2016 Election • Administrative State • America • Congress • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Intelligence Community • Law and Order • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • Post • The Leviathian State • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

Ms. Page Regrets She’s Unable to Testify Today

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Subpoenas do not come with the option of regrets. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. For Lisa Page, however, one half of the infamous pair of  “FBI Lovers”, the option is apparently there.

Just hours before her required appearance before the House Judiciary Committee to discuss her role in the FBI’s bias surrounding the Trump election, her lawyer informed the committee that she would not be appearing.

According to Page’s lawyer, she needs more time to review materials in preparation for her testimony. According to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), however, Page had more than enough time to review the documents in question. “Her failure to appear before Congress this morning had little to do with ‘preparation’ and everything to do with avoiding accountability,” Meadows tweeted.

It’s worth reviewing why Page is in this position in the first place. Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s 500-page report on the actions the FBI took in advance of the 2016 elections details a number of specific findings that justified the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, among others.

But the most troubling findings in the report have more to do with the wider culture of the FBI itself. General bias at the FBI was everywhere. From then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s unabashed public meet-up with Bill Clinton while overseeing an investigation into his wife, to the official FBI resources being dedicated to “spinning” the Hillary investigation, to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s failure properly to comply with his recusal, to volumes of improper communications with the media (not to mention agents allowing themselves to be wined and dined by the press), the cavalier attitudes, the “above the law” mentality and overt hostility to candidate Trump was rife throughout the FBI.

And in that drama, Lisa Page plays a central role—as does her paramour, Peter Strzok, who testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. The IG cites Page and Strzok among five FBI employees he calls out for bringing “discredit to themselves” and damaging “the FBI’s reputation for neutral fact finding and political independence.” It’s easy to see why.

Consider this searing rebuke from the IG report:

[W]hen one senior FBI official, [Peter] Strzok, who was helping lead the Russia investigation at the time, conveys in a text message to another senior FBI official, [Lisa] Page, that “we’ll stop candidate Trump from being elected—after the other extensive text messages between the two disparaging candidate Trump—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. [Emphasis added.]

In another exchange that has become infamous, Page texts Strzok, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok responded, “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”

That Congress should investigate this behavior is obvious to everyone except congressional Democrats, who repeatedly tried to adjourn, delay and obstruct Strzok’s Thursday hearing. Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) went so far as to suggest Strzok should be given a purple heart for all he’s had to go through.

But this is far from a superficial witch hunt. Congress has a historical and constitutional prerogative to protect and oversee the implementation of lawful behavior among the branches. Indeed, a robust oversight role for Congress was envisioned by the Framers and cemented by the courts, who have found Congress’ “power in inquiry” to be “inherent to the legislative process” and “as penetrating and far-reaching as the potential power to enact and appropriate under the Constitution.”

There’s a reason that refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena can result in a citation for criminal contempt of Congress. In its oversight heyday between 1975 and 1998, Congress held 10 votes to hold cabinet-level officials in contempt.

More consequential, however, is Page’s refusal to comply with her subpoena—along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein’s refusal to turn over key documents to Congress—which perpetuates the image that there are two sets of rules in America: one for government elites, and one for everyone else.

This attitude was on fine display during Strzok’s hearing, as he refused to answer substantive questions “at the direction of the FBI,” (though, under a subpoena, he is required to answer), defended his professionalism (rich, coming from the man who texted “F Trump” to his mistress), complained about his treatment at the hands of Republicans, and called the very fact of the hearing “another victory notch in Putin’s belt.”

As one commentator put it, Strzok’s attitude and actions demonstrate “the danger of a powerful idiot arrogantly convinced his cause gives him latitude to ignore the rules.”

Such brazenness should not stand. Not only do Democrats look increasingly hypocritical as they demand cooperation with a special counsel to find evidence of the elusive Russian collusion, they do disservice to the institutions upon whose impartiality and professionalism our government rests.

This is not simply a crisis of confidence particular to the 2016 elections. Until the full story is resolved and independent actors held to account, faith in the FBI and the Justice Department will be shaken; and shaken, in turn, will be the faith we place in those tasked with enforcing the law and investigating the facts in a neutral and impartial fashion. The way the government has handled itself thus far has been to treat Congress and the voters like problems to be solved, not citizens to be served.

House Republicans are right to press this issue, and they should continue to press it to the full measure of congressional authority. The rule of law surely extends to those who enforce it; perhaps they bear an even greater responsibility to account for their behavior when it is so brashly and shamelessly wrong.

But the continually dismissive attitudes of Rosenstein, Strzok and Page suggest that they truly do not understand the duty the FBI has toward the highest standards of transparency, impartiality and professionalism.

In its findings, the IG report quoted the opinion of one FBI agent that the majority of Americans who elected Trump are “all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS.”  The flippancy of the FBI and the Justice Department in response to the need for fixing these problems suggests that perhaps they agree.

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Administrative State • America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Democrats • Donald Trump • Post • Republicans • self-government • separation of powers • The Leviathian State • The Resistance (Snicker)

The Overlords Have Arrived

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Ten years ago, in the runup to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, candidate Barack Obama let slip his opinion of America’s working class voters: “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

His opponent, Hillary Clinton waxed into melodramatic indignation. “I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small-town America,” she said. “His remarks are elitist and out of touch.”

But as Democrat presidential nominee in 2016, Clinton had not only come around to Obama’s point of view, she dutifully proclaimed it with a statement that may have helped sink her candidacy: “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” Clinton said. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it.”

The architect of Obamacare, MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, showed the sheer contempt the progressive elites have for the American people in his remarks on the admittedly intentionally deceptive campaign he ran to impose the Obamacare fiasco. He explained with pride the Obama Administration’s campaign of massive deceit of: “The lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” and that “the stupidity of the American voter ... was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

Looking back as the sand castles of Obama’s “legacy” of temporary executive orders crumble in the face of the torrent of the pen, phone, and legislation of workaholic Donald Trump, Obama had second thoughts: “Maybe we pushed too far,” Obama said. “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early.”

It’s a good question. And America is in the process of answering it. Will the elites win in the end, or did their arrogance and contempt for the American electorate begin the slow process of ending their infestation of “the commanding heights” of powerful institutions of government, the nonprofits, academia and the media?

Futurist Arthur C. Clarke’s most highly praised novel, published in 1953, was called Childhood’s End. Clarke was one of the first to posit a future in which the extraterrestrial aliens finally showed up. His alien “Overlords” were all-powerful, but appeared wise and compassionate and determined to help those on Earth unite with some peaceful multiglobal universal order they claimed would benefit all.

The Overlords carefully remained out of earthly affairs, except to stop conflicts and offer cures to diseases and valuable technology that created an age of global prosperity. Most humans forgot about them and went on with their lives. The Overlords only communicated through the Secretary General of the United Nations and stated they would not deal directly with the human race for another 50 years.

But as time passed, the creativity, vigor, and intelligence of the human race was radically diminished. Children increasingly appeared to be transforming into another species entirely. And it became clear the Overlords served some Universal Overmind that had found the human race and its world extraneous to its higher purpose. They were doomed.

If we look what is happening to the young in America today, we can see something similar. Journalist Salena Zito recently took her class of young transitioning aliens from Harvard to boldly go where no classmates had gone before—on a trip to parts of the “red” United States that were as foreign to them as Outer Mongolia. What were they learning at Harvard? “They admitted they had been fed a steady diet of stereotypes about small towns and their folk: ‘backwards,’ ‘no longer useful,’ ‘un- or under-educated,’ ‘angry and filled with a trace of bigotry’ were all phrases that came up,” she wrote in the New York Post.

But despite Zito’s efforts, 62 percent of Harvard’s class of 2018 is moving to the Blue State Littoral Progressive Paradise: New York, Massachusetts, California and D.C., another almost 10 percent overseas. That’s almost 75 percent. Forty years ago Harvard grad John LeBoutillier published a controversial book named, Harvard Hates America. As Harvard and other elite schools have transitioned from educational institutions to Progressive reeducation centers, there is nothing controversial about LeBoutillier’s concept today.

Today, Americans are trying to separate their consideration of an investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election from what increasingly looks like the wreckage of a failed coup against the election and office of the current president. And the signs of a confrontation across barricades between Americans and their self-appointed Overlords is revealed daily in the transcripts and testimony of the participants in congressional hearings and inquiries.

When Peter Strzok finally gave his long-awaited closed door congressional testimony, he was accompanied by three FBI lawyers to make certain he answered none of the questions the Department of Justice wished to consider “sensitive and classified,” whatever Congress might think. This turned out to be the majority of the important questions he was asked.

A day later in his own testimony, a smirking Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, representing what might be most appropriately called the Department of Obstruction of Justice, huffily protested the indignities of congressional oversight. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other congressional interrogators had reminded Rosenstein that not only had requested documents not been produced, key documents had also contained evasive omissions and redactions, no matter how many pages had been sent over. “Why are you keeping information from Congress?” Jordan asked.

But Rosenstein was taking responsibility for nothing.  “I am the deputy attorney general of the United States. OK? I’m not the person doing the redacting.”

“You’re the boss,” admonished Jordan.

“He works for you, doesn’t work for us,” Jordan reminded Rosenstein, who had claimed no responsibility for Strzok’s evasions under Justice Department counsel, either.

“One-hundred-and-fifteen-thousand people work for me,” Rosenstein replied, making abundantly clear that while his Justice Department mob may not be helping Congress to its satisfaction in reviewing critical documents in question, it was doing so very much to his.

Overlords like Rosenstein feel perfectly comfortable waiting out the momentary passions of congressional sheep who are unwilling to use their power. Their goal is excruciating delay to prevent any external understanding that might be dangerous to the power of the institutions they control. They thwart any attempt to impose constitutional controls on the agencies they choose to see, against all law and precedent, as “independent.” After all, the “arc of history” bends towards the “fundamental transformation” of America. And the architect of that transformation, Barack Obama, was also the architect of the clearing of Hillary and the surveillance and hounding of Trump and his campaign by the Department of Justice, FBI and the Intelligence Community. President Trump may call it a “witch hunt,” but it is still underway, almost two years into his administration, with the outcome undecided.

To progressives, a “restoration” of the authentic rule by the Overlords is tantalizingly close. And they are as intent as Bonapartists or Jacobites on that restoration—by any means possible. The only election they regard as legitimate is one with an outcome they can accept. As the corpse-faced chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Thomas Perez, just reminded everyone in introducing Obama at a Beverly Hills fundraiser, “Let’s give it up for the real president of the United States.”

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Administrative State • America • Americanism • Deep State • Donald Trump • Law and Order • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • Post • self-government • The Left • The Leviathian State • the Presidency

Rosenstein and Wray Squirm on the Hill

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Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray went up to Capitol Hill on Thursday to tell the House Intelligence Committee that neither one of them had noticed anything wrong with Robert Mueller’s special probe or with the anti-Trump bias of its staff.

No matter what Congress and the public had read in the massive inspector general’s report recently, they wanted everyone to know that the deputy attorney general and the FBI director had the Bureau under control now, and that Rosenstein had Wray and Mueller under control, too. Everything is fine. Nothing to see here. Couldn’t Congress just leave them alone? Here were two men metaphorically standing outside their houses now burnt to the ground, and asking the firemen inside for coffee. Should we pity them or lock them up as madmen?

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) pointed out that Rosenstein had conflicts everywhere you turned. How could he oversee the Mueller probe when he had written the memo to President Trump recommending former FBI Director James Comey be fired in the first place? If reports were true that Mueller was investigating the president for “obstruction” related to firing Comey, then hadn’t Rosenstein set up a loop to investigate himself? Wasn’t he the origin point of the whole mess?   

“Congressman, I can assure you that if it were appropriate for me to recuse, I would be more than happy to do so,” Rosenstein said. “But it’s my responsibility to do it.” Apparently, he felt comfortable being the responsible party for the whole mess. That air of supreme confidence would not last long.

Then Rosenstein assured Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), “There is no one more committed to rooting out abuse and misconduct than I. We look to find any credible evidence, and we give it to Chairman Nunes.” That was a soothing answer, except for the fact it was untrue. Committee Chairman  Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has told the world repeatedly that Rosenstein is obstructing his investigation. Nunes had even appeared on Sean Hannity’s show to tell the public that his staff felt threatened by Rosenstein.

When Gaetz pressed Rosenstein on whether he had even read the FISA warrant that he had signed to continue the surveillance of the Trump campaign, Rosenstein’s reply was oddly procedural. “We sit down with a team of attorneys from the Justice Department who all review it and provide a briefing for us of what is in it,” he explained. “I have reviewed that one in some detail, and I can tell you sir that the information that is public about that doesn’t match with my understanding of the one that I signed. I don’t do the investigation. I am reviewing the finished product.”

This garbled response meant what exactly? Had he read the Carter Page warrant or not? He was asserting, simultaneously, that the Justice Department had told him what the FISA warrant was about and that the “finished product” had nothing to do with him. How did the public’s information not match Rosenstein’s information exactly? He didn’t seem interested in elaborating on that mystery.  

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) used his time not to ask questions but to ridicule the Mueller probe as a farce. “You have a counterintelligence investigation that’s become public. You have a criminal investigation that has become political. You have more bias than I have ever seen manifest in a law enforcement officer in the 20 years I used to do it for a living.”

Once Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) started to ask questions, the cordiality ended. “We have caught you hiding information,” he told Rosenstein. “Why did you hide the fact that Peter Strozk and Judge Contreras were friends? Why did you redact that in the documents you gave to us?”

Rosenstein was flustered. “I’ve heard you make those allegations publicly, on TV. Mr. Jordan, I am the deputy attorney general of the United States, OK? I am not the person doing the redacting. I’m responsible for responding to your concerns as I have. I have a team with them, sir, just a fraction of the team that’s doing this work and when you have brought issues to my attention I have taken appropriate steps to remedy them. So your statement that I am personally withholding information from you . . .”  

Jordan cut him off: “You’re the boss, Mr. Rosenstein.” Rosenstein continued: “That’s correct. And my job is to make sure that we respond to your concerns. We have. I appointed [John] Lausch, who’s managing production, and it’s my understanding that it’s actually going very well, sir.”

Since Rosenstein and Wray had been called to appear because they were slow-walking documents, Jordan chuckled: “And yet I think the House of Representatives is going to say otherwise.”  

Why was Rosenstein blaming his staff? Why had he threatened House Intelligence Committee staffers? Why couldn’t these officials find and produce all of Peter Strzok’s texts? What were they hiding? The best they could say was that they were trying to follow the rules and procedures of the FBI and the Justice Department. The idea that America’s top law enforcement officials consider the internal guidelines and policies of their institutions to be superior to Congressional oversight is an absurdity that was passed over in silence.      

Wray chimed in from time to time with his usual I really can’t talk about this sort of thing for [redacted] reasons but, rest assured, “we have referred a number of employees to the FBI’s Office of Personal Responsibility.”  And what could be more reassuring than that?

It fell to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to deliver the knockout blow. There’s “a double standard: the standard that the American people live under, and the standard that all of you live under.” He treated Rosenstein and Wray’s contempt citations now as a foregone conclusion. “If either of you are held in contempt, will you allow the U.S. attorney to bring that case before a grand jury pursuant to the law or will you, like your predecessors, object?” Rosenstein said that he would not block such a case, and so the trap closed over the deputy attorney general. If the House decided to hold them in contempt, they were in trouble.

By the time Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) was slated to ask his questions, Rosenstein’s self-confidence was long gone. In short order, Gohmert had Rosenstein admitting he didn’t know what former Assistant Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr was doing a few doors down from him; he didn’t know that Ohr’s wife was working for Fusion GPS; and he wasn’t sure which of his staff members had revised or reviewed the FISA warrants. Was this the same man who had his fingers in all the important pies? Really?

Of course, Rosenstein wanted to assure Gohmert that he really did understand his concerns. He provided a non-apology for not reading the FISA warrant: “What I signed was a renewal application. It had already been approved three different times by a federal judge. It was signed under oath by a FBI agent who attested that it was true. Now if he was wrong, we will hold him accountable. Let’s allow the process to conclude before we jump to conclusions.” What process was Rosenstein talking about? Was he referring to the inspector general’s  reports that he was busy watering down?  

The problem is that Rosenstein and Wray have too many scandals and not enough fingers. Were they the cream of law enforcement on top of all those pies, or were they hardly sure what was happening?

To assert simultaneously to Congress that you don’t know what’s going on under your watch; that you don’t read FISA warrants that you sign; that you cannot find the text messages of your lead FBI investigator; but that you’re sure that your staff is “first-rate” and that your “process” is so above reproach that you would counsel Congress against speculating is to enter the Bermuda Triangle of bureaucratic stupidity. Anywhere you turn, you get lost in answers that are not credible and in nonanswers that are incredible.   

Photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • The Leviathian State • Trump White House

De-Magnetizing the Border with an Iron Will and a Silver Tongue

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After weeks of snarling, teeth gnashing, and Nazi death camp analogies by the media and punditocracy, President Trump ordered family separation of illegal crossers at the border to end.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) summed up the conundrum facing policymakers:

We want to make sure that the families are not divided, and yet we do have to secure the border . . . [Detaining families together] is an option, and if somebody has a better one, we’d like to look at it.

So what to do?

There are two principle short-term policy options in a post-family separation settlement. Either detain and prosecute all comers but hold together as family units or release crossers in the United States, with a notice to appear in court later.

Each has practical hurdles and requires a political consensus to execute but the latter, as discussed below, will only worsen the problem in the long term, effectively super-charging the border magnet, even it is an easier lift in the short term.

To Detain or Not to Detain . . . ?

Although Trump’s executive order explicitly did not end the “zero tolerance” prosecution policy, the influx of border crossing Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) and family units has overwhelmed DHS’s ability to accommodate unified families in detention. In the latest twist, the Administration says it lacks the resources to hold the parents and children, anyway.

If the trend of the last few months hold, over 40,000 people will be apprehended at the border in June including 9,500 individuals family units and 6,500 UACs.

Since the feds only have about 3,300 beds for detaining families, the overflow of apprehended illegal crossers has to be handled somehow. With over 420 family unit individuals crossing daily, Trump is now turning to the military to provide tens of thousands of beds and accommodation for detained crossers.

But with only 334 immigration judges equipped and trained to handle the case load, wait times for adjudication of the detained immigrants’ cases now exceeds 40 days.

The story is similar for UACs with over 76,000 cases pending as of April 1 and growing massively since then.

So, the turnover rate in government provided beds is slow, the caseloads are huge, and the judges overworked with no end in sight. With strained resources, the entire immigration system is at a breaking point.

If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free?

Even Obama’s own DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson publicly rejected the release-first approach over the weekend, “We can’t have catch and release and in my three years we deported, or repatriated or returned over a million people.”

Contrary to the wishes of the media and commentariat, the American people don’t want consequence-free policies. Only 21 percent of CBS poll respondents want a return to “catch and release” of illegal entries, whereby the entire family is released in the United States and expected to show up to court. Forty-eight percent want immediate family reunification via deportation. A YouGov poll confirmed the sentiment, with only 19 percent preferring to “Release the families and have them report back for an immigration hearing at a later date” while a whopping 64 percent wanted some form of detention for the parents.

Critics point out there is a working model for “alternatives to detention” or ATD.

In fact, that policy—to provide notice to appear, release on bond, or some type of monitoring—has been held up as an effective alternative to universal detention by a series of immigrant rights defenders from CATO to the ACLU.  

Except of course, these claims are disingenuous and convenient because the hard Left decries  as inhumane any plan to use ankle monitoring to track and eventually deport failed asylum claimants and inadmissible aliens.

They don’t really want any illegal migrants or false asylum seekers removed at all.

And aside from detention, there’s no certainty that a border crosser will appear at court. According to immigration judge Mark Metcalf’s analysis, more than 50 percent of aliens released or never detained eventually fail to appear at their court hearings and are ordered removed. The official figure, which Metcalf argues is artificially undercounting failures to appear, now averages about 40 percent of aliens absconding from FY2014 to FY2016.

Asylum Roulette

At the same time, the number of asylum claims is skyrocketing from Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras)—rising 892 percent since 2012. In FY2017, nearly 80,000 Central Americans claimed asylum at the border yet less than 5 percent of their claims are ever granted.

The incomplete available data for FY2018 is even more telling, in the first 6 months of the fiscal year over 60,000 defensive asylum claims (the type of claim filed by border crossers to avoid expedited removal proceedings) have been filed through March.

Not So Innocent

But most migrants are not actually seeking asylum, as one alien admitted to the New York Times on June 17th:

Elsa Johana Ortiz Enriquez packed up what little she had in Guatemala and traveled across Mexico with her 8-year-old son, Anthony. In a group, they rafted across the Rio Grande into Texas. From there they intended to join her boyfriend, Edgar, who had found a construction job in the United States. [Bold mine]

And some are callously risking the lives and welfare of their children to game the U.S. immigration system:

This is the reason I brought a minor with me,” said Guillermo T., 57, a construction worker who recently arrived in Arizona. Facing unemployment at home in Guatemala, he decided to head north; he had been told that bringing his 16-year-old daughter would assure passage. He asked that only his first named be used to avoid consequences with his immigration case. “She was my passport,” he said of his daughter.

And the American public has taken notice of the cynical use of children by their illegal alien parents. Fifty-four percent of public blames the border crossing parents for the crisis compared to 35 percent Trump and/or the government, according to Rasmussen.  

While there’s no need to diminish legitimate need for a functional asylum process for the deserving, in fact, bad economics is the real driver of Central American migration, as many aliens admit freely:

Iván Buezo said he is determined to make it back to the U.S. after recently being detained in Houston and deported. Days after being flown back to Honduras, the 17-year-old was waiting for a bus, ready for another attempt at migrating to the U.S., where he wants to find a job. In Honduras, he said he can earn just $5 a day working on a farm. “You can’t make any money here,” he said. “I want to go to work, to have a better future.”

According to a 2012 Gallup survey, between 15 and 20 percent of those Central American countries would move to the United States if given the opportunity. That’s roughly 5 to 7 million individuals who want to come here.

Make no mistake, these migrants aren’t nincompoops: they are actively engaged in finding the best way to enter the United States without consequences and have been doing so for a while.

As the Wall Street Journal reported in 2016:

The controversial tactic temporarily lifts the threat of deportation from undocumented immigrants. The asylum claims also enable applicants to obtain work permits and driver’s licenses while their cases crawl through the adjudication process…Government data that would capture the recent surge in such applications isn’t yet available. But an American Immigration Lawyers Association advisory last month outlining “ethical considerations” relevant to such applications said, “the practice has become widespread.” The strategy is hotly debated in the legal community, with some attorneys saying that applicants with bona fide claims are disadvantaged by a backlog exacerbated by those whose cases lack merit…Asylum applicants are entitled to file for a work permit if their application has been pending for 150 days. Given the current backlog in the immigration system, it can take three or four years for that first interview to take place, which ensures the issuance of work permits. “The backlog is created by these lawyers literally flooding the asylum office with cases that lack merit,” said Charles Kuck, an Atlanta attorney. “It’s an abuse of the law.”

So, under the previous framework, by uttering the word asylum, claimants got to work and drive and blend in to society as their case winds it way through courts—which can take years.

In addition to getting all the benefits of a life in the United States without waiting in line, they are disadvantaging legitimate claimants by clogging the courts with baseless, selfish claims.

More than a year after the dust settled on the last Central American migrant surge in 2014, some interesting facts came to light:

According to Border Patrol interviews conducted during this past summer, many illegal immigrants told authorities they believed the U.S. was allowing families to stay, speaking of “permisos” to remain in the country. An internal Border Patrol report concerning the situation was obtained by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee and first reported by the Associated Press in October… The Border Patrol found that 68% of the illegal immigrants interviewed believed either that the U.S. was offering some form of asylum or amnesty. Federal agents found that 64% of the individuals interviewed believed that the U.S. was granting work permits to those who arrived as a family. Part of the challenge is a recent change to U.S. immigration policy that makes it more difficult to detain families arriving with children. A federal judge ruled this year that immigration officials must quickly release families with children from detention centers, saying that such an action violates a 1997 settlement not to hold children. The federal government has appealed that decision and is asking for an expedited hearing. “Thing that’s driving it is that when children and family units arrive, generally they are permitted to stay while they’re in removal proceedings, said Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute’s U.S. Immigration Policy Program. “That process typically takes a year or two—or longer.” Mr. Rosenblum said migrant families are being freed and told to appear in federal court. “That looks a lot like a ‘permiso’ to them,” he said.

Thus, despite claims of violence and other horrendous situations driving the migrant surge, it is now clear that the magnet was the subtle signals from Obama that amnesty or leniency, especially for families and children, was the order of the day.

If we return to ‘catch and release’ even if only for families and children, the magnet’s pull will only get stronger by backing down. It will eventually force another 1986-style mass amnesty of everyone who managed to abscond or simply tie up the courts long enough to avoid being permanently repatriated.

Playing the Long Game

With public support behind some form of detention, Trump has some political capital to spend to solve this crisis. But he needs a strategy, not just in the immediate future, but for the long run.

Like during the Cold War, the US must revive its information services to stem the flow of migrants and mean what it says about it.

In the battle to secure the border, actions speak louder than words but sending a resounding message is the first step.

If the Administration can continue to detain and prosecute illegal crossings and hold the mostly false asylum claimants until deportation, it must publicize the consequences directly to the people next in line on the migrant caravans.

Via a Radio Free Europe-style broadcast and information dissemination across all media, the federal government must get the message out that border crossing is not permitted, there is no amnesty, and importantly, how dangerous and foolhardy such a crossing is. The drug smugglers and cartels, the careless and dangerous coyotes, the soaring temperatures and hostile conditions make the journey a perilous one before it achieves 100 percent futility upon capture in the United States.

The next step is harder. Trump, the Congress, and the American people must stick to their guns or they will only precipitate another crisis.

As Margaret Thatcher admonished George H.W. Bush, “This is no time to go wobbly.”

To de-magnetize the border, we have to have an iron will and silver tongue.

Photo credit:  MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

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Administrative State • Congress • Deep State • Neil Gorsuch • Post • The Constitution • The Courts • The Left • The Leviathian State • The Resistance (Snicker)

NeverTrump is Now NeverSCOTUS

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As Democrats have (another) collective meltdown over this week’s Supreme Court rulings and the impending retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Trump’s supporters are venting their own rage at another target: NeverTrump Republicans.

Minutes after Kennedy announced he would step down later this year, Washington D.C. talk-radio host Larry O’Connor tweeted that NeverTrumpers “should be spending the day explaining their decision” not to vote for Donald Trump.

Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham reminded folks that none of the recent Supreme Court decisions “would have been possible if the #NeverTrumpers had their way.” Her colleague, Sean Hannity, roasted NeverTrumpers in his opening monologue Wednesday night: “For all of you NeverTrumpers, if you would have had your way . . . Hillary Rodham Clinton would have been making now a second appointment.”

And an Investor’s Business Daily editorial posed the question: “Conservatives are celebrating a number of important victories at the Supreme Court, as well as the chance to replace moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy. But none of these wins would have been possible if the Never-Trump crowd had its way. How about a mea culpa?”

I’ll go a step further: If NeverTrumpers had their way, we would now be contemplating the possibility of Associate Justice Barack (or Michelle!) Obama.

They Just Can’t Deal
Whenever President Trump has a good week, or the importance of the Supreme Court again comes into clear view, Trump supporters—even reluctant ones—ruefully (and justifiably) blast the small but vocal group of anti-Trump “conservative” antagonists for their entrenched opposition to the president. These so-called Republicans not only opposed Trump’s candidacy during the 2016 primaries, but also refused to vote for him in the general election (some admitted voting for Hillary Clinton) and have since joined forces with Democrats to trash the president every chance they get.

For many Republicans, NeverTrump is the wound from the 2016 election that will not heal. While several conservatives who contributed to the January 2016 National Review “Against Trump” issue that launched the NeverTrump movement have since converted into fair arbiters of the president and his policies (some are even among Trump’s biggest supporters), others remain steadfastly encamped with the most shrill, and now violent, voices on the Left to condemn everything Trump does and says—even when it conforms to their previously-held political views.

Hannity would not name names on Wednesday night, but I will mention a few: Bill Kristol, Jennifer Rubin, Tom Nichols, David Frum, George Will, Rick Wilson, and Steve Schmidt are just a few. Armed with online columns and cable news gigs, NeverTrumpers have earned newfound fame and thousands of anti-Trump Twitter followers by ridiculing the president, his administration, his family, his voters, and Republicans in Congress.

This group repeatedly mocks Republicans who voted for Trump primarily, if not solely, based on which candidate would sway the precarious balance of the nation’s highest court: “But Gorsuch” is a common snipe directed at Trump supporters from NeverTrumpers whenever the president offers up an inchoate remark or a clumsy policy proposal.

The catchphrase implies that preventing a progressive takeover of the Supreme Court with disastrous consequences for at least a generation was not a good enough reason for people to have voted for Donald Trump. Tom Nichols, an author and college professor who is one of NeverTrump’s biggest drama queens, is a “But Gorsuch” broken record. Earlier this month, he insisted the retort “will be on our collective tombstone.” Wilson, an alleged GOP strategist, claims he has an entire chapter titled “But Gorsuch” in his upcoming book about Trump.

So Very Clueless . . . 
Keep in mind, these Trump-hating harpies routinely boast about being traditional conservatives, strict adherents to the rule of law and constitutional norms. Yet they are willing to cede what is arguably the only remaining bulwark between individual liberty and creeping, Leftist totalitarianism because they despise Donald Trump—not to mention that they are capitalizing professionally from their dissent. It is not just a selfish and wholly dishonest stance for anyone who calls himself a conservative; in this political climate, it is downright dangerous.

But instead of begrudgingly acknowledging that, yes, the composition of the Supreme Court is critical and, yes, Trump’s choice of Gorsuch and his pledge to nominate another justice of the same caliber to replace Kennedy are highly-consequential decisions worthy of commendation, NeverTrump has amped up their disdain and contempt for Trump and his supporters. Publicly they are encouraging Americans to vote for Democrats in the midterm election, which would ensure a legislative blockade of any future Supreme Court nominees. (Kristol is now laughably suggesting the process should be delayed.)

In a Washington Post column last week, George Will argued that Trump’s “family-shredding policy along the southern border” compels voters to ensure Republican control of Congress “must be substantially reduced.” Will claims electing Democrats would somehow “affirm the nation’s honor.”

Bill Kristol is rooting openly for Democrats to regain control of the House and Senate in November. Ditto for Jennifer Rubin: Not only does she want Democrats to win this fall, she is now advising them how to block Trump’s pick—”a right-wing justice who will eradicate decades of jurisprudence”—before the midterm elections. Rubin’s brilliant strategy to achieve this would involve senators vacating their seats to halt a vote and Democratic activists organizing boycotts.

Steve Schmidt, a failed Republican consultant who managed John McCain’s losing 2008 election, is now a regular MSNBC contributor and just renounced his membership in the GOP. (Buh bye.) Schmidt accused Republicans of “stealing” a Supreme Court seat from the Democrats and implored Democrats to do everything in their power to stop the Senate from approving Trump’s next nominee.

Malice Without Limits
Think about what this means. Once-credible Republicans now advocate civil unrest and underhanded partisan tactics to ensure a perilous leftward shift on the Supreme Court, where four justices this week affirmed their allegiance to compelled speech and identity politics rather than rigorous constitutional boundaries. Laws regulating immigration, gun rights, abortion, private property, and other critical areas of our lives would become the arbitrary playthings of Leftist judicial elites. Electing more Democrats would empower a chaotic and increasingly violent party intent on obliterating every principle the NeverTrumpers once professed to cherish. A Democratic majority would result in more turmoil and seriously jeopardize the presidency since many Democrats pledge to impeach Trump if they win back the majority.

Of course, that is exactly what NeverTrump wants. Their malice has no limits, and their outrageous attempt to hand off the Supreme Court to the Left should never be forgotten or forgiven.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

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2016 Election • Administrative State • America • American Conservatism • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Defense of the West • Democrats • Donald Trump • Law and Order • Political Parties • Post • self-government • The Culture • The Left • The Leviathian State • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker)

Liberalism and the Abnormal Trump

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The enduring triumph of liberalism was not the civil rights movement, women’s liberation, open borders, or even Obergefell v. Hodges. Something more fundamental happened long ago that made those changes possible. Liberalism began when a space was carved out in society wherein people of different beliefs and backgrounds could go about their business without tensions arising.

They might loath one another’s religion, abhor their politics, and find their respective mores and customs odd or distasteful, but in the public square they kept their judgments in check as long as others minded their manners and didn’t push their differences too hard. At home and in church, in the government and in what counted as media at the time, differences and partisanship could have full expression. But on the streets and in the parks, in shops and restaurants, liberalism demanded that citizens lower their tribal instincts and mingle without open antipathy.

The incident with Sarah Sanders at the Red Hen restaurant in Virginia is one event in a long series of erosions of this liberal compact. The boundary between someone’s political work and private activity no longer holds, not with Trump personnel. They’re not even safe at home.

The liberalism that used to protect public officials has given way to the Leftist premise that everything is political. Leftists don’t believe in any such boundary. To them, the private sphere isn’t an apolitical realm. It’s a bourgeois creation, a middle-class redoubt that seeks to disguise its politics. (See Friedrich Engels’ 1884 book The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.) To maintain it and preserve a space in society in which political judgments are withheld is itself a form of political suppression. To begin your breakfast at a hotel in Arlington and spot a well-known conservative at the next table and not make your voice heard is, to someone of progressive social conscience, a crime in itself. It’s not personal to him; it’s political. In letting such people live their private lives without having to answer for their deeds, we allow the wrongs to continue.

Protest never sleeps! Trumpists don’t deserve a time out. To hold your tongue just because of some abstract liberal notion of civil society strikes a leftist as capitulation.

Liberals know where this leads, but they can’t stop it. Liberals have always feared the Left more than the Right—their oft-expressed warnings of conservative tyranny (remember the angst about “theocons” in W’s first term?) are intended to assure those on the Left of their compatibility, not to identify a real threat. Their own pale convictions are no match for an impassioned social change-agent.

Besides, the last thing they want to do is appear to defend anyone and anything associated with Trump. As Adam Gopnik said in a commentary on the Red Hen incident in The New Yorker, after noting the dangers of letting politics get so personal that the very presence of people on the other side disturbs us: “On the other hand, the Trump Administration is not a normal Presidential Administration.”

The choice of diction is telling. Gopnik doesn’t call the administration evil, corrupt, or incompetent. He calls it abnormal. That requires a different response than the usual democratic one of criticism, investigation, and campaigning, all conducted through proper channels. Abnormality suspends the ordinary rules of engagement. When you encounter a sociopath in your daily rounds, you don’t handle him with rational persuasion or firm entreaty. He hasn’t accepted the compact of civility, and so we must fend him off and shut him out.

He won’t respect you if you don’t. As Gopnik goes on to say, Trump despises those precise “normal decencies” that regulate civil deportment in social affairs. Trump favors “the natural order of domination and submission,” he writes. “It’s why Trump admires dictators.”

Reading Gopnik’s sentences, a visitor to America with no knowledge of current events would assume that Trump’s forces have hounded dissident figures in public places. Yes, it is Trump himself who has abrogated the civility that assures individuals that they may dine in peace. I haven’t heard of any liberal politicians, officials, celebrities, or journalists chased out of neutral public spots, but nevertheless, Trump is the source of expulsion and threat. He and his administration are “intolerable,” Gopnik concludes as if he were a solemn judge tendering wisdom to the populace,” and “public shaming and shunning of those who take part in it seems just.”

We should see this article as just the latest take on the “RESIST” exhortation, but note well that Gopnik and other liberals don’t seem to understand its implications. A friend of mind, a finance guy, had a clear-sighted response when I recounted one “resist” episode last year (I believe it was the talk about using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office) and said, “I don’t think they’ll ever accept the results of the election.”

He replied, “Then it’s war.”

He didn’t mean it aggressively, and he didn’t look forward to the fight. He merely drew the obvious inference. When you refuse to abide by the outcome of an election (and no evidence of fraud is in hand, as is currently the case), you don’t oppose only the figure sitting in the Oval Office. You deny the will of all the people who voted for him, too.

The hard Left understands this; they’re ready for battle. But to liberals who sympathize with people who expel and harass White House personnel, those 60 million plus Americans who pulled the lever for Trump in 2016 don’t even exist. They’re invisible. They have no political value. That’s why liberal mouthpieces can label the Trump team “not normal.” If they took into account all the people in the country who backed him, if they remembered that Trump’s approval ratings haven’t been much different than those of presidents in the recent past, they’d have to acknowledge that Trump embodies elements commonly held by roughly half of the voting population. He wouldn’t be abnormal, then, only oppositional.

But if so, this would bring the liberal compact back into play and reinforce the demand that Democrats curb their outrage and indignation. Only if Trump falls off the political chart are the protests and insults warranted. Yes, Trump must be abnormal, he must be, or else liberals must admit that they’ve abandoned their liberalism. The fact that when they judge Trump abnormal they tell all his supporters that they, too, are screwy seems to escape them.

Photo credit:  by Alex Wong/Getty Images

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2016 Election • Administrative State • America • Donald Trump • Government Reform • Law and Order • Post • self-government • separation of powers • statesmanship • The Constitution • The Left • The Leviathian State • The Media • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker)

Trump’s Message: Full Transparency to Restore Trust

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Back in the day, I wrote for a president. Not speeches, mind you, but special correspondence and proclamations. Watching this entire nauseating mess with the Justice Department and the FBI—agencies that many believe are corrupt to their core—I thought I’d write a statement for President Donald J. Trump that he could use to address the issue.

It goes like this:

Today I am announcing as president of the United States and head of the executive branch, acting on behalf of and in the interests of “We the People,” that I am ordering my subordinates at the Department of Justice and FBI to turn over immediately all un-redacted, relevant documents and make all witnesses available to Congress related to the Hillary Clinton server and email investigation, the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Russian election influence investigations. 

Under my Article II powers, there is no executive privilege or separation of powers issue for me in ordering these actions. This is not a capitulation to a coequal branch of government but rather an exercise of my constitutional authority.

It is abundantly clear from the inspector general’s report that high ranking officials at the Justice Department and FBI acted with extreme bias on behalf of Hillary Clinton and her associates when they investigated her private email server. These senior officials went so far as to order that the investigators go easy on Clinton as she would be the next president of the United States.

Those same high ranking officials clearly took a different approach to investigating my campaign. They used every weapon in their arsenal—wiretaps, informants, grand juries and the like—to go after my campaign on this bogus ‘collusion’ matter.

But this goes beyond the 180-degree difference in tactics between the two investigations—kid gloves for Hillary versus an iron fist for my campaign. This is about a two-tiered system of justice—one for the protected class of elites like Hillary, an approach that avoids using even the normal investigative tools versus the other in which agents and prosecutors, in the words of Lisa Page, the former FBI counsel to Deputy Director Andy McCabe, come “loaded for bear.”

What other American would be given such courtesy by the FBI and the Justice Department? Other Americans have been treated to pre-dawn, no-knock search warrants with FBI agents busting in the door. Would the FBI accept from other Americans, without consequence, the destruction of evidence—using BleachBit to destroy electronic evidence or hammers to destroy mobile phones and laptops? Would they accept the blatant and systematic flaunting of our laws regarding the handling of classified documents?

Further, if an American lies to the FBI, he or she gets prosecuted, unless that American is a Clinton associate. If the FBI lies to us, however, they get “bias and sensitivity training.”

Unfortunately, it seems that the attorney general, deputy attorney general, and FBI director are more interested in protecting their broken institutions than fixing them. They can’t even seem to admit there is a problem.

Reform starts with an admission and an acceptance that there is a problem.

Reform starts with a full accounting to the American people.

To that end, I am ordering the Justice Department and the FBI immediately to turn over to Congress all un-redacted relevant documents including all classified information. The members of the relevant congressional committees have the appropriate clearances and they clearly have a right to know. I am ordering that all agents and lawyers requested by the relevant committees be produced for interviews and testimony.

The American people have lost faith that the Justice Department and FBI are committed to the bedrock principle of our justice system: Equal justice under law.

Full transparency will be the first step in restoring that faith and sanitizing the infection of bias and abuse. Because if we lose faith in the institutions that have been entrusted to protect and defend the ideas of the rule of law and even-handed justice, we will have lost our way as a country.

On behalf of the American people, and in defense of our ideals and the Constitution, I will sign today an Executive Order compelling full transparency and accountability from the Department of Justice and the FBI effective immediately.

Photo credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Featured Article • Foreign Policy • Middle East • military • political philosophy • Progressivism • The Left • The Leviathian State

The Dream and the Nightmare of Globalization

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After World War II, only the United States possessed the capital, the military, freedom, and the international good will to arrest the spread of global Stalinism. To save the fragile postwar West, America was soon willing to rebuild and rearm war-torn former democracies. Over seven decades, it intervened in proxy wars against Soviet and Chinese clients, and radical rogue regimes. It accepted asymmetrical and unfavorable trade as the price of leading and saving the West. America became the sole patron for dozens of needy clients—with no time limit on such asymmetry.

Yet what would become the globalized project was predicated on lots of flawed, but unquestioned assumptions:

The great wealth and power of the United States was limitless. It alone could afford to subsidize other nations. Any commercial or military wound was always considered superficial and well worth the cost of protecting the civilized order.

Only by piling up huge surpluses with the United States and avoiding costly defense expenditure through American military subsidies, could the shattered nations of Asia and Europe supposedly regain their security, prosperity and freedom. There was no shelf life on such dependencies.

American popular culture, democracy, and free-market consumer capitalism would spread beyond the West. It created a new world order of sameness and harmony—predicated on the idea that the United States must ensure, at great costs, free trade, free commerce, free travel, and free communications in a new interconnected global world. The more American largess, the more likely places from Shanghai to Lagos would eventually operate on the premises of Salt Lake City or Los Angeles. The world would inevitably reach the end of history as something like Palo Alto, the Upper West Side, or Georgetown.

Open borders would draw into America—and later Europe and the former British Commonwealth—the world’s poor, uneducated, and dispossessed, who would become model citizens and reinforce the global resonance of the West. Although many of the liberal architects of diversity did not welcome political diversity at all, and sought to avoid the ramifications of their ideas in the concrete, nonetheless the borders of the West became and stayed open. An orthodoxy arose that it was racist, xenophobic, or nativist to question illegal, mass, non-diverse, and non-meritocratic immigration into the West. Ideas that mass illegal immigration undercut citizen workers, drove down wages, and negatively affected the citizen poor were derided as cheap bias and ignorance.

The end result of the last seven decades was a far more prosperous world of 7.6 billion than was ever thought imaginable. Stalin’s nightmare collapsed. So did Mao’s—sort of. Radical Islam was checked. The indigent in the Amazon Basin got access to eyeglasses. Amoxicillin made its way into Chad. And Beyoncé could be heard in Montenegro. The impoverished from Oaxaca became eligible for affirmative action the moment they crossed the U.S. border. Europe no longer tore itself apart every 20-50 years.

But soon a number of contradictions in the global order became self-evident. Consumer quasi-capitalism not only did not always lead to democracy and consensual government. Just as often, it enhanced and enriched authoritarianism.

Democracy and referenda became suspect, the moody fickleness of those who did not know what was good for them.

Nations subsidized by the United States often resented their patron. Often out of envy elites embraced anti-Americanism as a secular religion. Sometimes in the case of Europe, America was faulted either for having in the past defeated a European nation or from saving it from defeat.

The global cop, patron, market—call it what you will—was resented as not good because it was not perfect. The world’s loud second greatest wish was to topple U.S. hegemony; its first quiet desire was to ensure that America—and not a Russia, China, or the Middle East—remained the global policeman.

America itself split in two. In reductionist terms, those who did well by running the global show—politicians, bureaucrats of the expanding federal administrative octopus, coastal journalists, the professionals of the high tech, finance, insurance and investment industries, entertainers, universities—all assumed that their first-world skills could not be replicated by aspiring populations in the Third World.

In contrast, those who did things that could be done more cheaply abroad—due to inexpensive labor and an absence of most government safety, environmental, and financial regulation—were replicated and soon made redundant at home: factory workers, manufacturers, miners, small retailers and farmers and anyone else whose job was predicated on muscular labor.

A Brave, New Postmodern America
Globalization became a holistic dogma, a religion based on the shared assumptions: man-made global warming required radical changes in the world economy. Racism, sexism and other pathologies were largely the exclusive wages of the West that required material and psychological reparations. Immigration from non-West to West was a global birthright. State socialism was preferable to free-market capitalism. Those whose jobs were outsourced and shipped abroad were themselves deemed culpable, given their naiveté in assuming that building a television set in Ohio or farming 100 acres in Tulare was as valuable as designing an app in Menlo Park or managing a hedge fund in Manhattan.

The logic was that anything foreigners could not do as well as Americans was sacred and proof of U.S. intelligence and savvy. Anything that foreigners could do as well as Americans was confirmation that some Americans were third-world relics in a brave new postmodern America.

Crazy things followed from the gospel of Americanized globalism. Language, as it always does in times of upheaval, changed to fit new political orthodoxies. “Free” trade now meant that Beijing could expropriate technology from American businesses in China. Under free trade, dumping was tolerable for China, but a mortal sin for America. Vast trade deficits were redefined as meaningless and the talking points of empty-headed populists. Only America believed in free and fair trade; most everyone else in mercantilism.

“Protectionism” was a pejorative for those who believed that a retaliatory United States might emulate the trade practices of those “free” traders who piled up surpluses. For example, to copy the mercantilism of a China, Germany, or Japan would be castigated as mindless protectionism.

“Nativism” did not refer to the highly restrictive and ethnically chauvinistic immigration policies of a Japan, China, or Mexico, but only to the United States, given that it occasionally pondered recalibrating open borders and requiring legality before entering the country

“Isolationist” was a charge leveled at Americans who thought rich economies like those in Germany could afford to spend two percent of their annual GDP on defense, about half of what Americans routinely did. Not intervening in nihilist civil wars, or assuming that NATO nations needed to keep their promises, was the proof of the isolationist mind.

Failed Promises
The winners of globalization—the universities, financial powerhouses, the federal government, big tech, and the marquee media and entertainment outlets—were mostly located on the two coasts. Their dogmas became institutionalized as the gospel of higher education, the evening news, the Internet and social media.

Unfortunately, globalization otherwise did not deliver as promised. Half of the United States and Europe did not enjoy the advantages of the universal project. They found the disappearance of a good job not worth the upside of using Facebook or downloading videos. It was hard to see how someone in rural Pennsylvania or in West Virginia benefitted by knowing the most of the world’s Internet technologies were now American. It was nice having Amazon deliver goods to the front door, but one still had to have the money to pay for them. The logic of bombing Libya or fighting a 17-year-old civil war in Afghanistan was a hard sell.

The credentialed and expert had allowed North Korea to point ballistic missiles at the United States. The best and brightest forged a deal with Iran that would ensure it too would become nuclear—and then jawboned banks to violate U.S. law to allow Iran to convert its once embargoed currency into Western money.    

Most of the globalized commandments turned out to be empty. A trade-cheating ascendant China did not become democratic in its affluence. Iran still hated the Great Satan, the more so, the more concessions were given to it. The Palestinian question is no more central to the Middle East peace than the Middle East is central to world peace. There is no such thing as “peak oil” for the foreseeable future.

Jeans, t-shirts, and cool did not mean that the lifestyles and mindsets of a Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos were any different from their kindred spirits of the past—J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, or Jay Gould. What we call globalization our ancestors called monopolies, trusts, and disdain for national sovereignty.

Globalization’s Cynical Laws
The entire alphabet soup of Western-inspired globalization—the EU, the United Nations, the World Bank, the WTO—did not quite end up as anticipated. Their shared creed is not the fulfillment of their originally envisioned missions, but to protect an international cadre who run them, and to ensure that any who question their missions are branded as heretics.

In sum, globalization rested on a few cynical laws: those who drafted globalized rules for others had the resources to navigate around them. Talking about abstract cosmic challenges—world peace, cooling the planet, lowering the seas—were mere ways to square the circle of being unable to solve concrete problems from war to poverty. The world’s middle classes lacked the romance of the poor and the tastes of the elites and thus were usually in the crosshairs of any global initiative. Loud progressivism was a good cloak to hide quietly cashing in. Most wished to live in a Western or Westernized country; those who could not, hated both. Degrees and credentials were substitutes for classical and traditional wisdom and knowledge.

But the nexus of expertise—marquee journalists and pundits, academics, five-term politicians—really had few answers for current chaos. They were stunned that their polls were wrong in 2016, that their expertise was unwanted in 2017, and their venom was ignored in 2018—and the world all the while could go on better than before.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Royal Council—Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • Congress • Donald Trump • GOPe • Greatness Agenda • Political Parties • Post • Republicans • The Leviathian State • the Presidency • Trump White House

The Republican Establishment is Playing Us

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Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday that he would terminate the Senate’s summer recess. And, that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you know we are entering a precarious midterm election cycle.

Since the GOP was given majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and won the White House in 2016, the Republican Party has been doing its level-best to stymie and complicate President Donald Trump’s agenda. Now that their jobs might be on the line, the Republicans understand that they have to throw Trump a bone or two, in order to (they hope) galvanize his unique base of voters.

Many take this announcement from McConnell as cause to celebrate that the Republicans are finally getting off their backsides and at least appearing to legislate. But caution is in order. It may well be that this is all for show. Yes, the Democrats have an influential minority in the Senate, but overall, the Republicans have had all the cards in this legislative session and until now they have refused to push back against Democratic chicanery.

Why would they?

For too many of them, their little fiefdom in the Emerald City is more important than the well-being of the country. Moreover, many of them loathe Donald Trump and all of the people who voted for him. Thus, the GOPe will do little actually to implement an agenda that the president, the leader of their own party, supports. Why would they want to help him succeed when his success makes them look bad?

The real reason that McConnell has opted to reveal himself to the voters at this time is because the pressure now is sufficient that he needs to appear as though he’s doing something that Trump wants done (when, in actuality, he is ensuring that his—and therefore The Swamp’s—agenda is being pushed through). At the passage of the last obscene $1.3 trillion spending bill, the president warned Congress that that was the last time he’d ever do anything like that again.

Regardless of the president’s words, a core of his supporters (myself included) realized the damage that had been done. The next spending bill was set for September. If there’s one thing that the GOPe members hate more than Trump and his deplorable voters from Fly-Over Country, it is the prospect of a government shutdown. McConnell is not certain that Trump’s promise never to support another windfall for Washington, D.C. again was simply for show or if he was serious. Though, given the public consternation displayed by most of Trump’s most ardent supporters, it is likely that Trump was being serious. He will not want to disappoint them again.

By keeping the Senate in session over the summer, McConnell is hoping to get the proverbial jump on Trump over the issue of government spending. Also, McConnell knows that the lack of confirmations for President Trump’s appointments is a terrible threat to Republican chances going into the midterm election.

To be fair, the Democrats have been complicating the Republican efforts to get those Trump picks confirmed, through a process known colloquially as “slow-walking” (using bureaucratic machinations and obscure Senate rules to slow the normal confirmation process down). But, this should have been assumed by the “experts” in the GOPe. What is utterly inexplicable is why the elected Republicans have not made a bigger issue of the Democratic Party’s unfair (and unnecessary) stalling over the last two years.

It’s obvious now that many of the Republicans in Congress don’t want to approve some of these appointments either. They like having the Trump Administration operating at half-strength. The GOPe believes that it gives them an advantage when dealing with the White House. Remember, this is all about the GOPe keeping its power (even though most of its voters have become Trump supporters) and ensuring that Trumpism does not take hold in Washington, D.C.

Now that the midterms are happening soon, McConnell is going to intervene.

He wants to raise a proverbial stink about Democratic intransigence, in order to galvanize the Republican voters (without acknowledging that he could have helped resolve these problems months ago). Since this is going to happen in a slapdash way, whatever McConnell accomplishes with appointments will be superficial at best. And, when it comes to any potential government spending, he will simply put it off until after the midterms, believing that a shutdown would empower the Democrats going into November of 2018.  

We elected Donald Trump to change fundamentally the way Washington, D.C. works and to reverse the fundamental transformation President Obama wrought during his two terms. Part of changing the capital, though, means replacing the other elected leaders there with officials who are in sync with the American people as well. Trump’s agenda will never take root unless he has backing from the Legislative Branch—starting with his own party. That will never happen so long as the GOPe is running things in the Legislative Branch.

Going forward, it would behoove all conscientious voters to work assiduously to remove the weak GOPe leaders in favor of Republicans who fundamentally understand the movement that Trump represented in 2016, and to build off it rather than fight it.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit:  Alex Wong/Getty Images

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America • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Elections • Featured Article • Intelligence Community • Jeff Sessions • Law and Order • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • The Left • The Leviathian State • The Media • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker)

As the Wiseguys Turn: McCabe, Comey, and the FBI Boys

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Back in the heyday of the New York City mafia, the wiseguys used to gather at the Ravenite Social Club in Manhattan’s Little Italy, a place on Mulberry Street that John Gotti and the Gambino crime family used as their informal headquarters. Despite Gotti’s best efforts to keep the cops away, the FBI managed to plant listening devices in the club and the apartment above it, which eventually lead to the Teflon Don’s downfall, especially after one of the goodfellas, Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, turned informant and ratted out the gang. Gotti was convicted in 1992 and died in federal prison 10 years later.

Thanks in large part to the sweeping powers inherent in the so-called RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act of 1970, the Gambino family—and indeed Italian organized crime—never recovered. Even the acronym was a tip of the fedora to Rico Bandello, the character portrayed by Edward G. Robinson in one of the earliest gangster movies, Little Caesar.

But nature abhors a vacuum, and now it appears we have a new crew of wiseguys, this one operating out of Washington, D.C., with its headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover building, otherwise known as FBI headquarters. The news is that former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe—who has been referred to the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia for possible criminal prosecution by Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice’s inspector general—wants immunity in exchange for testifying in front of the Senate judiciary committee headed by Charles Grassley of Iowa. At issue are allegedly false statements McCabe made to investigators looking into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and how that “investigation” was handled by former officials at Justice and FBI, among them attorney general Loretta Lynch and FBI director James Comey.

Pass the popcorn—and this double feature’s just getting started. For, in addition to Little Caesar, there’s a James Cagney classic from 1935 called G Men that everybody involved in this unintended remake ought to watch before the curtain rises. Cagney, in his first major role as a good guy after the string of gangster movies that made him a star, plays Brick Davis, a young lawyer whose legal education, as luck would have it, was financed by a prominent gangster wanting him to go straight.

Scrupulously honest, Cagney’s straight-arrow character has no clients as a result. He turns down an offer from a pal to join the FBI, but when his friend is murdered by gangsters, Cagney joins the Bureau, vowing to get the killers. Naturally, this puts him in direct conflict with his mentor, and it all ends bloodily but happily. Cagney’s character even manages to survive, unlike in the actor’s famous outings in The Public Enemy, Angels with Dirty Faces, The Roaring Twenties and White Heat.

But now it seems we’ve flipped the script: what began as an investigation into Russian “collusion” on the part of the Trump campaign and perhaps the president himself, is now steadily being revealed as the sham byproduct of the fixed-fight “probe” of the Clinton email “matter” that allowed the former secretary of state to head into the 2016 election “cleared” of any wrongdoing by the Obama “justice” department. Vengeful over her surprising (but not to me) loss, the Woman Scorned and her cronies in the former administration and the intelligence community then concocted the “collusion” narrative, obligingly peddled to the public by the Democrat-controlled media, to strangle the Trump presidency in its cradle.

And they almost got away with it.

The first clue that the plot was going sideways was the December 2016 announcement by McCabe, Comey’s right-hand man, that he would be “retiring” from the FBI in early 2018, just after fully vesting in his lavish, taxpayer-funded pension. This was, recall, before the straight-arrow Comey’s own firing in May 2017 by Trump, employing a legal justification for the dismissal written by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who then turned around and appointed another noted straight arrow Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor to look into the “collusion” and the origins of Comey’s canning.

Then, on the eve before McCabe was going to cash out, he was suddenly defenestrated by somnolent attorney general Jeff Sessions for lying to investigators regarding his role in the Clinton email investigation. He’s also suspected of leaking to various friendly media outlets in a disinformation operation designed to cover his own posterior. And now, facing the committee, he may well take the Fifth if his demand for immunity is not granted.

In short, it’s a perfect circle of jerks—a bunch of Beltway lawyers (like Brick Davis) in charge of the nation’s cop shop, but who (unlike Brick Davis) have never grilled a suspect or traded shots with the goombahs: desk jockeys well versed in Beltway Borgia backstabbing, but otherwise completely useless in any real investigative function.

But that’s what happens when you have career liars-for-hire running the investigative agencies instead of, you know, real investigators. Back in the early days of the Bureau, the FBI would take law-enforcement pros and make them get law degrees; now it hires lawyers and gives them a badge and a gun. As I wrote in the New York Post after Comey’s firing:

So who should replace Comey? The rumor mills are already churning out names of the usual suspects: a judge (Michael J. Garcia), a prosecutor (Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher), a politician (Sen. John Cornyn of Texas), a veteran fed (Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe) and the Richmond FBI head (Adam Lee).

But the country doesn’t need another politician, jurist or prosecutor at the bureau. It needs someone dogged, determined, experienced, impartial and fearless. Someone sworn to protect and serve, who will follow the evidence wherever it leads and make the appropriate recommendations in the name of justice. Incorruptible and impartial.

In other words, a cop—the best one we have.

That didn’t happen, of course. Instead we got another Ivy League lawyer, Christopher Wray.

It remains to be seen how this movie turns out; after all, the last act has yet to be written. But this time, it’s the good guys—not the media mouthpieces who routinely leap to the defense of the Democrats—acting as the screenwriters. McCabe’s in serious trouble and, if and when he falls, or rolls over, the sanctimonious Comey may be in for it, too. What other ending can there be in a plot for a man who leaked his own memos to the press in order to encourage the duplicitous Rosenstein to appoint Robert Mueller (Comey’s immediate predecessor at the FBI) to look into the Russian “collusion” charges? What will satisfy the audience more than comeuppance for a man who passed off a dossier that originated with the Clinton campaign and was facilitated by the media in the form of Fusion GPS, the oppo-research organization founded by former journalists and responsible for commissioning a former MI6 spy to compile this imaginary pile of concocted hearsay called “evidence” from Russian “sources” that was then presented by… who else? Rosenstein!—to the FISA courts.

Can the plot get any thicker?

As the saying goes, you can’t make this stuff up, unless you actually do. But perhaps the gangsters inside the FBI and Justice ought to remember how their namesake, Rico, got his comeuppance—filled full of Hollywood lead and mouthing his last words: “Mother of Mercy – is this the end of Rico?”

Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Washington’s public enemies?

It’s the ending the audience is just dying to see.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

(Photo credit:  John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)  Edward G. Robinson as Cesare Enrico Bandello points a gun at a shadow of a man he just shot in Little Caesar.

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2016 Election • Big Media • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Donald Trump • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • Post • Russia • The Constitution • The Leviathian State • The Media • Trump White House

What Didn’t Trump Know? When Didn’t He Know It?

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How can a president obstruct justice when he did not know there was any justice to obstruct?

For more than a year, Donald Trump’s foes have pinned their impeachment hopes on the idea that the president obstructed justice when he allegedly told then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to “let this go.” Comey claims that remark was about Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor, who had just been forced to resign amid allegations he lied about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the transition.

The widespread (unconfirmed) assumption, then and now, is that Flynn was under some kind of investigation and that Trump’s off-the-cuff, vague remark (which the president denies) is evidence he was pressuring Comey to drop the case—and therefore obstructing justice.

Although Flynn did meet with FBI investigators in January 2017 (without a lawyer present and without notifying the White House), it is unclear whether Flynn was the subject of a formal investigation or the agency was simply looking for clarification about the conversations.

But a letter written by Trump’s lawyers to Special Counsel Robert Mueller and leaked over the weekend to the New York Times now reveals that the Justice Department refused to give a direct answer about whether Flynn was indeed under investigation at the time. According to the letter, a private meeting between Trump’s personal lawyer and then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates on January 27, 2017, went down like this:

Among the issues discussed was whether dismissal of Flynn by the President would compromise any ongoing investigations. Yates was unwilling to confirm or deny that there was an ongoing investigation but did indicate that the DOJ would not object to the White House taking action against Flynn.

Therefore, Trump’s lawyers argue, there “could not possibly have been intent to obstruct an ‘investigation’ that had been neither confirmed nor denied to White House Counsel, and that they had every reason to assume was not ongoing.”

So why didn’t Yates answer the question? As president, Trump was entitled to know the answer. (Apparently, Yates was A-OK with divulging classified information allegedly intercepted through surveillance of the Russian ambassador, details that were also illegally leaked to the news media by nine Justice Department officials, but suddenly clammed up when asked by the president’s lawyer if his national security advisor was under investigation.) Yates did not raise any illegality by Flynn, only that the optics looked bad and she feared Flynn, a three-star general, would be subject to “Russian blackmail.”

But Yates’ non-answer was part of the Obama Justice Department’s strategy to withhold crucial information from the president, his team, and Congress—either as a way to publicly shape the emerging Trump-Russia narrative; conceal its own misdeeds from Congress; or willfully mislead the president.

Time after time, Comey, Yates, and James Clapper failed to notify Trump that Flynn was under investigation, which seems particularly egregious since we now know that Flynn was one target of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Trump-Russia election collusion beginning in the summer of 2016.

In an interview last week, Clapper admitted he did not inform candidate Trump about the threat of Russians infiltrating his campaign through campaign surrogates. “It wasn’t my place to do that,” the former director of national intelligence claimed. “I was reporting to the then-government, the executive branch policymakers. For me to pick up the phone and call a political candidate would not have been appropriate.”

But that also would have been unnecessary; Clapper might simply have informed Trump during a security briefing his office conducted with the Republican presidential nominee on August 17, 2016. ABC News reported that “career staffers from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will be leading the briefing, which is expected to cover major threats and emerging concerns around the world.” Contrary to his current stance, Clapper said at the time there was “no concern in the U.S. intelligence community about providing classified information to either of the presidential candidates.”

In attendance at that briefing? Michael Flynn. And Flynn continued to sit in on subsequent intelligence briefings during the transition, yet Clapper never raised any concerns about Flynn with Trump, even after he was elected.

Neither Clapper nor Comey alerted Trump about an investigation into Flynn during their two-hour security briefing with the incoming president on January 6, 2017. Instead, Comey was extremely concerned with helping CNN get a scoop about the Steele dossier and alerting the president about the most salacious allegations in the document (although he did not bother to tell Trump the dossier had been funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.)

Based on his memos, Comey did not inform his new boss about the Flynn probe during their multiple encounters in January and February 2017, even when they were discussing Flynn. At their private dinner on January 28, Trump allegedly criticized his new national security advisor, telling Comey that he thought Flynn had serious judgment issues. “I did not comment at any point during this topic and there was no mention or acknowledgment of any FBI interest in or contact with General Flynn,” Comey wrote.

So, even in his private memos, Comey did not refer to the Flynn matter as an investigation. This again raises the question: Why didn’t Comey tell Trump about Flynn? He had just directed his agents to interview Flynn four days prior; how could this not be the one and only topic of conversation between the two? Clearly, Trump did not know about the Flynn interview since there is no indication he discussed it with Comey.

Flynn resigned on February 13. The next day, Trump and Comey met again, and this is when the president allegedly told Comey that Flynn “misled the Vice President but didn’t do anything wrong in the call.” He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. I hope you can let this go.” It’s anyone’s guess what Trump meant. He could have been speaking in general terms, suggesting the agency should cease looking into whether Flynn lied to Pence or the public. (Neither is a crime.)

In congressional testimony in 2017, Yates, Comey, and Clapper repeatedly refused to answer questions about the Trump-Russia collusion scheme—the Flynn matter in particular—under the guise of “classified” protections. When asked several questions about the Flynn case by the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2017, Yates would not answer. She declined to confirm whether there was a FISA warrant on Flynn. Comey also would not identify publicly which Trump campaign associates were under investigation during a number of congressional hearings last year. (It wasn’t until Trump’s tweet about Trump Tower being “wiretapped” that Comey revealed the counterintelligence probe to the House Intelligence Committee in March 2017.)

So how exactly did Trump obstruct justice when it appears that none of the top law enforcement or intelligence officials at the time alerted him that Flynn was under investigation? Isn’t it the duty of the head of national intelligence or the FBI to inform the incoming president that a close advisor—someone privy to classified information, who will help shape critical foreign policy—is under suspicion for cozying up to an international foe? Set aside the political chicanery: Did this potentially jeopardize national security?

Why all the secrecy?

There may have indeed been obstruction of justice related to the Flynn case. But it wasn’t because of Trump.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

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17th Amendment • Administrative State • America • Americanism • Deep State • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Political Parties • political philosophy • Post • The Constitution • The Culture • The Left • The Leviathian State • Trump White House

America 3.0

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“America 2.0” considered the plain fact that the America you and I live in is no longer the America the Founders envisioned for us.

Over the course of the past century, the Progressives have replaced the Framers’ federal government of limited powers designed to protect the American experiment in liberty with a vast new central government designed to regulate the lives of American citizens. Because there are so many, determining the actual number of federal regulations enforceable by criminal punishment at the discretion of an administrative agency of the central government presents great difficulties. According to Douglas Husak of Rutgers in his book Overcriminalization, there may be more than 300,000 separate regulations.

But the Progressives are not done yet. For them, America 2.0 is only a transitional phase to a truly post-American America—call it America 3.0. Hillary Clinton and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are loud and proud about the change to the Constitution that will bring about America 3.0, though what they are up to generally goes unrecognized for what it is. But when we understand how the Progressives created America 2.0, what their heirs are up to today snaps into focus.

To get our bearings, let us consider James Madison’s description of the original federal government in Federalist 45:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce . . . The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. (Emphasis added.) 

Please note that the “few and defined” powers of the new United States are “delegated” to the federal government by the sovereign “We the people.” In addition, those powers are “exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.” This then is the original bargain that created the United States: the federal government is to handle “external objects” for the states united by the bargain. The meaning of “external objects” is made clear by the list of the four original agencies of federal government: the Departments of War, State, Navy, and Treasury. Today, that number would be reduced to three: the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury.

The original federal government had a primary focus: national defense and the protection of the interests of the land of liberty between the various states and among the other nations of the world. All other governmental powers were either delegated by the people to the states or else retained by them unto themselves.

But the individual states did not surrender control of those powers delegated to the federal government. The Constitution created a standing body, the Senate, which would give the states a way collectively to maintain overall control of “the external objects“ of executive action. That’s why treaties with foreign nations and even the people nominated by the president to carry out executive actions, such as the heads of the federal departments and ambassadors, are subject to Senate approval.

And the governments of the states really did maintain control because in the Constitution of the Founders the state legislatures chose the senators. State governments therefore exercised their control over the departments of the government by means of the Senate.

The turning point came in 1913. In that year, this system, so carefully and brilliantly designed by the Framers, changed fundamentally with the 17th Amendment, which introduced the direct election of senators, bypassing the state legislatures. In 1913, Americans carelessly tossed aside the Founders’ brilliant solution to the problem of political power.

The consequences of the change have been many and profound. Probably the most obvious has been the rapid decline of the states’ ability to counter-balance federal power. The Senate had been a barrier to the passage of federal laws infringing on the powers reserved to state governments, but the Senate has abandoned that responsibility under the incentives of the new system of election.

Because the states no longer have a powerful standing body representing their interests within the federal government, the power of the central government has rapidly grown at the expense of the states. Today’s gargantuan central government increasingly relegates the states to function as administrative units.

The 10th Amendment, the final of the ten original amendments we refer to as the Bill of Rights, made it explicit that the powers of the federal government are limited to the enumerated powers, the powers provided by the Constitution. The 17th Amendment made the Great 10th a dead letter.

By the way, the Progressives soon overreached, as usual. The 18th Amendment, which changed the Constitution to allow for the prohibition of alcohol, followed soon after. It took a little over a decade for Americans to view Prohibition as a costly mistake and repeal the 18th Amendment.

That the 17th Amendment was also a mistake is by now clear. Instead of retaining many of their powers and responsibilities, and only surrendering a limited number of their powers to the federal government as the Framers intended, the states are more and more entangled in administering federal programs and in carrying out federal mandates. The federal government often even doesn’t fund these mandates, choosing to pass the costs along to the states. The many new departments of the federal government which have accumulated in Washington, D.C. during the Progressive Era, such as Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services, exercise powers that are not among the “few and defined” powers enumerated in the Constitution.

The process of concentrating power in the central government is what America 2.0 is all about, and that is why the Founders would have opposed the 17th Amendment.

The Framers of the Constitution aimed to preserve American liberty and the unalienable rights of Americans by preventing the concentration of political power in the federal government. Jefferson, famously, put it this way:

What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body.

Jefferson and the other Founders were clear that “concentrating all cares and powers into one body” would inevitably destroy liberty in America.

The Founders put much emphasis on the importance of the independence and autonomy of the states to the preservation of American liberty. Lord Acton, the great scholar of the history of liberty who wrote “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” agreed with the Founders:

Federalism: It is coordination instead of subordination; association instead of hierarchical order; independent forces curbing each other; balance, therefore, liberty.

When Acton wrote those words, American federalism was much more robust than it is now. Today, it is reduced to a shadow of its former self. The resulting erosion of Americans’ individual liberty is no doubt the most important consequence of the Progressives’ change to the Constitution in 1913.

The direct election of senators put an end to an essential electoral safeguard of American liberty. Next on the Progressive to-do list is the direct election of the president.

The Constitution allotted each state as many electoral votes as it has Senators and members of the House of Representatives. Consequently, to become president of the United States one must even today win the national election state by state. Eliminating the Electoral College and electing the president by direct popular vote, as modern progressives are determined to do, would transform the office. Its occupant would in effect become the POTBCA instead of the POTUS (President of the Big Cities of America), and the last vestiges of autonomy guaranteed the individual states by the Constitution’s electoral system would be swept away.

Photo credit:  Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

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Administrative State • America • Americanism • Cities • Congress • Democrats • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Immigration • Post • The Courts • The Leviathian State • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

It’s Time for Congress to Take Action on ‘Sanctuary’ Jurisdictions

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Just days after taking office, President Trump issued Executive Order 13768 to block certain federal funds from flowing to sanctuary jurisdictions—that is, municipalities, cities and states which deliberately choose not to enforce federal immigration law within their borders.

Yet, in what seems to be a contradictory effort, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has just approved $1.7 billion in federal grant funding to these same cities.

How and why are sanctuary cities still receiving money in contravention of the president’s order? The answer lies in a complex thicket of legal cases that are still working their way through the court system.

But to Trump’s supporters, the issue is clear. Speaking to McClatchy earlier this week, Ralph King, co-founder of the Main Street Patriots put it this way: “If you don’t want to enforce the federal laws of this country . . . you don’t get the federal funding.”

King’s statement reflects the frustration of many around the country who wonder why their tax dollars are going to fund the well-being of cities who willfully flout federal immigration laws. Moreover, many of these same folks pulled the lever for Trump precisely because of his promise to do something about it.

For their part, the Trump administration is making a genuine effort, but once again has been immobilized by low-level federal judges seeking to amplify their own self-importance.

Setting aside the nuances of the legal questions, however, what the Trump administration is seeking to do is actually fairly straightforward. And, in some areas, already settled law.

Put simply, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security are trying to bar immigration enforcement-specific federal grants from going to municipalities, counties and states that, according to DOJ, “willfully refuse to comply” with federal immigration law.

In other words, the DOJ is attempting to implement as a policy the very sentiment expressed by Ralph King: Jurisdictions that deliberately flout the law will not receive funds that are statutorily conditioned upon following that same law.

Though the flurry of legal activity would have you believe otherwise, the law in question here is actually quite clear. At the center of the DOJ’s argument is 8 U.S.C. § 1373, which expressly prohibits states from barring or restricting communication and cooperation between state and local law enforcement and federal Immigration and Naturalization Services.

Yet that is exactly what these sanctuary jurisdictions are doing. Approximately 300 sanctuary jurisdictions throughout the country prohibit their law enforcement agencies from complying with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), denying ICE access to interview incarcerated aliens, and impeding the exchange of information about immigrant arrests.

What does this look like, in practice? In California, jurisdictions have withdrawn cooperation with federal officials on sex-slavery and drug-smuggling cases. Cities and towns plagued by an opioid epidemic that has 80 percent of its roots in Mexican drug smuggling refuse to help the federal government arrest those responsible. In March, the mayor of Oakland, California, went so far as to warn illegal immigrants in advance that ICE was planning an operation in the Bay Area, thus helping criminal aliens avoid arrest.

In aggregate, the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that since 2014, approximately 10,000 criminal aliens who were released due to sanctuary policies were arrested—again—for new crimes.

Sanctuary policies make the country less safe, to say nothing of making an open mockery of the rule of law. This is exactly what the DOJ is trying to get at — using the authority of the executive to compel states to follow immigration law.

Though this is the subject of an active court challenge, the question of whether or not the executive has this authority, to a great extent, has already been settled. As one of the U.S. District Court judges opposing the Trump administration grudgingly admitted in a recent opinion, “Through the Immigration and Nationalization Act, Congress granted the executive branch near-plenary power over the regulatory and enforcement of immigration laws in the U.S.” (Emphasis added.)

There is a key distinction here that liberals, in particular, often fail to make. While the executive cannot make immigration law, as President Obama did by constructing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program quite literally out of thin air, the executive has tremendous authority to apply regulations that work to enforce the existing laws that Congress has already passed.

Whether the Trump administration should feel bound by the various court decisions as they continue to wind their way through the justice system is another question. In authorizing $1.7 billion in federal grants to sanctuary cities, Nielsen deferred to the courts in an as-yet-unsettled legal matter. At least one report indicates that she did so in contradiction to the advice from her top aides, who urged her to withhold money from sanctuary jurisdictions.

While one can only speculate on Nielsen’s reasons for failing to follow through on a top Trump commitment, it certainly counts as a missed opportunity for the administration to underscore its priorities. As Roy Beck, president of Numbers USA put it, Nielsen’s position “does sound a bit like backing down.”

Nielsen’s billion-dollar sign off, coupled with the plodding pace of the courts, means the swiftest way to resolve this issue is to insist on congressional action. While the administration has running room to regulate and enforce immigration laws, only Congress has the authority to impose meaningful consequences on sanctuary jurisdictions. Lawmakers have a key opportunity to address this in their upcoming funding bills, which they must pass before September 30.

Congressional Republicans already missed a key opportunity to restrict funding for sanctuary jurisdictions when they failed to address it in the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill passed in March. They should not treat this next opportunity as flippantly—if not because of a genuine commitment to the policy, then at least for the integrity of their own political promises. Just like Trump, nearly all congressional Republicans campaigned on a stricter approach to jurisdictions that openly violate immigration law. Over a year into a full Republican majority, voters are still waiting for them to follow through.

Until they do, sanctuary jurisdictions across the country will continue to receive taxpayer money while deliberately violating the federal laws on which the funds are based—openly mocking the country’s laws while making its citizens less safe.

Photo credit:  Andrew Lichtenstein/ Corbis via Getty Images

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2016 Election • Administrative State • America • Americanism • Deep State • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Obama • Post • Progressivism • self-government • The Left • The Leviathian State • The Resistance (Snicker)

A Clueless “Final Year”

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Remember the Duck Rabbit? That’s the famous image that, seen one way, looks like a duck but, seen from another angle, looks like a rabbit. The image has provided fodder for children’s books and also philosophers, its inherent ambiguity being catnip to both light fancy and epistemological lucubration.

I thought of that teasing graphic confection when I encountered “The Final Year,” Greg Barker’s HBO documentary about the last 12 months of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy. At first I thought it was intended to be a duck: a sympathetic portrait of its main characters: President Obama himself, of course, but also Secretary of State John Kerry, our ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes. But the more I watched, the more the rabbit theme intruded: the more, I mean, that it struck me as a devastating portrait of mandarin entitlement gone horribly wrong.

I am really uncertain what Greg Barker intended. He indulges in no editorializing. The camera follows the principals around the world and simply captures their speeches and conversations: Samantha Power  and John Kerry, President Obama at the U.N., Obama on his final trip to Greece, Ben Rhodes padding about the White House and elsewhere. It’s all presented in a very straightforward way to outline the Obama Administration’s ambitions as well as its frustrations as world events—the mess in Syria, the unbelievable election of Donald Trump—unfold around them.

The main characters are given plenty of on-air time to explain what they hope to accomplish and also to describe the forces, domestic as well as international, that they see as frustrating their aims.

The portrait of Ben Rhodes was particularly poignant. Two scenes stand out. One was his reaction to the news that, somehow, Donald Trump had won the 2016 election. Those with a robust appetite for Schadenfreude will regard it as hilarious if pathetic. Others will find it pathetic and sad. For me, I have to admit, it brought to mind Oscar Wilde’s comment that a man would have to have a heart of stone to read Charles Dickens’s account of the death of Little Nell without laughing. The camera follows Rhodes walking alone off a stage just after the terrible news came down. “I just came outside to try to process all of this,” Rhodes says haltingly. “It’s a lot to process. I mean, ah . . . I can’t even . . . I can’t . . . I mean I . . . I can’t put it into words. I don’t know what the words are.”

That took one minute and five seconds.

It’s as if you were sitting at home in Athens and just got the news from Aegospotami that the Spartans had destroyed your fleet meaning that, after nearly three decades, you had just lost the war. How could this have happened?

In order to understand the shattering surprise that gripped team Obama, it is necessary to appreciate the sensation of absolute moral superiority that wafted them along. This was no mere election. It was a fight between good and evil. And they were in no doubt that they were the good guys. “Cuba, climate, Iran,” Rhodes says, what will happen to those things now that Donald Trump is in charge? Note that he puts forward those items as if they were triumphs for the Obama administration and not disastrous missteps.

“The irony of the Obama years,” Rhodes mused, “is going to be that he was advocating an inclusive global view rooted in common humanity and international order amidst this roiling ocean of growing nationalism and authoritarianism.” Got that? “Inclusive” and “common humanity” on one side versus “nationalism” and “authoritarianism” on the other.

This is not politics in any ordinary sense. It is a resurgent Manichean dualism in which the elect battle the infidels (despite the irony that the elect in this case are not elected). All is not lost, however, for if Rhodes is right, the rising generation “seems to share a very Obama view of the world.” It’s just that there are “retrenchment forces pushing back from the other direction who have actually gotten their hands on the levers of power now.” Imagine that!

The fascinating thing of “The Final Year” is the glimpse it affords into the engine room of a certain species of elite bureaucratic presumption. It is earnest, articulate, educated, well-meaning, and utterly, dangerously naïve. When you review the series of foreign policy disasters over which Obama presided—the names Libya, Syria, and Iran offer a good start—and then contrast it with his warmhearted rhetoric, you begin to understand why Graham Greene could warn that “innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.”

What we have on view here is a super-Whig interpretation of history, a sort of Émile Coué approach to world affairs: “Tous les jours à tous points de vue je vais de mieux en mieux.” “Every day in every way I am getting better and better.” History may not always proceed in a straight line, Obama admits at one point; it may zig-zag. But the general trend, he insists, is “ultimately towards a less violent, more empathetic, more generous world.” Coué could not have put it better.

The breathtaking presumption of virtue, the unshakeable confidence in one’s moral election, is patent throughout this documentary. It is also vividly on view in a New York Times story from a couple of days ago about Obama’s reaction to Donald Trump’s triumph in the 2016 election: How Trump’s Election Shook Obama: ‘What if We Were Wrong?’. The irony in the title is that no one involved in the story, not Obama, not Ben Rhodes, not the Times reporter seriously entertains the question “What if we were wrong?”

Yes, Obama wonders whether “we pushed too far.” “Maybe,” he says, “people [though not, of course, his people] just want to fall back into their tribe.” But there is no suggestion he might not think he is traveling in the vanguard of history. “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” he said. If only the world were elevated a little higher towards my plane of enlightenment, then people like me would still be in power and all would be right with the world! Amazing.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, official unemployment is down to 3.8 percent (real unemployment is 7.6 percent and falling), black unemployment is at an historic low, the economy is buzzing along, consumer confidence is the highest it’s been in a generation, North Korea is headed to the bargaining table, Iran’s efforts to get nuclear weapons is being starved, and preposterous virtue-signaling and prosperity blighting climate change pacts have been put where they belong, on the ash heap of history. Slowly, slowly, at least parts of the soft-totalitarianism of the administrative state are being peeled back and the fresh breezes of local control and individual responsibility are making a come back.

In his book Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill said, “as between his own happiness and that of others, justice requires [everyone] to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator.” The great Victorian polemicist James Fitzjames Stephen treated this idea with some of the contempt it deserves. “If this be so,” Stephen wrote, “I can only say that nearly the whole of nearly every human creature is one continued course of injustice, for nearly everyone passes his life in providing the means of happiness for himself and those who are closely connected with him, leaving others all but entirely out of account.” As Obama might put it, nearly everyone want to fit back into his own tribe. But this, Stephen argues, is as it should be, not merely for prudential but also for moral reasons.

The man who works from himself outwards, whose conduct is governed by ordinary motives, and who acts with a view to his own advantage and the advantage of those who are connected with himself in definite, assignable ways, produces in the ordinary course of things much more happiness to others . . . than a moral Don Quixote who is always liable to sacrifice himself and his neighbors. On the other hand, a man who has a disinterested love of the human race—that is to say, who has got a fixed idea about some way of providing for the management of the concerns of mankind—is an unaccountable person . . . who is capable of making his love for men in general the ground of all sorts of violence against men in particular.

The habit of moral infatuation is a hardy perennial. With Barack Obama, we witnessed a veritable infestation of the species. A lot of people criticize Donald Trump not only for his lack of refinement but also for his imperfect morals. “The Final Year” quietly dramatizes a bleak alternative in which genuine refinement is coupled with unabashed moralism. (It is worth noting that one element that the film neglects is the raw appetite for power, but we may leave that to one side.) It is not, I think, an appealing portrait, though as I say it is unclear if that was the filmmaker’s intention.

Photo credit:  Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

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Administrative State • America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • Donald Trump • Post • self-government • The Constitution • The Courts • The Culture • The Leviathian State • the Presidency • Trump White House

The Tragic Mediocrity of the Beltway

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There are two types of Americans: those who dwell inside-the-beltway and the vast majority who are outside of it. The United States may have been founded as a representative republic, but for at least 80 years taxpayers supported the creation of a feckless and detached political elite whose concerns are first to themselves, then to their class, and finally to whatever foreign countries (as well as multinational corporations) are paying them.

At the center of this bifurcated society is Washington, D.C., a swamp both literal and metaphorical. Ringing the swamp is a heavily congested, poorly maintained highway system that acts as a moat—keeping the swamp-dwellers perfectly encapsulated while preventing ordinary folks from doing anything other than visiting the city’s numerous historical sites.

Our nation’s capital has always been unlike the rest of the country, yet it is only in recent decades that both the inhabitants of Washington, D.C. (as well as the institutions housed there) have come to view themselves as fundamentally different—that is to say, better—than the rest of the country they are supposed to serve.

Over time, an elite cadre of national security practitioners and media figures who swore to defend us, the Constitution, and the truth, in many cases, became too isolated and concerned with their own agencies (and their own careers) to protect our way of life. Today, the purpose of America’s national security bureaucracy has less to do with national defense and more to do with institutional perpetuation.

Let Go of My Echo-Chamber

In a highly controversial interview with the New York Times, the Obama Administration’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, referred to America’s foreign policy establishment as “the Blob,” consisting of “Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and other Iraq-war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East.” While I disagree with Rhodes on almost all matters of substance, his criticism of the foreign policy elite in the United States is apt.

Buttressing Rhodes’ claims in 2016 was his derision of Washington’s news media. He claimed that he and his deputy, former CIA agent Ned Price, used the vain and ignorant Washington news media to create an “echo chamber” to generate support for former President Obama’s horrific executive agreement with Iran over that regime’s nuclear weapons program.

According to Rhodes in 2016:

All [the major American newspapers] used to have foreign bureaus. Now they don’t. They call [the Obama national security council] to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.

Rhodes’ critique of the Washington press corps is also true of the foreign policy establishment in Washington, D.C. Despite all of the public bickering and hand wringing in which our leaders engage, the capital is a consensus city chock full of young strivers as well as middle-aged hangers-on, and defined by extreme risk aversion. Just as few Washington reporters want to leave the safety of the Emerald City to cover foreign policy stories, many of America’s national security practitioners refuse to venture outside of their bureaucracy’s standard operating procedures.

Thus, today, Russia is viewed as America’s greatest threat rather than China because Russia “stole” the 2016 election from Washington’s preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton. Few in the beltway dare to challenge that consensus. When they do, their careers and reputations are ruined.

Ignoring, Mocking, and Killing Cassandra

This also explains how, despite having tracked al-Qaeda for a decade, the CIA (and other parts of the bureaucracy) completely missed al-Qaeda’s intention to perpetrate the 9/11 attacks. It further exemplifies what the former counterterrorism czar for both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, Richard Clarke, described in his recent book Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes, as “Cassandra’s Curse.”

The national security bureaucracy was full of men and women who warned their superiors about al-Qaeda’s threat throughout the 1990s. But, just as in the ancient Greek tale of Cassandra, the soothsayer who was blessed to see the future but cursed by the gods so that no one would listen to her, America’s Cassandras were similarly ignored by officials in the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Ben Rhodes appreciated—more than others—the incestuous relationship between the press and the national security state. It was why he knew he could manipulate the press both to win public support and to generate consensus in the foreign policy community for the Iran nuclear agreement. The echo chamber is very convenient for ambitious policymakers who seek to do the wrong thing in order to further their own careers or agendas. It’s the Way of the Potomac.

Weak, vain, and ignorant men find rapid success in a capital city that is decadently detached from the ordinary lives of the citizens it purports to rule. People in this town constantly tell themselves that they are truly superior. Yet, their track record of failure is astounding. In the private sector, such failure would be punished. In government—particularly national security and the media—it is rewarded, and called “brilliant.” Doubt this? Ask yourself: in what other sector could a character like Joe Biden prosper?

Because of Washington’s splendid detachment from the rest of the country, we are likely all going to experience another epic (and entirely avoidable) catastrophe on the order of 9/11, unless the president can truly “drain the swamp.” Trump’s recent executive orders making it easier for government agencies to fire federal workers is a great start as it will weaken the influence of government unions. Next, he should start talking about reductions in funding for departments that are either redundant or have a terrible record. Had such basic steps been taken before 9/11, the handful of people who had been warning about al-Qaeda might have moved into positions of influence quicker, and been better able to generate support for their cause. If it happens again, there will be no more excuses.

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2016 Election • Administrative State • America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Donald Trump • Intelligence Community • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • Post • Russia • The Leviathian State • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker)

Did the Obama Administration Spy on Michael Flynn?

In his controversial tweet on Sunday, President Trump indicated that he would direct the Justice Department to investigate “whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes—and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Is the president hinting that he thinks Michael Flynn, a top campaign consultant who briefly served as Trump’s national security advisor, was the target of FISA-authorized surveillance during the campaign or presidential transition—or during both?

Recently released documents—the final House Intelligence Report and the trove of memos authored by former FBI Director James Comey—contain clues to support that suspicion. In his memo dated February 8, 2017, Comey relays this exchange at the White House with then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus:

He then said he wanted to ask me a question and I could decide whether it was appropriate to answer. He then asked, “Do you have a FISA order on Mike Flynn?” I paused for a few seconds and then said that I would answer here, but that this illustrated the kind of question that had to be asked and answered through established channels. I said the answer [redacted]. I then explained that the normal channel was from DOJ leadership to the WH counsel about such things.

The next sentence is redacted. Comey continues: “I explained that it was important that communications about any particular case go through that channel to protect us and to protect the WH from any accusations of improper influence.”

Flynn resigned on February 13 amid reports he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about phone conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016. (Details about the call were illegally leaked to the Washington Post in January 2017. The leaker has not yet been identified or charged.)

So why did the Justice Department redact Comey’s answer? It’s fair to assume that if his answer was “No,” there would be no need to conceal it. Also, why would Comey instruct Priebus to follow proper “channels” of inquiry to avoid accusations of “improper influence” if the answer was no? And not just a regular “No.” More like an Are-you-fricking-kidding-me-of-course-not! kind of “No.”

The unredacted version of the House Intelligence Committee’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, released earlier this month, also dropped a little bombshell about Flynn. Comey told committee investigators that “he authorized the closure of the CI [counterintelligence investigation] into General Flynn in late December 2016; however, the investigation was kept open due to the public discrepancy surrounding General Flynn’s communications with Ambassador Kislyak.” (The Justice Department originally redacted this portion of the report, but unredacted it after heavy pushback by committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.).

But speculation about whether Obama’s Justice Department monitored Flynn is not new. During a March 2017 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) challenged former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates (who served briefly as acting attorney general before Jeff Sessions was confirmed) about the Flynn-Kislyak conversations.

“There’s two situations where we would have found out what General Flynn said to the Russian ambassador,” Graham began. “If there was a FISA warrant focused on him . . . was there?”

Yates turned momentarily toward former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was also testifying, and then told Graham: “I think you know I’m not gonna answer whether there was a FISA warrant, nor am I gonna talk about whether General Flynn was talking to the Russians.” Unfortunately, neither Graham nor his colleagues pushed Yates on why that answer would be classified.

We know now that Yates essentially was the one who set up Flynn, which resulted in his pleading guilty to one count of lying to the FBI: Byron York has a good timeline on the Flynn case and Yates’s role. She also signed off on at least one FISA application, and Yates bashed Trump Monday morning on “Morning Joe” lamenting how Trump was “ordering up an investigation of the investigators who were examining his own campaign.”

And don’t forget how another former Obama official inadvertently admitted to Mika Brzezinski in March 2017 that the outgoing administration feared “the Trump folks—if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff dealing with Russians—that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we no longer have access to that intelligence.” Underscore the word “staff.” That suggests the Obama Administration was monitoring Trump campaign advisers beyond just Carter Page.

Now, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee also wants more information on the Flynn-Kislyak call. In a May 11 letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) followed up on his committee’s bipartisan request in February 2017 for the calls’ transcripts.

“The Department has withheld the Flynn-related documents since our initial bipartisan request last year, citing an ongoing criminal investigation,” Grassley wrote. “With Flynn’s plea, the investigation appears concluded.” Grassley in the letter refers to the “reportedly intercepted calls,” which could suggest he’s not buying into the commonly held view that Flynn’s call was picked up during routine surveillance of the Russian diplomat. (By the way, has any federal official confirmed that a FISA warrant existed on Kislyak during that time?) After 15 months of stonewalling, the Justice Department has until May 25 to cough up the transcripts.

This all seems to be leading up to the eventual revelation that Flynn was indeed spied on: the Democrats’ handmaids in the media are already trying to soften the blow.

In its May 16 article exposing the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” operation into the Trump campaign, the New York Times reported that Flynn was among four associates eyed by the Obama Justice Department.

“The F.B.I. investigated four unidentified Trump campaign aides in those early months, congressional investigators revealed in February. The four men were Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and [George] Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. Each was scrutinized because of his obvious or suspected Russian ties.” Flynn was a subject, according to the Times, because he “was paid $45,000 by the Russian government’s media arm for a 2015 speech and dined at the arm of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.”

There is another reason the Obama Administration might have targeted Flynn: The former president despised him. In fact, during their first meeting in the White House after the 2016 election, Obama warned Trump not to hire the former three-star general. Flynn was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 after reportedly clashing with none other than . . . James Clapper.

Flynn would go on to deliver a fiery speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, where he blasted both Obama and Hillary Clinton. “We do not need a weak, spineless president who is more concerned about issuing apologies than in protecting Americans,” he roared. “We do not need a reckless president who believes she is above the law.” Flynn then led the crowd with the “lock her up” chant.

Operation Crossfire Hurricane began a few weeks later.

What’s even more puzzling than the unanswered questions about if and how Flynn was spied on are the continued delays in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s case against him.

Shortly after Flynn pled guilty in December 2017, the judge who agreed to the plea was recused. Later reports emerged that the judge, Rudolph Contreras, had been appointed to the FISA court in May 2016; texts between FBI officials Peter Strzok (who interviewed Flynn in January 2017) and Lisa Page revealed the pair was friendly with Contreras and schemed about how to connect with him just as the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign was getting underway in the summer of 2016.

Some have speculated that the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia removed Contreras from the case because he signed one of the FISA warrants against Carter Page. But is it possible he also approved a warrant against Flynn and concealed that from the court?

The new judge on the case has twice instructed Team Mueller to disclose any exculpatory evidence that might have been withheld from Flynn’s lawyers during the investigation and the plea negotiations. On May 1, Mueller asked for another delay in Flynn’s sentencing.

The reality of how Obama’s intelligence and law enforcement powers were used to infiltrate the Trump campaign, after nearly two years of denials, is now coming into sharp focus. Next thing you know, we will be told that spying on Flynn was a good thing for all of us.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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2016 Election • Administrative State • America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Elections • Greatness Agenda • Intelligence Community • Law and Order • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • Obama • Post • Russia • The Constitution • The Leviathian State • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

How Democracies End: A Bureaucratic Whimper

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This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
         ― T.S. Eliot

One strange trait of the die hard NeverTrump Republicans and progressives is their charge that Donald Trump poses an existential threat to democracy. Trump, as is his wont, says a lot of outrageous and weird things. But it is hard in his 16 months of rule to find any proof that Trump has subverted the rule of law.

Most of the furor is over what we are told what Trump might do, or what Trump has said, or which unsavory character in Europe likes Trump. These could be legitimate worries if they were followed by Trump’s anti-democratic concrete subversions. But so far, we have not seen them. And there has certainly been nothing yet in this administration comparable to the Obama-era efforts to curb civil liberties.

While we understand those on the left refuse to believe that a constitutional “legal scholar” like Obama would even think of allowing the executive branch to go rogue, it is indeed strange that in almost every NeverTrump attack on Trump’s conduct, there is almost no recognition or indeed worry that we have been living through one of the great challenges to constitutional government in our history.

Does anyone remember that the Obama Administration allowed Lois Lerner (“Not a smidgen of corruption”) more or less to weaponize the IRS to help the Obama 2012 reelection effort? Does anyone remember Eric Holder’s surveillance of the Associated Press journalists and Fox News’s James Rosen? Why have conservative constitutionalists focused on what Trump has said rather than the strange treatment accorded to investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson by U.S. intelligence and investigatory agencies? Do we even remember the Benghazi pseudo-video narrative and the strange jailing of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula?

Is there even curiosity about why and how the departing Obama Administration suddenly and vastly expanded the number of agencies that could have access to classified surveillance in its aftermath? Do we remember the more than 20 times Obama warned before reelection that he was not a “king” and, as a constitutional scholar, could not by fiat offer blanket amnesties? Do the authorities in California realize that they are resorting to the extralegal states-rights arguments that South Carolina on the eve of the Civil War and Alabama in the early 1960s used to nullify federal laws?

But stranger still is what we already know of the 2016 election, and the lack of outrage from constitutionalists, who daily warn us of what Trump might do—when we already know what the U.S. government has done in violation of civil rights, constitutional principles, and likely federal laws. So far there is no information that Stephen Bannon ordered taps on reporters, or that Nigel Farage was hired by Trump to find Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton, or that Stephen Miller requested the unmasking of surveilled names associated with the Clinton campaign and then leaked them to the press.

But we do know that U.S. officials, including the head of the FBI and chief deputies in the Justice Department, misled a FISA court to obtain intelligence surveillance on U.S. citizens, by providing information that they knew at the time, but did not disclose to the court, was by their own private admission unverified, compiled by a foreign national whom they had used and fired as an unreliable informant, paid for by the Clinton campaign, and served as the basis for news accounts that were used in circular fashion to verify to the court the dossier’s contents.

We do know that members of the Obama intelligence and national security teams—Susan Rice and Samantha Power among others—requested the names of American citizens surveilled (likely obtained through improperly obtained FISA warrants) to be unmasked. Then someone illegally leaked their names to the press to damage the Trump campaign and his presidential transition.

We do know that FBI Director James Comey, in succession, has admitted that he in singular fashion took notes of a confidential one-on-one meeting with the president, briefed him on the existence of a campaign dossier on him, did not disclose that it was purchased by the Clinton campaign, assured him that he was not the subject of a FBI investigation at a time either he or his subordinates were leaking the opposite to the media, and then, after being fired, leaked those memos (at least one of which was classified) to the media to ensure the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the president, who turned out to be a friend of Comey’s, Robert Mueller. Comey by his own admission has also stated that he calibrated the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton to the likelihood of her election to the presidency. FBI directors in a lawful society are not supposed to do such things.

We do know that the FBI placed some sort of an informant in the camp of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign in association with gathering information about data used by a foreign national and a paid operative of the Clinton campaign, Christopher Steele, in his effort to collude with Russians against the campaign efforts of Donald Trump.

We do know that the deputy director of the FBI is currently under investigation for lying to federal investigators, on at least four occasions, about his own conduct in investigating candidate Hillary Clinton—at a time not long after Clinton-related political action committees gave several hundred thousand dollars to the political campaign of his wife.

We do know now that both James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, and John Brennan, head of the CIA, knowingly gave false testimony under oath to Congress. Clapper has previously lied about the surveillance of American citizens; he has lied about his knowledge of the Steele dossier, and likely also lied about leaking its contents. Brennan had lied under oath to Congress about the U.S. drone assassination program, lied about CIA surveillance of computers used by U.S. Senate staff, lied about leaking the existence and promulgation of the Steele dossier, and lied yet again to Congress that the dossier was not used to prompt a CIA investigation into so-called collusion.

Again, the government’s two highest intelligence officials did not tell the full truth about their knowledge of the Steele dossier or their own roles in promulgating its contents. In a constitutional republic both such reprehensible officials who betrayed the public trust would be subject to criminal investigations for knowingly lying under oath to Congress and undermining the sinews of constitutional government.

We do know that senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr met with the architects of the Steele dossier and that at the time his wife was working on the Clinton-purchased Fusion/GPS Steele dossier, information not disclosed as required by the law on a federal form.

Mueller’s special investigatory team, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and the media have not yet found any credible evidence of Trump-Russian collusion. Indeed, it is more likely that the indictments and confessions of some Trump campaign officials and Michael Flynn, on counts having nothing to do with collusion, either will be dropped, retracted, or will not lead to convictions, given much of the information used against them was obtained by misleading a FISA court judge and through improper conduct at the highest level of the FBI.

There is a reason why over a half-dozen top FBI officials either have been fired, reassigned, resigned, or retired. We have not yet seen the inspector general’s full report, but its publication may lead to more departures from both the FBI and the Justice Department, if not to criminal prosecutions.

If the present constitutional crisis really involves high federal officials and former federal officials who were colluding with foreign governments, then we have ample evidence that 1) Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation received large sums of money from Russian-related interests in association with ongoing requests to buy into companies that might control North American uranium stocks; that 2) John Kerry has met clandestinely with members and former members of the Iranian government to craft joint strategies to save the so-called Iran Deal, from which the president of the United States just withdrew; and that 3) Hillary Clinton’s campaign hired a foreign national to use sources from other foreign nationals to help subvert the campaign of her 2016 opponent.

We are all worried, on occasion, by nationalist and anti-democratic movements abroad in former democratic countries. We all sometimes wish Donald Trump would ignore personal spats and curb his tweeting and thus let his considerable accomplishments speak for themselves.

But that said, the current and chief threats to Western constitutional government are not originating from loud right-wing populists in Eastern Europe, or from Trump wailing like Ajax about the rigged deep state.

Rather, the threat to our civil liberties is coming from supposedly sanctimonious and allegedly judicious career FBI, Justice Department, and intelligence agency officials, progressive and self-described idealistic former members of the Obama national security team, and anti-Trump fervent campaign operatives, all of whom felt that they could break the law—including but not limited to illegally monitoring American citizens, and seeking to warp federal courts and even the presidential election because such unsavory and anti-constitutional means were felt necessary and justified to prevent and then subvert the presidency of Donald J. Trump.   

It is willful blindness for progressives and NeverTrump Republicans to overlook what has happened only to damn what has not happened. The dangers in America are not from transparent right-wing authoritarians (who are easily spotted in their clumsiness), but from mellifluous self-styled constitutionalists, whose facades and professions of legality mask their rank efforts to use any anti-constitutional means necessary to achieve their supposedly noble egalitarian ends.

This is the way democracies end—not with a loud boisterous bang, but with insidious and self-righteous whimpers.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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America • Americanism • Big Media • civic culture/friendship • Donald Trump • Education • Post • self-government • statesmanship • The Culture • The Leviathian State

Make America Not Small Again

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On the eve of the release of the IG report, President Trump can be seen in relief against the backdrop of a year and a half of events. So can his enemies.

The elite’s embrace of globalism has choked off recognition of ordinary Americans—those without a recognized grievance—in favor of the outer of the concentric circles of human relations: aliens and foreigners.

Trump’s presidency—particularly in its rebellion against globalism—has brought distributive justice for these forgotten Americans and apoplexy to the elites.

Magnanimity is the Aristotelean word ascribed to the habit of seeking a role in society—an office—which may receive a great amount of honor. Aristotle actually named it megalopsychia or greatness (megalo) of soul or psyche (psychia).  Greatness of this sort is the characteristic—or potentiality—of people who desire high honors.

Magnanimity and justice are related. One cannot do great justice without high office, and without magnanimity one will not end up in high office, other than by accident or the vice of empty ambition.

The most compelling case against Trump is one of vain ambition. Yet the case for vanity is better made about the last disastrous Republican president and, though genteel convention begs us to abjure this judgment, the last president as well.

The case against Trump evaporates as Trump has demonstrated unique competence: no one could have withstood the showers of arrows shot at him—many from his own camp and from defectors from the leadership of his camp—and still kept going, let alone kept his promises.

Trump’s tenure in office has revealed something else perhaps we did not know or know fully: the American “elites”—the bureaucrats, the academics, the technocrats, the media, et al.—are infected with smallness of soul.

Everything small is big to Trump’s enemies.

Papadopoulos: Big.
Flynn: Big.
Russian FaceBook: Big.
Adult stars: Big.
Manafort: Big.
Etiquette: Big.
Tweets: Big.
Themselves: Really, really big.

Elections: Small.

The top reeks of mikropsychia—Greek for smallness of soul—low objects mistaken for decency, people who want to stay in office to satisfy their itsy-bitsy vanity (hidden sometimes in 6’8” bodies), tartuffes, sneaks, intriguers, fops, and martinets.

There is very little that Shakespeare did not write about, and mikropsychia is no exception. Twelfth Night’s Malvolio—a name meaning ‘ill will’—paradigmatically represents this sort of small character.

Misled to think the lady of the house, Olivia, seeks his affections, Malvolio, a valet,  becomes full of a self-importance which lacks all sense of proportion.

Maria: Why appear you with this ridiculous boldness before my lady?
Malvolio: ‘Be not afraid of greatness:’ ‘twas well writ.
Olivia: What meanest thou by that, Malvolio?
Malvolio: ‘Some are born great,’ —
Olivia: Ha!
Malvolio: ‘And some have greatness thrust upon them.’
Olivia: Heaven restore thee!
Malvolio: ‘Remember who commended thy yellow stockings,’—
Olivia: Thy yellow stockings!
Malvolio: ‘And wished to see them cross gartered.’
— Twelfth Night, Act III, Scene IV

Malvolio is so small he cannot distinguish between greatness and a pair of socks.

A whole cast of Malvolios has been revealed in the past eighteen months, a petty, self-important and frighteningly powerful claque of small-souled people. McCabe, Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Strzok, Yates, Farkas, Page, Rice, Powers. The list goes on.

All appear to be smallish, vain people who lack a sense of proportion, who seem to have thought or think they are beyond accountability, and entitled to exercise real power from offices to which they were not elected, and in some cases, no longer hold. They see themselves as big and the will of the electorate as small. They delude themselves that they can serve the American people and also hold them in contempt.

Even Trump’s enemies would admit Trump is larger than life.  That presents an opportunity. Trump’s great service may be to teach just enough of these tiny hollowed-out spirits to think a little bit bigger, to emulate magnanimity, to distinguish between the small and the large and thereby help restore somewhat this awful mass of people commonly called “elite.”

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2016 Election • Administrative State • America • American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Cultural Marxism • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Political Parties • political philosophy • Post • Progressivism • self-government • The Left • The Leviathian State

Great Men, Black Swans, and the End of the Mandarins

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One of the worst ideas in American history has been the establishment of schools of government and the professionalization of the Washington press corps. Both are intellectual artifacts of the Progressive Era, monuments to the notion that democracy is too messy to be left in the hands of the people, and that therefore the government and its putative watchdogs should be administered for the public good by a priest class of wise men, schooled like the mandarins of ancient China, in the intricate arts and ways of the imperial capital.

Like all the crackpot schemes of the Progressives, this one was grounded in “scientific” principles, much as economic Marxism had been a few decades earlier. There was a right way to organize human affairs—which could be codified, studied, and interpreted, much like a religion—and a wrong way. The wrong way had been that of the 19th-century, with its succession of Great Men, describing an arc from Napoleon to the outbreak of the Great War. And look where that had got us. Far better to build on the example of the civil service system, which had begun in 1883—if we could professionalize clerks, why not grand pooh-bahs as well?

This notion was memorably articulated by the newspaper columnist Walter Lippmann in his 1922 book, Public Opinion. He very much included public intellectuals like himself in this priest class and, mistrustful of democracy, was concerned about the “defective organization of public opinion.”

I argue that representative government, either in what is ordinarily called politics, or in industry, cannot be worked successfully, no matter what the basis of election, unless there is an independent, expert organization for making the unseen facts intelligible to those who have to make the decisions . . . .

My conclusion is that public opinions must be organized for the press if they are to be sound, not by the press as is the case today. This organization I conceive to be in the first instance the task of a political science that has won its proper place as formulator, in advance of real decision, instead of apologist, critic, or reporter after the decision has been made.

The result has been the sclerotic federal government of the past half-century and more, a bloated, ineffective, failure-proof collection of Ivy League credentialists who, obsessed with ritual, have forgotten why they ever went into government in the first place, except for their own personal self-enrichment. No matter which party was in power, nothing ever really got accomplished (except the process of “process”) and nothing ever really changed, either—except for the worse. From Nixon, who gave us OSHA and the EPA, through Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama, the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party and its auxiliaries in the media, tortured the country even as it bored us to death.

“Stability” was the key. Mediocrities like Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry could jet all over the world, busying themselves with activity and calling it action, but nothing ever changed—because nothing was ever supposed to change. North Korea, the Middle East, and other hot spots were to be preserved, not sorted out, as full employment for the mandarins.

Suddenly, all that changed with the election of Donald J. Trump. Heedless of protocol, contemptuous of niceties, and scornful of Washington business-as-usual, Trump has blown past one impossible task after another in what is already the most consequential presidency since FDR’s. Practically from the day he took office, the listless Obama economy vanished. American oil production boomed. He ended Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional DACA program, laughed off the Paris “climate change” foolishness, tore up the Iran “deal,” got Kim Jong-un’s attention in Korea, and moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to fulfill the combined campaign promises of at least the past three presidents.

And they said it couldn’t be done. In fact, they’re still saying it, even after it has been done, with lots more to come.

#TheResistance to Trump’s Black Swan presidency so far has been triggered by fear—a fear that has molted over the course of the past year. First it was the fear of losing the White House, then it became the fear of the Outsider; latterly, it’s the fear that Trump may not be as vulnerable as they thought, that their deep state rogue intel op to take him down has failed, and that the public actually likes what he’s doing, even if they won’t admit it to pollsters.

And now it’s the fear of abyss itself: if Trump is successful, the entire Progressive project has been a fraud. All the Kennedy School of Government bureaucrats and functionaries in the world cannot affect the course of history as much as one man who doesn’t give a damn what they think. What Trump’s doing is far more important than simply upending the D.C. establishment and putting the Circumlocution Office on notice that its services are no longer needed. He’s single-handedly reviving the Great Man theory of leadership, and daring the rest of the world, including the colorless, impotent, and barren harem eunuchs of Europe, to catch up.

Thus, Trump’s carrot-and-stick handling of Kim not only got the little dictator’s attention, it also emboldened the president to apply a cattle prod to the genitals of the mullahs in Iran; naturally, the Lippmanns of Washington decried both moves as “destabilizing.” But destabilizing an insupportable and disgraceful status quo is exactly the platform Trump ran on; the president may not be an intellectual, but he understands chain reactions, and can’t wait to start them.

To take the most recent example, in Israel: moving the embassy will have diplomatic ramifications, but its practical significance is far larger. For the first time in ages, somebody has finally said no to the Palestinians. The embassy’s opening was greeted with riots in Gaza, and an attempt to filtrate Hamas fighters into Israel under the cover of “peaceful protest.” But instead of accommodating them, and reacting “proportionately” (the Lippmanns love that word, because they know it means “defenselessly”), the Israelis shot the rioters dead. And you can bet they cleared that with Washington in advance.

So what the embassy move really signifies is this: the “peace process” is over. The Palestinians have lost. All their threats were to no avail, and the tut-tutting of their allies in Europe and in the Democratic Party mattered not. Israeli snipers opened fire at agents provocateurs and Hamas sappers, and the only reaction that mattered was, gee, that’s too damn bad.

Wars don’t end by “negotiated settlements” or via “exit strategies.” They don’t even end when one side has clearly won. Rather, they end when the losing side realizes it has lost. Hotheads with rocks cannot defeat patriots defending their homeland with Tavors. In the end, the Palestinians will get some land (none of their Arab brethren seem to want them, certainly not the Saudis or the Jordanians), be told to settle down and shut up and, if they behave…

They might be allowed into Jerusalem to visit the American embassy, sit before one of the demoted mandarins, and maybe, if they’re lucky, get a visa for travel to the United States so they can visit their cousins in Dearborn and wonder why they didn’t give up years ago.

Photo credit:  Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • Donald Trump • Government Reform • Jeff Sessions • Law and Order • Libertarians • Post • Terrorism • The Left • The Leviathian State • the Presidency • Trump White House

Another Flawed Attempt at Criminal Justice Reform

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Criminal justice reform is returning to political prominence, thanks to Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, one of its most ardent advocates. Ordinarily, that might be good news. But once again, the legislation at issue is so badly flawed that passage would cost taxpayers billions, yield little in the way of public safety or relief for the federal prison system and—at least according to liberal prison reformers—little reform.

The House Judiciary Committee, in a rare burst of bipartisan energy, last week passed the latest rendition of this recurrent theme. In an unusual non-party line 25-5vote, HR 5682, a watered-down version of legislation that has been kicking around Congress for several years, advanced toward consideration by the full House. Supporters hope the bill—which is also known as the FIRST STEP Act—will have a vote in the next couple of weeks.

HR 5682 would require the Federal Bureau of Prisons to provide more resources to reduce the likelihood of recidivism and ease reentry of prisoners back into society. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate but has yet to be taken up by the Judiciary Committee. A very different bill, encompassing a considerably wider array of reform, did pass the Senate Judiciary Committee several months ago over the objection of five Republican members.

The current bill has, not surprisingly, a wide list of supporters and opponents. To try to gain supporters, some of the most objectionable provisions of older legislation were left out and several new provisions added. Kushner has been able to secure White House backing, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions strongly opposes it. Several libertarian right-of-center groups, including those controlled by the Koch brothers, are strong supporters, while a number of left-wing groups, including the ACLU, People for the American Way and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human rights strongly oppose the legislation because it doesn’t go far enough.

Among the bill’s major flaws is a provision that would require every federal prisoner, without exception, be placed in a facility within 500 miles of home. The first problem? There are some 22,000 gang members in the federal system, many placed far from rivals to avoid violence in the prisons. Many, if not all, would have to be moved at vast expense.

Second, it is doubtful that any member voting in favor of the bill ever looked at a map of federal prison locations. They would notice vast swaths of the United States—particularly in the western part of the country—have no federal prisons. Needless to say, thousands of federal prisoners are housed in facilities well over 500 miles from home. As an example, there is no federal prison facility between Sheridan, Oregon and Yankton, South Dakota—a distance of over 1,600 miles. Either many new prisons would have to be built or presumably tens of thousands of prisoners would be released.

Worse, there is only one federal “supermax” prison in the country, located in Florence, Colorado. Its guests include a rogue’s gallery of the country’s worst criminals, foreign terrorists, domestic terrorists, mafia kingpins and other infamous thugs. Among of its more infamous inmates, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is certainly more than 500 miles from home. So is Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman will have a cell waiting after his conviction in New York.

Florence is also home to al-Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the masterminds of the 9/11 terrorist attack, the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, and Terry Nichols of Oklahoma City fame, to name a few. While Florence houses some 400 other prisoners, it is hard to imagine that home is within 500 miles for any of them. New, regional supermax prisons would need to be constructed at great expense to taxpayers.

If passed, supporters of this ill-conceived legislation tell us that it would immediately release some 4,000 federal prisoners by retroactively increasing good-time credits, and would provide liberal good-time credits for participation in rehabilitation programs, with the exception of violent offenders. But heroin and fentanyl traffickers are excluded from the list of violent criminals, allowing these often multi-offenders to return to the streets early to ply their trade.

Left-wing group oppose HR 5682 because it fails to include sentencing reform—particularly reducing mandatory minimum sentences for violent and repeat offenders. That provision has been opposed by the Department of Justice and an array of law enforcement organizations, who have dubbed it the “jailbreak” bill.

Although criminal justice reform is viewed as one of the few bi-partisan measures having even a slim chance of passage, this one, thankfully, still faces  huge hurdles. Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley opposes the new House bill but is a strong backer of the bill passed earlier in the year by his committee. So, in the end, it may be a pretty good bet that those 4,000 early release candidates should not pack their bags yet.

Photo credit:  BOB DAEMMRICH/AFP/Getty Images

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