American Elephants

The Scandal Unfolds. Where Do We Go From Here? by The Elephant's Child

Well, well, well. Representative Trey Gowdy R-SC said that in 18 months, he has not seen “one scintilla” of evidence that Donald Trump colluded with Russia. He added that if such evidence existed that Adam Schiff would have leaked it by now.

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

The applications also vindicate the criticism of the FBI’s surveillance requests that were laid out last February by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes. On the basis of an uncorroborated document that was commissioned by he Hillary campaign, the FBI accused a U.S. citizen of being “an agent of a foreign power” who should be wiretapped.

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

The FBI cited a Sept. 23,2016 story in Yahoo News to back up its Steele dossier information with the court — noting that the story said “intelligence reports” and a “well-paced Western intelligence source”  had made claims like those in the dossier. But the “reports” were the dossier, and the “Western intelligence source” was Mr. Steele. Some evidence! The media claims that Mr. Page’s history of personal Russian dealings justified the surveillance, but no one has produced evidence that Mr. Page was anything beyond an innocent abroad. There is no justification for the FBI’s use of uncorroborated partisan smears to back up the application. They appear to have played fast and loose with the facts, and the ethical boundaries of the FISA statute to unleash a counterintelligence campaign against a presidential candidate.

Investigative journalist Daniel Greenfield explains the whole thing very clearly at Front Page Magazine, the players and the role of the media.

On Saturday, the former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper admitted in a CNN interview that former President Obama instigated the ongoing investigations into Donald Trump, his campaign and his associates. In the interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Clapper said:

If it weren’t for President Obama we might not have done the intelligence community assessment that we did that set up a whole sequence of events which are still unfolding today including Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation. President Obama is responsible for that. It was he who tasked us to do that intelligence community assessment in the first place.

I guess if you’re all into beheadings and flag-burning and claims that the country is on the verge of Auschwitz, comparing the President of the United States to Hitler—the previous president’s spying on the campaign of the candidate who opposes his own preferred successor doesn’t seem especially notable. But it is. This is an enormous scandal. And it would not have been possible without the cooperation of a partisan media. It is a direct assault on the rule of law and our free Republic for partisan political purposes.

Obama’s Scandals Mount. Sssh! Don’t Tell the People! by The Elephant's Child

Back in 2011, when Democrats needed the federal debt ceiling raised, President Barack Obama’s top deputies believed the prospect of massive defense cuts wold compel Republicans to agree to a deficit-cutting grand bargain. Then OMB Director Jack Lew, White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors pitched the idea to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)After several rounds of bargaining, Republicans accepted the deal, and the federal debt ceiling was raised — staving off a potential financial crisis.

It was called sequestration, automatic budget cuts would reduce federal spending by roughly $1 trillion over the next decade, with half the savings taken from national security programs. The problem was finding, or rather not finding budget cuts to which the president would agree. All agreed that sequestration which meant all accounts are reduced by an equal amount with no strategy.

In his new book The Price of Politics, Bob Woodward said the present crisis was not the product of ineptitude or misplaced priorities, it was caused by the conscious decisions of political leaders who have put their election priorities ahead of their duty to protect and provide national security.

President Obama has no interest in cutting back on spending, but he doesn’t mind slashing defense spending specifically. He wants tax hikes, specifically on “the rich.” One of Obama’s main reelection strategies is class envy, and he has told us a number of times that he believes in income redistribution.

In spite of attacks on some 20 of our embassies; the death of our ambassador to Libya and four other Americans; the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan with a death toll that has reached 2,000;  the devastating Camp Bastion attack; Iran edging closer to a bomb; China threatening Japan in the South China Sea; Egypt threatening Israel; the Defense Department saying to cuts would be devastating; Obama is still playing politics.

As if he doesn’t have enough disastrous scandals on his plate: lying to the American people about Benghazi, our Ambassador and four others killed through State Department ineptitude and lax security; new revelations and new murders in the Fast and Furious debacle; and Camp Bastion. Any one of which should be enough to bring down a presidency.

The defense readiness of the free world relies on America. The cuts are too big and have no rationale. At risk are nearly $500 billion in cuts from the defense portion of sequestration. 43 percent of the cuts would come from defense. The cuts to Defense alone are scandalous. They are projecting weakness to our allies and our enemies. But this is the president who has passed word to Mr. Putin that he can be “more flexible after the election.”

Here’s the big one: The White House has moved to prevent defense and other government contractors from issuing mass layoff notices in anticipation of sequestration, notices which they must, according to law, send to workers deemed reasonably be likely to lose their jobs sixty days before they will be let go. The White House wants defense contractors to keep the layoffs secret and the contracting agencies would cover any potential litigation costs or employee compensation costs that could follow. The spending cuts would take effect January 2, 2013 — $109 billion.

So the Office of Management and Budget went a step further in guidance issued late Friday afternoon. If an agency terminates or modifies a contract, and the contractor must close a plant or lay off workers en masse, the company could treat employee compensation costs for WARN Act liability, attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs as allowable costs to be covered by the contracting agency—so long as the contractor has followed a course of action consistent with the Labor Department’s guidance. The legal fees would be covered regardless of the outcome of the litigation, according to the OMB guidance issued by Daniel Werfel, controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management, and Joseph Jordan, the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy.

Democrats have said — there’s no need to needlessly alarm hundreds of thousands of workers. But it’s quite clear that the Obama administration doesn’t want the public to know about defense orders dropping by 40%, and all those layoffs until after the election. The White House not only wants to cover up the massive job losses and slashed defense orders, but they want taxpayers to pay for the cover-up.

This article has a couple of dandy graphs that explain what sequestration means. Entitlement spending is the driver of rampant increase in spending, but the administration is unwilling to address that. In 1965 entitlements consumed about 2.5% of the budget. By 2045 entitlements, if nothing serious is done, and done soon, entitlements will consume over 18% of the entire economy. The federal government would spend every dollar it brings in on entitlements, leaving no room for even interest on the debt.

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