Tag Archives: Elections

The Kavanaugh Debate

innocence

So now the process of government is to be slowed by a single unsubstantiated allegation about something that happened almost four decades ago during a drunken High School party. Unless there are additional accusations or some evidence of this being indicative of a continuing pattern of abuse then it must end, and the process allowed to continue.
Having been vetted by the FBI since 1993 with no derogatory findings the allegation cannot be proven, and the man’s character should not be called into question, but will be. If inappropriate behavior doing high school is a bar to government service, then the halls of congress would be empty. This is not to say the accusation is true but given context to life it is of little relevance to the process unless it were part of a pattern. While this is one letter from someone being reported as a left leaning social justice warrior it is counter balanced by a letter signed by 65 woman who knew him when, who say this is not indicative of the person they knew. All we have for evidence is the accuser’s letter supposedly backed up by a therapist note from a session 30 years after the fact and denials from the accused and a friend of his that was implicated.
Should these allegations be investigated, yes, but how? Considering the amount of time that has gone by and lack of any concreate evidence what can be done at this late date. Senator Dianne Feinstein has had the accusatory letter in hand since July, long before the hearings began. Claiming to honor the writers request for anonymity Feinstein did not disclose the letter to anyone other then some staff until after the committee had finished its questioning and was moving toward a vote. I am sure the committee could have designed questions about the incident without revealing names. But the minority decided to wait until the week of the confirmation vote to spring this surprise.
This maneuver is without a doubt designed to confuse and delay the vote as well as an attempt to sway those in the majority and give them reason to not vote for confirmation. Even if this event did happen, and I seriously doubt that it did, it is not as some are saying an automatic disqualifier. If there were a history of drunken sexual assaults over years then yes it would be, but on this there is no evidence.
The court begins its next session in about two weeks, congress must do everything in its is power to ensure for the people that there are nine qualified justices on the bench. All I ask is that everyone PLEASETHINK if there is truly enough here to delay the vote or that disqualifies Brett Kavanaugh from becoming a justice.

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What Was On the DNC Computers?

Following revelations recently by former FBI director James Comey and Former Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, one question must be asked, why the Democratic National Committee would not let either the FBI or Homeland Security inspect the servers that they contend were hacked. The hacking and subsequent release of emails is the genesis of all the accusations today aimed at the president. If a person’s house is robbed and they tell the police it would be unusual, to say the least, if the police were not allowed to enter the house and investigate. The DNC instead hired an outside consultant to do the investigation and handed the results to the FBI. What is it the DNC did not want the FBI to find on its servers? More unusual is that the FBI accepted the private investigation in lieu of their own.
There is no deep conspiracy theory attached to this, or belief that the Dems intentionally did anything to confuse the issue, just a question. The best I can come up with is that the depth of the hack was not that intense and the DNC needed a diversion away from HRC’s email problems. I will be looking into this in the future so stay tuned. johnsonjeh_comeyjames09272016getty

 

 

The Reality of Keeping Secrets

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The Reality of protecting the nations secrets is becoming more difficult by the day. The recent release of an NSA report by a government contractor, Reality Winner, has brought to light, once again, the difficulty in maintaining security. There is a lot of coverage of her being a contractor, now the discloser I was once employed by the same contractor, Pluribus International, and mention of her past six years as a linguist with the Air Force, but little about her apparent extreme political views. This is where we need to begin the discussion.

A review of the social media sites of Reality Winner shows a very activist person who bought into every anti-Trump campaign, as well as other progressive programs. After the fact, many have asked why a deeper background check was not done considering her apparent hatred of Trump and support for the Iranian government. If her Facebook page had been viewed what could have been done. Can a person be denied employment for political views? The answer of course is a resounding maybe. The problem of course is not opposing political views but lack of self-control and any sense of individual responsibility. Many have said that the release of classified material is an act of courage and proved individual integrity. I have read both the article by “The Intercept” and the redacted NSA report. What we have is a young lady who has ruined her life and the reputation of a company that did nothing more than give her a job after her service to her county, for nothing. The information provided was nothing that was not suspected, but confirmed the details. The details by the way would not indicate any influence on the election, it looked like a test run. The hacking was aimed at voter registration rolls and not at the actual election machines. While it may have affected individual voters by raising questions as to their legitimate registration it is doubtful it had any impact on the results.

Regardless of the impact, it is an attack on the integrity of the United States and must be handled as such and with caution. The leak and leakers are also an attack on the integrity of the United States and must be dealt with. Reality Winners is a product of her time and one of many leakers who probably feel that they are doing a service to their country. They are wrong. Releasing intelligence, even finished product without the raw data, can cause great national harm even death. There are reasons some information is classified and they are good reasons. Many people with many years of experience work to insure the security of this information and a 25-year-old with 6 years of experience in the Air Force is not experienced enough to override this process. By releasing this information Winner has let the Russians know what we discovered and reduced the effectiveness of any countermeasures.

The extremism and virulence of the attacks on the current administration have opened a process of uncontrolled anger and given people like Winner the excuse to put the country in danger in the name of resistance to a President they did not vote for. This is just a furthering of what has been happening across society to include colleges shutting down free expression and segments of society segregating themselves from the rest. It needs to stop.

It must stop. I feel for both Reality Winner and her family. Her uncontrolled anger, feed by an out of control media (I hesitate to call it News Media) resulted in a very unwise choice. She is the first to be caught and will likely suffer greatly for her transgression. Unlike Edward Snowden, protected by Russia, or Bradly Manning, pardoned by President Obama, she is in a time and administration that will not be kind to her.

 A recent article in the Wall Street Journal spoke to the fact that colleges are not teaching our children how to make a cohesive argument and they leave school with no greater critical thinking skills then when they entered. Add this to politicians and pundits on television constantly yelling and refusing to listen to any opposition arguments and you have an up and coming community that feels no remorse in deciding on their own what should go public.  

There are many ways that a person can get information to the right hands if they truly feel it is necessary. They are long and cumbersome by design. There are even shortcuts that can be taken that do not require public disclosure. Today however we seem to need instant gratification of our passions. We have raised a generation, or two, that glory’s in its independence but in fact has fallen into the trap of groupthink.

I am sorry Reality, but you need to be strongly and publicly punished to stop those who follow from making the same mistake, or at least give them pause before they make a move.  To all who would defend Reality PLEASE THINK of the consequences of your actions.   

McCarthyism or Clintonism

Them 2

 

 

In a recent post, I spoke about the term witch hunt and how it applies to the current House and Senate committee hearings into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. One example used was the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s into communist activity in the US. I began to wonder how closely these two paralleled and what impact the current hearings will have on America.

First a little history. Joseph McCarthy was a little know circuit court judge from Wisconsin when he was elected in 1946, to the Senate in an upset victory over a more established Republican. While at first remaining quite he was propelled to prominence in a 1950 speech in which he claimed 205 communists had infiltrated the State Department. When asked to testify in front of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations he was unable to name a single person. Undaunted and after winning reelection in 1952 he was given the chairmanship of the Committee on Government Operations of the Senate and the permanent sub-committee on investigations. From this point McCarthy carried on a 2-year witch-hunt that destroyed lives and altered life in the US for years after. The atmosphere of fear and intimidation that resulted in the continuous hearings and interrogations had an impact on society

  Quantification aside, it may be helpful to look at the specific sectors of American society that McCarthyism touched. Such an appraisal, tentative though it must be, may offer some insight into the extent of the damage and into the ways in which the anti-Communist crusade influenced American society, politics, and culture. We should keep in mind, however, that McCarthyism’s main impact may well have been in what did not happen rather than in what did the social reforms that were never adopted, the diplomatic initiatives that were not pursued, the workers who were not organized into unions, the books that were not written, and the movies that were never filmed.” Schrecker, Ellen. The Age of McCarthyism. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Marvin’s Press, 1994.

  Could the current round of investigations, congressional hearings and unquestioned interrogations lead to a similar intimation of American government and society? It is not widely known today but McCarthy spread a wide net to include President Eisenhower and both Democratic and Republican leaders. Today the greatest claim to fame for this period is to give us something to call that time.

“McCarthyism, name given to the period of time in American history that saw Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy produce a series of investigations and hearings during the 1950s in an effort to expose supposed communist infiltration of various areas of the U.S.  government. The term has since become a byname for defamation of character or reputation by means of widely publicized indiscriminate allegations, especially on the basis of unsubstantiated charges.” https://www.britannica.com/topic/McCarthyism

Jumping forward 60+ years the question is, are we looking for an actually crime committed by the now sitting President and his campaign or are we entering the period of time that will be known as Clintonism?  

When McCarthy started down the road to capture communist and save the USA, there was some truth to what set him off. The cold war was just starting and there was fear of communist aggression because of the Korean war. Communist in the US under the direction of Moscow were indeed trying to infiltrate the government as evidenced by Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss. It was never as widespread or successful as many have made it out to be. Just like today we can look at actually activities that point to a Russian attempt to do something. But as McCarthy blow out of all proportion the Red Threat in the ‘50s so has Hillary Clinton and the democratic party with the impact of Russian activities.

 The facts that we know today are that the Democratic National Committees emails were hacked. The most likely perpetrator was the Russian government, which evidence by the way would not likely stand up in court. We also know that members of the Trump campaign and transition team met with Russians, in what is likely legitimate and legal activities. We also have illegal actions in this time period, most notable is the unmasking of us citizens based on electronic intercepts. Electronic intercepts would most likely be called wiretaps by the general public. Unmasking of US citizens, except under extraordinary conditions, caught up in this surveillance is illegal. The driving force to much of this is the initial discovery of classified information on a private unsecured server in Sec. Clintons home. This became critical when then FBI Director James Comey had to admit that Clinton’s actions did in fact violate the law but used a legal excuse, Mens Rea, that said she did not intend to break the law so she is excused.

The Clinton campaign then beat the drum of Russian hacking vice her violation of law as the most damaging activity. While there are some suggestions that Russia was using released emails and propaganda like fake news releases to swing the election toward Trump, the intelligence reports and exit polls show the Russian activity had little to no impact on the election results.  

Like the McCarthy hearings of the ‘50s there was some basis in fact to raise concern. Like the McCarthy era the hearings of today are out of proportion to the actions and the net is being spread far and wide beyond the scope of the problem. Normal activity is being cast as suspicious, reputations are being ruined and the level of hysteria and paranoia is outsized to the facts.

The driving issues for the election were economic, static wages and a very slow economy. Clinton represented the failed policies of the government and Trump was an unknown who appeared to understand how to get the economy moving. Clinton was expected to win and Russia was likely more interested in disrupting her administration then actually winning the election for Trump. The current hearings to date have discovered nothing that shows collusion between the Trump campaign, according to the Democrats on the committees, but they continue to work hard. There hard work is beginning to look like the McCarthy hearing however. No evidence is being given just rumor, innuendo and supposition.

What effect this will have on the governing of the country or impact this will have on future elections, is hard to tell. It is time for everyone to PLEASE THINK of what they are doing and remember what happened in the past.     

 

Groupthink and its Destruction of America

free-speech

Groupthink occurs when a group values harmony and coherence over accurate analysis and critical evaluation. It causes individual members of the group to unquestioningly follow the word of the leader and it strongly discourages any disagreement with the consensus

Psychology Today”

 

 

The problem with today’s politics, academics and general discourse is the invasion of groupthink into almost everything. Some of it intentional, such as the Russian probe of the last election and others that just take off and take over any attempt at facts to dispute it.  

Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972), occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment” (p. 9).  Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups.  A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making”

On the Russian probe, we recently discovered that the collusion accusation came from the Clinton campaign shortly after they lost the election. In their book “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign” the authors reveal how the blame was to be discussed.

“That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”

In this aspect of groupthink, a political talking point has been spread by the Democratic party elites and pounded into the head of anyone who will listen, until it is accepted as unalterable fact, even though to date there has been no proof. In the beginning, it is just a talking point for the party faithful to carry forward, but soon evolves into groupthink by its acceptance and adaption by the press and then social media. For many it is so accepted that regardless of what any investigation determines or what facts are brought forward, it was the Russians that caused HRC to lose the election and Trump and his people colluded in the effort.

This is a very dangerous position for any people to find themselves. In the past, it has been confined to small groups and was still dangerous. The operational commanders of the US armed forces in the late 1930’s and 40’s knew of the dangers of Japanize aggression but had determined they were incapable of a major attack on US positions, then came Pearl Harbor.

 

Currently groupthink has been used to argue other political points. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and its replacement the American Health Care Act (Trumpcare) are being declared the death of millions of Americans who will be thrown out into the street and made to live without any health insurance. As the bill is still being worked out and major elements of Obamacare will remain, this is obviously blind panic. Today the President will declare the US will withdrew from the Paris Accords on the environment. Again, millions if not billions of people will die and American leadership will wain and we will become a pariah in the world. Currently the US has made great strides in environmental protection, well beyond that of most of the world. We have replaced coal with natural gas at great savings both economically and environmentally. While I feel for the coal industry it is unlikely that the end of the Paris Accords will bring back coal in any major way. It is just not economical.

Groupthink however has now made anything associated with President Trumps administration instantly odious to all of humanity. There is nothing to see here, move on, we have decided and if you do not agree you are a fascist, homophobe, racist, deplorable. In fact I agree with a lot that Trump is doing as well as disagree with a lot of other things he does. This is because I refuse to give into the easy road of groupthink. I will leave you with some words of wisdom, not mine.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

Albert Einstein

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking”

George S. Patton

So, everyone PLEASE THINK.

Has President Trump Committed Impeachable Acts?

Trump

 

Since the early morning hours of November 9, 2016, there have been declarations that Donald Trump has committed heinous acts that demand he be impeached. It did not seem to matter that this movement began before he took office, he had to be impeached. It appears that there were some among the crowd who believed that if they could do this then Hillary would become president. So lets look at the probability that Donald J. Trump has committed impeachable acts.

To start the discussion it must first be pointed out that impeachment does not mean removal from office. It is the formal process of leveling charges, to decide if crimes have been committed and if so do they rise to the level required for trial. To date only two presidents have been impeached by the House, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, neither was convicted in the Senate.  Richard Nixon was under investigation but resigned before the House took action. The attempt to remove a sitting president from office was intended to be difficult and requiring very specific reasons. This is were the problem with declaring, preemptively, that president Trump has committed impeachable offences.

The drama began during the debates last summer when Trump called out Hillary for mishandling classified emails and for leaked emails showing she had colluded with the DNC to manipulate the Democratic party primaries. Hillary’s response was defensive and said the real question was that Russia had hacked the DNC and that was the major issue. In all fairness it was and is an issue but I am not sure it was a bigger issue then her breaking the law and suborning the DNC’s manipulation, but there it started.

Once started the Russian bogyman morphed from an attack on the DNC to Russia attempting to influence the election toward Trump, to Trump and his campaign colluding with the Russian government to ensure a Trump victory.  All of this in an attempt to rescue the Clinton campaign that only a few knew was in trouble.  The major problem was that this campaign maneuver did not die with the election but was perpetuated by the so called resistance to  Trump and became not only an article of faith but the presumed first article of impeachment.

The problem is that currently there is not one shred of evidence to back up the claims. It is all rumor, innuendo and talking heads drawing unbelievable connections from just about anywhere they can. Such connections include, Mike Flynn was fired because he was a connection to the Russians. Mike Flynn was fired because he lied to the vice-president. Sally Yates was fired to stop the Russian investigation. Yates was fired for failing to follow the directions of the President, her boss and client. As an attorney she has an obligation to advocate for her side regardless of personal feelings.  Comey was fired to stop the Russia investigation. Comey was fired for incompetence and violations of long standard practices. In both of these cases the investigation continued. More recently Trump committed treason by giving the Russians classified information. Two points here you can only commit treason in time of war and as President he has the authority to declassify intelligence as he see fit. The last point is the now infamous Comey memo that says Trump asked him if he could see fit to not go after Flynn, obvious obstruction of justice, but its not. First Trump made it a request not an order and put no conditions on it. Second if it was obstruction of justice Comey was bound by law to report it and he did not. Lastly the White House denies it so it becomes hearsay evidence.

In the end we are left with the fact that to date Trump has not committed any impeachable acts, at least none that can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Many are trying however to compare this to Watergate and the eventual resignation of Richard Nixon, history however has a different, more appropriate lesson, Andrew Johnson. Nixon was guilty without a doubt and would have been convicted in the Senate. Johnson on the other hand was a victim of political intrigue and hated by the elites of Washington for standing up for what he believed to be in the best interest of the country. Johnson was vilified in the press and was a very unpopular president, but in fact had done nothing wrong or illegal. In the end the Senate failed to convict by one vote.

PLEASE THINK of the consequences of impeachment actions or the removal of the president, especially for what appears to be political grandstanding. The country can survive a Trump presidency but may not survive a coup d’état. Oh and for those who think Russia got what it wanted in a Trump win, they did not. They will get what they were actually looking for if the country continues down this road, a wracked political system and a powerless country.

 

 

2016 Another Political Upheaval in America

My country, the greatest in the world with an unbelievable diversity in culture and citizens will soon be faced with an impossible choice for its next leader, or so it would seem

The Republican Party started out with 17 candidates running for the nomination. Five withdrew before the primaries even started while another 11 have since dropped out of the race. This leaves Donald Trump the presumptive nominee. On the Democratic Party side, we started with what could be called five viable candidates and are now down to two. Of the two, Hillary Clinton, is the choice of the party elite, and barring unforeseen problems or an indictment, likely the nominee.

Donald Trump was considered a side show and a joke. Coming with what many considered a ton of baggage and no political background, all he had was name recognition and a lot of money. The power elites and the political pundits saw no future in his candidacy and down played early victories. Hillary Clinton on the other hand was the anointed one.  In the beginning she had what was seen as a clear path to the nomination, since none of her announced opposition had the money, standing, name recognition or power base that she did.  

So what went wrong? Trump beat all of the political professionals while Clinton faced, and may still face, an unexpected challenge from an unlikely source, Sen. Bernie Sanders. Following the primary in Indiana Trump defeated Sen. Ted Cruz, his closest rival, by double digits, Sanders then beat Clinton. Up until the week before, the polls had Cruz winning and up until the day of the primary Clinton was in a tight race but still leading. Even with this victory Clinton is still on track to win the nomination based on her past wins and a large number of “Super Delegates” in her pocket. Still it was not the cake walk/ Coronation she was expecting.

Again, what went wrong? While the main stream media ignores the plight of the democrats there is no end to the death notice for the GOP. Within its own ranks there is talk of the end and the need to find the soul of the party. Maybe this is not the end of either party just a restructuring and/or an update.

From time to time there are upheavals in the body politic, such as the recent advent of the tea party on the right and the new progressive movement on the left. In the tumultuous ‘60s we saw Barry Goldwater on the right and George McGovern on the left rise, and then go down in flames.  The existence of political splits is not new in America. The Progressive Party of the US, better known as the Bull Moose party split from the republican party over policy difference between Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Then there was the Native American Party also known as the Know-Nothing-Party, which formed to oppose immigration. The immigrants where mostly German and Irish Catholics. Any quick study of these parties will show that many of the issues then are the same as now.

Why then is the world coming to an end for the Republicans and what are the problems being faced by the Democrats. Historically these types of movements die out quickly. Neither of the parties above lasted long and neither of the reform movements of the left or right held power come the next election cycle. The difference today, if there is one, is 24/7 news coverage and social media. The political elites and the talking heads/pundits have not caught up with the change. The ascendance of Trump and the intransigence of Sanders campaign have caught those who should know better off guard. Rather than the party controlling the people the people are controlling the party.  I am very concerned about the reaction of the power elites. From the beginning the Democratic National committee has made no secret about their desire to see Clinton the nominee and has manipulated the process to ensure that outcome. Sanders has managed to challenge the status quo and has made a fight of it. The advantage the Sanders insurgency has over Trump is that he cannot be challenged over his position relative to the political spectrum, he is a liberal. The republican leadership however is having a hard time reconciling their definition of conservative and Trump. Sen. Ted Cruz continued to tout that he was the only “true” conservative in the race. Going so far as to call Trump a New York liberal.

Since Trump has apparently vanquished all others he is now facing a revolution of the republican leadership because he does not fit the ideal. Recently Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said in an interview the reasons he is having trouble backing Trump is that he does not understand “conservative values.” Among these values and principles Ryan pointed out was limited government, the role of the executive, and adherence to the Constitution. These points and some others have been used to show Trumps lack of orthodoxy. I would point out to those conservatives gathering feathers and melting tar that the one overriding principle of the country is the voice of the people. I must tell the Republican elites that Trump won the primaries and the people may be changing the definition of conservatism. 

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor for the National Review in a past article quoted a conservative stalwart of the past, Russell Kirk, author of such books as “The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Elliot,” stating “Russell Kirk, who could not define conservatism in a paragraph, much less a sentence, would consider it folly to even try. Kirk wrote, “Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogma.” Rather it is a recognition that life often pits some values against others, and that men are not always brilliant at sorting out which value should trump which in any given situation. As Edmund Burke noted, “The nature of man is intricate; the objects of society are of the greatest possible complexity; and therefore no simple disposition or direction of power can be suitable either to man’s nature or to the quality of his affairs.”

In a similar vein William F. Buckley was asked in an interview if he agreed with the following:   Q. Book publisher Henry Regnery once said, “Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogma, and conservatives inherit from Burke a talent for re-expressing their convictions to fit the times.” Buckley agreed whole heartedly. So what’s up with today’s conservatives?

Nothing is the answer, it’s the so called conservative leadership that is the problem. While Clinton fights the “true” liberals of her party in her march toward the nomination we hear of many on the left bailing out and promising, at the least, not to vote. The well-known conservatives are doing the same and much worse, they are actively seeking an alternative candidate to run as a third party conservative. In other words, they are doing everything in their power to elect Hillary Clinton. The logic is that she will be so bad that they get to pick the candidate in 2020 after a disastrous four years of Clinton.

The irony of this is that major conservatives such as Bill Kristol are talking to Mitt Romney as a possible savior of the conservative cause and third party candidate. You remember Romney, he lost as the republican party candidate four years ago because 3 million conservatives sat out the election, as they are threatening to do this year. Romney is also the person who refused to run during the republican primaries. The Romney who held so much sway over the republican rank and file that after he came out and attacked Trump no one listened and Trump just continued to roll forward.

Many writers are asking what has happened to the party of Lincoln and saying things like Clinton is more conservative than Trump. I will remind those that the party of Lincoln was a third party that was considered the left wing progressive party of the time and stayed in power until FDR. The democrats did not begin there swing to the left until FDR and still were mostly conservative until JFK in the 1960’s.

What we are seeing today then may be nothing more than another swing and realignment of ideals. The stance conservatism of Goldwater day’s finally giving way to a more pragmatic branch of conservative. The beginning may well be traced back to Reagan and the Bush’s. The democrats on the other hand are holding to dogma at least 50 years out of date. What we are then actually seeing is what has always made America great, the people are taking charge and making changes. Power elites should not worry, they will adapt to the changes and once more be in charge as the people go back to their lives, with the warning that they can do this again, as they have done before.