Month: October 2017

Only Amazon Wins


After Seattle-based Amazon began soliciting proposals from North American cities in early September, the business news media was abuzz with speculation about where Amazon will locate its second corporate headquarters. The site will be announced next year.

Of course, not just any city will do. Given the criteria Amazon has laid out, only about 20 metro areas in the United States and Canada are serious contenders. Predictably, though, commentators who fail to see below the surface say that the contest to lure Amazon to one of those cities rather than another will be “transformational” for the winner by creating as many as 50,000 new, high-paying jobs, stimulating economic growth and generating additional tax revenue.

And so, in addition to efforts aimed at convincing Amazon that their city fulfills the company’s requirements, local officials predictably will top up their bids with tax breaks, taxpayer-financed infrastructure upgrades, and similar concessions known in the economic development literature as “selective incentives.” A subsidy by that or any other name would smell as sweet to Amazon’s owners.

If history serves as a guide, politicians will defend giveaways of taxpayer dollars to Amazon by claiming that the benefits flowing from new jobs and higher wages exceed the costs of financing a subsidy. The same arguments routinely are heard when it comes to building a new sports venue, hosting the Olympic Games or SuperBowl, and enticing other headline-grabbing businesses looking to move to greener pastures. Luring Amazon indeed will be a major publicity coup for local and state politicians who certainly will claim credit for a successful outcome in the runup to Election Day.

It turns, out, however, that the benefits of taxpayer-financed subsidies always are overstated. The economic costs of subsidy packages for private business enterprises are in reality much larger than their supporters admit, for several reasons.

First, the contest for Amazon’s second headquarters is a zero-sum game that only one metro area will win. Amazon already has decided to expand and the company will locate somewhere even without a targeted subsidy. Cities competing for Amazon’s new headquarters simply are seeking to shift already planned economic activity geographically, but are not creating any new economic activity.

Second, many economic development studies erroneously count every person hired by a new employer as a job added to the local economy and the new company’s total payroll as an addition to the local tax base. The mistake is that many jobs at Amazon’s second headquarters will be filled by individuals who transfer from existing local jobs (called a “displacement effect”). The taxable income base expands only to the extent that the wages of currently employed workers rise after changing employers. The full wages of people who move to the local area are gains for the city that lures Amazon, but are losses to the places from which they emigrate.

Third, politicians fail to account for the opportunity cost of business-location subsidies. The opportunity cost of any taxpayer-funded subsidy is the private-sector economic activity that would have been generated (but is lost) had the dollars financing it remained in private hands. Nor do economic development studies typically recognize that additional public goods and services (such as public schools, transit systems and police protection) — and additional taxes to pay for them — will be needed to accommodate Amazon’s 50,000 employees and their families.

Finally, politicians argue that new wage earners will spur economic growth through a multiplier effect as their larger incomes circulate around the regional economy. That is certainly true (although multiplier estimates are wildly overstated), but removing income from the private sector to finance subsidies means that the multiplier effect works in reverse. Politicians baldly assume that every dollar of subsidy is worth more to the economy than if the dollar remained in taxpayers’ pockets. Politicians, in other words, believe that they know better than ordinary people how best to allocate resources to their highest valued uses. The historical evidence against that belief is overwhelming.

We won’t know how much the contending urban areas will spend in total to lure Amazon’s second headquarters until the contest is over. New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority and the City of Newark alone have offered an incentive package worth a stunning $7 billion over 10 years. Amazingly, Amazon has received 238 proposals thus far. The social waste in time, money, and effort devoted to buying Amazon’s favor will be monumental, dwarfing whatever benefits net of costs are captured by the winning city.

Most economists conclude that targeted business-location subsidies, often committing more taxpayer spending per job created than the new employees will earn in a year, do not pay off. State and local politicians may win when they lure Amazon to their city and we undoubtedly will see them standing front and center to take credit for an economic development windfall as they help cut the red ribbon at the shiny new headquarters building.

Don’t be fooled. Such victories impose heavy costs on taxpayers, who stand to lose more than Amazon gains.

Thomas A. Garrett is associate professor of economics at the University of Mississippi; William Shughart, research director of the Independent Institute, is J. Fish Smith Professor in Public Choice at Utah State University’s Huntsman School of Business

After Seattle-based Amazon began soliciting proposals from North American cities in early September, the business news media was abuzz with speculation about where Amazon will locate its second corporate headquarters. The site will be announced next year.

Of course, not just any city will do. Given the criteria Amazon has laid out, only about 20 metro areas in the United States and Canada are serious contenders. Predictably, though, commentators who fail to see below the surface say that the contest to lure Amazon to one of those cities rather than another will be “transformational” for the winner by creating as many as 50,000 new, high-paying jobs, stimulating economic growth and generating additional tax revenue.

And so, in addition to efforts aimed at convincing Amazon that their city fulfills the company’s requirements, local officials predictably will top up their bids with tax breaks, taxpayer-financed infrastructure upgrades, and similar concessions known in the economic development literature as “selective incentives.” A subsidy by that or any other name would smell as sweet to Amazon’s owners.

If history serves as a guide, politicians will defend giveaways of taxpayer dollars to Amazon by claiming that the benefits flowing from new jobs and higher wages exceed the costs of financing a subsidy. The same arguments routinely are heard when it comes to building a new sports venue, hosting the Olympic Games or SuperBowl, and enticing other headline-grabbing businesses looking to move to greener pastures. Luring Amazon indeed will be a major publicity coup for local and state politicians who certainly will claim credit for a successful outcome in the runup to Election Day.

It turns, out, however, that the benefits of taxpayer-financed subsidies always are overstated. The economic costs of subsidy packages for private business enterprises are in reality much larger than their supporters admit, for several reasons.

First, the contest for Amazon’s second headquarters is a zero-sum game that only one metro area will win. Amazon already has decided to expand and the company will locate somewhere even without a targeted subsidy. Cities competing for Amazon’s new headquarters simply are seeking to shift already planned economic activity geographically, but are not creating any new economic activity.

Second, many economic development studies erroneously count every person hired by a new employer as a job added to the local economy and the new company’s total payroll as an addition to the local tax base. The mistake is that many jobs at Amazon’s second headquarters will be filled by individuals who transfer from existing local jobs (called a “displacement effect”). The taxable income base expands only to the extent that the wages of currently employed workers rise after changing employers. The full wages of people who move to the local area are gains for the city that lures Amazon, but are losses to the places from which they emigrate.

Third, politicians fail to account for the opportunity cost of business-location subsidies. The opportunity cost of any taxpayer-funded subsidy is the private-sector economic activity that would have been generated (but is lost) had the dollars financing it remained in private hands. Nor do economic development studies typically recognize that additional public goods and services (such as public schools, transit systems and police protection) — and additional taxes to pay for them — will be needed to accommodate Amazon’s 50,000 employees and their families.

Finally, politicians argue that new wage earners will spur economic growth through a multiplier effect as their larger incomes circulate around the regional economy. That is certainly true (although multiplier estimates are wildly overstated), but removing income from the private sector to finance subsidies means that the multiplier effect works in reverse. Politicians baldly assume that every dollar of subsidy is worth more to the economy than if the dollar remained in taxpayers’ pockets. Politicians, in other words, believe that they know better than ordinary people how best to allocate resources to their highest valued uses. The historical evidence against that belief is overwhelming.

We won’t know how much the contending urban areas will spend in total to lure Amazon’s second headquarters until the contest is over. New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority and the City of Newark alone have offered an incentive package worth a stunning $7 billion over 10 years. Amazingly, Amazon has received 238 proposals thus far. The social waste in time, money, and effort devoted to buying Amazon’s favor will be monumental, dwarfing whatever benefits net of costs are captured by the winning city.

Most economists conclude that targeted business-location subsidies, often committing more taxpayer spending per job created than the new employees will earn in a year, do not pay off. State and local politicians may win when they lure Amazon to their city and we undoubtedly will see them standing front and center to take credit for an economic development windfall as they help cut the red ribbon at the shiny new headquarters building.

Don’t be fooled. Such victories impose heavy costs on taxpayers, who stand to lose more than Amazon gains.

Thomas A. Garrett is associate professor of economics at the University of Mississippi; William Shughart, research director of the Independent Institute, is J. Fish Smith Professor in Public Choice at Utah State University’s Huntsman School of Business



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The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and What It Means Today


When Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517, 500 years ago this week, he probably had no idea what forces he was unleashing. Although his intention was to spur reform within the Catholic Church rather than breaking off and starting a new church, he ended up accomplishing both.

In fact, the Reformation started by Luther set in motion an awakening that stimulated an unusual concentration of human genius and extraordinary wisdom that would culminate in the birth of a new nation — one unprecedented in human history, dedicated to upholding its citizens’ unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. If there had been no Reformation, there would be no United States as we know it today.

American history from the very beginning — with the Anglicans settling Virginia, the Puritans and Presbyterians settling in New England, the Reformed Dutch settling in New York, and the Quakers settling Pennsylvania to name a few — is inextricably linked to the Protestant Reformation. To understand the relevance of the Reformation, let’s revisit its core ideas and central figures and assess what is happening today.  

The drama starts with Luther, who after being expelled from the Catholic Church, stood trial, and stated publicly that it was wrong for anyone to act against his conscience in religious matters. In addition, Luther introduced the radical notion of human equality in a “priesthood of all believers.” With obedience to authority and class stratification having been the norm for most of recorded history, Luther appeared to be either a fool or a subversive for proclaiming that liberty of conscience and equality of all believers, regardless of class, was the proper basis for religious and political life. 

After Luther, it was John Calvin of Geneva who contributed the most to advancing the depth and breadth of the Reformation. Calvin’s “resistance theory,” which justified the people’s right to disobey unjust rule, would later find expression in the Declaration of Independence.  A majority of America’s Founding Fathers had read and probably memorized a brief summary of Calvin’s theology contained in the Westminster Catechism because in those days it was part of the curriculum of almost every school.  Calvin’s most important work, the multi-volume Institutes of Christian Religion, was cited by John Adams, Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison in their correspondence and deliberations over the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.

After the American colonies won the war of independence from Britain, the real work of forming an effective government for the United States began with the Constitutional Convention of 1787. That was no easy task for the 55 delegates who convened in the midst of a depressed economy, rampant inflation of the Continental dollar, territorial threats, and even talk of secession by New England.  

By today’s standards, it was nothing short of a miracle that the convention delegates could muster the tolerance and big-mindedness to agree on substantive terms of the new Constitution in just four months. But as good as that Constitution was (and is), it had to be ratified by the states to become the law of the land. Fear of corruption and abuse of power from a central government caused several key states to withhold support until the Constitution was amended with a Bill of Rights – starting with the all-important First Amendment of protecting and tolerating freedom of speech, press and religion.  

This being the 500th anniversary of the Reformation it’s appropriate to reflect on the present state of those freedoms embodied in the First Amendment.

In the last thirty years, America’s culture has been progressively enveloped by “political correctness” — which restricts discussion to stereotypes and requires that all social and political reality be seen through a particular “lens.” The politically-correct agenda has been advanced by manipulating the meaning of language, while it has also been helped by a public conditioned to ignore reality and common sense and accept distorted and even false narratives.

Because political correctness narrows the range of political thought, its adherents tend to be intolerant — seeking to shut down and silence people with whom they disagree on college campuses across the country, clamoring for removal of historic statues and monuments, and even demanding that people with opposing views on such subjects as climate change and gay marriage be silenced, fined, or arrested.

Today’s problems are also compounded by social media, which has many benefits, but also tend to promote groupthink conformity that marginalizes and silences opposing and independent voices. Because most people avoid inviting criticism, denouncement or being bullied, there is a “spiral of silence” on social media, which reinforces the default groupthink of what is trending and what appears to be the social and cultural majority.

As we survey the popular culture in America today, we get a sense that the Reformation that ushered in an unprecedented appreciation of both freedom and equality, as well as a deeper and more personal relationship with God the Father, has not completed its destiny. Indeed, in the last two or three generations there has been a significant regression of some of the Reformation principles and basic common sense that was endowed by God the Creator, both of which flourished in early America.     

History shows that the great leaps forward in progress were almost always spurred by individuals who had original ideas and the courage to challenge the assumptions and stereotypes of their times. May this 500th anniversary of the Reformation be an occasion to commit to a spiritual revival and a renewed passion to protect our nation’s freedoms and rekindle the liberty of conscience that elevates tolerance, original thinking, courage and character. 

Scott Powell is senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle. Reach him at scottp@discovery.org 

When Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517, 500 years ago this week, he probably had no idea what forces he was unleashing. Although his intention was to spur reform within the Catholic Church rather than breaking off and starting a new church, he ended up accomplishing both.

In fact, the Reformation started by Luther set in motion an awakening that stimulated an unusual concentration of human genius and extraordinary wisdom that would culminate in the birth of a new nation — one unprecedented in human history, dedicated to upholding its citizens’ unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. If there had been no Reformation, there would be no United States as we know it today.

American history from the very beginning — with the Anglicans settling Virginia, the Puritans and Presbyterians settling in New England, the Reformed Dutch settling in New York, and the Quakers settling Pennsylvania to name a few — is inextricably linked to the Protestant Reformation. To understand the relevance of the Reformation, let’s revisit its core ideas and central figures and assess what is happening today.  

The drama starts with Luther, who after being expelled from the Catholic Church, stood trial, and stated publicly that it was wrong for anyone to act against his conscience in religious matters. In addition, Luther introduced the radical notion of human equality in a “priesthood of all believers.” With obedience to authority and class stratification having been the norm for most of recorded history, Luther appeared to be either a fool or a subversive for proclaiming that liberty of conscience and equality of all believers, regardless of class, was the proper basis for religious and political life. 

After Luther, it was John Calvin of Geneva who contributed the most to advancing the depth and breadth of the Reformation. Calvin’s “resistance theory,” which justified the people’s right to disobey unjust rule, would later find expression in the Declaration of Independence.  A majority of America’s Founding Fathers had read and probably memorized a brief summary of Calvin’s theology contained in the Westminster Catechism because in those days it was part of the curriculum of almost every school.  Calvin’s most important work, the multi-volume Institutes of Christian Religion, was cited by John Adams, Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison in their correspondence and deliberations over the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.

After the American colonies won the war of independence from Britain, the real work of forming an effective government for the United States began with the Constitutional Convention of 1787. That was no easy task for the 55 delegates who convened in the midst of a depressed economy, rampant inflation of the Continental dollar, territorial threats, and even talk of secession by New England.  

By today’s standards, it was nothing short of a miracle that the convention delegates could muster the tolerance and big-mindedness to agree on substantive terms of the new Constitution in just four months. But as good as that Constitution was (and is), it had to be ratified by the states to become the law of the land. Fear of corruption and abuse of power from a central government caused several key states to withhold support until the Constitution was amended with a Bill of Rights – starting with the all-important First Amendment of protecting and tolerating freedom of speech, press and religion.  

This being the 500th anniversary of the Reformation it’s appropriate to reflect on the present state of those freedoms embodied in the First Amendment.

In the last thirty years, America’s culture has been progressively enveloped by “political correctness” — which restricts discussion to stereotypes and requires that all social and political reality be seen through a particular “lens.” The politically-correct agenda has been advanced by manipulating the meaning of language, while it has also been helped by a public conditioned to ignore reality and common sense and accept distorted and even false narratives.

Because political correctness narrows the range of political thought, its adherents tend to be intolerant — seeking to shut down and silence people with whom they disagree on college campuses across the country, clamoring for removal of historic statues and monuments, and even demanding that people with opposing views on such subjects as climate change and gay marriage be silenced, fined, or arrested.

Today’s problems are also compounded by social media, which has many benefits, but also tend to promote groupthink conformity that marginalizes and silences opposing and independent voices. Because most people avoid inviting criticism, denouncement or being bullied, there is a “spiral of silence” on social media, which reinforces the default groupthink of what is trending and what appears to be the social and cultural majority.

As we survey the popular culture in America today, we get a sense that the Reformation that ushered in an unprecedented appreciation of both freedom and equality, as well as a deeper and more personal relationship with God the Father, has not completed its destiny. Indeed, in the last two or three generations there has been a significant regression of some of the Reformation principles and basic common sense that was endowed by God the Creator, both of which flourished in early America.     

History shows that the great leaps forward in progress were almost always spurred by individuals who had original ideas and the courage to challenge the assumptions and stereotypes of their times. May this 500th anniversary of the Reformation be an occasion to commit to a spiritual revival and a renewed passion to protect our nation’s freedoms and rekindle the liberty of conscience that elevates tolerance, original thinking, courage and character. 

Scott Powell is senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle. Reach him at scottp@discovery.org 



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So Where Are the Podesta Indictments?


If Paul Manafort is guilty of failing to register as an agent of a foreign government, something that occurred when Manafort was not running the Trump campaign, then so is Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton campaign manager, who is also up to his eyeballs in collusion between the Democrats and Hillary Clinton and Russia and Ukraine:

One of Washington’s most powerful lobbying firms did not disclose the wide extent of its lucrative political work for a Ukrainian group tied to both onetime Trump adviser Paul Manafort and to pro-Russian politicians, new records show.  


The firm, the Podesta Group, said nothing in a 2012 lobbying report to Congress about at least 32 meetings, emails and other communications it had with the State Department, at a time when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was scrutinizing Ukraine’s upcoming election, records show. 


The new disclosures shed light on the web of contacts between Russian-leaning Ukrainians, Washington lobbyists and U.S. policymakers during the Obama administration. The Podesta Group filed new, detailed lobbying disclosures in April to augment lobbying reports from 2012 to 2014 that had given little detail. The firm is run by Tony Podesta, whose brother, John, is a longtime adviser to Clinton and was chairman of her 2016 presidential campaign. John Podesta was a senior counselor to President Barack Obama in 2014 and had previously been lobbying partners with his brother. He is not currently affiliated with his brother’s firm.         


The Podesta Group was representing a Ukrainian nonprofit, the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, as it sought to counter the Obama administration’s critical stance toward Ukraine’s pro-Russia government and Congress’ growing annoyance with Ukraine’s leaders.              

It is easy to forget in the hyperventilation by the legacy media that it was Paul Manafort’s efforts on behalf of the Podsta Group, not Trump, that caused Special Counsel Robert Mueller to expand his investigation to include the Podestas and their group and that Manafort’s alleged crimes do not involve work for the Trump campaign:

A thus-far-reliable source who used to be involved with Clinton allies John and Tony Podesta told Tucker Carlson that press reports appearing to implicate President Trump in Russian collusion are exaggerated. The source, who Carlson said he would not yet name, said he worked for the brothers’ Podesta Group and was privy to some information from Robert Mueller’s special investigation.                                                                                        


While media reports describe former “Black, Manafort & Stone” principal Paul Manafort as Trump’s main tie to the investigation, the source said it is Manafort’s role as a liaison between Russia and the Podesta Group that is drawing the scrutiny… 


The source said the Podesta Group was in regular contact with Manafort while Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat… 


During this time, the Uranium One deal was being facilitated by the White House.  


According to Carlson, “Manafort was clear that Russia wanted to cultivate ties to Hillary” because she appeared to be the presumptive 45th president. 

Well, isn’t that special? We must not overlook Hillary Clinton’s and the DNC’s collusion with Ukraine that led to the interest in Manafort and John Podesta’s shady dealings regarding Russia and the Ukraine.      

The announcement that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating Tony Podesta, the brother of former Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, and the Podesta Group and its connections with Ukraine shows that even Robert Mueller and his team of Democratic donors and operatives sometimes going where the evidence really leads:

The probe of Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm grew out of Mueller’s inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to the sources. As special counsel, Mueller has been tasked with investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.


Manafort had organized a public relations campaign for a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). Podesta’s company was one of many firms that worked on the campaign, which promoted Ukraine’s image in the West.


The sources said the investigation into Podesta and his company began as more of a fact-finding mission about the ECMU and Manafort’s role in the campaign, but has now morphed into a criminal inquiry into whether the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA.

There is more to this story than the legacy media has been willing to report to this point, including John Podesta’s dealings with Russia and Hillary and the Democratic Party’s collusion with Ukraine to slime Team Trump. John Podesta is the doofus whose password was found to be “password” in the Russian hacking investigation and may have violated federal disclosure laws for not disclosing he was paid to sit on the board of various Russian entities:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, may have violated federal law when he failed to fully disclose details surrounding his membership on the executive board of Joule Unlimited and the “75,000 common shares” he received. The energy company accepted millions from a Vladimir Putin-connected Russian government fund.


Podesta joined the executive board of Joule Unlimited Technologies — a firm partly financed by Putin’s Russia — in June 2011 and received 100,000 shares of stock options, according to an email uncovered by WikiLeaks. Podesta’s membership on the board of directors of Joule Unlimited was first revealed in research from Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large and Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President Peter Schweizer.


Podesta never disclosed his position on Joule Unlimited’s board of directors and failed to include the stock payout in his federal financial disclosures, as required by law, before he became President Obama’s senior adviser in January 2014 — a possible violation for federal law, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group (The DCNF).

John Podesta’s dealings with Russia warrant serious and immediate Congressional inquiry as well as the Podesta Group’s dealings with Ukraine. It is Podesta, not Paul Manafort, that colluded with foreign governments to enrich themselves while colluding to derail Team Trump:

During a heated Fox Business interview with Maria Bartiromo, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chief John Podesta made a series of misleading statements when questioned about his involvement in a company that received $35 million from the Russian government while Clinton served as secretary of state.


On Jan. 18, 2011, a small green-energy company named Joule Unlimited announced Podesta’s appointment to its board. Months later, Rusnano, a Kremlin-backed investment fund founded by Vladimir Putin, pumped $35 million into Joule. Serving alongside Podesta on Joule’s board were senior Russian official Anatoly Chubais and oligarch Ruben Vardanyan, who has been appointed by Putin to a Russian economic modernization council…


WikiLeaks documents reveal that when he joined the Obama White House, Podesta transferred his Joule shares to an LLC controlled by his adult children. He also resumed communicating with Joule and Joule investors after leaving the White House and joining Clinton’s campaign…


There’s also this inconvenient fact: In 2016, Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, where Joule board member Reuben Vardanyan formerly served as head of its investment banking division, had a $170,000 lobbying contract with the Podesta Group — which is owned by John Podesta’s brother, Tony Podesta.

Oh, what tangled webs Team Clinton have woven: If you want real collusion with a real trail of evidence of people trying to do real things interfering with the 2016 campaign, try Hillary Clinton’s real collusion with the Ukraine to derail and besmirch Team Trump. As Politico reported in a story that went nowhere at the time:

Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.


A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.


The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia. But they were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.

Here you have a meeting between a DNC operative in a foreign embassy receiving materials used to defame and derail the Trump campaign. This meeting had real consequences other than in the case of the Trump meeting of boring its participants to death.

An indictment of Manafort while the Podestas and Team Clinton roam free after their real and treasonous collusion with Ukraine and Russia in the Uranium One scandal would be a scandal unto itself. It would be like giving a parking ticket to the bank guard while letting the bank robbers escape with the loot.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.               

If Paul Manafort is guilty of failing to register as an agent of a foreign government, something that occurred when Manafort was not running the Trump campaign, then so is Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton campaign manager, who is also up to his eyeballs in collusion between the Democrats and Hillary Clinton and Russia and Ukraine:

One of Washington’s most powerful lobbying firms did not disclose the wide extent of its lucrative political work for a Ukrainian group tied to both onetime Trump adviser Paul Manafort and to pro-Russian politicians, new records show.  


The firm, the Podesta Group, said nothing in a 2012 lobbying report to Congress about at least 32 meetings, emails and other communications it had with the State Department, at a time when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was scrutinizing Ukraine’s upcoming election, records show. 


The new disclosures shed light on the web of contacts between Russian-leaning Ukrainians, Washington lobbyists and U.S. policymakers during the Obama administration. The Podesta Group filed new, detailed lobbying disclosures in April to augment lobbying reports from 2012 to 2014 that had given little detail. The firm is run by Tony Podesta, whose brother, John, is a longtime adviser to Clinton and was chairman of her 2016 presidential campaign. John Podesta was a senior counselor to President Barack Obama in 2014 and had previously been lobbying partners with his brother. He is not currently affiliated with his brother’s firm.         


The Podesta Group was representing a Ukrainian nonprofit, the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, as it sought to counter the Obama administration’s critical stance toward Ukraine’s pro-Russia government and Congress’ growing annoyance with Ukraine’s leaders.              

It is easy to forget in the hyperventilation by the legacy media that it was Paul Manafort’s efforts on behalf of the Podsta Group, not Trump, that caused Special Counsel Robert Mueller to expand his investigation to include the Podestas and their group and that Manafort’s alleged crimes do not involve work for the Trump campaign:

A thus-far-reliable source who used to be involved with Clinton allies John and Tony Podesta told Tucker Carlson that press reports appearing to implicate President Trump in Russian collusion are exaggerated. The source, who Carlson said he would not yet name, said he worked for the brothers’ Podesta Group and was privy to some information from Robert Mueller’s special investigation.                                                                                        


While media reports describe former “Black, Manafort & Stone” principal Paul Manafort as Trump’s main tie to the investigation, the source said it is Manafort’s role as a liaison between Russia and the Podesta Group that is drawing the scrutiny… 


The source said the Podesta Group was in regular contact with Manafort while Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat… 


During this time, the Uranium One deal was being facilitated by the White House.  


According to Carlson, “Manafort was clear that Russia wanted to cultivate ties to Hillary” because she appeared to be the presumptive 45th president. 

Well, isn’t that special? We must not overlook Hillary Clinton’s and the DNC’s collusion with Ukraine that led to the interest in Manafort and John Podesta’s shady dealings regarding Russia and the Ukraine.      

The announcement that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating Tony Podesta, the brother of former Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, and the Podesta Group and its connections with Ukraine shows that even Robert Mueller and his team of Democratic donors and operatives sometimes going where the evidence really leads:

The probe of Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm grew out of Mueller’s inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to the sources. As special counsel, Mueller has been tasked with investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.


Manafort had organized a public relations campaign for a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). Podesta’s company was one of many firms that worked on the campaign, which promoted Ukraine’s image in the West.


The sources said the investigation into Podesta and his company began as more of a fact-finding mission about the ECMU and Manafort’s role in the campaign, but has now morphed into a criminal inquiry into whether the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA.

There is more to this story than the legacy media has been willing to report to this point, including John Podesta’s dealings with Russia and Hillary and the Democratic Party’s collusion with Ukraine to slime Team Trump. John Podesta is the doofus whose password was found to be “password” in the Russian hacking investigation and may have violated federal disclosure laws for not disclosing he was paid to sit on the board of various Russian entities:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, may have violated federal law when he failed to fully disclose details surrounding his membership on the executive board of Joule Unlimited and the “75,000 common shares” he received. The energy company accepted millions from a Vladimir Putin-connected Russian government fund.


Podesta joined the executive board of Joule Unlimited Technologies — a firm partly financed by Putin’s Russia — in June 2011 and received 100,000 shares of stock options, according to an email uncovered by WikiLeaks. Podesta’s membership on the board of directors of Joule Unlimited was first revealed in research from Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large and Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President Peter Schweizer.


Podesta never disclosed his position on Joule Unlimited’s board of directors and failed to include the stock payout in his federal financial disclosures, as required by law, before he became President Obama’s senior adviser in January 2014 — a possible violation for federal law, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group (The DCNF).

John Podesta’s dealings with Russia warrant serious and immediate Congressional inquiry as well as the Podesta Group’s dealings with Ukraine. It is Podesta, not Paul Manafort, that colluded with foreign governments to enrich themselves while colluding to derail Team Trump:

During a heated Fox Business interview with Maria Bartiromo, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chief John Podesta made a series of misleading statements when questioned about his involvement in a company that received $35 million from the Russian government while Clinton served as secretary of state.


On Jan. 18, 2011, a small green-energy company named Joule Unlimited announced Podesta’s appointment to its board. Months later, Rusnano, a Kremlin-backed investment fund founded by Vladimir Putin, pumped $35 million into Joule. Serving alongside Podesta on Joule’s board were senior Russian official Anatoly Chubais and oligarch Ruben Vardanyan, who has been appointed by Putin to a Russian economic modernization council…


WikiLeaks documents reveal that when he joined the Obama White House, Podesta transferred his Joule shares to an LLC controlled by his adult children. He also resumed communicating with Joule and Joule investors after leaving the White House and joining Clinton’s campaign…


There’s also this inconvenient fact: In 2016, Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, where Joule board member Reuben Vardanyan formerly served as head of its investment banking division, had a $170,000 lobbying contract with the Podesta Group — which is owned by John Podesta’s brother, Tony Podesta.

Oh, what tangled webs Team Clinton have woven: If you want real collusion with a real trail of evidence of people trying to do real things interfering with the 2016 campaign, try Hillary Clinton’s real collusion with the Ukraine to derail and besmirch Team Trump. As Politico reported in a story that went nowhere at the time:

Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.


A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.


The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia. But they were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.

Here you have a meeting between a DNC operative in a foreign embassy receiving materials used to defame and derail the Trump campaign. This meeting had real consequences other than in the case of the Trump meeting of boring its participants to death.

An indictment of Manafort while the Podestas and Team Clinton roam free after their real and treasonous collusion with Ukraine and Russia in the Uranium One scandal would be a scandal unto itself. It would be like giving a parking ticket to the bank guard while letting the bank robbers escape with the loot.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.               



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As Usual, Patty Murray Doesn't Get It


Back in the dreadful days of the patriarchy and plantation slavery, Dr. Johnson famously said that patriotism was the last refuge of a scoundrel.

But what do you say about Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) arguing that the ruling class should use its First Amendment rights to shut down extremists? She says:

Here is the issue worth discussing today: how can we protect this constitutional right [of the First Amendment] while also making sure that our colleges and universities are places where everyone can feel safe, learn, and respectfully debate ideas. And — as a part of that conversation, we need to discuss how elected leaders, community members, and college and university administrators, can best exercise their First Amendment right to do everything in their power to push back against those driving an agenda of extremism, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and misogyny. And — we also must speak out against groups and organizations that are looking to use their right to free speech to divide us, to attack the most vulnerable among us, and to feed on people’s fear in the service of hate.

I’d say that “scoundrel” is too mild a world for Sen. Patty.

Murray is making three points here, and every one of them is wrong. First, she seems to think that protecting the First Amendment somehow conflicts with feeling safe, learning, and respectful debate. No, Patty. We have the police to keep people safe. The problem with our schools is that you liberals won’t let the police police lefty thugs like Antifa and BLM.

Then Patty thinks that the First Amendment is needed for powerful leaders and administrators to lecture the deplorables. No, Patty. No ruling class ever needed a First Amendment. You will note, Senator, that in Europe where there is no First Amendment, the ruling class, bless its heart, has no problem getting the word out — or in prosecuting deplorables for hate speech.

Then Patty writes that the ruling class should unite against people that want to divide “us.” No, Patty. Divide and conquer is your game, the ruling-class game that every military or political leader sucks in with her mother’s milk. Your problem is that regime opponents are uniting to break up your game and hive off people that have unreflectingly supported Deep State politicians like you without realizing that you don’t care about people like them; you only care about “elected leaders, community members, and college and university administrators” and other bribed apologists of the ruling-class. People like you, Patty.

Now let us check the text of the First Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Now, Patty, on my view, your idea of the powerful pushing back against “extremism” is the reason we have the First Amendment in the first place: to make it difficult for the ruling class to silence dissenting voices. Every ruling class wants to silence their opponents. Some rulers call them deplorables and “extremists.” Others go straight to the point and call them “saboteurs and wreckers.” Every ruling class hates its critics.

And do you see that bit at the end, Patty, about “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances?” It says nothing about exceptions in case of “extremism, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and misogyny.” In fact, I’d say that any anyone peaceably assembling, down the ages, has without exception had to face the scorn and the pejoratives of ruling-class place-men and place-women like you.

Let me repeat: words like “extremism, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and misogyny” are notable today only as pejoratives that ruling-class pooh-bahs like you, Patty Murray — and your violent Antifa and BLM stooges on the street — use to bully and silence any dissent from ruling-class ideology. 

If you believe, as I do, that there is no such thing as justice, only injustice, then the First Amendment makes complete sense. On this view, the point of the First Amendment is to give people that are experiencing injustice — no matter how deplorable and mistaken the ruling class judges them to be — a chance to make their grievances heard in the public square. And since Government is Force, it stands to reason that every ruling class in history presides over a blazing Triangle Shirtwaist manufactory of injustice.

Let me say this again. The point of the First Amendment is precisely to let “white supremacists” like Richard Spencer into the public square. It doesn’t matter that he is a monstrous extremist. The point is that “we” — whether the ruling class or worthier, nobler folks like AT readers — need to hear from people that think they are suffering under injustice, whether they are “right” or not.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.

Back in the dreadful days of the patriarchy and plantation slavery, Dr. Johnson famously said that patriotism was the last refuge of a scoundrel.

But what do you say about Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) arguing that the ruling class should use its First Amendment rights to shut down extremists? She says:

Here is the issue worth discussing today: how can we protect this constitutional right [of the First Amendment] while also making sure that our colleges and universities are places where everyone can feel safe, learn, and respectfully debate ideas. And — as a part of that conversation, we need to discuss how elected leaders, community members, and college and university administrators, can best exercise their First Amendment right to do everything in their power to push back against those driving an agenda of extremism, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and misogyny. And — we also must speak out against groups and organizations that are looking to use their right to free speech to divide us, to attack the most vulnerable among us, and to feed on people’s fear in the service of hate.

I’d say that “scoundrel” is too mild a world for Sen. Patty.

Murray is making three points here, and every one of them is wrong. First, she seems to think that protecting the First Amendment somehow conflicts with feeling safe, learning, and respectful debate. No, Patty. We have the police to keep people safe. The problem with our schools is that you liberals won’t let the police police lefty thugs like Antifa and BLM.

Then Patty thinks that the First Amendment is needed for powerful leaders and administrators to lecture the deplorables. No, Patty. No ruling class ever needed a First Amendment. You will note, Senator, that in Europe where there is no First Amendment, the ruling class, bless its heart, has no problem getting the word out — or in prosecuting deplorables for hate speech.

Then Patty writes that the ruling class should unite against people that want to divide “us.” No, Patty. Divide and conquer is your game, the ruling-class game that every military or political leader sucks in with her mother’s milk. Your problem is that regime opponents are uniting to break up your game and hive off people that have unreflectingly supported Deep State politicians like you without realizing that you don’t care about people like them; you only care about “elected leaders, community members, and college and university administrators” and other bribed apologists of the ruling-class. People like you, Patty.

Now let us check the text of the First Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Now, Patty, on my view, your idea of the powerful pushing back against “extremism” is the reason we have the First Amendment in the first place: to make it difficult for the ruling class to silence dissenting voices. Every ruling class wants to silence their opponents. Some rulers call them deplorables and “extremists.” Others go straight to the point and call them “saboteurs and wreckers.” Every ruling class hates its critics.

And do you see that bit at the end, Patty, about “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances?” It says nothing about exceptions in case of “extremism, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and misogyny.” In fact, I’d say that any anyone peaceably assembling, down the ages, has without exception had to face the scorn and the pejoratives of ruling-class place-men and place-women like you.

Let me repeat: words like “extremism, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and misogyny” are notable today only as pejoratives that ruling-class pooh-bahs like you, Patty Murray — and your violent Antifa and BLM stooges on the street — use to bully and silence any dissent from ruling-class ideology. 

If you believe, as I do, that there is no such thing as justice, only injustice, then the First Amendment makes complete sense. On this view, the point of the First Amendment is to give people that are experiencing injustice — no matter how deplorable and mistaken the ruling class judges them to be — a chance to make their grievances heard in the public square. And since Government is Force, it stands to reason that every ruling class in history presides over a blazing Triangle Shirtwaist manufactory of injustice.

Let me say this again. The point of the First Amendment is precisely to let “white supremacists” like Richard Spencer into the public square. It doesn’t matter that he is a monstrous extremist. The point is that “we” — whether the ruling class or worthier, nobler folks like AT readers — need to hear from people that think they are suffering under injustice, whether they are “right” or not.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.



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Fake Disgust at Gove's Weinstein joke


The British Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, has just been summoned  before (or hauled off to) the Politically-Correct Inquisition for his sinful faux pas (i.e., joke) on BBC Radio 4. Indeed the very wording of some of newspaper reports show this to be the case. One newspaper, for example, wrote:

“Michael Gove has been forced to apologise after making a crass Harvey Weinstein joke.”

Note the word “forced.” Yes, Michael Gove MP has been forced to repent for his sin.

So what was Michael Gove’s joke? This:

“Sometimes I think that coming into the studio with you John [Humphrys] is like going into Harvey Weinstein’s bedroom.”

What hasn’t been much commented upon is that the British Labour Party’s very own Lord Kinnock also got in on the act by adding: “John [Humphrys] goes way past groping.” Not only that: the audience laughed at — and applauded — the joke!  It’s also strange that Lord Kinnock hasn’t also been summoned to the Politically-Correct Inquisition.

For those who have no sense of humour, or who don’t know anything about John Humphrys and Radio 4: Michael Gove’s joke was a reference to John Humphrys (a BBC journalist) and his confrontational (or “in-depth”) style of interviewing.

Gove’s joke is moderately funny. It’s not a stroke of comedic genius, sure. Then again, he’s not a comedian and he wasn’t at a comedy club. In fact, if he had been a comedian he’d have got away with this joke. That’s because moral grandstanders and political activists wouldn’t have been able to make any political capital out the joke had it been made by a comedian.

Thus it’s very hard to believe that anyone was truly “furious” or offended. It’s hard to believe that the comment — joke — was “crass”. And it’s hard to believe that the joke was “clumsy.”

So what I believe is that people who are politically against Michael Gove anyway used the joke as an excuse to have a go at him.

In any case, Gove has predictably apologised. Indeed, he got on his knees and apologised “unreservedly.” More concretely, he tweeted:

“Apologies for my clumsy attempt at humour on R4 Today this morning — it wasn’t appropriate. I’m sorry and apologise unreservedly.”

We should have very little respect for those people who later apologize for what they, at the time, didn’t see as a sin or a political faux pas. Gove and others should have the courage of their convictions. Having said that, I can see that such ritual self-flagellation is required in order to save one’s career. So perhaps we’d all do the same thing if we were put in the same position. The problem is that if people keep on apologizing for pretty harmless jokes, words, or actions, then our Puritan Left-wing Age will become even more puritan and pious. So should we feed the crocodile which will eventually eat us?

Of course, the joke wasn’t “clumsy” at all. It was a joke which was said off-the-cuff. However, there is one way in which the joke can be seen a clumsy. Namely, it was clumsy because Gove should have known that political activists and moral grandstanders would have jumped on this joke to further a political cause, have a go at a politician they don’t like, or to morally exhibit themselves. Thus the fact that Gove didn’t foresee all of this did make his comment clumsy in that he clumsily threatened his own career (if only in a very small way) when he made this otherwise harmless joke.

In any case, the confession won’t be enough for those who’ve only cried crocodile tears.

One politician who used Gove’s joke for her own ends was the Labour MP Jess Phillips. (Phillips once said that the equivalent to the mass sexual assaults by Muslims in Cologne occurred every week –- by white men —  in a single Birmingham city-center street.) She’s well-known for being purer than pure when it comes to these issues. That is, she virulently anti-“Tory” and also a massively self-conscious feminist and self-selling politician. She wrote:

“Michael Gove just left the studio without his dignity.”

In other words, Gove’s joke has been used for political ends and/or for moral grandstanding.

The main problem here is that we live in a Puritan Age. Our Politically-Correct Puritan Age is the way it is primarily because of left-wing morality and theology (i.e. theory). True, political correctness can sometimes run free of its left-wing grounding (or source); though left-wing morality and theology essentially brought about political correctness.

The Puritan Age’s ultimate sin is to offend any “identity group” or designated victim class. However, some groups can be offended without even an eyebrow being raised — and such groups aren’t always “majorities.” Namely, whites, men, right-wingers, conservatives, Christians, patriots, nationalists, American “rednecks,” “white-van man,” Brexiteers, “provincials,” those north of Watford Gap, etc. The list is long. Thus, politically correct and incorrect groups are selected according to left-wing theology. That theology decides who or what we can offend.

The British Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, has just been summoned  before (or hauled off to) the Politically-Correct Inquisition for his sinful faux pas (i.e., joke) on BBC Radio 4. Indeed the very wording of some of newspaper reports show this to be the case. One newspaper, for example, wrote:

“Michael Gove has been forced to apologise after making a crass Harvey Weinstein joke.”

Note the word “forced.” Yes, Michael Gove MP has been forced to repent for his sin.

So what was Michael Gove’s joke? This:

“Sometimes I think that coming into the studio with you John [Humphrys] is like going into Harvey Weinstein’s bedroom.”

What hasn’t been much commented upon is that the British Labour Party’s very own Lord Kinnock also got in on the act by adding: “John [Humphrys] goes way past groping.” Not only that: the audience laughed at — and applauded — the joke!  It’s also strange that Lord Kinnock hasn’t also been summoned to the Politically-Correct Inquisition.

For those who have no sense of humour, or who don’t know anything about John Humphrys and Radio 4: Michael Gove’s joke was a reference to John Humphrys (a BBC journalist) and his confrontational (or “in-depth”) style of interviewing.

Gove’s joke is moderately funny. It’s not a stroke of comedic genius, sure. Then again, he’s not a comedian and he wasn’t at a comedy club. In fact, if he had been a comedian he’d have got away with this joke. That’s because moral grandstanders and political activists wouldn’t have been able to make any political capital out the joke had it been made by a comedian.

Thus it’s very hard to believe that anyone was truly “furious” or offended. It’s hard to believe that the comment — joke — was “crass”. And it’s hard to believe that the joke was “clumsy.”

So what I believe is that people who are politically against Michael Gove anyway used the joke as an excuse to have a go at him.

In any case, Gove has predictably apologised. Indeed, he got on his knees and apologised “unreservedly.” More concretely, he tweeted:

“Apologies for my clumsy attempt at humour on R4 Today this morning — it wasn’t appropriate. I’m sorry and apologise unreservedly.”

We should have very little respect for those people who later apologize for what they, at the time, didn’t see as a sin or a political faux pas. Gove and others should have the courage of their convictions. Having said that, I can see that such ritual self-flagellation is required in order to save one’s career. So perhaps we’d all do the same thing if we were put in the same position. The problem is that if people keep on apologizing for pretty harmless jokes, words, or actions, then our Puritan Left-wing Age will become even more puritan and pious. So should we feed the crocodile which will eventually eat us?

Of course, the joke wasn’t “clumsy” at all. It was a joke which was said off-the-cuff. However, there is one way in which the joke can be seen a clumsy. Namely, it was clumsy because Gove should have known that political activists and moral grandstanders would have jumped on this joke to further a political cause, have a go at a politician they don’t like, or to morally exhibit themselves. Thus the fact that Gove didn’t foresee all of this did make his comment clumsy in that he clumsily threatened his own career (if only in a very small way) when he made this otherwise harmless joke.

In any case, the confession won’t be enough for those who’ve only cried crocodile tears.

One politician who used Gove’s joke for her own ends was the Labour MP Jess Phillips. (Phillips once said that the equivalent to the mass sexual assaults by Muslims in Cologne occurred every week –- by white men —  in a single Birmingham city-center street.) She’s well-known for being purer than pure when it comes to these issues. That is, she virulently anti-“Tory” and also a massively self-conscious feminist and self-selling politician. She wrote:

“Michael Gove just left the studio without his dignity.”

In other words, Gove’s joke has been used for political ends and/or for moral grandstanding.

The main problem here is that we live in a Puritan Age. Our Politically-Correct Puritan Age is the way it is primarily because of left-wing morality and theology (i.e. theory). True, political correctness can sometimes run free of its left-wing grounding (or source); though left-wing morality and theology essentially brought about political correctness.

The Puritan Age’s ultimate sin is to offend any “identity group” or designated victim class. However, some groups can be offended without even an eyebrow being raised — and such groups aren’t always “majorities.” Namely, whites, men, right-wingers, conservatives, Christians, patriots, nationalists, American “rednecks,” “white-van man,” Brexiteers, “provincials,” those north of Watford Gap, etc. The list is long. Thus, politically correct and incorrect groups are selected according to left-wing theology. That theology decides who or what we can offend.



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Koskinen should be Imprisoned, not just Removed


A little bit more of the swamp was drained last Thursday when President Trump announced that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will be replaced when his term expires on November 12. Actually, Koskinen deserves another term, not as IRS Commissioner, but as an inmate at Leavenworth. Merely replacing him is too little too late:

Trump tapped David Kautter, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for tax policy, to serve as interim IRS commissioner, beginning Nov. 13.


Koskinen’s term ends on Nov. 12. He was eligible for reappointment, but Koskinen is fiercely opposed by congressional Republicans. Members of the House Freedom Caucus attempted but failed to impeach Koskinen last year, largely over his handling of the scandal involving former IRS official Lois Lerner.


Prior to Koskinen’s tenure, Lerner was accused targeting conservative groups who applied for non-profit status. Koskinen was accused of stonewalling congressional investigators looking into Lerner’s activities as well as of covering up for the Obama administration.

Koskinen was an unindicted co-conspirator with Lois Lerner in the weaponizing of the IRS to target the Tea Party and other conservative groups during the 2012 election cycle, something which helped get President Barack Hussein Obama reelected. The

Trump DOJ has apologized to these groups for the IRS excesses but these apologies ring hollow after Attorney General Jeff Sessions, poster child for the Peter Principle, let Lois Lerner skate on all criminal charges.  Apologies not accepted.

That introduction of a resolution to impeach IRS commissioner Koskinen came as no surprise considering the lawlessness of the Obama administration and its use of the IRS to bludgeon its political opponents and the refusal by the DOJ to prosecute Lois Lerner for her political targeting of the Tea Party and other conservative political groups, as well as her destruction of evidence.

The resolution, introduced by House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Rep. James Jordan (R-OH) and 18 other committee members, accuses Koskinen of making false statements under oath, failing to comply with a subpoena, and failing to notify Congress that key evidence was missing or destroyed. As they explained it to Fox News’ Sean Hannity:

“The heart of this concern is that they had in their possession documents that were under subpoena and they destroyed those,” Chaffetz said. “Imagine, Sean, if the IRS had asked you for those documents and you said, ‘Well, I had them, but I went ahead and destroyed them.’ What would happen to you?”

Likely we would be incarcerated and not just impeached. As the Washington Times notes, Koskinen is knee-deep in the IRS corruption and the cover-up:

Among the specific charges leveled by Mr. Chaffetz and 18 of his fellow Republicans on the committee were that Mr. Koskinen, appointed by President Obama in December 2013 after the targeting scandal broke, misled Congress when he said he had turned over all of former IRS senior executive Lois G. Lerner’s emails and that he oversaw destruction of evidence when his agency got rid of backup tapes that contained the emails.

Lying to Congress and destruction of evidence under subpoena are federal crimes, and that includes the arrogant Mr. Koskinen, who is just one example of how being an Obama donor can get you a good job with the administration. As Investor’s Business Daily noted:

Certainly it might be argued that Koskinen’s current position is owed to four decades of being a prodigious Democratic donor.


Koskinen has contributed to every Democratic presidential candidate since 1980, including $2,300 to Obama in 2008, and $5,000 to Obama in 2012.

Of course, being an Obama donor with a government job in and of itself is not a crime, but how Koskinen has used that job is positively criminal. Koskinen once confessed before Congress that obeying the law was a difficult task”

“Whenever we can, we follow the law,” IRS chief John Koskinen recently told the House Ways and Committee in a Freudian slip of the truth that says it all.

When the DOJ dropped prosecution of Lerner, no one was more delighted than Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md) whom Roll Call quotes as saying after the Lerner dismissal:

“Over the past five years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have squandered literally tens of millions of dollars going down all kinds of investigative rabbit holes — IRS, Planned Parenthood, Benghazi — with absolutely no evidence of illegal activity,” Cummings said in a statement.

Actually, there is quite a bit, including arguably some coordination with the abusive IRS by Cummings himself. As Investor’s Business Daily has noted:

Of particular interest to us has been Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, who has made every effort to keep the committee from finding out the true extent of IRS corruption and abuse of power in its targeting of conservatives.


As we’ve noted, emails released by Issa, a California Republican, show that Cummings’ Democratic staff had requested information from the IRS’ tax-exempt division, the one headed by Lois Lerner, on True the Vote, a conservative group that monitors polling places for voter fraud and supports the use of voter IDs, something that Cummings opposes.


“The IRS and the Oversight Minority made numerous requests for virtually identical information from True the Vote, raising concerns that the IRS improperly shared, protected taxpayer information with Rep. Cummings’ staff,” the Oversight panel said in a statement.

House and Senate Democrats, it has been documented, often sent letters to the IRS asking that particularly successful and annoying groups be investigated. Cummings’ coordination and collusion with the IRS is also troubling if not criminal.

It is worth noting that one of the charges in the impeachment of Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal was just considering the use of the IRS for political purposes. People went to jail in Watergate for participating in and covering up a crime. So to should John Koskinen, along with Lois Lerner.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.         

A little bit more of the swamp was drained last Thursday when President Trump announced that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will be replaced when his term expires on November 12. Actually, Koskinen deserves another term, not as IRS Commissioner, but as an inmate at Leavenworth. Merely replacing him is too little too late:

Trump tapped David Kautter, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for tax policy, to serve as interim IRS commissioner, beginning Nov. 13.


Koskinen’s term ends on Nov. 12. He was eligible for reappointment, but Koskinen is fiercely opposed by congressional Republicans. Members of the House Freedom Caucus attempted but failed to impeach Koskinen last year, largely over his handling of the scandal involving former IRS official Lois Lerner.


Prior to Koskinen’s tenure, Lerner was accused targeting conservative groups who applied for non-profit status. Koskinen was accused of stonewalling congressional investigators looking into Lerner’s activities as well as of covering up for the Obama administration.

Koskinen was an unindicted co-conspirator with Lois Lerner in the weaponizing of the IRS to target the Tea Party and other conservative groups during the 2012 election cycle, something which helped get President Barack Hussein Obama reelected. The

Trump DOJ has apologized to these groups for the IRS excesses but these apologies ring hollow after Attorney General Jeff Sessions, poster child for the Peter Principle, let Lois Lerner skate on all criminal charges.  Apologies not accepted.

That introduction of a resolution to impeach IRS commissioner Koskinen came as no surprise considering the lawlessness of the Obama administration and its use of the IRS to bludgeon its political opponents and the refusal by the DOJ to prosecute Lois Lerner for her political targeting of the Tea Party and other conservative political groups, as well as her destruction of evidence.

The resolution, introduced by House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Rep. James Jordan (R-OH) and 18 other committee members, accuses Koskinen of making false statements under oath, failing to comply with a subpoena, and failing to notify Congress that key evidence was missing or destroyed. As they explained it to Fox News’ Sean Hannity:

“The heart of this concern is that they had in their possession documents that were under subpoena and they destroyed those,” Chaffetz said. “Imagine, Sean, if the IRS had asked you for those documents and you said, ‘Well, I had them, but I went ahead and destroyed them.’ What would happen to you?”

Likely we would be incarcerated and not just impeached. As the Washington Times notes, Koskinen is knee-deep in the IRS corruption and the cover-up:

Among the specific charges leveled by Mr. Chaffetz and 18 of his fellow Republicans on the committee were that Mr. Koskinen, appointed by President Obama in December 2013 after the targeting scandal broke, misled Congress when he said he had turned over all of former IRS senior executive Lois G. Lerner’s emails and that he oversaw destruction of evidence when his agency got rid of backup tapes that contained the emails.

Lying to Congress and destruction of evidence under subpoena are federal crimes, and that includes the arrogant Mr. Koskinen, who is just one example of how being an Obama donor can get you a good job with the administration. As Investor’s Business Daily noted:

Certainly it might be argued that Koskinen’s current position is owed to four decades of being a prodigious Democratic donor.


Koskinen has contributed to every Democratic presidential candidate since 1980, including $2,300 to Obama in 2008, and $5,000 to Obama in 2012.

Of course, being an Obama donor with a government job in and of itself is not a crime, but how Koskinen has used that job is positively criminal. Koskinen once confessed before Congress that obeying the law was a difficult task”

“Whenever we can, we follow the law,” IRS chief John Koskinen recently told the House Ways and Committee in a Freudian slip of the truth that says it all.

When the DOJ dropped prosecution of Lerner, no one was more delighted than Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md) whom Roll Call quotes as saying after the Lerner dismissal:

“Over the past five years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have squandered literally tens of millions of dollars going down all kinds of investigative rabbit holes — IRS, Planned Parenthood, Benghazi — with absolutely no evidence of illegal activity,” Cummings said in a statement.

Actually, there is quite a bit, including arguably some coordination with the abusive IRS by Cummings himself. As Investor’s Business Daily has noted:

Of particular interest to us has been Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, who has made every effort to keep the committee from finding out the true extent of IRS corruption and abuse of power in its targeting of conservatives.


As we’ve noted, emails released by Issa, a California Republican, show that Cummings’ Democratic staff had requested information from the IRS’ tax-exempt division, the one headed by Lois Lerner, on True the Vote, a conservative group that monitors polling places for voter fraud and supports the use of voter IDs, something that Cummings opposes.


“The IRS and the Oversight Minority made numerous requests for virtually identical information from True the Vote, raising concerns that the IRS improperly shared, protected taxpayer information with Rep. Cummings’ staff,” the Oversight panel said in a statement.

House and Senate Democrats, it has been documented, often sent letters to the IRS asking that particularly successful and annoying groups be investigated. Cummings’ coordination and collusion with the IRS is also troubling if not criminal.

It is worth noting that one of the charges in the impeachment of Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal was just considering the use of the IRS for political purposes. People went to jail in Watergate for participating in and covering up a crime. So to should John Koskinen, along with Lois Lerner.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.         



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It Begins: Axios' Revolting Bid to Rehabilitate Fusion GPS


How do you defend the indefensible? Start with Axios.

The news outfit founded by former Politico mainstay Mike Allen has a front-page feature by Steve LeVine that attempts to defend and rehabilitate Fusion GPS, the group that produced the phony Trump dossier. In the piece, Levine recasts the notorious smear outfit as just a group of smart investigative reporters turned gumshoes. 

Axios portrays their principals, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, as intelligent, ultra-competent, and rather incredibly, only in their line of business “with no motive apart from the thrill of the chase.” (Which is to say they take anyone’s dollars.)

They are seriously savvy at finding extremely hard-to-locate — and even more difficult to understand and contextualize — documents and other intelligence on globally powerful people and organizations. People who know what they are talking about want to speak with them, in large part because they understand that — either immediately or some time in the future — they themselves can learn something from them.

LeVine notes that the pair of them only got into their seamy line of work smearing people because Rupert Murdoch, the new owner of the Wall Street Journal, their former outfit, didn’t want to pay for their open-checkbook speculative investigative projects when they were at that paper and wanted spot scoops that sell papers instead. It’s Rupert’s fault, see.

Amid all LeVine’s justifications and rationalizations for the firm, which he tries to pass off as just professional conduct, or going where the facts lead, LeVine leaves out one thing:

They produce junk.

Useless things. Things that blow up in a client’s face. They’re not in the business of truth, they’re smear artists, as Sharyl Attkisson (a real investigative reporter) showed. Fusion GPS’s procured Trump dossier is in the news because it’s fake, the product of climbing in bed with Russian agents feeding disinformation from abroad. And it’s so fake, the purveyors had trouble shopping it around to reporters, until a meeting with then-FBI Director James Comey was arranged with the dossier, so that the news of the meeting could be reported instead. The one news outfit that ran the phony dossier, without confirming any of it, Buzzfeed, is in deep doo-doo with the lawyers for it now. Other agencies, such as CNN’s Jake Tapper, focused on reporting the meeting rather than the sordid, mendacious contents of the dossier itself, via leaks.

Are these really investigative aces? Investigative aces worth the $9 milllion they were reportedly paid for this? They trusted an “old acquaintance,” former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who seems to have run a similar firm in London with putting the dossier together, given his pals in the Russian intelligence services, and what they ended up buying was likely Russian disinformation. What they ended up with was a mass of lies about “golden showers” and non-existent meetings in Prague written so badly the only people who were fooled by it were people who wanted to be fooled.

American Spectator summed up the picture pretty well here:

Clinton’s campaign hired a Democrat opposition research firm called Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on you, and in turn they hired a former British Intelligence agent named Christopher Steele to compile a sensational “dossier” on you. It turns out, however, that all of Steele’s sources were Russians whom he never even spoke with. The dossier was widely discredited by the intelligence community with many suggesting the information in question was disinformation fed to Steele by Russian intelligence.

And this wasn’t just one big-dollar operation that went bad. Fusion GPS has a horrid history of producing bad information with no passing acquaintance with the truth.

Taking cash from Venezuela’s sleazy rulers, Fusion GPS came up with filthy false stories about two Venezuelan dissidents, Thor Halvorssen of the Human Rights Foundation and Alek Boyd, whose own investigative research into Chavista corruption enraged the Venezuelan government and its cronies. I have known these two men for years and am certain none of the sleazy claims have a scintilla of truth. Halvorssen testified in Congress on the appallingness of Fusion GPS and how it took cash from the corrupt Venezuelan tyrants to spread the most heinous lies to the press as well as intimidate reporters into spiking stories, just as the Chavistas wanted.

Fox News also reports that they attempted to smear and discredit William Browder, a former hedge fund manager who got out of the business to defend his Russian legal-firm accountant, a man named Sergei Magnitsky who uncovered a $230 million tax-refund fraud in 2009 and was hauled off to prison where he was tortured to death. Browder’s efforts led to the Magnitsky Act which sanctions Russian officials who had a role in the still-unpunished crime.

According to the Weekly Standard, the firm also produced misleading information about the Planned Parenthood undercover videos, attempting to succor their client into making the claim for the press that the videos were “altered” while to read their fine print, it turns out they were not.

Their great expertise touted by LeVine seems to amount to digging around trash cans in Idaho, where they smeared a man who donated money to Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign, splattering all his personal information out there. The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel did some excellent reporting on the awfulness of the operation. It doesn’t take great expertise to do these kinds of operations, just a lot of money and a willingness to swim in the sewer.

All of these things are a day in the life of a smear operation. Crawl into bed with Russian propaganda operatives and pass off their lies as truth. Make up fake accusations against Venezuelan dissidents and muscle reporters into spiking stories. Spin the truth on Planned Parenthood videos. Violate the privacy of a political donor to scare him away. The worst of it is that they don’t even produce anything of enduring value. They just manipulate the truth.

And in the case of Fusion GPS’s Trump dossier and the lies about the Venezuelans, they outright negate the truth. Now they’re getting rehabbed as smart cookies by Axios. One hand washes the other in this reporter-smear firm racket.

It only works so long as it doesn’t get found out. Well, it’s been found out – in Congress and among ethical reporters and columnists. That makes Fusion GPS’s competence zero. The only question now is why Axios wants to save them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you defend the indefensible? Start with Axios.

The news outfit founded by former Politico mainstay Mike Allen has a front-page feature by Steve LeVine that attempts to defend and rehabilitate Fusion GPS, the group that produced the phony Trump dossier. In the piece, Levine recasts the notorious smear outfit as just a group of smart investigative reporters turned gumshoes. 

Axios portrays their principals, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, as intelligent, ultra-competent, and rather incredibly, only in their line of business “with no motive apart from the thrill of the chase.” (Which is to say they take anyone’s dollars.)

They are seriously savvy at finding extremely hard-to-locate — and even more difficult to understand and contextualize — documents and other intelligence on globally powerful people and organizations. People who know what they are talking about want to speak with them, in large part because they understand that — either immediately or some time in the future — they themselves can learn something from them.

LeVine notes that the pair of them only got into their seamy line of work smearing people because Rupert Murdoch, the new owner of the Wall Street Journal, their former outfit, didn’t want to pay for their open-checkbook speculative investigative projects when they were at that paper and wanted spot scoops that sell papers instead. It’s Rupert’s fault, see.

Amid all LeVine’s justifications and rationalizations for the firm, which he tries to pass off as just professional conduct, or going where the facts lead, LeVine leaves out one thing:

They produce junk.

Useless things. Things that blow up in a client’s face. They’re not in the business of truth, they’re smear artists, as Sharyl Attkisson (a real investigative reporter) showed. Fusion GPS’s procured Trump dossier is in the news because it’s fake, the product of climbing in bed with Russian agents feeding disinformation from abroad. And it’s so fake, the purveyors had trouble shopping it around to reporters, until a meeting with then-FBI Director James Comey was arranged with the dossier, so that the news of the meeting could be reported instead. The one news outfit that ran the phony dossier, without confirming any of it, Buzzfeed, is in deep doo-doo with the lawyers for it now. Other agencies, such as CNN’s Jake Tapper, focused on reporting the meeting rather than the sordid, mendacious contents of the dossier itself, via leaks.

Are these really investigative aces? Investigative aces worth the $9 milllion they were reportedly paid for this? They trusted an “old acquaintance,” former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who seems to have run a similar firm in London with putting the dossier together, given his pals in the Russian intelligence services, and what they ended up buying was likely Russian disinformation. What they ended up with was a mass of lies about “golden showers” and non-existent meetings in Prague written so badly the only people who were fooled by it were people who wanted to be fooled.

American Spectator summed up the picture pretty well here:

Clinton’s campaign hired a Democrat opposition research firm called Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on you, and in turn they hired a former British Intelligence agent named Christopher Steele to compile a sensational “dossier” on you. It turns out, however, that all of Steele’s sources were Russians whom he never even spoke with. The dossier was widely discredited by the intelligence community with many suggesting the information in question was disinformation fed to Steele by Russian intelligence.

And this wasn’t just one big-dollar operation that went bad. Fusion GPS has a horrid history of producing bad information with no passing acquaintance with the truth.

Taking cash from Venezuela’s sleazy rulers, Fusion GPS came up with filthy false stories about two Venezuelan dissidents, Thor Halvorssen of the Human Rights Foundation and Alek Boyd, whose own investigative research into Chavista corruption enraged the Venezuelan government and its cronies. I have known these two men for years and am certain none of the sleazy claims have a scintilla of truth. Halvorssen testified in Congress on the appallingness of Fusion GPS and how it took cash from the corrupt Venezuelan tyrants to spread the most heinous lies to the press as well as intimidate reporters into spiking stories, just as the Chavistas wanted.

Fox News also reports that they attempted to smear and discredit William Browder, a former hedge fund manager who got out of the business to defend his Russian legal-firm accountant, a man named Sergei Magnitsky who uncovered a $230 million tax-refund fraud in 2009 and was hauled off to prison where he was tortured to death. Browder’s efforts led to the Magnitsky Act which sanctions Russian officials who had a role in the still-unpunished crime.

According to the Weekly Standard, the firm also produced misleading information about the Planned Parenthood undercover videos, attempting to succor their client into making the claim for the press that the videos were “altered” while to read their fine print, it turns out they were not.

Their great expertise touted by LeVine seems to amount to digging around trash cans in Idaho, where they smeared a man who donated money to Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign, splattering all his personal information out there. The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel did some excellent reporting on the awfulness of the operation. It doesn’t take great expertise to do these kinds of operations, just a lot of money and a willingness to swim in the sewer.

All of these things are a day in the life of a smear operation. Crawl into bed with Russian propaganda operatives and pass off their lies as truth. Make up fake accusations against Venezuelan dissidents and muscle reporters into spiking stories. Spin the truth on Planned Parenthood videos. Violate the privacy of a political donor to scare him away. The worst of it is that they don’t even produce anything of enduring value. They just manipulate the truth.

And in the case of Fusion GPS’s Trump dossier and the lies about the Venezuelans, they outright negate the truth. Now they’re getting rehabbed as smart cookies by Axios. One hand washes the other in this reporter-smear firm racket.

It only works so long as it doesn’t get found out. Well, it’s been found out – in Congress and among ethical reporters and columnists. That makes Fusion GPS’s competence zero. The only question now is why Axios wants to save them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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sjm-l-zombie-0920-004.jpg

Guests scale fences to flee youth with tasers…


SANTA CLARA — Thieves reportedly armed with Tasers assaulted and robbed patrons at California’s Great America, turning the amusement park’s 10th annual Halloween fest into a real-life fright for thousands of visitors and employees, park security and visitors said.

Santa Clara police estimated that about 100 youth were perpetrating the mayhem, which broke out about 10:30 p.m. Saturday at the Great America Haunt. About 20,000 visitors were in the park, police said.

Police arrested one juvenile on suspicion of theft, Santa Clara Police Lieutenant Dan Moreno said. Visitors reported seeing other perpetrators escape into waiting cars.

Park patrons reported encountering groups of robbers, some armed with Tasers, who ran through crowds stealing mobile phones, purses, and backpacks and sending visitors fleeing for exits. Some panicked visitors tried to scale park fences. About 30 patrons were injured, by one security guard’s estimate.

“It was terrible,” said a San Francisco mom who had brought her 17-year-old daughter and a friend to the haunt. “A kid in a hoodie ran up and pried the phone out of my hands.”

The mother, who does not want to be publicly identified because she was victimized, said she then frantically searched for her daughter amid terrified crowds as people were being assaulted. Her daughter and friend were not physically harmed.

“One lady got punched in the face,” she said. “Security did nothing to try to get those guys out.”

About 20,000 guests were crowded into the park to wander through mazes, visit “spine-tingling scare zones” and board the Demon roller-coaster.

About four of the city’s officers were working privately, on contracted security shifts with the park. When the mayhem broke out, up to about a dozen more Santa Clara officers were called in to assist, Moreno said.

Park spokesman Roger Ross characterized the melee as incidents that were quickly addressed. “The safety of our guests is our top priority,” he wrote in an email.

A supervising guard with a firm handling security for the park said what began as groups snatching items escalated “to them going around beating up people randomly, even security guards and actors in the mazes.”  The guard, who didn’t want his name used because he was not authorized to speak, said that officers from other neighboring jurisdictions also were called in to restore order.

Even so, police and park security were outnumbered, visitors reported.

Ross said the park remained open until its normal 1 a.m. closing time.

But numerous guests reported that the lights dimmed about midnight and people were shepherded out.

That account was confirmed by the security supervisor. He himself reported being taunted and jumped by five assailants. When the guard flipped one to the ground, he said, the others fled.

The San Francisco mother woke up Sunday morning with pain in her arm and wrist.

“I feel so violated. I feel so completely violated,” she said. “I was just trying to drop off my daughter, and stick around because I live far away. This was terrible.”

Great America planned to operate its Haunt as scheduled Sunday. Its online advertisement reads, “Fear is waiting for you,”



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Why We Should Do Nothing About Catalonia


Putting aside all prejudice, and preconceptions, what is happening in Catalonia is petulance by two rather immature groups of people. I fear only tragedy may come of it.

In a perfect world, the Catalans might deserve a country. Historically, they have been abused by Madrid. However, the Catalans seem incapable of creating a stable polity. During the Spanish Civil War, they fought each other as much as Franco. Right now, their independence parties often share nothing in common with each other but a disdain for Madrid. This is not a recipe for success.

Artur Mas, the former President of Catalonia – and one who ran up against Madrid as well – has bluntly put it.

Former Catalonian government leader Artur Mas has said the region is not yet ready for ‘real independence’. Mas, currently barred from public office for staging an informal independence referendum in 2014, told the Financial Times on Friday that Catalonia had yet to lay the groundwork. He said there was a debate among Catalan leaders about whether now was the right time to unilaterally declare independence. – Euronews – Oct 7, 2017

Artur Mas is no lover of Spain. He was fined €36,500, and barred from public office for two years because of his defiance of the Spanish Constitutional Court and running a non-binding referendum on independence.

The Catalans have not done the groundwork. It is just that simple.

Ronny Gordon

The Catalans seemed shocked when the EU would not embrace them.

Catalonia’s top envoy to the European Union says the credibility and the reputation of the European Commission has eroded in the wake of an independence from Spain bid on Sunday. – EU Observer

What did they expect? Did they think that Brussels bureaucrats would embrace separatism? Were they even prepared for the obvious? Do they have a backup currency prepared and ready to go? A back up civil service?!

They are considering a crypto-currency?!

I am aware of Catalonia’s history and claims to independence. Yes, they can make a case. A mediocre case, but they can make it. What is clear is that they were not prepared. No Plan B.

Anyone who has read my articles on Spain knows that my sympathies are actually for the Basque.  The Basque actually have a very strong case for independence. Their language is not merely different, but an isolate. They have unique genetic markers. They fought the Romans, the Franks, the Moors, long before Catalonia even existed.

But more importantly, the Basque know how to run things. The highly successful Mondragon Company is a worker cooperative that came out of the Basque country, and is one of the richest companies in Spain. Is the Mondragon Cooperative a capitalist or a socialist organization? It is a bit of both. Unlike the Catalans, the Basque know how to cooperate. On a per capita basis, the Basque are the richest region in Spain.

If the Basque were given independence, they would know what to do with it.

Long after other anti-Francoists had given up, the Basque were waging guerrilla war going back to WWII. While right wing Spanish fought for Hitler in Spain’s Blue Division, the Basque helped form the Maquis, and ran guerrilla squads against the Nazis in France; and, after 1945, against Franco.

In 1959, the ETA was formed. It was these Basque operatives who killed Franco’s henchman and appointed successor, Admiral Carrero, in 1973, preventing a continuation of the fascist regime. Many Spanish, at that time, were happy to see him go. The ETA were heroes to much of the population. Brutal, though it was, the plan was well thought out.

After Franco died and somewhat of a democracy had set in in Spain, many of the more sane members of the ETA resigned. They accepted Spain’s offer of a pardon, and autonomy for the Basque Country. This left the ETA organization under the control of a genuinely extreme left, which not only fought against the Spanish, but the conservative Basque Nationalists, as well (in Spanish).

During post-Franco era, the Basque Country has been chiefly administered by the conservative PNV [Basque Nationalist Party], and the Basque have turned their region into a modern and wonderful example of industrial efficiency.

Yet, though the Basque have proven to be capable, and though they deserve a country, they will not get it. Their ancestral regions are split between Spain and France, neither of which would allow a Basque state.

To my surprise, though the Basque are voicing support for Catalonia, they are presently content to push on with their autonomy slowly, and get rich.

Many here sympathize with Catalan nationalists. But after a controversial Catalan independence referendum in early October, an opinion poll found that nearly 63 percent of Basques did not want to copy the Catalan approach to achieving independence, while only 22 percent were in favor. And while 44 percent hope for greater autonomy from Madrid, just 23 percent want their own independent country.


After over 40 years of separatist violence, many Basques want a timeout from the independence question, suggested Kirmen Uribe, an acclaimed Basque author who writes in Euskera, the Basque language. – NY Times

The Basque are temporarily tired of the violence. The ETA, with its hyper-leftist and fractious policies, did not speak for the equally nationalistic, but right-wing Basque. The Basque want time to coalesce, before they press ahead.

“It’s a question of timing — we don’t want independence right now,” Mr. Uribe added. “We’re more thinking about cleaning the wounds between us, between the Basque people.” – NY Times

So, the Basque people, who deserve freedom, are not pressing for it, right now; while the Catalans, whose cause is a bit more questionable, have gone ahead on a tear.

During the American Revolution, the Second Continental Congress voted almost unanimously for independence, with twelve of the thirteen colonies voting yes, while New York abstained for lack of clear instructions from their constituents. That is the way to seek independence. Not by spot polling, or accepting a questionable election, where only 43% of the electorate showed up, no matter who was to blame for that low turnout. Worse yet, a few months earlier, a Catalan sponsored poll showed that most Catalans did not even want independence, which brings even more suspicion on their claimed mandate.

[T]here is still only a minority in favour of secession. A survey at the end of July found that 49.4% of Catalans were against independence and 41.1% supported it.  – The Guardian (September 2017)

A clear supermajority is required for a decision of that magnitude. The Continental Congress got that supermajority. The Catalans did not.

Whether Catalonia deserves independence or not, the vote of October 1st did not present a clear mandate. Everything about this crisis smacks of incompetence.

This is not to excuse the incompetence of  Spain’s PM Rajoy, whose heavy handed police and  fascist thugs  have turned many Catalans who only wanted more autonomy into favoring secession. PM Rajoy’s PP (Popular Party) thuggery has made heroes out of Catalonia’s buffoonish leadership. Neither side deserves the limelight.

Spain could defuse the situation by offering more autonomy to the Catalans in the December election they propose; and not arresting the Catalan leadership.

Driving this is the ever-present Spanish fear that the strangely presently quiescent Basque are paying attention. If Spain muddles this, the Basque, who are far more competent, may arise out of their slumbers. That thought should inform all of PM Rajoy’s decisions, so he makes them wisely.

But for us Americans, our choice should be to say out of it. Turning Catalonia over to incompetents will not help them get freedom; but neither should we support Rajoy’s goon squads.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago. He also just started a website about small computers at http://thetinydesktop.com.

Putting aside all prejudice, and preconceptions, what is happening in Catalonia is petulance by two rather immature groups of people. I fear only tragedy may come of it.

In a perfect world, the Catalans might deserve a country. Historically, they have been abused by Madrid. However, the Catalans seem incapable of creating a stable polity. During the Spanish Civil War, they fought each other as much as Franco. Right now, their independence parties often share nothing in common with each other but a disdain for Madrid. This is not a recipe for success.

Artur Mas, the former President of Catalonia – and one who ran up against Madrid as well – has bluntly put it.

Former Catalonian government leader Artur Mas has said the region is not yet ready for ‘real independence’. Mas, currently barred from public office for staging an informal independence referendum in 2014, told the Financial Times on Friday that Catalonia had yet to lay the groundwork. He said there was a debate among Catalan leaders about whether now was the right time to unilaterally declare independence. – Euronews – Oct 7, 2017

Artur Mas is no lover of Spain. He was fined €36,500, and barred from public office for two years because of his defiance of the Spanish Constitutional Court and running a non-binding referendum on independence.

The Catalans have not done the groundwork. It is just that simple.

Ronny Gordon

The Catalans seemed shocked when the EU would not embrace them.

Catalonia’s top envoy to the European Union says the credibility and the reputation of the European Commission has eroded in the wake of an independence from Spain bid on Sunday. – EU Observer

What did they expect? Did they think that Brussels bureaucrats would embrace separatism? Were they even prepared for the obvious? Do they have a backup currency prepared and ready to go? A back up civil service?!

They are considering a crypto-currency?!

I am aware of Catalonia’s history and claims to independence. Yes, they can make a case. A mediocre case, but they can make it. What is clear is that they were not prepared. No Plan B.

Anyone who has read my articles on Spain knows that my sympathies are actually for the Basque.  The Basque actually have a very strong case for independence. Their language is not merely different, but an isolate. They have unique genetic markers. They fought the Romans, the Franks, the Moors, long before Catalonia even existed.

But more importantly, the Basque know how to run things. The highly successful Mondragon Company is a worker cooperative that came out of the Basque country, and is one of the richest companies in Spain. Is the Mondragon Cooperative a capitalist or a socialist organization? It is a bit of both. Unlike the Catalans, the Basque know how to cooperate. On a per capita basis, the Basque are the richest region in Spain.

If the Basque were given independence, they would know what to do with it.

Long after other anti-Francoists had given up, the Basque were waging guerrilla war going back to WWII. While right wing Spanish fought for Hitler in Spain’s Blue Division, the Basque helped form the Maquis, and ran guerrilla squads against the Nazis in France; and, after 1945, against Franco.

In 1959, the ETA was formed. It was these Basque operatives who killed Franco’s henchman and appointed successor, Admiral Carrero, in 1973, preventing a continuation of the fascist regime. Many Spanish, at that time, were happy to see him go. The ETA were heroes to much of the population. Brutal, though it was, the plan was well thought out.

After Franco died and somewhat of a democracy had set in in Spain, many of the more sane members of the ETA resigned. They accepted Spain’s offer of a pardon, and autonomy for the Basque Country. This left the ETA organization under the control of a genuinely extreme left, which not only fought against the Spanish, but the conservative Basque Nationalists, as well (in Spanish).

During post-Franco era, the Basque Country has been chiefly administered by the conservative PNV [Basque Nationalist Party], and the Basque have turned their region into a modern and wonderful example of industrial efficiency.

Yet, though the Basque have proven to be capable, and though they deserve a country, they will not get it. Their ancestral regions are split between Spain and France, neither of which would allow a Basque state.

To my surprise, though the Basque are voicing support for Catalonia, they are presently content to push on with their autonomy slowly, and get rich.

Many here sympathize with Catalan nationalists. But after a controversial Catalan independence referendum in early October, an opinion poll found that nearly 63 percent of Basques did not want to copy the Catalan approach to achieving independence, while only 22 percent were in favor. And while 44 percent hope for greater autonomy from Madrid, just 23 percent want their own independent country.


After over 40 years of separatist violence, many Basques want a timeout from the independence question, suggested Kirmen Uribe, an acclaimed Basque author who writes in Euskera, the Basque language. – NY Times

The Basque are temporarily tired of the violence. The ETA, with its hyper-leftist and fractious policies, did not speak for the equally nationalistic, but right-wing Basque. The Basque want time to coalesce, before they press ahead.

“It’s a question of timing — we don’t want independence right now,” Mr. Uribe added. “We’re more thinking about cleaning the wounds between us, between the Basque people.” – NY Times

So, the Basque people, who deserve freedom, are not pressing for it, right now; while the Catalans, whose cause is a bit more questionable, have gone ahead on a tear.

During the American Revolution, the Second Continental Congress voted almost unanimously for independence, with twelve of the thirteen colonies voting yes, while New York abstained for lack of clear instructions from their constituents. That is the way to seek independence. Not by spot polling, or accepting a questionable election, where only 43% of the electorate showed up, no matter who was to blame for that low turnout. Worse yet, a few months earlier, a Catalan sponsored poll showed that most Catalans did not even want independence, which brings even more suspicion on their claimed mandate.

[T]here is still only a minority in favour of secession. A survey at the end of July found that 49.4% of Catalans were against independence and 41.1% supported it.  – The Guardian (September 2017)

A clear supermajority is required for a decision of that magnitude. The Continental Congress got that supermajority. The Catalans did not.

Whether Catalonia deserves independence or not, the vote of October 1st did not present a clear mandate. Everything about this crisis smacks of incompetence.

This is not to excuse the incompetence of  Spain’s PM Rajoy, whose heavy handed police and  fascist thugs  have turned many Catalans who only wanted more autonomy into favoring secession. PM Rajoy’s PP (Popular Party) thuggery has made heroes out of Catalonia’s buffoonish leadership. Neither side deserves the limelight.

Spain could defuse the situation by offering more autonomy to the Catalans in the December election they propose; and not arresting the Catalan leadership.

Driving this is the ever-present Spanish fear that the strangely presently quiescent Basque are paying attention. If Spain muddles this, the Basque, who are far more competent, may arise out of their slumbers. That thought should inform all of PM Rajoy’s decisions, so he makes them wisely.

But for us Americans, our choice should be to say out of it. Turning Catalonia over to incompetents will not help them get freedom; but neither should we support Rajoy’s goon squads.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago. He also just started a website about small computers at http://thetinydesktop.com.



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The Mother of All Scandals


And therein lies her biggest problem.  She’s not really asking the question as she should be, she’s not reflecting.  Instead, she’s wagging a finger and blaming everyone else for her loss.

Back to the Clintons fooling the left.  Let’s start counting the ways.  She was not just smart, she was the smartest woman ever.  She was fully competent and capable in everything.  She fought bravely for all the right issues.  She was more qualified to be President than anyone who preceded her.  She was, and is, the bright moral compass pointing the way forward to the left (who they believe should be all of us).  She was the Yin to her husband’s Yang.  They were the best power couple ever, a beacon of truth shining in the darkness.

Except they weren’t.  She has proved that over time, and her book tour is confirming it.

And the left is about to melt down as she and hubby finally are revealed for who they are.  Who are they?  In a nutshell, they are the left’s version of Elmer Gantry: frauds who love adulation, and even more, love money, power, and fame.  If you think the left melted down when Trump won, wait until they have the scales fall from their eyes as this new scandal engulfs her and her party. 

Because this is the mother of all scandals.

Trump has used his branding genius on this scandal already.  He called it this generation’s Watergate.  Which has to grate on the left, the media has once again been duly trolled.  After all, nothing was worse than Richard Nixon.  Ever.  Now, most have heard the media scoundrels use the term dog-whistle.  It’s overused, and abused on the left, a smirk, a knowing wink and they all come alive, cackling when they use it.  Well, Trump just whistled for them.  “Watergate, Modern Age.”

Watergate.  The Holy Grail of the left’s media triumph.

But he has done more than just dog-whistle, or throw the media a tweet to drive them crazy.  He’s been slowly amassing information and evidence about the mother of all scandals.  Tom Clancy at his best could not have written a more exciting thriller.  Which is what we are watching. 

I have a burning question.  What did the President (Trump) know, and when did he know it?  Because if there has ever been a more exquisite time to bear down and stay on this scandal, it’s now.  My take:  He has slowly amassed a giant dossier of evidence, but this one isn’t fake, it’s very real.  He announced it.  Listen to the dog-whistle.

“Watergate, Modern Age.”

Trump has many sides, and one of them is his rough and tumble, shoot from the hip side.  Say things that shouldn’t be said, tweet at four in the morning to drive his enemies crazy.  Keep moving, keep pressing, never back down.  Never surrender to political correctness.  Show them shiny objects as distraction, but stay the course.

Another side, seldom paid attention to, is his ability to craft a long-term strategy.  Couple that with his highly developed instincts about how to implement that strategy, and you have one formidable opponent on your hands.  One who loves to win.  One who formulates a goal, and pursues it relentlessly. 

Ask his GOP primary opponents.  Ask Hillary.  On second thought, don’t, because she will never know what happened to her, because she never wanted to know what was happening.  She was too busy luxuriating in her ill-gotten gains.  While she was breaking out rare champagne on her campaign plane, Trump was busy visiting the battleground states.  While she celebrated prematurely, he was in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the early morning of November 8, with a final push to eke out that state’s electoral votes.

It’s this side of Trump that we are witnessing.

The left’s being fooled began a long time ago, but the country began to see it when they had a massive hissy fit about Hillary losing.  Safe spaces and therapy were all they had to comfort them.  And “resisting.”  We all have witnessed their psychosis for the better part of a year now.  One ugly toddler tantrum after another.  And it’s not just their leaders and media stooges. 

As a nation we have just endured, and will continue to endure the Weinstein scandal, and have seen the squalid underbelly of the left’s cultural greats.  The collusion to hide just how ugly, hypocritical, and immoral the culture of the left, as embodied by Hollywood, is out there for the entire country to see.  This is who the left is.   Ugly, hypocritical, greedy, and without conscience.

And on the left they’re shocked, shocked to see just how squalid they all are.  All the actors and actresses who benefited from their silence suddenly are not so silent.  So brave, all these years later.  But they put up with everything they preen on about hating, and put up with it for decades while making money and having fame.  The left has been in CYA mode for weeks now over this scandal, trying so hard to get people to look elsewhere, anywhere but linking it to one of the Democratic Party’s most faithful fundraisers and bundlers.  He was the Clinton’s good friend.  This was a big wound to the left, and will fester.

The big shoe dropped when Trump branded the Uranium One scandal in his impromptu press conference.  It had to be covered.  And Hillary Clinton has now responded.  With denials.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders has doubled down, saying:

“I think that this further proves if there was anyone that was colluding with the Russians to influence the election look no further than the Clintons and the DNC. Hypocrisy at the highest level and a new low in politics. Everything the Clinton campaign and DNC were falsely accusing the president of doing the past year they were doing it themselves.” 

And now the FBI witness has been cleared to speak to Congress.

And now there are calls for new congressional investigations.  And calls for special counsels to investigate the Uranium One deal.

And the Republicans have grown a spine, joining in these calls.  The theory of evolution is proven.  Jellyfish evolve.

As the weekend began Friday night, the reaction came: word was leaked that a charge has been referred to a grand jury by Special Counsel Mueller, with an indictment and arrest expected as early as today. It may be a choreographed diversion, providing an excuse for Hillary’s media allies to avert their gaze from unfolding trap. Or, reports that Mueller is pursuing the Podesta Group may indicate another target.  No less a critic of Mueller than Trey Gowdy cautions us against jumping to conclusions:

“I would encourage my Republican friends, give the guy a chance to do his job. The result will be known by the facts covered by what he uncovers,” he said. “The personalities involved are much less important to me than the underlying facts. I would say give the guy a chance to do his job.”

All of Trump’s ducks are lining up.  Trump looks happy when he talks, and has for many weeks.  He is in control.  He sees the long game, and knows he is holding all the cards.

It appears he has entrapped them all in this scandal called Uranium One.   The FBI and the Deep-State.  James Comey.  Eric Holder.  Loretta Lynch.  The Clintons.  Barrack Obama.  The leftist news media.  Real collusion, with a real crime.

And it really is the mother of all scandals.  Allowing the sale of 20% of US uranium for money.  The biggest breach in national security since the Rosenbergs gave away the atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union.

There is an answer to Hillary’s question, “What Happened?” 

And yes, it should be considered a dumb question rather than a book title.  But the short answer to her question is:  She fooled almost the entire left, for over two decades.  Oh wait, that was a book title, not a question.

And therein lies her biggest problem.  She’s not really asking the question as she should be, she’s not reflecting.  Instead, she’s wagging a finger and blaming everyone else for her loss.

Back to the Clintons fooling the left.  Let’s start counting the ways.  She was not just smart, she was the smartest woman ever.  She was fully competent and capable in everything.  She fought bravely for all the right issues.  She was more qualified to be President than anyone who preceded her.  She was, and is, the bright moral compass pointing the way forward to the left (who they believe should be all of us).  She was the Yin to her husband’s Yang.  They were the best power couple ever, a beacon of truth shining in the darkness.

Except they weren’t.  She has proved that over time, and her book tour is confirming it.

And the left is about to melt down as she and hubby finally are revealed for who they are.  Who are they?  In a nutshell, they are the left’s version of Elmer Gantry: frauds who love adulation, and even more, love money, power, and fame.  If you think the left melted down when Trump won, wait until they have the scales fall from their eyes as this new scandal engulfs her and her party. 

Because this is the mother of all scandals.

Trump has used his branding genius on this scandal already.  He called it this generation’s Watergate.  Which has to grate on the left, the media has once again been duly trolled.  After all, nothing was worse than Richard Nixon.  Ever.  Now, most have heard the media scoundrels use the term dog-whistle.  It’s overused, and abused on the left, a smirk, a knowing wink and they all come alive, cackling when they use it.  Well, Trump just whistled for them.  “Watergate, Modern Age.”

Watergate.  The Holy Grail of the left’s media triumph.

But he has done more than just dog-whistle, or throw the media a tweet to drive them crazy.  He’s been slowly amassing information and evidence about the mother of all scandals.  Tom Clancy at his best could not have written a more exciting thriller.  Which is what we are watching. 

I have a burning question.  What did the President (Trump) know, and when did he know it?  Because if there has ever been a more exquisite time to bear down and stay on this scandal, it’s now.  My take:  He has slowly amassed a giant dossier of evidence, but this one isn’t fake, it’s very real.  He announced it.  Listen to the dog-whistle.

“Watergate, Modern Age.”

Trump has many sides, and one of them is his rough and tumble, shoot from the hip side.  Say things that shouldn’t be said, tweet at four in the morning to drive his enemies crazy.  Keep moving, keep pressing, never back down.  Never surrender to political correctness.  Show them shiny objects as distraction, but stay the course.

Another side, seldom paid attention to, is his ability to craft a long-term strategy.  Couple that with his highly developed instincts about how to implement that strategy, and you have one formidable opponent on your hands.  One who loves to win.  One who formulates a goal, and pursues it relentlessly. 

Ask his GOP primary opponents.  Ask Hillary.  On second thought, don’t, because she will never know what happened to her, because she never wanted to know what was happening.  She was too busy luxuriating in her ill-gotten gains.  While she was breaking out rare champagne on her campaign plane, Trump was busy visiting the battleground states.  While she celebrated prematurely, he was in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the early morning of November 8, with a final push to eke out that state’s electoral votes.

It’s this side of Trump that we are witnessing.

The left’s being fooled began a long time ago, but the country began to see it when they had a massive hissy fit about Hillary losing.  Safe spaces and therapy were all they had to comfort them.  And “resisting.”  We all have witnessed their psychosis for the better part of a year now.  One ugly toddler tantrum after another.  And it’s not just their leaders and media stooges. 

As a nation we have just endured, and will continue to endure the Weinstein scandal, and have seen the squalid underbelly of the left’s cultural greats.  The collusion to hide just how ugly, hypocritical, and immoral the culture of the left, as embodied by Hollywood, is out there for the entire country to see.  This is who the left is.   Ugly, hypocritical, greedy, and without conscience.

And on the left they’re shocked, shocked to see just how squalid they all are.  All the actors and actresses who benefited from their silence suddenly are not so silent.  So brave, all these years later.  But they put up with everything they preen on about hating, and put up with it for decades while making money and having fame.  The left has been in CYA mode for weeks now over this scandal, trying so hard to get people to look elsewhere, anywhere but linking it to one of the Democratic Party’s most faithful fundraisers and bundlers.  He was the Clinton’s good friend.  This was a big wound to the left, and will fester.

The big shoe dropped when Trump branded the Uranium One scandal in his impromptu press conference.  It had to be covered.  And Hillary Clinton has now responded.  With denials.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders has doubled down, saying:

“I think that this further proves if there was anyone that was colluding with the Russians to influence the election look no further than the Clintons and the DNC. Hypocrisy at the highest level and a new low in politics. Everything the Clinton campaign and DNC were falsely accusing the president of doing the past year they were doing it themselves.” 

And now the FBI witness has been cleared to speak to Congress.

And now there are calls for new congressional investigations.  And calls for special counsels to investigate the Uranium One deal.

And the Republicans have grown a spine, joining in these calls.  The theory of evolution is proven.  Jellyfish evolve.

As the weekend began Friday night, the reaction came: word was leaked that a charge has been referred to a grand jury by Special Counsel Mueller, with an indictment and arrest expected as early as today. It may be a choreographed diversion, providing an excuse for Hillary’s media allies to avert their gaze from unfolding trap. Or, reports that Mueller is pursuing the Podesta Group may indicate another target.  No less a critic of Mueller than Trey Gowdy cautions us against jumping to conclusions:

“I would encourage my Republican friends, give the guy a chance to do his job. The result will be known by the facts covered by what he uncovers,” he said. “The personalities involved are much less important to me than the underlying facts. I would say give the guy a chance to do his job.”

All of Trump’s ducks are lining up.  Trump looks happy when he talks, and has for many weeks.  He is in control.  He sees the long game, and knows he is holding all the cards.

It appears he has entrapped them all in this scandal called Uranium One.   The FBI and the Deep-State.  James Comey.  Eric Holder.  Loretta Lynch.  The Clintons.  Barrack Obama.  The leftist news media.  Real collusion, with a real crime.

And it really is the mother of all scandals.  Allowing the sale of 20% of US uranium for money.  The biggest breach in national security since the Rosenbergs gave away the atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union.



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