Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Saturday, April 27, 2019
But without first establishing adequate policing and decent paying legal job opportunities, importing an immigrant population would be disastrous. Baltimore would become the crime Mecca that hypocritical Democrat politicians like Nancy Pelosi most fear. All Baltimore would get out of the deal would be a higher crime rate. Budding industrialists, construction firms, entrepreneurs, time to step up. If you promise to build it, they will come... and EVERYONE in Baltimore will profit.
Friday, April 26, 2019
Long before the special counsel probe ended in confirming there was no collusion between President Trump and Russia, the U.S. government knew there was no evidence of a vast conspiracy between Trump and a foreign power.What were they covering up? This.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate “ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials” on May 17, 2017. President Obama’s director of national intelligence James Clapper had access and was privy to all the “evidence” the U.S. government collected since the Russia investigation began in July 2016.
From July 2016 until Clapper’s appearance on “Meet the Press” in March 2017, not one shred of evidence linked anyone in Trump’s campaign to allegations listed in the Christopher Steele dossier or Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos’s meeting with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer. Clapper stated to Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on March 5, 2017 that the National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Central Intelligence Agency had collected “no evidence” regarding “improper contacts” between Trump and Russia:CHUCK TODD: Well, that’s an important revelation at this point. Let me ask you this. Does intelligence exist that can definitively answer the following question, whether there were improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials?So, President Obama’s top intelligence official and a man with access to FBI, CIA, and NSA surveillance on President Trump’s campaign stated categorically that no evidence existed of “any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians.” This was two months before Rosenstein appointed Mueller special counsel, and Clapper’s knowledge dated into 2017. So why did Rosenstein appoint Mueller?
JAMES CLAPPER: We did not include any evidence in our report, and I say, ‘our,’ that’s N.S.A., F.B.I. and C.I.A., with my office, the Director of National Intelligence, that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that included in our report.
CHUCK TODD: I understand that. But does it exist?
JAMES CLAPPER: Not to my knowledge.
CHUCK TODD: If it existed, it would have been in this report?
JAMES CLAPPER: This could have unfolded or become available in the time since I left the government.
CHUCK TODD: At some–
JAMES CLAPPER: But at the time, we had no evidence of such collusion.
Furthermore, the intelligence gathered for the reports Clapper referenced was compiled in 2016 and resulted in assessments of confidence, not any guarantees or certainty of the Russians even hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Clapper’s referenced joint Department of Homeland Security and FBI report begins with an actual warranty disclaimer:DISCLAIMER: This report is provided ‘as is’ for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within. DHS does not endorse any commercial product or service referenced in this advisory or otherwise.This report makes serious allegations of election interference, alongside a disclaimer that states DHS “does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information” of Russia interfering in the election.
The description of Russia’s cyber campaign against the United States is not backed by the United States in terms of a legal guarantee, as stated in the disclaimer. There is no certainty or guarantees regarding Democratic Party suspicion that Trump obtained Facebook ads or helped Russians hack the DNC in this report. The DHS report, like Clapper’s admission on “Meet the Press,” is simply a guess based on suspicion, not a statement on evidence. Like Obama CIA director John Brennan said during congressional hearings (0:15 on the link), “I don’t do evidence, I do intelligence.”
As for the ODNI report Clapper compiled from the DHS report and intelligence derived from the NSA and possibly other agencies, there’s an even more amusing warranty disclaimer within Annex B, the last page of the document:Judgments are not intended to imply we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary…Therefore, if the FBI and CIA are highly confident that Russia hacked the DNC in order to embarrass Clinton, or that Facebook ads were part of a sophisticated Russian campaign, the ODNI report categorically states “such judgments might be wrong” and “judgments are not intended to imply we have proof that shows something to be a fact.” Americans still don’t know which Russian Facebook ads influenced a specific number of voters in certain swing states to vote Trump, nor did the U.S. government ever confirm the DNC-hired Crowdstrike’s analysis of DNC servers.
High confidence generally indicates that judgments are based on high quality information from multiple sources. High confidence in a judgement; such judgments might be wrong.
Finally, the infamous Steele dossier is linked directly to Hillary Clinton, as explained in a Washington Post article titled “Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier” by Adam Entous, Devlin Barrett, and Rosalind S. Helderman:The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.Since both the DHS and ODNI reports have warranty disclaimers stating nothing written in them should be taken as fact, and the Steele dossier used by fired FBI officials James Comey, Peter Strzok, and Andrew McCabe is linked to Clinton’s funding, why was President Trump investigated by Mueller? The narrative of Russian meddling is only bolstered by “high” to “moderate” confidence assessments of the NSA, FBI, and CIA, not certainty.
Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.
After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community…
The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.
Mueller’s appointment, and the behavior of FBI and intelligence officials that preceded this two-year investigation, point to violations of U.S. Code 371 and a conspiracy to defraud the United States. If mere allegation, suspicion, and dossiers were enough to form investigations then Attorney General William Barr should simply pick up Peter Schweizer’s “Clinton Cash,” a book documenting alleged pay to play schemes of the Clinton Foundation, to generate evidence to open a special counsel into the Obama-era uranium deal.
Democrats, however, would never allow what they did to President Trump to be leveled at them, and nothing about Clinton warrants suspicion in their minds. Ultimately, Barr and Republicans must uncover why Clapper and others investigated Clinton’s political rival with “no evidence” of a crime.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
There’s at least one conclusion on which there’s largely bipartisan agreement: Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election. No vote tallies were changed, according to Obama administration intel analyses, but the interference was serious enough that many insist drastic steps must be taken to avoid a repeat in 2020.Of course, the real reason the "investigation" was so ineffective is because there was no investigation. The "investigation" was merely a cover story for Obama Administration Intelligence Community's illegal spying on newspaper reporters like Atkinsson (the author of the piece above) and their political opposition in the Trump Campaign, as detailed here.
Now, with special counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive investigation over and no Trump official charged with taking part in any Russki scheme, Russian election interference may turn out to be the most persistent scandal of the Obama era.
To date, it’s also one of the most puzzling.
Depending on which set of facts we examine, Russian interference was alternately foreseeable and unpredictable; expected, yet surprising.
The official reaction to it has begun to unfold as a Keystone Cops-type response by top Obama intel officials. They appear to have been so distracted by political motivations that they lost sight of the very danger they now claim threatens our democracy.
Here are 10 reasons why Russia election interference seems set to become the most enduring scandal of the Obama administration.1.Missed opportunity. Perhaps the best shot at disrupting Russian interference came as early as fall 2015. That’s when the FBI supposedly detected successful efforts by Russian hackers to breach Democratic National Committee (DNC) computers. For reasons unknown, the systems and others remained vulnerable to further attacks.By July 2016, the DNC and FBI both had concluded Russians were responsible for additional hacks. Yet, the DNC reportedly refused to allow the FBI to examine its servers and data in a timely fashion and — for reasons unexplained — the FBI failed to confiscate them. Obviously, when national security is at stake, the FBI does not need permission to examine evidence. A senior law enforcement official told CNN the DNC’s withholding of crucial evidence “caused significant delays and inhibited the FBI from addressing the intrusion earlier.” If the FBI (then led by Director James Comey) had acted quickly and definitively to examine the evidence, could that have prevented further interference?2.Denial. On Oct. 18, 2016, President Obama made a comment that rivals his “ISIS is the jayvee team” remark in terms of its wrongheadedness. He declared that “no serious person” would suggest America’s elections could be rigged. “There's no evidence that that has happened in the past or that there are instances in which that will happen this time,” said Obama.At the time, the president was addressing a reporter’s question about voter fraud. But it’s significant to note that he offered this answer smack dab in the middle of the supposed Russia targeting of our election process. His failure to take the obvious opportunity to address this vulnerability implies he did not fully appreciate the threat, or was unwilling to confront it. Instead, he left the impression that the U.S. election process is impenetrable and outside interference is impossible.
Obama also infamously mocked Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 when Romney suggested Russia was a foe to be reckoned with. This begs the question of whether problems could have been staved off if the president had taken Russia more seriously.3.Inadequate response. Actions that President Obama and his top intel officials did take to mitigate Russian interference proved woefully inadequate. After telling reporters that Russian intelligence operatives attacked Democrats’ computer systems, then-CIA Director John Brennan and his colleagues “privately warned their Russian counterparts not to persist with their active measures” and “Obama himself told Russian President Vladimir Putin not to interfere in the election.” CNN notes: “These warnings did not work.”
4.Failure to disclose. Obama intel officials secretly told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that Russia was targeting the Trump campaign, but paradoxically kept the information secret from the Trump campaign. Experts say legitimate efforts to protect national security typically would include notifying the supposed target of the spying. Intel officials arguably should have alerted all the political campaigns and warned them to be on the lookout, asking if any suspicious contacts had been made.
Recall the FBI had notified the DNC earlier, after determining it had been targeted by Russians. The decision not to likewise loop in the Trump campaign regarding the supposed targeting suggests intel officials were not focused on protecting national security but hoping to entrap Trump campaign officials.
5.Targeting Trump. Instead of going after the Russians and working to protect the Trump campaign from possible infiltration, intel officials targeted the Trump campaign. They applied for numerous secret wiretaps to surveil Trump associates. In the process, they apparently violated strict FBI Woods Procedures designed to prevent false or unverified information from being used to obtain wiretaps.Why will Russia election interference in 2016 prove to be more enduring than other scandals? A great deal of money and effort has been spent to dismiss other scandals along partisan lines. In this case, people in both political parties agree the interference happened — and that it happened on Obama’s watch. His intel officials appear to have been either distracted, conflicted or asleep at the switch.
6.Suspicious timing. Russia’s election interference certainly was not new on election day. Yet only after Trump was elected (instead of Hillary Clinton) did President Obama assign his intel officials to issue a public report about Russia’s scheme. And only then did he pursue punishment, including sanctions and expulsion of some Russian diplomats from the United States.
8.Blame game. After Trump was elected, some of the very Obama officials who failed to prevent Russian interference began a campaign of media leaks and deflection, pointing to Donald Trump and his associates. These officials included FBI Director Comey, CIA Director Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, national security adviser Susan Rice and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.
9.Ignorance. As they investigated foreign interference, intel officials apparently overlooked the role of interests besides the Russians, including Russia’s adversary Ukraine and the British. Ex-British spy Christopher Steele built and peddled the anti-Trump “dossier.” Former U.K. ambassador to Russia Sir Andrew Wood had a November 2016 meeting with Sen. John McCain in Nova Scotia, where Wood told him about Steele’s anti-Trump dossier.
10.Russia’s link to FBI and Democrats. The FBI overlooked the apparent, admitted “collusion” between Steele and Kremlin-connected Russians who provided opposition research against Trump — some of it false — for the dossier. Then, the FBI used the Kremlin-connected Russian research, in part, to obtain wiretaps against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Whatever the case, they were inarguably ineffective.
If America's Intelligence Community were as stupid and bumbling as Atkinsson describes above, then we should fire the whole lot of them and start building a new Intelligence Community from scratch. But they are not. They have been corrupted by politicalization. And these political partisans need to be identified, removed from their "deep state" positions, and most critically, PUNISHED for their systemic abuse of their positions of trust.
Monday, April 15, 2019
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Maryland legislators boost renewable energy and oyster sanctuaries while overhauling UMMS board
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Maryland lawmakers on Monday approved two top priorities of the late House Speaker Michael Busch - overturning Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of a bill to create oyster sanctuaries in the Chesapeake Bay and passing an overhaul of the University of Maryland Medical System board, on an unusually somber final day of the annual legislative session.
The Democratic-majority General Assembly also voted to require that 50% of the state's energy come from renewable sources and, in the final hour of the session, worked out a compromise on legislation that will create the nation's first prescription drug affordability board.
But it was passage of the oyster-sanctuary bill and the UMMS legislation - both strongly championed by Busch, D-Anne Arundel County, who died unexpectedly Sunday - that stirred special emotion in the chambers.
"You know who sponsored this bill," Senate President Mike Miller, D-Calvert County, said with a sad smile before the Senate took up the veto override. The vote was 29 to 16.
When the UMMS legislation came to the House floor, Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones, D-Baltimore County, pointed out that it was the last bill Busch had sponsored. Delegates stood and applauded.
Environmentalists heralded the sanctuary bill as key to helping revive the bay, but watermen said it would jeopardize their livelihood. Republican lawmakers were muted in their criticism of the measure in deference to Busch, who led the chamber for 13 years.
"Obviously with the events of yesterday, we are going to temper our opposition to this legislation," Minority Whip Stephen Hershey, R-Queen Anne's County, said quietly. "The caucus is certainly in support of the governor's veto of this bill."
The final-day pace was less frenzied than usual as lawmakers grieved. Lawmakers had finalized several major pieces of legislation earlier in the session - including bills to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025, increase the smoking age to 21 and pour hundreds of millions of dollars into a remake of Maryland's education system.
"In terms of where we started out and where our goals were, we've achieved every single one in terms of health care, in terms of public safety, in terms of education, in terms of balancing the budget with no new tax increases," Miller said.
Bills passed will go to Hogan, who can veto them, sign them into law or allow them to become law without his signature.
The UMMS legislation would bar board members from holding single-source contracts with UMMS and require stringent financial disclosures, a response to revelations that several members - including Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, a Democrat - benefited from lucrative contracts with the system they oversaw. The bills would also dissolve the board in several stages.
The drug affordability board would cap the costs of certain prescription drugs when the medication is purchased by state and local government employers. If successful, it could be expanded to other employers. The board's decisions to set caps would have to be approved by the Legislative Policy Committee, a panel of state lawmakers.
Lawmakers approved a bill that would tighten regulation of for-profit colleges, countering a rollback of federal regulations by the Trump administration. They also decriminalized public consumption of alcohol and approved a measure to add more speed cameras on Indian Head Highway.
Flood-prone areas could be eligible to receive money for repairs under a bill approved Monday. The bill puts $8 million over three years into a flood mitigation grant fund that prioritizes historic areas like Ellicott City, which was devastated by floods in 2016 and 2018.
A bill that would have used bond funds to pay for repairs at several racetracks across the state failed on Monday, after lawmakers from Baltimore refused to support it over the weekend.
Baltimore officials raised concerns that the bill would lead the Stronach Group to pull the Preakness out of Pimlico, a Baltimore racetrack that has hosted the second leg of the Triple Crown for decades. But Miller, who supported the bill, said it would have required Pimlico's owners to deal with repairs there before the other tracks.
A bill to create a two-year period in which adults sexually abused as children could file civil lawsuits against institutions that protected their attackers, even if the statute of limitations had long expired, also did not advance. The bill had passed the House but was rejected by a Senate panel. A last-ditch effort to resurrect was not successful.
Lawmakers didn't reach a compromise on legislation that would have required background checks for private sales of rifles and shotguns. Different versions of the measure passed each chamber, with the Senate bill exempting gun transfers that don't involve money.
Outside the State House on Monday morning, gun-control activists wearing red "Moms Demand Action" T-shirts pushed for the House version of the bill, which was introduced after five employees were killed at the offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis.
"We want the House version," said Andrea Chamblee, widow to Capital Gazette journalist John McNamara. "That's the one Mike Busch wanted."
Saturday, April 6, 2019
Friday, April 5, 2019
from MSN Money
While hiring in the U.S. rebounded in March, baby boomers who are still in the work force are not doing so great.
Employment for people aged 55 and over dropped 209,000 last month, the biggest monthly decline since February 2015 when 251,000 jobs were cut for the age group, according to data from Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While the decline was notable, a one-month change hardly makes a trend. In fact, this age group still has the lowest unemployment level among all cohorts, with a 2.7% jobless rate in March unchanged from February. The overall unemployment rate held steady at 3.8% in March.
"This data tends to be volatile monthly. I don't think it's a start of a trend," said Craig Dismuke, chief economist at Vining Sparks. "Broadly speaking, I think the labor market has been very good for people over the age of 55 and 65."
Month-to-month swings can appear large because of the small sample size of the population survey, ZipRecruiter's labor economist Julia Pollak told CNBC.
"The Current Population Survey is a survey of about 60,000 households, and the sample sizes get small when one slices the data by age group and employment status. But the overall trends appear positive," Pollak said.
Although the number can be volatile, several industries including government and educational services where the employment distribution skews towards older workers have seen "sluggish" growth lately, Pollak pointed out.
Baby boomers have been the biggest job gainers in the last decade. Many of them facing retirement tend to stay in the workforce partly because they fear they don't have enough money saved up. President Donald Trump has also pushed for policies to encourage more Americans to get back to work as baby boomers retire.
"The broader trend is that the participation in 55 and over continue to rise," Dismuke said. "I do think there's an issue that people haven't saved enough and they are forced to work longer. We have a smaller percentage of our jobs today [that] are manually taxing like they would've been 40 years ago," and less physically demanding work allows people to work longer, Dismuke said.
Thursday, April 4, 2019
Another day, another rock kicked over, and another pile of apparent corruption is unearthed in Baltimore, Maryland. This time, a prominent businessman in Charm City has just now “remembered” that he donated $100,000 to then-mayoral candidate Catherine Pugh’s Healthy Holly book company in 2016. In exchange for this, he received one copy of the book. (Baltimore Sun)
Columbia businessman J.P. Grant on Wednesday said his company cut a check for $100,000 to then-Baltimore mayoral nominee Catherine Pugh’s Healthy Holly LLC in October 2016. He said he received a copy of one book but no documentation of how his money would be used…That means we’re now at a total of $800K going into the Mayor’s book company. How much longer until we reach the one million mark? It’s too soon to say.
Grant described the payment in an interview, saying, “I want to be honest.”
Grant said he had forgotten about the arrangement until Friday, when he had an assistant check the records of the financial company he runs, Grant Capital Management. He said he subsequently recalled meeting with Pugh and agreeing to pay $100,000 to support what she had described as an effort to distribute the books to schoolchildren.
So why might J.P. Grant dump a bunch of cash into the Healthy Holly coffers? His financial services firm does a lot of business with the municipal government… just coincidentally, I’m sure. Remember that Mayor Pugh sits on (and effectively runs) the city’s spending board. In December Mr. Grant’s firm had a major contract with the city approved. There were other such deals in the past. At the same time, Grant has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Pugh’s mayoral campaign committee and her inaugural committee. Suffice to say, there’s been a lot of money sloshing around back and forth between these two.
At long last, the State Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation into the Mayor’s apparent grifting at the request of the Governor. What took them so long is also a mystery for another day. One former city prosecutor was quoted as saying that they’ll be looking into “everything from potential tax fraud, to campaign finance violations, to perjury on these mandatory disclosures, to old-fashioned bribery.”
We’re also far from reaching the bottom of this barrel of rotten apples. Yesterday we learned that Healthy Holly isn’t the only children’s book with magical powers. The local media has turned up documentation about yet another book, “Healthy Herbie.” There was a delivery of 20,000 copies of that book made in 2013 to the Baltimore City School District office. And yet, aside from a record of the delivery, there seems to be no other documentation and nobody can remember taking the delivery or what happened to all those books.
Meanwhile, back at the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), even more self-dealing is coming to light. The Sun reported yesterday that former state Senator Francis X. Kelly and two of his sons suddenly took leaves of absence from the boards of multiple affiliated UMMS organizations. The Kellys have an insurance company that’s apparently obtained millions of dollars in business deals with the system. This entire organization is looking more and more like nothing but a clearing house for people to launder money through.
There are so many moving parts to this Healthy Holly story that it can be hard to keep track of. If you want to read a good Q&A on the subject, the Sun has published one here. That should bring you up to date on BookGate if you’ve somehow missed the story thus far. And you couldn’t be blamed if that were the case. The major cable networks like CNN have barely touched it.