Sunday, June 17, 2018

Black America's 'Stockholm Syndrome'


By Aubrey Shines | Real Clear Politics

Photo: Bishop Aubrey Shines and Dr. Alveda King, niece of 
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For too long, black America has let its political voice and power be taken for granted.

When Kanye West recently suggested that African-Americans didn’t need to be Democrats, Rep. Maxine Waters quickly tried to put him in his place. 

Waters told Kanye, in effect, that he needs permission -- from his betters, presumably -- to say what he believes. In other words, don’t talk out of turn; follow the thinking of the group. 

She sounded like a plantation manager of old, insisting that everyone else follow the rules she and other black Democratic leaders set down for “their” people.

Black America’s monolithic loyalty to the Democratic Party does not empower blacks, however. 

If we are not “allowed” to entertain any political alternatives, we are left locked into a party that has not served our interests.

Call it a kind of collective Stockholm Syndrome: The condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors.

Trillions of dollars have been poured into the inner cities, and yet these groupthinkers are blind to the seven-decade failure of the Democratic Party’s policies to improve the lives of black Americans. 

When they are asked if it would not be better if single moms and dads could take their tax dollars and send their children to schools that are not ravished by gangs and drugs, the groupthinkers echo the narrative that black politicians and white liberals have taught them: 

That school choice “starves” the failing public school system and harms their neighborhoods. 

These groupthinkers don’t tell you that members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the children of white Democrats typically send their own children to private schools.

I have recently come under attack for chronicling this history of the Democratic Party on Fox News and elsewhere. 

While I don’t advocate identity politics, I often remind African-Americans that even the late Malcolm X told the blacks of his day, “While you put the Democrats first, they put you last.” 

He also called blacks political chumps and traitors to their own race for reflexively supporting the party.

All Americans today are reaping the benefits of the Trump administration’s economic policies. 

Employment is at an all-time high; black and Hispanic unemployment is at record lows. 

December’s tax cuts doubled the tax credits for school-age children and raised take-home pay for nearly all American taxpayers. 

Incomes have risen in real terms for the first time in 18 years, tax refunds next year that will be substantially larger, 2 million-plus poor Americans are no longer on food stamps.

This has been achieved by the GOP, which was founded in 1854 as the anti-slavery party. 

What’s more, most states with Republican governors are outperforming so-called blue states — those run by Democrats. No matter what the color of your skin happens to be, economic opportunity comes from freedom, not higher taxes and big government.

Meanwhile, the economic fallout from group thinking can be seen in every major city in America, where the plantation supervisors are still channeling the failed oppressors’ spirit upon the minds of the weak. 

It’s long past time that black America shake off the plantation manager’s yoke and shake off its Stockholm syndrome. 

Groupthink has gotten this group nowhere.

Bishop Aubrey Shines is a pastor, author and evangelist.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Yes, Hillary Should Have Been Prosecuted

By David French | National Review


I know this is ancient history, but — I’m sorry — I just can’t let it go. 

When historians write the definitive, sordid histories of the 2016 election, the FBI, Hillary, emails, Russia, and Trump, there has to be a collection of chapters making the case that Hillary should have faced a jury of her peers.

The IG report on the Hillary email investigation contains the most thoughtful and thorough explanation of the FBI’s decision to recommend against prosecuting Hillary. 

At the risk of oversimplifying a long and complex discussion, the IG time and again noted that (among other things) the FBI focused on the apparent lack of intent to violate the law and the lack of a clear precedent for initiating a prosecution under similar facts. 

It also describes how the FBI wrestled with the definition of “gross negligence” — concluding that the term encompassed conduct “so gross as to almost suggest deliberate intention” or “something that falls just short of being willful.”

After reading the analysis, I just flat-out don’t buy that Hillary’s conduct — and her senior team’s conduct — didn’t meet that standard. The key reason for my skepticism is the nature of the classified information sent and received. 

Remember, as Comey outlined in his infamous July 5, 2016 statement, Hillary sent and received information that was classified at extraordinarily high levels:

For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. 

These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. 

There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.

If you’ve ever handled classified information, you understand that there are often judgment calls at the margins. When I was in Iraq, I often made the first call about classification. 

In other words, I determined whether to send information up the chain via the unclassified system (NIPRNet) or the classified system (SIPRNet). Entire categories of information were deemed classified by default. Other categories were commonly unclassified.

But sometimes, I had to make a choice. And sometimes, the choice wasn’t clear.

The lack of clarity, however, wasn’t between unclassified and Top Secret.

Much less between unclassified and Top Secret/Special Access Program (TS/SAP). 

There might be tough calls between unclassified and confidential — or maybe between unclassified and secret. 

But the gap between unclassified and Top Secret, much less SAP, was and is vast, yawning, and obvious. 

In fact, the IG noted that “some witnesses expressed concern or surprise when they saw some of the classified content in unclassified emails.”

I bet they did.

The IG indicated that State Department security procedures were lax, and that if the DOJ were to prosecute Hillary, it would have to prosecute many other employees. 

Well, if the employees are sharing TS/SAP information on unclassified systems, then let the prosecutions commence. 

But I’m dubious that it’s common to share information that highly classified. 

In fact, when the IG outlined allegedly “similar” cases where the DOJ declined to prosecute, they weren’t similar at all.

Moreover, it’s important to remember that one can’t generally simply copy/paste or forward emails from classified to unclassified systems. (That’s likely why the emails on her homebrew system didn’t contain classified headers.) 

A person has to take information from one source and summarize it or painstakingly type it out on another platform. All of that takes effort. All of it requires intention. 

And it’s one reason why I have confidence that if Hillary had been Captain Clinton, United States Army, instead of Secretary Clinton, Democratic nominee for president, then the consequences would have been very different indeed.

In reading the report, I’m reminded of Homer Simpson’s famous declaration, that alcohol is the “cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” 

For Hillary, the FBI turned out to be first the solution to, then the cause of, the decline of her campaign. 

By wrongly refusing to recommend prosecution, it made her candidacy possible

By then failing to follow proper procedures in its two later public announcements, it helped end her presidential dream.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. @DavidAFrench

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/hillary-clinton-should-have-been-prosecuted/

Friday, June 15, 2018

Michael Barone: Will we get tired of so much winning?






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Opinion

Will we get tired of so much winning?


By Michael Barone | Washington Examiner

It has been a week full of wins for Donald Trump — at least from the perspective of those who share Trump’s view of the way the world works, and perhaps even for some who don’t.

Exhibit A is Trump’s summit meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Singapore. In their self-congratulatory joint statement, the two leaders stated that North Korea committed to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” and the United States agreed “to provide security guarantees” to North Korea.

Critics said that that’s not airtight language, and argued that Kim came out better than the author of The Art of the Deal. He got cancellation of U.S.-South Korea military exercises next March in return for promises that his regime has repeatedly broken.

But Trump was having none of this. In place of the “fire and fury” he threatened not so long ago, he rhapsodized about new condominium developments replacing the Hermit Kingdom's shoreline artillery emplacements. And unlike previous U.S. negotiators with Korea, his diplomacy was very personal: the president who began his Manhattan real estate career at 25 noted that Kim took power at 27.

Similarly personal was the appeal in the four-minute video produced by the National Security Council. Of 7 billion people on earth, only a few can make a difference, the narrator said, adding that history need not be repeated but can evolve. Hokey, critics said, but "Dilbert" author Scott Adams, who famously predicted Trump’s election based on his persuasive powers, said his “first reaction” was that “it might be the best thing anybody ever did in a negotiation. Period.”

The personal touch, by the way, distinguishes Trump’s outreach to North Korea from Barack Obama’s to Iran. The Iranian regime is a group project, with many leaders with ideological and economic interests in continuing hostility to the United States. Obama’s hope that he could change its outlook clearly went unrealized.

Kim Jong Un’s regime, in contrast, appears highly personal, one in which the leader can order the sudden deposition and death of an uncle who is a key official. That regime’s behavior, Trump is betting, will change if he can change the mind of just one man.

Of course, this may not work out. But the argument is that nothing else has, and with North Korean nukes now poised to hit the West Coast, it’s worth trying. “The world is safer than it was a week ago,” writes the veteran Washington Post foreign correspondent David Ignatius, “and Trump is getting some deserved global applause.”

“In expected value terms, this is the biggest triumph of the Trump presidency,” blogs contrarian economist Tyler Cowen. “The negative commentary I am seeing is mostly sour grapes misplaced frustration, and it is weak in the quality of its argumentation.”

Trump’s almost affectionate treatment of Kim Jong Un is something like the relationship — making friends with supposed enemies — that he’s cultivated with the rapper Kanye West. In that case the obvious goal is that he and his party will improve on the 8 percent he won from blacks in 2016.

And make no mistake, it’s Trump's party — something that seemed highly unlikely when he rode down that escalator three years ago this month. Trump has near-unanimous job approval among self-described Republicans, and his clout in Republican primaries was demonstrated in one of his smaller victories last week.

Just three hours before polls closed in the South Carolina primary on Tuesday, Trump tweeted his endorsement of Katie Arrington against first district incumbent and frequent Trump critic Rep. Mark Sanford. The challenger got 51 percent and avoided a runoff by just 366 votes. Did the tweet make the difference?

Another apparent Trump victory came without much notice, as House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy blocked the efforts of some Republican moderates and all House Democrats to get the 218 signatures required to trigger a roll class on a bill that would legalize the so-called Dreamers without strengthening immigration enforcement.

That was not the deal Trump had in mind when he promised to sign a bill legalizing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and at the same time strengthening enforcement. Ryan and McCarthy promised roll call votes next week on such a bill, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and another as yet to be drafted by Republican moderates.

These developments may not all turn out to be Trump wins. The immigration bills probably won’t pass and will fall short of Trump goals; Trump endorsement tweets may produce unelectable nominees; negotiations with North Korea may go nowhere.

But maybe, as Trump has predicted, we’re going to get tired of so much winning.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

TREY GOWDY BLASTS DOJ, COMEY OVER IG REPORT: ‘NOT THE FBI OUR COUNTRY NEEDS’


By Dominic Mancini | Daily Caller Reporter

  
Republican South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy scorched the FBI on Thursday following the release of the inspector general report that agents leading the Clinton email probe had blatant anti-Trump bias and that former FBI director James Comey deviated from standard protocol.



“[Peter Strzok’s] bias was so pervasive and toxic as to call into question any other investigations he was part of including his role in the investigation of what Russia did in 2016,” Gowdy said in a press release. “His bias impacted his decision-making and he assigned to himself the role of stopping the Trump campaign or ending a Trump presidency.”

Photo: Peter Strzok



Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also blasted Comey for violating “department policy in several significant ways.”

Photo: Hillary Clinton



“The FBI’s actions and those of former director Comey severely damaged the credibility of the investigation, the public’s ability to rely on the results of the investigation, and the very institutions he claims to revere,” Gowdy said. “This is not the FBI I know. This is not the FBI our country needs.”


Gowdy called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Chris Wray “to take decisive action to restore Americans’ confidence in our justice system.”



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12 Things You Need To Know About The Inspector General's DAMNING Report on The FBI's Hillary/Trump Conduct

By Ben Shapiro | DAILY WIRE


The Department of Justice Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation is a damning indictment. Despite its attempt to paint most of the actions of the FBI as inherently reasonable, they simply don’t come off that way. Here are the most important points:

1.   FBI Agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok Texted About Stopping Trump. As already reported, Strzok texted Page that he would “stop it” – it being Trump’s election. This is a damning indictment of his political bias. The IG report found that the texts “potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations.” The report added, “it is not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects. This is antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice.” The report found that the Hillary investigation was not adversely impacted by Strzok or Page’s decisionmaking – but this report did not cover the Russia investigation.

2.   Comey Concluded That He’d Let Hillary Off In Spring 2016. While Comey didn’t announce his decision until July 2016, he made his decision in Spring 2016 that Hillary was off the hook. He also determined that he should make an independent announcement in order to protect “a sense of justice more broadly in the country – that things are fair not fixed, and they’re done independently.” He threatened to appoint a special counsel, but never seriously considered it, according to the report.

3.   Comey Watered Down His Draft Statement On Hillary Dramatically. The original draft statement on Hillary said she’d been “grossly negligent”; that was changed to “extremely careless.” The statement was changed from “reasonably likely” that Hillary had been hacked by hostile actors to “possible.” And finally, the original statement mentioned that President Obama had been in an email exchange with Hillary; his name was removed.

4.   Comey Is A Glory Hound. He had already concluded before the tarmac meeting that he was likely to make his own statement on Hillary. He “acknowledged that he made a conscious decision not to tell Department leadership about his plans to make a separate statement because he was concerned that they would instruct him not to do it.” The IG’s language is damning: “We determined that Comey’s decision to make this statement was the result of his belief that only he had the ability to credibly and authoritatively convey the rationale for the decision to not seek charges against Clinton, and that he needed to hold the press conference to protect the FBI and the Department from the extraordinary harm that he believed would have resulted had he failed to do so. While we found no evidence that Comey’s statement was the result of bias or an effort to influence the election, we did not find his justifications for issuing the statement to be reasonable or persuasive.”

5.   The DOJ and FBI Changed The Law To Exonerate Hillary. The IG says that based on precedent, Hillary would have had to have demonstrated a state of mind that was “so gross as to almost suggest deliberate intention.” That’s not part of the law.

6.   The FBI Wildly Botched The Re-Opening Of The Hillary Case. The IG report found that the Anthony Weiner case agent had spotted Hillary emails on September 26, and he informed the New York Field Office on September 28. Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe knew about it the same day. He then mentioned it to Comey – and nobody mentioned it again for nearly a full month, until just prior to the election. As the report states, “We found that, by no later than September 29, FBI executives and the FBI Midyear team had learned virtually every fact that was cited by the FBI in late October as justification for obtaining the search warrant for the Weiner laptop.” Comey said that he didn’t realize Weiner was married to Huma Abedin.

7.   The FBI Agents Prioritized The Russia Investigation Above The Hillary Investigation Reopening. According to the report, “The FBI’s failure to act in late September or early October is even less justifiable when contrasted with the attention and resources that FBI management and some members of the Midyear team dedicated to other activities in connection with the Midyear investigation during the same period.” What was the FBI focused on? A Comey speech that would fight back against public perception of his July 5 announcement; and the Russia investigation. The IG report explains: “Moreover, given the FBI’s extensive resources, the fact that Strzok and several other FBI members of the Midyear team had been assigned to the Russia investigation, which was extremely active during this September and October time period, was not an excuse for failing to take any action during this time period on the Weiner laptop. ... In assessing the decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop, we were particularly concerned about text messages sent by Strzok and Page that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions they made were impacted by bias or improper considerations. Most of the text messages raising such questions pertained to the Russia investigation, and the implication in some of these text messages, particularly Strzok’s August 8 text message (“we’ll stop” candidate Trump from being elected), was that Strzok might be willing to take official action to impact a presidential candidate’s electoral prospects. Under these circumstances, we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias.”

8.   Comey Revealed The Reopened Investigation To Congress Because He Thought Hillary Was Going To Win, and He Wanted To Preserve Her Legitimacy. This is what the report explicitly says: “we found that his decision was the result of several interrelated factors that were connected to his concern that failing to send the letter would harm the FBI and his ability to lead it, and his view that candidate Clinton was going to win the presidency and that she would be perceived to be an illegitimate president if the public first learned of the information after the election.” Comey didn’t speak with anyone at the DOJ about releasing the letter.

9.   Five Separate Agents Sent Pro-Clinton, Anti-Trump Texts — Many Of Which Implied Using Official Authority To Target Trump. The IG report is brutal. Not only does it state that these five agents discussed their support for Clinton, but that they “appeared to mix political opinions with discussions about the Midyear investigation.” One agent texted that “no one is going to pros[ecute] [Hillary Clinton] even if we find unique classified” after the discovery of Weiner’s laptop; Page texted about the possibility of interviewing Clinton with fewer agents in the room since “she might be our next president,” to which Strzok agreed; Page texted Strzok, ”maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” to which Strzok responded, “I’ll try and approach it that way…I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps…”; Strzok texted Page, “We’ll stop it,” it being Trump’s election; Strzok texted Page about an “insurance policy” against a Trump victory, then excused it by saying he was just pushing for a quicker investigation; another FBI attorney texted, “Vive le resistance” after the election; after the election, Strzok texted regarding the special counsel investigation, “For me, and this case, I personally have a sense of unfinished business.”

10.   Comey, Strzok, and Page Used Personal Email To Conduct FBI Business. Perhaps this is why they went easy on Hillary Clinton — they were all participating in similar activity.

11.   FBI Employees Leaked To The Press Regularly. According to the IG report, “We identified numerous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media, who were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters.” FBI agents received “benefits from reporters” as well, including golf outings, drinks and meals.

12.   Former Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik Should Have Recused. While Hillary was under investigation, Kadzik tried to get his son a job on Hillary’s campaign. He also sent an email to John Podesta, head of the Clinton campaign, which included the schedule of the release of Clinton’s emails in FOIA litigation.

The Silencing of the Inspectors General


By Victor Davis Hanson | Real Clear Politics


Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, an Obama administration appointee, is scheduled to deliver a report this week on DOJ and FBI abuses during the 2016 campaign cycle. 

Remember: His last investigation of FBI misconduct advised a criminal referral for fired former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who allegedly lied to federal investigators.

McCabe and at least a half-dozen other FBI employees quit, retired, were fired or were reassigned as a result of fallout from the politicization of the FBI. Yet, as Barack Obama left office, his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, strangely boasted that the Obama administration "has been historically free of scandal." Obama himself recently concluded of his eight-year tenure, "I didn't have scandals."

Those were puzzling assertions, given nearly nonstop scandals during Obama's eight years in office involving the IRS; General Services Administration; Peace Corps; Secret Service; Veterans Administration; and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, not to mention the Clinton email server scandal, the Benghazi scandal and the 2016 Democratic National Committee email scandal.

For nearly eight years, the Obama administration sought to cover up serial wrongdoing by waging a veritable war against the watchdog inspectors general of various federal agencies.

In 2014, 47 of the nation's 73 inspectors general signed a letter alleging that Obama had stonewalled their "ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner."

The frustrated nonpartisan auditors cited systematic Obama administration refusals to turn over incriminating documents that were central to their investigations.

The administration had purportedly tried to sidetrack an IG investigation into possible misconduct by then-Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. In addition, the Obama administration reportedly thwarted IG investigations of Amtrak, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Office of Management and Budget.

Despite the campaign against these independent federal auditors, a number of inspectors general still managed to issue damning indictments of unethical behavior.

In 2012, Horowitz recommended that 14 Justice Department and ATF officials be disciplined for their conduct in the "Fast and Furious" gun-walking scandal.

A 2013 IG audit found that the IRS had targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny prior to the 2012 Obama re-election effort.

In 2014, an internal audit revealed that CIA officials had hacked the Senate Intelligence Committee's computers while compiling a report on enhanced interrogation techniques. CIA Director John Brennan had claimed that his agents were not improperly monitoring Senate staff computer files. He was forced to retract his denials and apologize for his prevarication.

In 2016, the State Department's inspector general found that Hillary Clinton had never sought approval for her reckless and illegal use of an unsecured private email server. The IG also found that staffers who were worried about national security being compromised by the unsecured server were silenced by other Clinton aides.

Still, Obama was right in a way: A scandal does not become a scandal if no one acts on findings of improper behavior.

Under former attorneys general Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the findings of dozens of IGs were snubbed. That raises the question: What good are inspectors general if a president ignores any illegality and impropriety that they have uncovered?

Answer: not much good at all -- unless an incoming administration is of a different political party than the outgoing administration. Once that happens in our politicized system, there is a rare interest in not covering up or ignoring a damning IG report, but in acting on it.

We may now be experiencing one of those unusual occasions.

Soon, various inspector general reports may appear concerning FISA court abuse and improper behavior at the Department of Justice, FBI, CIA and National Security Council during the 2016 campaign cycle. The investigators are, for the most part, Obama appointees, not Trump appointees.

At some point, the idea of toothless inspectors general needs to be revisited.

Something is terribly wrong when dozens of IGs found wrongdoing, only to object that their efforts were being thwarted by an Obama administration that had appointed most of them -- and claimed to be scandal-free.

Finding government abuse and doing nothing about it is worse than not finding any at all.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His latest book is The Savior Generals from BloomsburyBooks. You can reach him by e-mailing author@victorhanson.com.