Comic genius

I have had my difficulties appreciating The Donald’s sense of humor, but during his Presser yesterday, he was cool, calm, measured … Presidential, and delivered one of the most brilliant set up lines in history. He made the press look like a bunch of dyspeptic gibbons. Admittedly, a low bar.

“Why do you keep calling this the ‘Chinese virus’?” the White House correspondent asked. “There are reports of dozens of incidents of bias against Chinese Americans in this country. Your own aide, Secretary Azar, says he does not use this term. He says, ‘Ethnicity does not cause the virus.’ Why do you keep using this?”

The president responded, “Because it comes from China.”

“People say it’s racist,” Vega continued.

Trump answered, “It’s not racist at all. No. Not at all. It comes from China. That’s why.”

That was just battlespace preparation…

“At least one White House official who used the term ‘Kung flu,’ referring to the fact that this virus started in China,” PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor said in reference to CBS News’s Weijia Jiangan, who alleges that a member of the Trump administration used that term in her presence.

“Is that acceptable?” Alcindor continued. “Is it wrong? Are you worried that that having this virus be talked about as a ‘Chinese virus,’ that that might help – ”

The president interjected at that point to ask for more details regarding Jiangan’s “Kung flu” allegation.

“Do you know who said that?” he asked.

“I’m not sure the person’s name,” said Alcindor, “but would you condemn the fact —

“Say the term again,” the president asked.

Alcindor obliged, saying, “Kung flu.”

“‘Kung flu’?” Trump asked.

“Say the term again?”
Brilliant. Hilarious.

Then he gets to repeat the dreaded term. Deadpan!

I don’t think Alcindor yet knows how thoroughly she was pwned.

Serial Dreyfus affairs

Seriously recommended.

Michael Flynn’s defense lawyer, Sidney Powell, discusses how corruption at the Department of Justice over the last twenty years has jeopardized the rule of law, and given us a two tiered, politicized justice system.

Your blood will boil.

Just over an hour. Made possible by Hillsdale College.

Want to see a heroine? Watch Sidney Powell.

It’s amazing that a long-tenured nest of DOJ vipers, characterized by Robert Mueller, James Comey, and Andrew Weissmann (and ably assisted by weasels like James Clapper and John Brennan) failed to railroad Donald Trump. They did it to many, many others. And were rewarded with promotions, book deals, gigs on MSNBC and CNN, and the adulation of the New York Times.

That Trump was exonerated in the Russia Affair despite FBI entrapment, withholding of exculpatory evidence, and plotting “insurance policies;” added to Mueller’s Mongols’ well rehearsed prosecutorial lying, pursuit of minor players they knew to be innocent, practiced abuse of power, and creative crime inventiveness is testament to Trump’s innocence, perseverance, and probably wise advice from counsel. All while being publicly buffeted by illegal leaks to a media predisposed to destroy his Presidency.

Powell should head a special department reporting to Bill Barr at the DOJ to clean out the pestilence. I think she might enjoy it. I know I would.

This is the Michael Flynn defense fund she mentions at 44:13.

Powell’s books are here.

Nancy and the Chamber of Deplorers

This – Gertrude Himmelfarb & the Enlightenment – is a recommended read. I was vaguely aware of Himmelfarb, but have never read her. Based on this article, I will be correcting that.

A slice:

Some historians have been led … to claim that at different stages of his life there were two different Edmund Burkes, one liberal and the other conservative. Himmelfarb disagreed. She argued that his views were always consistent with the ideas about moral virtue that permeated the whole of the British Enlightenment. Indeed, Burke took this philosophy a step further by making the “sentiments, manners, and moral opinion” of the people the basis not only of social relations but also of politics.

I think this relates to the difficulty some people have in admitting that Donald Trump has been, so far, a successful President: He started, or at least accelerated, an erosion of “sentiments, manners, and moral opinion.”

This is a defensible proposition. I’ve written extensively on my discomfort with Trump’s bombast and crudity. I’ve come to see it as essential to his success, especially given the antics of his opposition. I’ve also learned to appreciate that many of the off-key things he says are jokes. Like any joke, they’re funny because they typically afflict the elite, and the punch line is unexpected. Especially from POTUS.

In that regard, he’s done us the favor of reducing reverence for the person of the President. The President should not be regarded with the awe the media was wont to promote for Obama. We hire the President, something Presidents often forget. Trump is narcissistic, but no more so than Obama. And probably less so: Trump can be self-deprecating. Something imaginable from Obama only as a humble brag.

Anyway, two things about “He started it!”

One, don’t be so sure. The post-modernists, neo-Marxists, race-baiters, grievance mongers, climate hysterics, agenda feminists, science denying transgenderists, et. al. – ideologues of a feather – were forthrightly blabbering their disdain for ‘deviates’ from their authoritarian agenda for decades before Trump was born.

Trump, with provocations mild in comparison (Who has he called Hitler?), has done us the favor of causing them to reveal the monumental level of disgust they harbor for Enlightenment values. The mask of compassion has slipped.

Two, “He started it,” isn’t an excuse you accept from your children; and no more extenuates Nancy Pelosi’s stationery abuse last night than it does Hillary’s “deplorables” gaffe, nor Maxine Water’s lifetime-achievement-award-worthy contributions to coarsening our quality of discourse while lowering our collective IQ. We need not belabor Adam Schiff’s perfidy.

Hillary directly helped enable Rashida Tlaib, AOC, and Ilhan Omar; and Pelosi is now taking her cues from that mess of pottage.

This officious disregard is nothing new…

Apart from the different philosophical status they assigned to reason and virtue, the one issue where the contrast between the British and French Enlightenments was sharpest was in their attitudes to the lower orders. This is a distinction that has reverberated through politics ever since. The radical heirs of the Jacobin tradition have always insisted that it is they who speak for the wretched of the earth. In eighteenth-century France, they claimed to speak for the people and the general will. In the nineteenth century, they said they represented the working classes against their capitalist exploiters. In our own time, they have claimed to be on the side of blacks, women, gays, indigenes, refugees, and anyone else they define as the victims of discrimination and oppression. Himmelfarb’s study demonstrates what a façade these claims actually are.

The French philosophes thought the social classes were divided by the chasm not only of poverty but, more crucially, of superstition and ignorance. They despised the lower orders because they were in thrall to Christianity. The editor of the Encyclopédie, Denis Diderot, declared that the common people had no role in the Age of Reason: “The general mass of men are not so made that they can either promote or understand this forward march of the human spirit.” Indeed, “the common people are incredibly stupid,” he said, and were little more than animals: “too idiotic—bestial—too miserable, and too busy” to enlighten themselves. Voltaire agreed. The lower orders lacked the intellect required to reason and so must be left to wallow in superstition. They could be controlled and pacified only by the sanctions and strictures of religion which, Voltaire proclaimed, “must be destroyed among respectable people and left to the canaille large and small, for whom it was made.”

See anything you recognize?

Congruent with malice

On Dec 12th, I pointed out that there are only two ways to interpret the FBI’s egregious… Wait, egregious implies a degree of obviousness the FBI never intended – so odious? nefarious? actions documented in Inspector General Horowitz’ report:

[T]he FBI’s persistent prevarication may lead many to recall Ian Fleming: ”Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.

IG Horowitz had to use a different standard: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity or incompetence.

I noted some of the report’s detail which one might use to decide between those alternatives. Here is a simpler version from Attorney General William Barr speaking to NBC News’ Justice(?) Correspondent Pete Williams:

PETE WILLIAMS: I just wonder, though, about the — what the FBI would say, I think here, is, OK, so they opened an investigation. Nobody was ever charged. They were concerned about possible Russian meddling in the — in the election.

Why not open this investigation? What’s the harm? You’ve said intrusive means. So what — what is your concern about the fact that they did this?

ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: Well, I think the big picture is this, from day one — remember, they say, OK, we’re not going to — go to talk to the campaign. We’re going to put people in there, wire them up and have these conversations with people involved in the campaign, because that way we’ll get the truth.

From the very first day of this investigation, which was July 31, 2016, all the way to its end, September 2017, there was not one incriminatory bit of evidence to come in. It was all exculpatory. The people that they were taping denied any involvement with Russia. Denied the very specific facts that the FBI was — was relying on.

So what happens? The FBI ignores it, presses ahead, withholds that information from the court, withholds critical exculpatory information from the court while it gets an electronic surveillance warrant.

It also withholds from the court clear cut evidence that the dossier that they ultimately relied on to get the FISA warrant was a complete sham. They — they — they hid information about the lack of reliability, even when they went the first time for the warrant. But — but in January, after the election, the entire case collapsed when the principal source says, I never told — I never told Steele this stuff. And — and — and — and this was all speculation. And I have zero information to support this stuff.

At that point, when their entire case collapsed, what do they do? They kept on investigating the president and the — well into his administration, after the case collapsed.

But here, to me, is the damning thing. They not only didn’t tell the court that what they had been relying on was — was completely, you know, rubbish, they actually started putting in things to bolster this Steele report by saying, well, we talked to the sources and they appeared to be truthful. But they don’t inform the court that what they’re truthful about is that the dossier is — is false.

So that’s hard to explain. And I — the core statement, in my opinion, by the IG, is that these irregularities, these misstatements, these omissions were not satisfactorily explained. And I think that leaves open the possibility to infer bad faith. I think it’s premature now to reach a judgment on that, but I think that further work has to be done, and that’s what Durham is doing.

Incompetence and malice are not mutually exclusive. Did malice merely provide the FBI an extended opportunity for incompetence?

Does the distinction even matter when the consequence of incompetence and stupidity is congruent with malice? Is it better that those entrusted to uphold the law are incompetent, and deliberate about it?

Thought crime

Gerald Nadler’s House Judiciary Committee report on the constitutional grounds for impeachment says in part (page 6):

Fourth, we address whether the House must accept at face value President Trump’s claim that his motives were not corrupt. In short, no. When the House probes a President’s state of mind, its mandate is to find the facts. That means evaluating the President’s account of his motives to see if it rings true. The question is not whether the President’s conduct could have resulted from permissible motives. It is whether the President’s real reasons, the ones in his mind at the time, were legitimate. Where the House discovers persuasive evidence of corrupt wrongdoing, it is entitled to rely upon that evidence to impeach.

If there were “persuasive evidence of corrupt wrong-doing,” why is it necessary to claim to read the President’s mind?

“[W]hether the President’s real reasons, the ones in his mind at the time, were legitimate” is the very same thing the report calls persuasive evidence. And it was the Democrat’s forgone conclusion before Donald Trump was even inaugurated. The impeachment articles are tautological.

Here is Nadler’s justification for impeachment translated, ‘The President’s real reasons are those we divine from the speculations of rabidly partisan witnesses, ignorant of any actual evidence by their own admission, in hearings we called based on a hearsay complaint we solicited from an anonymous political operative formerly employed by the Obama administration.’

Let’s pause briefly to recall that the push for impeachment began the day after the 2016 election, and was able to hit the ground running because of the conduct of the Obama administration. The FBI is not alone in the Obama administration’s abuse of power, let’s recall the tea party and Lois Lerner IRS, lies about “Fast & Furious” gun running, the unmasking and leaking to intimidate opponents of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, the entrapment and persecution of Michael Flynn by hiding exculpatory evidence, and much else.

Apparently reading Barack Obama’s mind was more difficult for Nadler than reading Trump’s. This feat of telepathic legerdemain is in marked contrast to the report on FBI misconduct by DOJ Inspector General Horowitz.

James Comey’s declaration of vindication notwithstanding, Horowitz did not say there was no political bias in the FBI’s inappropriate handling of FISA requests. As he testified, while he couldn’t prove it, he couldn’t rule it out:

QUESTION: “Can you say it wasn’t because of political bias?”

HOROWITZ: “On, on decisions regarding those FISA matters, I do not know their state of mind.”

Minds are not to be read. Thought crime is out of bounds.

Horowitz did savage the FBI for using Christopher Steele’s dossier as the primary tool to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. He quotes the FBI admitting that ‘the dossier’ was the “single source” (p. 132) justification given to the FISA court. The FBI knew this dossier was nothing but gossip, that its author was virulently biased, and that it had been paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign. Those are all political considerations. Which the IG felt had to be ignored.

Horowitz did, however, conclude that Operation Crossfire Hurricane just barely managed to stay above the abysmally low boundaries required to start an investigation (predication): Which is – “articulable facts.” Here’s an articulation of the fact used to start the investigation: “Christopher Steele wrote a report alleging Donald Trump was a Russian agent.” It is a fact and I just articulated it.

So the lines of predication are as easy to avoid as the lines painted on a tennis court. Horowitz could not identify blatant political bias because it wasn’t written into official FBI memos.

But, whatever judgment one might make about the predication, one has to wonder about the continuing and widespread falsification of evidence in pursuit of a connection between Trump and Russia. One has to give full benefit of the doubt to the FBI’s disgraced lead investigator in both the Hillary Clinton email scandal and the Donald Trump Russian collusion – Peter Strzok – to conclude no political motivation could be found in virulent opposition to the President found in texts with his like minded DOJ lawyer paramour. One would also need to accept his smirking attitude under House questioning as normal human behavior. If that doesn’t say “Nyah, nyah. You can’t prove my bias affected my work,” nothing could.

One then has to wonder, given the venue and seriousness, whether Strzok is familiar with the term “self control.” With his career on the line, his public, self-righteous arrogance is incandescent. What is he capable of in private? So, to consider FBI bias – as an agency – one would have to wonder about how his colleagues handled this if they were unbiased, since he wasn’t shy about his hatred for Trump. Then you’d probably wonder about Comey’s deliberately truncated briefing of the President on the dossier.

All this must have occurred to IG Horowitz. He had to wonder about motivations (“state of mind”) after the FBI started the investigation, and he had a lot more to go on than Chairman Nadler.

After initiation of the investigation, Horowitz also has to accommodate the FBI’s dogged pursuit of a case it knew to be non-existent, using ‘evidence’ it knew to be tainted – not least because the FBI had tainted it. A brief recap:

In the summer of 2016 an application for a FISA warrant on Carter Page is turned down. It is approved in October when the “Steele dossier” is included to justify the wiretap application. The FBI will later lie that the dossier was a tiny part of the renewed FISA application.

That FISA warrant, which was reauthorized three times, contained false and misleading information about Page. It omitted that his Russian contacts had long been known to a government agency who regularly debriefed him; it overstated the government’s confidence in Steele and his dossier; it never mentioned that Page claimed he and Paul Manafort had “literally never met;” and it did not reveal exculpatory information FISA rules required to be submitted. Very similar to what was done to Mike Flynn, by the same pemople.

IG Horowitz, in testimony to Nadler’s committee:

QUESTION: “Christopher Steele, is it fair to say that he had a political bias against Donald Trump?”

HOROWITZ: “He, given who he was paid for, there was a bias that needed to be disclosed to the court.”

If Steele was politically motivated, does hiding him from the court inherit that bias? “Fruit of the poisoned tree?”

And the FBI’s persistent prevarication may lead many to recall Ian Fleming: ”Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.

IG Horowitz had to use a different standard: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity or incompetence.

Horowitz could not justify referral for criminal prosecution those who withheld exculpatory evidence from the FISA court and used unverified information written by a spook they knew was unreliable. Who, moreover, was paid by the Clinton campaign to write it. Horowitz could not absolutely prove partisan bias despite the FBI’s inability to verify the basis of the request to that court for extraordinary surveillance of American citizens in an attempt to remove a sitting President. This is a case where minds didn’t need to meld.

Chairman Nadler, on the other hand, would have no case at all without his telepathic powers.

Maybe it wasn’t malice. Maybe it was incompetence and stupidity. I’ll wait for Durham’s investigation.