BY JOHN SHAFFER
Although the success of Joe Biden in the “Super Tuesday”states in the Democratic primaries has slowed the momentum of Sen. Bernie Sanders and his push for “Democratic Socialism,” that ideology remains a potent force in the party.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
Well, the current outbreak of human coronavirus has been with us since December 2019, when a new strain of the virus appeared in Wuhan, China. The Chinese government first tried to minimize the extent of the disease, and spun many a creative tale about it, hoping to mask its origins and to divert blame for the spread away from itself.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
Well, self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” Bernie Sanders has won his third consecutive primary/caucus in the race for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
Although the identity of “The Whistleblower” whose letter triggered the impeachment fiasco has been an open secret in Washington DC for several months, it still remains a secret to to the general public. “The Whistleblower” supposedly is a man who is a Democratic Party operative and former National Security Council member. The relevant statute guards against retaliation (that is, being fired, etc.) against a “Whistleblower.” Although the law does prevent the Inspector General from disclosing the “Whistleblower’s” name, it does not demand anonymity for the “Whistleblower,” and no one else legally is prohibited from revealing his name. Nonetheless, at the insistence of Adam Schiff, Grand Inquisitor, the identity has been scrupulously protected. Odds are, this is because Cong. Schiff’s staff had extensive pre-letter associations with the man, and these would not only be embarrassing (to Mr. Schiff) if disclosed, but also would undercut the entire premise of the proceedings.
Enter Sen. Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. During the 16-hour question and answer period of last week’s impeachment trial, Sen. Paul twice asked the Chief Justice of the United States a question that incorporated the name of the “Whistleblower,” although it did not mention the word “Whistleblower” nor ask his identity. Nonetheless, the Chief Justice declined to read the question. Later Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, reworded the question, even referring to “an individual alleged as the whistle-blower,” but omitting the name asked by Sen. Paul, and asked it of the Chief Justice, who did read the question. Of course, indignant inquisitor Adam Schiff refused to answer the question, but the key fact is this: When Sen. Paul asked the question that used the actual name, the Chief Justice did not read it. When Sen. Johnson asked the question, actually using the word “whistleblower” but not the name, the Chief Justice read it. This leaves us little choice but to conclude that, although Adam Schiff might pretend he does not know the identity of the “whistleblower,” the Chief Justice is pretty sure who it is, and so does practically everyone else. No other explanation makes any sense, as there could have been no other reason why the question wasn’t asked except because it included the embargoed name.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
Notice today’s title isn’t complete, because the Democratic candidates for President are not taking their “left foot out.” No, they just stride more and more to the left.
A few years ago, during the ascendancy of Donald Trump, there were many pundits, mostly on the political left, who contended that if Ronald Reagan were running today, he would be too far left for the Republican party. Well, the wishful thinking notwithstanding, President Reagan is still a hero among Republicans and Conservatives, and he accomplished all that he did despite his party never having a US House majority.
Along those lines, Barack Obama is still a hero among the Democrats and Progressives, but there is a school of thought that the Barack Obama who ran on the 2008 platform would be too far right for the modern Democratic party. We don’t think that is true, either, but the 2020 batch of candidates, or at least the ones with a reasonable shot at winning the nomination, are definitely far to the left of Barack Obama, 2008 model.
What’s more, today’s “moderates” are far to the left of Barack Obama, 2012 model and even the Hillary Clinton, 2016 model, although she has moved leftward at a rapid pace.
All of the major current candidates have promised more free stuff than Obama and Hillary combined (and that is going some) and they have absolutely no way to pay for any of it.
But the spending promises (or in the case of Republicans, the spending cuts) never seem to fully take place – largely because our Presidents are not dictators (the exaggerations of the House Impeachment managers aside), and Congress will have its say. We think it unlikely that the wild spending schemes, or most of them, anyway, would ever come to pass.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
Australia and California have many things in common – great climate, great surfing, a (mostly) common language – but the recent spate of devastating fires in Australia make us think of the recent spate of fires in California, and their causes. No, it is not “climate change,” but destructive forestry practices, and arson are responsible for most of the damage (although poor maintenance by Pacific Gas & Electric surely caused several California fires and contributed to others). We haven’t heard of that type of problem in Australia, but the mismanagement of the forested land and arson are unquestionable major contributors to Australia’s problems.
Thankfully rains in the past few days extinguished many fires and assisted in extinguishing many more, but the rains came too late to save over 23 human lives, several hundred thousand acres of forested land, 500,000 animals, and many homes and structures. It also has had a crippling effect on tourism and air quality.
Now we don’t have the credentials of Greta Thunberg, but here is what David Packham, a brushfire scientist for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, said back in 2015 as reported in an article in The Australian Age, from which we will quote extensively: “Victoria’s [a state in Australia] “failed fire management policy” is an increasing threat to human life, water supplies, property and the forest environment. And he argued that unless the annual fuel reduction burning target, currently at a minimum of 5 per cent of public land, “is doubled or preferably tripled, a massive bushfire disaster will occur. The forest and alpine environment will decay and be damaged possibly beyond repair and homes and people [will be] incinerated.”
He said “forest fuel levels had climbed to their most dangerous level in thousands of years. . . a comprehensive fuel reduction burning regime reduced fuel loads, and consequently reduced the intensity of bushfires, cutting the speed at which they spread. This gave people more time to find safety and fire services more time to respond.”
BY JOHN SHAFFER
Last week we discussed the elimination of the blood-thirsty Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who along with several other terrorist leaders from the Iranian regime was dispatched by a Hellfire missile as they were preparing to depart from the Baghdad airport. The Democrat candidates for President agreed that Soleimani was a very bad man, but they did not like the fact that Donald Trump took him out without consulting them first. Or that Donald Trump took him out. Or that Donald Trump. Those Democrats had no similar objections when President Obama took out numerous terrorists without consulting Congress or seeking a Declaration of War, but times have changed.
Those Democrats, along with most of the mainstream media, put approximately 100% of the blame on Donald Trump for rising tensions, escalating conflict, and disregard for their interests, but President Trump reacted to the death of an American contractor and the assault on the US embassy in Baghdad. He did not initiate this conflict, but instead retaliated for those violent acts. Of course, the Democrats called him a war-monger who was out to deflect our attention from impeachment, and someone who was just waiting for a pretext or an excuse to pulverize Iran.
This latter charge was disproven on Tuesday, Jan. 7, when the Islamic Republic of Iran thanked the United States for the “pallets of cash” deal and other favors bestowed on them by the Obama Administration by directing 15 ballistic missiles toward US bases in Iraq. Eleven of them struck targets, although no casualties resulted. It would have been interesting to see just how much of Iran would have been pulverized had any US or Allied casualties been inflicted, but that will remain unknown until Iran actually does cause some more US casualties.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
The last few days were not a good time to be a leader of one of the many Iranian “proxy militias” that populate the nasty side of the Middle East. As an aside, it could reasonably be said that those Iranian proxy militias are one of the main reasons there is a nasty side of the Middle East; and if that is the case the Middle East got a whole less nasty in the last few days.
It started when an Iranian proxy militia launched an attack, killing an American contractor and wounding four US soldiers. In response, the Trump administration authorized an attack on a headquarters of one of those militias, killing some 25. This led to the Iranian proxies storming the US embassy in Baghdad, burning some outbuildings, breaching some walls, setting some fires, daubing walls with graffiti, burning tires, and so forth. The Trump administration sent immediate reinforcements, put a flight of helicopters to cover the area, using tear gas and flares to disperse the mob. This hefty response, which shattered the practice of the Obama administration in similar circumstances, led to the withdrawal of the mob.
The very next day, Quds force commander Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian citizen and cabinet official who has been on the list of terrorists since at least 2007, flew into the Baghdad airport and, accompanied by several other leaders and members of various Iranian proxy militias, was preparing to take a motorcade to Baghdad. US Hellfire missiles sent Soleimani and a significant number of other thugs and terrorists to (dare we say it?) burn in hell. These other terrorists were almost as nasty as Soleimani: Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces; and Naim Qasem, deputy secretary-general of the Lebanese Hezbollah, among others.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
The report from Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been issued, and Mr. Horowitz testified about it for several hours before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Conservatives were hoping that Mr. Horowitz would “connect the dots” and declare that the FBI and Obama Administration Justice Department officials demonstrated “political bias” during the process. Instead, Mr. Horowitz said he found no “testimonial or documentary” evidence of political bias. This means, as reported by Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal, that “he didn’t find [a] smoking gun email that says “let’s take out Trump.” In other words, there may have been all sorts of political bias at play at many points during this episode, but no evidence was found that declares the investigation into the Trump campaign was “politically biased.”
This was sort of a gratuitous offering from Mr. Horowitz, as he was not directly charged with unearthing political bias; but his “finding” has given the Obama-era officials the opportunity to claim their motives were pure, and has given the Democrats in Congress something to grasp onto to show that the affair was completely justified and above board.
But, whether there was “political bias” or not, or whether it was found or not, is a mere footnote to the main thrust of the Horowitz investigation, which shows how dishonest, unfair, corrupt, incompetent, unjustified and unnecessary was the investigation into the Trump campaign.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
In what must be one of the least surprising foregone conclusions of this (still young) century, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has directed her members to bring charges of impeachment against President Trump. The “evidence” of a crime committed by the President is pretty scanty. Don’t believe me? Here’s some gems from the House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Report (issued December 7) – which was issued before the committee held any evidentiary hearings:
“The question is not whether the President’s conduct could have resulted from permissible motives. It is whether the President’s real reasons, the ones in his mind at the time, were legitimate.” We hope this is not the sort of thing one is taught in prestigious law schools nowadays, for instance, the ones represented by the three Democrat professors in last week’s hearing. Not only does this type of lawyering make intent more important than action, but it also enables the prosecutor to divine the intent of the accused, even if there is no direct evidence for it. None of those professors or Democrat Congresspeople would sit still for a moment if this practice were to be employed against an illegal alien charged with a crime, or a career criminal caught at the scene with circumstantial evidence, or a Democrat President whose DNA happened to be found on a blue dress.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
The latest turmoil surrounding President Trump is his “intervention” in the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was charged with a series of crimes ranging from posing for a photograph with the corpse of a dead terrorist (whose age has been reported to be somewhere between 12 and 17), all the way to murder. In a Court-Martial completed in July of this year, Special Operations Chief Gallagher was acquitted of all those charges except for posing for the photograph, which was hard to deny, considering that the picture is available. Of course, Chief Gallagher is not the only member of the US military to pose in the photo, but evidently charges were not brought against most of the others.
The Court-martial was a bit like a hearing before the Schiff committee; some exculpatory witnesses were not allowed to testify, and the court-martial seemed to be conducted in a way that was supposed to guarantee a conviction. Except, as noted above, Chief Gallagher was acquitted of all the charges except for the photograph. Chief Gallagher did not testify at his court-martial, but did issue a statement saying that he takes “full responsibility” for his actions, and added, “This has put a black eye on the two communities I love: The United States Marine Corps and the Navy.”
Despite the acquittal on the most serious charges, the Court came down hard on him, seeking to break him in rank and withdraw his Trident pin, the emblem worn by Navy SEALS.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
There’s an expression that says, “If this had been a fight the referee would have stopped it long ago.” It is used to describe competitions in which one side gets pummeled without landing serious hits on his opponent. Quite often, the losing side might think it is winning, but it is getting whipped no matter what a fancy figure it cuts.
You may suspect that we are referring to the Impeachment Inquiry, which may be over or maybe just between rounds; its future is somewhat indefinite. Here’s a brief summation of what has transpired up to this point.
One side, led by Chairman Adam Schiff, has used his opening statement, the carefully drafted statements of his witnesses, the highlights thereof that may be construed as damaging to President Trump skillfully and selectively leaked prior to the event, and the first 45 minutes of so of questioning by the Majority (that is, Schiffian) counsel, to delicately craft what is supposed to be a fatal and unassailable case against the President – you know, when all of the pundits on the mainstream media, etc. thoughtfully stroke their chins and shake their heads and mutter laments of how horrible and unprecedented is the behavior of the President. And then, the other side (led by Ranking Member Devin Nunes) gets its chance to question the Schiffian witnesses, for the Republicans are not allowed to call witnesses of their own; and yet in five-minute bites, with simple, direct questions, they demolish the construction that the Shiffians have spent hours, perhaps years, creating.
Think not? Well, let’s look at some simple, direct answers from the Schiffian witnesses and the point should be apparent.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
Adam Schiff's impeachment inquiry is underway, and as it turns out you "Trumpsters" out there had nothing to worry about. The first three major witnesses, as we indicated last week, did not actually witness anything. Normally, that would be a problem, as American jurisprudence generally requires that people who provide testimony accusing someone of a crime or an offense actually have first-hand knowledge, but if we are expected to put our faith in a whistleblower who reports third hand hearsay, anonymously, it isn't too much of a reach to have witnesses who traffic in hearsay and impressions and feelings.
One of the many laughably embarrassing moments for the Democrats on the Schiff's committee was when Schiff's committee member Rep. Mike Quigley, from the fifth District of Illinois, dealt with the issue head-on and produced this gem: "...countless people have been convicted on hearsay, because the courts have routinely allowed and created needed exceptions to hearsay. Hearsay can be much better evidence than direct, as we have learned in painful instances and it's certainly valid in this instance."
We can imagine that the standards in Illinois and the Schiff committee may be a tad different from those places where due process is observed, but contrary to Rep. Quigley's contention, courts routinely deny hearsay testimony, and most often do not even admit it into evidence.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
Yes, the title is not a typographical error. We believe the “impeachment inquiry,” as presently constituted, is far more a persecution than a prosecution.
So, let’s play “let us pretend,” and by “us” we mean all of the people who are apoplectic about folks who seek to disclose the identity of the self-styled whistleblower in the “Trump – Ukrainian phone call incident.”
Let “us” pretend that a Democrat is elected President, and that the holdover Republicans in the bureaucracy are angry that their party lost. So, let’s pretend they go out of their way to “resist” every act the incoming President promises, every move he makes, every word he utters, everyone he nominates; but more than that, they decide to “go public” by “blowing the whistle” on the new President by reporting the contents of some communication he held with a foreign leader, a communication containing something that goes against the norms of established policy. That makes him, by current definition, a “whistleblower.” Well, let’s pretend our whistleblower doesn’t report the contents, but fabricates them, based on third or fourth hand gossip from someone who supposed that something occurred because somebody told somebody else that he has the impression that it occurred.
Anyway, to continue: our “whistleblower” knows that his close involvement with Republican presidential campaigns and candidates, and his associations with the officeholders in the previous administration might undercut his pretense of neutrality were his identity to be disclosed, so he masks it, and insists upon full anonymity, even though what he is blowing the whistle about could lead to President-elect falling from grace, or even being toppled from office.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
Impeachments of Presidents are still rare enough that they command entertainment value if nothing else. We already have mentioned how amusing it is to hear the leading proponents of impeachment assure us that is a solemn and portentous step that they are taking very reluctantly and wish they didn’t have to take at all – when they have been talking about impeachment since before President Trump was sworn in and have mentioned the word hundred of times since then.
It is also entertaining to hear how many things the President is alleged to have done to warrant said impeachment. None of them illegal, of course, but just because actual crimes were committed which led to the impeachments of President Nixon and President Clinton, doesn’t mean there has to be a crime to impeach a President. At least that is what we hear, sometimes, from those leading proponents of impeachments; though just as often they assert that their Constitutional duty DEMANDS that they carry through with this impeachment.
We actually have lost count about how many times the Democrats have wanted to impeach President Trump – years before the Ukrainian phone call – and also lost track of how many reasons they gave. We think the walls first closed in on the President when the Russian collusion case was brought forth, but that journey to justice ended when Robert Mueller failed to discover whatever it was that Cong. Adam Schiff discovered to prove the President’s crimes. We think they were going to impeach President Trump along with Justice Kavanaugh – of course, no reason was needed, but we think it was because Kavanaugh did something that nobody saw or could remember when he was in high school, and Trump because he nominated Kavanaugh. Rep. Maxine Walters has often talked of impeaching the President, and she has the goods on Vice-President Pence too, she says. Well, at least she wants to impeach him, too.
Yep, the Democrats have fired the impeachment cannon several times since January 2019, but they think that this time, with the President’s phone call to the Ukrainian President, they have him in a box he can’t escape. Well, maybe they would have, if we had been allowed to rely on only Cong. Schiff’s account of that infamous phone call, for that revealed a truly explicit and blatant criminal act – on the part of Cong. Schiff, not the President. Of course, when the President released the actual transcript of the phone call, and it said nothing like Cong. Schiff’s account, and the Ukrainian President denied any pressure, that charge was on shaky ground. And, just as Christine Blasey Ford’s witnesses against Brett Kavanaugh, each and every one of them, failed to back up her account, Cong. Schiff’s witnesses against President Trump also undercut the case for impeachment.
Especially his latest “star witness,” Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who claimed that he was upset by the phone call because the President was the “superior,” so “the whole thing was a demand asking for a favor.” Whatever that means, it isn’t a crime. And Col. Vindman does not allege that the transcript is inaccurate. From his opening statement: “As the transcript is in the public record, we are all aware of what was said.” Although he does “remember” things remembered by no one else who heard it, he was outvoted when the final transcript was approved.
Col. Vindman was also concerned about, according to the Washington Post – and pay close attention to this – “[Vindman] was deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the President to subvert US foreign policy.” This leads us to ask how a US President can “subvert” foreign policy, because it is the President who makes our foreign policy. “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” – US Constitution, Article II, Section 1.
The power to set foreign policy is now and always has been the prerogative of the US President, from the days of Washington’s warnings about entangling alliances to today. It has never been “left to the bureaucracy” and the actions of a President in the foreign policy field, good or bad, by definition, cannot “subvert” foreign policy. Not infrequently are the actions of one President that take US policy in a different direction reversed by a subsequent President. “Reversed” or “changed” is not the same thing as “subverted.”