Culture Of Paranoia

Forget “conspiracy theories” – the public record shows that the Nixon Administration spied on the Trump campaign…

…sorry. Obama Administration. Obama. No similarity. Perish the thought.

At this point in time, at least six different methods that the Obama administration used to spy on the Trump campaign have been made public:
1. FISA Warrant: Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was targeted with a FISA warrant by the FBI in October 2016. The warrant was subsequently renewed three times for 90-day periods. Other members of the Trump campaign might have had FISA warrants on them, as well.
2. Unmasking: Hundreds of so-called unmasking requests were made for the identities of members of the Trump campaign in intelligence reports. The House Intelligence Committee has so far identified Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice, Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, and former CIA Director John Brennan, as having filed such requests.
3. Undercover Informant: The FBI used Stefan Halper, an undercover agent, to infiltrate the Trump campaign. He contacted Trump campaign associates Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. Halper has ties to the CIA, as well as MI6.
4. National Security Letters: The use of national security letters to target the Trump campaign was first revealed by officials to The New York Times in a May 16, 2018, article. National security letters allow the FBI to secretly subpoena customer records from banks, phone companies, internet service providers, and others.
5. Foreign Intelligence: British intelligence agency GCHQ provided officials within the CIA with information on the Trump campaign as early as late 2015, The Guardian reported in April 2017. Then-head of GCHQ Robert Hannigan also provided Brennan with sensitive information on the Trump campaign on a “director level” in the summer of 2016.
6. Reverse Targeting: Brennan admitted in an Aug. 17, 2018, interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that the CIA had obtained the communications of Americans associated with the Trump campaign through what appears to have been the use of reverse targeting. “We call it incidental collection in terms of CIA’s foreign intelligence collection authorities,” Brennan said.

Nixon’s use of federal law-enforcement, and less institutional private entities, to spy on his political opponents was a national scandal.

LBJ’s and Kennedy’s, and everyone who presided over J. Edgar Hoover’s reign at the FBI, less so, for some weird reason.

When The Hail Mary Pass Falls Incomplete

Ever have a friend who’s pinned their hopes on something that, to the outside observer, seemed unlikely if not impossible? A “big investment opportunity”, the “house flip that’s gonna set ’em up on easy street”, the “girl way out of his league saying yes”, the “can’t miss deal”, or any one of life’s hail mary plays?

You’re not an animal – so you may have some sympathy, or at least empathy, for them – but that’s tempered with the realization that the dumbass pinned all his hopes in life on a long shot.

I’m reminded of that watching my Democrat friends responses to the collapse of the expectations of the Mueller Report.

I saved a dozen file-gallon jerry cans of tears to water my “Hahahaha” plants this spring from the opening day alone:

I know, I know – too much Hannity. Work with me, here.

The impact on their psyches, as manifested on social media at any rate, seemed to be…

disproportionate?

Democrats seem both angry and frightened, and their kneejerk and perhaps even somewhat panicked response right now is to try to destroy Barr.
You can feel the frisson of fear they emanate. They waited two years for the blow of the Mueller report to fall on Trump, and now other investigative blows may fall on them. The Mueller report combined with Barr’s appointment could end up being a sort of ironic boomerang (whether or not boomerangs can be ironic I leave to you to decide).
How could this have happened? they must be thinking. How could the worm have turned? But they are spinning in the usual manner, hoping that—as so often has happened in the past—their confederates in the press will work their magic to make all of it go away and boomerang back to Republicans instead.
But whatever comes of it all, if anything, Democrats cannot believe that at least right now their dreams have turned to dust and they taste, instead of the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.

I try to stay sympathetic, on one level – but on another, it’s hard to cut too much of a break for people who put that much of their emotional well-being in long shots, especially the ones that seems so transparently stretchy, over and over and over.

A Modest Proposal

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Why did Prohibition fail?  The Hammerheads weren’t tough enough?  They didn’t incarcerate enough people? 
No.  It failed because ordinary citizens resented being told they couldn’t engage in activities that seem normal and harmless, so they quietly rebelled in a nation-wide fit of non-compliance.
Same reason the drug war is failing, particularly the war on marijuana.  Repeal federal prohibition.  Leave it up to the states.  This bill might be a good start.
Joe Doakes

It’s true – ending the “war” would end the black market, which would give us an opportunity to deal with the chaos on the border and in our inner cities.

Of course, there are wide swathes of our government that profit from that chaos.

We’ll see.

An Idea Whose Time Should Not Come

When you’re a Republican, especially in a bluish-purple place like Minnesota, you hope you can vote for Republicans who’ll hold the line on taxes – even to the minimal level of not proposing new ones.

Sadly, we’re disappointed – as I discussed with Liz Mair on the show over the weekend. Senator Howe is proposing a tax on electric vehicles.

Here’s the interview:

I get the logic, sort of – it’s to replace some of the gas tax revenue lost by the increasing efficiency of cars the greater number of people driving electrics, and the people dropping out of the commuting force as telecommuting picks up speed.

But a Republican should be proposing fewer, not more, taxes.

And if we could see to some of that unsustainable spending, that’d be a cherry on the sundae.

Unfinished Business

SCENE: Mitch BERG is sitting at the Dunn Brothers Freight House in Minneapolis, writing away, when Avery LIBRELLE walks up the stairs. Trapped, BERG sighs and waits for the inevitable.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: (Crestfallen) Hey, Avery.

LIBRELLE: Mueller’s grand jury is still meeting in Washington DC!

BERG: Right. So…?

LIBRELLE: Guess that means Trump isn’t exonerated after all!

BERG: Could be!

LIBRELLE: In your face!

BERG: Could also be they’ve decided to investigate Hillary, the Clinton’s and the provenance of the “information” that led to the original FISA warrant that started the investigation, which was just a bunch of Democrat party opposition research.

LIBRELLE: …

BERG: Right?

LIBRELLE: …

BERG: Avery?

LIBRELLE: (Jaw flapping like a beached trout)

BERG: (Gets up to leave). Have a nice day.

And SCENE

Thirty Million Dollars Worth Of Nothingburger

I could try to write something about the denouement of the Mueller investigation.

But why bother, when this thread by left-leaning journalist Glenn Greenwald does it better than anything I’ve read over the weekend.

This thread is the “pull quote”, if you will – but there’s stuff worth reading before and well after it; I suggest looking over the whole thing via Twitter. And that will be the last time I urge people to read anything in Twitter.

But I digress:

Prediction: Dead On

I favor defunding of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Not because I’m against art. Far from it. This blog. and my talk show, perhaps the Twin Cities’ finest two pieces of political performance art, should be proof of my commitment to art.

t the lesson is straight out of Econ 101; if you give people money to do something – in this case, to make art that may or may no be garbage, but matches some funder’s agenda or another, people will line up to take the money.

Now, I’m not sure that this “installation” last week was funded by the NEA:

According to a press release from the activist group Indecline, over two-dozen “men and women of color and members of the LGBT community” placed leashes and custom made dog collars on white men in red M.A.G.A. hats and walked them on all fours up and down Hollywood Boulevard on Sunday.
The group says that their “performance” was based on Cardi B’s recent Twitter battle with Tomi Lahren, in which the crass rapper told the right-wing pundit,  “Leave me alone, or I’ll dog walk you.”

VIA GATEWAY PUNDIT

(Note – vile misogyny is apparently OK if it’s a “conservative” you’re misogynizing).

But on another level, even if there wasn’t a single penny of NEA money behind it (and I can’t imagine there wasn’t, at some level or another), the whole farce is a symptom of the sort of entitled, smug, cliched “art” that arises from “artists” who have little to fear financially, and nothing, really, to fear socially.

To say nothing of critically.

Berg’s Seventh Law In The News – Sort Of

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Psychological Projection is when I assume you have the bad traits that I deny I have.  A liar will assume everyone else is a liar.  It’s embodied in Berg’s Seventh Law.
A mobster predicts Trump will have Cohen “whacked” in prison because that’s what happens to snitches.  The story itself is proof Trump isn’t a mobster.  If he was an actual mobster (or even a Clinton), Cohen would already be dead.

And let’s talk about all those violence-worshiping Democrats yipping about Cal Bahr.

Democracy Dies In Emergency

On the one hand? If you recall when Harry Reid torched the filibuster for judicial nominees, we limited government conservatives warned that “You folks may not control the Senate forever, so you might wanna be careful”. Trump’s use of a “National Emergency” to get more border funding is kinda the same idea. A future Democrat president could declare “non-living wages” a national emergency.

On the other hand? It kind of already a response like that. Obama outran Congress like Walter Payton outrunning the ’85 Vikings using a raft of Executive Orders. Is the border wall any worse than DACA?

On the other, other hand? I don’t think Trump necessarily intended to provoke a frenzied overreach on the Dems’ part – but it’d be hard to imagine how he could have done it better than he did:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said President Trump’s plan to use a national emergency declaration to unilaterally provide federal funding for a border wall would set a precedent Republicans may come to regret.
Democrats, she said, could use it later to enact their own priorities, such as increasing gun control.
“Why don’t you declare that a national emergency? I wish you would,” Pelosi during a press conference Thursday, noting it was the one-year anniversary of the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 students and staff. “But a Democratic president can do that.”

The NRA is going to need to rent more phone lines to take the membership calls, now.

When “Progs” Call Trump A “Nazi”…

…remind them that he’s the kind of “Nazi” who sings “Happy Birthday” to a Jewish camp survivor:

House and Senate members broke into a rendition of “Happy Birthday” during Tuesday’s State of the Union address to celebrate a survivor of the Holocaust and last year’s Tree of Life synagogue shooting.

Judah Samet attended the address as a guest of the White House. President Trump acknowledged him in the crowd, prompting a standing ovation, and noted it was Samet’s 81st birthday.ADVERTISEMENT

Attendees then broke into song, with Trump mock-conducting from the dais.

“Thank you!” Samet shouted.

Wonder if Ilhan Omar joined in?

Not a rhetorical question. I’m seriously curious.

State Of Disunion

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution provides:  “He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”  The State of the Union originally was a letter the Present sent to Congress.  Later, the President went in person to speak to Congress, which turned into a silly partisan event where half the chamber leaps to applaud every time he takes a breath. 
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi won’t let President Trump deliver the State of the Union address to Congress while the government is shut down so it’s postponed, or maybe not, now that we’re open for three weeks.  Nobody knows. 
Actually, nobody cares.  It’s grandstanding.  It’s silly.  Instead of delivering a speech or mailing a letter, Trump ought to break new ground: give the State of the Union by Twitter.  Hey, it’s his signature medium.  Why not? 
 “The Constitution requires me to advise Congress on the State of the Union.  Democrats won’t let me speak to Congress in person so I’m tweeting it to you, the American people.  Pass along this message to your elected representative, will you?”
 “The union is in a sorry state.  We owe more than we can repay.  Deep state saboteurs within our own government are undermining the principles of representative democracy.  The nation is flooded with illegal immigrants who suck up welfare, commit crimes and vote in elections for policies that further weaken the nation.”
 “We can’t stem the violence in our own cities but we’re wasting lives and tax dollars protecting Europe from Russia and most of North Africa from themselves.  We’ve barely recovered from a decade-long economic slump but influential people are already demanding we saddle the economy with higher taxes and more regulations.”
 “I call on Congress to end deficit spending, cut government spending, lower taxes, reduce regulations, cease subsidizing other nations, defend our own borders, and then step out of the way.  Give us half a chance and ordinary Americans will make America great again.”
 “If Congress remains deadlocked, all is not lost.  Elections have consequences.  I have a pen and I’ve got a phone.  I can use that pen to sign executive orders and administrative actions that will move the ball forward.” 
 “Good night, and may God bless America.”
That ought to set the cat among the pigeons. 
Joe Doakes

It’s got my vote.

Don’t Mess With Fergus Falls

German “journalist” Claas Relotius spent many years on the European and world journalistic fast track, until it was realized he’d spent years falsifying stories.

One of those stories was about the xenophobic misanthropic fascist racists in…

…Fergus Falls, MN.

And he didn’t just make up the little stuff. Two local residents combed through the story:

There are so many lies here, that my friend Jake and I had to narrow them down to top 11 most absurd lies (we couldn’t do just 10) for the purpose of this article. We’ve been working on it since the article came out in spring of 2017, but had to set it aside to attend to our lives (raising a family, managing a nonprofit organization, etc.) before coming back to it this fall, and finally wrapped things up a few weeks ago, just in time to hear today that Relotius was fired when he was exposed for fabricating many of his articles.

The following was neither the dumbest nor the most extravagant of Relotius’ lies:

6. The view from the Viking Cafe
“You can see the power plant where he works when you look out the window of the Diner, six tall, gray towers, from which rise white steam clouds.”
The Viking Cafe is Fergus Falls’ most treasured downtown establishment — over 60 years old. One of the reasons we Minnesotans all like it so much is that it has a cozy, underground feeling. Why? Because there are literally NO WINDOWS in the interior of this restaurant. Sure, you can see a little bit out the small front windows, but nothing beyond the shops across the street. The power plant Relotius refers to is almost 2 miles away on the northeast edge of town, blocked from view by a neighborhood on a large hill, and sports a single smokestack. Relotius’ imaginings are dramatic for the movie version of Trump’s America someday, but is it accurate and true? Not in the least.

Further proof that if you read it in the mainstream media, and it’s even a little bit political, distrust first. Then verify.

Then, almost invariably, distrust some more.

Bouncing Society’s Rubble

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Headed toward another government shutdown because Democrats won’t defend the border.

I’d be more concerned about a government shutdown – women and children hardest hit – except everybody is already dead from the end of net neutrality, or soon to be dead from global climate change, so at this point, what difference does it make?

Small bit of comedy in the article: “The House and Senate used to pass annual appropriation bills, and the president signed them into law.”  Yeah, that was when we had a thing called “budgets.”  Democrats did away with them: too confining, too oppressive, and they never liked math anyway.

True.

But since most government spending is on autopilot, really, what difference does it make at this point?

Standards

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

A friend complains that the Republican Congress has accomplished nothing worthwhile in the last two years and as Democrats take the House, gridlock is the best we can hope for.  He blames Trump Derangement Syndrome and says it truly is disgusting that a boorish, childish, selfish egomaniac is the best example of conservative leadership we have.

First, he’s judging the President by the wrong standard.  A wise, mature, gracious statesman was not on offer in the last election.  The alternative to Trump was Hillary. The correct standard to apply is: “Has Trump become Hillary yet?”  No?  Then he’s good to go.  Carry on.  

But he’s right about Congress.  We can’t have a border wall, we can’t confirm conservative judges, we can’t fill executive branch positions, because of people like Senator Never Trump And To Hell With The Nation Flake, to name just one.  

If Trump announced today he’s not running in 2020, which nationally prominent Republican would you pick to replace him?

Sorry to say, with Scott walker out of office and never nationally problem to begin with, I’m already out of ideas…

Open Letter To Paul Gazelka

To:  Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka
From:  Mitch Berg, Ornery Peasant
Re:    Line In The Snow

Senator Gazelka,

This morning on the lesser talk station, the host – Drew Lee – asked you about the approach your caucus, with its one-vote majority, was going to take regarding gun control in the coming session, given incoming Speaker Hortman’s statement that gun control is going to be her first priority.

(In a state with a muirder rate among the lowest in the nation – truly the extremist tail wagging the dog).

Your repliy seemed to indicate the proper response was to work with the opposition to find “a solution”.

I’ll make it simple;  the solution is fight crime.   Take everything that burdens the law-abiding gun owner off the table.

End of sentence.

The DFL – beholden as they are to millions of dollars in Bloomberg money for their wins in the election – will fight you on it.

We – the good guys, the law-abiding gun owners – will fight you a lot harder if you screw us.

Don’t screw us.

That is all.

“Trump Voters Are Racists!”

At the “Battleground Talkers” event last night, Larry Elder reminded us just how racist Trump voters are.

In 2016, Abilene, Texas racked up the highest percentage of Trump voters of any metro area in the US – close to 80%.

And then, last year…:

In 2017, just months after voting so overwhelmingly for Trump, they elected a black mayor for the first time in the town’s 136 year history. And did so by a wide margin.

Those same white people who voted for President Trump helped propel Anthony Williams to victory in a town with a black population hovering at 10 percent.

Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams (R).

“People were so eager to vote, there was actually a higher turnout at the runoff than the general election,” the Texas Standard reported. “It’s been at least two decades since that has happened in Taylor County.”

“Just like other Texans, I’m proud to be a Texan,” Williams told local reporters and residents in town after the big win. “As an African-American, I’m proud of my heritage, but I really want to focus more broadly on our community.”

One of the left’s favorite slanders of the right over the past decade or so is “the only reason you didn’t vote for Obama was because he’s black” (and its companion slur, not voting for Hillary Clinton because she’s female-ish).

Which is baked wind, of course; I wouldn’t have voted for a Scandinavian Male Presbyterian who espoused either of their policies.  And I’d vote for a black Muslim lesbian, if she were a Hayek/Friedman disciple who owned a couple of AR15s and agreed that we should too.

Everything the coastal media tells you about the rest of the country is pretty much BS.

A Bullish Wind

The President’s party always loses seats in the midterms.

Trump is a polarizing figure who will drive Democrat turnout like nothing since Obama’s first election.

The GOP is doomed, and Triump will be a lame duck starting in January.

We’ve all heard it.  Truth be told, while I think the GOP has a great chance to pick up congressional seats in Minnesota this fall, I  – as naturally pessimistic as any other Scandinavian-American and urban Conservative – have been mentally buckling myself in for a brutal, 2006-like night on election night.

Much as I was about this time two years ago.

We know how that went.

And while I don’t get sanguine over much of anything, Conrad Black says there’s room for hope in the wake of the Democrats’ Kavenaugh show trial and Trump’s canny, intensive campaigning:

Just as he calculated that by speaking for all those who despised the entire incumbent political system he could win the Republican nomination, and that he could win by designing a campaign to exploit the possibilities of gaining a majority in the Electoral College rather than the popular vote (as five of his predecessors did, by design or otherwise), he is now exploiting the fact that there is no leader of the opposition in the American system, and between presidential elections he has no rival. The likely outcome is the most favorable midterm result since Franklin D. Roosevelt won nine additional congressional districts and gained nine senators in 1934. Even now, though the bunk about impeachment has subsided, Trump’s enemies have little idea of how profoundly hated the OBushinton era, 1989 to 2017, had become, as a time of sleaze and incompetence and stagnation. Now, in what is practically a full-employment economy, wages for the least well-paid are rising. Amazon and other retailers grumble about $15 an hour for unskilled work, but it is the first time people in that economic bracket have had real increases of purchasing power and the lack of fear of joblessness in more than 20 years.

Time will tell — and not much time, as luck would have it.

Derangement

It would perhaps be in bad taste to suggest that more leftist protesters try this style of demonstration:

A professor accused of creating a campus-wide alert by shooting himself in a toilet on the second day of classes last month reportedly did so in order to protest President Trump.

report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal said that Mark Bird, a sociology professor at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN), has been charged with discharging a gun within a prohibited structure, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and possessing a dangerous weapon on school property.

Yep.  Poor taste  Not me.

State Of Things

A longtime friend of the blog writes :

First off, if Minneapolis were really serious about saving gas mileage, they’d make the streets drivable by stopping so many bike lanes that have forced cars onto more and more dismal main arteries that are clogged with traffic while the bike lanes are empty (especially from November through March.  This is something that the city council could actually have an effect on fuel mileage.  Quit whining about things out of their jurisdiction.  Could you imagine the fuel savings if we could actually get from point a to point b without total traffic congestion in my fair city?

Second let me paraphrase the section on Ellison with italics indicating what I changed.

Could also be said by Dave Orrick in the PiPress, “Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump. It’s all about Donald Trump, at least according a Democratic narrative as part of the every wave of what promises to be a tide of political attack ads coming to Minnesota’s 2018 election season. Even in races where Trump isn’t running, from the U.S. Senate high on the ballot down to state House races, he’s under attack. … The ads and social media messages basically say this: Republican candidate (insert name) has refused to condemn Donald Trump for (insert issue here). He/she should be ashamed.”

Sheesh Mitch.  Such a world we live in.

Trump is something the Left can deflect to – or so it thinks – forever.

Can Do

An accident at the Steamboat Days parade in Carver County yesterday left GOP Secretary of State candidate John Howe and his campaign manager Tim Droogsma injured.

The float had just completed the Steamboat Days parade and was heading to back to the staging location when the accident occurred, according to Amy Koch, the campaign manager for Republican candidate for Senate Karin Housley. Koch said the tractor pulling the float sped up and hit a curb.

John Howe, the candidate for Secretary of State said he was thrown to the pavement along with his campaign manager, Tim Droogsma. Howe spoke to MPR News while being transported by ambulance to Hennepin County Medical Center. Howe said it appeared the flatbed trailer ran over Tim Droogsma his campaign manager.

Here’s the part I thought was interesting:  when the accident happened,  GOP Senate candidate Jim Newberger – a paramedic when he’s not in the State House – responded.  Amy Koch directed traffic,  Other GOP officials and candidates stepped in with their own expertises.

If this had been a DFL float accident, the place would have been flooded with grief counselors and personal injury attorneys.

Sometimes, I’m glad to be a Republican.

UPDATE: and sometimes I’m even happier that I’m just not a Democrat:

Howe got this response:

Remember – Democrats are the party of compassion.

A little checking turned up that the “woman” sending this charming Mrs. is a Hennepin county employee – a rent seeking DFL client.

Distractions

A friend of the blog writes:

I have friends on all political sides. Most have always focused on tabloid style topics rather than policy, but these days the tabloid talk is even more hyped.

Currently, my liberal friends are busy talking about Nike, and how they pay “slave labor” and that is where the outrage should be. (Nike’s wages in developing countries is not new, so why the outrage now versus three days ago?)

On the other hand, my conservative friends aren’t really talking about politics right now, but those that are fierce supporters of Trump are continuing to sing his praises for his skill of distracting the media.

To both, I try to point to the recent NAFTA negotiations.

Part of the current deal includes regulations that would require 40-45% of auto parts to be made by workers earning $16 per hour. Another part of the deal requires 75% of auto content to be made in NAFTA region. This is up from 62% under the old deal. Both of these changes, if adopted, will have real impact on labor and consumer markets. I can see positives and negatives.

I ask my liberal friends, is this what bipartisanship can look like? I mean, they are constantly campaigning for $15 per hour minimum wages.

I ask my Trump supporting friends if this will actually have the effect of bringing back jobs to the US, as Trump promised? I mean, most countries that are currently producing auto parts may not be able to guarantee $16 per hour wages. But, if auto makers move plants back here, who will buy the new cars at the prices sold needed to support those wages? Seems like used car sales will go up, at least in the short term.

I have always been a believer in businesses operating efficiently, and when they do, it helps the consumer, which in turn keeps the economy going. I am not convinced the government knows how to keep business efficient and positively affect the consumer at the same time.

My liberal friends certainly aren’t going to note anything about Trump is positive or that he may be close to them ideologically at times, so they won’t comment. My Trump friends see him as a businessman who gets things done, so they don’t have a problem. But, some of his foreign policy ideas give me pause. But, by all means, let’s get back to Nike and other distractions.

On the one hand, there are a lot of very substantial things going on under the Trump administration.

The obsessive focus on tabloid news is giving a cover to an off a lot of that. Some of it’s good, and some of it is probably stuff that deserve some attention. And it’s not getting it. Again, for better or worse.

The problem with the government is, even if you like the way things start out, if you don’t pay attention to it for long enough, bad things start to happen.

Question For The Ages

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

This is the photo from Drudge Report. Why is Sarah Silverman sitting behind the nominee?

Heh.

But to to paraphrase the last Billy Maze, “But wait!  There’s more!”

The woman Joe’s referring to is named Zina Bash – and she got fifteen minutes of fame from the deranged left yesterday:

It’s going to be a long couple months, here.