The joy of Kim Jong Un is you never know which North Korean dictator you’re going to get. Is it going to be conciliatory Kim? Is it going to be the bellicose little dictator, threatening to fire missiles off of the shores of Guam? You never quite know.
At least for the moment, we’re dealing with bad Kim.
The North Koreans aren’t particularly happy that they’re not getting what they want in terms of nuclear disarmament talks. According to the U.K. Guardian, since the failure of the second summit between President Donald Trump and Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, back in February 2018, the North Koreans have wanted either more concessions from the United States or fewer denuclearization demands.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, has held fast to the demand they made back in Vietnam in February of last year: North Korea needs to completely dismantle its atomic program.
Since nothing’s changed, Kim decided he’s going to do a bit of holiday-themed saber-rattling.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ri Thae Song said in a statement that “it is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get.”
That kind of language, experts say, has been used before when North Korea is about to resume or cross a boundary in terms of missile testing — in this case, almost certainly the resumption of long-distance missile testing.
Ri also warned that the “year-end time limit” set for concessions from the United States is “drawing nearer.”
“The dialogue touted by the U.S. is, in essence, nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK [North Korea] bound to dialogue and use it in favour of the political situation and election in the U.S.,” Ri said.
At the NATO summit outside of London on Tuesday, several reporters asked Trump questions about Kim, including one who said “you’ve met with Kim Jong Un three times now, and yet he continues to build his nuclear program and test his missiles. So what more will it take?”
While Trump said that he didn’t necessarily know that Kim was building his nuclear program or testing missiles and that “we’d be in a World War Three right now” if we’d followed President Barack Obama’s strategy, he made an appeal that Kim will likely understand: an appeal to military strength.
“Hey, look — we are more powerful, militarily, than we ever have been,” Trump said.
”And I will tell you, when I took over the United States military, when I became commander-in-chief, our military was depleted, our military was in trouble. You know that better than anybody.
“We had old planes; we had old everything. We didn’t have ammunition. Now we have the most powerful military we’ve ever had and we’re by far the most powerful country in the world. And, hopefully, we don’t have to use it, but if we do, we’ll use it. If we have to, we’ll do it.
“But, you know, my relationship with Kim Jong Un is really good, but that doesn’t mean he won’t abide by the agreement we signed. You have to understand. You have to go and look at the first agreement that we signed. It said he will denuclearize. That’s what it said. I hope he lives up to the agreement, but we’re going to find out.”
🇺🇸🇰🇵 — President Trump Threatens North Korea: “if we have to use US military might we'll use it, I hope Kim (Jong Un) lives up to the denuclearisation agreement but we'll see” pic.twitter.com/IOAiartv7R
Now, of course, a bit of this is the old Trump hyperbole; the military, although depleted, did have ammunition. However, the basic premise of it remains solid: The United States is a lot more powerful than North Korea is.
Yes, North Korea has the ability to engage in asymmetrical fear-mongering. The question is whether or not it works. Any sort of actual engagement will end in the destruction of North Korea. Missile testing will bring nothing but more sanctions and more encirclement.
North Korea might believe it has a “gift” for the United States if they don’t play ball. I would make a joke that Pyongyang will end up with coal in its stocking, but that’s the thing: Coal might be the one thing it ends up needing. If things go south, North Korea is going to be looking for any sort of fuel.
I have an uncle who, civic-minded man that he is, had a foolproof way to get out of jury duty. What he would do was slip in, somewhere during voir dire, that he believed anyone the police dragged in was probably guilty.
He’d reliably be driving home before lunchtime.
Believing someone to be somehow guilty before any formal legal process has begun — or, indeed, even considered — seems to have worked in the opposite fashion on the House Judiciary Committee.
In announcing he wouldn’t be attending Donald Trump’s inauguration, New York Democrat Rep. Jerrold Nadler basically implied the then-president elect was the Muscovite Candidate: “He was legally elected, but the Russian weighing-in on the election, the Russian attempt to hack the election and, frankly, the FBI’s weighing-in on the election, I think, makes his election illegitimate, puts an asterisk next to his name,” Nadler said in January 2017.
So Trump was legally elected, but kinda sorta not really. Any theory the media drags in about Trump’s illegitimacy is probably true. So clearly, Nadler had disqualified himself for the position on the House Judiciary Committee that he so covete– oh no, J/K, the Democrats actually made him chairman when they took over the House after the 2018 midterms.
And now, a man who banged the impeachment drums like Keith Moon long before a single MSNBC viewer knew who Gordon Sondland was is about to take over the impeachment inquiry from Adam Schiff. So if you think things were bad before, hoo doggy.
“The House Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing next week in the swift-moving impeachment investigation into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the panel announced Tuesday,” The Hill reported.
“Behind Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the committee will hear from legal scholars as Democrats weigh whether the evidence turned up in their weeks-long impeachment inquiry warrants the drafting of articles aimed at removing the president from office.”
I haven’t been on the edge of my seat this much since I watched “Miracle” and couldn’t stand the suspense over whether the U.S. was going to hold onto that 4-3 lead in that hockey game against the Soviets during the 1980 Winter Olympics. Did you know that movie was based on real events? Wild stuff.
Neither Nadler nor his aides will reveal which constitutional scholars are going to be testifying, but at last check the betting odds that any of them will be members of the Federalist Society remain low.
“I am hopeful that you and your counsel will opt to participate,” he added.
Yeah. The hearing is being called “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.” I wouldn’t be waiting for that RSVP.
“We expect to discuss the constitutional framework through which the House may analyze the evidence gathered in the present inquiry,” Nadler wrote. “We will also discuss whether your alleged actions warrant the House’s exercising its authority to adopt articles of impeachment.”
“The Committee intends this hearing to serve as an opportunity to discuss the historical and constitutional basis of impeachment, as well as the Framers’ intent and understanding of terms like ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’” the letter added.
This is the panel that’s supposed to decide whether or not Trump’s dealings with Ukraine were impeachable. It’s being run on a vulgarized fast track by a guy who thought Trump was “illegitimate” from the start. Yet, if Trump’s doesn’t participate, Nadler says, there’s no room to complain about fairness.
“At base, the president has a choice to make: he can take this opportunity to be represented in the impeachment hearings, or he can stop complaining about the process,” Nadler said in a statement.
Participate in our rigged process or don’t complain how the process is rigged. Sounds about right.
If this is the kind of logic we used in other proceedings, my uncle would have made a fine jury foreman.
I know I’m not supposed to say the name of suspected whistleblower Eric Ciaramella’s name or else I’m putting him and his family in grave personal danger, so let’s get this one right out of the way: Eric Ciaramella, Eric Ciaramella, Eric Ciaramella, Eric Ciaramella.
Is he in any more danger? Have I debased political debate in the United States any further? Have I engaged in fake news? No, no and no? All right, so I feel safe continuing here.
It’d be impossible to even bullet-point all of the curious links Ciaramella and the whistleblower — assuming they are one and the same — have to Democrats and powerful liberals.
Ciaramella, a CIA analyst who was stationed in the White House at one point, also worked closely with then-Vice President Joe Biden on issues related to Ukraine.
He met with the staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff before he filed his whistleblower complaint.
He was purportedly the author of an email that showed what Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Horowitz might have called an “indicia” of an inarguable conspiratorial bias, since it all but accused President Donald Trump of coordinating former FBI Director James Comey’s firing with the Russians.
And now, in case you didn’t have enough to make you suspicious, the dramatis personæ in the Ciaramella saga includes none other than liberal billionaire George Soros.
In addition to his role as a Santa Claus for liberal campaigns, Soros also funds and/or runs many prominent organizations linked to his political goals. The most prominent of these is the Open Society Foundations, which serves as an umbrella group for many of Soros’ other efforts.
It also served as a source of information and policy tip-offs for none other than Eric Ciaramella.
According to a report from investigative reporter Aaron Klein published by Breitbart on Sunday, Ciaramella received emails on Ukraine — his area of expertise — from one of OSF’s top directors.
“The emails informed Ciaramella and a handful of other Obama administration foreign policy officials about Soros’s whereabouts, the contents of Soros’s private meetings about Ukraine and a future meeting the billionaire activist was holding with the prime minister of Ukraine,” Klein reported.
“A primary recipient of the Open Society emails along with Ciaramella was then-Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who played a central role in the anti-Trump dossier affair. Nuland, with whom Ciaramella worked closely, received updates on Ukraine issues from dossier author Christopher Steele in addition to her direct role in facilitating the dossier within the Obama administration.”
Take one from June 9, 2019 from senior policy analyst for Eurasia at the OSF, Jeff Goldstein. It described a meeting between Soros and Johannes Hahn, whom Klein identified as a member of the European Union’s Commission for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.
“I wanted to let you know that Mr. Soros met with Johannes Hahn in Brussels earlier today. One of the issues he raised was concern over the decision to delay the visa liberalization for Georgia and the implications for Ukraine,” the message read.
Ciaramella and Nuland had the email addressed to them, but other State Department officials were copied on the document.
Soros, the email said, “is also meeting [Georgian] President [Giorgi] Margvelashvili today and speaking with [then-Ukranian Prime Minister Volodymyr] Groyman.” (It’s actually Groysman, but what’s a little misspelling if our current president doesn’t make it?)
Soros told Hahn “that Ukrainian civil society is concerned that without reciprocity from the EU for steps Ukraine has taken to put in place sensitive anti-corruption and anti-discrimination legislation and institutions it will not be possible to continue to use the leverage of EU instruments and policies to maintain pressure for reforms in the future” and “urged Hahn to advocate with member states to move ahead with visa liberalization for Ukraine.”
The email concluded, according to Klein, with the sentence: “I’m sure you’ve been working this issue hard; if you have any thoughts on how this is likely to play out or where particular problems lie I’d appreciate if you could let us know.”
“Goldstein’s email text sent to Nuland and Ciaramella was not addressed to any one individual,” Klein reported.
“Nuland replied that she would be happy to discuss the issues by phone. Goldstein set up a phone call and wrote that Soros specifically asked that an employee from the billionaire’s ‘personal office’ join the call with Nuland.”
The emails were obtained as part of a Freedom of Information Act request unrelated to the Ukraine investigation — pretty much by accident, in other words.
The Soros links continue in the whistleblower report, which Breitbart originally reported mirrored concerns in a July 22 piece from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a foundation funded in large part by Soros and tech giant Google.
In the report, the whistleblower claimed that that “multiple U.S. officials told me that Mr. Giuliani had reportedly privately reached out to a variety of other Zelensky advisers, including Chief of Staff Andriy Bohdan and Acting Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Ivan Bakanov.”
This, the whistleblower implied, was to follow up on potential investigations into the Ukraine energy company Burisma Holdings and potential corruption involving the Bidens. (As most of the world knows by now, Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a board member of Burisma, receiving a salary of $50,000 a month.)
Irrespective of what you think about how true this was or whether it was called for, there was something curious about the claim. While it was phrased as if this were information passed along to the whistleblower — i.e., “multiple U.S. officials told me” — a footnote about the allegations refers to the OCCRP report.
“In a report published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on 22 July, two associates of Mr. Giuliani reportedly traveled to Kyiv in May 2019 and met with Mr. Bakanov and another close Zelensky adviser, Mr. Serhiy Shefir,” the footnote states.
Furthermore, three more allegations in the whistleblower complaint are footnoted with the OCCRP report as a reference. Significant portions of the whistleblower report, in other words, were (at best) buttressed by or (at worst) merely echoing a piece from a Soros-funded organization that was — no matter how you feel about the information contained therein — a hit piece slanted against the Trump administration’s efforts in Ukraine.
(The report was also done in concert with BuzzFeed, the journalistic outfit responsible for publishing the mostly discredited Steele dossier, just in case this didn’t look bad enough)
This link had previously been reported by former federal prosecutor Joe di Genova during an appearance on Fox News:
None of this, taken in isolation, is damning. None of these things alone would invalidate the whistleblower report. However, taken in concert — along with the whistleblower’s demand that he offer testimony only in writing — the facts present a picture of someone with more than a mere “indicia” of bias.
If the whistleblower is Eric Ciaramella (it’s also worth noting that nowhere in the torrent of condemnation that lies in wait for anyone who mentions his name has there ever been a specific denial that Ciaramella was the whistleblower), this is important stuff.
It’s indicative of a man who had an agenda. It’s indicative of a man who is very much — I know it’s an overused phrase, but none other will suffice — of The Swamp.
Did his agenda or his swampiness substantively affect the whistleblower complaint or what we know about President Trump’s decisions in re: military funding for Ukraine? We don’t know — and that’s why testimony that goes beyond written answers is necessary. It can (and probably should) be behind closed doors. We didn’t even need to know the whistleblower’s name, although it appears we certainly do now.
What we need to know why they seem to be connected to so many liberal organizations and tentacles of Democrat officialdom — and what kind of influence that had on his decision-making in this matter.
When this is a complaint that’s allegedly coming from a man being appraised of George Soros’ movements, there are questions that need to be answered, and not just on paper.
On Tuesday, former South Carolina governor and representative Mark Sanford ended his primary challenge against Donald Trump. If your immediate response is, “Who?” you weren’t alone. If your immediate response was “Oh wait, that ‘hiking the Appalachian Trail’ guy? He was running for president?” you also weren’t alone.
The only thing remotely interesting about Sanford’s exit was the timing. Trump is in the midst of an impeachment inquiry we’ve been assured is an existential threat to his presidency. If he survives that, how is he supposed to win next November?
The time would seem ripe for Republicans — establishment and rank-and-file alike — to abandon the president for greener (or any other) pastures.
But that’s why Sanford was doomed — and why his hopes that the impeachment inquiry would inflict a mortal wound on the Trump presidency may be doomed too.
Yes, some Republicans may be alienated by the proceedings on Capitol Hill. Others are energized — and they’re displaying that energy with their money and their time.
According to the Republican National Committee, the Trump campaign has picked up 100,000 new donors and 75,000 new volunteers through an anti-impeachment website the RNC has set up.
“It didn’t seem possible to get President Trump’s supporters more fired up than they already were,” Tim Murtaugh, Trump campaign’s spokesman, told The Associated Press.
“Democrats have done it with their sham impeachment proceedings.”
“The effort reflects the Trump campaign’s confidence that the impeachment fight will not only energize his diehard supporters, but also turn off voters weary of the fighting in Washington and willing to blame Democrats for the latest battle,” the AP reported in a Sunday article.
“Trump’s campaign isn’t just waiting for voters to bring up impeachment — it’s ‘owning it,’ raising it on phone calls and door-knocks across the country, said Rick Gorka, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee. The campaign and the RNC have spent more than $10 million in impeachment-related TV ads already, with more expected in the coming weeks as Democrats begin their open hearings.”
How these numbers translate into real-world polling data regarding Trump’s impeachment is still anyone’s guess. RealClearPolitics’ polling average on the president’s impeachment and removal has held mostly steady over the past month, with 48.3 percent in favor to 45.7 opposed. While those numbers have closed somewhat, they haven’t closed substantially.
That could be taken two ways, though: Even with closed-door hearings and plenty of selective leaks, Americans are actually less convinced, albeit slightly so, that impeachment is the way forward.
And that’s just an average. A Morning Consult poll taken between Nov. 1 and Nov. 3 found that 47 percent of respondents were in favor of impeaching Trump. That was down from 51 percent in the same poll taken less than a month earlier.
This isn’t a recent phenomenon, either. In the 24 hours after Nancy Pelosi announced her impeachment inquiry, the Trump campaign took in a whopping $5 million. As of Sept. 30, the campaign had raised $165 million and the RNC had taken in $168 million — a record haul for any sitting president at this point in the campaign. He’s also adding to an impressive grassroots campaign with a groundswell of new donors.
Of course, Trump faces significant headwinds in 2020 and will no doubt need that kind of money and then some. Impeachment seems a fait accompli at this point and the Democrats are no doubt going to use that to generate windfalls of their own.
For his part, Gorka seems unafraid.
“We’re turning this into a real rallying cry for the president’s supporters,” the Trump spokesman told the AP. He also sees this as a window to reach out to another demographic: those who may not be Trump fans “but see this process for what it is, a political hit job.”
Judging by the first day of public impeachment inquiry hearings — particularly Adam Schiff’s opening remarks, which all but assumed the president’s guilt — that’s likely to be a growing cohort.
Either way, the fact that the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry seems to have coalesced support around the president should be a disheartening prospect for the left side of the aisle. And, as for any other potential Mark Sanfords looking to hike the electoral Appalachian Trail of challenging a sitting president, it looks like their opportunity has been all but foreclosed upon — no matter how impeachment goes.
Elizabeth Warren loves public schools so much that she wants to keep your kids in failing ones.
When it comes to her kid, perhaps not so much.
See, Warren isn’t a big fan of school choice. That’s why her education plan, released last week, calls for banning for-profit charter schools. Non-profit charter schools are also mostly verboten, as the plan calls for a pause on federal funding for the expansion of all charter schools.
The reasons she gave were predictable: Spending money on potentially innovative private options outside of the public school system deprives public schools of taxpayer money and private options are potentially corrupt. Also, racism!
“To keep our traditional public school systems strong, we must resist efforts to divert public funds out of traditional public schools,” Warren’s plan reads. “Efforts to expand the footprint of charter schools, often without even ensuring that charters are subject to the same transparency requirements and safeguards as traditional public schools, strain the resources of school districts and leave students behind, primarily students of color.”
“Further, inadequate funding and a growing education technology industry have opened the door to the privatization and corruption of our traditional public schools. More than half of the states allow public schools to be run by for-profit companies, and corporations are leveraging their market power and schools’ desire to keep pace with rapidly changing technology to extract profits at the expense of vulnerable students.”
“We should stop the diversion of public dollars from traditional public schools through vouchers or tuition tax credits – which are vouchers by another name. We should fight back against the privatization, corporatization, and profiteering in our nation’s schools,” the plan adds, just in case you didn’t get the message that she’s against school choice.
As The Washington Post pointed out, for-profit charter schools make up about 15 percent of all charter schools, which means an immediate loss of options for parents whose children are stuck in failing public schools. The Post called it a “union-pleasing plan;” just in case you didn’t get that message from looking at it, Warren spent the next day marching with Chicago teachers.
“The attack on charter schools is particularly disappointing given Ms. Warren’s past support for charters in her home state, which has some of the nation’s best charters,” The Post wrote in an editorial on Monday.
“She once touted the ‘extraordinary results’ of many Massachusetts charters and spoke of the need to ‘celebrate the hard work of those teachers and spread what’s working to other schools.’ The federal program she wants to end helped start some charters in Boston that have shown good results in educating low-income and minority students.”
I suppose now she’s seen the light, a light which has nothing to do with union support. It may not surprise you to know that she believed in school choice when she had her own child, too. She believed in the only kind of school choice that will be available to a lot more parents if she gets her way: putting one’s child into private school with one’s own money.
According to The Daily Caller, for at least one year back in 1987, Warren sent her son to an elite private school outside of Austin, Texas — a school which now boasts a yearly tuition of $14,995.
A 1987 yearbook from Kirby Hall shows the Massachusetts’ senator’s son, Alexander Warren, then an 11-year-old fifth-grader, among the students at the tony private school.
The year would correspond with the last time that his mother taught at the nearby University of Texas at Austin.
But this is the kind of school choice that Elizabeth Warren can get behind — the kind that you get if you can afford it.
“The losers in these political calculations are the children whom charters help,” The Post’s editorial noted.
“Charters at their best offer options to parents whose children would have been consigned to failing traditional schools. They spur reform in public school systems in such places as the District [of Columbia] and Chicago. And high-quality charters lift the achievement of students of color, children from low-income families and English language learners.”
Again, this speaks to the insularity of Warren’s appeal to buttress public schools. For many of her supporters, even if they don’t send their children to private schools, they live in places where the public schools aren’t failing. They don’t have to make these sorts of choices.
I’m not going to pretend that Warren’s plan is anything short of electoral cupidity. Teachers’ unions are against charter schools, and she wants to be the candidate for public sector unions, ergo, she’s against charter schools.
At one point, she had a bit more sense.
At one point in her life, too, she decided to opt out for her own children, at least for one year. She had the money and she had the right to make that choice. For parents who don’t have the money, charter schools can be the only choice that they have. Warren wants to sacrifice that on the pyre of organized labor.
The children — the ones who don’t have parents who can pay like Alexander Warren did — will be the ones who end up suffering if she ever gets a chance to go through with this.
It’s always an entertaining time on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when Joe Scarborough has to pull a guest back from the abyss that is the anti-Trump conspiracy theory.
If you want to see this kind of thing in action, let me refer you to a bit of witty banter last month during which Scarborough’s other half, co-host Mika Brzezinski, questioned Barron Trump’s paternity in a quasi-jocund fashion.
I suppose you can’t eject your wife and co-anchor from the set lest you want to sleep on the couch until Barron Trump reaches the age of majority (or you find another co-host to wed), but Scarborough tried to back away from the topic like a man endeavoring to discover how fast his car can go in reverse.
If you’re a connoisseur of these sorts of things, Thursday’s edition of “Morning Joe” was for you. That’s because one of the guests was Donny Deutsch, an ad executive and weekend host on Scarborough’s network.
I never found Deutsch to be that securely moored to reality’s harbor from back in his days at CNBC, but I really never paid much attention to him then, since watching the network for more than 15 minutes in those days meant running at least a 50/50 chance of seeing some footage of Jim Cramer. Being averse as I am to over-caffeinated men over-enthusiastically whacking oversized buttons while delivering stock advice, I didn’t get to watch Donny much in those days.
It turns out my suspicions about Deutsch’s sanity were correct. Now that he’s moved over to MSNBC, Deutsch’s takes have alternated between comic relief and outrageousness. He thinks Trump voters should be told they’re Nazis. He’s said Trump supporters “own the blood” over mass shootings. And now, he’s saying that Trump’s been laundering money from the Russians for the last 30 years.
“This is all about failed casinos,” Deutsch said during his appearance, according to Fox News.
“[Trump] is owned by Putin because he’s been laundering money, Russian money, for the last 20, 30 years. He’s owned by them.”
“You talk to any banker in New York, any business person in New York, any real estate person … we have a president that’s selling out our military, that’s costing lives, because he is owned by our geopolitical enemy,” Deutsch continued.
“Because he’s been laundering money for him as a criminal organization for the last 30 years.”
Scarborough, understandably, tried to put the brakes on this like Fred Flintstone digging in his heels.
“That, that, that, that is, that is speculation and only speculation right now,” he said.
“I will say that it is speculation among New York bankers who have loaned Donald Trump money in the past, and who have been following his business career.”
However, Joe Scarborough is still Joe Scarborough and he was perfectly willing to take the ball and run with it, substituting his own brand of more media-friendly baseless speculation.
“We all will be absolutely fascinated when we finally figure out what Vladimir Putin has on Donald Trump and why Donald Trump has surrendered the Middle East, helped ISIS, helped Iran, helped Russia, helped Turkey, helped all of our enemies and betrayed all of our allies,” Scarborough said.
“A lot of people think… [Putin] has compromising pictures or something happened in a hotel in Russia years ago. No. It goes back to money. It’s always about money.”
Just not that Trump was laundering money for the Russians since the last days of the Soviet Union. Please, let’s not engage in evidence-free conjecture here.
I suppose MSNBC might want to relive the heady days back when Robert Mueller had yet to deliver his report and this kind of speculation about what kind of claws the Russians might have in Donald Trump was actually respectable. Now, it’s just conspiracy theorizing — and not checking your facts on this kind of thing can get you in trouble, as MSNBC host another Lawrence O’Donnell found out this summer.
I almost wonder why Deutsch hasn’t fully moved onto Ukraine yet. All sorts of reckless speculation will pass muster as far as that’s concerned.
Meanwhile, any serious belief that the Russians were secretly manipulating Trump via investments ended, more or less, with the Mueller report.
Anyone who wants to keep it alive deserves nothing but our derision. I’d almost rather watch Jim Cramer.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff isn’t quite as keen as he once was to call the first Ukraine whistleblower to testify, announcing he might not need to appear in the course of the impeachment inquiry after all.
“Well, our primary interest right now is making sure that that person is protected,” Schiff said during an appearance on “Face the Nation.”
“Indeed, now there’s more than one whistleblower, that they are protected. And given that we already have the call record, we don’t need the whistleblower who wasn’t on the call to tell us what took place during the call. We have the best evidence of that.”
He concluded that “[i]t may not be necessary to take steps that might reveal the whistleblower’s identity to do that. And we’re going to make sure we protect that whistleblower.”
Now, there might be a number of other reasons why Schiff doesn’t think it is necessary for the whistleblower to testify anymore.
First, there was the revelation he had contact with Schiff’s staff before filing the report, something that makes the whistleblower report look a lot less spontaneous. And then there was the fact that he apparently worked with Joe Biden at the White House and may have even traveled to Ukraine with the then-vice president.
And now comes yet another report that the whistleblower may have had another source of bias in their background.
“The whistleblower at the center of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry acknowledged to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) that bias against President Trump might be alleged against him or her for a third, previously unreported reason, sources familiar with the ICIG investigation tell Fox News,” Fox News reported late Wednesday.
“Fox News has previously reported the whistleblower is a registered Democrat and had a prior work history with a senior Democrat.
“Though Fox News has learned that an additional element of possible bias was identified by the whistleblower, its nature remains unclear.”
This certainly wasn’t the headline on Wednesday — that was the continued fallout from Ukraine diplomat William Taylor’s assertion that a quid pro quo existed when it came to Ukrainian aid from the Trump administration — but it was yet another sign that the original whistleblower complaint may not have been entirely motivated by a pure heart and patriotism.
Take, for instance, the meeting with Schiff and his aides. In his report, Fox News notes, the whistleblower didn’t check the box asking whether they had any contact with “Congress or congressional committee(s).”
Schiff, of course, had originally claimed “we have not spoken directly with the whistleblower” during an interview.
He would later amend this to say that he “does not know the identity of the whistleblower, and has not met with or spoken with the whistleblower or their counsel” and that “we” referred to the members of the House Intelligence Committee, not their staff. Convincing!
Given the gravity of the other news we’ve received this week, why does this matter? Well, because it paints the proceedings as something other than an organically unfolding process in which Adam Schiff’s fearless truth-seekers are uncovering grave crimes.
The Taylor testimony is the latest example. Does it sound damning? Well, yes. But then again, we didn’t actually hear the Taylor testimony, did we? It took place behind closed doors as part of a process designed to fast-track articles of impeachment as opposed to discovering the facts in an orderly and public fashion.
When it came to the whistleblower, we were originally assured there was absolutely nothing that would cast doubt on his claims, despite the fact that the Intelligence Community inspector general had said there were indications of “political bias” in their background.
We’ve found out a great deal about the whistleblower and their background in the weeks since the report was made public, including their dalliance with Schiff’s staff.
All of this means that Republicans want to call the whistleblower and find out what the story is. In a letter to Rep. Schiff sent earlier in the day on Wednesday, three ranking GOP congressmen — Jim Jordan of Ohio, Michael McCaul of Texas and Devin Nunes of California — demanded that the whistleblower testify.
In the letter, they cited inconsistencies between the whistleblower complaint and information obtained by the committees involved with the inquiry, including the transcript of the call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which touched off the complaint in the first place.
“Because Speaker Pelosi’s uniltateral impeachment inquiry has not provided us with co-equal subpoena power — as has been the bipartisan precedent in modern impeachment inquiries — we expect for you to arrange for the Committees [involved in the inquiry] to receive the testimony of the employees and all individuals he or she relied upon in formulating the August 12th complaint,” the letter read.
And if Schiff doesn’t want to have the whistleblower testify, you can prepare for some fireworks. This is yet another serious blow to the whistleblower’s credibility, making it imperative that we hear from them once and for all — and not just with an uncritical eye.
You’ve heard it before: Sure, the economy is doing well, but it’s not really Trump’s economy, it’s Obama’s. He just inherited it.
Until stuff starts going downhill, of course — then the fundamentals were all President Donald Trump’s.
I have neither the time nor the energy to explain the multitude of ways this is utterly ridiculous.
However, for economist Stephen Moore, there’s one thing in particular that sticks out as evidence of how much better things are under the 45th president than the 44th: How the middle class is doing.
I know, you may not have noticed this. If you listen to the Democratic presidential debates, the middle class is dying; they’re being squeezed out by a growing mass of economically stagnant lower-income Americans who used to be middle-class until the monocle set took all of their money because they needed a fifth yacht or something.
As Moore pointed out in a Wall Street Journal piece published Sunday, Trump’s critics “insist all the benefits have gone to the rich and large corporations.”
He quoted Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “America’s middle class is under attack,” she’s told audiences.
Well, we wouldn’t be writing this article if the received wisdom were accurate, so let’s listen to Moore — former president of the Club for Growth and a one-time Wall Street Journal editorial board member, as well as an adviser for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign — explaining the numbers on Fox Business this week:
Moore talked about how they’d “found, based on the Census Bureau data … they are reporting now that from the day that Donald Trump entered office through the end of July of this past year — these are the most recent numbers — middle-class incomes are up $4,100.”
“That is a chart-topper,” he continued. “In the previous 16 years, under the Bush and Obama administrations, incomes only rose by $1,000.”
Moore said they’re such “blockbuster” statistics that “I had to triple-check these numbers to make sure they were right because they are so off-the-charts.”
The economist spelled it out in more detail in The Wall Street Journal piece.
“The latest data from the Census Bureau monthly surveys tell a different story. Real median household income — the amount earned by those in the very middle — hit $65,084 (in 2019 dollars) for the 12 months ending in July,” he wrote.
“That’s the highest level ever and a gain of $4,144, or 6.8%, since Mr. Trump took office. By comparison, during 7½ years under President Obama — starting from the end of the recession in June 2009 through January 2017 — the median household income rose by only about $1,000.”
Moore said the data “squares with other economic trends. It explains why consumer spending has surged this year and major retailers like Lowe’s and Target report massive sales. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow had it right when he said last month that, due to fatter paychecks, families are spending and saving more at the same time.”
And as for Trump inheriting the Obama economy — well, not so much, Moore said.
“Mr. Obama inherited a financial mess, but the median income continued its decline during almost all of his first term and rose only slowly in his second term — the weakest recovery from a recession since the 1930s,” he said.
Moore did have a caveat at the end of his piece: “A protracted economic slowdown or recession could reverse Mr. Trump’s advances on jobs and incomes,” he wrote. “The trade war is imposing a heavy toll.”
“But for now the median family enjoys its fattest paychecks ever. The middle class not only isn’t shrinking, it’s getting richer.”
It should. If the left wants to know why Donald Trump still has a very good chance in the 2020 election, despite everything the establishment media and Democrats have said over the past few weeks, it’s because of what he’s done for the middle class.
You know, the same middle class he’s been attacking all these years, according to the Democrats.
Being hunted by the Democrats apparently can be very profitable.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally threw her weight behind an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives. Never mind that just declaring an inquiry isn’t quite how this all works; you kind of have to vote to start one. The point is that the California congresswoman, after months of ducking the issue, was finally throwing the full weight of the Democrat caucus in the House behind an impeachment investigation.
Also on Tuesday, the president called the Ukraine whistleblower controversy “nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!”
….You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo! This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!
Apparently, using the wolfish impeachment machine of the Democrats for fundraising is somehow verboten, since ABC News’ report openly decried the methods that the Trump campaign used to raise that $5 million.
“Moments after Pelosi delivered her statement, the Trump campaign quickly fired off a string of fundraising emails — at least four emails within 24 hours — launched dozens of new Facebook ads asking supporters to join an ‘Official Impeachment Defense Task Force’ and released a slickly produced video decrying Democrats for being ‘solely focused’ on impeachment, which the president himself tweeted out,” they reported Wednesday.
As for the “solely focused” part — have the people at ABC News not watched their own coverage over the past few days? What else have the Democrats been focused on? It seems that gun control thing — which was so desperately urgent that Beto O’Rourke seemed to be making hourly appearances on cable news using every permutation of George Carlin’s seven words to plead his case — doesn’t seem so urgent anymore.
And as for the “dozens of new Facebook ads” and the “slickly produced video,” the poor, innocent babes at ABC News have also apparently never witnessed a modern political campaign, since the language implies their reporters are genuinely shocked by these things. If these stunned journalists really want to see some crass opportunism in electronic electioneering, I have a few Nancy Pelosi fundraising emails I’d like them to take a look at when they have a moment.
It’s also been a pretty good week for the Trump campaign in general. In addition to fundraising off Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry announcement, there also have been several major Trump events that have netted $30 million for his campaign and the Republican Party.
….and campaign says it has raised $5 mill in last 24 hours. That get close to $30 mill between campaign and RNC in a week.
It’s worth pointing out that both sides benefited, fundraising-wise, from the impeachment inquiry announcement. According to The New York Times, the Democrat fundraising platform ActBlue took in $4.2 million on Monday and $4.6 million on Tuesday.
But then again, you’d expect those sorts of numbers on the Democrat side. Of course this would energize them. Impeachment, long assumed to be dead, has been given a jolt of electricity from Dr. Frankenstein and sent tottering along its way — this time with Nancy Pelosi as a traveling companion. Were I a Democrat, I’d be psyched, too.
The fundraising numbers are proof that, at least for now, the party base isn’t shirking from Trump. Nor does it have any reason to. The transcript of the president’s call with the Ukrainian president revealed no quid pro quo involving the release of funding — indeed, no talk of the funding at all — and the whistleblower report was another yawn.
As for the public in general, polling thus far has been inconclusive on the effect impeachment might have; a Quinnipiac survey showed virtually no change from other polls taken before the Ukraine scandal broke, while Morning Consult showed a 7-point spike in support for impeachment. Even with the spike, voters were deadlocked at 43 percent for and against impeachment. Those aren’t numbers that look spectacular if you’re a Democrat, particularly if you’re a vulnerable moderate in one of the newly won former GOP strongholds the party used to flip the House in 2018.
Despite the febrile coverage in the media, unless House Democrats can uncover a lot more dirt on Trump via their inquiry, impeachment is going to be a thorough waste of time that’ll likely end up costing the party at the ballot box. Frankenstein’s monster may indeed be up and walking around, but he’s not going anywhere Donald Trump needs to worry about. And the longer he stays on his feet, the more money is going to find its way into the president’s campaign coffers.
Last year, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled what would become the signature piece of legislation that he’d build his 2020 presidential run around — the same one he used for his 2016 run: “Medicare for all.”
The plan, which would expand Medicare to the point where it became a single-payer program, was estimated to cost $32 trillion over 10 years.
“We’re addressing it on both ends,” Sanders said on Saturday, according to The New York Times.
“We’re addressing it now by trying to help the people who have past due medical bills. And we’re addressing it by finally creating a health care system that guarantees coverage to people without any premiums, without any deductibles, without any out-of-pocket expenses.”
It doesn’t take much to realize that this isn’t going to work. But don’t just take my word for it.
Yes, unbelievably, it seems that Sanders actually had more sense when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, and had recently honeymooned in the Soviet Union.
According to The Free Beacon, Sanders was speaking with Dr. Milton Terris’, the editor of the Journal of Public Health Policy, on his public access cable tv show “Bernie Speaks with the Community.”
In a clip from the interview, Sanders can be seen saying that “you want to guarantee that all people have access to health care as you do in Canada.”
However, he then made a prediction his future self probably wishes he hadn’t made.
“But I think what we understand is that unless we change the funding system and the control mechanisms in this country to do that — for example, if we expanded Medicaid to everybody, everybody had a Medicaid card, we would be spending such an astronomical sum of money that, you know, we would bankrupt the nation,” he said.
“Maybe you want to talk a little bit about that and why, in Canada, under their national health system, you can have access for all people — and yet, per capita, it is less expensive than in the United States.”
Now, none of the structural problems that Sanders talks about have changed in the intervening years. In fact, care here has gotten more expensive and de facto single-payer healthcare isn’t going to solve that.
Furthermore, keep in mind that Sanders is using Canada as his polestar. I’m fairly certain we’re all familiar with the Canadian system and its attendant problems, but that’s apparently what he wants to emulate. I merely leave that out there for summary judgment.
And keep in mind, Sanders wants to do this on top of everything else he wants to do. He wants to cancel medical debt. He wants to cancel student debt. He wants to launch a more modest version of the Green New Deal.
All of that costs money — money that we don’t have. Something Bernie Sanders knew back in 1987. He knows it now, too — but he’s gotten a lot more cynical over the years.
That’s a very dangerous thing for America and our health care.