15 thoughts on “News/Politics 3-6-18

  1. Typical CYA.

    It’s never command’s fault, even when it is.


    “A military investigation into the Niger attack that killed four American service members concludes the team didn’t get required senior command approval for their risky mission to capture a high-level Islamic State militant, several U.S. officials familiar with the report said. It doesn’t point to that failure as a cause of the deadly ambush.

    Initial information suggested the Army Special Forces team set out on its October mission to meet local Nigerien leaders, only to be redirected to assist a second unit hunting for Doundou Chefou, a militant suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of an American aid worker. Officials say it now appears the team went after Chefou from the onset, without outlining that intent to higher-level commanders.

    As a result, commanders couldn’t accurately assess the mission’s risk, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the results of the investigation before they’re publicly released. The finding will likely increase scrutiny on U.S. military activity in Africa, particularly the role of special operations forces who’ve been advising and working with local troops on the continent for years.

    Four U.S. soldiers and four Nigerien troops were killed Oct. 4 about 120 miles (200 kilometers) north of Niamey, Niger’s capital, when they were attacked by as many as 100 Islamic State-linked militants traveling by vehicle and carrying small arms and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Two other American soldiers and eight Nigerien forces were wounded.

    The investigation finds no single point of failure leading to the attack, which occurred after the soldiers learned Chefou had left the area, checked his last known location and started for home. It also draws no conclusion about whether villagers in Tongo Tongo, where the team stopped for water and supplies, alerted IS militants to American forces in the area. Still, questions remain about whether higher-level commanders — if given the chance — would have approved or adjusted the mission, or provided additional resources that could have helped repel the ambush.”


  2. Fallout.


    “MSNBC dubbed it “a historic interview.” CNN’s Jake Tapper called it “a wild edition of ‘The Lead.'” Drudge’s banner headline, with a cable screengrab: “cRaZy!”

    Here’s what it was: A sad, epic meltdown — a troubled Trump flunky, pecked at and picked apart like roadkill on the Russia Interstate, in his last gasps of public fame and shame.

    Sam Nunberg, an early Trump campaign aide who was fired in 2015 but has remained a vocal alumnus, melted down cable interview by cable interview yesterday as he declared his refusal (later retracted) to comply with a subpoena by special counsel Robert Mueller.

    Finally, CNN’s Erin Burnett said during an on-set interview with Nunberg: “Talking to you, I have smelled alcohol on your breath. … I know it’s awkward.”
    Nunberg replied he hadn’t consumed anything “besides my meds — antidepressants. Is that OK?”‘

    In a cry for help, Nunberg kept trying to top himself, giving longer and longer interviews (including a call-in to cable’s NY1 in New York!).

    Nunberg provided the subpoena anonymously to Jonathan Swan over the weekend, then gave it on the record to the N.Y. Times’ Maggie Haberman, then waved the wrinkled subpoena on-air with MSNBC’s Ari Melber, with a close-up shown on air.
    And he contradicted every piece of news he made, telling AP last night: “I’m going to end up cooperating with them.”

    Why it matters: This is one of the reasons America hates the media. Our entire industry lit itself on fire because a troubled Trump hanger-on made an ass of himself — live.

    One of Nunberg’s friends was furious, telling Axios that the anchors were knowingly taking advantage of an obviously fragile man.

    The friend, who refused to be named but interacts constantly with journalists, texted an anchor during a live interview: “What the hell is wrong with you people? … Shame on you. This isn’t news.”

    CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, wrapping up the madness under a “Nunberg’s meltdown” headline in his Reliable Sources newsletter last night, posted this question for his colleagues:

    “Now an ethical debate is raging in journalism circles. If your source seems drunk or drugged or just plain out of his mind, what is your responsibility?””


  3. Did bad, Obama type education policies enable a mass murderer?


    “Confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz was a disciplinary nightmare for schools before he opened fire in Parkland, Florida — yet there was nothing on his record to stop him from buying a firearm or alarm the FBI after the agency received a tip.

    Why not?

    The demand for an answer to that question has focused attention on Broward County Public Schools policies embraced by the Obama administration that were designed to help rule-breaking students avoid permanent blots on their records by reducing referrals to law enforcement.

    Under Superintendent Robert W. Runcie, who worked for Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan in the Chicago Public Schools, school-based arrests dropped by 63 percent from 2012 to 2016 after he implemented policies designed to derail the “schoolhouse-to-jailhouse pipeline.”

    But the approach also helped keep Cruz off the law-enforcement radar, despite school-based offenses that reportedly included assault, threats and bringing bullets to school in his backpack.

    “Mr. Cruz is a perfect example of someone just falling through the cracks that we create through bad policy,” Jeff Bell, a deputy sheriff and president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Association, told The Washington Times.

    The 19-year-old Cruz was transferred six times in three years, the Miami Herald reported, but never expelled, taken into custody or arrested. He opened fire Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, killing 14 students and three teachers.

    “If I have a weapon or even ammunition on school grounds, and I have certain things in my past, I could be arrested for that, but Mr. Cruz just gets off scot-free,” said Officer Bell. “And that’s the thing. If he had gotten arrested just once for disorderly conduct or trespassing or something like that, that would have shown up on his criminal record, and could have sent up some red flags before he was ever allowed to buy a firearm.”

    He said deputies working as school resource officers in Broward County had their hands tied after the school district overhauled its student conduct code in 2013 with its Collaborative Agreement on School Discipline.

    The agreement, developed with partners including the NAACP, the Broward County sheriff and Broward state attorney, included a diversionary program for repeat offenders called PROMISE and listed 14 misdemeanors no longer subject to school-based arrest.

    “They were basically paying us not to make arrests,” said Officer Bell.”


  4. Good. Now deport ’em, as should have been happening every time they try these stunts. It will put a stop to it.


    “Illegal aliens and open borders activists demanding immediate amnesty for the 12 to 30 million illegal aliens living in the United States were arrested outside House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Racine, Wisconsin office after shutting down the street.

    Illegal aliens and the open borders lobby are out across the U.S. on Monday demanding amnesty for the entire illegal alien population as the President Obama-created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was supposed to end today, but will not due to a holdup in the courts.

    Groups of illegal aliens and open borders activists were arrested by the Racine Police Department after they blocked off a street outside Ryan’s Wisconsin office. Ryan has previously supported amnesty and continues to support high levels of legal immigration to keep U.S. wages low and labor cheap for the big business lobby.”


  5. More bad news for DACA recipients .and another win for Trump.


    “A federal judge ruled Monday that President Trump’s phaseout of the Obama-era DACA program is legal, adding heft to the administration’s defense but doing little to solve the ongoing court quagmire.

    The ruling does not overturn two other federal courts, who had previously blocked the phaseout, which was supposed to take effect Monday. But it does offer a needed boost as the Justice Department appeals those other two rulings.

    Judge Roger W. Titus, a Bush appointee to the bench in Maryland, said the judges in California and New York who blocked the phaseout attempted to substitute their own judgments for that of the Homeland Security Department, crossing constitutional lines in order to strike at Mr. Trump’s policies.

    Judge Titus went even further, praising the Trump administration for the way it handled the situation with a six-month phaseout.

    “This decision took control of a pell-mell situation and provided Congress — the branch of government charged with determining immigration policy — an opportunity to remedy it. Given the reasonable belief that DACA was unlawful, the decision to wind down DACA in an orderly manner was rational,” the judge wrote.”


  6. Why am I not shocked that the same name keeps coming up in questionable circumstances?

    Once again, another of Comey’s inner circle fails to do his job.


    “During the final months of the Clinton email investigation, FBI agent Peter Strzok was advised of an irregularity in the metadata of Hillary Clinton’s server that suggested a possible breach, but there was no significant follow up, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

    Sources told Fox News that Strzok, who sent anti-Trump text messages that got him removed from the ongoing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, was told about the metadata anomaly in 2016, but Strzok did not support a formal damage assessment.

    One source said: “Nothing happened.”

    Fox News is told the Justice Department Inspector General, Michael E. Horowitz, is aware of the allegations.

    According to intelligence community directive 732, damage assessments are done “in response to unauthorized disclosure or compromise of classified national intelligence.”

    Intelligence beyond top secret was identified on the Clinton server. As secretary of state, Clinton chose to use a private, non-secure server for government business.

    The FBI had no comment to Fox News’ questions about Strzok, his awareness of the metadata issue, and what actions, if any, he took. There also was no comment from the Inspector General’s office.

    A report from Horowitz’s 14-month investigation into the DOJ and FBI’s handling of the Clinton email case is expected at any time.

    In December, when the texts between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page became public, congressional sources said Strzok was part of then FBI Director James Comey’s inner circle, who advised and made edits to Comey’s July 2016 public statement recommending against criminal charges in the Clinton probe.”


  7. So what’s the difference between when Russians actors collude and attempt to interfere with our elections, and when this foreigner does so?

    None at all, yet he walks around doing as he pleases. Some collusions are more equal than others I guess.

    Here you go. An actual foreign power, colluding with the DNC and Democrats, using foreign money, and affecting the outcome of an election. And nothing is done about it.


    “A super PAC that supported Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama’s special U.S. Senate election in December misled the public about the identity of its contributors, a complaint filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission charges.

    Highway 31 Super PAC burst onto the scenes in Alabama just one month before election day in the deep-red state right when it appeared Jones had a chance to win over his opponent, Republican Roy Moore.

    The Super PAC outspent all other outside groups between its date of formation on Nov. 6 and election day on Dec. 12, spending $4.4 million in support of Jones and against Moore.

    But prior to election day, it was unclear who was funding Highway 31’s operations. The way in which the group left Alabama voters in the dark regarding the identity of its contributors violated campaign finance law, according to a complaint the Campaign Legal Center filed Monday.

    In its only report prior to the special election, Highway 31 reported it had received no contributions. But despite not raising a penny, the group had been extended $1.2 million in credit from a variety out-of-state media consulting firms for advertising production and media buys.

    At the time, it was reported that Highway 31 was utilizing a little-known loophole to hide the identity of its contributors by operating entirely on credit.

    It took more than five weeks after Jones’ election victory for Highway 31 to reveal its funding sources in a post-election report filed with the FEC.

    The report revealed that the Super PAC was funded primarily by three outside groups — $3.2 million from Senate Majority PAC, a Super PAC with ties to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, $910,000 from the Democrat-aligned Priorities USA Action Super PAC, which is backed by billionaire George Soros, and $250,000 from the League of Conservation Voters.

    Highway 31 apparently had no purpose after Jones’ election victory. The same day it revealed the identity of its contributors, Highway 31 filed a termination report with the FEC. The Super PAC was in business for less than three months.”


  8. I would not have thought to read this article except Pat Buchanan quoted it in his last column, so I was curious. It’s as close to a mea culpa as we’re likely to get from those on both the right and left who supported free trade with communist nations for the last 40 years. Not positive, but I think this writer is center-left. He was editor of The New Republic in the late ’90s.



  9. From the article linked above:

    ….For years, both Republican and Democratic administrations argued that the gravitational pull of U.S.-dominated international institutions, trade flows, even pop culture, would gradually reshape the People’s Republic, resulting in a moderate new China with which the United States and its Asian allies could comfortably coexist.

    Well, Chinese President Xi Jinping has just engineered his potential elevation to president for life. This is the latest proof — along with China’s rampant theft of U.S. intellectual property, its military buildup in the South China Sea and Xi’s touting of Chinese-style illiberal state capitalism as “a new option for other countries” — that the powers-that-be in Beijing have their own agenda, impervious to U.S. influence.

    We in the U.S. foreign policy community have remained deeply invested in expectations about China . . . even as evidence against them has accumulated,” two self-critical ex-Obama administration Asia hands, Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner, admit in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.

    If there had been more such candor earlier, we might not have President Trump, whose rise owes much to a public backlash against the perceived costs — especially in jobs lost to Chinese imports — of the erstwhile bipartisan China policy consensus.

    Trump’s approach to China, a weird mix of open pleading for help with North Korea, fawning praise for Xi and threatened punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, hardly seems calculated to lay the basis for a more sustainable policy.

    The United States needs a long, sober policy rethink. Step one: Remember that friendlier ties with Beijing seemed like a good idea, even a brilliant one, when then-likely presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon first proposed it during the Cold War, also in the pages of Foreign Affairs, half a century ago.

    Geopolitically, Mao Zedong’s China was isolated and adrift, hostile to both the Soviet Union and the United States. Nixon rationally supposed that the United States could benefit by drawing closer to Beijing and using it as a counterweight to the greater threat of Moscow. And he acted on this after becoming president in 1969.

    Subsequent presidents preserved Nixon’s policy and expanded upon it, even after one of its basic assumptions, the permanence of the Soviet empire, proved wrong, much to the experts’ astonishment.

    American foreign-policy thinkers did not, however, take the end of the Cold War as a cue to back away from what had started as a marriage of anti-Soviet convenience, even after Beijing proved its brutality in the mass¬acre at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

    Instead, the Cold War’s dramatic end spawned a new and loftier rationale for the policy, which had acquired a life of its own. Americans believed that history might be flowing inevitably in favor of free markets and free elections. All we had to do was stay patient, maintain our influence and let China evolve. There would be no long-term conflict between U.S. self-interest and U.S. values.

    The fact that this also happened to be the position most congenial to American business, hungry for access to China’s cheap labor, seemed like a feature, not a bug.

    Now it’s evident China has been gaining leverage over the political and economic leaders of the United States, and has learned how to make them defer to its norms.

    Just ask Apple chief executive Tim Cook, who has obeyed a Chinese legal mandate to store individual Chinese iCloud customers’ data in the communist state, where authorities can demand access. This is the company whose TV ad during the 1984 Super Bowl touted Apple products as the alternative to Orwellian dystopia.

    As for geopolitics, the old Nixon-Kissinger gambit is played out, and increasingly Moscow and Beijing cooperate to counter the United States, whether in the Middle East or the Korean Peninsula.

    It’s possible that Xi has overreached politically and that his new power grab will galvanize his enemies, leading to new political instability within China, accompanied by a meltdown of the country’s rickety financial system. In that case, the United States’ challenge will be to contain the damage to the rest of the world

    In the likelier event that China continues to rise, the United States will face a choice: We can try to beat China at its own games — raw geopolitics and mercantilist economics — as Trump seems to prefer. Or we can play to our historic strengths, shoring up our domestic democratic and capitalist institutions, and re-investing in traditional alliances with democratic nations in the Asia-Pacific region.

    If there’s one clear lesson from the past 50 years of U.S. policy toward China, it’s that nothing is inevitable in international politics, or irreversible. From now on, the United States must act accordingly.


  10. Another tentacle back to the Clinton’s…….

    And more hiding of details from the FISA court by the DoJ and FBI.


    “Nothing to see here I guess except that the man who provided the tip to the FBI that started the whole Trump-Russia collusion investigation has ties to failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

    A recent report claims former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer organized a $25 million donation to the Clinton Foundation.

    The Hill published government memos from 10 years ago on the foreign ministry’s website that shows what Downer did to secure that donation:

    Downer and former President Clinton jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding in February 2006 that spread out the grant money over four years for a project to provide screening and drug treatment to AIDS patients in Asia.

    The money was initially allocated to the Clinton Foundation but later was routed through an affiliate of the charity known as the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), officials said. Australia was one of four foreign governments to donate more than $25 million to CHAI, records show.

    Downer now serves as Australia’s ambassador to London.

    The Hill noted that Downer told officials about “a conversation with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos at a London bar in 2016 that became the official reason the FBI opened the Russia counterintelligence probe.”

    The FBI allegedly never told lawmakers that Downer had previous ties to the Clintons:”

    “Republicans say they are concerned the new information means nearly all of the early evidence the FBI used to justify its election-year probe of Trump came from sources supportive of the Clintons, including the controversial Steele dossier.”

    Fruit of the poison tree.


  11. Do it.


    “House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Rep. Trey Gowdy on Tuesday demanded the appointment of a special counsel to investigate “conflicts of interest” and decisions “made and not made” by current and former Justice Department officials in 2016 and 2017, noting that “the public interest requires” the action.

    Gowdy, R-S.C., and Goodlatte, R-Va., penned a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

    “Matters have arisen—both recently and otherwise—which necessitate the appointment of a Special Counsel. We do not make this observation and attendant request lightly,” Gowdy and Goodlatte wrote.

    They pointed, specifically, toward the use of the infamous anti-Trump dossier used in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain a warrant to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

    “There is evidence of bias, trending toward animus, among those charged with investigating serious cases,” they wrote. “There is evidence political opposition research was used in court filings. There is evidence this political opposition research was neither vetted before it was used nor fully revealed to the relevant tribunal.”

    Asked why a special counsel was needed, Gowdy told Fox News, “Congress doesn’t have the tools to investigate this… We leak like the Gossip Girls.”

    They added: “Questions have arisen with the FISA process and these questions and concerns threaten to impugn both public and congressional confidence in significant counterintelligence program processes and those charged with overseeing and implementing these counterintelligence processes.”

    Goodlatte also told Fox News he thought the FISA process “was abused.””


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