So, what was so wrong with these FISA applications? Everything!
“If this is the way the FISA courts are going to behave, if you can take political dirt, open up investigations into political campaigns, this is how a democratic republic falls apart. It’s just unacceptable...If the shoe was on the other foot, you would have protests in the street, cars being blocked, fires in the street, tires being burned, and I guarantee you, all the heads would have rolled already at the FBI and DOJ. You’d have all the major newspapers, all the media saying what a crime this was that this happened.”
RELATED READING: Blacked-out document dump of FISA applications confirms suspicions
So said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes on the air with FOX News host Laura Ingraham Monday night. And we all know he’s right. Just imagine if the intelligence agencies had pulled something like this to sabotage, say, the Obama campaign and it had been discovered. We would hear about nothing else EVER AGAIN. (The outrage would be justified, by the way.) Heads would roll? Oh, yes, and perhaps literally. Compared to Democrats’ explosive reaction, that volcano in Hawaii would look like a tealight.
But since the weekend dumping of the 412-page stack of heavily redacted FISA court applications for warrants to surveil former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, Trump’s political opponents and most major media have gone into complete denial mode, trying to minimize the damage by maintaining that the one intentionally cryptic and convoluted footnote about the origins of the Steele “dossier” indicated honesty and transparency on the part of the FBI and DOJ. But they’re wasting their breath; the footnote obviously was added as a “CYA” –- something agents could point to if the application were ever questioned (like NOW). In no way was it made clear to the court that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC paid for the material as “opposition research.”
And certainly the FISA judges were never told that the material was unverified. Just the opposite, for as Andrew C. McCarthy points out, each FISA application --- the first one, and all three renewals --- carried the label “VERIFIED APPLICATION.” (For the first one, it was in bold type, total caps.) This was done even though the application was never verified for accuracy.
According to the DIOG (the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide), FISA applications are to be sent to “appropriate field offices” so that the Bureau can “ensure that information appearing in a FISA application that is presented to the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] has been thoroughly vetted and confirmed.” The way this is supposed to work in practice is that the field office gathers supporting information, perhaps by debriefing witnesses or searching for official records, to verify allegations made in the application.
This never happened with the Steele dossier. Remember, Steele wasn’t actually the source for any of the allegations; he was simply the conduit for hearsay from unidentified Russian sources. You might be surprised (I was) to learn that Christopher Steele hasn’t been to Russia for 20 years. So the FBI needed to look into the veracity of what his sources had to say –- to VERIFY that there was anything to them –- before passing their FISA application to the court.
“Verification” doesn’t just mean that the FBI accurately communicated Steele’s claims. It means they confirmed the accuracy of those claims. Those are two different things. Perhaps they did the former, but they did not do the latter. In fact, when former deputy FBI Director Andrew “Andy’s office” McCabe testified before Congress, he said the only part of Steele’s information they could verify was that Carter Page traveled to Russia in 2016. (It was well known that he had made the trip, as he had done this openly to give a school commencement address.)
Even Steele, in British legal proceedings, described the information as “raw intelligence” that was “unverified.” It should never have been included in a FISA application without being VERIFIED.
If you think this should have been enough to discredit the dossier and, by extension, the FISA application, you’re right –- but McCarthy brings up even more issues with it. He also admits he was embarrassed after offering assurance on TV that the FBI would never take an unverified dossier and present it to a court as evidence. Wrong!! He says his mistake was thinking this FBI was like the FBI he knew from working with them as a federal prosecutor for 20 years.
Check this out
Why, big social media sites like Twitter would NEVER filter out conservative voices by hiding them from search results! But here’s what happens when you turn off the Twitter filter that does that.
Is there a difference?
Here’s the difference between being a Congressional Republican or Democrat on Facebook. I’m not a big fan of government regulation, but it’s as if these guys were begging for it.
Who can afford socialism?
More evidence that only the really, really rich can afford socialism.
I have to disagree
While I greatly admire Candace Owens, I have to disagree with her when she says that Jimmy Kimmel has singlehandedly ruined late-night TV. I think that unfairly discounts the hard work that Steven Colbert and other liberal hosts have also put in to help ruin late-night TV.
In fact, you know late-night “comedy” is dead when even Michelle Wolf, the woman whose nasty partisan diatribe may have killed the White House Correspondents’ Dinner for good, is making jokes about how predictably politicized, self-righteous and dull late night hosts have become.
Andrew Cuomo shows his true colors
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is once again showing New Yorkers exactly where his sentiments lie, and it isn’t with them. Cuomo is trying to block the planned deportations of seven illegal immigrants due to what he calls “minor convictions,” including low-level assault, identity theft, petty larceny, sale of “controlled substances” and DUI (I have a feeling those things wouldn’t feel too minor to someone whose identity they stole or who was assaulted or whose family’s lives were put at risk when they were driving drunk or selling drugs, but those people are American citizens, so I guess they’re of no concern to Gov. Cuomo.) This is the third time Cuomo has used his pardon power to protect illegal immigrants with criminal records from being deported, as required by federal law.
Cuomo claims that the convictions of this latest group were all in the past and they have “demonstrated a substantial period of crime-free, good citizenship” (well, aside from still being in the US illegally), and that “at a time when President Trump and the Federal government are waging a war on our immigrant communities, New York stands firm in our belief that our diversity is our greatest strength.” Aside from the fact that illegal aliens are not “immigrants,” he’s right: the vast majority of the immigrant community respects the laws of the US, and New York needs to break that up with the kind of diversity that can only be provided by illegal aliens with known criminal records.
In a related story, New York ranks #1 in losing residents to other states, so the government is making it as difficult as possible for people to move out. Have you ever noticed that the further left a place’s government is, the more likely they are to build walls to keep people in instead of out?
When not saving criminal illegal immigrants from deportation, Gov. Cuomo seems to think it’s his job to save failing newspapers. This week, the hysterically liberal New York Daily News suffered massive layoffs, and Cuomo’s reaction was to offer a state bailout with taxpayer money and complain that “these layoffs were made without notifying the State or asking for assistance.”
I wasn’t aware that it was necessary for a newspaper to “notify the state” before it downsized. That seems to suggest that Cuomo has some notion that the state has a supervisory role over the press. Perhaps he needs to bone up on the First Amendment.
Clueless in the Bronx
I received a thoughtful response to my recent post of a friend’s parody song lyrics about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“I’m Just A Wide-Eyed Socialist”), defending socialism and using Finland as an example of a place where socialism works. To show that I do read the comments and appreciate the chance to have a friendly discussion with people who disagree, I thought I would write about the rise in popularity of socialism among American Democrats, particularly young ones.
First, I’d note that one of the most shocking things about Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is not that someone who’s an avowed socialist would win a Democratic Congressional primary in New York (sadly, not a surprise at all), but that someone with an economics degree (!) would not only embrace socialism, but prove to be so clueless on so many aspects of Econ 101, such as thinking that the unemployment rate is only low because “everyone has two jobs” (A. They don’t; and B. Having multiple jobs doesn’t affect how your employment is counted.)
There’s also a popular meme going around the Internet that claims that if you like Social Security, Medicare, public education, infrastructure, police, firefighters and the military, then you already like socialism. Putting aside the fact that the first two are in desperate financial straits, the third is widely criticized, and even liberals are always attacking the fourth, none of those things are particularly “socialist.” Using taxes to pay for common societal needs is a characteristic of virtually all forms of government.
I think all this provides pretty solid evidence of the low quality of economics education that today’s students are receiving. Don’t forget, college freshmen in 2018 have never even known a world in which the pound sign wasn’t called a “hashtag,” much less lived through the horrors of 20th century communism. If their only knowledge of socialism came from their biased leftist professors, no wonder they think it’s just peachy. It’s always easier to convince people that socialism can work when they’ve never seen with their own eyes how it really, really doesn’t.
It’s also easier to get someone to swallow poison if you put chocolate frosting on it. Hence the current popularity of the term, “Democratic Socialism.” As in, “Oh, this isn’t the kind of socialism that has Venezuelans going without medicine or toilet paper or being forced to eat zoo animals. This is ‘Democratic Socialism!’’’ That mindset inspired a great Internet meme showing a doctor telling a patient, “The bad news is, you have herpes. The good news is, it’s ‘Democratic Herpes!’” Adding a meaningless adjective doesn’t make it more palatable. When the government is so big it controls every aspect of your life, democracy becomes irrelevant. Or as one fed-up Finn put it, what choice of education do parents have when all the schools you can choose from are run by the same government?
Defenders of socialism usually point to the Scandinavian nations, where the so-called “Nordic model” of “socialism lite” allegedly works so well that Bernie Sanders wants America to become Sweden West. In fact, those nations are not socialist: they are capitalist nations that thought their economies were so strong, they could afford to experiment with high taxes (around 45% on every level of income) in exchange for free health care, college, etc., for everyone, regardless of income. As any Garrison Keillor fan will recognize, they had largely homogeneous populations of Nordic Lutherans who believed it was their duty in life to work hard and demand little in return, and that should be the perfect lab for socialism.
But even these nations are abandoning the limited elements of socialism they adopted, because they’ve found that even small doses of socialism prove toxic over the long haul, like adding just a little pinch of arsenic to your spouse’s oatmeal every morning. It’s still deadly, it just takes a while. Letting government take half your income, make all your decisions and provide all your needs with no options was destroying the fabled Scandinavian work ethic, exacerbated by the decline in traditional religious beliefs and an influx of migrants who realized they could enjoy the same handouts whether they worked like dogs or slept like cats.
I recently ran a link to an article about how Swedes are getting fed up with ever-rising taxes while the quality of public services keeps declining. Also, Finland is ending a failed experiment in giving people a guaranteed monthly income after two years. While it was still income redistribution, the hope was that giving people cash to make their own consumer choices would allow the government to cut the expensive social services bureaucracy that now employs a third of the population, and encourage people to take lower-paying entry level jobs. Instead (surprise!) handing out free money just encouraged more sloth, dependence and entitlement.
The excuse when socialism inevitably fails is that the “wrong people” were in charge, or that other countries prevented it from succeeding (a popular excuse for Venezuela), or that it didn’t go far enough and “real socialism” hasn’t been tried yet. This is all nonsense. While socialism has many definitions, it’s basically “the workers control the means of production,” which is Marxism. Naturally, “the workers” can’t run all the industries that government is meddling in or do all that redistributing of wealth themselves, so politicians and bureaucrats must do it “on their behalf.” And that, in a nutshell, is why it will never…NEVER…succeed. Because socialism, communism and all such collectivist isms fail to take into account human nature. It doesn't matter who's in charge; if humans are in charge, it's destined to fail.
Ronald Reagan articulated one of the immutable laws of human nature that socialism violates when he said that if you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it. This is why I think we should have a consumption-based Fair Tax instead of an income tax: we punish people for working harder, being more productive and creating jobs. Socialism punishes productivity and innovation and gives equal rewards both to those who work hard and those who do the bare minimum. Guess what the results are?
Another reason socialist systems always fail (there are many such variations, but they all have this in common) is that they violate the law of human nature that the people who are most attracted to government positions involving great power over others tend to be the worst people to whom to entrust them (or as I call that: the Hillary Clinton Rule.) Capitalism has its flaws, and it does require government to insure a level playing field and free markets and to police unfair business practices. But at least the ultimate power of the purse rests in the hands of consumers. If the people really decide that a company isn’t acting in their interests, they can withhold their patronage and kill it overnight. That’s real “power to the people!”
But when you have a government system that redistributes vast amounts of wealth, the power inherent in that job attracts the most corruptible people. This insures that under a socialist system, the only people who are rich are the existing tycoons who are able to buy government influence and crush any rising competitors (hence the saying, “Only the very rich can afford socialism”) and the politicians who control the redistributing and snip off a piece of every transaction for themselves. The late Hugo Chavez, who infamously brought socialism to Venezuela, loved to rail that “being rich is bad.” Yet miraculously, his daughter ended up as the nation’s richest woman with an estimated $4.2 billion in foreign banks. Baaaad daughter! She claims she made it by selling hand creams. That’s right, blame capitalism!
In fact, many young Americans have been taught to blame capitalism for everything. They pull on their Nikes, hop in their Priuses, and head down to Starbucks to use the free wi-fi to connect their iPads and iPhones to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and post about how capitalism has never done anything to improve the lives of people like them. They’ve been misled into believing they’re living in the worst of all possible times when, thanks to capitalism, they’re actually blessed to be in the cleanest, safest, most abundant, best-fed, most medically- and technologically-advanced era in history, a time when even Americans below the poverty line enjoy benefits that royalty of a century ago couldn’t imagine. And they believe that only by replacing capitalism with socialism can things change.
Well, they’re right about that. It would change things for sure. But to quote yet another piece of eternal wisdom they probably never learned from their college professors, “Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.”