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June 2017

About those Comey hearings. Diana West

Not one US senator asked former FBI Director James Comey to account for the sinister fact that the source of the explosive determination that “Russia hacked the DNC” computer system is a DNC contractor, not the FBI.

Not one US Senator asked why Comey’s FBI deferred to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s DNC when the DNC refused to permit FBI forensics specialists to examine the DNC computer system; or why the FBI was never able to examine John Podesta’s personal devices, either. Not one member of the Senate Intelligence Committe inquired as to why the DNC servers have not, after all of this time, ever been re-examined by the FBI; or whether it is just possible that this same DNC contractor putting forward the DNC/Russian hacking charge might have destroyed the DNC computer system.

The scene of the crime.

As mysterious and sensational as these unanswered questions are, so, too, are the reasons they have not been asked.

To be sure, there was this exchange:

BURR: Do you have any doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections?

COMEY: None.

BURR: Do you have any doubt that the Russian government was behind the intrusions in the DNC and the DCCC systems, and the subsequent leaks of that information?

COMEY: No, no doubt.

Followed by this:

BURR: And the FBI, in this case, unlike other cases that you might investigate — did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked? Or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the data that they had collected?

COMEY: In the case of the DNC, and, I believe, the DCCC, but I’m sure the DNC, we did not have access to the devices themselves. We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high-class entity, that had done the work. But we didn’t get direct access.

The “third party” Comey and Burr discuss is a DNC contractor named Crowdstrike. How “high class” Crowdstrike really is becomes an open question on learning that Crowdstrike has had to retract signficant portions of a recent report — also on “Russia” “hacking” — following “a damaging series of questions over its credibility,” as the Daily Mail explains in detail here. The Daily Mail further reports that Crowdstrike’s co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch and president Shawn Henry themselves refused to testify in March before the House Intelligence Committee, although Committee spox Jack Langer put it more delicately: “They declined the invitation, so we’re communicating with them about speaking to us privately.”

That’s the way to get to the bottom of things never. No doubt special “Russia influence” counsel Robert Mueller will get similar non-results, having, as FBI director, promoted Shawn Henry to big cyber security jobs at least twice during Henry’s FBI career. It’s a safe bet such rapport can only serve to make the Mueller investigation even more non-illuminating to the American people. Isn’t it more and more apparent that this is the point? Ladies and gents, the dreaded Fix is in. Hocus-pocus and the president will be gone.

BURR: But no content?

COMEY: Correct.

BURR: Isn’t content an important part of the forensics from a counterintelligence standpoint?

COMEY: It is, although what was briefed to me by my folks — the people who were my folks at the time — is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016.

Here, of course, was the perfect opening for Burr, or any other Senator, to sit up, adjust his microphone and say:

Are you telling the American people, Mr. Comey, that there has been no independent corroboration of this “third party,” this DNC contractor’s investigation, of the DNC servers? That the FBI just took this incendiary information about “Russian hacking” from this “third party” — and that was that? Further, you have stated in previous testimony that the DNC repeatedly denied FBI requests for access to the servers. Why? What reasons did the DNC give you? How is it possible that you, as FBI director, allowed this to stand?

Mr. Comey, please share with the American people your own reasons for acquiescing to the DNC denial of FBI access to the DNC servers, even as the DNC claimed these servers had been breached by a hostile foreign power! Did you ever possibly consider overriding the DNC to ensure that the FBI could enter what was by all accounts a highly sensitive crime scene to conduct professional, non-partisan analysis?

If not, why not? In fact, Mr. Comey, I’d like to hear more about your deliberations. Who was part of the decision-making process that led you to outsource the investigation of a purported foreign cyber strike on the United States, with all of the ramifications for increased tensions and hostilities with a leading nuclear power, to any third party? Do you consider that good police work? And what does this say about the professionalism of the rest of the IC that has relied on this same “third party” for its assessments? And how “high-class” is this “entity,” anyway, when we now know it has had to retract significant sections of a recent report, also on “Russia” “hacking,” due to the exposure of shoddy data and practices?

Tell me, Mr. Comey, is the FBI now outsourcing all of its counter-intelligence investigations to such “high class entities” — ? Or only in this singularly controversial, momentous and internationally explosive one?

Why would that be so, Mr. Comey…?

Instead, Senator Burr — but it could have any one of them — changed the subject.

Why Trump Wins Will Robert Mueller investigate intelligence agencies for playing in domestic politics? By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.

Ex-FBI chief James Comey played well in Thursday’s hearing to the audience he cares about, the media and bicoastal elites. Donald Trump may well have scored a win among the audience he cares about, Trump’s America.

Much was made of Mr. Comey saying he didn’t trust Mr. Trump not to “lie” about what transpired in their private meetings. Yet despite our president’s dubious relation with veracity, President Trump was shown to be the source of important truths. Mr. Comey had indeed told him he was not under personal investigation in the Russia “collusion” matter. As Sen. Marco Rubio, not a big Trump fan, noted, this fact was remarkable for also being widely known among Senate colleagues and yet was the one fact that never leaked to the media.

Mr. Comey made much of conflicting statements about why he was fired. But it was Mr. Trump who, belying his own White House flackery, stated candidly it was because of the “Russia thing.” Even a non-Trump fan listening to the hearing could readily gather that Mr. Trump had reason to be frustrated that his administration was being paralyzed by insinuations of collusion for which there is zero evidence.

As a rule, when there is no evidence of a particular act, the FBI does not investigate. The FBI is investigating now only because Democrats and Trump opponents so filled the airwaves with unsubstantiated speculation.

Now here’s a secret: Most Democrats understand the hunt will come a cropper. If a Trump associate brushed shoulders with a Russian-looking individual on the way to the men’s room, it has leaked. The U.S. government sucks up and archives vast gobs of communication data.

Yet the earnestly desired evidence of collusion has not materialized, so Democrats have turned instead to charging “obstruction of justice,” with many already baying for impeachment.

Here’s another secret: Such “process” crimes don’t impress voters when there is no underlying crime. If Mr. Trump leaned on his intelligence officials to remove the Russian cloud, this was ill-advised on the part of a president whose specialty is the ill-advised. But his behavior will also increasingly appear in a new light if it turns out Washington’s tail-chasing has been partly driven by Russian fabrications.

The Washington Post and CNN reported late last month that the single most shattering series of events for the Hillary Clinton campaign—the events that began with FBI chief Comey’s intervention in the race—was partly influenced by planted Russian fake intelligence.

Likewise the dossier of repulsive Trump allegations, assembled by a retired British spy supposedly tapping his Russian intelligence sources, also appears to have been a Russian plant and yet may have played a role in justifying the Obama administration’s decision to launch an intelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.

Think about it: To the extent the fruitless hunt for collusion has been promoted by planted Russian intelligence, Russian fiddling is playing a bigger role in shaping our politics today than it did during the campaign.

By the way, we’re not alleging supercompetence on Russia’s part. Planting fake information is routine intelligence work. The World War II battle of Midway was won partly with fake information about water filtration on Midway Island. CONTINUE AT SITE

What Did Your Kids Learn This Week? World War II and American education. By James Freeman

A friend in suburban New Jersey was disappointed after conducting an informal survey of his household this week. It seems that not one of his four children who attend local public schools had heard a single word about D-Day. Tuesday was the 73rd anniversary of the Allied landings at Normandy that began the liberation of Europe. Unfortunately, the experience of his family is hardly unique.

According to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a full 30% of recent college graduates don’t know that D-Day occurred during World War II. Looking at U.S. history in general, the most recent results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2014 found that just 18% of U.S. eighth-graders were graded as “proficient” or above.

While professional educators certainly deserve much of the blame, the journalistic profession could also do better. To its credit, yesterday the Las Vegas Review-Journal published the following letter from reader Donald Anderson:

I am totally dismayed that the Review-Journal failed to mention D-Day in the June 6 edition. If it hadn’t been for the success of the brave forces who stormed the beaches of Normandy on that fateful day in 1944, I’m sure the world situation would be entirely different.

Yes, I saw the eight lines in the Almanac section. Thank you.

Mr. Anderson could just as easily have sent an even stronger complaint to your humble correspondent. Lacking an Almanac section, this column failed entirely to mention the anniversary. Fortunately readers compensated for your correspondent’s oversight by appropriately marking the occasion in the comments section.

As for the news blackout that seems to have occurred in certain schools on Tuesday, the possible silver lining there is that a contemporary progressive educator’s rendering of World War II might leave parents wishing for complete silence on the subject.

In any case, this job seems to have fallen to non-professional educators, and perhaps a good place to start is by encouraging the youngsters in our households to see what they can learn about the two men pictured at the top of this page. They served as combat medics attached to Easy Company, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division during World War II. The group is better known as the ‘Band of Brothers’ of book and television fame.

Speaking of the Army, this week the service tells the story of several D-Day veterans who gathered to share their experiences:

When the ramp to his World War II landing craft slammed down onto Utah Beach, then-Cpl. Herman Zeitchik jumped out and dashed across the sand as deadly rounds were shot out from fortified bunkers.

With the amphibious assault underway in the early morning of June 6, 1944, Zeitchik and other 4th Infantry Division Soldiers — who were part of the first wave of troops to land — desperately tried to find safe passage through the German-occupied beach.

“When the front of these landing crafts went down, we just took off,” said Zeitchik, now 93 years old. “We couldn’t see where to fire. We just had to get off the beach and try to find the rest of the unit.”

Along a 50-mile stretch of coastline in northern France, more than 160,000 Allied troops stormed Utah Beach and four other beaches that day to gain a foothold in continental Europe. By the end of the D-Day invasion, over 9,000 of those Allied troops were either dead or wounded — the majority of them Americans. CONTINUE AT SITE

Anonymous Sourcing Under Siege: CNN, NY Times Bungle Trump Reports Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David A. Vise on how press can avoid major mistakes.

David A. Vise, the author, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at The Washington Post for 23 years. He has also written several acclaimed non-fiction books, including ‘The Bureau and the Mole: The Unmasking of Robert Phillip Hanssen, the Most Dangerous Double Agent in FBI History.’

CNN’s publication and retraction of a story about the Trump-Comey conflict illustrates the biggest bias in journalism: the bias in favor of “The Story.”

Similarly, the high-profile reporting by The New York Times on alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia was at least partially refuted by Comey. He asserted that “in the main” a February story about alleged contacts between Trump lieutenants and Russian government officials was not true. Hours later, the New York Times reported Comey’s comments, but largely stood by their original story.

From my 23 years as a reporter at The Washington Post, I learned from journalism’s giants that bias must be guarded against with vigilance. Legendary Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee grilled reporters when major stories were based, as the CNN and Times stories were, on anonymous sources. Time and time again, Bradlee emphasized the importance of “getting it right,” a need that is heightened when nameless sources are used.

The pressure on reporters and columnists to publish stories that grab headlines and attention often causes them to overreach. This is what Bradlee’s successor as Editor, Len Downie dubbed “the bias in favor of The Story,” something Downie pushed editors to be aware of, and guard against.

This doesn’t mean that anonymous sources should not be used.

Frequently, cultivating sources that don’t want their names revealed is the only way for journalists to report important news and insights. In fact, the biggest journalism story of the last century, The Washington Post’s pursuit of Watergate—which led to the resignation of President Nixon in 1973—was based on an anonymous source known as “Deep Throat,” who was cultivated in part by my mentor, Bob Woodward.

Nevertheless, the darkest day in Washington Post history occurred just eight years later in 1981 when the newspaper was forced to give back a Pulitzer Prize it won for stories about a six-year-old heroin addict named Little Jimmy. Two of the best in the business, Bob Woodward and Ben Bradlee, oversaw that coverage as editors, but reporter Janet Cooke duped both of them into believing a tale she had made up completely—and which prompted a massive police search for the non-existent boy.

On the day The Post won the Pulitzer, Cooke admitted she had fabricated the story and Bradlee, for his part, commissioned a major independent investigation into The Post newsroom to determine what went wrong and how it could be prevented in the future. Safeguards were adopted, and nothing else like it has since occurred at the newspaper.

Bradlee once told me, “We don’t write the truth. We write what people tell us.” Having said that, he demanded that stories meet a high standard for credibility and guarded the newspaper’s reputation for accuracy zealously.

Trump committed no crime. Democrats need to get over it. By Ed Rogers

Before the angry mob of breathless Democrats gets too spun up and ahead of itself, the anti-Trumpers should calm down and try to absorb just how preposterous it is to suggest that President Trump may have committed a criminal offense by supposedly obstructing justice during the Russia/Michael Flynn investigation.

Consider for a moment what would have happened if Trump had placed an op-ed in a prominent newspaper, arguing that the investigation into his campaign and former national security adviser Flynn was misguided, a wasteful use of government resources, and that he thought it should stop. To do so would be foolish, but not criminal.

Similarly, what if the president paraded up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Justice Department with a bullhorn shouting, “Stop the Flynn investigation!”?

It would be unwise and inappropriate, but no one would say the president committed a crime. And he certainly could not be charged with obstruction of justice.

So, if the president’s wishes about an investigation can be loud and public, how is it possible that he violated the law by having a private conversation with a member of his own administration? How can it be that a bold position made in public would be legal, yet an arguably reserved position made in private is somehow considered criminal?

When it comes to obstructing justice before an audience, does size matter? I would love to hear from lawyers about this.

Anyway, everyone should also carefully consider the arguments made by constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz presented some compelling legal insight. “The president,” he writes, “is the head of the unified executive branch of government, and the Justice Department and the FBI work under him and he may order them to do what he wishes.”

Former FBI director James B. Comey likewise confirmed during yesterday’s testimony that, “as a legal matter, [the] president is the head of the executive branch and could direct, in theory, we have important norms against this, but direct that anybody be investigated or anybody not be investigated. I think he has the legal authority because all of us ultimately report in the executive branch up to the president.” “Norms” are important, and Trump is not big on playing by the rules, but that does not mean he has broken a law.

Comey’s testimony should be enough to let this issue of criminality fade away, but the Democrats and their allies in the media are heavily invested in bringing the president down. Yesterday did not go as they wanted it to, and the Democrats’ rage won’t let them see the truth.

Again, Dershowitz argues, “it is important to put to rest the notion that there was anything criminal about the president exercising his constitutional power to fire Comey and to request — ‘hope’ — that he let go the investigation of General Flynn.”

Democrats will continue to lash out and contort Comey’s testimony, but the facts speak for themselves. President Trump has not asked anyone to lie, he has not prevented anyone from performing his or her legal obligations, and he has most certainly not obstructed justice.

Comey’s testimony was not flattering toward the president, but, as I wrote yesterday, it did more to help Trump than to hurt him. No matter how much the Democrats and mainstream media outlets try to spin a crime out of the straw that was Comey’s testimony, the facts just do not take us there.

The president still has the advantage of being innocent. If the Democrats want to impeach Trump, they will have to keep looking. I’m sure they will.


US President Donald Trump has been attacked by his ubiquitous critics for his apparent about-face on the crisis surrounding Qatar.

In a Twitter post on Tuesday, Trump sided firmly with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and the other Sunni states that cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and instituted an air and land blockade of the sheikhdom on Monday.

On Wednesday, Trump said that he hopes to mediate the dispute, more or less parroting the lines adopted by the State Department and the Pentagon which his Twitter posts disputed the day before.

To understand the apparent turnaround and why it is both understandable and probably not an about-face, it is important to understand the forces at play and the stakes involved in the Sunni Arab world’s showdown with Doha.

Arguably, Qatar’s role in undermining the stability of the Islamic world has been second only to Iran’s.

Beginning in the 1995, after the Pars gas field was discovered and quickly rendered Qatar the wealthiest state in the world, the Qatari regime set about undermining the Sunni regimes of the Arab world by among other things, waging a propaganda war against them and against their US ally and by massively funding terrorism.

The Qatari regime established Al Jazeera in 1996.

Despite its frequent denials, the regime has kept tight control on Al Jazeera’s messaging. That messaging has been unchanging since the network’s founding. The pan-Arab satellite station which reaches hundreds of millions of households in the region and worldwide, opposes the US’s allies in the Sunni Arab world. It supports the Muslim Brotherhood and every terrorist group spawned by it. It supports Iran and Hezbollah.

Al Jazeera is viciously anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.

It serves as a propaganda arm not only of al-Qaida and Hezbollah but of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and any other group that attacks the US, Israel, Europe and other Western targets.

Al Jazeera’s reporters have accompanied Hamas and Taliban forces in their wars against Israel and the US. After Israel released Hezbollah arch-terrorist Samir Kuntar from prison in exchange for the bodies of two IDF reservists, Al Jazeera’s Beirut bureau hosted an on-air party in his honor.

Going Postal over Health Care By Eileen F. Toplansky

Anchor Insurance has announced that it will not offer insurance plans on the Ohio ObamaCare exchange next year, leaving 20 counties without any subsidized insurance options.

Regarding the Anthem departure, the New York Times breezily dismisses the fact that

Although [Anthem’s] departure would leave a small number of people — roughly 10,500 who live in about a fifth of the state’s counties — without an insurance carrier, the move was seized on by Republicans as more evidence that the markets are ‘collapsing’ under the Affordable Care Act.

Don’t you just love the satirical use of the quotations marks around the word collapsing indicating that such a charge is just utter nonsense?

Consequently, when Americans relate their horrific experiences under ObamaCare, they are met with insensitive, foul-mouthed responses and threats of violence for daring to expose the built-in problems of ObamaCare. Michelle Malkin relates how “millions of us who wanted our individual market health insurance plans left alone were branded selfish or liars for the past eight years. Our stories were stifled; our cancellation notices derided; our accounts of skyrocketing health insurance costs and diminished access to doctors mocked.” In fact, “[t]he partisan Beltway press shot down true stories of government-engineered pain and suffering, while hyping countless tall tales spun by the Obamacare Fable Factory.”

John Hayward asserts that Obama “needed to conceal how many people would lose their insurance under his plan. Millions of people lost their insurance plans because of the Affordable Care Act. Quite a few people have lost more than one insurance plan because of Obamacare-related disruptions to the market since 2010.” Moreover, “[i]t matters very much that Obamacare is absurdly expensive and wasteful. That’s real money being siphoned from our productive private economy and thrown around by the bureaucracy. A repeal plan that saves American taxpayers billions of dollars is a good thing and should be promoted to the people who pay all those taxes, insurance premiums, and deductibles as such.”

In addition, physician organizations now predict that in a mere 13 years, there will be a near-catastrophic shortage of primary care doctors and specialists in the United States. Kevin Campbell explains that:

Based on a new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges, it is expected that we will see a shortfall of nearly 100,000 doctors by the year 2030. A closer look at the predictions show that we will have a shortage of 40,000 primary care physicians, as well as a shortage of nearly 60,000 physicians in specialties such as allergy and immunology, cardiology, gastroenterology, and infectious disease. In general surgery, the report predicts that there will be 30,000 fewer surgeons than are needed to provide care to those who need it.

But, rest assured that “all federal employees could see a better rate on their health insurance premiums under a bill to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service, according to an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office.” Eric Katz reports that:

A key component of the 2017 Postal Service Reform Act would be the creation of a new health benefits program just for postal employees and retirees, while also requiring all eligible annuitants to enroll in Medicare as their primary provider. Federal workers remaining in their current Federal Employees Health Benefits plans would see their costs shrink, as removing postal employees — who are generally costlier to insure than the rest of the federal workforce — from their pools would decrease the overall expenses associated with their insurance. CBO did not estimate the savings FEHB enrollees would themselves receive, but it did predict the government’s portion of premium costs would decrease by $1.4 billion for federal retirees and $1.9 billion for current employees over 10 years.

Analysts also predicted premiums in the new system ‘for postal employees and annuitants would be lower than the FEHB premiums those people would face under current law.’ Again, CBO did not project savings for the individual, but said USPS would save $2.2 billion for current postal workers and $2.5 billion over 10 years under the postal-specific health care program.

How Trump Got Liberals to Embrace Federalism By Shoshana Bryen

If you’re looking for American ingenuity and technological prowess to help resolve the climate issues that face the world, the Paris Climate Pact is not for you. The pact is a voluntary agreement among countries including the world’s worst polluters (this is axiomatic, since only Nicaragua and Syria are not signatories, and thus far, chemical agents dropped on civilians have not been classed as “pollutants”). Nearly 200 countries are encouraged (not required) to make plans based on their own priorities and commitments to their own people – except the United States, it appears.

The goals of the pact are strikingly modest – to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – but the withdrawal of the United States by President Donald Trump was followed by denunciation and frenzied despair for the future of the planet. German chancellor Angela Merkel, along with the new president of France and the prime minister of Italy, announced, “We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies, and economies.”

“Irreversible” and “vital” are heavy adjectives applied to theoretically voluntary choices.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president; Donald Tusk, the European Council president; and Mrs. Merkel decried the abdication of American leadership. Junker said the U.S. wanted to “untie itself from international connections” – more heavy words for a president withdrawing from an agreement not ratified or even discussed by the U.S. Senate.

What the rest of the world says is less germane here than what the United States does. A dozen American states and more than 200 cities have committed themselves (or their constituents) to maintaining the principles and goals of the Paris pact. More than 1,000 companies and institutions, including more than a dozen Fortune 500 businesses, signed a statement joining them.

Whether they planned it this way or not (probably not), they have exercised a fascinating burst of American federalism. Federalism, defined as “the distribution of power in an organization – such as a government – between a central authority and the constituent units,” is how states and municipalities exercise their authority separate from the federal government. For decades, liberals have sought more federal power over states (abortion, redefining marriage, mandatory health insurance), while conservatives have argued for less (school choice, Medicaid, abortion).

Not this time.

In fact, the determination of state, local, and business leadership to forge ahead on standards for conservation, energy, and pollution control is an outstanding development that does not require the federal government and appears not to run afoul of federal law (unlike, for example, sanctuary cities). The question is not whether it is better to have clean air and water or not. The question is not whether to find better ways of managing waste and generating electricity or not finding them. There are only two questions:

Who will do the heavy lifting for what we all consider benefits? Certain states, cities and companies say they will, and more power to them, so to speak. American ingenuity and American capability will surely create better and smarter ways to live in the only atmosphere we have.
What constitutes the best use of American money in pursuit of those aims?

Technology doesn’t create itself, and the role of government and private investment choices looms large. The federal government has a poor track record of choosing investments – Solyndra, anyone? The market, from startups to Fortune 500 companies, is the better mechanism for emerging and adaptive technologies – Wayze (Israeli) and Amazon and Uber (American) come to mind.

Absence of a market or investment mechanism, or money for the sort of innovation at which America excels, is a major shortcoming of the Paris pact. Consider the construct, and pay attention to the words of the founding document that the Europeans are adamantly opposed to changing.

Communism Victims Remember Powerful testimony of personal experiences with communism’s horrors. Andrew Harrod

“Do not listen to what the Communists promise, just watch their actions…Search the truth by talking to victims of Communism,” recently warned Truc Brown, a refugee from Vietnamese Communism. Available for public appearances in the Anticommunism Action Team’s (ACAT) Speakers Bureau, she and other individuals now provide powerful testimony of their personal experiences with Communism’s horrors from around the world.

Brown addressed the April 30 Washington, DC-area conference “Down the Memory Hole of Socialism,” cosponsored by the Alexandria Tea Party and the Botev Academy. She joined other ACAT speakers such as Boyko Antonov and Lilia Slavova from Bulgaria, Anna Urman (Belarus/Lithuania), and Klara Sever. Sever, who is Jewish, hid from Nazi genocide in her occupied Czechoslovakian homeland during World War II thanks to heroic neighbors, but then had to endure Czechoslovakia’s postwar Communist tyranny. Like Brown, Sever warned that Communism “is a very poor copy of utopia, which has nothing to do with real life, but it is a very good tool because utopia is based on promises, and promises, as we well know, are very cheap.”

In a personal essay, Server recalls how she spent “half of my adult life standing in line” for all manner of basic necessities and consumer goods while living in her native Bratislava. Accordingly, she always carried a shopping bag for use whenever she chanced upon scarce commodities in any store, such as when she stopped to buy onions and potatoes while rushing to a theater performance with her husband. “We made it to the theater in the nick of time,” she recalled, the “lady behind the counter, without batting an eye, hanged the bag next to my nice coat.”

Sever’s essay elaborates upon her online biography’s description of being “blacklisted” in the 1950s due to her “enemy of the state” husband. Given that her father was an initial supporter of Communism, she had encountered no difficulty in studying at a university, but there her marriage to a man from a bourgeois background changed everything. Authorities answered her application for further study “with a proviso that I need to go to work as a manual worker for 5 years. I did and was moved into a working class cadre.” “Your position depended on your family background,” she recalled; “if you came from a working class, the doors were opened to you to all positions without qualifications.”

As at the 2013 Survivors of Communism Summit of the Alexandria, Virginia, Tea Party, Sever has often discussed life under totalitarian surveillance. “One could never be too cautious. You trusted only very few friends, that meant your little circle was small and sometimes getting smaller and smaller, depending upon who was disappearing.” People meeting in the street would often first ask about a recent soccer game in order to be able to pretend to any inquisitive police who might appear that the street conservation had nothing to do with sensitive topics like politics.

Drawing upon his extensive writings, Jaroslaw Martyniuk has joined Sever at both conferences in 2013 and 2017 to analyze Communism on the basis of his experience as the son of a family that fled Ukraine in World War II’s aftermath. He often focuses on the Holodomor, the Soviet Union’s genocidal forced famine of the Ukraine in the 1930s, and thereby emphasizes the importance of a citizenry’s right to bear arms that is often disputed in the United States. While World War I and Russia’s subsequent Civil War had littered Ukraine with weapons, Soviet authorities confiscated them in 1925. As a result 25,000 Soviet authorities could later subdue 25 million Ukrainians even as 25,000 died a day at the Holodomor’s height in 1933, a “magic 25/25/25” formula.

Comey Unmasks Himself As Leaker The fired FBI director tells a Senate panel he’s a well-meaning victim of Trump. Matthew Vadum

Former FBI Director James Comey, who claims President Trump ordered him to end an investigation into former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s ties to Russia, admitted he leaked his notes from a private conversation with Trump in hopes of spurring an investigation of the president himself.

This raises the question, Why isn’t Comey being investigated? He has proven himself to be a prolific liar who abused his power in the vein of J. Edgar Hoover but without Hoover’s competence.

For Comey, leaking was revenge for the humiliating, public way President Trump fired him. His leaking to the media of what amount to official FBI documents may itself be unlawful and may violate the terms of his employment as FBI director. He’s not the victim he paints himself as.

Comey’s comments came as he testified for hours before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of a massive fishing expedition against the Trump administration that should never have been launched in the first place. (A transcript of Comey’s testimony is available here.)

Commentators were all over map in their evaluations of the political significance of the testimony.

It was a bad day for Trump, retired Judge Andrew Napolitano said on Fox News Channel. Interfering with a federal criminal investigation for a corrupt purpose would be obstruction of justice, he told Shepard Smith on Fox News Channel. Some of Comey’s testimony was damning, Napolitano added, particularly Comey’s statement that he understood Trump was seeking some kind of a quid pro quo.

In response to a question from Sen. Angus King (I-Me.), Comey said during the hearing that Trump’s “hope” that he would “drop” the investigation into Flynn’s connections to Russia reminded him of 12th century English King Henry II’s annoyance with Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket.

The use of the word “hope,” Comey said, “rings in my ear as kind of, ‘will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?'” A group of Henry’s followers interpreted the statement as an indication that he wanted Becket dead and they did the king’s will.

But this is weak sauce. It is extremely unlikely a criminal case would arise out of a president’s stated “hope” that a probe be ended, with no actual evidence to back it up. Besides, the ultra-manipulative Comey has already proven himself an unreliable witness possessed of a self-serving memory.

And even if President Trump did order Comey to make the probe into Flynn go away, the president is entitled to do such things.

Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, a liberal Democrat, made the point that in his testimony yesterday,

Comey confirmed that under our Constitution, the president has the authority to direct the FBI to stop investigating any individual. I paraphrase, because the transcript is not yet available: the president can, in theory, decide who to investigate, who to stop investigating, who to prosecute and who not to prosecute. The president is the head of the unified executive branch of government, and the Justice Department and the FBI work under him and he may order them to do what he wishes.