the material condition of its population. Over that period, nondemocratic China has made strikingly greater progress in reducing poverty and increasing life expectancy than democratic India: People in China live on average nearly a decade longer than their Indian counterparts and per capita GDP is four times higher. The poverty rate in China is now well below 10% and still falling fast, whereas in India it remains at around 20%. The benefits of rapid economic growth have been made tangible for many hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens, and the regime understands that its survival depends on the economic success story continuing.

But China’s rise has been underpinned by more than just improved living standards. There has been a simultaneous drive for greater dignity for the Chinese people. This is not, however, the dignity of the individual citizen as we’ve come to know it in the West. It is collective national dignity, and it comes in the form of demanding greater respect for China itself: Make China great again! The self-assertion of the nation, not the individual, is what completes the other half of the pragmatic authoritarian package.

Chinese citizens do not have the same opportunities for democratic self-expression as do citizens in the West or India. Personal political dignity is hard to come by in a society that stifles freedom of speech and allows for the arbitrary exercise of power. Nationalism is offered as some compensation, but this only works for individuals who are Han Chinese, the majority national group. It does not help in Tibet or among Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

On the material side of the equation, China’s pragmatic authoritarians have certain advantages. They can target and manage the benefits of breakneck growth to ensure that they are relatively widely shared. Like other developed economies, China is experiencing rising inequality between the very richest and the rest. But the rest are never far from their rulers’ minds. The Chinese middle class is continuing to expand at a dramatic pace. In the West, by contrast, it is the middle class, whose wages and standard of living have been squeezed in recent decades, who feel like they are being left behind.

The material benefits of democracy are much more haphazardly distributed. At any given moment, plenty of people feel excluded from them, and the constant changing of course in democratic politics—“We zig and we zag,” as Barack Obama said after Donald Trump’s victory—is a reflection of these persistent frustrations. Democracies, because they give everyone a say, are bound to be fickle. Pragmatic authoritarianism has shown itself more capable of planning for the long-term.

This is revealed not only by the massive recent Chinese investment in infrastructure projects—in transport, in industrial production, in new cities that spring up seemingly from nowhere—but also by the growing concern of China’s rulers with environmental sustainability. China is now the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitter, but it is also at the forefront of attempts to tackle the issue. Only in China would it be possible to double solar capacity in a single year, as happened in 2016.

Western visitors often come back from China astonished by the pace of change and the lack of obstacles in its path. Things appear to get done almost overnight. That is what happens when you don’t have to worry about the democratic dignity of anyone who might stand in the way.

Beijing’s reliance on the continuation of rapid economic growth comes with significant risks. The great long-term strength of modern democracies is precisely their ability to change course when things go wrong. They are flexible. The danger of the pragmatic authoritarian alternative is that when the immediate benefits start to dry up, it may be difficult to find another basis for political legitimacy. Pragmatism may not be enough. Nor, in the end, will national self-assertion, if it increases the dangers of geopolitical instability.

The central political contests of the 20th century were between rival and bitterly opposed worldviews. In the 21st century, the contest is between competing versions of the same fundamental underlying goals. Both sides promise economic growth and widespread prosperity—tangible results in terms of material well-being. But they differ on the question of dignity: The West offers it to individual citizens, while China offers it more diffusely, to the nation as a whole.

The remarkable rise of China shows that this constitutes a genuine alternative. But is it a genuine rival in the West? Might democratic voters be tempted by this offer?

One of the striking features of the last century’s battle of ideologies was that the rivals to liberal democracy always had their vocal supporters within democratic states. Marxism-Leninism had its fellow-travelers right to the bitter end, and such people can still be found in Western politics ( Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, potentially the next prime minister and finance minister of the United Kingdom, have never given up the struggle). By contrast, the Chinese approach has almost no one in the West actively advocating its merits. That does not mean, however, that it is without appeal.

Mr. Trump’s electoral pitch in 2016 came straight out of the pragmatic authoritarian playbook. He promised to deliver collective dignity, at least for the majority group of white Americans: Make America great again! Stop letting other people push us around! At the same time, he promised to use the state much more directly and forcefully to improve the material circumstances of his supporters. He would bring the jobs back, triple the growth rate and protect everyone’s welfare benefits. What Mr. Trump did not offer was much by way of personal dignity: not in his own conduct, not in his treatment of the people around him, and not in his contemptuous attitude toward the basic democratic values of tolerance and respect.

But there are serious limits in the West to the appeal of the Chinese model. First, unlike his counterparts in Beijing, Mr. Trump has shown little capacity to deliver real benefits to the Americans who elected him. He is hamstrung by his own lack of pragmatism and impulse control. He has also been constrained by the checks and balances that democratic politics puts in his way. For now, he looks more like a familiar type of democratic huckster than a harbinger of future authoritarianism in the U.S.: He has over-promised and under-delivered.

More fundamentally, it is still very hard to imagine the citizens of Western democracies acquiescing in the loss of personal dignity that would come with abandoning their rights of democratic dissent. We are far too attached to our continuing capacity to throw the scoundrels out of office when we get the chance. Voters in Europe and the U.S. have been attracted lately by novel-sounding promises to kick over the traces of mainstream democracy, but they have not endorsed anyone threatening to take away their democratic rights. The authoritarian reflex has been limited to threats to take away the rights of others—people who supposedly “don’t belong.”

All of these movements in the West are populist distortions of democracy, not alternatives to it. Democratic authoritarians like the recently re-elected Viktor Orban in Hungary, who describes himself as an “illiberal democrat,” take their inspiration from Vladimir Putin rather than from the Chinese Communist Party. Pragmatism in countries like Hungary and Russia comes a distant second place to scapegoating and elaborate conspiracy theories. Democracy is still talked up, but stripped of its commitment to democratic rights. Elections take place, but the choice is often an empty one.

Chinese politics is far from immune to scapegoating and conspiracy theories. Its leaders pose as strongmen, and Xi Jinping has recently cemented his tight hold on power by being installed as leader for life. But as a viable alternative to democracy, Beijing has something to offer that Moscow and Budapest, to say nothing of today’s Washington, can only gesture toward: Consistent, practical results for the majority.

The ongoing appeal of the Chinese model will vary from place to place. It may just stretch to include the edges of our own politics, though it will struggle to reach its heart. It is more immediately appealing in those parts of Africa and Asia where breakneck economic growth is both a realistic prospect and a pressing need. Rapid economic development, coupled with national self-assertion, has an obvious attraction for states that need to deliver results in a relatively short period of time. In these places, democracy often looks like the riskier bet.

In Western societies, the Chinese alternative is unlikely to capture voters’ imaginations, even as it shows them what they might be missing. Still, the triumph of liberal democracy appears a lot more contingent than it did three decades ago. The temptations to try something different are real, even if the most successful current alternative remains a distant prospect for most voters.

There’s reason to worry about the weaknesses of our democracies. The kind of respect they provide may prove insufficient for 21st-century citizens. The premium that democracy places on personal dignity has traditionally been expressed through extensions of the franchise. Giving people the vote is the best way to let them know that they count. But when almost all adults are able to vote—in theory, if not in practice—citizens inevitably look for fresh ways to secure greater respect.

The rise of identity politics in the West is an indication that the right to take part in elections is not enough anymore. Individuals seek the dignity that comes with being recognized for who they are. They don’t just want to be listened to; they want to be heard. Social networks have provided a new forum through which these demands can be voiced. Democracies are struggling to work out how to meet them.

Elected politicians increasingly tiptoe around the minefield of identity politics, unsure which way to turn, terrified of giving offense, except when they deliberately court it. At the same time, they have grown dependent on technical knowledge—from bankers, scientists, doctors, software engineers—to deliver continuing practical benefits. As citizens find less personal dignity in politics and politicians become less able to manage prosperity, the attraction that has held democracy together for so long will start to dissipate. Respect plus results is a formidable combination. When they come apart, democracy loses its unique advantage.

The Chinese model faces serious challenges, too. There, personal dignity remains the unrealized option, and the untried temptation is to extend rights of political expression and choice. The use by the Chinese state of social networks to manage and monitor its citizens represents a concerted attempt to resist the pull of democratic dignity and to hold fast to the appeal of pragmatic authoritarian control. Just as the strains in the Western trade-off between dignity and material benefits may not be sustainable over time, the same is true of the Chinese version.

That sweet spot, where the two come together, which Mr. Fukuyama identified as the end of history, looks increasingly remote. No one has the monopoly on respect plus results any more.

Published:4/29/2018 10:58:52 PM
[Markets] CIA Whistleblower: Trump Is Doing What Kennedy Tried To

Via Greg Hunters' USA Watchdog blog,

Former CIA Officer and whistleblower Kevin Shipp says what is going on with Donald J. Trump “is an ongoing coup to remove a duly elected President.” Shipp contends, “This is a huge constitutional crisis like the country has never seen before. This makes Watergate look like a Sunday school class.”

On Friday, Shipp and other retired top officials at the CIA, FBI, DOJ and NSA held a press conference and demanded Attorney General Jeff Sessions prosecute top Obama era officials for obvious crimes against the incoming Trump Administration. Shipp says,

We have a coup within our government right now at the senior levels at the CIA, DOJ and the FBI attempting to unseat a duly elected President who was elected by the American people and remove him from office...

This is, at worst, treason with senior officials in the shadow government or Deep State . . . to attack Donald Trump and remove him from office. . . . We have not seen anything like this since the Presidency of John F. Kennedy (JFK), when CIA Director Allen Dulles attacked him, and we saw what happened there...

There is crystal clear evidence that the CIA was, at least, involved with the cover-up of the JFK assassination.  Now, we have the same thing happening again...

Remember what Chuck Schumer said, and it was chilling.  He said, ‘If you cross the intelligence community, they can hit back at you six ways from Sunday.’  That’s what we are seeing now.  It’s collusion or a coup with senior officials at the FBI, DOJ and CIA along with Robert Mueller to unseat an elected president.”

Shipp goes on to explain, “There is essentially a civil war involving parts of senior management and upper parts of our government that is occurring in the United States. It’s between the ‘Dark’ side and the ‘Constitutional’ side."

"There has never been anything like this in history.  It is extremely serious, and this is an extremely serious hour for our government and especially for our constitutional freedoms...

This essentially is a global criminal cabal that has penetrated into our government and now has senior level officials colluding and, I would argue, conspiring to unseat this president.

In closing, Shipp says, “People need to understand that the Democrat Party today is not the Democrat Party of John F. Kennedy."

"The Democrat Party with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is more Marxist than anything else.  They think the Constitution should be a ‘progressive’ document.  In other words, the Constitution is outdated and should be redone.  They are both directly connected into George Soros, who wants to destroy the sovereignty of the U.S. government...

The Democrat Party is now made up of Marxists and leftists that have penetrated that entire organization. . . . Their entire goal is to change our form of government and destroy our sovereignty.

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with CIA whistleblower Kevin Shipp, founder of the website ForTheLoveofFreedom.net.

Published:4/29/2018 7:57:14 PM
[Markets] Kardashian, Kanye, Kissinger & Kim - Crushing The Echo Chamber

Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

"Trump Can Come. But Let Him Know Britain Won’t Stand For His Bigotry", is the headline of an article for the Guardian by Owen Jones. It’s just one of many articles, and one of many ways, I could use to point out what’s wrong in our world. In a TV appearance on ITV he apparently added:

“At the end of the day, if he comes – no one is saying he should be barred from the country by legal means – we’re saying we will take to the streets and say we reject racism, bigotry and will stand for the values most people in this country believe in.” Jones went on to insist “most” of the United Kingdom are against President Trump so it was in the country’s best interest to stand up for their beliefs.

That got him a lot of flack from right wing viewers, who see him as ‘far left’. But it doesn’t matter if he’s left or right, he’s just terribly wrong. Because his own country, Britain, is as we speak exposing itself ever more as the racism and bigotry capital of the world. Who then are Britons to protest perceived racism and bigotry in someone who’s not British?

Jones should focus on cleaning up his own pig sty before speaking out about Trump, because if he doesn’t, he himself is a bigot. As are all his fellow countrymen and women who are planning to protest with him on Friday July 13 when Trump visits. You really think you don’t have enough to do at home? Or are you just trying to divert attention away from that?

I don’t want to read Jones’s article, because I already know what’s in it. Jones is part of the echo chamber that feeds off itself on a 24/7 basis with every word Trump speaks and every move he makes. Why read any of it anymore? The problem of course is that the chamber has made any and all constructive discussion impossible about all things Trump that badly do need such discussion.

And not only do they increasingly lose the fake discussion they try to energize all the time, they are giving birth to a whole new development that expresses a deep fatigue with the echo chamber and its machinery. Not based on left vs right, but on echoes vs thinking.

We find that the Democrats routinely rig their own primaries, and Nancy Pelosi isn’t even trying to deny it. Upcoming lawsuits, discovery and investigations will reveal ever more not-so-fine details about the Dems. And then they will end up in the same position as Owen Jones: clean up after your own pigs first, and then perhaps you can speak.

So what do we -predictably- get on the heels of this? We get people who are ‘supposed’ to be in the echo chamber, but escape from it. Too deafening, too blinding to think for one’s own. We get Candace Owens and Kanye West, who only have to cast a sliver of doubt on their supposed roles of “every black person must vote for Hillary, and denounce Trump”. Or else.

We get writers like Caitlin Johnstone and Jim Kunstler, themselves miles removed from anything right-wing, expressing the hope they derive from Kanye et al. Simply because what he says doesn’t emanate from the NYT-WaPo-CNN cacophony. People who like me would much rather address where Trump goes wrong, but find that as soon as they do, their words are sucked up by, and lost within, that same cacophony.

Which has monopolized the discussion, and thereby made it impossible. There is no space for our voices, no space for nuance, no space for questions. They’ll come after Kanye with all they got, but they must be careful. If the Dems lose the black vote, they’re done and toast, and going after Kanye will look a lot like going after all blacks. They can try and channel Obama, but would he dare go after Kanye?

Whose message, in no more than few handfuls of words, is simple: love conquers all. Or in old Jamaican: Live it Up and Love it Up. How do you credibly attack that? Even if he uses those words to support Trump? It won’t be easy. And then they will see more prominent black voices sound sympathetic to Kanye, and thereby to Trump. Ain’t life a bitch?

Caitlin Johnstone really got stung by the happy fever:

Happy New Universe Day

Could something big be in the works? Something which transcends all our little echo chamber walls and ideological boundaries, which comes not from the repetitive thought loops in our minds but from our deep evolutionary drive to survive? I hope so. And call me naive and deluded if you like, but right now I’m seeing plenty of reasons to hope.

And Kunstler is not that far behind:

Counter-#Resistance?

Speaking as a white cis-hetero mammal, I’m not quite as dazzled by the president, but it’s a relief to see, at last, some small rebellion against the American Stasi who have turned the public arena into a giant holding pen for identity offenders — though it is but one corner of the triad-of-hysteria that also includes the Hate Russia campaign and the crusade against men.

This nonsense has been going on long enough, while the country hurtles heedlessly into a long emergency of economic disarray. Next in line after Kanye and Candace, a popular Twitter critter name of Chance the Rapper endorsed Kanye endorsing Candace, more or less, by tweeting “black people don’t have to be Democrats.”

[..] Of course, the whole Kanye / Candace dust-up may be forgotten by the middle of next week, and the country can go back to gaslighting itself into either a new civil war or world war three. Candace seems to have drive, guts, and stamina and there’s no sign that she’s going to shut up. Won’t some Ivy League university please invite her to speak, just to see what happens?

That’s right, resistance against the resistance, and not from some right-wing bunch of nuts. But from people who are fed up with being told what to think and do and write. Kanye and Candace have now become the voices for everyone who’s not completely deaf yet. And it’s in the nick of time.

Did Trump start WWIII? No, the US bombed a few sheds in the desert. Did Trump bring Kim and Moon around the table? He certainly played a major role in that. Should he get a Nobel Peace Prize for that? Hell, why not, they gave one to Henry Kissinger, and Barack Obama. So why not Trump and Xi and Kim Jong-Un?

A new world, a new universe even? Do we need those? But it won’t be “forgotten by the middle of next week” either. There are far too many people who don’t want any steenking echo chamber to tell them what to think anymore. Who see them for the pig sties they are, trampling in their own filth.

For Britain to hit the streets to protest Trump’s alleged bigotry, racism, misogyny is so completely nuts it’s hard to find what to say, in view of their own government’s treatment of their own fellow citizens, let alone ‘foreigners’ like the Yemeni’s bombed to shreds with weaponry that same government sells to Saudi Arabia.

If you live in that kind of climate and you think protesting Trump is the thing to do, you probably deserve the government you got. But yes, Britain has a long history of longing to be held superior to other people(s), and the more than longing is shattered, the more they seem to want it. The US is not much different, if at all. The French suffer from it too. A superiority complex born of fear.

That’s what a ‘journalist’ like Owen Jones should be writing about. About how his own people can solve their own problems. Until then, not another word about Trump.

As for America? They have Kanye and Candace and Scott Adams now. That should suffice to help them along on the path to smashing up the echo chambers that cause so much physical and mental damage. Think for yourself. Don’t let a newspaper or TV channel think for you.

As for Trump, you can’t read or watch any story that’s negative about him anymore and think it has credibility. And they did that to themselves, the overpaid NYT/CNN/MSNBC crews. They didn’t need any help.

Meanwhile, all politicians on all sides in both the UK and US are the very people you should least want in their positions. It’s what our political systems determine: sh*t floats to the top. And until we separate politics from money altogether, that’s not going to change.

I’ve always steered clear of that whole Kardashian clan, they make me shiver, and all they stand for. But wouldn’t it be simple logic for them to wind up in the White House? First a game-show host, then a Facebook family? When it comes to that, Britain is far behind.

Published:4/29/2018 11:24:42 AM
[Media] Jon Favreau aims for Washington’s response to Michelle Wolf, GROIN PUNCHES Obama by accident

Former Obamaton Jon Favreau is quite angry at how Washington, D.C. is responding to Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and thinks we should be talking more about Flint, Michigan’s water crisis: Comedian ends comedy dinner by saying that Flint still doesn’t have clean water, an attempt to point out Washington’s continued neglect […]

The post Jon Favreau aims for Washington’s response to Michelle Wolf, GROIN PUNCHES Obama by accident appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/29/2018 10:54:51 AM
[Markets] Pompeo Lands In Saudi, Immediately Calls For New Iran Sanctions

Well that didn't take long.

Just two days after being sworn in as US Secretary of State, former CIA Director Mike Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday on a hastily-arranged visit to the Middle East to reinvigorate support for new sanctions against Iran.

As Reuters reports, the visit to Riyadh, Jerusalem and Amman comes as President Trump is set to decide whether to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that is still supported by European powers.

“We are urging nations around the world to sanction any individuals and entities associated with Iran’s missile program, and it has also been a big part of discussions with Europeans,” Brian Hook, a senior policy advisor traveling with Pompeo, told reporters.

“Iran’s missiles prolong war and suffering in the Middle East, they threaten our security and economic interests and they especially threaten Saudi Arabia and Israel,” he added.

Following Macron's earlier-in-the-week efforts to persuade Trump not to kill the Iran deal, Pompeo told a news conference:

“There’s been no decision, so the team is working and I am sure we will have lots of conversations to deliver what the president has made clear."

In Riyadh, Pompeo was greeted on the tarmac by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. He is expected to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and King Salman during the visit.

But as Patrick Coburn writes at Counterpunch.org, as the Trump administration begins to berate Iran once again, their options may be more limited than many believe.

A crisis in relations between the US and Iran – which has the potential to produce a military confrontation in the Middle East – is building rapidly in the expectation that President Donald Trump will withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal in just over two weeks’ time.

Mr Trump is demanding that Iran effectively renegotiate the terms of the agreement which traded the suspension of US economic sanctions for a stop to Iran’s nuclear programme.

The White House sounds as if it has already decided to exit the agreement, which Mr Trump persistently denounced before and after his election as “the worst deal in the world”.

But he has put forward no alternative to what was successfully negotiated by President Barack Obama in 2015 other than a series of demands with which Iran is unlikely to comply, and appear designed to put the blame for the US action on Iran.

US officials admit that Iran has so far abided by the terms of the 2015 accord.

A more openly confrontational posture by the US towards Iran would achieve very little, unless Washington replaces the attempt to achieve its ends by diplomacy with sustained military action. Iran is already on the winning side in the wars that have raged in Iraq since 2003 and in Syria since 2011.

It is closely allied to the Iraqi and Syrian governments and to reverse the balance of power in the region, the US would have revert to sustained military intervention on the scale of the Iraq War, something Mr Trump has always opposed.

Iran may have already decided that the deal cannot be saved. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani warned Mr Trump on Tuesday that the US must stay within its terms which Tehran signed with other great powers or face “severe consequences”.

Mr Rouhani said in a live broadcast on state television that: “I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will firmly react.”

The Iranian leader did not say what this reaction would be, but the Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at the weekend that it was “highly unlikely” that Iran would remain in the agreement – to which Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain are also signatories – if the US pulled out.

He added that Iran might immediately begin enriching uranium, but it would not develop a nuclear device.

European leaders are trying to save the deal which Mr Trump has denounced as full of “terrible flaws”, but this will prove difficult without radical concessions which Iran has rejected. These include stopping Iran’s ballistic missile programme, extending the terminal date of the agreement, and more intrusive inspections by nuclear inspectors.

No decision in Washington is final until it is announced by Mr Trump himself – and often not even then – but the promotion of officials with a record of hostility to the agreement suggests that it cannot be rescued. Mr Trump has said publicly that he sacked his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, because he wanted to stay with the Iran agreement negotiated by President Obama.

His replacement, Mike Pompeo, is a long-term foe of the accord, once claiming that 2,000 bombing sorties would be enough to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capability. “This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces,” he said.

President Emanuel Macron is in Washington on a state visit, trying to save the agreement by making it more palatable to the White House. He will be followed in the US at the end of the week by the German chancellor Angela Merkel, while Theresa May will probably express her views by telephone.

All three leaders will try to reconcile Mr Trump to not leaving the accord and their arguments will revolve around supplementary sanctions and other measures targeting the Iranian ballistic missile programme and Iran’s allies abroad such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The European leaders’ mission may not be entirely hopeless: in confrontations over Syria and North Korea, Mr Trump’s belligerent rhetoric has been followed by more carefully calculated action.

His opening stance is normally bombastic and uncompromising in order to intimidate the other side into making concessions. It does not necessarily have to be taken at face value. But this periodic moderation may not come into play in the case of Iran, towards which he has been uncompromisingly hostile, claiming that it is the hidden power behind “terrorist” activity in the Middle East.

The White House is in a position to hurt Iran economically by re-imposing economic sanctions, not that these were ever really lifted after 2015, but US political options are more limited. It may talk about regime change in Tehran, but is not in a position to do much about it.

There is a further US weakness: the US, often prompted by Israel, and Saudi Arabia, has a track record of underestimating the extent to which Iran, as the largest Shia Muslim power, plays a leading role in a coalition of states – Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – because of the predominant influence of the Shia in these countries. It is very difficult to defeat Iran there – the northern tier of the Middle East – but it is in this region that the US has chosen over the years to try to roll back Iranian influence.

The balance of power between Iran and its enemies is going to be difficult to shift whatever Mr Trump decides about the fate of the Iran nuclear deal.

Published:4/29/2018 9:55:16 AM
[Markets] Yemen War Great For US Jobs: Watch CNN's Wolf Blitzer Proclaim Civilian Deaths Are Worth It

With the still largely ignored Saudi slaughter in Yemen now in its fourth year, RT's In The Now has resurrected a forgotten clip from a 2016 CNN interview with Senator Rand Paul, which is currently going viral.

In a piece of cable news history that rivals Madeleine Albright's infamous words during a 1996 60 Minutes appearance where she calmly and coldly proclaimed of 500,000 dead Iraqi children that "the price is worth it," CNN's Wolf Blitzer railed against Senator Paul's opposition to a proposed $1.1 billion US arms sale to Saudi Arabia by arguing that slaughter of Yemeni civilians was worth it so long as it benefits US jobs and defense contractors. 

At the time of the 2016 CNN interview, Saudi Arabia with the help of its regional and Western allies — notably the U.S. and Britain — had been bombing Yemen for a year-and-a-half, and as the United Nations noted, the Saudi coalition had been responsible for the majority of the war's (at that point) 10,000 mostly civilian deaths. 

At that time the war was still in its early phases, but now multiple years into the Saudi-led bombing campaign which began in March 2015, the U.N. reports at least "5,000 children dead or hurt and 400,000 malnourished."

And now as the death toll tragically stands at many tens of thousands, and with a subsequent U.N. report from 2017 documenting in detail "the killing and maiming of children" on a mass scale, Blitzer's words are even more revealing of the role that CNN and other major American networks play in enabling and excusing U.S. and allied partners' war crimes abroad.

Senator Paul began the interview by outlining the rising civilian death toll and massive refugee crisis that the U.S. continued facilitating due to deep military assistance to the Saudis:

There are now millions of displaced people in Yemen. They're refugees. So we supply the Saudis with arms, they create havoc and refugees in Yemen. Then what's the answer? Then we're going to take the Yemeni refugees in the United States? Maybe we ought to quit arming both sides of this war.

Paul then narrowed in on the Pentagon's role in the crisis: "We are refueling the Saudi bombers that are dropping the bombs. It is said that thousands of civilians have died in Yemen because of this." 

CNN's Blitzer responded, “So for you this is a moral issue. Because you know, there’s a lot of jobs at stake. Certainly if a lot of these defense contractors stop selling war planes, other sophisticated equipment to Saudi Arabia, there’s going to be a significant loss of jobs, of revenue here in the United States. That’s secondary from your standpoint?”

Paul countered, “Well not only is it a moral question, its a constitutional question.” And noted that Obama had partnered with the Saudi attack on Yemen without Congressional approval: “Our founding fathers very directly and specifically did not give the president the power to go to war. They gave it to Congress. So Congress needs to step up and this is what I’m doing.”

* * *

For further context of what the world knew at the time the CNN interview took place, we can look no further than the United Nations and other international monitoring groups.

A year after Blitzer's statements, Foreign Policy published a bombshell report based on possession of a leaked 41-page draft UN document, which found Saudi Arabia and its partner coalition allies in Yemen (among them the United States) of being guilty of horrific war crimes, including the bombing of dozens of schools, hospitals, and civilian infrastructure. 

The U.N. study focused on child and civilian deaths during the first two years of the Saudi coalition bombing campaign - precisely the time frame during which the CNN Wolf Blitzer and Rand Paul interview took place. 

Foreign Policy reported:

“The killing and maiming of children remained the most prevalent violation” of children’s rights in Yemen, according to the 41-page draft report obtained by Foreign Policy.

The chief author of the confidential draft report, Virginia Gamba, the U.N. chief’s special representative for children abused in war time, informed top U.N. officials Monday, that she intends to recommend the Saudi-led coalition be added to a list a countries and entities that kill and maim children, according to a well-placed source.

The UN report further identified that air attacks "were the cause of over half of all child casualties, with at least 349 children killed and 333 children injured” during the designated period of time studied, and documented that, "the U.N. verified a total of 1,953 youngsters killed and injured in Yemen in 2015 — a six-fold increase compared with 2014" - with the majority of these deaths being the result of Saudi and coalition air power.

Also according AP reporting at the time: "It said nearly three-quarters of attacks on schools and hospitals — 38 of 52 — were also carried out by the coalition."

But again, Wolf Blitzer's first thought was those poor defense contractors:

...Because you know, there’s a lot of jobs at stake. Certainly if a lot of these defense contractors stop selling war planes, other sophisticated equipment to Saudi Arabia, there’s going to be a significant loss of jobs, of revenue here in the United States.

* * *

This trip down memory lane elicited suitable responses on Twitter:

And here's the full CNN interview segment from 2016: 

As Wolf Blitzer is known to pal around with Clinton's former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, it appears he's a quick understudy:

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.

60 Minutes (5/12/96)

Published:4/28/2018 9:21:47 PM
[Markets] America's Most Popular Politician Is Nikki Haley...Let That Sink In

Via Middle East Monitor,

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is America’s most popular politician according to a study by Quinnipiac University, CNN reported yesterday.

Haley is viewed positively by some 63 per cent of US voters, while only 39 per cent gave their approval of US President Donald Trump. Haley’s popularity also stretched to both sides of the political spectrum, with 75 per cent of Republicans, 55 per cent of Democrats and 63 per cent of Independents supporting the former South Carolina governor. She was only exceeded by former president Barack Obama, who was still held in high regard by some 66 per cent of voters.

The UN envoy has taken strong stands in favour of Israel, particularly in the aftermath of the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in December. When the UN General Assembly voted to condemn the Trump administration’s decision, Haley slammed the global forum as ungrateful for US contributions to the organisation.

“No vote in the UN will make any difference to that [the decision]. But this vote will make a difference to how the Americans see the UN. This vote will be remembered,” she concluded, echoing her previous comments that the delegation would be taking names of those who voted against the recognition.

Last month, Haley gave another unrestrained speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, where she again condemned the UN for its alleged anti-Israel bias.

“In the real world, Israel is a strong country with a strong military,” she said. “But at the UN, it’s a different story. Israel does get bullied there.”

Haley was met with thunderous applause as she argued that the UN had “long undermined peace by encouraging an illusion that Israel will simply go away.” But Israel, she stressed, “is not going away. When the world recognises that, then peace becomes possible.”

She also responded to the criticism that the US shows favouritism for Israel: “There’s nothing wrong with showing favouritism towards an ally, that’s what being an ally is all about.”

The UN envoy’s speech was noted as the most enthusiastically received by the thousands of attendees at the event, as she received multiple standing ovations during her speech and shouts of “we love you” from the crowd.

Haley has also taken a strong stance over the conflict in Syria, threatening to strike the Assad regime during the bombardment of Eastern Ghouta last month. The Russian delegation condemned her comments, stating that “such thunderous and irresponsible statements by the American envoy cause resentment and great anxiety.”

Published:4/28/2018 3:19:23 PM
[Markets] "This Nonsense Has Been Going On Long Enough..."

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Who hit Kanye with that white privilege stick? The rapper / fashion maven / theologian / Kardashian arm candyman sent chills through the Twitterverse when he declared himself, somewhat elliptically, off-the-bus of the Progressive #Resistance movement and an admirer of the Golden One in the Oval Office. This came in his endorsement of YouTube blogger Candace Owen, who happens to not be down with the cause of the national victim lottery. Both Kanye and Candace have apparently crossed some boundary into a Twilight Zone of independent thought. Many probably wonder how they are able to get out of bed in the morning without instructions from Don Lemon.

Speaking as a white cis-hetero mammal, I’m not quite as dazzled by the president, but it’s a relief to see, at last, some small rebellion against the American Stasi who have turned the public arena into a giant holding pen for identity offenders — though it is but one corner of the triad-of-hysteria that also includes the Hate Russia campaign and the crusade against men. This nonsense has been going on long enough, while the country hurtles heedlessly into a long emergency of economic disarray.

Next in line after Kanye and Candace, a popular Twitter critter name of Chance the Rapper endorsed Kanye endorsing Candace, more or less, by tweeting “black people don’t have to be Democrats.” The horror this thought aroused! Slavery, these days, it turns out, has a lot of appeal — maybe not so much for laboring in the canefields under the noonday sun as for serving juleps in the DNC plantation house. It happened that Kanye’s mom was a college professor, Chance’s dad was an aide to Chicago Mayor Daley (Jr.), and later worked in Mr. Obama’s Department of Labor. Candace describes her childhood home in Stamford, CT, as “very poor,” but she rose far-and-fast out of college to become an executive on Wall Street in her twenties. What they seem to have in common is being tainted with bourgeois values, horror again!

In speaking up against the Victim Cartel, it is thought that they threaten a solidarity of narrative: that the USA (perhaps all of Western Civ) is composed of identity victims and identity oppressors. Candace, being a more conventional polemicist (i.e. not a rapper) makes the point overtly and repeatedly in her writing that all the “help” and solicitude black Americans have gotten from their overseers on the Democratic Party plantation has only made life worse for them — especially policies based on the idea that black people need lots of assistance to overcome structural racism and the legacies of slavery.

Luckily for the rest of us, the DNC has decided to put its mojo behind a lawsuit against Russia and Wikileaks for ruining the 2016 election. It’s an amazing exercise in idiocy — like, who, exactly, in Russia do they expect to subpoena for this epic showdown in court? If the suit finds a sympathetic judge who does not laugh it off — not so difficult these days — we’ll be treated to a fabulous Chinese fire drill in a three-ring circus of clowns running around in DNC dirty laundry. The party may not survive the suit. They’ve Whigged themselves into a final, fatal apoplexy of irrelevance.

I dunno about the perpetually scowling Kanye, with his periodic mood problems and spotlight-stealing antics on stage, or Chance the Rapper’s artificial hood raptures, but Candace makes the argument for the value of a common culture that might bind us together as a nation of individuals, not hostile tribes, starting with a language that everybody can understand. Of course, the whole Kanye / Candace dust-up may be forgotten by the middle of next week, and the country can go back to gaslighting itself into either a new civil war or world war three. Candace seems to have drive, guts, and stamina and there’s no sign that she’s going to shut up. Won’t some Ivy League university please invite her to speak, just to see what happens?

Published:4/28/2018 7:17:37 AM
[Entertainment] Bill Cosby went from America's dad to reluctant founding father of the #MeToo movement Bill Cosby will be remembered as a human rights pioneer. His excellence paved the way for Barack Obama. His abuses helped spark the #MeToo movement.
     
 
 
Published:4/27/2018 9:45:22 PM
[US News] Ari Fleischer RIPS into Sen. Jon Tester over Dr. Ronny Jackson: ‘sounds like an innocent man has been railroaded’

Earlier today we told you the Secret Service released a statement clearing Dr. Ronny Jackson of a charge that he banged on the door of a colleague in the middle of the night and had to be escorted away by agents lest he wake up then President Obama. According to the Secret Service, there’s “no […]

The post Ari Fleischer RIPS into Sen. Jon Tester over Dr. Ronny Jackson: ‘sounds like an innocent man has been railroaded’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/27/2018 9:14:57 PM
[US News] Ari Fleisher RIPS into Sen. Jon Tester over Dr. Ronny Jackson: ‘sounds like an innocent man has been railroaded’

Earlier today we told you the Secret Service released a statement clearing Dr. Ronny Jackson of a charge that he banged on the door of a colleague in the middle of the night and had to be escorted away by agents lest he wake up then President Obama. According to the Secret Service, there’s “no […]

The post Ari Fleisher RIPS into Sen. Jon Tester over Dr. Ronny Jackson: ‘sounds like an innocent man has been railroaded’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/27/2018 8:45:02 PM
[Markets] A US Ally Is Literally Beheading People Over Nonviolent Drug Charges

Submitted by Carey Welder of AntiMedia

Saudi Arabia, the United States’ main ally in the Middle East, has executed 48 people so far this year, half of them over nonviolent drug charges, Human Rights Watch reported this week.

“Many more people convicted of drug crimes remain on death row following convictions by Saudi Arabia’s notoriously unfair criminal justice system,” the advocacy organization said in a release.

Though Human Rights Watch did not specify the method of execution, the Guardian classified the 48 killings as beheadings, and the Saudi government has a reputation for this type of sentence.

Saudi Arabia has carried out nearly 600 executions since the beginning of 2014, over 200 of them in drug cases. The vast majority of the remainder were for murder, but other offenses included rape, incest, terrorism, and ‘sorcery,’” HRW noted.

As far back as 2004, CBS reported that “[t]he Saudi government beheaded 52 men and one woman last year for crimes including murder, homosexuality, armed robbery and drug trafficking,” adding that the Kingdom argues the practice is acceptable under Islamic law, which governs the country. At the same time, they condemned beheadings by militant groups. CBS noted that while Islam allows for the death penalty “few mainstream Muslim scholars and observers believe beheadings are sanctioned by Sharia, or Islamic law.

Nevertheless, the Saudi government has continued the practice, beheading 157 people in 2015, the highest since 1995, when 192 were executed. Nonviolent drug offenders were among those killed that year, as well.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that of the first 100 prisoners executed in 2015, 56 had been based on judicial discretion and not for crimes for which Islamic law mandates a specific death penalty punishment,” the Guardian noted at the time.

In its latest update, Human Rights Watch discussed the difficulty of obtaining a fair trial in Saudi Arabia, highlighting that, among other issues,  longstanding due process violations in Saudi Arabia’s criminal justice system that makes it difficult for a defendant to get a fair trial even in capital cases.

The organization said that in cases they analyzed, “authorities did not always inform suspects of the charges against them or allow them access to evidence, even after trial sessions began.

The Kingdom also criminalizes protest and received widespread condemnation in 2017 for its efforts to execute 14 Shia minority demonstrators who protested during the Arab Spring. One of those protesters was a Saudi student who was arrested on his way to study abroad in the United States, and an advocacy groups’ appeals to President Trump to intervene on his behalf, the White House offered no indication it intended to help him.

Others who have spoken out against the monarchy have faced floggings and crucifixion. Nevertheless, in 2015, the kingdom’s representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Bandar al-Aiban, insisted the death penalty is applied “only [to] those who commit heinous crimes that threaten security.”

Though the country’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has expressed his intent to reform the country and reduce the number of executions, it’s extremist roots make this a daunting task that will likely take a significant amount of time.

Considering the Saudi kingdom has funded the spread of radical Islam around the world and has also been linked to financial sponsorship of ISIS and the 9/11 terror attacks, it is not surprising they continue to impose the death penalty against even nonviolent offenders and that they are one of the top executioners in the world.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government remains fixated on largely unsubstantiated claims of atrocities by geopolitical rivals in the region, failing to display a modicum of principle in its ultimately tepid opposition to oppression and radicalism as it continues to facilitate the sale of billions of dollars worth of weaponry to extremist regimes.

Published:4/27/2018 8:18:07 PM
[World] Tucker Debates Obama Staffer on Trump Russia Collusion in 2016 Campaign

Tucker Carlson debated a former Obama campaign staffer on whether Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are covering up evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia.

Published:4/27/2018 7:47:11 PM
[Deep State] James Clapper: Leaker, Liar & Sleazeball (Paul Mirengoff) Neither of the two Obama-era intelligence chiefs turned Trump resisters — John Brennan nor James Clapper — is anyone’s idea of a luminary. Of the two, though, Clapper seems the more intelligent, the more clever, and thus the more dangerous. Sean Davis’ report, cited by Scott earlier today, that Clapper leaked the anti-Trump dossier to CNN and then lied about demonstrates the point. Clapper testified before the House Intelligence Committee Published:4/27/2018 5:15:25 PM
[US News] UH OH! Congressman announces plan to nominate Trump for Nobel Peace Prize (guess what happened next)

"Blatant insult to Obama."

The post UH OH! Congressman announces plan to nominate Trump for Nobel Peace Prize (guess what happened next) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/27/2018 2:44:08 PM
[Markets] Clapper Busted Leaking Dossier Details To CNN's Jake Tapper, Lying To Congress About It

Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) turned CNN commentator James Clapper not only leaked information related to the infamous "Steele dossier" to CNN's Jake Tapper while Clapper was in office - it appears he also lied about it to Congress, under oath.

Clapper was one of the "two national security officials" cited in CNN's report -published minutes after Buzzfeed released the full Steele dossier.

The revelation that Clapper was responsible for leaking details of both the dossier and briefings to two presidents on the matter is significant, because former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director James Comey wrote in one of four memos that he leaked that the briefing of Trump on salacious and unverified allegations from the dossier was necessary because “CNN had them and were looking for a news hook.” -The Federalist

So Comey said that Trump needed to be briefed on the Dossier's allegations since CNN "had them" - because James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence at the time, provided that information to the same network he now works for.

And who's idea was it to brief Trump on the dossier? JAMES CLAPPER - according to former FBI Director James Comey's memos: 

“I said there was something that Clapper wanted me to speak to the [president-elect] about alone or in a very small group,” Comey wrote. 

The revelations detailing Clapper's leak to CNN can be found in a 253-page report by the House Intelligence Committee majority released on Friday - which also found "no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government."

As Sean Davis of The Federalist bluntly states: "Clapper leaked details of a dossier briefing given to then-President-elect Donald Trump to CNN’s Jake Tapper, lied to Congress about the leak, and was rewarded with a CNN contract a few months later."

From Clapper's Congressional testimony: 

MR. ROONEY: Did you discuss the dossier or any other intelligence related to Russia hacking of the 2016 election with journalists?

MR. CLAPPER: No.

Clapper later changed his tune after he was confronted about his communications with Tapper: 

“Clapper subsequently acknowledged discussing the ‘dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper,’ and admitted that he might have spoken with other journalists about the same topic,” the report reads. “Clapper’s discussion with Tapper took place in early January 2017, around the time IC leaders briefed President Obama and President-elect Trump, on ‘the Christopher Steele information,’ a two-page summary of which was ‘enclosed in’ the highly-classified version of the ICA,” or intelligence community assessment. 

The Daily Caller's Chuck Ross notes that Clapper also denied speaking to the media in a March conversation with CNN's Don Lemon. 

And let's not forget, Jake Tapper has been participating in the lie.

Indeed it is Don - as The Federalist's Mollie Hemmingway wrote in January - Comey's account of Trump's briefing on the dossier suggested that it was a setup from the beginning - and that it was only done in order to legitimize the story and justify leaking the unverified and salacious details to journalists.

Let's bring it home with Mollie Hemmingway's summary from January which hits the nail on the head: 

So Comey, at Clapper’s expressed behest, told Trump that CNN was “looking for a news hook” to publish dossier allegations. He said this in the briefing of Trump that almost immediately leaked to CNN, which provided them the very news hook they sought and needed.

This briefing, and the leaking of it, legitimized the dossier, which touched off the Russia hysteria. That hysteria led to a full-fledged media freakout. During the freakout, Comey deliberately refused to say in public what he acknowledged repeatedly in private — that the President of the United States was not under investigation. He even noted in his memos that he told the president at least three times that he was not under investigation. Comey’s refusal to admit publicly what he kept telling people privately led to his firing. -The Federalist

We look forward to James Clapper talking his way out of this on CNN during carefully scripted conversations with fellow talking heads.

Published:4/27/2018 1:13:19 PM
[The Blog] Let’s face it, the media would be in raptures over Obama if this Korea summit were happening during his presidency

Standards.

The post Let’s face it, the media would be in raptures over Obama if this Korea summit were happening during his presidency appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/27/2018 10:42:04 AM
[US News] ‘LOL, no.’ Ex-Obama speechwriter sounds ‘troubling’ alarm about Trump skipping WHCD, FAIL ensues [video]

Everything Trump does MUST be turned into a national emergency!

The post ‘LOL, no.’ Ex-Obama speechwriter sounds ‘troubling’ alarm about Trump skipping WHCD, FAIL ensues [video] appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/27/2018 10:12:00 AM
[Markets] The Next Crash: Making The Fed An Instrument For Disaster

Submitted by Nomi Prins

Warning: What you are about to read is not about Russia, the 2016 election, or the latest person to depart from the White House in a storm of tweets. It’s the Beltway story hiding in plain sight with trillions of dollars in play and an economy to commandeer.

* * *

While we’ve been bombarded with a litany of scandals from the Oval Office and the Trump family, there’s a crucial institution in Washington that few in the media seem to be paying attention to, even as President Trump quietly makes it his own. More obscure than the chambers of the Supreme Court, it’s a place where he has already made substantial changes. I’m talking about the Federal Reserve. 

As the central bank of the United States, the “Fed” sets the financial tone for the global economy by manipulating interest rate levels. This impacts everyone, yet very few grasp the scope of its influence.

During times of relative economic calm, the Fed is regularly forgotten. But what history shows us is that having leaders who are primed to neglect Wall Street’s misdoings often sets the scene for economic dangers to come. That’s why nominees to the Fed are so crucial.

We have entered a landmark moment: no president since Woodrow Wilson (during whose administration the Federal Reserve was established) will have appointed as many board members to the Fed as Donald Trump. His fingerprints will, in other words, not just be on Supreme Court decisions, but no less significantly Fed policy-making for years to come -- even though, like that court, it occupies a mandated position of political independence.

The president’s latest two nominees to that institution’s Board of Governors exemplify this. He has nominated Richard Clarida, a former Treasury Department official from the days of President George W. Bush who later became a strategic adviser to investment goliath Pimco, to the Fed’s second most important slot, while giving the nod to Michelle Bowman, a Kansas bank commissioner, to represent community banks on that same board.

Like many other entities in Washington, the Fed’s Board of Governors has been operating with less than a full staff. If Clarida is approved, he will join Trump-appointed Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and incoming New York Federal Reserve Bank head John C. Williams -- the New York Fed generally exists in a mind meld with Wall Street -- as part of the most powerful trio at that institution.

Williams served as president of the San Francisco Fed. Under his watch, the third largest U.S. bank, Wells Fargo, created about 3.5 million fake accounts, gave its CEO a whopping raise, and copped to a $1 billion fine for bilking its customers on auto and mortgage insurance contracts.

Not surprisingly, Wall Street has embraced Trump’s new Fed line-up because its members are so favorably disposed to loosening restrictions on financial institutions of every sort.  Initially, the financial markets reflected concern that Chairman Powell might turn out to be a hawk on interest rates, meaning he’d raise them too quickly, but he’s proved to be anything but.

As Trump stacks the deck in his favor, count on an economic impact that will be felt for years to come and could leave the world devastated. But rest assured, if the Fed can help Trump keep the stock market buoyant for a while - or at least the midterm elections - by keeping money cheap for Wall Street speculation and the dollar competitive for a trade war, it will.  

History Warns Us

At a time when inequality, economic hardship, and household and personal debt levels are escalating and wages are not, why should any of this matter to the rest of us? The answer is simple enough: because the Fed sets the level of interest rates and so the cost of money. This, in turn, indirectly impacts the value of the dollar, which means everything you buy.

Since the financial crisis, the Fed has kept the cost of borrowing money for banks at near zero percent interest. That allowed those banks to borrow money to buy their own stock (as did many corporations) to inflate their value but not, of course, the value of their service to Main Street.

When money is cheap because interest rates are low or near zero, the beneficiaries are those with the most direct access to it. That means, of course, that the biggest banks, members of the Fed since its inception, get the largest chunks of fabricated money and pay the least amount of interest for it.

Although during the election campaign of 2016 Trump chastised the Fed for its cheap-money policies, he’s since evidently changed his mind (which is, of course, very Trumpian of him). That’s because he knows that the lower the cost of money is, the easier it is for major companies to borrow it. Easy money means easy speculation for Wall Street and its main corporate clients, which sooner or later will be a threat to the rest of us. 

The era of trade wars, soaring stock markets, and Trump gaffes may feel like it’s gone on forever. Don’t forget, though, that there was a moment not so long ago when the same banking policies still reigning caused turmoil, ripping through the country and devouring the finances of so many. It’s worth recalling for a moment what happened during the Great Meltdown of 2008, when unrestrained mega-banks ravaged the economy before being bailed out. In the midst of the current market ecstasy, it’s an easy past to ignore. That’s why Trump’s takeover of the Fed and its impact on the financial system matters so much.

Let's recall that, on September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers crashed. That bank, like Goldman Sachs a former employer of mine, had been around for more than 150 years. Its collapse was a key catalyst in a spiral of disaster that nearly decimated the world financial system. It wasn’t the bankruptcy that did it, however, but the massive amount of money the surviving banks had already lent Lehman to buy the toxic assets they created.

Around the same time, Merrill Lynch, a competitor of Lehman's, was sold to Bank of America for $50 billion and American International Group (AIG) received $182 billion in government assistance. JPMorgan Chase had already bought Bear Stearns, which had crashed six months earlier, utilizing a $29 billion government and Federal Reserve security blanket in the process.

In the wake of Lehman’s bankruptcy, $16 trillion in bailouts and other subsidies from the Federal Reserve and Congress were offered mostly to Wall Street’s biggest banks. That flow of money allowed them to return from the edge of financial disaster. At the same time, it fueled the stock and bond markets, as untethered from economic realities as the hot air balloon in The Wizard of Oz.

After nearly tripling since the post-financial crisis spring of 2009, last year the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose magically again by nearly 24%. Why? Because despite all of his swamp-draining campaign talk, Trump embraced the exact same bank-coddling behavior as President Obama. He advocated the Fed’s cheap-money policy and hired Steve Mnuchin, an ex-Goldman Sachs partner and Wall Street’s special friend, as his Treasury secretary. He doubled down on rewarding ongoing malfeasance and fraud by promoting the deregulation of the banks, as if Wall Street’s greed and high appetite for risk had vanished. 

Impending Signs of Crisis

A quarter of the way into 2018, shadows of 2008 are already emerging. Only two months ago, the Dow logged its worst single-day point decline in history before bouncing back with vigor. In the meantime, the country whose banks caused the last crisis faces record consumer and corporate debt levels and a vulnerable geopolitical global landscape.

True, the unemployment rate is significantly lower than it was at the height of the financial crisis, but for Main Street, growth hasn’t been quite so apparent. About one in five U.S. jobs still pays a median income below the federal poverty line. Median household income is only up 5.3% since 2008 and remains well below where it was in 1998, if you adjust for inflation. Workforce participation remains nearly as low as it's ever been. Meanwhile, the top 1% of American earners saw their incomes go up by leaps and bounds since the Fed started manufacturing money -- to more than 40 times that of the bottom 90%.

Just as before the 2007-2008 financial crisis, there’s a scary level of confidence among politicians and regulators that neither the economy nor the banking sector could possibly go bust. Even the new Federal Reserve chair views the possible need for bailouts as a relic of a bygone time. As he said at his confirmation hearing, “Generally speaking I think the financial system is quite strong.” When asked if there are any U.S. banks that are still too big to fail, he responded, “I would say no to that.”  

That’s a pretty decisive statement, and not strikingly different from one outgoing Fed Chair Janet Yellen made last year. By extension, it means that Trump’s new chairman supports laxer structures for the big banks and more cheap money, if needed, to help them. So watch out. 

When a crisis hits, liquidity dies, and banks close their doors to the public. Ultimately, the same formula for crisis will surely send Wall Street executives crawling back to the government for aid and then Donald Trump will find out what financial negligence truly is.

A Time of Crisis and Financial Collusion

As signs of crisis emerge, few in Washington have delved into how we can ensure that a systemic crash does not happen again. That’s why I’ll never forget the strange message I got one day. It was in the middle of May 2015, about a year after my book, All the Presidents' Bankers, had been published, when I received an email from the Federal Reserve. Every year, the Fed, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank hold an annual conference where the most elite central bankers from around the globe assemble. To my shock, since I hadn't exactly written in a kindly fashion about the Fed, I was being invited to speak at the opening session about why Wall Street wasn’t helping Main Street.

Two months later, I found myself sitting in front of a room filled with central bankers from around the world, listening to Fed Chair Janet Yellen proclaim that the worst of the crisis and its causes were behind us. In response, the first thing I asked that distinguished crowd was this: “Do you want to know why big Wall Street banks aren’t helping Main Street as much as they could?” The room was silent. I paused before answering, “Because you never required them to.” 

I added, “The biggest six U.S. banks have been rewarded with an endless supply of cheap money in bailouts and loans for their dangerous behavior. They have been given open access to these funds with no major consequences, and no rules on how they should utilize the Fed’s largess to them to help the real economy. Why should you expect their benevolence?”

After I returned home, I became obsessed with uncovering just how the bailouts and loans of that moment were only the tip of an iceberg, the sort of berg that had once taken down the Titanic -- how that cheap money fabricated for Wall Street had been no isolated American incident.

What my research for my new book, Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, revealed was how central bankers and massive financial institutions have worked together to manipulate global markets for the past decade. Major central banks gave themselves a blank check with which to resurrect problematic banks; purchase government, mortgage, and corporate bonds; and in some cases -- as in Japan and Switzerland -- stocks, too. They have not had to explain to the public where those funds were going or why. Instead, their policies have inflated asset bubbles, while coddling private banks and corporations under the guise of helping the real economy. 

The zero-interest-rate and bond-buying central bank policies prevailing in the U.S., Europe, and Japan have been part of a coordinated effort that has plastered over potential financial instability in the largest countries and in private banks. It has, in turn, created asset bubbles that could explode into an even greater crisis the next time around.

So, today, we stand near -- how near we don’t yet know -- the edge of a dangerous financial precipice. The risks posed by the largest of the private banks still exist, only now they’re even bigger than they were in 2007-2008 and operating in an arena of even more debt. In Donald Trump’s America, what this means is that the same dangerous policies are still being promoted today. The difference now is that the president is appointing members to the Fed who will only increase the danger of those risks for years to come.

A crash could prove to be President Trump’s worst legacy. Not only is he -- and the Fed he’s helping to create -- not paying attention to the alarm bells (ignored by the last iteration of the Fed as well), but he’s ensured that none of his appointees will either. After campaigning hard against the ills of global finance in the 2016 election campaign and promising a modern era Glass-Steagall Act to separate bank deposits from the more speculative activities on Wall Street, Trump's policy reversals and appointees leave our economy more exposed than ever. 

When politicians and regulators are asleep at the wheel, it’s the rest of us who will suffer sooner or later. Because of the collusion that’s gone on and continues to go on among the world’s main central banks, that problem is now an international one.

Published:4/27/2018 10:12:00 AM
[Politics] Voters Still See Iran Nuclear Deal as Ineffective

As the deadline approaches f0r President Donald Trump to decide whether the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, a majority of voters continues to believe it has done little to cease the development of nuclear weapons in Iran. But that figure has been trending downward since details of the Obama administration's plan began to emerge. 

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 52% of Likely U.S. Voters think Iran is unlikely to slow or stop its development of nuclear weapons as a result of the agreement. That includes 22% who say it’s Not At All Likely. Thirty-nine percent (39%) believe Iran is likely to honor the deal, but that includes only 12% who consider it Very Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on April 24-25, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:4/27/2018 9:42:31 AM
[World] Labor Markets are in Reasonable Shape. So Why Do Left Wing Parties Demand Radical Change?

Ryan Bourne

When President Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel mused that “you should never let a crisis go to waste”, commentators feigned outrage over what was, really, received political wisdom.

The economist Milton Friedman had discussed how “only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change”. The Great Depression brought the New Deal. The Second World War facilitated the “cradle to grave” UK welfare state. The Winter of Discontent readied Britain for Thatcher’s revolution. The idea that calamitous events bring “an opportunity to do things you thought you could not do before” was hardly controversial.

Yet this “crisis breeds change” framework makes current political machinations on the Left all the more baffling. The financial crisis came and went, bringing plenty of after-the-horse-has-bolted regulation and a less amenable climate for open markets. But the radicalism of Leftist parties in the US and UK grows the longer the recovery endures.

Momentum here and the Bernie Sanders-inspired takeover of the Democratic Party in America has occurred alongside sustained growth and low unemployment. Far from not letting a crisis go to waste, our progressive friends seem intent on tearing up labor market policy, in particular, during the good times.

The official UK unemployment rate is just 4.2pc, its lowest level since 1975, and the employment rate at 75.4pc is the highest since it was recorded. Inactivity too is lower than ever before. For all the wailing about people wanting to work more and suffering on zero hours contracts, Office for National Statistics figures show an “underemployment” rate — which adds to the unemployed those willing and able to work more than they are — of 7.8pc. This is somewhat elevated since the crash, but falling towards its pre-crisis average of around 7pc.

The idea that calamitous events bring “an opportunity to do things you thoug