What insane kind of policy is that? Anything that might get attention can't be processed? Not only does this make complaining a catch-22, what does any amount of public attention have to do with whether an organization is following the tax laws? (And wouldn't that public attention rule stop the IRS from approving Satanic high school clubs? I mean, sure, 1st Amendment right, but public attention!)
Read the whole thing; it's worse than just that short summary seems. And yes I remember when this policy came up during the initial IRS investigation.
The Republican Establishment line on recent revelations that Trump's associates, and possibly Trump himself, had their conversations recorded and transcribed while Trump was conducting his transition appears to be that somehow it wasn't "wiretapping" because Trump wasn't personally targeted. His communications were only collected "incidentally" to surveillance of someone else, which is presumed to be legitimate and authorized by warrant.
I'm sorry, that's a distinction so fine that it might as well not even exist. If Trump's transition team's communications were picked up, than his conversations (that were picked up) were wiretapped. It might not be all of them if he wasn't the target, but the ones that were picked up -- absolutely those conversations were wiretapped and thus so was Trump.
It does change the legal questions, but it doesn't change the basic fact that Trump's transition team communications were wiretapped.
So with that out of the way, what else is wrong here?
Well, apparently those communications were widely disseminated by Obama's order shortly before the inauguration, and the identify of at least one American participant in the "incidentally collected" conversations was leaked. (Presumably that's Flynn). Unmasking that American identity and leaking it to the press? Felonies for each conversation and each different American involved. So just because the collection was "incidental" doesn't mean it's not a big deal. And that bit about Obama ordering the widening of distribution right before the inauguration? That reeks of a political motive. So does the massive leaking to the press.
And you know what none of that actually explains? The original news reports about three separate warrants targeting Trump and/or his associates. There's the FISA warrant that was requested and denied, which mentioned Trump, and then the second FISA warrant that did not mention Trump and was granted. And the third non-FISA warrant which may or may not have been granted. That sequence stinks to high heaven.
And Comey isn't cooperating with Congressional investigations here either. Given that we're looking at allegations way the hell beyond a simple counterintelligence investigation, that cannot stand. And given Comey's earlier, repeated, attempts to interfere in the election process by both omission and commission, I think it's time Comey spent more time with his family. He's clearly either incompetent or being blackmailed by multiple parties.
Another point that's not being recognized:
It's one thing to know what Michael Flynn said to the Russian Ambassador. Presumably the Russian Ambassador's phone is tapped 24/7 on general principles. How did Yates (and the press) know what Flynn told VP Pence about that conversation in order to leak the contradiction?
They are accused of rewriting executive orders, conspiring to limit initial hiring during the transition via budgetary manipulation, coordinating press leaks, and quite a bit more, including (by implication) the various coordinated leaks alleging Russian ties.
A lot of these things strike me as not just firing offenses (even for "civil service" positions), but criminal offenses, up to and including treason. When you work for the government, you are -- or should be, anyway -- putting your own opinions in second place to what the elected officials want. Actively sabotaging those officials is a serious matter.
Can someone remind McConnel not to backstab his own president?
When the president proposes cutting liberal programs, you applaud and do your best to force those cuts through. Maybe some have to be bargained away, but you fight as hard as you can to keep them. You don't volunteer your opposition, especially not when your party controls all three branches. Even if you are going to ignore the White House budget and create your own (which is fine, though somewhat odd when your party controls all three branches), you don't call a press conference to say you think your own party's president is wrong. Especially on a policy where the President's position is closer to the party's platform than yours.
And you certainly don't use a Supreme Court nomination hearing as an opportunity to threaten a president of your own party with impeachment, like Senator Lyndsey Graham just did.
It really does look like it's Trump and the People versus the Uniparty and the Deep State.
Details are sketchy, but so far it seems like 12 people wounded, 2 dead (so far). The method appears to be a combination of two common attack methods: running over people with a vehicle and then getting out of the vehicle to stab more people (police officers).
The police are already calling it a terror attack, which is a refreshingly rapid analysis of motivation.
I think this nails it: Comey is blackmailable. Hillary has dirt on him, and so does someone else. That's why he's being pulled in so many different directions. He has at least three masters (Hillary, someone else opposed to Hillary, and the actual elected president).
But note the careful wording of this denial. Comey admits to some sort of investigation of Trump or his associate's connection to Russia. But then he denies that the FBI or DOJ had conducted a phone tap of Trump's phones specifically, and specifically that Barack Obama ordered it personally.
What if Trump's associates phones were the ones tapped, as news organizations breathlessly reported not long ago? What if Obama did not personally order it through the FBI or DOJ -- what if it was performed through the CIA, NSA, or British intelligence? (Comey did also deny that it was done through British intelligence, but how would he know?)
I can't imagine a good outcome here. Does the Deep State think that if they somehow unseat a legitimately elected president that the people will meekly roll over and accept it?
UPDATE: House Intelligence Chairman confirms "incidental" surveillance of Trump. As the puppy-blender is fond of saying, Trump should be taken seriously but not literally, while the media insists on taking him literally but not seriously. In this case, it appears that Trump's claim was accurate, and the FBI is refusing to cooperate with the House investigation.
I'm not sure why, but I'm pretty sure that it was Wilkins who was actually behind both the scandal and the coverup. The most positive spin I can give Trump on this one is that maybe he's waiting to see what's in the 7000 documents Judicial Watch recently uncovered, so he can fire Koskinen then. If he fires Koskinen now, with Wilkins already gone, he might be left with no one to fire when the coverup finally unravels.
That doesn't sound like the statement of someone who has actually checked to find out whether any surveillance was conducted. It sounds like someone making a rote denial based on the assumption that any such request would be denied according to their understanding of British law. But that's simply not how intelligence agencies work. First, any such request would undoubtedly be framed in national security language ("Look, we can't spy on a presidential candidate. It would look bad. But we think this guy has Russian connections. We need you to spy on him -- using the NSA's infrastructure but you originate the request to get around US law -- and give us the take so we can make sure this guy isn't a Russian plant"). Second, such agencies basically ignore the law, since no one is willing to enforce it against them. They use national security law against others, they don't follow it themselves. And third, they don't report on their requests and operations to random government officials who are authorized to confirm or deny such requests to press inquiries.
If in fact the Obama Administration made a request of GCHQ to access the phone calls of his advisors, there are probably three people at GCHQ who know it happened. That's the person who received the request, the person who carried out the request, and at most one level of management to authorize it. And none of them are likely to be talking to the press.
In fact, the article I quoted above is probably best understood as a veiled threat. Shut up and don't admit to anything, or we will prosecute you to cover up our involvement. Sound familiar? As always, if you or any member of your team are captured or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.
So one of my Senators (the older, stupider, RINO-ish one) is sending out a poll to all of his constituents. Or perhaps it's all of his constituents who have given him a piece of their mind on Obamacare repeal or some other subgroup. His poll has two yes or no questions:
1. Do you support the American Health Care Act, which could replace Obamacare? (yes/no)
2. If no, would you support the American Health Care Act with additional amendments? (yes/no)
So how can any rational person respond to this poll?
I support repealing Obamacare, which this legislation sort of does. I don't support replacing Obamacare with something that's basically the same plus a few tweaks, which also describes this legislation. I'd like to know why we can't just do step one REPEAL THE WHOLE BLOODY THING and step two DISCUSS POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENTS. Instead Congress seems intent on keeping the parts that don't work while continuing to increase government regulations (including price controls) over the health care industry rather than actually addressing problems with a free market approach that has a chance of actually working.
And then the next question -- would I support the legislation "with additional amendments"?
I have no idea what "additional amendments" I'm supposed to be considering here. Amendments could make it worse. They could make it better. Judging by how the Senate operates, they could replace the whole bill with something that declares the moon is made of green cheese. I mean, I sort of get the intent of the question -- they're trying to find out if I really hate the bill because I don't want to repeal Obamacare, or if I really hate the bill because it sucks but a few small changes might get me on board because I really do want to repeal Obamacare.
Which I suppose is a good sign. It tells me the Senate Republicans are getting a lot of negative comments about the repeal bill and are shocked, surprised, confused, scared, trying to figure out what's going on -- do they hate repeal or do they hate this specific bill because it sucks and we need to do better? But seriously. Seriously. This is a guy whose career depends on understanding what the public (in his state) wants him to do. And this is the best fucking pair of poll questions he can come up with? This pair of idiotic, incoherentincomprehensible poll questions?
It's perhaps not quite that simple. The big screen TV and the XBox are one-time expenses and health insurance is a recurring, and increasingly expensive, one. But I can't blame young, healthy, and poor people for wanting someone else to pay for their health insurance, especially when the deductibles are so high the insurance never pays out. Those people are being abused by Obamacare to fund the people who aren't healthy.
It's going to take more to fix the problems in the health care system than a halfhearted Republican wimp-out.
Graham is, in theory, a Republican. But he's threatening to hold up confirmation of a Republican nominee in order to demand answers from the FBI that that nominee has a presumed interest in using his power and authority to obtain, and leave in power the people who are presumably doing the stalling.
What I suspect this actually means is that Lyndsey Graham is a senile old coot who can't remember which side he's supposed to be on. Can we primary his ass already?
Did Obama use British Intelligence to spy on Trump?
This is an interesting claim. However, I think it's also something of a distraction. While this basic structure is in place -- the various intelligence agencies have long cooperated with each other to avoid the legal restrictions on spying on their own citizens pretty much exactly as described -- there are aspects about the previous reporting on the Trump wiretapping story that don't add up. For example, there have been multiple sources reporting on applications to the FISA court and to other more normal courts for surveillance involving Trump. Doing an end-run around us law by going to the British wouldn't need such warrants, so why then file for the warrants? Would British intelligence, faced with a request to do an end-run around US law concerning a candidate for President, actually comply or gracefully decline?
I'd like to think the Brits would gracefully decline such a request, but the existence of the FISA warrants and denied applications suggests that the Obama administration didn't go the British route. And if someone is leaking information saying they did, it seems more likely that the leaker is trying to suggest a purportedly legal path to obtaining the leaked information as an alternative to the obviously illegally abuse of our own national security infrastructure and court system.
But the existence and disclosure of the warrants and denied applications for warrants says otherwise. So this is a smokescreen. For rational observers, though, the exact path doesn't matter: Obama used the intelligence agencies to try to influence the outcome of a presidential election. That's the bottom line, and it's worth than anything Nixon ever did.
There's one other thing that's worth mentioning:
There may be legal fictions that claim to allow this conduct. The Fourth Amendment does not allow it, and any judicial decisions that claim otherwise are corrupt.
There's a saying that seems to apply here. "How many legs does a calf have, if you call a tail a leg?" "Four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it so." And calling a violation of the Fourth Amendment legal does not make it so.
And I'll put one other thing up for emphasis. "It is only accessed when there is a specific request from someone like the President of the United States." I call bullshit on that. It's accessed by the NSA continually for everything from investigating terrorists overseas -- their proper function -- to checking up on potential girlfriends ("LOVEINT"). Claiming that there has to be a specific request from the president is another attempt to downplay the broad-based nature of the surveillance.
Trump orders review of vehicle emissions regulation
This is worth celebrating, because the review will likely result in significant changes to one of Obama's ticking time bombs: the EPA's regulation of "greenhouse gas emissions" from vehicles. That's regulation of carbon dioxide, a natural part of Earth's atmosphere that is relatively harmless to humans and animal life, and forms a vital part of what plants need in order to survive. The use of the word "emissions" is designed to make you think of this gas as a harmful, poisonous substance. It's not. It's an inevitable byproduct of burning gasoline to move the car, and the only danger this gas presents to humans is the basic global warming argument. In other words, if you emit too much of this gas, a bunch of idiots think the average temperature of the Earth will increase by one or two degrees. Probably. In a few centuries from now. And their short term predictions aren't coming true, so scratch that "probably" right out. They're basically selling you a chicken little doomsday to scare you into following their religious dictates.
The only practical effect the regulation being reconsidered will have is that car manufacturers will have the chance to make the case that lighter, more efficient, more expensive cars are not a good idea. Oh, and that lighter, more efficient cars are not actually possible while still making things that look and act like cars.
Unless we all want to end up driving motorcycles to work, we need to make sure the vehicle efficiency standards are reasonable. We need to make sure they are possible. We need to make sure we don't bankrupt the manufacturers by forcing them to make a ton of Volts and Priuses when people want to buy trucks.
In short, we need to stop interfering with the free market. Let manufacturers make what they think people want rather than what the government demands. Let people buy what they actually want, or as close to that as the manufacturers can figure out and produce. Let the EPA stick to regulating actual pollution rather than chicken-little greenhouse gas fantasies. Or maybe turn that part over to the individual states and let the EPA's budget be spent on deficit reduction.