Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Russiagate: Rosenstein Resignation Effective May 11

WaEx: Rod Rosenstein resigning from Justice Department post,
In his resignation letter, Rosenstein talked up accomplishments outside of the Mueller investigation.

"We staffed the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney's offices with skilled and principled leaders devoted to the values that make America great," he wrote. "By consulting stakeholders, implementing constructive policies, reducing bureaucracy, and using results-driven management, we maximized the public benefit of our $28 billion budget. Productivity rose, and crime fell."
WaPoo, Rosenstein resigns effective May 11, ending tumultuous run as Justice Department’s second-in-command
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein — whose tumultuous two years as the No. 2 Justice Department official were marked by battles over the special-counsel probe of President Trump — submitted a resignation letter Monday indicating he will leave the job in two weeks.

Rosenstein’s departure had been expected since the beginning of the year, but the date was repeatedly pushed back as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wound down his investigation and compiled a report detailing his findings.

Since his first days on the job, Rosenstein’s role in the Trump administration was controversial, from the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey in May 2017 to the conclusion by Rosenstein and Attorney General William P. Barr that there was not sufficient evidence for an obstruction-of-justice case against the president.

In his resignation letter to Trump, Rosenstein praised the president for his personal charm and policy goals. “As I submit my resignation effective on May 11, I am grateful to you for the opportunity to serve; for the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations; and for the goals you set in your inaugural address: patriotism, unity, safety, education, and prosperity, because ‘a nation exists to serve its citizens,’ ” Rosenstein wrote.

He ended his letter with a sentence that asserted the Justice Department’s independence, before closing with a phrase from Trump’s campaign: “We keep the faith, we follow the rules, and we always put America first.”
Stories at Ace, PJ Media and Da Caller, too. I'll miss having Rod to kick around.  I still confess I haven't decided whether Rosenstein wears a white hat or a black hat. I suppose he might just be the ultimate institution guy, whose goals were the preservation of a honest DOJ. That would be a good thing.

Via the Wombat's In The Mailbox: 04.29.19 Sebastian Gorka at American Greatness: brings Obamagate – No Misdemeanors, Only High Crimes
Since then, the 45th President has been cleared twice by Congress, by a House and a Senate investigation, and now most recently by the $35 million Mueller report. There never was any collusion, as he has told me almost two years ago, and he can’t be charged for obstructing justice most obviously because, without an original predicated crime, there is nothing he logically could have obstructed from being uncovered.

But the reason we cannot simply “move on” is not because there are not better things for the president to worry about but because now we know that there is something about which all Americans should be gravely concerned.

It would be impossible to detail in this one article all of the things the Obama Administration did to subvert the Trump campaign through the use of the intelligence community (IC) for political ends. Moreover, we are only just beginning to chronicle of the depth and breadth of the corruption involved. . . .
A bit of a concession from The Nation?  The Mueller Report Indicts the Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theory - The real Russiagate scandal is the damage it has done to our democratic system and media with a cameo by the Mysterious Mr. Mifsud. Note the Mueller report admits the Mysterious Mr Mifsud is not connected to Russian intelligence, but does not admit that Mifsud a Western asset used to set up Papadopuolos.
The most glaring absence of a Kremlin intermediary comes in the case that ostensibly prompted the entire Trump-Russia investigation. During an April 2016 meeting in Rome, a London-based professor named Joseph Mifsud reportedly informed Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos that “the Russians” had obtained “thousands of emails” containing “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. That information made its way to the FBI, which used it as a pretext to open the “Crossfire Hurricane” probe on July 31, 2016. Papadopoulos was later indicted for lying to FBI agents about the timing of his contacts with Mifsud. The case stoked speculation that Papadopoulos acted as an intermediary between Trump and Russia.

But Papadopoulos played no such role. And while the Mueller report says that Papadopoulos “understood Mifsud to have substantial connections to high-level Russian government officials,” it never asserts that Mifsud actually had those connections. Since Mifsud’s suspected Russian connections were the purported predicate for the FBI’s initial Trump-Russia investigation, that is a conspicuous non-call. Another is the revelation from Mueller that Mifsud made false statements to FBI investigators when they interviewed him in February 2017—but yet, unlike Papadopoulos, Mifsud was not indicted. Thus, even the interaction that sparked the Russia-collusion probe did not reveal collusion.
A pair from Sundance at CTH regarding Sally Yates Trump Baits “Coup” and “Overthrow” – Sally Yates Surfaces…. and Sally Yates -vs- Michael Flynn… and another, Listen Carefully – Senator Lindsey Graham Outlines Deep State Exit… but at WaEx, Barr has to answer for Mueller report summary, Lindsey Graham says. Why?

Now that the Mueller report has been released and the “muh Russia” hoax has been exposed as the complete farce that it always was, it’s time to call it what it always was: a classic dezinformatsiya operation.

Zero Hedge, Trump Makes Post-Mueller Vow To Release "Devastating" FISA Docs, Come on, Git 'er done! Mike Huckabee, Obama White House helped construct "Trump/Russia" narrative. Yep. Angelo Codevilla at American Greatness asks a good question. Why Are Clapper and Brennan Not in Jail?

Anti-Trumper, Benjamin Wittes, Five Things I Learned From the Mueller Report. Of course, he claims to have found something really bad.

FWIW, I got my copy of The Mueller Report: The Final Report of the Special Counsel into Donald Trump, Russia, and Collusion in the mail today. Now I just need to read it.

I'm Back!

From fishing. Trevor, Kenny and I started at "Location X" around 7. We caught a few small fish but it wasn't hot. After the stiff west wind died around 8:30, we crossed the Bay to Taylors Island, and fished a few points near the mouth of the Little Choptank, and James Island (what little is left of it)

After a few points and fewer fish, Trevor flipped a coin, and we went north. We fished a few points on the way up to the Sharps Island Lighthouse (where we caught one fish off the icebreaker), crossed back to the western side, and  cruised back to the "Location X", where we caught a few more.

Gone Fishing

But not like this. Note, Luiza has a new bikini, not that there was anything wrong with any of her others.

Nice 'hoo, huh?

Taking Trevor and his friend Kenny out striper hunting. We'll see how this goes.

More? Sure, why not.

The Wombat has Rule 5 Monday: The Next Queen Of Westeros? up and running at The Other McCain.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Virginia Coastal Towns Respond To Rising Propaganda

As the owner and operator of Seaside Eco-tours, Capt. Meriwether Payne ferries passengers from the Wachapreague Town Marina to the barrier islands just beyond the marshes of the shoreline village. The nature surrounding Virginia's Eastern Shore is the heart of her business, but the rising sea level and the resulting increase in coastal flooding are threatening Payne's excursions.

"There seems to be more and more days when we have to walk through water to get to the dock or have to move to a dock other than the town marina to pick up customers," Payne said.

The Nature Conservancy of Virginia hosted a community event last month to discuss the impacts of sea-level rise in Accomack County, which encompasses the northern half of Virginia's Eastern Shore and the approximately 200 residents of Wachapreague. At the meeting, Payne said it's difficult getting customers to her boat during high tide.

Residents heard from the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission and staff from the Nature Conservancy, who spoke about planning for and responding to climate change. However, some on the Eastern Shore are skeptical about the severity of the issue. "You will find that there are a large percentage of people on the shore that do not think anything is going to affect them in their lifetime — particularly older folks," Payne said.
And they've been there to see it. 
The effects of these environmental hazards are apparent more than ever on Tangier Island, which sits in the Chesapeake Bay. It has lost 67 percent of its landmass since 1850, with much of the remaining landmass expected to be underwater within the next 50 years, forcing residents to abandon their homes.
We've seen Tangier mentioned many times. What articles like this won't say is that the loss of land on Tangier and similar eastern shore salt marsh islands is that the loss is not due to sea level rise, but due to erosion at the edges. Left to themselves, salt marshes will grow upwards, as they accrete decaying plant material and sediment on their surfaces. But they can't grow new area very easily.
Cedar Island, in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Wachapreague, is one of many barrier islands guarding the coasts of Virginia. It is a frequent destination on Payne's tours.

For decades, the island housed dozens of residents who built homes on the land. But like Tangier, the sea slowly claimed the beaches and surrounding marshland. Some homes were lost as well. Other homeowners took it upon themselves to uproot their houses and move them inland where they would be safe. The last house was removed from the island in 2015.
Barrier islands are not a stable land form. They shift around with the winds and water. While they can grow upward to match sea level given an ample supply of sand, they may not stay in the same place for very long.
Also residing in Wachapreague is the Eastern Shore Laboratory of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The lab acts as a station for teaching as well as a site for research. While it exists primarily to study coastal ecology and marine life, the scientists there are well aware of the changes going on around them.

Richard Snyder, the lab's director and an Eastern Shore resident, said the rise in sea level is nothing new for coastal areas of Virginia.

"Sea level has never been static. It's always been going up and down," Snyder said. "Now, it's just a matter of how well we adapt to it."
To be fair, within the historical past, it's really been rising, albeit slowly, and with no sign of acceleration. At 4.6 mm/yr, the sea level at Sewells Point, VA is rising at about 14 inches over the course of an average 78 year life span. That's not nothing, but it's not fast.

The institute is changing in response to the rise in sea level, much like the residents of Cedar Island. They're in the beginning stages of a building campaign that would move a number of administrative and research buildings inland to an area known as the "Wachapreague Highlands" because it is slightly more elevated than the surrounding area. Other buildings will be lifted and placed on stilts so they can withstand flooding that threatens their foundations.
Yep, once in a while you may need to build new piers, too.

Ring Around the Russiagate

Nadler, wants to allow all members of his panel at Thursday's hearing to have one round of questioning of five minutes each, according to the source. He also wants to allow for a subsequent round of questioning of 30 minutes for each side, allowing both parties' committee counsels to also engage in questioning during their respective turns — which has turned into a key sticking point for the Justice Department.

"The attorney general agreed to appear before Congress. Therefore, members of Congress should be the ones doing the questioning," said Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec. "He remains happy to engage with members on their questions regarding the Mueller report."
. . .
"The only thing, apparently, that will satisfy Democrats, who refuse to read the less-redacted report, is to have staff pinch hit when a cabinet official appears before us," the spokesperson said. "What actual precedent is there for our committee making such demands of a sitting attorney general as part of our oversight duties? The attorney general isn't a fact witness, and this committee's investigations — as Democrat leadership reminds us daily — don't constitute impeachment, so Democrats have yet to prove their demands anything but abusive and illogical in light of the transparency and good faith the attorney general has shown our committee."
Nadler is making it as onerous as possible for Barr to come, hoping to make an issue of Barr's refusal.

The Atlantic is singing a sad song about The Complicated Friendship of Robert Mueller and William Barr, trying to stir up a fight.
But Barr’s handling of Mueller’s report has cast their relationship in a more adversarial light, and it will be tested further in the coming weeks as Democrats seek separate testimony from both men on the central decisions they made at the culmination of Mueller’s two-year investigation of President Donald Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election. Barr will appear separately before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees on Wednesday and Thursday, with Mueller potentially following later in May.
Sundance at CTH: Chairman Lindsey Graham Will Not Request Robert Mueller Testimony…
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham gave some brief remarks to local Dallas media discussing his summer agenda for the Judiciary Committee.  Graham notes he does not intend to question Robert Mueller -deferring to AG Barr- which is not surprising considering how lightly Mueller may have been involved in the investigation.

Graham also notes the separation between the legislative branch and judicial branch as a firewall for inquiry into the FISA court.  However, Graham explains his intent to discuss possible FISA abuse (manipulation from the executive branch) with Chief Justice John Roberts. It appears Graham is also waiting for the DOJ inspector general report.

From across the pond at the Daily Mail, Former U.S. deputy attorney general Sally Yates says Trump would have been indicted in Mueller's Russia investigation if he wasn't president. She'll be lucky to get out without being indicted. And related, from Rush Limbaugh, Trump Knows Who’s Behind the Coup Against Him, but basically, it all goes back to Obama and Hillary.

From up on Da Hill, Trump: Fox's Napolitano asked me to pardon his friend, put him on Supreme Court. Hmm. Da judge was also slapped down by Fox when he said flat out that England was involved with spying on Trump some months ago. It appears to be true.

Fox's Michael Knowles: Trump obstructed Dem attempt to overturn 2016 election with a coup. Yep.

Carter Page on FISA warrants:

From pay walled NYT via Hot Air, FBI Warns Of Russian Interference In 2020 Race And Boosts Counterintelligence Operations. But then, it's in their interest to generate the fear. Of course the Russians will try, it's what they are, it's what they do. But if they boost Democrats this time, and they win, will we get a big investigation? I doubt it.

Reminder from the Epoch Times, Joe Biden, Obama Officials Stood to Gain From Ukraine Influence
On April 18, 2014, Hunter Biden was appointed to the Board of Directors for Burisma–one of the largest natural gas companies in Ukraine.

Four days later, on April 22 2014, Vice President Biden traveled to Ukraine, offering his political support and $50 million in aid for Yatsenyuk’s shaky new government. Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire politician, was elected as president of Ukraine on May 25, 2014. Biden became close to both men and helped Ukraine to obtain a four-year $17.5 billion IMF package in March 2015.

In October 2016, Foreign Policy wrote a lengthy article, What Will Ukraine Do Without Uncle Joe, which described Biden’s role in the removal of Ukraine’s general prosecutor, Victor Shokin. Shokin, the choice of Ukrainian president Poroshenko, was portrayed as fumbling a major corruption case and “hindering an investigation into two high-ranking state prosecutors arrested on corruption charges.”

The United States pushed for Shokin’s removal and Biden led the effort by personally threatening to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees. In an interview with the Atlantic, Biden recalled telling Poroshenko, “Petro, you’re not getting your billion dollars. It’s OK, you can keep the [prosecutor] general. Just understand—we’re not paying if you do.” Shokin was removedby Poroshenko shortly thereafter, in early 2016.

But according to reporting by The Hill, Shokin had been investigating Burisma, the company that Biden’s son Hunter was a board member of, at the time of his firing. Shokin’s investigation into Burisma had previously been disclosed back in June 2017, by Front News International.
Mere coincidence, I'm sure. 

College Professor Claims Climate Change Causes Sex With Aliens

My new favorite sexy alien, Lily Cowles
from Roswell, New Mexico
Now there's really nothing it can't do. From WUWT, Oxford Professor: Aliens are Breeding with Humans Because of Climate Change
An Oxford Professor has been busy promoting his view that aliens are breeding with humans to produce alien / human hybrids which have a better chance of surviving the coming climate catastrophe.
Oxford Professor Argues Invisible Aliens Are Interbreeding With Humans
26 April 2019 The News Team

The Oxford Student has learnt that Dr Young-hae Chi, Professor at Oxford’s Oriental Institute, believes in a strong correlation between climate change and alien abductions.
In 2012, Dr Chi gave a lecture at the the Ammach Conference, titled ‘Alien Abduction and the Environmental Crisis’ in which he outlined his theory concerning the presence of aliens on earth.
You'll never guess who her mother is, but after you see them together, it makes sense.
Dr Chi began his lecture with the statement that “perhaps human civilisation is coming to an end”.
In his fifty-five minute presentation he cited Dr David Jacobs, an ‘abduction researcher’ in the US, who argued that aliens’ primary purpose is to colonise the earth, by interbreeding with humans to produce a new hybrid species. Second generation ‘hybrids’ are, according to Jacobs, walking unobserved among us.
Dr Chi argued that “it is not only scientists and theologians, but also non-human species who appear to be greatly concerned about the survivability of the human species”.
He pointed out that the timing of aliens’ appearance coincides with the earth facing major problems, climate change and nuclear weapons in particular.

He concludes that “it may be more or less assumed that the hybrid project is a response to this impending demise of human civilisation”.
…Read more: https://www.oxfordstudent.com/2019/04/26/oxford-professors-theory-on-climate-change-and-alien-abduction/
The following is a video of Professor Chi’s 2012 lecture;

There's no idea so stupid that a college professor somewhere won't profess it.

The Wombat has Rule 5 Monday: The Next Queen Of Westeros? up and running at The Other McCain.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Russiagate: Rosenstein in Relief

The WaPoo has another long article about Rod Rosenstein, and the Mueller investigation, which is pretty favoerable to Rod, ‘I can land the plane’: How Rosenstein tried to mollify Trump, protect Mueller and save his job
Rod J. Rosenstein, again, was in danger of losing his job. The New York Times had just reported that — in the heated days after James B. Comey was fired as FBI director — the deputy attorney general had suggested wearing a wire to surreptitiously record President Trump. Now Trump, traveling in New York, was on the phone, eager for an explanation.

Rosenstein — who, by one account, had gotten teary-eyed just before the call in a meeting with Trump’s chief of staff — sought to defuse the volatile situation and assure the president he was on his team, according to people familiar with matter. He criticized the Times report, published in late September, and blamed it on former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, whose recollections formed its basis. Then he talked about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and told the president he would make sure Trump was treated fairly, people familiar with the conversation said.

“I give the investigation credibility,” Rosenstein said, according to an administration official with knowledge of what was said during the call. “I can land the plane.”
And he did. It wasn't a pretty landing, and pieces fell off the plane all the way down, and they still haven't cleaned up the mess and figured out what went wrong, but he did land it. The jury is still out on Rod in my mind. Not in this one, Jay Lafimer at AmThink, Did Mueller jump or was he pushed?
Mueller and his team of rabid anti-Trumpers had every incentive to keep going indefinitely.  The very existence of the Mueller investigation cast a cloud over the Trump presidency.  Like every other effort from the #NeverTrump Swamp, they were seeking to hamstring Trump at every turn.  Having an ongoing investigation was a valuable weapon in the anti-Trump arsenal.  Why give it up?

The idea that Mueller somehow ran out of things to investigate doesn't hold water.  Mueller and his team knew over a year ago (if not on day one) that there was no Trump/Russia connection.  Mueller could have continued to chum the water by looking into Trump's finances or picked a few other minor players on the Trump team to harass and torture with nighttime SWAT team raids and long stints in solitary confinement.  They spent the last year doing just that.

And crucially, keeping the Mueller Investigation open gave the Swamp denizens in the FBI and CIA a legal rationale to deny access to documents that would uncover their spying on the Trump campaign.  As long as Mueller was working, all those pesky requests from congressional investigators like Devin Nunes could be stonewalled.  The Mueller investigation was the best defense that Swampgate had.
. . .
No, there was some other reason.  My guess is the Horowitz Report.  This may be wishful thinking, but there are whispers that the Horowitz Report will be a very damning document, finally revealing the details of Swampgate — how the Obama administration weaponized the FBI, the CIA, and other intelligence agencies to spy on the Trump campaign and undermine the Trump Presidency with a made-up Russia narrative.

If so, the Horowitz Report would destroy Mueller's credibility and that of the Russia investigation once and for all.  And knowing it was about to drop would give Mueller every incentive to finish up his own report and get it out fast before the proverbial s--- hit the fan.  Realizing his time is now limited, Mueller raced to publish his report now, while still unsullied by other charges.
Byron York, WaEx, When did Mueller know there was no collusion? At some point, the Mueller investigation seems to have morphed into an attempt to goad Trump into an overt act of obstruction. And Rosenstein was, at least nominally, his boss. Sundance at CTH, Rosenstein, Wray, NYT and WaPo Remind Everyone Devastating Impact of 2016 Russian Interference… Sundance has a list of potential avenues for investigation. Democrats would not be thrilled.
♦ Release the August 2nd, 2017, two-page scope memo provided by DAG Rod Rosenstein to special counsel Robert Mueller to advance the fraudulent Trump investigation, and initiate the more purposeful obstruction of justice investigation. Also Release the October 20th, 2017, second scope memo recently discovered. The Scope Memos are keys to unlocking the underlying spy/surveillance cover-up. [SEE HERE and SEE HERE]
Via The Stream,  BREAKING NEWS: FISA Court Says FBI Lied to Them, Illegally Spied. I hope this is for real. I've been wondering if we'd ever hear from the FISA court about their being gas lighted by the FBI/DOJ.
According to diGenova, and here is the tremendous breaking news: The FISA court has been looking into abuses of the FISA system and has communicated with the Justice Department about its findings. Their chief judge has already determined that for more than four years before the election of Donald Trump, there was an illegal spying operation (yes, spying — and, yes, illegal) going on by four FBI contractors to break the law to steal personal electronic information about American citizens and to use it against the Republican Party.

It might be good to go back and read that last sentence again, slowly, and let it sink in.
Curt at Flopping Aces has assembled Russian ‘Collusion’s’ Greatest Hits, which among other things highlights Rods conflicts:
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein replaced Attorney General Jeff Sessions on all oversight of matters relating to “Russian collusion” on the theory that, unlike Sessions, the Obama-era Justice Department official was nonpartisan, not conflicted, and thus could decide whether to appoint a special counsel, and, if so, whom.

Yet Rosenstein himself had himself signed one of the FISA warrant extensions that continued surveillance of former Trump campaign Carter Page, a fact of some importance to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s subsequent investigation. Rosenstein, in fact, appointed Mueller, who was a longtime associate who had worked with him on prior investigations. Rosenstein had also drafted the memo justifying Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, which directly led to Mueller’s appointment.

Rosenstein would then meet with Comey’s replacement, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, allegedly, to discuss the possibility of removing the elected President Trump on grounds under the 25th Amendment that he was mentally unfit. Rosenstein’s angst, apparently, arose because Trump had taken Rosenstein’s own advice to fire Comey, which had in turn prompted McCabe to launch new investigations, which Rosenstein, again apparently, then sort of joined—in theory then to investigate in circular fashion himself?
Grouchy Old Cripple, Ronsday – Collusion Delusion At least I think he's talking about Rosenstein: "Please Ron don’t give them any good advice. We don’t want them to come to their senses. We want the American people to see just how wacko the Dims are." Power Line, Who Was Colluding With Whom?

Insty, DO TELL: Michael Isikoff: Media Should Have Had ‘More Skepticism’ About Steele Dossier.
“We knew that Steele compiled it, but that Steele did not hear these allegations himself. Somebody else heard them from others and then passed them along. That’s third-hand stuff, which is not usually the kind you want for publishing.” Unless you’re desperate to run anything negative about Trump. This is the picture of reckless disregard.
In this morning's WaPoo, "head" fact check Glenn Kessler writes what he purports to be  What the Steele dossier said vs. what the Mueller report said
Defenders of the dossier say its overall message — that Russia wanted to help Trump win the election, in part to sow discord in the United States — has been validated by the Mueller report. Detractors say many of the details have been proved false or remain unverified.
In other words, "fake but accurate" is close enough. WaPoo also reports YouTube recommended a Russian media site thousands of times for analysis of Mueller’s report, a watchdog group says.

Sundance at CTH, Vice-President Mike Pence: “This is an outrage” On Claims of FBI Considering Seeding Spies to His Staff… But don't you dare call it spying. Fox, Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing: J'accuse: Donald Trump is Alfred Dreyfus. "It took Dreyfus 12 years to get exoneration and an apology from the French government. How long will it take Donald Trump?"

PJ Media, Former Obama Advisor: Investigating Origins of Russia Probe 'Waste of Time,' 'They Will Find Nothing' But think of all the fun we can have probing you for a couple of years!

Da Caller, Brennan Says He’s ‘Absolutely’ Willing To Testify To Congress To Rebut Trump’s ‘Coup’ Claims  RCP, John Brennan: Trump's Accusations About Attempted CIA Coup Are "Sociopathic Ramblings" and Flopping Aces' Dr. John, John Brennan “absolutely willing” to lie about his coup attempt to depose Trump. Why not; he's done it before and got away with it. Dr. John also compares James Comey with Lori Loughlin. At least Lori's ignorance of the law is plausible. And she's still kind cute, that's worth something.

Always an asshole, but when he's right, he's right, Bill Maher Accuses Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of ‘Stalking’ Trump, and Stacy McCain utters Three Scary Words“President Eric Swalwell”

Maria Butina
WaPoo, Maria Butina, Russian who conspired to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups, sentenced to 18 months. With credit for time already served, and immediate deportation upon release. It's interesting that it took Mueller to start to enforce FARA:
Butina, 30, pleaded guilty in December to conspiring with a senior Russian official to access the National Rifle Association and other groups without registering with the U.S. Justice Department from 2015 until she was arrested and detained in July.

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the District of Columbia credited Butina with the more than nine months she already has served in jail and granted a request to expedite her deportation after she completes her sentence.

Butina’s networking efforts, facilitation of a visit to Russia by NRA leaders and other actions “were all used to establish back channel lines of communication to advance Russian interests. The conduct was sophisticated and penetrated deep into political organizations,” Chutkan said.

While possibly legal otherwise, it was because Butina failed to register with the U.S. attorney general that her actions “were so dangerous and constituted a threat to our democracy,” by denying U.S. authorities and targeted groups the opportunity to respond “at a time when the Russian government was working to interfere in and affect the American electoral process,” the judge said.
. . .
Butina admitted to working as an undeclared agent of a foreign government, but she did not admit to and was not charged with espionage.
Yeah, maybe, but I think it was an attempt to smear the NRA, and show that the Mueller team really cared about Russia and not just getting Trump. It's sad that we're resorting to show trials.

Who Says They Don't Teach Anything Useful at the Universities Anymore?

"Candace Cane"
A girl can always get a a job pole dancing, amIright? UCLA is now teaching students how to pole dance
Two official university divisions at UCLA teamed up to host an event Thursday which introduced students to the art of pole dancing.

The Sexploration Pole Art Class was hosted by the UCLA Sexual Health Coalition and UCLA Housing, according to the Facebook event page. Organizers offered students the “chance to explore [their] inner-diva and divo” and “get introduced to the basic moves needed to become a magnificent pole dancer.”
Is "divo" really a word, and besides, shouldn't a single word cover all possible sexes and genders in this day and age?

The class was taught by Candace Cane, a Los Angeles area “Exotic Aerialist” who told the Daily Bruin that she hoped attendees of her class would “gain more confidence in their appearance, because when you see yourself accomplishing something that you thought you couldn’t, it opens up a whole other world.”
I've got no right to kvetch; in college I took fencing, and I never carried a sword after that.
One attendee, freshman biology student Elle Mendelson also told the Daily Bruin that “having a pole-dancing class available to students gives them a way to take control of the way they present themselves, and in that way people are able to take back the objectification.”

This isn't the first time that UCLA has held such an event. In April 2018, the UCLA Sexual Health Coalition hosted a Sextravaganza which included workshops on the topics of heel, chair, and pole dancing, as well as “under the stars” yoga.
And it's not likely I got my money's worth out of three quarters of calculus either. It turns out somebody else solved all the hard problems, and all you have to do is look 'em up, and plug in the numbers.
With April being Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, several schools have held their own “Sex Week” events, but many seem to have been focused not just on sexual assault prevention but on the exploration of sexual liberation.

Harvard University’s Sex Week, held earlier this month, featured an event where attendees could design and print their own dildos using a 3D printer. Organizers warned that “printed designs are not intended for internal use.” Harvard’s Sex Weekend took place April 12-15, and unlike UCLA’s was hosted by a student organization, Sex Week at Harvard.

The Wombat has Rule 5 Monday: The Next Queen Of Westeros? up and running at The Other McCain.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Reason #6712 That Trump Was Elected

EBL: It Is The Economy, Stupid: Exports rose 3.7% in the first quarter, while imports decreased by 3.7%.

AmThink: Ignorant press 'surprised' by 3.2% blowout GDP number
First-quarter gross domestic product numbers are in, and they are a blowout, 3.2% growth, coming on top of similar numbers in previous quarters based on President Trump's pro-growth economic policies.

But to much of the press, even the financial press, that's a...surprise.

Get a load of these headlines.

U.S. Economy Powers Ahead In First Quarter: 3.2% Growth -NPR

US economy grows by 3.2% in the first quarter, topping expectations -CBNC

The US economy blows past growth expectations in the first quarter -Business Insider

The American economy looked like a drag just a few months ago. Not anymore -CNN

U.S. economy grows 3.2% in the first quarter, well above estimates -Yahoo! Finance

U.S. Growth of 3.2% Tops Forecasts on Trade, Inventory Boost -Bloomberg

Topping expectations, blowing past expectations, well above estimates, tops forecasts, all of it 'unexpectedly' so. Some analysts cited in the various reports erroneously suggested that since tax cuts were done, that factor as a growth indicator was all done. It's nonsense, because tax cuts have been long known to have extended knock-on effects, something that baffles the Left. When you have more money in your pocket, month after month, it's not rocket science to say that that factor, brought on by tax cuts, often leads to investment.
I'm sure ex-Preznit Obama will be along shortly to claim credit. And the press will be more than happy to give it to him.

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup with links.

Obamacare Schadenfreude Revived

It's been a while since we had one of these, CBO Report: 1.4 Million Lost Health Insurance Since 2016 — And Obamacare Is To Blame
The number of uninsured climbed by 1.4 million from 2016 to 2018, according to a report out last week from the Congressional Budget Office. Naturally, this led those on the left to blame the Trump administration for its Obamacare “sabotage.”

But the data in that report — which was released on the same day the Mueller report came out and largely ignored — tells an entirely different story.

All of the increase in the uninsured over the past two years — all of it — is the result of the massive rate increases Obamacare’s mandates and regulations caused. According to the Health and Human Services Dept., premiums in the individual insurance market doubled from 2013 to 2017. They shot up again in 2018.

For those eligible for Obamacare subsidies, the rate increases were meaningless. The amount they had to pay didn’t change much, and in many cases went down.

But for the millions of middle-class Americans who buy insurance coverage on the individual market and aren’t eligible for Obamacare subsidies, the result has been financially devastating.

The CBO report shows the impact, plain as day . . .
But congressional Republicans lacked the guts to kill it.

Russiagate: The Day Collusion Died

Continuing the story of how Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were planning on cultivate a mole in the Trump White House, a suspect has been identified. Sara Carter, FBI Texts Show Agents Discussed Recruiting White House Sources To Spy For Bureau
The texts and sources reveal that Strzok had one significant contact within the White House – Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Joshua Pitcock, whose wife was working as an analyst for Strzok on the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server. A senior White House official told this news site that Pitcock’s wife recused herself from the Clinton investigation as soon as Pence and Trump became the Republican nominees in July 2016. A senior law enforcement official also told SaraACarter.com that Pitcock’s wife no longer worked under Strzok after she recused herself from the Clinton investigation.

However, the text messages uncovered from November, 2016 and have left questions lingering about the relationship between Strzok, Pitcock and his wife among congressional investigators and lawmakers.
The Victory Girls in The Obama Administration’s Problem With Spying And Trump point a finger at Rod Rosenstein:

WaPoo had major story on Rod yesterday, Rosenstein fires back at critics over Mueller report
“Last week, the big topic of discussion was: ‘What were you thinking when you stood behind Bill Barr at that press conference, with a deadpan expression?’ The answer is: I was thinking, “My job is to stand here with a deadpan expression.’ ”

The audience applauded.

“Can you imagine if I did anything other than stand there at the press conference? Imagine the reaction and the commentary if I had smiled or grimaced,” Rosenstein said. “But you cannot avoid criticism. The only way you can avoid criticism in public service is if you stay home. But somebody actually has to do the work, and therefore you have to accept the criticism that comes with the job.”
Talk about a high bar, Twitchy,  ‘Whoa’! Rod Rosenstein’s new info about Russia & the 2016 election makes Obama & Comey look even worse. Sundance at CTH, Chaff and Countermeasures – The DC Outrage Traps…
What they don’t want to discuss is the origination of ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ in July 2016. What they don’t want to discuss is Fusion-GPS and the creation of the Steele Dossier. What they don’t want to discuss is how the fraudulent premise was established.

What they don’t want to discuss is the exploitation of the NSA database for political surveillance. That’s what they don’t want to discuss… And every time attention starts to head in that direction, they’ll throw out another entirely justifiable headline-grabbing detail of their post election activity.
Rep. Ratcliffe: Comey, Yates, McCabe & Rosenstein Caught Lying on FISA Warrants to Spy on Trump

Mollie Hemingway, Da Federalist, Comey’s Memos Indicate Dossier Briefing Of Trump Was A Setup. They also indicate that he's a liar and a sneak.  BizPac, ‘Going to be a bombshell’: DiGenova gets specific over alleged FISA abuse, ‘not going to need 1 lawyer, going to need 5’.
“John Brennan isn’t going to need one lawyer. He’s going to need five,” he said specifically of Brennan while speaking on “The Ingraham Angle” with guest host Mike Huckabee.

Why? Because of the role he’d allegedly played in crafting the viral Russian collusion narrative. In January of 2017, Brennan and Comey briefed President Donald Trump about the Steele dossier. This briefing was then used as a pretext by the media to publish the dossier in full.
Maybe the Michaels, Cohen and Avenatti can help.

Get yer foreign collusion here! John Solomon at Da Hill, How the Obama White House engaged Ukraine to give Russia collusion narrative an early boost, featuring Joe Biden keeping the Ukrainians off his son, as well as Bruce and Nellie Ohr. Sundance at CTH explains The Obama Use of FISA-702 as a Domestic Political Surveillance Program…., with some new fresheners!

WaEx, Carter Page is publishing the Mueller report. Here's the introduction he wrote and   Carter Page says Mueller is worse than Mussolini, Saddam, and Gadhafi. A bit of hyperbole, but I get his point.

Keeping obstruction hope alive, WaPoo, Stymied by aides, Trump sought out loyalist to curtail special counsel — and drew Mueller’s glare. It must be great to have a job where, when the boss accuses you of doing a bad job, you can attempt to prosecute him for a felony obstruction. When reasonable prosecutors disagree as to whether an act is a crime, their reasonable boss tells them they can't prosecute. Allah at Hot Air, Report: Two Mueller Prosecutors Told Federal Agents They Thought Trump Obstructed Justice By Pressuring Comey To Go Easy On Flynn. Even though he had the right to outright pardon him.

Rule 5 Saturday - Parks and Rec's Legionnaire - Aubrey Plaza

This week's Rule 5 special highlights someone different...
Aubrey Christina Plaza (born June 26, 1984) is an American actress, comedian and producer. She is known for her role as April Ludgate on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. After appearing in supporting roles in several feature films, Plaza had her first leading role as Darius Britt in the 2012 film Safety Not Guaranteed. Since 2017, she has starred as Lenny Busker in the FX drama series Legion.
I tried a little bit of Legion (not at the beginning, unfortunately) and it was too weird to follow.
Plaza began her career performing improv and sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. She later appeared in films such as Mystery Team (2008), Funny People (2009), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), Monsters University (2013), Life After Beth (2014), Dirty Grandpa(2016), Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016), The Little Hours (2017), and Ingrid Goes West (2017), the latter two of which she also produced.

Plaza was born in Wilmington, Delaware, to Bernadette, an attorney, and David Plaza, a financial advisor. She has two younger sisters, Renee and Natalie.

Plaza was named after the song "Aubrey" by Bread. Her father is Puerto Rican and her mother is of Irish–English descent. Plaza has stated: "I was like the only diverse kid in my high school, and I'm half-Puerto Rican. But yeah, I have a huge family and tons of cousins in Puerto Rico."
Some sorta NSFW stuff.

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup with links. The Wombat has Rule 5 Monday: #GetWokeGoBroke Edition and FMJRA 2.0: Man, I’m Tired Of Paying Them Dues at the ready. Linked by The Right Way in Rule 5 Saturday LinkOrama. Folded into EBL in Greta GranstedtAmo Ingraham, Now this is the sort of advertising we want: Featuring Elizabeth Grullon, Lara Parker, Nemesis, Leave My Friend Bob Belvedere Alone...,  May 8, 1945: Victory in EuropeSophie Turner, Why last week's Game of Thrones' 'The Long Night' episode was troublesome and bodes to a bad ending for the entire series... There are spoilers too. Update: Episode 4 is not giving me a lot of hope of where things are going.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Forget It Jake, It's Baltimore

From the WaPoo, Federal agents search Baltimore City Hall and Mayor Catherine Pugh’s homes
Investigators searched Baltimore City Hall and Mayor Catherine E. Pugh’s homes among other sites Thursday in a highly visible indication of a federal criminal case over lucrative children’s book deals Pugh cut with businesses connected to the government she has run since 2016.
It's not just "businesses," in fact, a large number of the "books were sold" (in fact, it's not clear than anything other than money changed hands) to University of Maryland's Medical System, an agent of the State. So we have the appearance of a state agency bribing a city mayor; for what?
The law enforcement action spurred a new round of condemnation of Pugh from Maryland’s political establishment and calls from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and many Democrats for the embattled mayor to resign.

Pugh (D) took an indefinite leave of absence beginning April 1 attributed to health issues following criticism of the more than $700,000 she was paid for her self-published Healthy Holly book series.

Investigators from the FBI and IRS fanned out to at least a half-dozen locations Thursday, including a nonprofit tied to Pugh and the apartment of a former top Pugh aide. They also retrieved records from the office of Pugh’s attorney.

The University of Maryland Medical System confirmed receipt of a grand jury subpoena from Maryland’s U.S. attorney seeking documents and other information “to conduct their investigation of Mayor Pugh,” according to a spokesman for the medical system that paid for Pugh’s books while she was a board member.

The early morning arrival of federal agents from the FBI’s Baltimore field office and the IRS’s criminal investigative division from Washington was the first public signal of federal law enforcement interest. As agents were still working, Hogan for the first time called on Pugh to step down, saying she “has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead.”
For a while it was being reported that Mayor Pugh had left the state, but that rumor was later refuted.

Her lawyer claims Baltimore mayor in poor health, not 'lucid' after FBI, IRS raids her home: attorney
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh (D) is in poor health and is not "lucid" enough to make a decision on whether to resign amid a scandal over her business dealings, her attorneys said Thursday.

Pugh's attorney Steve Silverman made the comment following FBI raids on her homes and offices.

“She is leaning toward making the best decision in the best interest in the citizens of Baltimore City,” Silverman said, according to The Baltimore Sun.

He told reporters Thursday that the mayor was saddened by the raids of seven locations linked to her administration, including two houses she owns in the city, the home of a former aide, her city hall office and others according to multiple news reports. Pugh's office has said the mayor is recovering from a bout of pneumonia.

Silverman said he spoke to Pugh on Thursday and that she is "physically still ill, and she is obviously emotionally and extremely distraught."

"I feel terrible for her as a human being," he added, according to WBALTV.

Some Early Afternoon Russiagate

Again delayed because of Friday breakfast date (and the gym), so we got some new stuff in before I started including this gem, from Catherine Herridge at Fox News, Strzok-Page texts suggested using post-election briefing to gather information on Trump team
Text messages between former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page indicate they discussed using briefings to the Trump team after the 2016 election to identify people they could "develop for potential relationships," track lines of questioning and "assess" changes in "demeanor" – language one GOP lawmaker called “more evidence” of irregular conduct in the original Russia probe.

Fox News has learned the texts, initially released in 2018 by a Senate committee, are under renewed scrutiny, with GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley and Homeland Security Committee chair Ron Johnson sending a letter Thursday night to Attorney General Bill Barr pushing for more information on the matter.

"Any improper FBI surveillance activities that were conducted before or after the 2016 election must be brought to light and properly addressed," the senators wrote.
Nope, no spying here. More from Nice Deb and PJ Media, Strzok/Page Texts Suggest Effort to Recruit White House Staffers to Spy on Trump Team

I've been leaning one way then the other on Rosenstein from the beginning, but this seems to suggest his hat was at least light gray: Rosenstein: The “Previous Administration” Didn’t Tell Us The Whole Truth, And Don’t Get Me Started On Comey
Rosenstein offered this metaphor as a hint:
There is a story about firefighters who found a man on a burning bed. When they asked how the fire started, he replied, “I don’t know. It was on fire when I lay down on it.” I know the feeling.
Da Federalist offers up  5 Times The Mueller Probe Broke Prosecutorial Rules That Ensure Justice 1. Using Leaks And Press Conferences to Trash Un-charged Targets, 2. Using Their Power to Crush Client-Attorney Privilege, 3. Prosecuting Despite Knowing They Can’t Prove Their Case, 4. Special Counsels Aren’t Supposed to Be a Partisan Hit Squad, and 5. Rosenstein Used His Government Position to Protect Himself. Not to be outdone, by way of Wombat's In The Mailbox: 04.25.19, American Greatness has 25 Questions For Robert Mueller. Good ones, too, some I might not have come up with.

At American Greatness, Victor Davis Hanson explains how the Mueller Investigation Was Driven by Pious Hypocrisy. A taste:
Yet Mueller’s team went down every blind alley relating to its investigation—except where Obama-era officials were likely culpable for relevant unethical or illegal behavior.
More analysis at Hogewash, The TL:DR on the Mueller Report and Stacy McCain explains What Mueller Did With Our Money
Without regard to Mueller’s failure to find any evidence of the fictitious “Russian collusion,” Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) are acting as if obstruction of justice is a proven fact, raising the question of how an innocent man’s effort to prove his innocence can obstruct justice. If you’re not a witch, and yet you’ve become the target of a witch-hunt, is it wrong to try to stop the witch-hunt? You’re never going to see anyone make that point on CNN, but then again, unless you’re stuck in airport, you’ll probably never see CNN at all.
The Daily Caller, Georgian Businessman Releases Texts With Cohen That Were Left Out Of Mueller Report . "A Georgian-American businessman is accusing special counsel Robert Mueller of publishing “glaring inaccuracies and misrepresentations” about rumors of alleged sex tapes of President Donald Trump during a visit to Moscow in 2013." I thought it was supposed to be comprehensive? WaEx,  Barr to testify about Mueller report. That should prove amusing. Useful? Maybe. WaFreeBee: ‘Nonpartisan’ Mueller Investigation-Focused Group Tied to Dem Dark Money. I'm shocked that Democrats would lie to us. But outside the beltway, few care Mueller-Plotz: Dems Discover Few Care Outside The Beltway (Ed Morrissey at Hot Air).

WSJ, Trump Says He Never Asked McGahn to Fire Mueller. We'll see, but it wouldn't be obstruction if he did.   Conrad Black at NR, Donald Trump Collusion Charges Fade, Democratic Lies Emerge,
Their day of reckoning is about to begin. They will gag and balk at the evidence as it emerges that the Clinton campaign and the Obama Justice Department, the FBI, and the intelligence services were up to their eyeballs in an unprecedented unconstitutional attempt to manipulate and then undo the result of a presidential election. They have shown almost superhuman self-discipline in ignoring and implicitly denying the existence of the evidence of this wrongdoing. The failure of elected officials, and of the journalists and commentators upon whom the nation has a right to rely for serious and fair reporting and analysis of important political events, will weigh very heavily upon them. The Democrats will pay for their dishonesty at the polls in 2020. And the national political media will require a very long time to recover the confidence of the American people that they have so energetically squandered.
At AmGreat, Obstructing Injustice: Why It Would Be Wrong to Impeach Donald Trump, but Judge Napolitano ruins his chances for being appointed to the Ginsburg seat by asserting Let’s Face It, Trump Obstructed Justice. I disagree, but more importantly, so does William Barr (and the Dersh).

And on the on the Spygate front, at Front Page Michael Ledeen reminds us that The Operation Against General Flynn Started Long Before The Election. When does he get sentenced? Before or after he gets pardoned? At CR, John Brennan must be held accountable for his role in advancing the Russia hoax. And when does he get sentenced? And at Da Federalist, James Clapper Knew There Was No Evidence of Trump-Russia Collusion In 2016. And when does he get sentenced?

Thomas Lifson at AmThink uses a familiar phrase in The walls are closing in on Obama. He is almost certainly at the heart of it all, but  will never face any consequences. Consequences are for Republicans.
A second scandal threat for the Obama administration is also slowly being excavated. Proof is piling up that White House operatives exploited the NSA's surveillance of all electronic communications in the United States to monitor political opponents. This very long and detailed post by Sundance of Conservative Tree House defies any possibility of concise summary. But by putting together information from the Mueller Report with a ruling by FISA Court Judge Rosemary Collyer, Sundance teases out the clear implications. This requires time and focus to follow but is rewarded by a deeper understanding of how the Obama administration actually did spy on its oppponents, not just on the Trump campaign.
And speaking of that NSA surveillance, they've suddenly decided it's no longer useful. Via Sundance at CTH, BIG! – NSA Recommends Dropping Phone Surveillance Program…., hoping like hell that Trump will ignore how it was weaponized against him. Also at CTH, President Trump: “It is now just a question of time before the truth comes out, and when it does, it will be a beauty!”…

Kurt Schlicter at Town Hall asks, What Do The Never Trump Losers Do Now?. When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and should!

USAToday, Maria Butina is not a Russian spy, but a 'spotter': DOJ revives intrigue over gun rights activist
Maria Butina’s arrest last year produced breathtaking headlines about a young, attractive woman spying on Americans on behalf of the Russian government.

Butina is neither a covert agent nor a trained intelligence officer. And the only crime she was accused of committing – acting as an unregistered foreign agent – has nothing to do with stealing secrets, let alone engaging in "cloak-and-dagger activities," the Justice Department acknowledged.

But as Butina, 30, waits to be sentenced, the Justice Department revived the question that hung over her case from the moment she was arrested: Was she a spy?

Nearly a year after they first filed charges against her, prosecutors said last week that she isn't – at least in the traditional sense of the word. But they alleged for the first time that her courting of influential Republicans in the months before the 2016 election appeared "entirely consistent" with an intelligence operation to spot Americans who will be potentially valuable to the Russian government.

This claim, which Butina’s attorneys say were baseless, reinvigorated the intrigue over the gun-toting, red-haired Russian graduate student and activist whose arrest last summer sparked a speculative frenzy about who or what she really is.

Prosecutors accused Butina of engaging in a years-long campaign to find politically connected Americans and infiltrate political organizations on behalf of the Kremlin. She pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent, and is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on Friday.
I think this case has been oversold by the FBI and DOJ.