PowerLine -> Trump Was Right About the Intelligence Agencies + Glenn Reynolds Asks a Good Question; Bob Mueller Won’t Answer

Powerline John Hinderaker at HoaxAndChange

PowerLine -> Trump Was Right About the Intelligence Agencies + Glenn Reynolds Asks a Good Question; Bob Mueller Won’t Answer

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Daily Digest

  • Trump Was Right About the Intelligence Agencies
  • Trump nominates architect of Obama LGBT policy for another EEOC term
  • Glenn Reynolds Asks a Good Question; Bob Mueller Won’t Answer
  • Today in Climate Comedy
  • Some Charts to Ponder
Trump Was Right About the Intelligence Agencies

Posted: 12 Dec 2017 04:29 PM PST

(John Hinderaker)Byron York comments on second thoughts by a former second in command of the CIA:

“Mr. Trump continues to exhibit paranoia about American intelligence agencies,” wrote the ‘Never Trump’ conservative Max Boot in the New York Times a week or so before the president took office.

“Consumed by his paranoia about the deep state, Donald Trump has disappeared into the fog of his own conspiracy theories,” declared the Times’ Maureen Dowd.

“Paranoia seizes Trump’s White House,” reported Politico, noting the suspicion that “career intelligence operatives are working to undermine the new president.”

As we now know, that is exactly what they were doing.

[I]n a remarkable new interview, [Michael Morell, a] CIA veteran who served in the agency from 1980 to 2013, who briefed presidents on the most sensitive issues of the day, and is still a prominent voice in intelligence matters is at least conceding that he can understand why the president feels the way he does.
In August 2016, the retired-but-still-active-in-intelligence-matters Morell decided to abandon decades of nonpartisanship and come out in support of Hillary Clinton. In a New York Times op-ed, he praised Clinton’s experience and called Trump a danger to the nation, a threat to its “foundational values,” and an “unwitting agent” for Russia.
Some of Morell’s former colleagues in the intelligence community took the same step. Gen. Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, blasted Trump as Russia’s “useful fool.” Another former top CIA officer, Michael Vickers, pronounced Trump unfit. And the agency’s then-director, John Brennan, openly clashed with Trump.

These were all men who came out of the nonpolitical tradition of American intelligence. And all chose, for the first time, to publicly take sides in a presidential campaign.
“Let’s put ourselves in Donald Trump’s shoes,” Morell said to Glasser. “So what does he see? Right? He sees a former director of CIA and a former director of NSA, Mike Hayden … criticizing him and his policies. Right? And he would rightfully have said, ‘Huh, what’s going on with the intelligence guys?’”

“And then he sees a former acting director and deputy director of CIA criticizing him and endorsing his opponent,” Morell continued. “And then he gets his first intelligence briefing, after becoming the Republican nominee, and within 24 to 48 hours, there are leaks out of that that are critical of him and his then-national security adviser Mike Flynn.”

“And so, this stuff starts to build, right? And he must have said to himself, ‘What is it with these intelligence guys? Are they political?’”

Of course they are political, although not all are so craven as the appalling John Brennan. As Byron points out, the most remarkable thing about Morell’s confession is his acknowledgment that at the time, it didn’t occur to him that taking sides in a presidential election could be problematic.

It wasn’t just the intelligence agencies. By the time Donald Trump came along, the FBI had been politicized by the Democrats, too:

The first time Trump met the FBI’s then-director, James Comey, was when the intelligence chiefs chose Comey to tell Trump, then the president-elect, about a collection of “salacious and unverified” (Comey’s words) allegations about Trump, compiled by operatives working for the Clinton campaign, that has since become known as the Trump dossier. That surely got Trump off to a good start with the FBI’s intelligence-gathering operation. It was also a clever way for the intel chiefs to push the previously-secret dossier into the public conversation, when news leaked that Comey had briefed the president on it.

Actually, I don’t think President Trump has been as critical of the CIA and the FBI as he should be. The leaders of those agencies have disgraced themselves and let down the American people by putting loyalty to the Democratic Party above all else. Way, way more bureaucrats need to be fired.


Trump nominates architect of Obama LGBT policy for another EEOC term

Posted: 12 Dec 2017 02:57 PM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)In 2009, President Obama nominated Chai Feldblum, a leading gay rights activist, for a spot on the five-person Equal Employment Commission. Her nomination inflamed social conservatives. As a result, in March 2010, Obama placed her on the EEOC without Senate confirmation, through a recess appointment. In December of that year, the Senate finally confirmed her for a term ending in 2013.

In 2013, the Senate confirmed her for a second term. This time, Harry Reid relied on the abolition of the filibuster for presidential nominees, and Feldblum was approved by a vote of 54-41.

Now, Bloomberg reports (via its subscription-only Daily Labor Report) that President Trump will renominate Feldblum. I find this news shocking. Given Feldblum’s history as EEOC commissioner, described in part below, I would have wagered plenty against it.

Feldblum used her position at the EEOC to promote a radical LBGT agenda. First, she succeeded in having the Commission take the position that Title VII protects gays and lesbians from employment discrimination.

There’s a good argument that gays and lesbians should have this protection as a matter of policy. However, Feldblum’s legal argument has long been rejected by the courts. As Ed Whelan wrote in 2015:

Over a period of decades, every federal courts of appeals that has addressed the question has ruled that Title VII’s bar on sex discrimination in employment does not encompass a bar on sexual-orientation discrimination. [See link for citations to decisions from seven different courts of appeals]

Next, Feldblum focused on the transgender bathroom wars. She cast the deciding vote in a case where the EEOC decided that the Department of the Army discriminated against Todd Lusardi when it denied him equal access to female restroom facilities. Feldblum and two other commissioners viewed the denial as both disparate treatments on the basis of sex and creation of a hostile work environment.

They wrote:

On this record, there is no cause to question that Complainant—who was assigned the sex of male at birth but identifies as female—is female.

Yes, there was. According to Ed Whelan, the record indicated that the complainant, who recently had changed his legal name from Todd Lusardi to Tamara Lusardi, is genetically male and even retains (or, at least at the time of the events in question, retained) male genitalia.

Whelan also noted:

[E]ven though Lusardi did not complain about it, the EEOC [went] out of its way in a footnote to opine that his employer unlawfully deprived him of the “use of common locker and shower facilities that non-transgender employees could use.” In other words, according to the EEOC majority, it’s unlawful sex discrimination to bar a man who thinks of himself as a woman from sharing locker and shower facilities with women.

Feldblum has little more use for religious freedom than she does for biology when it stands in the way of her radical LGBT agenda.She told NRO’s Maggie Gallagher that when religious liberty and sexual liberty conflict, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” (Later in the same interview, she said “in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that’s the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner”).

The Trump administration sees it differently. For example, it took the side of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker, in the gay wedding cake case.

In addition, the Trump Justice Department recently argued in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that Title VII does not protect gays and lesbians from employment discrimination. In that case, the judges were treated to the curious spectacle of the EEOC taking one side and the DOJ taking the other in the same case and the same courtroom.

Again, the DOJ’s position reflected how Title VII has always been understood. The EEOC’s position reflected Chai Feldblum’s crusade to change the law.

Furthermore, President Trump opposes allowing men (biologically speaking) to use women’s restrooms and shower facilities. Indeed, his administration formally rescinded guidance issued by the Obama administration on the supposed right of transgender public school students to access to bathrooms and locker rooms used by members of the opposite sex (biologically speaking).

Why in the world as Trump re-nominated the Obama administration’s leading LGBT activist to the EEOC? To be sure, two of the five members of the EEOC must be Democrats. But nothing requires that any of the five be hard-left Dems who push a radical LGBT agenda. There are plenty of Democrats Trump could have selected who would be fairly innocuous, at least compared to Feldblum.

Nor can it be argued that Feldblum would be innocuous because of a Republican majority on the Commission. There is no Republican majority and probably won’t be anytime soon.

At present, the EEOC consists of three Democrats and only one Republican. No Republican has been confirmed and at the rate, things are going, we cannot expect a Republican majority for quite some time.

To make matters worse, Trump hasn’t nominated a General Counsel for the EEOC. The General Counsel drives the EEOC’s litigation strategy, subject to approval or disapproval by the five-member Commission. Thus, under President Trump, a left-liberal Democrat nominated by former President Obama will continue for the foreseeable future to choose which cases and legal theories he wants the EEOC to pursue, and left-liberal Democrats will continue to sign off on these cases.

The result will be that the government continues to take litigation positions inconsistent with the views of the White House and inconsistent with the views of social conservatives who consider President Trump their ally. In fact, as noted, the EEOC has taken a position inconsistent with the Justice Departments in a real live case pending in the Second Circuit.

I assume (but don’t know) that Trump re-nominated Feldblum as part of a deal with Chuck Schumer. I can conceive of favors from Schumer that might justify another term of Feldblum. I can’t imagine Schumer granting those favors.

NOTE: I have modified this post to correct an error about the state of play regarding Republican nominees to the Commission.


Glenn Reynolds Asks a Good Question; Bob Mueller Won’t Answer

Posted: 12 Dec 2017 11:54 AM PST

(John Hinderaker)Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election has been plagued by scandal. In one notorious episode, the FBI agent who was perhaps most critical to the Hillary Clinton email investigation as well as to Mueller’s inquiry, Peter Strzok, turned out to be a rabid anti-Trump partisan. Moreover, he was conducting an extramarital affair with another anti-Trump zealot, Lisa Page, who is an FBI lawyer and also worked on the Russia investigation. Both Strzok and Page have been dismissed from Mueller’s team, but Mueller apparently has tried to cover up the circumstances surrounding their respective transfers.

It has been suggested that both Peter Strzok and his illicit lover Lisa Page may have been involved in using the fake Russia dossier created by and for the Clinton campaign to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. If this is true, it is the biggest scandal in the history of American politics. Glenn Reynolds decided to go to the source and ask Mueller or his representatives whether these reports are accurate. I am taking the liberty of reproducing Glenn’s post in its entirety:



I’m hearing from a source that Lisa Page was involved in approving Peter Strzok’s warrant requests to the FISC and possibly elsewhere. Can you confirm or deny if this was the case? And please tell me what her job title and function are in your office. Thanks.

Them (via spokesman Joshua Stueve):

Lisa Page, who was an attorney on detail to the Special Counsel’s office, returned to the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel in mid-July.

Me again:

Thank you but that doesn’t answer my question. What role did Lisa Page have in the handling of warrant applications, and in particular those involving Peter Strzok?

Them again:

I’ll decline to comment further.

Well, then.

Page, remember, is the FBI lawyer with whom Strzok was having an extramarital affair and exchanging anti-Trump texts. Perhaps someone with more resources than I will be able to get to the bottom of this.

The entire Mueller operation stinks. President Trump would be thoroughly justified in shutting it down, if that were politically feasible.


Today in Climate Comedy

Posted: 12 Dec 2017 11:45 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)Add this to the list of things that climate change will cause or effect:

Could Climate Change Lead to Tastier Chocolate?

. . . This new chocolate study set out to find whether certain external forces can have an effect on the tastiness of cocoa beans. To do that, they measured the chemical composition—phenols (flavor), fat content, and antioxidant content—in samples taken from Bolivian cacao trees under different growing conditions. . . In situations with higher temperatures and less moisture in the soil, the cocoa beans showed significantly higher phenolic and antioxidant levels and a lower fat content. (Fat isn’t as big a deal as it sounds in chocolate; it’s usually separated from the bean as cocoa butter.)

Tastier, lower-fat chocolate? What’s not to like? I just knew that sooner or later the consensus scientists would start reporting the benefits of global warming.

Meanwhile, you know how we’re endlessly told that wind power is going to save the planet? Well, guess what?

A changing climate is beginning to change wind energy’s potential to provide power in key regions, part of what could be a broader diminishment of a key renewable energy source in part of the world, according to two scientific studies. . .

The studies suggest that, at least for wind energy, that is not only happening — at least in some key locations — but that it could grow worse. . .

The first of the two studies, recently published in Nature Scientific Reports, gives a first glimpse at an answer. It finds that the nation that has installed more wind energy than any other on Earth — China — is actually seeing a lowering of wind energy potential across vast regions, especially inner Mongolia and Gansu, two of the largest installation areas.

“To my great surprise instead of finding a random signal, we found that it was actually declining,” said Michael McElroy, a Harvard Earth sciences professor who is one of the authors of the study. He conducted the research with Peter Sherman, the first author, and Xinyu Chen of Harvard.

Sounds to me like a new excuse for the poor performance of intermittent wind power. But that’s just me.


Laszlo Varro, the International Energy Agency’s chief economist, last month highlighted the scale of the challenge by pointing out that recent record levels of wind and solar deployment would not replace generation lost from aging nuclear plants and a stagnating gas market.

“If I dig into the current decommissioning schedules of nuclear reactors in Europe, by the mid-2020s Europe is going to lose nuclear production at roughly twice the rate of the recent deployment of wind and solar production,” he said, according to a report in Recharge.

Wind is set to become the leading source of electricity in Europe soon after 2030, according to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2017 report. But carbon goals will be harder to achieve as nuclear gets kicked off the grid, since renewables have much lower capacity factors than the nukes they are often replacing.

It’s epic fail all the way down.


Some Charts to Ponder

Posted: 12 Dec 2017 08:58 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)The economy is looking pretty strong these days. The good people at the Wall Street Journal‘s Daily Shot offer up a couple of interesting charts showing that the ratio of job openings to unemployed workers is at a level not seen in a very long time, which might indicate that we’ll soon see upward movement in wages.

On the other hand, one reason that the official unemployment rate is so low is that the labor force participation rate continues to be very low—will higher wages get some young males out of their parent’s basements or out from behind gaming screens?

Lastly, on the economic front, this chart reminds us that most new jobs are still created by smaller businesses and not Fortune 500 companies, which is just one reminder why getting corporate tax reform right is crucial:

And now as a special bonus, I came across this chart, from a law site behind a paywall, that shows Supreme Court clerk hiring by ethnicity. Amazing, isn’t it, that Ruth Bader Ginsberg appears not to have hired a single black or hispanic law clerk in her two-plus decades on the Court. Notorious RBG indeed! If she were a conservative justice, you can expect you’d hear suggestions that she’s a racist or something.


Justice Thomas Ventures Beyond Elite Schools to Fill Clerkship Posts

Justice Clarence Thomas has earned a reputation as a frequent dissenter during his 26 years on the U.S. Supreme Court bench, and when it comes to the clerks he hires, he also strays from the pack. . .

In a system where justices pull heavily from their own alma maters and a handful of other top schools to fill the coveted slots, Thomas casts the widest net.

What was that again about “diversity”? I didn’t hear you.


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