Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Trump's Trade Triumph


By Stephen Moore |Townhall


The media and other Trump haters can't seem to let themselves admit it, but President Donald Trump scored a big victory for the American economy on trade last week.

Trump and the European Union reached a handshake deal that is designed to lower tariffs on both sides of the Atlantic. They agreed to shoot for zero tariffs. Sounds like freer and fairer trade to me.

The exact details are still a bit murky, but what we do know is that the EU has pledged to lower its tariffs and other trade barriers on American soybeans, oil and gas, pharmaceutical products and certain manufactured goods.

Trump promised to suspend some of the auto and aluminum and steel tariffs that he was threatening to whack the eurozone with.

It gets better: The two sides also agreed in principle to find ways to combat "unfair trading practices, including intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers, industrial subsidies and distortions created by state owned enterprises," according to a joint statement released by Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

These are the very trade violations that Trump has been railing against.

We don't engage in these anti-trade activities; Europe, Japan and China do. Before Trump came on the scene, most nations denied that this cheating and stealing were even happening.

Any progress in ending these unfair trade practices is an indisputable victory for the United States. In 18 months, Trump accomplished something that no previous president of the last 30 years could.

Yet the spin from many of the pundits begins by opining that Trump was the one who blinked here. The Politico story headline was amazing:

"Trump backs off new tariffs on EU in retreat from trade war." Bloomberg also described the agreement as a "Trump retreat" and a "victory for the EU."

Excuse me. Retreating and backing down is how you describe the losers in a fight. Trump won a first-round tko. It's like saying Sonny Liston beat Muhammad Ali even though it was Liston sprawled on the tarp.

We have here more evidence that the American president is the master negotiator. In private meetings during the campaign, he often told me that he is not a protectionist and that he wants more trade but that it has to be fair.

The objective of his tactics has always been to use the leverage of punitive tariffs to reverse foreign trade laws that discriminate against American companies and workers.

This is the key point: Trump's tariffs are meant to force other countries to lower theirs. It's a dangerous game, for sure, because it can risk a trade war escalation -- as we are now seeing with China.

But Trump has always believed that the United States has the upper hand because of our massive consumer market, and that our trading partners will be forced to capitulate sooner rather than later.

What is clear is that he has played the Europeans like a fiddle here.

His threat of a 20 percent auto tariff scared the daylights out of the Germans. Those levies could cripple their already-struggling economy.

The panic in Berlin is what drove the EU to the bargaining table.

Even more masterful was how Trump got the Europeans to agree to buy more American natural gas.

At the start of the NATO summit back on July 11, Trump slammed Germany for a gas pipeline deal with Russia.

He said this would make Europe "captive" to Moscow.

The teetotalers were horrified by Trump's "undiplomatic" outburst aimed at "one of America's closest allies."

Yet here we are a few weeks later, and the Europeans have agreed to buy more American gas. Is it that hard to connect these dots?

I often disagree with Trump's saber-rattling trade antics. But it's getting harder all the time to find fault with the results.

...

[I]f Trump can solidify this deal with the Germans, the French and the rest of the EU and get a Mexico free-trade deal signed, he can then isolate China as the bad actor on the world stage and force Beijing to stop its half-trillion dollars a year of cheating and stealing.

Do any of these things sound like the results of a president who is "retreating"? 


Monday, July 30, 2018

President Trump Will Continue to Prove the Experts Wrong: Here's Why


By Arthur Schaper |Townhall


White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted the following after Trump’s blockbuster announcement that the American economy was growing by 4.1% during the Second Quarter:

“How many times will the ‘experts’ be proven wrong about President @realDonaldTrump until they finally acknowledge his policies are working?”

Her tweet was an epic shaming of many Trump adversaries. 

First, she quoted an article from nuisance-nemesis CNN, aka the Clinton News Network, Crappy Nitwits Network, etc. 

This immensely discredited the propaganda the cable “news” outlet sought to promote as the supposed truth-telling alternative to the lying President. 

They routinely interrupt the press secretary during press conferences, but to no avail. They shame the President, but they end up disparaging themselves.

No one will forget Jim Acosta’s fake outrage over Trump not answering his questions—when there was no way the President could have ever heard him.

Next, the article which Sanders referred to reports on economists who claimed that there was “no way” for the economy to grow at 4.1% GDP. 

CNN’s article ignored the free market economists like Stuart Varney who predicted unparalleled growth under Trump. 

But the point is that CNN quotes intellectuals who were proven wrong, and decidedly so. 

To double-down on the shaming of the left-wing chattering classes, The Republican National Committee tweeted out a video sequence of economists who had mocked Trump’s predictions.

From Paul Krugman to retiring President Barack Obama and never-to-be-President Hillary Clinton (plus arrogant businessman Mark Cuban), they all were certain that Trump’s economic policies would fail. They haven’t.

Sanders is right to write that word “expert” in quotation remarks, since it has become striking how stupid those so-called experts truly are, especially about President Trump, his agenda, and the success of his policies. How can they be so wrong? 

One could point out that these are liberal talking heads. 

They don’t want to give Trump any kind of credit since they oppose him politically. Austan Goolsbee is a failed comic who also served as Obama’s Chairman for the Council of Economic Advisers. 

Mark Cuban might be plotting a left-leaning 2020 presidential bid against Trump.

Beyond the partisan jousting, “experts” are often wrong on historical events, economic trends, and historical precedents. 

Harvard Professor Arthur Schlesinger Jr. believed that the Soviet Union would remain a lasting global adversary during the Cold War. 

Aside from free-market economists like Murray Rothbard, who had predicted the U.S.S.R.’s collapse, most intellectuals were convinced that Soviet Russia was here to stay.

Why do such smart, well-read people get it so wrong? 

Modern intellectuals are committed to equality of results. 

Their careers in academia depend on pushing this socialist ideal, or they would never get tenure. 

Liberals have also been taught—and their public intellectual successors teach-- that any movement or agenda which does not phase out worldwide conflicts (economic, cultural, political) is wrong and must be rejected at all costs. 

Therefore, any movement which promotes Making America Great Again must be resisted. (Check out conservative comic and commentator Evan Sayet’s incredible speech on “The Unified Field Theory of Liberalism”.)

But there’s something else, more specific happening with the intellectual class’ reaction (or rather aversion) to President Trump and his administration. 

Not just liberal pundits but conservative (or at least supposedly conservative) intellectuals and commentators have been getting it wrong about President Trump ever since he announced his Presidential run.

Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Jennifer Rubin, for example, frequently expressed their erudite, well-written versions of Trump Oppositional-Defiance Syndrome. 

Krauthammer acquiesced a little when Trump won, but Will and Rubin have succumbed to full-blown Trump Derangement Syndrome, along with neocon Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard. They are even promoting the Democratic Party and hope for liberal victories in November to curb Trump.

What’s going on here?

Like many of their liberal colleagues, the conservative intellectual class, the so-called experts, live in Ivory Towers, gated communities, and press clubs. 

They don’t pay attention to the real world because they are insulated from it. Free market economist Friedrich Hayek derided these intellectuals as “secondhand dealers in ideas.” Dale Steinreich went further, labeling them “intellectuals of the ruling class.”

Just as academics cannot achieve tenure without bowing to the dictates of their academic superiors, so too the press secretariat for major national newspapers must remain spokesmen for the ruling elite, no matter which side of the aisle they stand on. Pro-worker, down-to-earth ideas receive derision but little traction from corporate owners.

Trump is not just enacting conservative reforms, he is undermining the ruling political class, both in the government and in the press. Press-and-print philosophers like Will and Rubin are not going to celebrate a chief executive who not only exposes their prognostications as ineffectual but now is bankrupting their bottom line.

How else can one explain that Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post has gone from being pro-life to warning the country that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh must not be confirmed because he would overturn Roe v. Wade

Why would George Will (who writes for the same paper) demonize President Trump, when he has achieved and even exceeded Reagan’s record on economic growth, protections for the unborn, unprecedented domestic energy production, plus a list of foreign policy accomplishments of peace through strength?

Besides Will and Rubin, let’s include NeverTrumpers Jonah Goldberg and Jeff Jacoby, and center-right foreign policy wonks Max Boot and Niall Ferguson (along with left-wing pundits, of course). 

They aren’t going to embrace Trump any time soon. 

To do so would expose their expertise as irrelevant since Trump is winning while ignoring their advice.

It would also cut off their meal ticket. They all work for Big Media, and they would be out of a job with their corporate employers if they wrote favorably about Trump.

The experts will continue to get Trump wrong, and no one should be surprised. Liberals hate him on principle. 

And the conservative “experts” don’t want to be exposed as feckless wonks more interested in filling their social calendars, selling books, and keeping their jobs with Big Media.


_______________________

IN OTHER NEWS

Les Moonves and CBS Face Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

By Ronan Farrow


Six women accuse the C.E.O. of harassment and intimidation, and dozens more describe abuse at his company.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

LIST: The 35 Criminal and Destructive Acts by the Democrat Party, Deep State, Media and Never Trumpers to Gut America


By Jim Hoft


Americans experienced another leak and another smear of President Trump from CNN.  This leak is a tape from the President’s lawyer which may have been taped illegally, which may have been initially stolen from the President’s lawyer by the Mueller team (to hell with attorney-client privilege) which  is just another attempt to damage duly elected President Trump.
 
As a result of this and all previous illegal activities by the previous administration, the MSM, Never-Trumpers, and absent Attorney General Jeff Sessions, we can now confirm that the US is officially a banana republic.

The US has gradually fallen over time and the past ten or so years have been the worst.   The Obama Administration took the US to new levels of corruption at the very top while ignoring the US Constitution and hurting most the forgotten and hard working men and women of the US.

If you stand up for Americans then you are the enemy of the Obama team of corrupt government workers (the Deep State), the Democrat Party and all Never-Trumpers, the elites who want to control the world because they and their strong arm perpetrators (e.g. Peter Strzok) believe they know what is best, and the MSM.

To hell with laws for the elites, only the commoners are required to adhere to them.  The elites and their gangs of perpetrators are now in charge and they don’t have to abide by the laws demanded upon the rest of us.

If you are a Democrat or a Never-Trumper:

1.) You can have your own server outside of the government system even though government employees are mandated to use the government’s servers and systems.  You can do this to hide your racketeering operation and other unlawful actions.  If caught, you can destroy the server, clean it with a software that will ensure nothing is there, destroy all emails and evidence, and delay any requests while denying any wrongdoing.  No worries, you will be exonerated by the Deep State legal system, its corrupt DOJ and FBI, and its phony judges in their phony courts.

2.) You can use government agencies at your discretion, whether legal or not.  You can target your conservative opponents through the IRS by delaying and eventually denying their requests or targeting them for audits.  You can share their records with all members of the Deep State and nothing will happen to you.

3.) You can run guns across the US border or across the Middle East.  When Americans are killed as a result, you can lie to Congress, no worries.

4.) You can see your Ambassador murdered in Benghazi and blame it on an innocent American in Los Angeles and a video he created that you state caused the outrage that killed Americans.  You can deny them help when under fire and go to sleep so you can make your next day’s campaign fund-raiser.

5.) You can sell 20% of US uranium to the Russian nuclear company in return for $146 million in contributions to your “Foundation”.  When questioned, you can deny wrongdoing and know that your Deep State will never prosecute you for any wrongdoing.

6.) You can hand over the ‘Taliban 5’ to whoever you want along with billions in cash and in return obtain a US soldier captured because he was a deserter and lie about him being a deserter.

7.) You can give billions to Iran, the country responsible for a quarter of US soldiers’ deaths in Iraq.  You can claim it is a good deal and hide from Americans the money provided to get the deal done, even the billion in cash that was transferred overnight on pallets on a plane.

8.) You can donate billions of American tax payer’s dollars to a group of nobody’s in the name of climate change so that they can redistribute it to poor countries like China.

9.) You can spy on your opponents, lie about it, create false stories of their interactions with Russians and push it through your corrupt MSM.

10.) You can back stab the President of the US, even if he is in your party.  You can call out all charges against him, align yourself with the MSM and the Deep State and do all you can to prevent his efforts to ‘Make America Great Again’.

If you are Deep State:

1.) You can make millions supporting your Deep State candidates and hope for cushy government jobs where you can continue to promote your illegal activities because you know best.

2.) You can allow obvious criminals to be set free because of your bias and hopes to someday work for them, even if they destroy evidence, neglect to properly maintain super-secret classified emails, share the information with whomever they want, and lie about the entire cover-up.

3.) You can create a ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’ collusion fake news story and throw it on your opponent even though you may have personally delivered uranium to Russians on a European airport tarmac.

4.) You can spy on your opponents and tape their conversations.

5.) You can obtain your politician’s made up phony dossier and present it to the secret FISA court in an effort to obtain a license to spy on your opponent.  You can continue to use this document for a year to spy on him and his team, even after he takes office.

6.) Even though you signed off on a FISA warrant, you can create a phony and corrupt Special Counsel with a team of far-left gangster lawyers and inspectors whose only purpose is to remove your opponent from office and punish his loyal supporters.

7.) You can make up lies about your interviewees lying when pounced on them only a few days after working in the White House.  You can use these lies to create false documents and then force them through gangster tactics to succumb to a guilty plea for lying.  You can use one of your friends, a judge (Contreras) who also works on the secret FISA court to obtain the guilty plea.

8.) You can push your cases through judges appointed by Obama (Amy Berman Jackson) who you know will overturn every plea by those you arrest.

9.) You can throw your indicted enemies in jail using your Obama judge and keep them in solitary confinement even though they have not been tried or convicted.

10.) You can indict them for more phony charges when they fight back since their real crime was representing your opponent as his campaign manager.

11.) You can charge people for not filing forms when their former bosses (the Podestas) did the same but were tipped off to file them in arrears shortly before arresting their former employee (Manafort).

12.) You can grant the individuals aligned with your gang (Rice, Abedin, and now Podesta and others) immunity but never do the same for your opponent’s team members.

13.) You can steal your opponent’s transition team documents and emails even though much of it was protected under attorney client privilege.

14.) You can create ‘fake lawsuits’ against made up Russians and indict them and claim they stole the election even though the Facebook stories aligned to them were in Russian and were never translated to English, by them or your Deep State FBI, DOJ or Mueller Witch Hunt team.

15.) You can leak stories true and not true to the press to damage your opponents, no worries.

16.) You can steal your opponent’s personal attorney’s documents, files and tapes – to hell with attorney–client privilege again.

17.) And now, you can even leak these privileged documents and tapes to your MSM in another attempt to destroy your opponent.

If you’re the liberal mainstream media:

1.) You can do what you’re told and push every phone Russia story you can to destroy your conservative opponent.

2.) You can prevent conservatives from sharing information on your social outlets like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.  To hell with free speech.

3.) You can and will never share any positive stories that can be associated with the current President.  If the stock market reaches record highs, the GDP explodes, Americans get special bonuses due to new tax legislation, or any number of positive economic news, don’t share it.

4.) You will make fun of the President’s meeting with a North Korean dictator and yell out unbelievably inappropriate cat calls during historic events (Jim Acosta).  You will call the historic meeting a big nothing burger and move on back to Russia, Russia, Russia.

5.) You will push every phony and seedy story you can against the current President.

6.) You will only have Democrats, Never Trumpers or Deep State operatives on your shows who disparage the President.

7.) You will promote the fake Russia, Russia, Russia story day in and day out, claiming the President is guilty of collusion with Russia for years with no proof, only false accusations by your politicians and Deep State cronies will be allowed.

Friday, July 27, 2018

GDP report shows booming 4.1 percent growth, as Trump touts 'amazing' numbers



Trump: On track to hit highest annual growth rate in over 13 years

The U.S. economy grew by 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2018, marking the fastest economic expansion in nearly four years, according to a highly anticipated estimate released Friday by the Commerce Department. 

President Trump touted the "amazing" growth during remarks at the White House shortly after the report's release, cheering a shrinking trade deficit and claiming the country is on track to hit the highest annual growth rate in over 13 years.

“We’ve accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportions,” Trump declared. “Once again, we are the economic envy of the entire world.”

The White House pointed to the gross domestic product (GDP) numbers, considered an official economic scorecard, as a strong indication that its tax cuts, commitment to deregulation and tough trade policies have paid off. The GDP broadly reflects the goods and services produced in the country. 

"As the trade deals come in one by one, we’re going to go a lot higher than these numbers, and these are great numbers,” Trump said Friday.

The figures may reflect a temporary boost due to short-term factors, but lend a powerful midterm-season talking point to congressional Republicans hitting the campaign trail during the summer recess.

Democrats for months have downplayed and criticized the GOP-authored tax cuts as favoring the wealthy, but Republicans maintain that Americans have broadly benefited.

Despite analysts' cautionary words, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters Friday that they believe the growth is "sustainable" and the report does not reflect a "one-shot" surge.

As reported by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the growth from April to June was the largest since the economy's roughly 5 percent surge in the third quarter of 2014, which was the greatest economic expansion since the third quarter of 2003.


A Reuters survey of economists had predicted the April-June GDP increase at 4.1 percent, and the report met expectations.

Trump and other White House officials have been setting the stage for days for a strong economic scorecard. The president has been working to refocus his agenda on the economy and trade, after enduring one of the worst weeks of his presidency following his controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

And while he’s been battered by both sides of the aisle for his hardline approach to trade, he claimed victory earlier this week after extracting new commitments from the European Union to buy more American products. Trump, in turn, backed off threats to impose tariffs on imported cars.

The economy saw a comparatively slight 2.2 percent increase in the first quarter of this year.

Friday's high numbers were driven in part by increased consumer spending, which makes up more than two-thirds of GDP, fueled by tax cuts and low unemployment -- as well as boosted exports and government spending.

Consumer spending rebounded to a 4 percent annual growth rate after turning in a lackluster 0.5 percent gain in the first quarter. The sweeping Republican tax cuts that took effect in January were likely a major contributing factor, permanently slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and increasing many workers' take-home pay. 

Last month, the Labor Department also reported that the U.S. unemployment rate had fallen to an 18-year low of 3.8 percent. Consumer confidence is high, according to Morgan Stanley Research, though rising gas prices have put a dent in consumer enthusiasm.


Increased oil prices also spurred investment in the energy industry, and healthier international markets further helped the manufacturing sector, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal.

Significantly, some observers cautioned that some of the GDP growth reported by the Commerce Department can be attributed to a surge in soybean and other exports, as international buyers purchased the goods ahead of the expected implementation of bruising retaliatory tariffs. 

Last month, The Trump administration announced $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods for the country's "unfair trade practice" involving intellectual property, and China responded by promising $50 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods, including soybeans.

Exports rose at a 9.3 percent rate in the second quarter, while imports grew at a tiny 0.5 percent rate. The narrowing trade deficit added a full percentage-point to growth in the second quarter, though economists are concerned that a full-blown trade war between the United States and China, the world's two biggest economies, will hurt growth going forward.

The GDP numbers also were affected by the bipartisan budget deal reached earlier this year, which will raise federal spending caps by more than $300 billion over two years -- a move that some analysts say only artificially, and temporarily, boosts the economy.

Top White House officials had signaled earlier in the week that the numbers would beat expectations. Trump predicted "terrific" economic numbers in a speech Thursday at a newly reopened U.S. Steel plant in Illinois.

"On Friday, numbers come out and I don't know what they are, but there are predictions from 3.8 to 5.3 [percent growth]," Trump said Thursday. "Nobody thought we were going to be this good. ... When I took over those numbers were bad, and they were heading in the wrong direction, because of regulation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The FBI’s FISA Faults


By The Editorial Board | The Wall Street Journal


The documents show the bureau relied heavily on the Steele dossier.

The FBI over the weekend finally released its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications for warrants against former Trump aide Carter Page, and now we know why the bureau resisted disclosure. Even in heavily redacted form, the applications confirm that the FBI relied on dubious partisan evidence to justify its warrant and withheld relevant information from the court.

The applications also vindicate the criticism of the FBI’s surveillance requests that were laid out in February by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes. The committee’s findings were based on a review of the FISA applications, which were still classified at the time. The main Nunes claim was that the FBI made the Steele dossier—which was commissioned by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee—“an essential” part of its initial application. The FISA documents confirm this.
Potomac Watch Podcast

More than half of the first FISA application’s 66 pages are devoted to technical matters and a history of Russian electoral interference. Of the roughly 25 pages that focus on Mr. Page, much of it reports his dealings with Russians, his response to the news that he was under investigation, and a largely redacted conclusion.

The guts of the application is titled “Page’s Coordination With Russian Government Officials on 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Influence Activities.” This is the FBI’s evidence section, and, though heavily redacted, it looks to be almost entirely dossier-related.

Its opening paragraph says that the “FBI has learned that Page met with at least two Russian officials” on a trip to Russia in 2016 and that it got this information from an “FBI confidential human source (Source #1),” who is dossier author Christopher Steele. Most of what is unredacted that follows details the dossier’s claims about these Russian meetings, with further reference to “Source #1.”

This is important given that FBI assistant director Bill Priestap told Congressional investigators in October 2017 that the FBI’s efforts to corroborate the dossier were still in their “infancy” at the time of the first application. Months later former FBI Director Jim Comey referred to the dossier as “salacious and unverified.” To date no investigator has offered public proof of the dossier’s most damaging claims. Yet on the basis of an uncorroborated document commissioned by a rival presidential campaign, the FBI accused a U.S. citizen of being an “agent of a foreign power” who should be wiretapped.

Mr. Nunes also reported that the FBI did not inform the FISA court that the dossier and trusted “source” (Christopher Steele) were paid by the Clinton campaign. And sure enough, nowhere do the FISA applications mention the words Clinton, Democratic National Committee, Fusion GPS (the Clinton-financed oppo research firm that hired Mr. Steele), or Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson.

Several convoluted footnotes refer to “Source #1” (Mr. Steele) and a “U.S.-based law firm” (Clinton firm Perkins Coie), as well as an “identified U.S. person” (Mr. Simpson) who was “likely” interested in discrediting Mr. Trump. These obscure references are quickly followed by another footnote in which the FBI says that, despite that motivation, it is confident that “Source #1” is “credible.” So the FBI was vouching for this partisan source.

It’s true that the first application doesn’t mention any names. But it does refer to “Candidate #1” (who is clearly Donald Trump ), “Candidate #2” ( Hillary Clinton ) and “Political Party #1” (Republicans). The FBI had an obligation to tell the court that the dossier and its “credible” source had been retained and paid for by “Candidate #2” and “Political Party #2” (Democrats), but it didn’t. By the way, Mr. Comey signed three of these applications, yet he claimed on his recent book tour that he “still” didn’t know who paid for the dossier.

The FISA documents also confirm that the FBI cited a Sept. 23, 2016 story inYahoo News to buttress its Steele dossier information with the court—even though Mr. Steele was also the source for the Yahoo News story.

Democrats insist that the FBI used the Yahoo story only to describe Mr. Page’s response to the investigation, not for corroboration. The applications show otherwise. The FBI cites the Yahoo News story after its dossier-evidence section, noting that the story said that “intelligence reports” and a “well-placed Western intelligence source” had also made claims like those in the dossier. But the “reports” were the dossier, and the “Western intelligence source” was Mr. Steele.

***

Our media friends are dismissing all this as no big deal because they say Mr. Page’s history of personal Russian dealings justified his surveillance in any case. Yet so far no one has produced evidence that Mr. Page was anything but an innocent abroad who liked to boast about his contacts. He certainly was a minor figure in the Trump campaign.

And that still doesn’t justify the FBI’s use of uncorroborated partisan smears as part of its application. At best the FBI appears to have played fast and loose with the facts to stretch the ethical boundaries of the FISA statute. At worst the FBI dissembled to target a man because they wanted to unleash a counterintelligence campaign against a presidential campaign. Either one tarnishes the FBI’s reputation.

Democrats and their media allies won’t admit any of this because they are invested in the narrative that Russian meddling elected Donald Trump. But two years of investigation later we’re still waiting to see evidence of that. What the FISA applications show is that the FBI did abuse its surveillance powers. There’s still more to learn, and Mr. Trump should declassify and release everything that can be safely disclosed.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Brennan and the 2016 Spy Scandal


By Kimberley A. Strassel | The Wall Street Journal

John Brennan, Obama’s CIA Director, acknowledges egging on the FBI’s probe of Trump and Russia.

The Trump-Russia sleuthers have been back in the news, again giving Americans cause to doubt their claims of nonpartisanship. Last week it was Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Peter Strzok testifying to Congress that he harbored no bias against a president he still describes as “horrible” and “disgusting.” This week it was former FBI Director Jim Comey tweet-lecturing Americans on their duty to vote Democratic in November.

But the man who deserves a belated bit of scrutiny is former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan. He’s accused President Trump of “venality, moral turpitude and political corruption,” and berated GOP investigations of the FBI. This week he claimed on Twitter that Mr. Trump’s press conference in Helsinki was “nothing short of treasonous.” This is rough stuff, even for an Obama partisan.

That’s what Mr. Brennan is—a partisan—and it is why his role in the 2016 scandal is in some ways more concerning than the FBI’s. Mr. Comey stands accused of flouting the rules, breaking the chain of command, abusing investigatory powers. Yet it seems far likelier that the FBI’s Trump investigation was a function of arrogance and overconfidence than some partisan plot. No such case can be made for Mr. Brennan. Before his nomination as CIA director, he served as a close Obama adviser. And the record shows he went on to use his position—as head of the most powerful spy agency in the world—to assist Hillary Clinton’s campaign (and keep his job).

Mr. Brennan has taken credit for launching the Trump investigation. At a House Intelligence Committee hearing in May 2017, he explained that he became “aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons.” The CIA can’t investigate U.S. citizens, but he made sure that “every information and bit of intelligence” was “shared with the bureau,” meaning the FBI. This information, he said, “served as the basis for the FBI investigation.” My sources suggest Mr. Brennan was overstating his initial role, but either way, by his own testimony, he as an Obama-Clinton partisan was pushing information to the FBI and pressuring it to act.

More notable, Mr. Brennan then took the lead on shaping the narrative that Russia was interfering in the election specifically to help Mr. Trump—which quickly evolved into the Trump-collusion narrative. Team Clinton was eager to make the claim, especially in light of the Democratic National Committee server hack. Numerous reports show Mr. Brennan aggressively pushing the same line internally. Their problem was that as of July 2016 even then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper didn’t buy it. He publicly refused to say who was responsible for the hack, or ascribe motivation. Mr. Brennan also couldn’t get the FBI to sign on to the view; the bureau continued to believe Russian cyberattacks were aimed at disrupting the U.S. political system generally, not aiding Mr. Trump.

The CIA director couldn’t himself go public with his Clinton spin—he lacked the support of the intelligence community and had to be careful not to be seen interfering in U.S. politics. So what to do? He called Harry Reid. In a late August briefing, he told the Senate minority leader that Russia was trying to help Mr. Trump win the election, and that Trump advisers might be colluding with Russia. (Two years later, no public evidence has emerged to support such a claim.)

But the truth was irrelevant. On cue, within a few days of the briefing, Mr. Reid wrote a letter to Mr. Comey, which of course immediately became public. “The evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount,” wrote Mr. Reid, going on to float Team Clinton’s Russians-are-helping-Trump theory. Mr. Reid publicly divulged at least one of the allegations contained in the infamous Steele dossier, insisting that the FBI use “every resource available to investigate this matter.”

The Reid letter marked the first official blast of the Brennan-Clinton collusion narrative into the open. Clinton opposition-research firm Fusion GPS followed up by briefing its media allies about the dossier it had dropped off at the FBI. On Sept. 23, Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff ran the headline: “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin.” VoilĂ . Not only was the collusion narrative out there, but so was evidence that the FBI was investigating.

In their recent book “Russian Roulette,” Mr. Isikoff and David Corn say even Mr. Reid believed Mr. Brennan had an “ulterior motive” with the briefing, and “concluded the CIA chief believed the public needed to know about the Russia operation, including the information about the possible links to the Trump campaign.” (Brennan allies have denied his aim was to leak damaging information.)

Clinton supporters have a plausible case that Mr. Comey’s late-October announcement that the FBI had reopened its investigation into the candidate affected the election. But Trump supporters have a claim that the public outing of the collusion narrative and FBI investigation took a toll on their candidate. Politics was at the center of that outing, and Mr. Brennan was a ringmaster. Remember that when reading his next “treason” tweet.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/brennan-and-the-2016-spy-scandal-1532039346

Friday, July 20, 2018

College Destruction of Black Students


By Walter E. Williams


Amy Wax, a University of Pennsylvania law professor, has come under attack and scathing criticism because she dared criticize the school's racial preferences program. 

In an interview with Brown University economist Glenn Loury, discussing affirmative action, Wax mentioned how racial preferences hinder the ability of blacks to succeed academically by admitting them into schools at which they are in over their heads academically. 

At UPenn's seventh-ranked law school, Wax said, she doesn't think that she has ever seen a black law student graduate in the top quarter of his class, and "rarely" is a black student in the top half.

That got her into deep trouble. 

UPenn students and faculty members charged her with racism. UPenn Law School Dean Ted Ruger stripped Wax of her duty of teaching her mandatory first-year class on civil procedures. 

I'm guessing that UPenn's law faculty members know Wax's statement is true but think it was something best left unsaid in today's racially charged climate.

Ruger might have refuted Wax's claim. He surely has access to student records. He might have listed the number of black law students who were valedictorians and graduated in the top 10 percent of their class. He rightfully chose not to -- so as to not provide evidence for Wax's claim.

One study suggests that Wax is absolutely right about academic mismatch.

In the early 1990s, the Law School Admission Council collected 27,000 law student records, representing nearly 90 percent of accredited law schools. 

The study found that after the first year, 51 percent of black law students ranked in the bottom tenth of their class, compared with 5 percent of white students. Two-thirds of black students were in the bottom fifth of their class. Only 10 percent of blacks were in the top half of their class. Twenty-two percent of black students in the LSAC database hadn't passed the bar exam after five attempts, compared with 3 percent of white test takers.

The University of Pennsylvania controversy highlights something very important to black people and the nation. The K-12 education that most blacks receive is grossly fraudulent.

Most predominately black schools are costly yet grossly inferior to predominately white schools and are in cities where blacks hold considerable political power, such as Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia. 

In these and other cities, it's not uncommon for there to be high schools where less than 17 percent of the students test proficient in reading, and often not a single student in such schools tests proficient in math. Nonetheless, many receive high school diplomas.

It's inconceivable that college administrators are unaware that they are admitting students who are ill-prepared and have difficulty performing at the college level. 

There's no way that four or five years of college can repair the academic damage done to black students throughout their 13 years of primary and secondary education. Partial proof is black student performance at the postgraduate level, such as in law school. 

Their disadvantage is exaggerated when they are admitted to prestigious Ivy League law schools. 

It's as if you asked a trainer to teach you how to box and the first fight he got you was with Anthony Joshua or Floyd Mayweather. You might have the potential to ultimately be a good boxer, but you're going to get your brains beaten out before you learn how to bob and weave.

The fact that black students have low class rankings at such high-powered law schools as UPenn doesn't mean that they are stupid or uneducable. 

It means that they've been admitted to schools where they are in over their heads.

To admit these students makes white liberals feel better about themselves. It also helps support the jobs of black and white university personnel in charge of diversity and inclusion. 

The question for black people is whether we can afford to have the best of our youngsters demeaned, degraded and possibly destroyed to make white liberals feel better about themselves. 

You might ask, "Williams, without affirmative action, what would the University of Pennsylvania Law School do about diversity and inclusion?" 

I'd say that's UPenn's problem.