The other day, the Orlando Sentinel printed an editorial saying that it would not endorse President Trump in 2020.
It was signed by the “editorial board” of the newspaper which really means it was written by a guy named Mike Lafferty, whoever the hell he is. (Editor's note: He's the opinion editor for the Orlando Sentinel)
Now here’s the difference between a clown like that and people like me.
We sign our names to what we think. We don’t hide behind anything.
Lafferty masquerades as the “institutional voice of the Orlando Sentinel.” His own words.
Now, first of all, it’s not like this newspaper is particularly relevant. It’s owned by the Tribune Publishing Company— as in the Chicago Tribune. That sound you hear is Colonel Robert McCormick turning over slowly in his grave.
The Orlando newspaper has no particular right to an “institutional” voice. Truth be told, who in Orlando gives a flip what some clown behind a computer thinks?
The paper is run by the same kind of people who populate failing publications everywhere these days and I have to wonder if the internet is as big a factor in that failing as is their baked-in liberalism.
Walk through most newsrooms these days and you’ll meet people who just KNOW what politicians are doing wrong but have absolutely no first hand knowledge of the real world or how it works. They believe the idiot “polls” that they and their competitors churn out despite the fact that they are wrong more often than not because the same thing they hold responsible for killing newspapers—progress—has made it very difficult to get a sample. They think Twitter is news. They think Facebook is news. Hell, some of them think their bowl movements are news.
And they have the nerve to tell us—unsigned—who THEY endorse?
Here’s an idea: Go outside and find some real news. You know, who, what, when where and, when you actually know something, why.
Stop trying to tell folks who are older and smarter than you—which, from what we read are much smarter than you—how to live.
Or, even better, if you’re so smart, show us. To quote Teddy Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Most if not all of the people you will read here have been in that arena. That’s why we are NOT afraid to sign our names.
Swathed in an elegant suit of red, white and blue and enveloped by a huge crowd of the same beautiful hues, President Donald J. Trump announced his re-election campaign Tuesday night.
After reviewing the failures and treachery of his opposition and the Fake News, he counted at length the accomplishments of the American people and his administration. He ushered in the summer of our politics, economy and culture and outlined the challenges we face and how we will Keep America Great.
Of course, the lamestream media couldn’t focus on anything but Trump’s deserved criticism of them and the reptiles of Washington’s political swamp.
“Jabbing at the press and poking the eye of the political establishment he ran against in 2016, President Donald Trump officially kicked off his reelection campaign Tuesday night with a grievance-filled Florida rally that focused more on settling scores than laying out his agenda for a second term,” said AP in its story immediately after the speech.
And that’s completely a lie.
The truth is he focused mainly on how we’ve made America great again and what we’ll do in his second term to keep America great.
He started by saying our movement is made up of hard-working patriots. Next, he pointed out our country is thriving, prospering, booming and soaring to new heights. He added, “Our future has never looked brighter or sharper.”
We’ve reclaimed our government from a permanent political class that has enriched itself at the expense of the American people. We’ve transferred power back to you, the people of the USA. We’ve restored the future America deserves.
Yes, he observed his opponents are driven by hatred and rage. The truth of that was encapsulated in Hillary Clinton’s calling half of America “deplorables and irredeemables.” (Editor's note: For those that don't want to watch the link, here is Clinton's full quote: "We are living in a volatile political climate. You know, just to be grossly generalist, but you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. (laughter, applause) Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic - you name it. And, unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people - now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks - they are irredeemable, but thankfully - they are not America. But the other basket - and I know this because I look at this crowd and I see friends from all over America here - I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas, as well as, you know - New York and California - but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they're just desperate for change. It doesn't really even matter where it comes from. They don't buy everything he (Trump) says, but he seem to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won't wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroine, feel like they're in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.")
He noted the progress he and the senate have made in restoring a competent non-political judiciary that promotes the rule of law, not politics from the bench. Despite the vicious attacks against a great jurist, Brett Kavanaugh.
He discussed at various points the progress we’re making on the human tragedy of massive illegal immigration and initiatives he will be proposing. He announced a July 4th celebration of America in Washington.
In officially announcing his reelection campaign, he promised, “I will never, ever let you down.” He promised his heart, mind and soul. He observed the essence of his administration has been keeping his promises and not being co-opted by the special interests. And he generously shared credit with many folks for the progress we’re making.
He emphasized the progress on unemployment: lowest figures ever for African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans. Lowest rates in 74 years for women. And wages are rising, especially for low-income workers.
These results are due to cutting and reforming the onerous and unnecessary regulations that have long accumulated due to special interests and statist liberals and progressive ideologues. Also to his historic tax cuts. Further, he celebrated America’s energy independence, noting our air and water are cleaner than in many decades and better than most places in the world.
He pointed to crime policy reform, progress against opioids (thank you, Melania), right-to-try initiatives, and health care for military veterans.
He promised we’ll have fair trade and related relations with China, or none at all. He highlighted the progress we’ve made with Mexico and Canada. He discussed how we stand up to evil empires including Russia and Iran, where the Obama administration kowtowed to them. He touted our relationship with the good nation of Israel. And we support the people of Cuba and Venezuela against socialist oppression and poverty.
Yes, he noted that Democrats are driven by hatred and rage. They want to keep us splintered and divided as they become ever more radical and unhinged.
He proclaimed, “America will never be a socialist country. As Republicans, we believe in freedom, not socialism.” President Trump defended free speech, religious liberty and the right to bear arms.
He opposes taxpayer funded abortions and said, “Republicans believe that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
Finally, he promised we’ll provide opportunity for our children and make America wealthy, strong, safe and great again. But the lamestream press won’t acknowledge this summer of our politics.
So Nancy Pelosi wants to put President Trump in prison? And Robert Francis O’Rourke says it’s time to impeach the President?
And the rest of the 2020 Democrat clown show thinks that Americans—like you and me—hate the President?
Let me tell you a story about a chance meeting I had the other day at a Reno, Nevada Jiffy Lube.
I took my daily driver—a 1994 Ford Explorer with about 350,000 miles (there’s a reason Ford has been making vehicles for 115 years)—to have the air conditioner worked on. Reno had hit 90 degrees the day before.
The guy sitting next to me in the waiting room heard me on the cell phone to one of my business associates and asked what I did for a living.
I replied that I was the CEO of USA Radio Networks and he asked what station we had in the area. I replied KNNR, 1400 AM. He replied, ahhh…Wayne Allyn Root’s station. (Also the Vegas Golden Knights' station.)
Then another guy in the waiting room chimed in. Said he watched Root on Newsmax and didn’t know that the whole show (which we syndicate) was available in Reno. (We simulcast the 5-6pm hour with Newsmax, Wayne airs from 3-6pm Pacific.)
Then, the conversation turned to the media, President Trump and the Democrat clown show as these conversations often do. (I have a lot of them, wherever I go, it's a blessing I inherited from my late father.)
Folks, this was an unsolicited conversation in a flyover town which is usually considered a 50-50 split between hardcore conservatives and environmental liberals. A Jiffy Lube waiting room hardly tilts left or right. It’s composed of people getting their cars worked on—as American as it gets in a general sort of way.
Yet, as our 30 minutes of conversation went on, there was no debating anyone in the room. Nobody in that room was against the President.
It was exactly like my friends in farm and ranch country.
When I talk to farmers where I grew up in the Midwest (mostly corn and beans), they acknowledge that the President’s tariff and threats of tariffs have hurt them a bit. BUT! They are with the President because they can see beyond the tips of their noses.
It is the same with most—or all—of my rancher friends.
Put as bluntly as I know how, this is not a President who has no support. He has support in places the Democrats (and their friends in the media) have no idea about.
There are people who have never been west of the Hudson River who seem to think that this President is not in the mainstream of American thought.
There are people who have never been east of the Los Angeles County line who think the same thing.
Unless things change radically before November of 2020, boy, are they in for a surprise.
The very same lamo media which spends 90 percent of its time attacking this President did the same thing in the first four years of Ronald Reagan’s term. They have a very short memory of that today. Especially after Reagan won 49 states in the 1984 election.
He was called a third rate actor and that was some of the nicest stuff. Even faux conservative George Will said things about Americans being “taxophobic” and Reagan’s “Morning in America goo.” Reagan got the same crap that President Trump gets, the difference being that there was no Fox News and newspapers, today, are dying—we suspect at least partially because of their baked-in liberalism.
I’m not predicting a 49 state Trump win in 2020. But then, who predicted that Toronto would win the NBA championship and St. Louis would win Lord Stanley’s Cup? Certainly not the experts.
And before you listen to those “experts” talk about their “polls”, remember that these were the same shameless clowns who had Hillary beating Trump by 7 points ON ELECTION DAY!
I’m not part of the conservative club any more than I’m part of the liberal club. If I call them more conservative than liberal, that’s because it is the way I happen to see things.
The reason for that is my late father, Philip Weinberg.
He always taught by example, led from the front and encouraged me to act a little like Howard Cosell, telling it like it is and letting the chips fall where they may. So if you wonder why I don’t spout anybody’s party line except my own, it is because he taught me how valuable independence can be.
Included in that lesson was also doing the right thing no matter who you anger.
The older you get, the more that you realize Father’s Day may not just be a ploy by the greeting card manufacturers to sell more cards and retailers to sell more stuff but should just be taken at face value as an opportunity to thank and honor the man who raised you.
This Sunday will be the seventh Father’s Day since his death and those lessons he taught become clearer with every passing year. (Also becoming clearer is that getting old is not for sissies.)
Unlike the late Tim Russert I can never imagine calling my father, “Big Phil.” But he was.
Philip Weinberg’s public title on the day he died in 2012 was Professor Emeritus at Bradley University.
The title barely began to cover his career and his public life.
But growing up in his shadow gave me a perspective on life that many people, for many reasons, will never get.
He rarely lectured my sisters and me. His example was usually enough. He continuously taught by example that this is the United States of America and any little boy or girl could grow up to be President, or publish a newspaper, run a radio network or swing any bat you’re big enough to want to pick up.
He was the living embodiment of the concept that ordinary people can do extraordinary things by simply putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. If that were all he taught me in 60 years, it would have been plenty. But he also taught me that when you do get where you want to go, grace and humility can take you even farther. And, trust me, that’s a difficult lesson to learn no matter who is trying to teach it.
It is possible—although I’m not sure he would have admitted it—that he learned some or all of these things as he was raising his children and that the Phil Weinberg when he left us was as much the product of having raised three children as those children are the product of having been raised by him and my mother. It also occurs to me in hindsight that much of what he taught us was as difficult for him to implement as it was for us.
Kids don’t come with operating manuals and my father was an engineer by training. But the lessons he taught—intentionally or otherwise—have become so valuable that I can only hope that I’m capable of passing at least some of them on to my own millennial stepchildren.
As valuable as the lessons, are the memories. I vividly remember standing outside an apartment complex in Brooklyn with him telling me, “Son, there used to be a baseball stadium here and a real baseball team played there.” He never acknowledged that the Dodgers had moved to LA and abandoned Ebbets Field. And, given the choice between the Dodgers and the Angels when I owned a Las Vegas radio station, I chose the Angels because he would have been horrified had I consorted with dem bums…
I remember him showing me my first mainframe computer in the early 1960s and his precise explanation of how the monster IBM System 360 worked.
I remember coming home one Friday in 1963 to the death of John Kennedy and his explanation that the country is bigger than just one man and things would be just fine because that is the genius of this nation’s founders. And I also remember the summer trips we were able to take so he could graphically illustrate exactly how big this nation is.
He might have missed a few little league games (I never got past the minors in the Richwoods Little League anyway) but he never missed a crisis. You could tell when something was relatively unimportant—he wouldn’t hesitate to yell at you. But when the chips were down, there was nobody you would rather have covering your back. Until almost the day he died, he was the first call I and my sisters made when there was a problem. However difficult the problem was, his calm analysis was always dead on and his advice and support were invaluable.
In the immortal words of Michael Corleone, “what better consigliore can I have than my father?”
Progressivism was a set of related movements in the U.S. after the Civil War up to World War II. Modern progressives emphasize movements related to government corruption, women’s suffrage, municipal administration, education, promoting abortion, child and pro-union labor laws, conservation, internationalism, culture and especially activist judges promoting a “living constitution” against originalism. Also, aggressive economic regulation and anti-trust law, much of which has been discredited by experience.
They studiously overlook as embarrassing progressivism’s first cause, eugenics (“scientific” racism); plus alcohol prohibition; and opposition to prostitution and voter fraud – because they’re not popular with today’s progressives. But where they used to soft-peddle governmental coercion and socialism as unacceptably harsh, modern progressives now proudly trumpet them.
Prohibition of alcohol and prostitution were greatly rooted in traditional religion, but many other progressive causes – especially scientific racism and opposition to basic principles of America’s founding – were rooted in disdain for religion. So, progressives experienced much cognitive dissonance.
The original progressive causes quickly found their natural partner, liberal statism. This 19th Century term stands for extensive government intervention in economic and social matters and not leaving much room for traditional and voluntary social, economic and political institutions and practices. Statism gave progressivism its key means: the mushrooming administrative state.
The movement was bi-partisan. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were the main leaders.
Progressivism was somewhat a reaction to the 19th Century rise of industrial and urban society. It’s called a reform movement because it sought to create new social and political means to preserve the positions of many groups – especially labor, farmers and whites – against new developments. Hence, much populist progressivism is reactionary.
An even larger part of the progressive movements was based on two related ideas. First, that there is an arc of history moving society toward ever better practices, policies and institutions – ergo, progress. Second and even more important, that the small socio-political elite fraction of the population, via the use of science (especially emerging social sciences) and their asserted natural intellectual and ethical superiority, would discern that arc of history and should therefore be given the power to effect their vision of it.
Thus, the disdain for traditional democratic means and religion and for the founding principles based on them.
A third key ingredient was arrogance due to their ignorance of possible unintended consequences and their stupidity in assuming they could remake the world and human beings, and everything would work just as they intended. Racism is the most obvious part of their ignorance and stupidity. But what we know today about their misplaced faith in rampant economic intervention (including labor law), internationalism and substitution of judicial for political means also drives home this point.
Ditto, their belief that government action is inherently benign (because it will be guided by the progressives implementing the arc of history, of course), and government won’t be co-opted by predatory special interests to prey upon the people and the public interest. The Founders understood the true nature and risks of government, so they designed a constitution to protect people and the public interest from them. These ideas were anathema to progressives.
Even more than FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s Great Society was the apogee of progressivism and statism in the 20th Century. Then they subsided somewhat.
However, in this century, they have gained a new life, now replacing the good early causes with identity politics; radical economic egalitarianism; socialism; political correctness and suppression of free speech; environmental catastrophe dogma; and opposition to real science.
Classic failures of progressivism such as judicial activism are now joined by these predatory special interests as major parts of the sad legacy we’re leaving. Plus, of course, long-term slow economic growth and thus diminished human wellbeing and fairness.
Next time, examples and a few solutions.
Robert Mueller IS a hack.
He proved it in nine minutes last week when he did exactly what prosecutors never do which is to say to the world that he wasn’t exonerating President Trump from obstructing the investigation of what wasn’t a crime in the first place.
Prosecutors have exactly one decision to make in the charging process. Either charge or don’t charge. And they can empanel a Grand Jury so they actually don’t have to make the decision themselves. But they do NOT and CANNOT exonerate. It is judges and juries who make decisions as to guilt. And even there, “not guilty” simply means the prosecution couldn’t prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The reason for that is because our legal system assumes you are innocent unless PROVEN guilty.
You never saw Jack McCoy in Law and Order (Sam Waterston) call a press conference and say that a defendant had been exonerated. He (or his predecessors) might have, in 456 episodes, dropped the charges, but prosecutors do NOT exonerate.
Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and, specifically, did the Trump campaign collude with the Russians. The facts now coming to light about the origins of that appointment are—to say the least—odd. In fact, President Trump appears to be right to say out loud that it was an attempted “take-down” of a duly elected President.
Mueller spent somewhere near $34-million, hired 19 lawyers (the “angry Democrats” as the President called them) used 40 FBI agents, empaneled a Federal Grand Jury and came up with bupkis where Trump, his family and his campaign were concerned. If you don’t understand Yiddish, that means nothing, nada.
And now what is loosely called the “intelligence community” is outraged that President Trump has given the nation’s top law enforcement official the authority to declassify and investigate the sequence of events that led to Mueller’s investigation.
Well, here’s a reasonable question.
Assuming the Russkies did, in this country, what Barack Obama (actually his lackeys) did unsuccessfully in Israel—distribute fake information during election season—exactly what laws did they violate? We do have a First Amendment in this country which protects everyone against government censorship. A few Russians buying Facebook ads and distributing fake news? How is that different from CNN International? Or any number of US based shortwave radio stations aimed at other countries.
Is it now illegal to take sides in an election if you are not a citizen of the United States?
And then there is the hacking of DNC bigshot John Podesta’s email. I never heard Podesta say he didn’t write them. Yes, it’s illegal to hack someone else’s email, but it’s not like Mueller charged the Trump campaign or anyone connected with it.
Also suspect is Hillary’s lack of understanding that when you call half of America “deplorable” they may, possibly, vote against you.
Apparently, she failed to learn that little factoid during her time in Arkansas which happens to be a state where real people live waaay outside the beltway.
The problem with Democrats—with the left in general—is they have pioneered the concept of getting their way no matter what it takes.
If we in Middle America vote for Donald J. Trump, they say screw him. They will use whatever they have—legal or illegal, logical or illogical—in an attempt to take him down.
The “Russian” investigation was just another piece of the game.
It’s hard to call yourself a patriot when you commit treason against America because you lost an election. The 2020 election should remind the left, writ large, of that.
Since when did murder become a “political” issue?
Liberals tell us that in their phony baloney bleating about “climate change” they believe in “science”. Many of those same libs want to deny that a fetus—a baby—with a heartbeat which can now—through real science—be detected, is somehow NOT a person and can be killed at the whim of the mother.
They still call this crap “reproductive rights.”
Roe v. Wade happened while I was still in college. Every young male in college back then could probably tell you exactly what Planned Parenthood charged for an abortion.
Most of us have grown up since then.
Roe was a classic example of a Supreme Court which read the opinion pages of the Washington Post.
One of the differences between 1973 and today is that we have much more science—real science as opposed to the junk science “consensus” the climate folks believe in—which tells us exactly the development of a baby.
Once a baby has a heart and it is beating, how can you not call it a person?
And if you kill it, how can that not be murder?
OK, like the President, I get the health of the mother. Maybe, under some circumstances, rape or incest.
Murder is against the law in all 50 states. Following the twisted logic of Roe does a woman have a right of “privacy” to kill her three year old? Her husband?
And to politicize this is simply moronic.
If you are a Democrat and you follow their political orthodoxy, you are, in my humble opinion, condoning, on the campaign trail, murder.
One of the problems in this debate is that there is simply no debating most supporters of legalized abortion. Their position is that it is a “right” and that’s that.
So to break that down, killing a baby is a right?
We don’t treat puppies like that.
We have plenty of ways to stop conception. If you are not responsible enough to prevent conception, then you should have to carry the baby to term. If you don’t want the baby, then there are plenty of people who are willing to adopt and raise the baby.
If the pregnancy takes nine months out of your life, then be more responsible.
But you do NOT have a “right” to kill a baby for your convenience. What you do have a right to do is to be responsible in your sex life. Which is why, in some circumstances, I’m sympathetic to rape and incest exceptions, since there was no choice in those situations.
Somewhere along the way, abortion proponents began branding themselves as “pro choice.”
What’s the choice?
Between felony murder and a baby?
Here’s a choice:
Don’t want a baby? Have your tubes tied. Then, you won’t be in a position to murder a baby.
U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on May 18 called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump in a Twitter thread, accusing him of committing obstruction of justice and “conduct that violates the public trust,” citing the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as justification.
Nowhere in the Twitter thread did Amash make a specific allegation of which conduct by President Trump he was referring to that obstructed justice or violated the public trust — although he said there were “multiple examples”. In May 2017, Amash did indicate that President Trump firing former FBI Director James Comey could be a basis for impeachment, a topic the Mueller report does consider, so let’s assume for the purposes of this discussion that in part that is what he’s talking about.
Critically, nowhere in the Twitter thread did Amash mention Russia or the fact that the Mueller report had found no coordination or conspiracy with Russia by President Trump, his campaign or any American for that matter to interfere in the 2016 elections.
Mueller stated in the report, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” It also stated, “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.”
That is important because the only reason President Trump was under investigation in the first place were false allegations made by former British spy Christopher Steele, beginning in the summer of 2016, paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, that Trump was a Russian agent and his campaign had coordinated the hack of the DNC and posting the emails on Wikileaks with Russia. Those allegations were given to the FBI and eventually formed the basis of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application against the Trump campaign in Oct. 2016.
Amash has always been a hawk on reining in FISA abuse. In July 2013, Americans for Limited Government supported his efforts to rein in mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). In Jan. 2018, when the USA Rights Act came up as an amendment by Amash, Americans for Limited Government again supported it, specifically because we believed if it had been law, the FISA abuse that occurred in 2016 would not have been possible, and that it might be a means of preventing it.
When more information about the Steele dossier’s role in the FISA warrant began to be known in Feb. 2018 with the release of the House Select Committee on Intelligence memorandum, Amash responded on Twitter calling for Congress to enact the USA Rights Act if members of Congress were concerned about FISA abuse.
Of the memo, Amash said, “The central allegation is that a warrant was obtained fraudulently or without sufficient cause. If true, it shows the dangers of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, something @libertycaucus and @freedomcaucus members have been saying for a long time.”
Amash noted, “the section of FISA discussed in the memo requires probable cause and a warrant.” Here, Amash is referring to 50 U.S. Code Sec. 1805(a)(2), which would have required probable cause that Carter Page, then a Trump campaign official, was acting as a foreign agent for the warrant to be issued.
But there was no probable cause. Steele, we now know in the Oct. 2016 FISA warrant application obtained by Judicial Watch in July 2018 in a Freedom of Information Act request, used “sub-source(s),” and the court was fully aware that Steele was not an eye-witness to the allegations. It stated Steele “tasked his sub-source(s) to collect the requisite information.” And then, after Steele “received information from the sub-source(s),” it was passed along to the FBI. So, the court knew it was second-hand or third-hand information, or hearsay.
These were rumors that were given to the FISA Court. The information was unverified, something Steele would later admit in testimony, saying that the allegations needed to be “further corroborated and verified.” Steele said his sources were Kremlin officals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but so far no evidence has been presented publicly he actually spoke to those sources directly.
In fact, Steele never went to Russia. Instead, according to testimony by Fusion GPS’ Glenn Simpson before the Senate Intelligence Committee in Nov. 2017, Steele hired “a network of sources who live in or came from the place that you’re interested in… who can travel and talk to people and find out what’s going on” to get the dirt. But we don’t know who, since, per Simpson, “I didn’t ask for the specific identities of specific people.”
On why didn’t Steele go to Russia himself, Simpson said “[H]e really would not be safe if he went to Russia. He’s been exposed as a former undercover British Intelligence officer who worked in Moscow. So it wouldn’t be wise for him to go to Russia.”
A March 2017 Vanity Fair piece about Steele by Howard Blum similarly stated, “[Steele] could count on an army of sources whose loyalty and information he had bought and paid for over the years. There was no safe way he could return to Russia to do the actual digging; the vengeful F.S.B. would be watching him closely. But no doubt he had a working relationship with knowledgeable contacts in London and elsewhere in the West, from angry émigrés to wheeling-and-dealing oligarchs always eager to curry favor with a man with ties to the Secret Service, to political dissidents with well-honed axes to grind. And, perhaps most promising of all, he had access to the networks of well-placed Joes — to use the jargon of his former profession — he’d directed from his desk at London Station, assets who had their eyes and ears on the ground in Russia.”
McCain Institute Senior Director for Human Rights and Human Freedoms David Kramer, testified in federal court about when he met Steele to get the dossier after the 2016 election, with the purpose of giving it to the late Sen. John McCain. Kramer said Steele told him, in Kramer’s words, “what was produced … needed to be corroborated and verified, he himself did not feel that he was in a position to vouch for everything that was produced…”
In May 2017, former FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the dossier was “salacious and unverified.”
By the time President Trump was being inaugurated in Jan. 2017, the dossier had been published by Buzzfeed. It was known as early as April 2017 that the dossier had been used in the FISA warrant application. That was a month before Comey was fired by President Donald Trump for lying to him about the extent of the investigation.
In his order firing Comey, Trump wrote, “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”
Steele had alleged in July 2016 that not only had Russia hacked the Democrats and put the emails on Wikileaks, which was already public knowledge since June 2016, but that Trump and his campaign helped with “full knowledge and support” of the operation. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, as well as campaign advisor Carter Page when he traveled to Moscow in July 2016, were both named by Steele as the key intermediaries to the Kremlin. Steele said then-Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen had traveled to Prague in the summer of 2016 to meet with Russian agents to mop up the fallout of the supposed operation.
The Mueller report debunked those claims, stating, “In particular, the Office did not find evidence likely to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Campaign officials such as Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Carter Page acted as agents of the Russian government — or at its direction, control or request — during the relevant time period.”
Manafort was brought up on unrelated tax and bank fraud charges. Papadopoulos pled guilty of lying to investigators about his start date with the Trump campaign. Page was not charged with anything. As for Cohen, per the Mueller report, “Cohen had never traveled to Prague…” And so, he very well could not have been there meeting with Russian intelligence officials.
Trump knew all along and was well aware there was no basis for the investigation. For example, it was known as early as Jan. 2017 that Cohen had never traveled to Prague. Trump himself was also in a position to know that Steele’s allegations that he was Russian agent were false. So, when it became public that the FBI relied on false allegations to get electronic surveillance on the Trump campaign, and that the investigation into Trump had been carried over into his administration, which Comey lied about to Trump, the President had more than ample basis for firing Comey.
The only reason Mueller was appointed was because Trump fired Comey, who was leading the investigation — which turned out to be into a crime that was not committed by Trump or his team. At the time, Amash was already on the record in May 2017 saying that the firing could be the basis for impeaching Trump.
But Comey should have been fired. The FISA warrant, which Comey signed, and the ensuing investigation that carried over into the Trump administration in 2017 was all based on false information.
The FBI had reason to doubt Steele and his sources, and yet kept going back to renew the FISA warrant. A New York Times report Scott Shane, Adam Goldman and Matthew Rosenberg on April 20 that in Jan. 2017 reported the FBI interviewed one of the main sources for the dossier and came away with “misgivings about its reliability [that] arose not long after the document became public” in Jan. 2017.
Per the Times report: “By January 2017, F.B.I. agents had tracked down and interviewed one of Mr. Steele’s main sources, a Russian speaker from a former Soviet republic who had spent time in the West, according to a Justice Department document and three people familiar with the events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. After questioning him about where he’d gotten his information, they suspected he might have added his own interpretations to reports passed on by his sources, one of the people said. For the F.B.I., that made it harder to decide what to trust.”
What is disappointing about Amash is he has previously championed FISA reform in 2013 after the NSA mass surveillance program was exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. What does Amash imagine should happen to government officials who abuse the federal government’s spying powers? Should they get promotions or something?
By defending Comey’s actions, which permitted the FISA court to be defrauded by Steele, the DNC and the Clinton campaign even after the FBI knew it was a fiction, and condemning Trump’s actions to fire Comey, Amash is condoning the use of FISA to spy on a presidential campaign, the opposition party, in an election year, for crimes, conspiracy with Russia to interfere with the election, that were not committed by Trump, his campaign or any American.
In short, Amash is buying the Justice Department’s official rationale for the Russian collusion investigation that there was “probable cause” that Trump was a Russian agent when we know for a fact that was a lie today. The court was given false information. The call for impeachment comes despite the fact that in Feb. 2018, Amash said that “a warrant… obtained fraudulently or without sufficient cause… shows the dangers of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”
I suppose now Amash no longer believes that fraudulent FISA warrants are dangerous if they’re taken out against his political opponents, like President Trump.
Ironically, Amash now warns that “America’s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically unfavorable outcome.” He added, “When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law — the foundation of liberty — crumbles.”
I agree, and in this case, Amash might want to take his own advice. In July 2013, when the House debated his amendment barring suspicionless surveillance, Amash asked, “When you had the chance to stand up for Americans’ privacy, did you?” Today, Amash is failing his own test. So blinded by his apparent political hatred of President Trump is he, Amash is ignoring the flagrant abuse of spying authorities that occurred in 2016 against a political campaign that most certainly endangers the liberty of all Americans. For shame.
If you ever want to see what a bunch of worthless pukes who inhabit the lamestream media produce, put the “news” app on your iPad and read it every morning.
It is SUPPOSED to be a compendium of reporting.
It IS a compendium of anti-Trump horse crap.
Fox News and the Wall Street Journal are the token sort-of-conservative news providers. The rest are mostly designed to bring to mind the words “enemies of the people.”
The reason I read this crap is that one should always read what the other side is saying. Even if it makes your head want to explode.
Washington is full of people—many in the media—who no matter where they come from lose their affinity with the average American—you and me—as soon as they arrive.
Back in the days we owned KTRT in Tulsa, we had a regular caller named Jack Jackson. He used to tell our on-air hosts that once someone got elected to the School Board, the County Commission or the City Council, they arrived at the Courthouse, City Hall or the School headquarters, saw the receptionist with the 10 button phone, took a breath of that pink gas and they were never the same.
He was right.
And it applies even more to wannabes like “journalists” and staffers. Those folks are even more dangerous because we can get rid of bad elected public officials at an election. People who spread fake news and the faceless staffers who work in government seem to have lifetime appointments.
The cure for this is not more government regulation.
I’m a big believer in the First Amendment.
The cure for this is eternal vigilance. We need to vote with our channel changer and our subscription dollars. We need to question everything.
As an example, the other day Fox News Channel did a poll that they said showed that Joe Biden had widened his “lead” over the Democrat 2020 field. And that he would beat the President in a general election.
Here is what they didn’t tell you on TV. In fact, you have to do a pretty thorough web search of their site to get:
“Interviews were conducted May 11-14, 2019 among a random national sample of 1,008 registered voters (RV). Landline (231) and cellphone (777) telephone numbers were randomly selected for inclusion in the survey using a probability proportionate to size method, which means phone numbers for each state are proportional to the number of voters in each state.”
In other words, this is the same crap that said Hillary was going to win by seven points the day of the 2016 election. And, worse, it’s from FOX!
Did they exit poll 10,000 people leaving a big event? No. They look you in the eye and talk about this stuff like it is true. They don’t even tell you the methodology on screen—just what they think is the “margin of error”.
Now one thing you need to know. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Occasionally, these guys get lucky. But the science behind what they do has been rendered useless by the new digital landscape which makes it very difficult to find a real sample.
So thinking Americans—you and I—do our research at coffee shops, neighborhood gatherings, on Southwest Airlines and places where real people gather.
My best guess, from those sources, is that we are pretty happy with the President. He should win handily in 2020.
That’s NOT an excuse for complacency.
American college graduates are suffering financially under the weight of $1.5 trillion of student loan debt. The bulk of that debt stems from worrisome federal student loan practices and ballooning state tuition costs. Approximately 75 percent of college students attend a state university or college with tuition rates set by legislatures or state institutions. Over 85 percent of student loans are generated under the federal student loan program. In the past three decades, tuition at state colleges has increased by 313 percent.
Oddly, some seem to blame “capitalism” for the student loan predicament. Ray Dalio, billionaire investor, cited massive student debt loads in a recent article that made the case for reforming capitalism. Presidential Candidate John Hickenlooper penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal boldly proclaiming he is running for president to save capitalism. The very first point in his argument is that (public) high school education doesn’t provide adequate training for the modern economy. Anecdotally, we have heard the federal student loan predicament conflated with capitalism.
The Hardship Is Real
The pain of student debt is real. Sadly, there are many adults burdened by thousands of dollars in loan debt. Khalilah Beecham-Watkins, a first-generation college student and young mom, is one of many who feels as if they’re a prisoner to student loan debt. Khalilah has been working to pay down her $80,000 debt while helping her husband tackle his own loan obligations. In an interview last year, she said, “I feel like I’m drowning.”
As is well-reported, many young adults feel like Khalilah. In the United States, the average student loan debt is more than $37,000. As unsettling as that figure is, some graduates face even higher debt loads. About five percent of degree earners have student loan debt totaling $100,000 or more. Stories like Khalilah’s need to be told so that students don’t flippantly take on crushing debt without recognizing the gravity of such a decision.
This significant debt load is exacerbated by the fact that many graduates are finding it difficult to find well-paying jobs, which has spiraled into incredibly high rates of loan delinquency: More than one out of every 10 loan recipients is unable to keep up with payments. The Brookings Institute estimates that nearly 40 percent of borrowers will default by 2023. These are sobering statistics, and it’s important that borrowers be fully aware of the risks and benefits associated with debt of all kinds, including student loans.
The Benefits of Investing in a College Degree
Despite the burden that comes with debt, there are undeniable long-term benefits to earning a degree. In our skills-based economy, it is no surprise that a person with a bachelor’s degree will earn significantly more than a person with only a high school diploma. It has been estimated that a bachelor’s degree increases a person’s average lifetime earnings by $2.8 million.
And the more degrees someone holds, the more their earning potential increases. Studies indicate that earning a graduate degree could triple a person’s expected income. But in the near-term, the financial stress of loan delinquency, deferred consumption, and lower net worth is real.
While the buck ultimately stops with each of us when it comes to our own financial decisions, the student loan quagmire is chiefly the product of federal policy. Federal laws prohibiting sound commercial lending practices and states setting tuition rates high enough to guarantee they’re able to absorb all the federal money they can are complicit in this widespread problem.
Bad Diagnoses Lead to Bad Prescriptions
Rather than addressing the underlying problems of federal financial aid and rising public college tuition, politicians like Senators Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders are offering politically expedient ideas. Sen. Warren proposes debt cancellation of up to $50,000 to more than 42 million people.
Sen. Warren’s plan would eliminate debt for 75% of borrowers with student loans, and federal funding to ensure students attend state college for free. But nothing in life is free. Warren’s sleight-of-hand doesn’t make existing debt or future tuition magically disappear. Rather those costs are passed on to taxpayers. And since college graduates earn roughly twice as much as high school graduates and can expect to be in higher tax brackets, guess who would be paying the taxes for Sen. Warren’s plan.
Why Federal Loans Are Not Like Commercial Loans
To understand the federal student loan mess, it is necessary to understand some details about the loans that are at the center of the issue. The federal government provides a few types of loans, but the largest share of student debt comes from subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans.
In the case of a subsidized loan, the Department of Education pays the interest on the loan while the student is in school and for six months thereafter. A student can qualify for this type of loan whether or not they are creditworthy or have the ability to repay the loan.
In typical commercial lending, a bank would not offer a loan to an individual who didn’t hold a reasonable promise of being able and willing to repay it. This harkens back to 2008 when the US housing market collapsed because of irresponsible lending practices and the belief that everyone—no matter their financial situation—should own a home. It should be no surprise, then, that some economists predict a similar implosion of the student loan market. In other contexts, this would be called predatory lending.
The State’s Role in Tuition Inflation
The second contributor to these financial aid troubles is ballooning state college tuition rates. State legislatures and state institutions set public college rates, so these state officials should be held accountable to provide lower-cost alternatives. One lower-cost alternative to traditional on-campus programs would be to offer a basic skills-based college curriculum online at-cost, i.e., based on the marginal cost of providing downloadable lecture videos and similar programming.
While the total cost to a student of an online degree currently tends to be less than a traditional degree, the tuition is often the same. By offering video of select classes, schools could unlock the value of their existing educational resources and expand access to more students. However, state schools are largely immune from market discipline, which encourages cost-cutting and leveraging economies of scale. Instead of reducing operating costs and tuition prices, state schools soak up the flow of federal loan dollars.
On the finance side, state universities could offer their own alternative to federal student loans. Take, for instance, the market-oriented model of Purdue University and offer income sharing agreements (ISAs). Income sharing agreements allow consumers to pay off a debt by sharing a portion of the student’s income with the lender for a set number of years. Instead of a loan, ISAs allow investors to take “equity” in a student’s future earnings for a period of time.
The problem with the financial aid predicament is that market discipline has been eliminated from state college education and federal financial aid. Public colleges aren’t going to be privatized and run like for-profit businesses any time soon. However, by applying market-based innovations and lessons from the private sector to state colleges, it may be possible to expand access to state college, offer alternative financing arrangements (like income sharing agreements), and reduce the cost of college through technology and economies of scale.
Doug McCullough is Director of Lone Star Policy Institute. Brooke Medina is communications director at Civitas Institute in NC. Their opinions are their own. This article originally appeared on fee.org. Reptrinted in full, with permission.