So, it's again a bit of an open thread. Hope you're staying healthy!
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|St. Anthony Parkway, Northeast Minneapolis|
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|She comes in colors|
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|Almost frozen over|
Documents obtained by CNN show that law enforcement officers responded to Cruz’s house on 39 occasions over a seven-year period. No police reports were immediately available for those calls so it was not possible to determine whether Cruz was involved.I'll bet. There's more:
Another neighbor, concerned about Cruz “acting weird” in the backyard took video of him dressed in boxer shorts shooting what appeared to be a BB gun. The man, who asked not to be identified, said his wife watched Cruz shooting bottles, cans and buckets over and over again for two days in October 2017. He sometimes pointed the gun toward their window, the man said.
“She got scared. I got scared,” he said.
The FBI received a tip last month that the suspect in the Florida school shooting had a "desire to kill" and access to guns and could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate, the agency said Friday. Florida Gov. Rick Scott called for the FBI's director to resign because of the missteps.No, Mr. Sessions. They didn't miss the signs. They ignored them. And there's more:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the shooting that killed 17 people Wednesday was a "tragic consequence" of the FBI's failure and ordered a review of the Justice Department's processes. He said it's now clear that the nation's premier law enforcement agency missed warning signs.
Jim Gard, a Maths [sic] teacher, said Cruz had been in his class last year.So at the local level, the federal level, and within the education system Cruz had attended, no one connected the dots or made any moves to change the course he was on. Everyone was asleep at the switch. But we should let these people take your guns away. Sounds like a plan.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Mr Gard told the Miami Herald. “There were problems with him last year threatening students.”
However, Robert Runcie, the Broward County School District Superintendent, told reporters he was not aware of any concerns raised about the student.
“We received no warnings,” Mr Runcie said outside the school. “Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn't have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.”
Last month, a New Brighton commissioner wrote a letter to the editor of the New Brighton Bulletin questioning the motives of the former city council to change elections from odd years to even years.I don't know Ben Jones, but I question the motives of the city council, too. Can't do that, apparently. City Manager Dean Lotter explains:
On Tuesday, the commissioner lost his volunteer position because of that letter. The council voted 3-2 to remove Ben Jones from the planning commission.
Council members and city staff said Jones’ letter was insulting and misleading. Jones thought that was an unfair assessment.
“I’m disappointed,” Jones said of his removal. “I think it shows a little bit of pettiness in the council majority and a little bit of an unhealthy attitude toward the role of the commission and toward dissent in the city.”
“Venues in which public meetings are conducted should be a sanctuary for free thought and decorum. That’s integral to achieving that dialogue or that goal,” City Manager Dean Lotter said in a recent meeting. “In order to achieve that decorum, commissioners give up some of their rights, like penning editorials. It’s just how it is.”So you are free to think whatever you want, but you'd better not express your thoughts, according to
“He has insulted me. He has insulted this council. And I don’t know if I could ever trust him again as a commissioner,” Johnson said at a recent meeting. “And when I lose that trust in people that we appoint, then there’s something that needs to be done.”
|Mayor Val Johnson|
The chief resilience officer of Minneapolis, Kate Knuth, has stepped down after seven months on the job.If the goal of the position was to figure out the challenges Minneapolis faces, the city could have saved a lot of money had they simply given Betsy Hodges a mirror, but we'll leave that aside. Think about being on a job for seven months and not delivering any finished work product. It's astonishing, really. I fully expect our old friend Kate to return to academe, where not delivering work product isn't likely to raise as many eyebrows.
Hired for the grant-funded position in June, Knuth was responsible for responding to “challenges” facing the city, which ranged from low graduation rates for black students to the risks of spills from trains hauling hazardous materials to severe weather stoked by climate change.
Knuth, an environmental educator and former DFL legislator, spent her first months in the job interviewing people and conducting a survey, but had not delivered any finished work product before she resigned.
Yes, it was clear that [FBI Agent Peter] Strzok engaged in serious misconduct: The married G-man’s reported extramarital affair with his married FBI colleague Lisa Page was scandalous not only for the obvious reasons but as potential blackmail material against counterintelligence agents. Plus, Strzok appears to have been the main investigator in the Hillary Clinton emails case that the FBI and Justice Department bent over backwards not to prosecute; and there is reason to believe his rabidly anti-Trump text messages with his paramour crossed the line from arrogant political banter to unprofessional investigative decision-making.You remember Mike Flynn. He was briefly Trump's National Security Adviser. The guy our Lord and Savior* Robert Mueller got to cop a guilty plea. The guy who lied to the FBI. Or did he?
But there were dissonant notes, too, cutting against the neat ditty about a high-ranking government agent acting on a corrupt partisan agenda. For one thing, I was hearing from people with good national-security credentials that Strzok was a highly effective counterintelligence agent.
And then there was Mike Flynn.
The first revelations about Strzok’s texts came only days after General Flynn, who had fleetingly served as President Trump’s first national-security adviser, pled guilty in the Mueller investigation to a charge of lying to FBI investigators. Strzok had conducted the interview with Flynn. Combine that with the fact that he had been a principal in all the important FBI interviews in the Clinton caper, and the presumption crystalized: Political hack Strzok went kid-gloves on the Hillary Gang and scorched-earth on Trump World.There is a problem here. Strzok didn't think Flynn lied. But Mueller and his band of avenging angels went scorched earth on Flynn. Back to McCarthy:
That’s not reality, though.
Flynn’s case is back in the news thanks to Byron York’s important Washington Examiner report yesterday. He retraces the history: Because Flynn was a Trump transition official and incoming national-security adviser, there was nothing at all inappropriate about his discussing Obama-imposed sanctions against Russia with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Nevertheless, then–acting attorney general and Obama partisan Sally Yates seriously considered prosecuting Flynn under the absurd, never-invoked Logan Act. This misconception that Flynn had done something wrong led Yates and Comey to have Flynn interviewed as if he were a criminal suspect. Apparently unconcerned, Flynn agreed to be interviewed without counsel. Strzok came away from the session believing that Flynn had told the truth. Comey, Byron York reports, “told lawmakers that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe that Flynn had lied to them, or that any inaccuracies in his answers were intentional.”But there's more. McCarthy noticed something that seems important:
Yet, ten months later, with Yates, Comey, and Strzok now out of the picture, Mueller decided to charge Flynn with lying to the FBI anyway. And Flynn decided to plead guilty — perhaps because he was guilty . . . or perhaps because he lacked the resources to sustain the legal fight . . . or perhaps because he feared Mueller’s team would otherwise prosecute his son.
The judge who accepted Flynn’s guilty plea was Rudolph Contreras. Mysteriously, just days after taking Flynn’s plea, Judge Contreras recused himself from the case. The press has been remarkably uncurious about this development. No rationale for the recusal has been offered, no explanation for why, if Judge Contreras had some sort of conflict, the recusal came after the guilty plea, not before. We can note that Contreras is one of the eleven federal district judges assigned to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.That's. . . odd. But this is worse:
We do not know if Judge Contreras signed one or more of the FISA warrants the Justice Department sought for Trump campaign figures Carter Page and Paul Manafort (or even if signing a FISA warrant would constitute grounds for a conflict in Flynn’s case). We can note, however, that Contreras is one of just three FISA court judges who sits in the District of Columbia, where it is likely the Trump-Russia FISA warrants were sought.
When Judge Contreras pulled out, Flynn’s case was reassigned to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. We now know that one of Judge Sullivan’s first actions on the case was to file an order directing Mueller to provide Flynn with any evidence in the special counsel’s possession that is favorable to Flynn, whether on the issue of guilt or of sentencing. Significantly, the order stresses that if Mueller has such evidence but believes it is not “material” and therefore that Flynn is not entitled to disclosure of it, Mueller must show the evidence to the court so that Judge Sullivan may decide whether to mandate its disclosure.Did Mueller's team tell Flynn that Strzok didn't think he'd committed the crime. If he had, why would Mueller be charging him in the first place? And if he had, what are the chances Flynn would have pled guilty? Back to McCarthy:
Now, it could be that this is just Judge Sullivan’s standard order on exculpatory information, filed in every case over which he presides. But it is noteworthy that Flynn had already pled guilty, and in the course of doing so had agreed to Mueller’s demand that he waive “the right to any further discovery or disclosures of information not already provided” — in addition to forfeiting many other trial and appellate rights. (See plea agreement, pages 6–7.) It certainly appears that Sullivan’s order supersedes the plea agreement and imposes on the special counsel the obligation to reveal any and all evidence suggesting that Flynn is innocent of the charge to which he has admitted guilt.It's important to understand -- getting Flynn's scalp is Mueller's biggest accomplishment. Paul Manafort's alleged crimes happened well before he signed on to the Trump campaign, while George Papadopolous was at best a low-level functionary, no matter what his fiancee says. And no one has charged Carter Page with anything. If it turns out that Mueller's team withheld exculpatory evidence to get Flynn to cop a plea, this thing could blow sky-high.
We rightly associate the elite disdain for the clingers, irredeemables, and deplorables with progressives like Obama and Hillary Clinton. But politics is incidental to the matrix; more essential is class.If you show sympathy for the hillbillies, or worse advocate for them, you don't get to hang with the cool kids. Back to Hanson:
It was Mitt Romney who said he could not work with 47 percent of the population and wrote them off as hopelessly lost voters. It was David Brooks and Bill Kristol who caricatured the white working class as near Neanderthal and romanticized illegal aliens (often by deliberating conflating them with legal immigrants.)
If one were to read carefully through the disparagement of Americans in the texts of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, with their slurs against hillbilly Virginians and Texans and smelly Trump supporters, one can see that Strzok appears likely to be a suburban Republican or independent of the sort who would vote for John Kasich.
The point is not that Strzok and Page are hyperpartisans, but that they are comfortable with candidates who foremost reflect their cultural tastes and proper cursus honorum. And as we have witnessed with some in the NeverTrump movement, for these sorts, being grateful that new economic policies might reinvigorate the old rust-belt and the hinterland is more than offset by the concomitant price of an ascendant working class that lacks the tastes of the elite and the romance of the deliberately distant poor and minorities.
The Trump catharsis has shown that about 10 percent of the Republican Party, the NeverTrumpers, was largely apolitical. That is, former cornerstone positions of deregulation and tax reform, oil and gas production, charter schools, deterrent foreign policy, restoring friendship with Israel and moving the embassy to Jerusalem were apparently always secondary to the more important criterion of offering a mild, sober and judicious frown to progressivism, through discerning losers like George H.W. Bush, John McCain, or Mitt Romney.Yep. And this one is for you, David Brooks:
Such a Republican elite was so embedded within American establishment institutions as to be both immune from the economic stagnation of an Obama neo-socialist revolution (remember income inequality soared under Obama) and in no real need of a Reagan revolution or Trump’s often messy radical push-back against progressivism.
Its creed was not really, as advertised, the ethics of “losing nobly is better than winning ugly,” but rather the snobbery of “losing a cultural image is worse than winning a political agenda.” Put more bluntly, it is better to put up with a socialist with a “perfectly creased pant” than a prairie-fire conservative in rumpled Walmart slacks.I know plenty of people who have, at various times, claimed to be conservative. Some of these people spend time on social media talking about their raw denim jeans and their wing-tip work boots. Others slag their home towns and the people they have ostentatiously left behind. I have known dozens of Philip Pirrips in my life. Class doesn't matter in America nearly as much as it did in 19th Century England, but it does matter. And many ostensible conservatives realize their perch is tenuous at best. Why take up the cause of those you've left behind? Isn't it better to go to London, or New York, or even Minneapolis, and shake the dust from your sandals?
It was about 10 minutes before puck drop in the much-anticipated unified Korea women’s hockey team debut, when the North Korean cheerleaders stole the show.Others love 'em:
Kanye West blared on the arena speakers, and the cheer squad of young North Korean women decked out in matching red and white outfits decided it was time for their first routine.
They waved small unified Korean Peninsula flags, and swayed in unison and sung “ban gap seup nee da,” or nice to meet you.
The crowd was instantly transfixed.
“It felt like I was competing in my own country,” Jong Su Hyon, one of 12 North Koreans on the joint team’s roster, said of the atmosphere following Korea’s lopsided defeat to Switzerland.
North Korea’s cheerleaders seem to be enjoying the Winter Olympics more than the athletes. They’re having a ball if pictures taken of them at the event in Pyeongchang, South Korea, are anything to go by.There's nothing united about the two Koreas, of course. Kim Jong Un would wipe out Seoul in a heartbeat if he weren't aware that he'd be wiped out himself in the next heartbeat. It's easier to send out the cheerleaders and pretend things aren't what they are:
The latest images showed several members from to 200 strong team wearing masks as they cheered on the unified Korean hockey team. Around 75 North Korean cheerleaders dressed in matching red with white caps made noise during a preliminary game against Switzerland in Gangneung.
Some people thought it looked a bit weird but they seemed to be having fun so we can’t be too down on them. The story of the Winter Olympics so far has been the united front the two Korean countries have showed.
|Shake down the launch codes from the sky|
In May 2017, as I have detailed (here), Steele was required to respond to interrogatories. He emphasized that his dossier allegations were “raw intelligence” that was “unverified” and “warranted investigation.” He further described his reports as “limited intelligence” that described mere “indications” of “possible” coordination between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. He was not in a position to vouch for the accuracy of what he’d been told, he explained; he passed it along because it needed further investigation.
Yet, far from reporting Steele’s retreat to the FISA court, Grassley and Graham report that the FBI and Justice Department continued vouching for the reliability of his allegations.
Beyond all that, we now learn through the senators’ memo, and some follow-up reporting, that two longtime Clinton cronies, Cody Shearer and Sidney Blumenthal, fed their own anti-Trump dossier to Steele, through a State Department official, Jonathan Winer. In the fall of 2016, Steele, while working on his Clinton-funded project, reported this Clinton-crony information to the FBI.
Still, the FBI and Justice Department elected not to tell the FISA court that the Clinton campaign was paying for Steele’s unverified, unverifiable anti-Trump research.
I spent many months assuring people that nothing like this could ever happen — that the FBI and Justice Department would not countenance the provision to the FISA court of uncorroborated allegations of heinous misconduct. When Trump enthusiasts accused them of rigging the process, I countered that they probably had not even used the Steele dossier. If the Justice Department had used it in writing a FISA warrant application, I insisted that the FBI would independently verify any important facts presented to the court, make any disclosures that ought in fairness be made so the judge could evaluate the credibility of the sources, and compellingly demonstrate probable cause before alleging that an American was a foreign agent.
I was wrong.Yes. Yes, you were. I was, too. I'm still not crazy about many things Donald Trump does, but there's no evidence he would sink to the level of his predecessors, levels that are now amply documented, if not yet widely disclosed. To be fair, McCarthy wasn't nearly as much of a NeverTrumper as some of his colleagues at NR, but he made common cause with them. The scales have fallen from his eyes.
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|Bell Pole Yard, New Brighton, MN|
|Rice Creek, New Brighton, MN|
A criminal referral from top Senate investigators confirms explosive charges in last week’s House Intelligence Committee memo regarding abuse of surveillance authorities at the FBI and Department of Justice. It also reveals a host of problems arising from the bureau’s cooperation with foreign investigator Christopher Steele, who was working on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The eight-page memo from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) includes underlying evidence to support the claims.That's from Mollie Hemingway, writing for the Federalist. The Grassley/Graham referral not only backstops the material Devin Nunes wrote about in his memo, it expands upon what appears to have happened during the campaign. You should read the whole thing, but here are a few highlights:
The letter describes a verification effort before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) so inadequate it resembles a concerted effort to conceal information from the court. However, the senators blame Steele’s “apparent deception” for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) failures by FBI and Justice, and refer Steele for investigation of violating federal law regarding making false statements to the U.S. government. The letter also reveals Clinton associates were feeding Steele allegations that he used in his reports.Garbage in, garbage out. And who were the garbage merchants? Well, that's redacted, sort of. But how did Yahoo News get the information? From the Grassley/Graham document:
[REDACTED], the application attempts to explain away the inconsistency between Mr. Steele’s assertion to the FBI and the existence of the article, apparently to shield Mr. Steele’s credibility on which it still relied for the renewal request. The application to the FISC said: “Given that the information contained in the September 23rd news article generally matches the information about Page that [Steele] discovered doing his/her research, [REDACTED] The FBI does not believe that [Steele] directly provided this information to the press” (emphasis added).One problem with that assertion -- it's not true. Steele gave it all to Michael Isikoff. Back to Hemingway:
Reporter Michael Isikoff recently confirmed that Steele was obviously his source for the article, and that Clinton’s Russia dossier project head Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS was a longtime friend. The FBI stated to the court that Steele had nothing to do with the article. Shopping his unverified allegations to the media was contrary to Steele’s agreement with the FBI. Even after Steele publicly testified about his many media contacts, the FBI hid that part of his dossier operation from the court and continued to rely on his credibility for surveillance reauthorization.We knew this a long time ago, actually -- there were reports galore that someone had been shopping the dossier around to the news media in the aftermath of the election. What we didn't know then was that Team Clinton was directly involved. Grassley/Graham explain:
One memorandum by Mr. Steele that was not published by Buzzfeed is dated October 19, 2016. The report alleges REDACTED as well as REDACTED Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company “received this report from REDACTED US State Department,” that the report was the second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who “is in touch with REDACTED, a contact of REDACTED, a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to REDACTED.” It is troubling enough that the Clinton campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.The REDACTED folks here are almost certainly longtime Clinton hatchetman Sidney Blumenthal, and the other individual is Cody Shearer, another Clinton hand.
The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee was the victim of a prank phone call by Russian comedians who offered to give him 'compromising' dirt on Donald Trump – including nude photos of the president and a Russian reality show star.Schiff claims he knew all along it was a prank. But if you know it's a prank, why do you stay on the phone for 8 minutes? Wouldn't you hang up immediately? And why would you send your staff back for a follow-up if you knew it was a prank? Listen for yourself -- it's comedy gold, Jerry:
DailyMail.com can disclose that after the prank, his staff engaged in correspondence with what they thought was a Ukrainian politician to try to obtain the 'classified' material promised on the call.
On an audio recording of the prank call posted online, Adam Schiff can be heard discussing the committee's Russia investigation and increasingly bizarre allegations about Trump with a man who claimed to be Andriy Parubiy, the chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament.
The call, made a year ago, was actually from two Russian comedians nicknamed 'Vovan' and 'Lexus' who have become notorious for their phony calls to high-ranking American officials and celebrities, including UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Elton John.
Its existence was first reported by The Atlantic but not how a staff member working for the minority on the House Intelligence Committee pursued the information after the call.
Newly released text messages between a pair of FBI anti-Trump officials at the center of the Russia investigation controversy show that they sought to “get around” rules established by the government to preserve text messages, stating that none of the agencies abide by the rules then “why should we.”Why should they? Oh, it was the law, I suppose. There's more:
Former FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page discussed getting new Apple iPhones, in lieu of their Samsung 5 government issued phones in text messages they exchanged in August 2016. They noted in the texts that the new phones would help keep their text messages from government collection after speaking with the FBI’s IT director, according to newly released August 2016 text messages.
Here’s a portion of the text messages:
Strzok: “Hot damn. I’m happy to pilot that…we get around our security/monitoring issues?”You could interpret that exchange as two employees chafing over unfair work rules. Or it could suggest that the rest of the Obama administration didn't care very much about following its own rules. "Omb" would be the Office of Management and Budget, which would have something to say about governmental employee conduct. Who is "Dd?" Back to Carter:
Page: “No, he’s proposing that we just stop following them. Apparently, the requirement to capture texts came from omb, but we’re the only org (I’m told) who is following that rule. His point is, if no one else is doing it why should we.”
Page: Helps that Dd had a terrible time with his phone [redacted] which made him concerned for our folks all over the place.
Page: These phones suck as much as they do because of the program we use to capture texts, full stop.
Strzok: No doubt.
Strzok: I’m not convinced short of OPR, that text capture capability really deters anything.
Strzok: If I want to copy/take classified, I’m sure as hell not going to do it on this phone.
In the above text messages, Strzok’s reference to “Dd” is possibly referring to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, per Johnson’s letter’s footnote.It's also worth recalling the Strzok and Page's texts went missing for a time. Does any of this prove corruption? Not yet. But it certainly is a lot closer than anything we've seen to date concerning the successor of Barack Obama.
Yet Clinton’s essay underscores what a terrible candidate she is and always has been. She offers nothing more than self-serving prevarications under the guise of explanation: She didn’t want to take away a man’s livelihood. The young woman who complained was reassigned (because the victim should be inconvenienced). She liked her new post! We’re in a different era now! How was Hillary to know, way back in 2008, that sexual harassment should never be tolerated?Ouch. And the conclusion:
“For most of my life,” Hillary wrote, “harassment wasn’t something talked about or even acknowledged.”
Except for the bulk of the 1990s, when her husband was accused by multiple women of harassment and by one of rape and Hillary worked to publicly discredit them.
Other than that, no knowledge.
This has always been the problem with Hillary Clinton: Nothing is ever her fault. She is congenitally incapable of saying the words “I’m sorry” — in fact, they are nowhere to be found in her Facebook post. She is somehow always the victim despite her own poor decision-making. She still blames us for losing the most winnable election ever.Well, perhaps some day we'll be worthy of choosing Hillary Clinton. We can only hope.