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August 2017


“Clinton Fixer” James Comey was DOJ chief prosecutor in Marc Rich pardon case.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Special Counsel Robert Mueller convenes a grand jury to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign, it is important to recall that Mueller made the decision in 2005 to close a FBI grand jury investigation that was convened by the FBI in the 2001 investigation into former President Bill Clinton’s decision to pardon fugitive financier Marc Rich.

Also interesting is the role former FBI Director James Comey played in the decision to end the Marc Rich grand jury without a recommendation of prosecution.

From 1987 to 1993, Comey, working in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, served as the DOJ prosecutor who oversawthe prosecution of Marc Rich, the billionaire oil trader convicted of tax fraud and trading with Iran during the embassy hostage crisis.

But in 2001, when Bill Clinton decided on his last day in office to pardon Marc Rich, Comey oversaw the criminal investigation, but decided there was no wrongdoing on Bill Clinton’s part, “despite public outcry over the evidence that Rich’s ex-wife had donated to Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign.”

That Mueller and Comey were both considered to be “Clinton Fixers” during the Marc Rich case bears merit given the case the grand jury was investigating, namely that there was clear suspicion Denise Rich, the ex-wife of Marc Rich, had bribed the Clintons to obtain the pardon.

The Marc Rich pardon scandal

In the aftermath of leaving the White House, Clinton’s reputation was not only racked by the sexual scandals, but in one of his parting acts, just hours before George W. Bush took the oath of office, Clinton on Jan. 20, 2001, gave a pardon to the swashbuckling oil trader and notorious tax evader Marc Rich.

Rich had fled to Switzerland to escape indictment in the United States for tax evasion and illegally trading with Iran while American embassy personnel were still being held hostage in Tehran, among other criminal charges.

The Marc Rich scandal involved Denise Joy Eisenberg, a songwriter for Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle, who Rich married in 1996 and divorced in 1998.

In 1998, Denise Rich helped bundle a $450,000 contribution to what was then known as the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation to help fund the building of the Clinton presidential library.

According to the Washington Post, the contributions were made in three payments, from July 1998 to May 2000, at the urging of her friend Beth Dozoretz, then well known as a major Democratic Party fundraiser.

The Washington Post further reported that Denise Rich’s attorney, Carol Bruce, told a House Government Reform Committee that held a hearing on the Marc Rich pardon in February 2001 that her client gave an enormous sum of money” to the Clinton library fund, but the amount and timing of the gifts were not disclosed.

Is Mueller’s Grand Jury Impeachment Step One? It’s a long way from here to there, but don’t be surprised if that’s where we’re headed. By Andrew C. McCarthy

The principal function of a federal grand jury is to investigate a suspected crime with an eye toward returning an indictment — a formal accusation of felony misconduct. In the alternative, a grand jury may file a “no true bill,” a formal finding that the prosecutor failed to show probable cause that the subject of the investigation committed a crime.

Sometimes, however, to vote yea or nay on a proposed indictment is not the grand jury’s only option. In certain situations, federal law authorizes a grand jury to file a report detailing its findings, even if criminal charges are not forthcoming. One such situation involves investigations of public officials. Instead of returning an indictment, a grand jury may issue a report that recommends an official’s removal from office.

These columns have lamented the Justice Department’s assignment of a prosecutor to investigate the president without specifying a crime or the factual basis for a criminal investigation. We’ve also observed that no indictable crime is required to trigger impeachment proceedings. Neither, we now note, is a provable crime a prerequisite for the issuance of a grand-jury report.

Thus, the question arises: Is Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s impaneling of a new grand jury in Washington step one in the impeachment of President Donald Trump?

By statute (Section 3333 of Title 18, U.S. Code), a grand jury’s report may address (my italics):

noncriminal misconduct, malfeasance, or misfeasance in office involving organized criminal activity by an appointed public officer or employee as the basis for a recommendation of removal or disciplinary action.

While the statute literally applies only to an appointed public officer, there is little doubt that a court would permit the issuance of a grand-jury report regarding an elected public officer, too. After all, such a report’s recommendation of removal from office would not be binding — a president may be removed only by the Constitution’s impeachment process. And the report’s disclosure of any public officeholder’s conduct would be deemed in the public interest: There is some academic debate about whether a president may be indicted while in office, so the grand-jury report might stand as the only public accounting of an official’s alleged misconduct.

The U.S. Attorney’s Manual, which guides Justice Department procedures, elaborates that the statute’s phrase “‘organized criminal activity’ should be interpreted as being much broader than ‘organized crime.’” It includes “any criminal activity collectively undertaken.” That could mean any conspiracy or any fraudulent scheme involving two or more people.

Note, moreover, that the law does not say that the public official must personally be guilty of criminal activity. Remember, we’re talking here about a situation in which the grand jury has concluded there is not enough evidence to charge the public official with a crime. What the statute says is that, to trigger a report, there must be (a) criminal activity committed by some group of people, and (b) “noncriminal misconduct, malfeasance, or misfeasance” committed by the public official that somehow relates to the criminal activity.

Anti-Semitic Academics: Where is the Outrage Against Turkey? by A.J. Caschetta

In the last 12 months alone, Turkish President Erdogan has closed at least 15 universities and confiscated their property. Invoking Article 301 of the Turkish penal code — which amorphously criminalizes insults to “Turkishness,” the Turkish government or the Turkish military — he has also closed down numerous publishing houses. He has forced Turkish journals to remove from their editorial boards scholars who criticize him. Hundreds have been fired and blacklisted. Unable to work in Turkey and, with their passports confiscated, unable to leave, they represent the worst-case scenario of every comfortable Western academic who has ever bemoaned the “chilling effect” of Republican presidents and congresses, or who have proclaimed as “McCarthyism” any criticism of their own work.

Real suppression, however, making their persecution fantasies seem absurd, is mostly met with silence. Where is the moral indignation? Yet, there is no shortage of howls of “injustice” and BDS movements criticizing even the slightest perceived infringement of human rights in Israel, a country that ensures human rights and equality under the law to all its citizens.

But when it comes to Turkey — sssshhhhhh… Right now, the silence of these organizations tells more about them and their real motives than about the object of their unjustified indignation: Israel.

In Turkey, academics are currently at the mercy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who demands their compliance and threatens dissenters. After last July’s failed coup (for which Erdogan blamed an American scholar), a series of emergency decrees have specifically targeted Turkish academia. One would think this assault would raise ire from the ivory towers, but as Turkey slides deeper into totalitarianism, academia yawns. The failure of many professors to stand up vigorously and publicly for what they profess is especially notable in those whose careers are focused on the demonization of Israel through various attempts to destroy Israel by suffocating it economically.

All right, it is summer break and everyone is off doing research, writing novels and looking for grant money. But Erdogan’s crackdown is not new. Most of it was ignored until January 2016 when he targeted a group of Turkish scholars who called themselves “Academics for Peace” for producing a petition demanding that the Turkish government “end the massacre of the Kurdish people.”

The 1128 original signatories of a petition, written in Turkey in January 2016, that demanded the Turkish government “end the massacre of the Kurdish people,” were subjected to sustained attacks and threats from the government and nationalist groups. Pictured: Some of the signatories of the “Academics for Peace” petition pose in front of a banner reading, “We will not be a party to this crime.”

Since the failed coup, Erdogan has increasingly behaved like a paranoid dictator flexing his muscles. In the last 12 months alone, he has closed at least 15 universities and confiscated their property. Invoking Article 301 of the Turkish penal code – which amorphously criminalizes insults to “Turkishness,” the Turkish government or the Turkish military – he has also closed down numerous publishing houses. He has forced Turkish journals to remove from their editorial boards scholars who criticize him. Hundreds have been fired and blacklisted. Unable to work in Turkey and, with their passports confiscated, unable to leave, they represent the worst-case scenario of every comfortable Western academic who has ever bemoaned the “chilling effect” of Republican presidents and congresses, or who have proclaimed as “McCarthyism” any criticism of their own work. Real suppression, however, making their persecution fantasies seem absurd, is mostly met with silence. Where is the moral indignation? Yet, there is no shortage of howls of “injustice” and BDS movements criticizing even the slightest perceived infringement of human rights in Israel, a country that ensures human rights and equality under the law to all its citizens.

A letter condemning the Erdogan regime and supporting the persecuted academics is the bare minimum one might expect from an easily-piqued group of people who write for a living. Escalations in severity might include organized protests, media events and other kinds of activism to reach audiences beyond readers of The Chronicle of Higher Education and InsideHigherEd. Enlisting the help of celebrities comes next, followed by attempts at isolation in one of the few ways possible to an academic institution, such as cancelling conferences and sporting events convened in the offending state or country. Next come boycotts, calls for divesture of university-controlled funds and sanctioning various individuals.

So how has the academic industrial complex reacted to Turkey? While their Turkish colleagues in the US are intimidated into silence by threats to their families back in Turkey, most of academia seems still traumatized by the defeat of Hillary Clinton in November 2016. Aside from the proverbial “strongly-worded letters,” academia’s wheels of outrage seem stuck in neutral. If half of the opprobrium consistently leveled at democratic Israel were applied to autocratic Turkey, it might bolster the anti-Semitic claims Israel is not being treating differently than every other country on the planet.

The Middle East Studies Association (MESA), which clearly supports the attempts to smother Israel through economic means, has been the most active of all academic groups in its condemnation of Erdogan. Many of the facts of Erdogan’s crackdown are accurately described in the dozens of letters MESA has sent to Erdogan, Ahmet Davutoglu and Binali Yildirim. But there are no apparent signs of protests or other forms of activism usually deployed by MESA’s leadership. Its website suggests that today MESA is far more focused on the Trump administration than on the Middle East.

Rwanda’s Kagame Sweeps Presidential Election With 99% of the Vote Leader extends rule by another seven years after a decisive victory By Nicholas Bariyo

The “strongman” has a history of murder, abuse and suppression of any dissent. The international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders identifies him as a “predator” who attacks press freedom, citing the fact that in the last two decades, eight journalists have been killed or have gone missing, 11 have been given long jail terms, and 33 forced to flee Rwanda. However, since he ended the horrific genocide in Rwanda, he is evidence that in post colonial Africa most nations want economic growth and stability more than real democracy….rsk

Rwanda’s strongman leader Paul Kagame won a landslide victory in Friday’s presidential election with almost 99% of the vote, extending his 17-year rule until at least 2024 after a campaign that seemed more like a coronation than a contest.

With 80% of the votes tallied, Mr. Kagame secured some 5.4 million, the National Electoral Commission said Saturday, confirming the president’s widely expected runaway victory.

“We are now certain that even if we get 100% of the votes, nothing will change,” the commission’s executive secretary, Charles Munyaneza, said on national television.

The victory—by a margin that more closely resembles those chalked up in dictatorships than democracies—hands the 59-year-old Mr. Kagame what he has indicated will be his final term in office. But according to Rwanda’s constitution, he is free to seek two further five-year terms, meaning he could retain his position until 2034.

Mr. Kagame delivered a victory speech to cheering supporters at the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front’s headquarters in the capital, Kigali, on Saturday morning. He pledged to “continue transforming Rwanda to guarantee a dignified life for every citizen,” and thanked the Rwandan people “for putting trust in me once again.”

The European Union, which often sends representatives to monitor African elections, had no presence during Friday’s polls, but the East African Community said the vote was free, fair and without irregularities.

Mr. Kagame—a former rebel leader who is now more commonly seen at international business events—is credited with engineering Rwanda’s economic transformation from the ruins of the 1994 genocide to one of the star economic performers on the continent. But critics and rights groups accuse his government of using state power to intimidate, jail and eliminate opponents through assassinations—allegations that the government rejects.

Mr. Kagame’s victory cements his position at the leading edge of a growing trend of self-styled strongman technocrats across the continent. From Ethiopia to Tanzania and Ivory Coast, leaders are increasingly consolidating control to spur radical economic transformation.

“The development strategy is identical to that of the late Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore,” said Efosa Ojomo, a research fellow at the U.S.-based Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, referencing the former prime minister who transformed the tiny Asian economy into a global hub but drew criticism from humanitarian groups. CONTINUE AT SITE

Jobs Growth Contributes to Uncommonly Strong U.S. Economic Picture Employers add 209,000 jobs as jobless rate drops to 4.3%, a 16-year low By Eric Morath

The U.S. economy is hitting a sweet spot seldom seen in past expansions, posting in July a record 82nd straight month of job creation and an unemployment rate at a 16-year low, despite slow growth in output.

Economic growth has been stuck stubbornly near a 2% annual rate, the weakest expansion in output since World War II. But by a range of measures the economy is pushing into new territory, including record stock-price highs, improving consumer confidence and rising corporate profits. Even wages, though rising slowly, are advancing at a healthy pace when adjusted for exceptionally low inflation.

The latest evidence was a Labor Department report Friday that showed U.S. employers added 209,000 jobs to payrolls in July and the unemployment rate fell to 4.3%. With the July increase in hiring, the record stretch of monthly hiring is equivalent to six years and 10 months, almost three years longer than the second-best streak, from 1986 to 1990.

Expansions tend to get tripped up by boiling excesses, like a housing bubble in the 2000s, a tech bubble in the 1990s and inflation in the early 1980s. But this economy appears to have some more room to run as it enters its ninth year.

Other parts of the global economy, including Europe and China, are contributing after stumbles in recent years, adding to global growth that is spilling back to the U.S.

“Compared to six months ago, the global economic outlook has certainly shifted in a positive direction,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo. In the U.S., “there are more jobs, and better jobs, and that’s a confidence builder.”

Hiring accelerated this summer after a spring slowdown, keeping job growth in line with last year’s pace despite expectations among some economists that hiring would cool this year.

Other economic markers are flashing green. The stock market is at records, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average topping 22000 this week. Low unemployment and modest inflation have stoked consumer confidence to the highest levels since 2000, and that could slowly be translating into more consumer spending, which accelerated in the second quarter.

That points to an economy set to outperform the long but sluggish expansion’s 2.1% average annual growth rate through June.

“This is not a 2% economy,” said Ellen Zentner, chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley. “If you look at the domestic economy, it’s much stronger.” CONTINUE AT SITE

What Is Harvard Hiding? Evidence of bias against Asian-Americans deserves legal scrutiny.

One microdrama this week came from a leaked document revealing that the Justice Department may staff up an investigation into “intentional race-based discrimination” in college admissions. The left is accusing Justice of dismantling racial preferences, though acceptance practices at elite universities deserve more scrutiny, particularly regarding Asian-American applicants.

In 2015 a coalition of more than 60 Asian-American groups filed a complaint with the Justice Department Civil Rights Division that alleges admissions discrimination at Harvard University, and the details are striking. In 1993 about 20% of Harvard students were Asian-American, and that figure has barely budged over two decades, even as the Asian-American share of the U.S. population has grown rapidly. Harvard’s admitted class of 2021 is 22% Asian-American, according to data on the university’s website, and the numbers are roughly consistent at Princeton, Yale and other Ivy League schools.

Compare that with California, where a 1990s referendum banned the state’s public universities from considering race as an admissions factor. The share at University of California campuses at Berkeley and Los Angeles tops 30%, as the complaint notes. At the private California Institute of Technology, which by choice does not consider race as a factor, more than 40% of students were Asian-American in 2013, up from 26% in 1993.

Also notable is research on how much more competitive Asian-Americans must be to win entry into Harvard or other hallowed progressive halls. All else being equal, Asian-American must score 140 points higher on the SAT than a white counterpart, 270 points higher than a Hispanic student, and 450 points higher than a black applicant, according to 2009 research from Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and co-author Alexandria Walton Radford.

Schools are allowed to consider race as a “plus” factor, and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in recent years has muddied the legal standards, most recently in Fisher v. University of Texas. But the Asian-American disparities look like evidence of de facto admissions quotas that the High Court has explicitly declared illegal.

City Pledges for ‘100% Renewable Energy’ Are 99% Misleading The power grid is built on fossil fuels, and there’s no way to designate certain electrons as guilt free. By Charles McConnell

Dozens of cities have made a misleading pledge: that they will move to 100% renewable energy so as to power residents’ lives without emitting a single puff of carbon. At a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in late June, leaders unanimously adopted a resolution setting a “community-wide target” of 100% clean power by 2035. Mayors from Portland, Ore., to Los Angeles to Miami Beach have signed on to these goals.

States are getting in the game, too. Two years ago Hawaii pledged that its electricity would be entirely renewable by 2045. The California Senate recently passed a bill setting the same goal, while moving up the state’s timeline to get half its electricity from renewables from 2030 to 2025.

Let’s not get carried away. Although activists herald these pledges as major environmental accomplishments, they’re more of a marketing gimmick. Use my home state of Texas as an example. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas oversees 90% of the state’s electricity generation and distribution. Texas generates more wind and solar power than any other state. Yet more than 71% of the council’s total electricity still comes from coal and natural gas.

The trick is that there’s no method to designate electrons on the grid as originating from one source or another. Power generated by fossil fuels and wind turbines travels together over poles and underground wires before reaching cities, homes and businesses. No customer can use power from wind and solar farms exclusively.

So how do cities make this 100% renewable claim while still receiving regular electricity from the grid? They pay to generate extra renewable energy that they then sell on the market. If they underwrite enough, they can claim to have offset whatever carbon-generated electricity they use. The proceeds from the sale go back to the city and are put toward its electric bill.

In essence, these cities are buying a “renewable” label to put on the regular power they’re using. Developers of wind and solar farms win because they can use mayoral commitments to finance their projects, which probably are already subsidized by taxpayers.

But the game would never work without complete confidence in the reliability of the grid, which is dependent on a strategy of “all of the above,” generating power from sources that include coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind and solar.

The mayor of Georgetown, Texas, announced earlier this year that his city had reached its goal of 100% renewable electricity. But in a 2015 article announcing the pledge, he acknowledged what would happen if solar and wind were not able to cover the city’s needs: “The Texas grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, will ensure generation is available to meet demand.”

Two years ago the mayor of Denton, Texas, announced a plan to go 70% renewable, while calling a target of 100% unrealistic. “One of the challenges of renewable energy is that it’s so hard to predict,” he said. “You don’t know exactly when the sun is going to shine or when the wind is going to blow. To maintain that reliable power, you must have backup power.”

There is no denying that wind and solar power are important to a balanced energy portfolio. But coal is the bedrock of affordable electricity, and it will remain so, no matter how much wishful thinking by environmental activists. Coal is abundant and reliable. Unlike wind and solar, coal generation can be dialed up and down in response to market conditions and to satisfy demand. CONTINUE AT SITE

There’s No Such Thing as an ‘Illiberal’ No reasonable purpose is served by lumping together totalitarians, autocrats, conservatives and democratic nationalists. By Yoram Hazony

The American and British media have been inundated lately with denunciations of “illiberalism.” That word was once used to describe a private shortcoming such as a person who was narrow-minded or ungenerous. But in the wake of Donald Trump’s election and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, “illiberalism” is being treated as a key political concept. In the writings of Fareed Zakaria, David Brooks, James Kirchick, the Economist and the Atlantic, among others, it is now assumed that the line dividing “liberal” from “illiberal” is the most important in politics.

Who are these “illiberals” everyone is talking about? Respected analysts have ascribed illiberalism to the Nazis and the Soviets; to Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un ; to Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Abdel Fattah Al Sisi ; to the Shiite regime in Iran and the military regime in Myanmar; to the democratic governments of India, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic; to Donald Trump, Theresa May and Brexit; to the nationalist parties in Scotland and Catalonia; to Marine Le Pen, Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn and the lefty activists demanding political correctness on campus; to Venezuela, Pakistan, Kenya and Thailand.

Not everyone raising the hue and cry about illiberalism has exactly this same list in mind. But the talk follows a consistent pattern: A given commentator will name some violent, repressive regimes (Iran, North Korea, Russia). Then he will explain that their “illiberalism” is reminiscent of various nonviolent, democratically chosen public figures or policies (Mr. Trump, Brexit, Polish immigration rules) that he happens to oppose.

At first glance, it looks like taint by association. If you hate Mr. Trump or Brexit enough, you may be in the market for a way to delegitimize their supporters, 40% or 50% of the voting public. Making it out as though Mr. Trump is a kind of Putin, Erdogan or Kim Jong Un—not Hitler exactly, but at least Hitler lite—may feel like progress.
The catchall label has been applied to Theresa May, Bernie Sanders, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Donald Trump and Xi Jinping

But that isn’t enough of an explanation. A battalion of our best-known journalists and intellectuals are straining to persuade readers that there exists some real-world phenomenon called “illiberalism,” and that it is, moreover, a grave threat. This isn’t routine political partisanship. They really feel as if they are living through a nightmare in which battling “illiberalism” has taken on a staggering significance.

It’s vital to understand this phenomenon, not because “illiberalism” really identifies a coherent idea—it doesn’t—but because the new politics these writers are urging, the politics of liberalism vs. illiberalism, is itself an important, troubling development.

Start with the exaggerated sense of power many Americans and Europeans experienced after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Anything seemed possible, and a remarkable number of normally tough-minded people began telling one another fanciful stories about what would happen next. A series of American presidents giddily described the prosperity and goodwill that were about to arise.

George H.W. Bush declared in 1990 that after 100 generations of searching for peace, a new world order was about to be born, “a world quite different from the one we’ve known, a world where the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle.” Utopian political tracts by Francis Fukuyama (“The End of History and the Last Man,” 1992), Thomas Friedman (“The Lexus and the Olive Tree,” 1999), and Shimon Peres (“The New Middle East,” 1993), described the imminent arrival of the universal rule of law, human rights, individual liberties, free markets and open borders. These speeches and books raised expectations into the stratosphere, asserting that decent men and women everywhere would embrace the liberal order, since the alternatives had been discredited.

Even at the height of all this, one caveat was consistently repeated: A rogue’s gallery of holdouts would continue to resist until the mopping-up operations were complete. Mr. Fukuyama referred to these irrationalists, clinging to nationalism, tribalism and religion, as “megalothymic.” It wasn’t a very catchy brand name. The term that stuck instead came from “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy,” an insightful 1997 essay in Foreign Affairs by Mr. Zakaria, which argued that resistance to the new order was far more widespread than had been recognized.

In this context, “liberalism” was understood as the belief that it was possible and desirable to establish a world-wide regime of law, enforced by American power, to ensure human rights and individual liberties. “Illiberalism” became a catchall term that lumped together anyone opposed to the project—as Marxists used the word “reactionary” to describe anyone opposed to the coming communist world order.



The Blue Dog Coalition is an official caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives comprised of 18 fiscally-responsible Democrats, who are leading the way to find commonsense solutions. They represent the center of the political spectrum, appealing to the mainstream values of the American public. The Blue Dogs are dedicated to pursuing fiscally-responsible policies, ensuring a strong national defense for our country, and transcending party lines to get things done for the American people.
Rep. Adam Schiff California District 28th left the coalition which recommends it immediately….rsk

Maxine Waters Is Encouraging More People to Leak Confidential Info From the White House!

On The View, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), one of the leaders of the the impeach-Trump movement, encouraged more confidential leaking from the Trump administration. After a panelist questioned, “We don’t need to hear these conversations, they’re confidential,” Waters said, “I need to hear these conversations.” She simply denied that foreign countries might view these leaks as a sign that the U.S. is a non-secure environment for discussing key matters and that therefore we will lose significance and trust worldwide. She simply denied that part.

While she was denying things, Waters said that, “I am not running for anything except the impeachment of Trump.” Maybe we should be thankful she won’t run for President?