Monday, February 20, 2017

Cruising the Web


Matthew Continetti explains
the danger of having bureaucrats taking it upon themselves to impose their own view of how the government should operate.
By any historical and constitutional standard, "the people" elected Donald Trump and endorsed his program of nation-state populist reform. Yet over the last few weeks America has been in the throes of an unprecedented revolt. Not of the people against the government—that happened last year—but of the government against the people. What this says about the state of American democracy, and what it portends for the future, is incredibly disturbing.

There is, of course, the case of Michael Flynn. He made a lot of enemies inside the government during his career, suffice it to say. And when he exposed himself as vulnerable those enemies pounced. But consider the means: anonymous and possibly illegal leaks of private conversations. Yes, the conversation in question was with a foreign national. And no one doubts we spy on ambassadors. But we aren't supposed to spy on Americans without probable cause. And we most certainly are not supposed to disclose the results of our spying in the pages of the Washington Post because it suits a partisan or personal agenda.

Here was a case of current and former national security officials using their position, their sources, and their methods to crush a political enemy. And no one but supporters of the president seems to be disturbed. Why? Because we are meant to believe that the mysterious, elusive, nefarious, and to date unproven connection between Donald Trump and the Kremlin is more important than the norms of intelligence and the decisions of the voters.

But why should we believe that? And who elected these officials to make this judgment for us?

Nor is Flynn the only example of nameless bureaucrats working to undermine and ultimately overturn the results of last year's election. According to the New York Times, civil servants at the EPA are lobbying Congress to reject Donald Trump's nominee to run the agency. Is it because Scott Pruitt lacks qualifications? No. Is it because he is ethically compromised? Sorry. The reason for the opposition is that Pruitt is a critic of the way the EPA was run during the presidency of Barack Obama. He has a policy difference with the men and women who are soon to be his employees. Up until, oh, this month, the normal course of action was for civil servants to follow the direction of the political appointees who serve as proxies for the elected president.

How quaint. These days an architect of the overreaching and antidemocratic Waters of the U.S. regulation worries that her work will be overturned so she undertakes extraordinary means to defeat her potential boss. But a change in policy is a risk of democratic politics. Nowhere does it say in the Constitution that the decisions of government employees are to be unquestioned and preserved forever. Yet that is precisely the implication of this unprecedented protest. "I can't think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this," a professor of government tells the paper. That sentence does not leave me feeling reassured.
Continentti adds that we now have another system of government in addition to the system of checks and balances devised by the Founding Fathers.
The second system is comprised of those elements not expressly addressed by the Founders. This is the permanent government, the so-called administrative state of bureaucracies, agencies, quasi-public organizations, and regulatory bodies and commissions, of rule-writers and the byzantine network of administrative law courts. This is the government of unelected judges with lifetime appointments who, far from comprising the "least dangerous branch," now presume to think they know more about America's national security interests than the man elected as commander in chief.

For some time, especially during Democratic presidencies, the second system of government was able to live with the first one. But that time has ended. The two systems are now in competition. And the contest is all the more vicious and frightening because more than offices are at stake. This fight is not about policy. It is about wealth, status, the privileges of an exclusive class....

Donald Trump did not cause the divergence between government of, by, and for the people and government, of, by, and for the residents of Cleveland Park and Arlington and Montgomery and Fairfax counties. But he did exacerbate it. He forced the winners of the global economy and the members of the D.C. establishment to reckon with the fact that they are resented, envied, opposed, and despised by about half the country. But this recognition did not humble the entrenched incumbents of the administrative state. It radicalized them to the point where they are readily accepting, even cheering on, the existence of a "deep state" beyond the control of the people and elected officials.

Who rules the United States? The simple and terrible answer is we do not know. But we are about to find out.


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Judith Miller, who knows about receiving leaks tries to analyze who are the people behind all the leaks on the Trump White House. Of course, there are all the career officials within the government who are appalled at Trump's election to the presidency. But there are others who are probably getting in on the leakfest.
While Trump prefers to blame reporters and career civil servants for disseminating what he calls “fake news” about him and his team, his White House is said to have deep personal rifts and policy divisions. Members of the GOP “establishment”—and such traditional Republicans as White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and Vice President Mike Pence—have chafed at the influence of such advisers as Steve Bannon, who have championed the need for a revolution in Republican ranks. The upstarts also favor massive infrastructure spending to spur growth, protectionist measures like import tariffs, and working closely with Russia to combat terrorism. Mistrust between Trump, Pence, or their respective aides may also help explain why senior White House officials failed to inform the vice president for more than two weeks that Flynn had misled him by saying that he and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak had not discussed the lifting of sanctions against Russia, when transcripts of their conversations show that they apparently had.

Chris Cillizza, of the Washington Post, has another explanation for the leaks. As senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway acknowledged during the campaign, Trump is heavily influenced by what he hears and sees on TV and in the media. As a result, aides may be trying to influence his decision-making by getting policy disputes aired on cable TV or through newspaper articles. “It’s uniquely possible that these leaks are aimed at reining him in, showing him that when he acts like this with, say, world leaders, it makes him look bad,” Cillizza recently wrote. His second theory is even less flattering to Trump. Some senior officials have concerns about the president’s judgment and fitness for office. Cillizza thinks that they may be trying to use selective leaks to let people know what is really going on inside the White House.





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Andrew McCarthy does a deep dive into the laws regarding an FBI investigation and what we know about their conversations and investigation of Michael Flynn and just can't figure out what it was all about.
And there was no need to “grill” him over the contents of a conversation of which the FBI and Justice Department already had a recording.

And the FBI has no business probing the veracity of public statements made by presidential administrations for political purposes — something it certainly resisted doing during the Obama administration.

There appears to have been no foreign-intelligence or criminal-investigative purpose served by the FBI’s interrogation of General Flynn. It is easy to see why Democrats would want to portray Flynn’s contact with the Russian ambassador as worthy of an FBI investigation. But why did the FBI and the Justice Department investigate Flynn — and why did “officials” make sure the press found out about it?
And then there is the detail that Obama advisers were consulting with the FBI while the agency was investigating Flynn. Hmmmm.

Meanwhile, the media didn't seem to be anywhere near as upset when Susan Rice, Obama's National Security Advisor lied.
Buried deep beneath the Michael Flynn hysteria this week was Judicial Watch’s release of newly obtained State Department documents related to the Benghazi terrorist attack on September 11, 2012. One email confirms—again—that the Obama administration knew the day after the attack it was not a random act of violence stemming from an anti-Muslim video. That was the excuse shamefully propagated by top Obama administration officials (including the president himself) and swallowed whole by a media establishment desperate to help Obama win re-election six weeks later.

According to the summary of a call on September 12, 2012 between State Department Under-Secretary Patrick Kennedy and several congressional staffers, Kennedy was asked if the attack came under cover of protest: “No this was a direct breaching attack,” he answered. Kennedy also denied the attack was coordinated with the protests in Cairo over the video: “Attack in Cairo was a demonstration. There were no weapons shown or used. A few cans of spray paint.”

It’s somewhat ironic—galling?—that this email was disclosed the same day the anti-Trump universe was spinning into the stratosphere over Flynn’s resignation as President Trump’s national security advisor. It begs for a little trip down memory lane, to a kinder, gentler time when the media gave a great big pass to another national security advisor in the days after four Americans, including an ambassador, were murdered in Libya by Islamic terrorists under her watch.

Fun fact: While Trump press secretary Sean Spicer fielded 55 questions on February 14 related to the Flynn debacle, Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney received only 13 questions from reporters on September 12, 2012, three of which were set-ups to blast Mitt Romney’s criticism of the administration after the attack. 55 to 13.

So as we now suffer through yet another patch of media mania, conspiracy theories, and unsubstantiated claims about how Trump hearts Russia, as well as the daily beatings endured by Spicer, let’s reminisce to when the media and Obama’s press flaks spun, deflected—even joked about golf and “Saturday Night Live!”—less than a week after Benghazi.
I guess lies to the American public only count when it involves Republicans.


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Meanwhile, France is burning up.
THE ongoing trouble in Paris which has led to riots in some parts of the capital is spreading across France as vigilantes stage running battles with police in protest of the rape of a young black man.

And law enforcement say two weeks of civil unrest has now led to frenzied clashes in 20 districts.

Worryingly about 60 per cent of those involved in the street fights are children, police say.

As well as serious crime in at least 16 northern Paris suburbs, the confrontations have spread to Nantes in Brittany, Lille - the capital of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, and Rouen in Normandy where catholic priest Father Jacques Hamel was murdered while he was saying mass the altar last summer.

Police have been targeted with molotov cocktails, filmed being chased with cars, hit with steel poles, shot at, and even targeted using heavy metal balls from the French game Petanque. One person is even accused of using a gun, and has been charged with gunfire and voluntary violence.

Armed officers have taken to the streets in their hundreds and were forced to fire live rounds of bullets and used tear gas to disperse the rioters.

Chaos erupted after it emerged police anally raped a young black man named Theo with a baton.

The demands of social-justice warriors will never stop. Never.
The student government at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said on Wednesday that black students should be offered free tuition and housing because blacks were legally barred from education during slavery and university remains out of reach for black students today.

Alex Grass explains the ridiculousness of those students in Elizabethtown College in Lancaster County, PA wearing white puzzle piece pins to signal their guilt for being white. As Grass reminds us, the white settlers of Lancaster County were Anabaptists fleeing persecution and mass murder for their faith during the religious wars of the 17th century. So they weren't exactly emblematic of privilege.
But how do “white people” fare today? The 2016 Misery Index—a metric created by economist Arthur Okun to calculate economic wellbeing—ranks Ukraine, Greece, and Russia in the top 20 most miserable countries.

How, precisely, should a Ukrainian foreign exchange student ponder the inborn malevolence of his or her skin color while Avdiivka and other cities in his home country char and crumble under the rain of Russian shells?

The somewhat relevant snag of group histories and national origins seems to throw a wrench in the engine of Ida’s self-loathing philosophy. Walter Benn Michaels, author of “The Trouble With Diversity,” might point out to Ida that many groups of blacks are more genetically similar to whites than to their presupposed co-race-members.

8 comments:

trigger warning said...

Betsy: "I guess lies to the American public only count when it involves Republicans."

Demonstrably true. Hillary Clinton has spent no time in jail. And, thanks to tfhr, I was reminded recently that Martha Stewart, of all people, did.

mardony said...

"... a hard habit to break." (Chicago, the band)
The habit being the inability to address the faults of the Trump presidency* without saying "oh, but lookee here what the Obama people did." And, of course, it's the multiply-investigated benghazi! Benghazi! BENGHAZI! canard that gets disinterred.
This administration is built on a foundation of abusing the truth and then selling it. Can we face that fact without relying on alt-facts to justify it or pretend it's not there, which is an alt-fact in itself. Or is that a habit too hard to break?

trigger warning said...

If you like your facts, you can keep your facts.

YeasandNays said...

mardony,

Your arguments are really tiresome. Your deliberate misunderstanding of Betsy's points adds nothing to the conversation.

For example, Betsy's point was the double-standard in the media treatment of Trump and Obama not that Obama justifies Trump.

mardony said...

Here's Trump's Secret Plan to Defeat ISIS

1-Blame media, leaks, Obama, courts & SNL
2-Hold FL pep rally to spout fake news (Sweden?)
3-Bail to Mar-a-Lago for golf, schmooze & chill

Trump also said he would give the military’s top generals 30 days to submit a plan for soundly defeating ISIS. 30 days just ended. No plan.

Trump has no plan, but Obama's seems to be working..

trigger warning said...

Obama Plan:

"We can absorb a terror attack"
--- NPR

And his plan worked, in CA and FL.

mardony said...

Today's blog is a curious stew in search of an alibi while blaming:

1. The double standard of the media ("enemy of the American people") in the way it treated Obama vs. Trump.
2. The "deep space" of federal employees (the "permanent government") betraying the new administration.
3. Obama people consulting with the FBI while it was investigating Flynn.
4. Illegal "leaks of private conversations".

Three-star general Mike "lock her up" Flynn was the President's* National Security Advisor and thanks to some of 1-4, we now know he was a security risk and a "blackmail risk." Flynn has a chest full of medals and ribbons. Those who ratted him out have earned theirs.

tfhr said...

mardony,

Given that the FBI has cleared Flynn twice - for the content of this phone conversation with a Russian Ambassador - just what law is it that you think Flynn has violated?

Perhaps you can file a FOIA request and find out more and then we can see if the Trump administration deals with FOIA, as per the law, or if they work it like Hillary and destroy official government materials or attempt to operate outside official government channels using privately owned servers.

With your hearty acceptance of Hillary's record of violating FOIA, tell me again why you care about the law? Hey, but at least you are consistent with your willingness to compromise classifed to further your petty politics.