PowerLine -> Dems Say: Stop Obsessing On Russia! The Week in Pictures: Toxic Democrats Edition

PowerLine -> Dems Say: Stop Obsessing On Russia! The Week in Pictures: Toxic Democrats Edition

Daily Digest

  • Dems Say: Stop Obsessing On Russia!
  • An epidemic of lawlessness
  • The Week in Pictures: Toxic Democrats Edition
  • Kamala Harris goes silent when confronted with true sex-based oppression
  • The AP Runs Interference for Comey and Mueller [with comment by Paul]
Dems Say: Stop Obsessing On Russia!

Posted: 24 Jun 2017 11:20 AM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

The Hill headlines: “Dems push leaders to talk less about Russia.”

Frustrated Democrats hoping to elevate their election fortunes have a resounding message for party leaders: Stop talking so much about Russia.

Democratic leaders have been beating the drum this year over the ongoing probes into the Trump administration’s potential ties to Moscow, taking every opportunity to highlight the saga and forcing floor votes designed to uncover any business dealings the president might have with Russian figures.

But rank-and-file Democrats say the Russia-Trump narrative is simply a non-issue with district voters, who are much more worried about bread-and-butter economic concerns like jobs, wages and the cost of education and healthcare.

This poll result seems significant, if hardly surprising:

A recent Harvard-Harris poll reveals the risks inherent for the Democrats, who are hoping to make big gains — or even win back the House — in 2018. The survey found that while 58 percent of voters said they’re concerned that Trump may have business dealings with Moscow, 73 percent said they’re worried that the ongoing investigations are preventing Congress from tackling issues more vital to them.

“While the voters have a keen interest in any Russian election interference, they are concerned that the investigations have become a distraction for the president and Congress that is hurting rather than helping the country,” said Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn.

That is, of course, what is happening, partly by design. The Democrats want President Trump to fail, so they are trying to hamstring his administration with endless, hysterical investigations. Republicans should go about the business of governing and let the Democrats self-destruct, but they too appear to be distracted.

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) delivered a similar message, saying his constituents are most concerned with two things: dysfunction in Washington and the Republicans’ plans to repeal ObamaCare. The controversies surrounding Trump, he said, don’t tally.

“We should be focused relentlessly on economic improvement [and] we should stay away from just piling on the criticism of Trump, whether it’s about Russia, whether it’s about Comey. Because that has its own independent dynamic, it’s going to happen on its own without us piling on,“ Welch said.

Why do you suppose “piling on the criticism of Trump” about Russia and Comey is “going to happen on its own” if the Democrats focus on other issues? Because the press can be counted on to do the Democrats’ dirty work for them.

One more quote from a Democrat:

“If you see me treating Russia and criticisms of the president and things like that as a secondary matter, it’s because that’s how my constituents feel about it,” said Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.).

“I don’t think anybody wants to give a pass to illegal or unethical activity,” he added.

What illegal activity? What unethical activity? Other than the constant leaks by Democratic Party officeholders, there hasn’t been any. Has a major political party ever gone so far off the rails?

An epidemic of lawlessness

Posted: 24 Jun 2017 07:13 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

Yesterday’s Washington Post carried the Russia story of the day. Post reporters Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous purport to deliver the goods on “Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault.” It’s a long, long story that is of interest from a variety of perspectives.

The Post purports to give us the inside story on the collection of intelligence on Russian interference in the presidential election and serve up the apologetics explaining the Obama administration’s passive response. Based on highly classified intelligence related to the Post, the CIA discovered Russian interference in the election while it was in process within months of the election in the last year of the Obama administration. According to the CIA intelligence, the interference came on the order of Vladimir Putin and furthered Putin’s desire to aid the election of Donald Trump as president.

The Post dates the critical intelligence “bombshell” obtained by the CIA to August 2016. The Post reports that CIA Director John Brennan deemed it so confidential that he withheld it from the President’s Daily Brief and conveyed it directly in writing to Obama by hand delivery.

The intelligence provided Obama administration officials time to foil Putin’s plans and/or punish Putin’s deeds. Indeed, administration officials concocted plans to punish and deter Russia from interference. The Post reports that “Obama administration secretly debated dozens of options for deterring or punishing Russia, including cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin and sanctions that officials said could ‘crater’ the Russian economy. But in the end, in late December, Obama approved a modest package” (emphasis added). In other words, President Obama declined to take any action while it might still have done some good in 2016.

One might infer from story that President Obama “colluded” with Putin to defeat Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump. One might support the inference with Obama’s own comment open mic comment to Dmitri Medvedev that during Obama’s second term he would have more “flexibility” to cooperate with Putin.

To be fair, we might consider the explanation that Obama was just a pusillanimous pussy disinclined to protect the interests of the United States from our enemies. Perhaps Obama’s passivity was overdetermined and other hypothetical explanations apply. Certainly some explanation beyond any offered by the Post’s sources is called for. The possibilities are endless.

By contrast, however, the Post’s reportage offers no evidence of Trump’s “collusion” with the Russian interference intended to assist Trump’s election. Zero. Nada. Not even by inference.

Perhaps evidence of Trump “collusion” with Russia is beyond the scope of the Post’s story. If the Post had obtained such evidence from its numerous sources, however, it would certainly have found a place for it in the story.

So far as I can tell, sophisticated commenters on the story take it at face value and consider it on the terms presented by the Post. See, for example, David French’s NRO column and Tom Rogan’s Examiner column.

The story comes complete with this revelation: “Obama also approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia’s infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow. The project, which Obama approved in a covert-action finding, was still in its planning stages when Obama left office. It would be up to President Trump to decide whether to use the capability.”

I’m sure Putin is grateful for the heads-up from the Post. You don’t have to be a CIA officer or analyst to figure that out.

Now like much of the Post story, this is a piece of highly classified intelligence whose disclosure violates the oaths of those who gave it to the Post. The violation of a solemn oath by a witness is commonly taken to detract from the credibility of the witness’s testimony. Consider, moreover, that the sources for the story were not under oath when they confided in Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous. The intelligent reader would be well within his rights not to believe a word they say.

If we believe it, however, this pertinent fact should be added. The disclosure of highly classified intelligence by government officials also violates the espionage laws of the United States. It is in all likelihood felonious several times over in the case of each of the Post’s numerous anonymous sources.

The Post and its reporters are accomplices to the crimes committed by their sources. They have disseminated highly classified intelligence to the enemies of the United States — as the left has lately discovered Putin and Russia to be.

Taking the story at face value, we can conclude that the Post and its sources have done great damage to the national security of the United States. The Post attributes the leaks on which the story is based to “three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services. Most agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity…” As for the requirement of anonymity imposed by the Post’s sources, see the paragraph above.

Again, taken at face value, the story buries this bombshell. Three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior government positions have undertaken a campaign of gross lawlessness for their own purposes undermining the national security of the United States beyond anything Vladimir Putin can do.

UPDATE: A reader points out that NBC reported the preparation of the United States for a cyberattack on Russia in November 2016 “according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News.”

The Week in Pictures: Toxic Democrats Edition

Posted: 24 Jun 2017 04:55 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

I haven’t seen Democrats this dispirited since. . . yesterday. And I haven’t seen Democrats this angry since. . . also yesterday. They lost a special election because the rubes in Georgia just won’t recognize their nobility (though to their credit a few Democrats have openly admitted that their brand is “toxic”), and their complaints that a proposal to control health care spending is going to kill literally millions is a new level of demagoguery. I’m looking forward to the TV ad for this talking point: Will it feature Paul Ryan pushing millions of wheelchair-bound grannies all at once over a fiscal cliff? If so, it will the best endorsement of the P90X workout ever.

I thought it was Keith Richards at first.


Headlines of the week:

Sorry: This is your hunk with a gun for this week. I think. Can’t really tell these days.

And finally. . .

Kamala Harris goes silent when confronted with true sex-based oppression

Posted: 23 Jun 2017 09:35 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

Last week, Sen. Kamala Harris became the left’s designated victim of the month because she was interrupted by Republican Senators during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Harris kept interrupting the witness, Attorney General Jeff Session, so it’s debatable whether she had a genuine grievance. Nonetheless, the Democrats and their media allies were quick to level hackneyed allegations that, once again, sexist patriarchs have tried to silence a woman “speaking truth to power.”

The next day, two women with genuine grievances of sexism testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, of which Harris, regrettably, is a member. The women were our friend Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Q. Noman.

Both were born into deeply religious Muslim families. Ayaan is a survivor of female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Asra defied Shariah by having a baby while unmarried.

Both have been threatened with death by jihadists for things they have said and done. Ayaan cannot appear in public without armed guards.

You might have thought that Sen. Harris would show considerable interest in what these victims of sexism had to say. If so, you don’t grasp that Harris’ slavish adherence to the left’s taboo against calling out Islamists trumps any real commitment she may have to women’s rights.

Here, as told by Ayaan and Asra in the New York Times, is what happened:

The Democrats on the panel, including Senator Harris and three other Democratic female senators — North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill — did not ask either of us a single question.

This wasn’t a case of benign neglect. At one point, Senator McCaskill said that she took issue with the theme of the hearing itself. “Anyone who twists or distorts religion to a place of evil is an exception to the rule,” she said. “We should not focus on religion,” she said, adding that she was “worried” that the hearing, organized by Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, would “underline that.” In the end, the only questions asked of us about Islamist ideologies came from Senator Johnson and his Republican colleague, Senator Steve Daines from Montana.

Ayaan and Asra nail the meaning of what went down:

[W]hat happened that day was emblematic of a deeply troubling trend among progressives when it comes to confronting the brutal reality of Islamist extremism and what it means for women in many Muslim communities here at home and around the world.

When it comes to the pay gap, abortion access and workplace discrimination, progressives have much to say. But we’re still waiting for a march against honor killings, child marriages, polygamy, sex slavery or female genital mutilation.

They will be waiting for a long time.

Ayaan and Asra continue:

[W]hen we speak about Islamist oppression, we bring personal experience to the table in addition to our scholarly expertise. Yet the feminist mantra so popular when it comes to victims of sexual assault — believe women first — isn’t extended to us. Neither is the notion that the personal is political. Our political conclusions are dismissed as personal; our personal experiences dismissed as political.

That’s because in the rubric of identity politics, our status as women of color is canceled out by our ideas, which are labeled “conservative” — as if opposition to violent jihad, sex slavery, genital mutilation or child marriage were a matter of left or right. This not only silences us, it also puts beyond the pale of liberalism a basic concern for human rights and the individual rights of women abused in the name of Islam.

Why aren’t leftists willing to call out Islamic extremism? Ayaan and Asra offer this explanation:

Partly they fear offending members of a “minority” religion and being labeled racist, bigoted or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don’t need “saving” — and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?

This is extreme moral relativism disguised as cultural sensitivity. And it leads good people to make excuses for the inexcusable.

The silence of the Democratic senators is a reflection of contemporary cultural pressures. Call it identity politics, moral relativism or political correctness — it is shortsighted, dangerous and, ultimately, a betrayal of liberal values.

Ayaan and Asra have said it all. Almost. Another point needs to be made.

Sen. Harris and her fellow female committee members are cowards. If they believe Ayaan and Asra are presenting a misleading picture of Islam, based on their “exceptional” experiences, then take them on. Make the point by asking probing questions, the way Harris’ cheerleaders think she did with Jeff Sessions.

Harris wouldn’t do it. She probably recognized that Ayaan would have carved her up to the point that even her cheerleaders couldn’t have declared her the victor. So the supposedly fearless ace ex-prosecutor took the coward’s way out and tried to minimize the extent to which Ayaan and Asra were heard.

Ayaan and Asra conclude:

We believe feminism is for everyone. Our goals — not least the equality of the sexes — are deeply liberal. We know these are values that the Democratic senators at our hearing share. Will they find their voices and join us in opposing Islamist extremism and its war on women?

This is the only off-key note in their article. The goals and values of Ayaan and Asra are not the goals and values of Harris and most of her fellow Democrats.

As for the voices of Harris and her colleagues, what you hear, or in this case didn’t hear, is what you get.

The AP Runs Interference for Comey and Mueller [with comment by Paul]

Posted: 23 Jun 2017 06:30 PM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

President Trump noted that James Comey and Robert Mueller are “very, very good friends…which is bothersome.” So the Associated Press sprang into action to defend the two men now locked in a death struggle with the president.

The AP vouches for the extraordinary, perhaps unprecedented, integrity of the men who are trying to bring down our duly elected president. In the AP’s telling, they are:

…somber-faced and demanding…

…more approachable and outwardly affable…

…both command a wealth of respect in the law enforcement and legal community.

…both known for their integrity and self-assuredness…

…Comey describ[ed] Mueller as “one of the finest people I’ve ever met.”

…Mueller praised Comey as a man of “honesty, dedication and integrity”…

…reputation for political independence…

…a shared commitment to the rule of law.

Trump, needless to say, is not referred to in such glowing terms.

The main thrust of the AP story is to deny that Mueller has a conflict of interest merely because he and Comey are friends:

Comey, though a likely witness, would not be a considered a victim of a crime in the classic sense as the firing in and of itself would not be illegal, said Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics scholar at the New York University law school.

“Although Comey may well be what I call roadkill in the subjects Mueller is investigating, he’s not the victim. His firing has been a consequence of the crime that Mueller is investigating. Their friendship would not require recusing,” he said.

The crime Mueller is investigating? What crime?

This is what struck me most about the AP’s defense of Comey and Mueller: they really aren’t good friends at all.

“Jim has never been to Bob’s house. Bob has never been to Jim’s house,” said David Kelley, who succeeded Comey as U.S. attorney in Manhattan and has known him and Mueller for years. “They’ve had lunch together once and dinner together twice, once with their spouses and again after Jim became the FBI director so that Bob could give him the rundown of what to look for.”

How does former U.S. Attorney, now Wall Street litigator David Kelley know how many times Comey and Mueller have had lunch and dinner together? They told him, obviously. Is Kelley some kind of spokesman for Comey and Mueller? Their press agent? It appears that way. Nevertheless, the AP gives Kelley the last word, vouching for the unimpeachable Bob Mueller:

“Anybody who knows Bob Mueller knows two things: One, if there were facts that would impede his ability to conduct an investigation that’s beyond reproach, he wouldn’t do it,” Kelley said. “Two, Jim is a witness in this case, one of possibly many. So what’s the point?”

“If that’s the best you’ve got from the White House, really, bring it on,” he said.

This cozy alliance among reporter, prosecutor, witness and Washington insider is a nice microcosm of the establishment’s coordinated effort to destroy the alien Trump administration.

PAUL ADDS: This AP story is weak — shockingly so unless you’ve been paying attention to the AP. To address the question of whether the Comey-Mueller friendship poses a problem, the AP relies on the views of someone who is a friend of both.

The only other person quoted is Steven Gillers, a left-wing law professor.

Compare AP’s work to that of Byron York. His article on the subject quotes five Washington lawyers — “lawyers in private practice, on Capitol Hill, in think tanks, some of them veterans of the Justice Department.” Their verdict as to whether Mueller’s relationship with Comey poses a problem came back “mixed”.

“Verdict” aside, York’s article is worth reading. The AP’s is not.

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