Anonymous op-ed updates
Here are some updates on the story of the New York Times op-ed by the alleged “senior White House official” who smugly claims he’s part of a secret cabal that thwarts President Trump from doing things of which they disapprove:
To the surprise of nobody whose brain cell count tops three digits, all the real senior officials whose names you might know (Pence, Pompeo, Coats, etc.) strongly denied that they or anyone on their staffs wrote it (in Pence’s words, “Our office is above such amateur acts.”) As I noted yesterday, there are hundreds of staffers in every branch of the government with titles and egos that lead them to believe they’re more important than they really are.
Trump’s excellent Press Secretary called the op-ed “another example of the liberal media’s concerted effort to discredit the President” and its writer a coward who has chosen to deceive rather than support the President, who is putting his ego ahead of the will of the American people, and who should do the right thing and resign.
I agree, but in all fairness to the New York Times, let’s not overlook the possibility that it might simply be yet another example of fake news and he doesn’t exist at all. Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I do like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and nothing deserves more doubts than a New York Times editorial about the inner workings of the Trump Administration.
Finally, an anonymous major GOP donor has reportedly offered a $50,000 cash reward for information leading to the identification of the writer. So if he really does exist, he might want to consider turning himself in for the reward money. His identity will eventually come out, and he’s going to need every dime he can muster to survive that long period of time until Hell freezes over or someone else offers him another job, whichever comes first.
First Lady speaks out
First Lady Melania Trump issued a statement about the New York Time’s anonymous op-ed claiming a mole is undermining her husband’s agenda. Even though she was born in Slovenia and English is only one of at least five languages she speaks, it appears that her grasp of English, American history and simple human decency are all far superior to anyone at the New York Times.
As long as the First Lady has brought up how anonymous partisans are writing our nation’s history, I’d like to add that the fact so many people have been stampeded into believing that everything President says or does is an unprecedented outrage is a testament to the lousy history education students are receiving these days.
I’ve already cited a number of examples of alleged “unprecedented” accusations against Trump that pale beside things that happened under previous Presidents, including the grandfather of the Democratic Party, Andrew Jackson; Ulysses S. Grant; Warren G. Harding; and others. I’ve noted that only one President really has thrown legal American immigrants into detention camps (Democratic icon Franklin Roosevelt), and that Harry Truman even cursed like a New York construction tycoon and physically threatened a reporter who badmouthed his daughter.
But I failed to mention something else: many of us who refuse to panic over the idea that Trump was elected President lived through the Reagan years. We remember how shocked the media were at the very idea of him winning. How could Americans vote for that Hollywood drugstore cowboy, that belligerent simpleton who was going to get us all killed in a nuclear war? He said outrageously provocative and undiplomatic (but true) things, like calling the USSR an “evil empire,” which caused the elite cocktail party crowd to drop their monocles into their martinis in dismay. Why, that crazy loose cannon Reagan was going to destroy the world and wreck the economy!
But when the economy boomed and the Soviet Union fell without firing a shot, we were assured that he was just an “amiable dunce,” and someone else (staffers or even his wife) was really pulling the strings behind the scenes. Later, they tried to claim he was suffering the early effects of Alzheimer’s. Eventually, his personal notes in his own hand were published, proving that his mind was sharp and clear, he was an eloquent writer, and he was acting on his strong, carefully-considered conservative principles. All the liberal media’s depictions of him were completely off-base.
Now, we are again hearing that a Republican President who horrified the media elites and party establishment by getting elected is a dementia-plagued dunce who isn’t really in charge. I'm not saying that Trump is another Reagan. But unemployment claims are at a 49-year low, North Korea claims it wants to destroy its nukes, and construction worker wages are up for the first time in years – and we're supposed to believe it’s all the handiwork of establishment deep staters, even though they’ve never been able to accomplish any of that in decades.
So if you wonder why Trump’s supporters won’t desert him no matter how many times the media regurgitate this plot, it’s because we’ve seen this movie before, and it was directed by Michael Moore. We know it’s not a documentary, it’s a leftist fantasy.
An actual longtime Washington insider who’s seen the “deep state” in action and personally witnessed their grief at Trump’s win (he got the stink-eye from colleagues for laughing when despondent staffers were offered access to “comfort dogs”), and their attempts to mislead and undermine Trump’s Secretary of State, reveals what he saw. And when he saw unconscionable behavior by unelected elitists trying to thwart the will of the people, he did the honorable thing: he retired, then wrote about it in an article that he put his name on.
This is also a Must-Read for the New York Times editorial board, not only for its content but to give them a much-needed lesson in how legitimate op-eds should be done.
"Psycho" not Spartacus
Watching the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings, you might be forgiven if you thought you’d mistakenly channel-surfed over to TCM and were watching an old movie instead.
For instance, we had the spectacle of Democrat Cory Booker and his Cinerama-scale virtue-signaling, as he declared that he was willing to risk his career to expose confidential emails with the title “Racial Profiling” from Kavanaugh’s time as White House counsel that the Republicans were trying to suppress. His performance won applause from liberal media critics, who hailed his histrionics as a “Spartacus” moment, referring to the #1 movie of 1960, in which Kirk Douglas plays the leader of a slave revolt against Roman oppressors.
But it turned out to be more like the #2 movie of 1960, “Psycho,” after baffled Republicans revealed that they’d cleared those documents for release the night before on request of Booker’s office. They also didn’t show that Kavanaugh was defending racial profiling, but doing his job by arguing for race-neutral post-9/11 security measures to comply with the Constitution (Democrats who implied he was racist were literally judging a book by its cover.) Booker and all the other Democrats might as well have stood up one after the other and loudly proclaimed, “I...am...Specious!”
On the other hand, if you’d like to see a moment during the hearings that might remind you of the 1939 classic, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” about an honest man who’s slandered by corrupt Senators but inspires Americans with his refusal to back down from his faith in bedrock American principles, then check out this moment from day two of the hearings.
I wonder, if they’d stopped and taken a poll right then and there, how many people in that chamber actually carry their own personal copies of the Constitution? For those who don’t – and I suspect there are many, and we could guess fairly accurately who they are – maybe we need to supply them with one. That’s one free government giveaway program I could get behind.
Funny if it weren't true
The RNC should send a locally-sourced, organic fruit basket to Democrats to thank them for making it so easy for the Republicans to create campaign ads. The latest one didn’t even require a narrator, just clips of recent behavior by the Democrats. You can watch it at the link. The title is “The Left is Crazytown.” Don’t worry, it’s only 42 seconds long, although it could easily go on for 42 hours.
"Free speech zone"
This story of the treatment of a Christian student by Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is infuriating, and I urge you to read it all. But all I needed was just three words: “free speech zone.” It’s long past time for leftist university administrators to learn that all of America is a “free speech zone.”
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a college for your kids where the administrators’ heads are screwed on straight instead of stuck up their own rumps, allow me to introduce you to the College of the Ozarks.
How much longer?
Remember, according to the PC Police, if you question the wisdom of letting men go into women’s restrooms and locker rooms, it means you’re a paranoid, reactionary, transphobic bigot. Pay no attention to these very predictable results of defying thousands of years’ worth of common sense (I would’ve said, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” but if it’s a shower curtain, you’d better pay very close attention to him):
The obvious question is, how much longer will feminists prioritize political correctness over women’s rights to privacy and safety? It might make one suspect that modern feminism is more about promoting a leftist political agenda than standing up for women's rights.
Nike's failed marketing
For the past few days, whenever I turned on a news channel, I saw some marketing “expert” assuring me that Nike’s decision to enrich and glorify Colin Kaepernick for his “sacrifice” (tell that to a disabled veteran or Gold Star family) was a brilliant business move. All those people cursing Nike on social media and posting videos of them burning their Nike gear? They’re just irrelevant old fogies who don’t matter. Nike is a hip, edgy company, and this campaign will give them a huge boost among their current target market of young hipsters and minorities.
So, how’s that working out? Marketing types love surveys and numbers, so here are the latest results from a Morning Consult survey:
Almost overnight, Nike’s favorability rating dropped by over 34 points, going from +69 to +34. Also, before the poll, only 2% reported hearing negative sentiments about Nike. After the Kaepernick announcement, 33% said they’d heard negative things about the brand.
But that’s probably just those old cranks Nike doesn’t care about! What did their target market (young people, blacks, etc.) think? Actually, Nike’s favorability dropped among every demographic category, even Democrats (although not as much as the 23 point plummet among Republicans.)
What is Nike’s next brilliant marketing idea? Buy a pair of shoes, get a free can of New Coke ?
Burt Reynolds RIP
I’m sad to have to report the death of Burt Reynolds at 82, following a heart attack after years of battling heart problems.
Reynolds was a throwback to the days when there were real movie stars whose names and personalities alone could draw massive crowds to theaters. He was the #1 box office star from 1978-’82, tying Bing Crosby’s record. At one point, he had four movies in theaters at once. Yet unlike today’s celebrities, who seem to spend more time forcing their political opinions on us than making movies, Reynolds never took himself too seriously.
His self-deprecating wit made him a great talk show guest, and the first non-comedian to fill in for Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.” He enjoyed hanging out with the stunt people as much as with celebrities, and often did his own stunts (check out the linked article for his hilarious account of a canoe stunt that didn’t work out as planned.) He proved he was a fine serious actor in a few dramas such as “Deliverance,” “Boogie Nights” and “Starting Over,” but he preferred light, fun action pictures and comedies; what Hollywood used to call, without disdain, “audience pleasers.” His biggest hit of all, “Smokey and the Bandit,” a modest little flick about a wise guy in a Trans Am outrunning a Southern sheriff, ranked second only to “Star Wars” at the 1977 box office (in today’s money, its gross would be over $508 million!)
In fact, one of Reynolds’ few regrets (aside from that Cosmo nude centerfold he did as a joke) was that he didn’t take his career more seriously and prove his acting chops until it was too late. He’s almost as famous for the parts he turned down as the ones he took, including Han Solo, John McClane in “Die Hard,” Batman on the ‘60s TV series and the retired astronaut role in “Terms of Endearment” that won Jack Nicholson an Oscar.
Still, Burt Reynolds left behind a lot of work that might not have been lauded by the critics (“Smokey…,” “Cannonball Run,” “Semi-Tough,” “The Longest Yard,” “Hooper,” “Sharkey’s Machine,” his late-career TV series, “Evening Shade” and more), but audiences loved them, and I suspect they’ll continue to be rediscovered and enjoyed for many years to come. Besides, who needs the approval of snotty film critics when you’re beloved by fans worldwide – and when Alfred Hitchcock once said his favorite movie was “Smokey and the Bandit”?
Most popular movie Oscar postponed
In a story somewhat related to the death of Burt Reynolds, who made many movies that critics sneered at and audiences loved, the Motion Picture Academy has knuckled under to criticism and postponed plans to add a new Oscar for the best “popular” movie. They’ll just stick with the current concept, in which the Best Picture Oscar goes to the best unpopular movie. Or the most unpopular movie.
Of course, if they were really serious about wanting to lure back the fleeing TV audience, they might get rid of all the unpopular leftist political grandstanding. But even though Hollywood is a “dream factory,” I guess that’s too to dream.
Bruce Ohr's testimony significantly changes FBI timeline
One of the most challenging and important steps in determining what really went on at the FBI that led to an investigation into Trump/Russia “collusion” is to nail down the timeline.
We know that the FBI officially opened “Crossfire Hurricane” on July 31, 2016. It was said to be based on Australian diplomat Alexander Downer’s claim that George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy advisor with the Trump campaign, had said something in a London bar about Russia having damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
It was also thought that Bruce Ohr, then the Number 4 in command at the Justice Department and married to Nellie Ohr, a Russian specialist who just happened to be working for Fusion GPS on the Steele “dossier” project, didn’t start communicating with the FBI about the Russia probe until late in November, after Thanksgiving and (more significantly) after Trump had won the election. That’s when his first documented interview with FBI agents occurred.
But now, based on Ohr’s own account in his closed-door testimony before Congress, we’ve been made aware that Ohr started “colluding” with the FBI on the Trump/Russia probe much sooner, in late July and early August, and it was sparked by information he’d already received from Christopher Steele.
Investigative reporter John Solomon has been told by several sources that the FBI, in the summer of 2016, received information that caused them to doubt the usefulness of the Papadopoulos scenario. (I’m just guessing here, but perhaps they saw that it was just too obvious a set-up??) The information about this issue is considered to be highly classified –- which probably just means it would make the FBI look really, really bad –- but one source told Solomon the evidence was “indisputably exculpatory” while another said it “put the predicate used to start the case in reversal.” (Just a thought: maybe they asked Mueller’s little helper Andrew Weissmann for advice on what to do with exculpatory evidence. He would've said to just hide it. But I digress.)
Rather than hit the brakes and back up --- which they should have done --- after acknowledging problems with the Papadopoulos story, the FBI appears to have used the Steele dossier as a life raft of sorts, grabbing onto different “evidence” of Trump/Russia collusion made conveniently available to them in the highly-inflated form of a trashy, uncorroborated “dossier” (Clinton-funded oppo research) from British former MI6 agent Steel.
So, here’s the revised timeline, as we understand it: In July of 2016, both Ohr and Steele were very busy. On July 5, Steele stopped by the Bureau’s office in Rome with some form of information about Trump/Russia ties. The FBI, at that time, did not immediately follow up, at least not officially.
During July, according to his contemporaneous notes and testimony before Congress, Bruce Ohr had multiple contacts with Steele. One was right before his visit to the Rome office, another right after.
His next in-person contact with Steele –- which also included Nellie, Ohr’s wife and Steele’s co-worker –- was a breakfast meeting on July 30, 2016. Steele had emailed to request the meeting, saying he wanted to talk about information he had about “our favorite business tycoon.” (Three guesses as to who that was.) As Solomon reports, Ohr told Congress that he was so concerned about the information given to him by Steele that he just had to pass it along to the FBI, regardless of any conflict of interest he might have. Apparently, he had such concerns that he called deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe the same day as the breakfast and met on August 3 with him and his legal assistant Lisa Page.
On July 31, FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok officially opened the Trump/Russia probe.
According to what he told Congress, Ohr’s next contact with the FBI came on August 15, with none other than Strzok. Within a month, the FBI scheduled a follow-up meeting with Steele and began their strategy to use the dossier to support a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
One thing that is often forgotten is that the warrant to spy was inclusive of previous communications. In other words, the FBI was able not just to spy in real time but to delve into previous messages from all of his contacts and other records from much earlier. So it really doesn’t matter that the warrant was obtained so close to the election and that Carter Page was no longer active in the campaign. This was their way in.
Anyway, that’s the substantially revised timeline. Ohr also revealed to Congress that he had been aware the information in the dossier was just unverified hearsay, certainly nothing that would stand up in court. So, what I’d like to know is, why would intelligence of such inadequate quality cause such a hubbub at the FBI? It seems they desperately wanted to latch onto anything they could find, no matter how poorly sourced, to use an an excuse for --- pardon the expression --- “meddling.”
If they were that desperate (and the Strzok-Page texts make it clear they were), it would make sense that they didn’t disclose Ohr’s conflict of interest to the FISA court. After all, they were apparently willing to overlook it themselves and let him continue “colluding” with Steele. Plus, they never disclosed to the court that Steele himself was desperate to stop Trump from becoming President, or that the dossier he supplied to them was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. All they gave the court was a cryptic footnote cleverly designed to hide all that.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz is still (we think) investigating whether or not the FBI misled the FISA court, so let’s hope he’s paying close attention to these new developments. He should also be aware that the FBI kept the court in the dark about its use of an article by Michael Isikoff to justify the dossier by conveniently leaving out that it was based on information fed to Isikoff by...the dossier’s author, Christopher Steele. John Solomon mentions that crafty bit of deception in another piece about media leaks.
In fact, there’s another new development related to all this: As Catherine Herridge of FOX News reports, North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows has written a letter to Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions and IG Horowitz asking for a review of all these contacts, saying Bruce Ohr’s contacts with the FBI and with Steele may have “broken from established protocol to further their investigation of the Trump campaign.” Hey, there's an understatement --- try "broken THE LAW."
Meadows also mentions in his letter something I’ve called attention to, that neither Bruce nor Nellie Ohr has yet been interviewed by the special counsel. Of course, U.S. Attorney Huber hasn't interviewed them, either. Much more at the link.