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4 New Things We Just Learned About The Special Counsel Investigation

When will the corrupt media begin reporting on this biggest political scandal of the last century?

By Margot ClevelandThe Federalist

Hillary Clinton campaigning for president
GAGE SKIDMORE / FLICKR

Since Friday, several developments have exposed more of the behind-the-scenes details of the special counsel investigation into Spygate, including the public release of the deposition of Tech Executive-1, Rodney Joffe. Joffe’s deposition, coupled with other details previously known, reveals several significant facts while highlighting the many questions that remain unanswered.

Here’s what we learned and what investigative trails require further probing.

1. Rodney Joffe Pled the Fifth Twice

Earlier this month, the Russian-connected Alfa Bank filed a motion in a Florida state court seeking an extension of time to serve the numerous “John Doe” defendants it had sued there in June 2020. Alfa Bank had sued “John Doe, et al.” as stand-ins for the defendants it claimed were responsible for executing “a highly sophisticated cyberattacking scheme to fabricate apparent communications between [Alfa Bank] and the Trump Organization” in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

After filing suit, Alfa Bank began discovery in an attempt to learn the identity of the individuals responsible for what the large, privately owned Russian bank alleged was the creation of a fake computer trail connecting it to the Trump Organization. Among others Alfa Bank sought information from was Joffe, the man identified as Tech Executive-1 in Special Counsel John Durham’s indictment against former Hillary Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann.

Joffe’s attempts to quash Alfa Bank’s subpoena failed. On February 11, 2022, the tech executive alleged by Durham to have exploited sensitive data from an executive branch office of the federal government to mine for derogatory information on Trump sat for his deposition. On Friday, an internet sleuth discovered the public filing of Joffe’s deposition, which revealed that Joffe had finally been deposed by Alfa Bank.

In addition to revealing that Joffe’s deposition had taken place, the transcript from the deposition established that Durham had asked to interview Joffe more than a year earlier, but Joffe refused to speak with Durham’s team. After Joffe refused to submit to a voluntary interview, the special counsel’s office subpoenaed him to testify before a grand jury.

Joffe told Alfa Bank lawyers that he refused to answer questions before the grand jury, exercising his Fifth Amendment rights. The former Neustar tech executive likewise asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in response to a subpoena for documents served by the special counsel’s office.

2. Joffe Seeks to Jump into the Sussmann Criminal Case

Friday also saw Joffe’s attorneys, Steven Tyrrell and Eileen Citron, file notices of appearances for Joffe as a proposed “intervenor” in the special counsel’s criminal case against Sussmann. Joffe could seek to intervene in the case to challenge a subpoena, to seek a protective order—maybe because of purported attorney-client communications Joffe had with Sussmann or to prevent Durham from discussing his alleged role in public filings—or to otherwise protect a legal right or interest.

We should know more shortly, when Joffe’s attorney files the related motion to intervene. That motion is likely to come within the next week or so, given that on Friday, the court in United States v. Sussmann scheduled a hearing for March 7, 2022, to address potential conflicts of interests between Sussmann and his current attorneys, and Joffe is likely interested in ensuring Durham’s team does not further implicate him in the matter.

3. Joffe’s Seemingly Contradictory Testimony About Ops-Trust

The transcript of Joffe’s deposition testimony discovered on Friday consisted mainly of the former tech executive refusing to answer questions because of the special counsel’s pending investigation, with Joffe responding to Alfa Bank’s inquiries by pleading the Fifth. However, several times Joffe responded to questions about specific individuals by saying he had not heard of the person or organization.

One such exchange proved intriguing and seemingly contradictory to an email obtained pursuant to a Right-to-Know request served on Georgia Tech, the university where two of the researchers who allegedly mined data for Joffe worked.

“Just a few questions more,” Alfa Bank’s attorney began, before asking, “Mr. Joffe, are you a member of the so-called Union of Concerned Nerds as described by L. Jean Camp?” “Basically, she’s used it as a description to describe a group of computer researchers who search for malware and other malicious content and actors on the internet,” the attorney for the Russian bank continued.

Joffe responded that he “can’t remember having heard that term,” before adding: “And I don’t belong to any organization.” However, when asked whether he was “a member of a group of individuals who sought to investigate potential foreign interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election” or compiled supposed evidence of the Alfa Bank server connecting to the Trump campaign, Joffe pled the Fifth.

In posing these questions, Alfa Bank sought to connect Joffe to the reports of the supposed secret communication channel between it and the Trump administration and specifically to Slate’s reporting from October 31, 2016, headlined: “Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia?”

Author Franklin Foer opened the article by highlighting “a small, tightly knit community of computer scientists . . . some at cybersecurity firms, some in academia, some with close ties to three-letter federal agencies,” who claimed to have discovered the Alfa Bank-Trump server connections. Foer then quoted Indiana University computer scientist L. Jean Camp’s “wry formulation” of the group: “We’re the Union of Concerned Nerds.”

Apparently, Joffe was not in on Camp’s joke, even if he was in on the research, as Durham’s indictment of Sussmann suggests.

But what about Joffe’s second claim that “I don’t belong to any organization?” As I reported last week, a random email included in a trove of documents provided by Georgia Tech in response to a Right-to-Know Request showed Joffe forwarding an email sent to [email protected] to university researcher Manos Antonakakis. That Joffe had received the ops-trust.net email and then forwarded it to Antonakakis proves important because Ops-Trust matches many of the details included in the Slate article (and later two New Yorker articles) discussing the researchers behind the Alfa Bank claims.

For instance, “Ops-Trust is a self-described ‘highly vetted community of security professionals,” which includes, among other experts, DNS administrators, DNS registrars, and law enforcement officials. Membership in Ops-Trust is extremely limited, with new candidates accepted only if nominated and vouched for by their peers.

Unfortunately, Alfa Bank’s attorney did not quiz Joffe on Ops-Trust, but his denial of belonging to any organization raises several questions. What was his connection to Ops-Trust? Did Joffe use that connection to obtain non-public information to mine for data to destroy Trump? Is he no longer connected to Ops-Trust, and is that why he claimed not to be a member of any organization?

Requests last week to Joffe’s attorney and other individuals connected to Ops-Trust seeking information concerning Joffe’s continued involvement with Ops-Trust went unanswered. A request to Camp on whether she was a member of Ops-Trust in 2016 and whether she knew Joffe or the Georgia Tech researchers through that organization also went unanswered.

4. It’s Not Just the FBI and CIA We’re Talking About Here

In the special counsel’s criminal case against Sussmann, Durham’s team revealed that Sussmann had provided the “evidence” of the Alfa Bank-Trump covert communication channel to the FBI on September 19, 2016 and shared an updated version of the Alfa Bank allegations with the CIA on February 9, 2017. According to the special counsel’s office, Sussmann also provided the CIA data that purported to show traffic at Trump-related locations connecting to the “internet protocol” or “IP addresses” of a supposedly rare Russian mobile phone provider.

The questioning of Joffe by Alfa Bank’s attorney now suggests Sussmann may have also provided that same data to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

It has been known for some time that after Americans elected Trump, Democrats regrouped and continued to push the Russia collusion hoax, including the Alfa Bank angle. The New Yorker, in a 2018 article rehashing the Alfa Bank claims and referring to Joffe with the pseudonym “Max,” wrote that after Trump’s inauguration two Democrat senators “had reviewed the data assembled by Max’s group.”

One of the “Democratic senators approached a former Senate staffer named Daniel Jones and asked him to give the data a closer look,” The New Yorker article continued. Jones then spent a year researching the Alfa Bank allegations and writing a report for the Senate.

According to The New Yorker’s coverage, then, the senators had the data and provided it to Jones. Jones confirmed that sequence when a former Sen. Dianne Feinstein staffer and founder of the left-wing The Democracy Integrity Project sued Alfa Bank seeking to keep confidential his deposition testimony and documents provided to the Russian bank.

In his complaint, Jones stated in court filings that in early-to-mid 2017, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee asked him to research the alleged connections between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization. Specifically, the Senate committee “requested that Mr. Jones evaluate information it had received about DNS look-ups between Alfa Bank servers and Trump Organization servers.”

Significantly, Jones stated that the Senate Committee informed him “that the source of the DNS records had a history of providing accurate information, a lengthy history of reliably assisting the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence communities and was an individual or entity with sensitive contracts with the U.S. government.” Jones added that he met with a representative for the source of the DNS records at the committee’s request.

While Jones does not identify that source or the source’s representative with whom he met, in Joffe’s deposition, Alfa Bank lawyers stated that Jones had testified he had “liaised with Mr. Joffe on various issues related to the server allegations.” The “sensitive contracts” language from Jones’ filing also seems eerily like Durham’s charge that Joffe had exploited internet data, including some accessed under sensitive government contracts.

Alfa Bank’s questioning of Joffe also seems to suggest a similar theory: “Were you aware that Mr. Sussmann provided documents including white papers and data files to Congress?” Alfa Bank’s counsel asked, clarifying that she meant not just the actual senators or representatives but also their staff. And “did you direct Mr. Sussmann to provide such documents to Congress?” the Russian bank attorney continued.

While Joffe refused to answer the questions, again pleading the fifth, Joffe admitted in his deposition that he knew Kirk McConnell. McConnell worked as a staffer for Sen. Jack Reed and in that role McConnell served as a contact for Jones related to the Alfa Bank research.

If Sussmann had provided the Alfa Bank data to the two Democrat senators on behalf of Joffe, as appears possible from these details, that would represent the fourth time Sussmann had served as an intermediary for Joffe with federal officials: In addition to the FBI and CIA, we know from Durham’s filings that Sussmann also provided the DOJ’s inspector general information purporting to show that Joffe “had observed that a specific OIG employee’s computer was ‘seen publicly’ in ‘Internet traffic’ and was connecting to a Virtual Private Network in a foreign country.”

While at this point there is no evidence that Joffe’s tip to the DOJ’s inspector general connects to the other efforts undertaken by Joffe and his lawyer to push a Trump-Russia conspiracy theory within the Deep State, questions remain that are only heightened by the possibility that the Joffe-Sussmann team also fed senators on the Armed Services Committee their “intel.”

How exactly did Joffe “see” this internet connection? Did he exploit any government or private data? Was he specifically watching computer traffic at the DOJ? Where else was he monitoring internet connections? And why?

Of course, the more global question remains as well: When will the corrupt media begin reporting on the biggest political scandal of the last century?


The Media Blackout of Durham’s Bombshell Report Alleging Clinton Campaign ‘Infiltrated’ Trump Tower

By Rick MoranReal Clear Politics

Townhall Media/Katie Pavlich

A filing by special counsel John Durham — alleging Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign paid a technology company to establish an “inference” that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia so he could win an election — has not generated much excitement in the mainstream media.

Perhaps because the story is somewhat complex, the media has decided not to report on it? Indeed, naming all the players and their actions is a chore, if you read the few media outlets on the right that are covering it.

It’s sort of boring — until you realize the staggering implications of what’s being alleged.

Durham is saying that the Democratic candidate for president in 2016 engaged in a criminal conspiracy to infiltrate the opposition’s most sensitive, compartmentalized information and tried to manipulate data and information to politically damage her opponent.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

CNN is full of stories about Donald Trump’s clogged toilet, but nothing about the Durham probe. The Washington Post is equally silent. As are The New York Times and the Associated Press.

Will these brave, courageous purveyors of truth cover the fact that Trump special prosecutor Robert Mueller was hoodwinked by these shenanigans? That Mueller was kept in the dark about the surveillance from which some of his “evidence” was obtained?

Donald Trump was livid.

Fox News:

Former President Trump reacted to the filing on Saturday evening, saying Durham’s filing “provides indisputable evidence that my campaign and presidency were spied on by operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign in an effort to develop a completely fabricated connection to Russia.”

“This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution,” Trump said. “In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death.”

Trump added: “In addition, reparations should be paid to those in our country who have been damaged by this.”

My PJ Media colleague Matt Margolis covered the story in detail yesterday, including this quote from Kash Patel, lead GOP investigator on the House Intelligence Committee for the Trump-Russia probe.

Kash Patel, the former chief investigator of the Trump-Russia investigation for the House Intelligence Committee under former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), told Fox News that the filing “definitively shows that the Hillary Clinton campaign directly funded and ordered its lawyers at Perkins Coie to orchestrate a criminal enterprise to fabricate a connection between President Trump and Russia.”

“Per Durham, this arrangement was put in motion in July of 2016, meaning the Hillary Clinton campaign and her lawyers masterminded the most intricate and coordinated conspiracy against Trump when he was both a candidate and later President of the United States while simultaneously perpetuating the bogus Steele Dossier hoax,” Patel said.

Republicans can do nothing as long as they’re in the minority. And even if they were to hold hearings after regaining the majority to try to get to the bottom of this swamp, it still wouldn’t be news.

For Democrats, it simply never happened, because it won’t be reported. This is especially true as long as Trump clogging up the White House toilet is repeated again and again as “breaking news.”


The Placeholder President

When Trump is the issue, Biden wins. And Biden's troubles begin.

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

President Joe Biden speaks about the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot / Getty Images

The most impassioned speech of Joe Biden’s presidency was about events that took place before it began. I’m talking about the president’s remarks on the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. The energy, force, and direction of Biden’s delivery have been missing from practically every address he’s made since his inauguration. The Biden who spoke from Statuary Hall on Thursday was not his usual self—listless, reactive, defensive, and confused. This Biden was angry and purposeful and on the attack.

True, it was a partisan speech. How could it not have been? The driving force behind the events of January 6 was a Republican president who remains the most important figure in his party. Many Republicans will accuse Biden of divisiveness. They will say he ignored the faults of his own side. Well, sorry, but what did you expect? Biden was lively and pointed because public opinion is with him. A majority says the 2020 election was legitimate. A plurality blames Trump for the mob assault on the Capitol. Fifty-nine percent of adults don’t want Trump to run for president in 2024. When Trump is the issue, Biden wins.

And Biden’s troubles start. Trump for now is the least of his worries. Trump is on the sidelines. He’s out of office. He’s banned from social media. He doesn’t figure in the everyday lives of most Americans. He won’t be on the ballot this November. A White House midterm strategy based on portraying GOP candidates as Q-Anon shamans ready to storm the Capitol won’t work. The hundreds of state and local campaigns will be too diverse. The candidates will be too distinct. And public anger over the economy, the pandemic, the schools, the border, and the cities will matter most of all.

Biden’s January 6 speech was a reminder that he’s a placeholder president. He’s in office because independent voters in the suburbs rejected Donald Trump’s personality and Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus. No one expected—or wanted—Biden to be a world-historical statesman. Biden himself said he’s a “transitional” figure with a singular goal: Keep Trump away from the White House. He accomplished that task, which is why he began his presidency with healthy approval ratings. The electorate didn’t sour on him until he took on additional employment: live-action role-playing FDR and LBJ, dismantling immigration protocols on the southern border, deferring to public health experts and regulatory bodies, and midwifing the Taliban reconquest of Afghanistan. Now Biden is at 43-percent approval in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls.

Biden’s dilemma is that “I’m not Trump” is a winning message only when Trump is on the ballot, holds office, or is tied to a major event such as January 6. The message doesn’t work on the other 364 days of the year. If Biden had grasped why he became president, he would have pursued a modest agenda directed at the independents who elected him. He would have sounded and acted more like Governor Jared Polis than like Senator Elizabeth Warren. Instead, Biden has catered to the left at the expense of the center. He’s at odds with the median voter as he fails to control the coronavirus, inflation, the border, and events overseas. His domestic agenda is stalled. And the Democratic congressional majority is at risk.

But not all is lost. A GOP Congress in 2023 may provide Biden with a rationale to shake up his staff, work with Senator Mitch McConnell, and distinguish himself from the cultural left. And the 2024 cycle may not be as good for Republicans as the 2022 cycle is shaping up to be. The last two Democratic presidents won reelection during periods of divided government. The mix of issues may be different. And Biden will be able to play his “I’m not Trump” card if the former president enters the presidential race and wins the GOP nomination.

Listening to Biden speak Thursday, I kept thinking of his recent interview with David Muir of ABC News. When asked if he’ll run for reelection, Biden gave the only answer possible: Yes. But he added an escape hatch when he said that his health would be the deciding factor. Then Muir asked Biden if Trump’s decision would shape his 2024 calculus. And the president became animated. He sounded as engaged as he was on January 6. “You’re trying to tempt me now,” he said. “Sure. Why would I not run against Donald Trump for the nominee? That’ll increase the prospect of running.”

Biden has seen the Democratic bench. He works with Vice President Kamala Harris. He understands that despite everything he remains the Democrats’ best chance of preventing a second Trump term. Joe Biden is an unpopular, unloved, and ineffective president. But he’s beaten Donald Trump once and isn’t wrong to think he might do it again. He won’t transform America. He might keep his job for a while longer if voters don’t like their options. That’s what a placeholder does.


The Corrupt Media Did Not Fall For The Russia Collusion Hoax. They Were Part Of It

The corrupt media’s attempt to frame their failings as mere confirmation bias holds no truer than the Russia-collusion hoax they peddled for five years.

By Margot ClevelandThe Federalist

The Corrupt Media Did Not Fall For The Russia Collusion Hoax. They Were Part Of It
Photo John D. Kirk / YouTube

Soon after Special Counsel John Durham indicted Igor Danchenko, the “Primary Sub-Source” of the Steele dossier, on five counts of lying to the FBI, the press paused to feign a moment of public introspection. The corrupt media’s attempt to frame their failings as mere confirmation bias, however, holds no truer than the Russia-collusion hoax they peddled for five years.

The proof of this reality is seen in the prostitute sex tapes: the non-existent “golden showers” one and the verifiable, but ignored, Hunter Biden videos.

The first step of what appeared, at least momentarily, to be the kick-off of a mea culpa parade came earlier this month when the Washington Post amended large segments of two articles covering the Russia-collusion storyline, one from March 2017 and the second from February 2019.

Both articles had named Sergei Millian, a Belarusian-American businessman, as the individual identified as “Source D” in the Steele dossier. While Millian had long denied speaking with Danchenko or having any role in the dossier, it was only after Durham charged the Russian-born Danchenko and former Brookings Institute employee with lying about receiving a telephone call from Millian that the Post and other media outlets removed the claims.

Then, last week, The New York Times ran a “guest essay” by professor of journalism and former Columbia Journalism School dean Bill Grueskin, headlined, “How Did So Much of the Media Get the Steele Dossier So Wrong?”

To Grueskin the problem was multi-pronged. Grueskin’s prologue to why “so many were taken in so easily” was simple: The dossier seemed to confirm what they already suspected—a corruption of Donald Trump that spanned “from dodgy real estate negotiations to a sordid hotel-room tryst, all tied together by the president-elect’s obeisance to President Vladimir Putin of Russia.”

From there, Grueskin listed the problems, which amazingly all belonged to Trump. Trump “had long curried Mr. Putin’s favor” and “he and his family were eager to do business in Russia.” Then there was Trump’s choice of Paul Manafort as his campaign chair that “reinforced the idea that he was in the thrall of Russia.”

Adding to the perfect storm that explained the press failures, Grueskin posited that “journalists also had to deal with the fact that many of the denials came from confirmed liars.” Further complicating the matter, Grueskin wrote, was that “some reporters simply didn’t like or trust Mr. Trump, and didn’t want to appear to be on his side.”

Here, Grueskin quoted from former Times reporter Barry Meier’s book “Spooked”: “Plenty of reporters were skeptical of the dossier, but they hesitated to dismiss it, because they didn’t want to look like they were carrying water for Trump or his cronies.”

Bunk. The corrupt media did not fall for the Russia collusion hoax. They were part of it.

How else to explain the scathing email Jake Tapper sent BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith after the latter published the dossier? “I think your move makes the story less serious and credible[.] I think you damaged its impact,” the CNN anchor wrote.

On that point at least, Tapper was correct. The actual dossier—as opposed to select excerpts or word-smithed summaries pushed by the anti-Trump press—“was a laughably fake document.” When the public saw the “source,” they didn’t buy it, and, really, neither did the press.

For all corporate media’s ex post facto efforts to rationalize why they “fell” for the dossier, only one holds true: They didn’t like Trump, personally or politically.

Now, Joe Biden, they like. So when weeks before the November 2020 election, when The New York Post published multiple stories revealing damaging information recovered from an abandoned laptop bearing a Biden Foundation sticker, social media silenced the story and corporate media spun it as Russia disinformation.

The same folks who supposedly bought anonymous claims that Trump had paid prostitutes to pee on a bed the Obamas had once slept in found the actual videos of Hunter Biden with prostitutes unbelievable. Likewise, we are to believe Trump’s supposed shady business deals made the dossier plausible to the press, while unworthy of the media’s trust were genuine emails discussing a 10 percent cut reserved for the “Big Guy” as part of a Biden family deal being plotted with a Chinese energy giant.

And we are to suppose that the press that pushed the Russia collusion hoax did so hesitantly and out of a desire not “to carry water” for Trump and his cronies, all while they carried Biden over the finish line, where he now sits as the commander-in-chief across the virtual table from China’s Xi Jinping.

Sure, now the corporate media is expending some effort to report on Hunter Biden’s partnership in 2016 with a Chinese state-backed company that gave the communist organization ownership of an African cobalt mine. That profitable investment by the younger Biden gave China control over much of the world’s production of cobalt—an essential element for electric car batteries. With the Biden administration’s latest spending proposal earmarking billions for promoting electric vehicles, we now see reporters beginning to probe whether the president’s son remains a financial beneficiary of that deal.

But that the corrupt media turned a blind eye to the evidence of a China-Biden scandal in 2020 lays bare the lie that journalists fell for the dossier and the Russia-collusion conspiracy theory because of a confirmation bias. There was no confirmation bias in play—it was collusion, pure and simple.


Shock Poll: Half of Americans Say America Would Better Now if Trump Had Won

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Gage Skidmore via Flickr

The 2020 election was perhaps one of the most contentious and chaotic in U.S. history. When it was over, the cultural elites expressed relief the voters had chosen to deny President Donald J. Trump a second term.

The race was not close. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s 8 million-plus majority in the popular vote is enough to convince all but the most diehard Trump supporters that the election results reflect the will of the people. Some, especially those who continue to claim the results were tainted by fraud point to the fact a shift of fewer than 50,000 votes spread out among several states would have given Trump a majority in the electoral college which, as political science professors are quick to remind skeptics, is the only majority that counts.

The folks who continue to try and relitigate the outcome of the last election are missing the speed with which the current president is losing support. A poll released Tuesday by Scott Rasmussen found half of all registered voters believe the nation would be better off today had the now-former president been re-elected.

The Rasmussen poll had 50 percent of the more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed saying things “would be better today” if Trump had beaten Biden – including 34 percent who said things would be “much better.” Just 39 percent of those participating in the survey said things would be worse while just about one in ten said they would be the same no matter who won.

These numbers may seem shocking given the mostly favorable coverage Biden has received since his inauguration but, say some Washington veterans, the political operation inside the White House and the Democratic National Committee should have seen it coming. In recent weeks the president has stumbled from failure to failure, projecting an image of incompetence that contrasts sharply with the image of a commanding leader he projected during the 2020 campaign.

Biden came into office projecting national unity as a way of contrasting him with what some said were the divisions of the Trump years. His initial approval numbers, which hovered around 60 percent, have dropped off sharply in recent weeks beginning with the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops of Afghanistan that many say the administration badly mismanaged.

In his analysis of the numbers, pollster Rasmussen suggests another reason may be at the heart of the decline Faced with rising numbers of COVID infections even after the introduction of vaccines produced in record time because Trump cut federal red tape, Biden has proposed mandated vaccinations for federal workers and others that, while “moderately popular overall,” are viewed skeptically by Black voters and Hispanics.

Rasmussen’s data found that “26 percent of Black Democrats believe individuals should decide for themselves whether to get vaccinated” while “60 percent of Hispanic voters have a close friend or relative who will get vaccinated against their will because they can’t afford to lose their job.”

These numbers are largely on par with those who said things in the U.S. today would be better if Trump had won.

“Overall, a plurality of voters would prefer a candidate who supports Trump-like policies,” the Rasmussen poll said, identifying the potential political danger to supposedly moderate Democrats like Biden who, after winning office in 2020 only by gaining the backing of disaffected Republicans and self-described independents have joined with party progressives in the lurch toward policies that can best be described as big government socialism.

The survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted using a mixed-mode approach from September 16-18, 2021. Most respondents were contacted online or via text while 263 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percent.


Big Tech Charged with Continuing to Censor Trump, Conservatives

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

NASA/Bill Ingalls via Wikimedia Commons

Big Tech is not fighting fair in its push back against former President Donald J. Trump’s campaign to prevent it from censoring conservative opinions and opinion leaders, the American Conservative Union said, citing the recent suspension of its network on YouTube, an internet platform used for video sharing as a prime example of its misconduct. 

The ACU, which is the primary sponsor of the Conservative Political Action Conference called the recent removal by YouTube of a recent episode of its “America UnCanceled” posted on its CPAC NOW page censorship.

“YouTube censored CPAC because we stood with former President Donald Trump on his lawsuit against Big Tech,” ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp said in a release, calling the action “another example of Big Tech censoring content with which they disagree in order to promote the political positions they favor.”

The episode in question included coverage of the former president’s attempt to mount a class action suit against tech platforms including Google, YouTube’s parent company. The ACU is a party to the suit, which is being brought on the former president’s behalf by the America First Policy Institute, a group he formed shortly after he left office. 

Trump spoke Sunday in Dallas, Texas to the most recent CPAC gathering. That speech also could not be seen on the CPAC NOW YouTube page due to a one-week ban on posting the platform imposed on the organization when it removed the program, the ACU said.

When imposing the ban, the ACU said YouTube cited “medical misinformation” related to COVID-19 conveyed by the program as the reason for it but did not state specifically what the so-called misinformation was.  In a statement, the group said it believed Trump’s reference to the possible therapeutic value of hydroxychloroquine as documented in what the ACU described as “sound medical research conducted by the Smith Center for Infectious Diseases & Urban Health and Saint Barnabas Medical Center” may have prompted the internet platform to take the action it did.

The use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat the novel coronavirus, which Trump often promoted while president, is controversial in many political, editorial, and medical circles. 

“It is clear that YouTube censored CPAC because we stood with former President Donald Trump on his lawsuit against Big Tech,” said ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp. “This is yet another example of Big Tech censoring content with which they disagree in order to promote the political positions they favor.”

In his remarks to the Dallas confab, Trump called the way Big Tech handles free speech issues, particularly expressions of opinion that conflict with the values of the founders of the major tech platforms “unlawful,” “unconstitutional” and “completely un-American.”

Trump used the speech to continue as well his crusade for an audit of the 2020 presidential election results which, he maintains, was tainted by fraudulent ballots. “The truth was covered up, and it had a giant impact on the election,” he said. “This must never happen to another party’s presidential candidate again. We are the laughingstock of the world.”


Talking Trump, Talking 2024

By Peter RoffNewsweek

There are certain words one never associates with former President Donald J. Trump. One of them is “coy.” Yet there he is, dancing around the question of whether he’ll run for president in 2024 like a young girl who is asked out for the first time.

Trump remains a power in the GOP, but it’s not certain he’ll run again. In 2016, his carefully crafted image as an outsider bent on shaking things up tapped into the public’s frustration over the way government continually fails to solve problems and, in the process, makes many of them worse.

The Republican presidential field in 2016 was fertile ground for the seeds he would plant. But 2024 is not 2016. Trump’s pathway back to power is not as straight as his overwhelming popularity among likely GOP primary voters makes it appear to be.

Before getting to that, however, it’s useful to review how he originally became the GOP nominee in 2016.

First, because just about everything he said made heads explode at the headquarters of the elite New York media, Republican primary voters immediately concluded he was a trustworthy conservative.

Second, coverage of Trump being outrageous and combative sold papers and generated ratings. Promoting his candidacy became an issue of financial self-interest among the media conglomerates who make and break American presidential candidates.

Third, a cohort of media stars supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid to become the first female president helped Trump along because they thought he was the Republican it would be easiest for her to beat.

Fourth, no other Republican running in 2016 could have taken down Trump without ending his or her own candidacy. Rather than alienate the voters warming to his message, the large field of Republicans mostly took the punches he threw without punching back. They let him define them. “Little Marco” and “Low-Energy Jeb” worked because Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) were too timid to push back hard enough when it still might have mattered.

Trump has had a good week. His recent speech to a statewide gathering of North Carolina Republicans was generally well-received. And the release of a government report exonerating him of charges that he ordered demonstrators occupying Lafayette Park in May and June of 2020 tear-gassed and dispersed so he could stage a “photo-op” gives his supporters one more media lie to point to.

GREENVILLE, NC - JUNE 05: Former U.S.
GREENVILLE, NC – JUNE 05: Former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the NCGOP state convention on June 5, 2021 in Greenville, North Carolina. The event is one of former U.S. President Donald Trumps first high-profile public appearances since leaving the White House in January.MELISSA SUE GERRITS/GETTY IMAGES

The other Republicans who want to be president already understand that winning the nomination requires going through Trump. They’re going to have to play rough like him—which, in a much smaller field than the one in 2016, changes the calculation in their favor, not his.

Consider former Vice President Mike Pence, who’s already out making speeches and will soon visit the critical early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. He’ll never say so publicly, but most everyone in GOP circles knows his relationship with Trump is currently frosty and only likely to grow colder. Trump is an anchor around Pence’s neck, whether he runs or not. It’s in the former veep’s political interest to start drawing distinctions early.

If he does, other potential GOP candidates like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also have openings to differentiate themselves from Trump. Former Trump-era Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley already tried, but did it too early, got slapped for it politically and has had to keep her head down while she repairs the damage.

The thing most likely to keep Trump from winning the nomination is his need for vindication. He keeps talking about voter fraud being responsible for his loss in 2020 without offering verifiable proof that it occurred on the scale he claims. There probably was some fraud—there always is—and the vehemence with which the Democrats try to shut down any discussion of it is puzzling. Nonetheless, it’s an old story that’s getting older by the day. Americans like to look and go forward. They aren’t that much interested in backing up if Bidenflation has wiped out their savings accounts and sent their job overseas.

If Trump wants to be the next GOP presidential nominee, he needs to talk more about what he’ll do to win in 2024 than why he lost in 2020. The chances of that happening, say many GOP insiders, is minimal.


For 2024, Pence Is In. Can He Make it?

By Peter RoffNewsweek

Former vice president Mike Pence announced Thursday the formation of Advancing American Freedom to promote “the pro-freedom policies of the last four years that created unprecedented prosperity at home and restored respect for America abroad.”

To lead the group, he’s chosen Dr. Paul Teller, a highly regarded former congressional staffer and member of his vice-presidential staff. Teller’s policy chops and conservative contacts are hard to match. Pence has also attracted other conservative heavyweights—like former Heritage Foundation presidents Dr. Ed Feulner and Kay Coles James, Arizona governor Doug Ducey, Ambassador Calista and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, former senior Trump advisers Larry Kudlow and Kellyanne Conway and important organizational leaders like Lisa Nelson, Penny Nance and Marjorie Dannenfelser—to serve on AAF’s advisory board.

If you think this looks like a presidential campaign in all but name, you’re not wrong. Pence says he wants AAF to blend “traditional conservative values with the Make America Great Again policy agenda that propelled the nation to new economic heights, and unprecedented strength and prosperity.” That’s a fancy way of saying “take the best of Trump, jettison the baggage and create an agenda the American people—especially the formerly reliable Republican suburban voters who helped put Joe Biden in office—can embrace.”

It’s a smart formula that relies on addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division. As GOP political consultant Roger Stone used to advise, anything a campaign does that isn’t focused on growing its share of the vote is a waste of time.

The question is whether Pence can pull it off. As a House member, he was a GOP star, perhaps in line to be speaker someday. As Indiana’s governor he was a solid, if not exactly inspiring, chief executive who on the ideas front could never quite outshine his immediate predecessor, Republican Mitch Daniels—who is now president of Purdue University.

US Vice President Mike Pence
US Vice President Mike Pence on Air Force Two in Milwaukee on October 13, 2020. After President Joe Biden tripped on Air Force One, social media users shared video of Pence’s stumble before a flight in June 2020.KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/GETTY IMAGES

Pence has a chance to shine now, to step into the spotlight and show America what he’d do and how he’d inspire voters to embrace conservatism redefined. He could bring back the sunny optimism and hope that defined Reaganism—strong and not defensive but also not obnoxious.

On paper that sounds easy. In real life, it will be hard. The media elite already have their guns out for Biden’s potential 2024 challengers. Look at the hatchet job CBS‘s 60 Minutes just tried to do on Florida GOP governor Ron DeSantis, another possible presidential candidate, by alleging that in exchange for campaign contributions he let the Publix supermarket chain dispense the COVID-19 vaccine. The story landed with a thud—but it’s likely just the first of many drive-bys the media will try.

Let’s face it; the elite media helped put Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in office and have a vested interest in seeing them stay there. That means the knives are out for Pence, DeSantis, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and any other Republican who wants the nomination. This will make it especially tough for the former vice president as The New York TimesCNN and others try to tie him to the former president.

The challenges Pence faces on his way to the White House are threefold. First, he must separate himself from Trump enough to allow the Never-Trumpers to consider voting for him while not alienating the MAGA movement. Second, he has to come up with a bold agenda for growth and reform that will get the country moving again to counter what the Democrats offer during Biden’s term. Third, Trump has to decide not to run.

Since the third point is out of his control, Pence would do best to concentrate on the other two. The team he’s assembled so far represents a top-tier mix of MAGA conservatives and Reaganites, meaning that when he runs, Pence will be a force to be reckoned with.


Cheney Draws First 2022 Challenger

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Office of Representative Liz Cheney via Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, under fire and with her approval rating among the folks back home dropping, has drawn what will likely be the first of many opponents in the next GOP primary.

The No. 3 Republican in the GOP House leadership, Cheney is under fire for her vote to impeach former President Donald J. Trump, a largely partisan effort launched by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, after the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Democrats and some Republicans have repeatedly referred to the riot as an attempted “insurrection” prompted by Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. The objective of the rioters, some say, was to disrupt and perhaps force Congress to suspend that day’s counting of the electoral college ballots as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution and to prevent Joe Biden from being officially declared president-elect.

Cheney has drawn heat for her vote to affirm the charges against Trump and for insisting it was, for her and for all Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives a “matter of conscience” that permitted members to cast aside any partisan allegiances by which they might feel bound.

Taking on Cheney is Wyoming State Rep. Chuck Gray, a Republican who announced his intentions on social media.

“It’s time for a leader who actually listens to the hard-working people of Wyoming, and not to the D.C elitists,” Gray tweeted. “Join me on my journey as I seek the Republican nomination for the United States Congress.”

In February, the Wyoming Republican Party voted overwhelmingly to censure Cheney with only eight of the 74-member state GOP’s central committee openly opposing the punishment in a process that did not conclude with a formal vote. An effort by GOP House conservatives to remove Cheney from her party leadership post failed 145-61.

Gray has repeatedly criticized Cheney’s vote to impeach Trump and accused her of taking positions that were “nothing more than a stepping stone” to higher office. “Well, not anymore,” he said. “Wyoming agrees with President Trump” who, during his recent speech to the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference called Cheney out by name and said he hoped she would be defeated.

The subject of Trump’s speech caused some friction between Cheney and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who told reporters at a press availability he thought the former president should speak to the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservative political activists. Cheney disagreed, saying she did not believe the former president “should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.”

Cheney, who was first elected to the House in 2016, has not yet said whether she will be a candidate for reelection in 2022. Her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, held the seat she now occupies from January 1979 until 1989 – when former President George H.W. Bush nominated him to be U.S. Secretary of Defense.


Trump, Trumpism and the Future of the GOP

By Peter RoffNewsweek

Former President Donald J. Trump’s recent speech to the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) put him back in the spot he most enjoys: front and center of the national conversation. He’s been the topic, even as President Joe Biden suffered his first defeat on Capitol Hill and House Democrats passed a bill that suppresses our treasured right to freedom of speech.

Trump, always controversial, continued unhelpfully to assert the election was stolen from him even while effectively attacking the nascent Biden administration for undoing policies that “made America great again.”

The speech breathed new life into the discussion of a possible run in 2024 and whether he could win the Republican nomination.

Republicans and Democrats both know he could be a formidable presidential candidate in 2024, should he win the GOP nomination. He won 74 million votes in 2020—11 million more while losing than he did while winning in 2016. The GOP also picked up a governorship and flipped control of two state legislative chambers from Democrat to Republican (Democrats flipped none). Out of 227 defeated state legislators seeking re-election, only 52 belonged to the GOP.

Trump ran ahead of John McCain and Mitt Romney among blacks and Hispanics, and the GOP came within an eyelash of winning back control of the U.S. House of Representatives—when pre-election forecasts predicted they’d lose as many as two dozen seats.

Still, it’s not all gravy. The GOP lost control of the U.S. Senate and, as Karl Rove pointed out recently in The Wall Street Journal, almost all the Republicans running for the House ran ahead of Mr. Trump—”including eight in the 14 closest races that gave the GOP its pickups.” Down-ballot, the pattern was repeated, as many state legislative candidates ran ahead of the president.

Trump ran ahead of John McCain and Mitt Romney among blacks and Hispanics, and the GOP came within an eyelash of winning back control of the U.S. House of Representatives—when pre-election forecasts predicted they’d lose as many as two dozen seats.

Still, it’s not all gravy. The GOP lost control of the U.S. Senate and, as Karl Rove pointed out recently in The Wall Street Journal, almost all the Republicans running for the House ran ahead of Mr. Trump—”including eight in the 14 closest races that gave the GOP its pickups.” Down-ballot, the pattern was repeated, as many state legislative candidates ran ahead of the president.

President Donald Trump speaks at 2021 CPAC
President Donald Trump speaks at 2021 CPAC in Orlando, FloridaJOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

Others have encouraged the party to disavow Trump and what they refer to as “Trumpism”—which, until the former president’s speech at CPAC, was a phrase left either ill- or un-defined by those advocating for it.

This is where the danger lies—something that could plunge the GOP into a prolonged civil war that could cost the party greatly, and for a long time. Going forward, the party needs to decide what it’s for and what it’s against, and give the American people “an agenda worth voting for,” as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich used to say.

What that in mind, it’s important to first define what “Trumpism” is in order to decide if it should be tossed aside. At CPAC the former president defined it as support for cutting marginal tax rates and deregulation to spur economic growth and job creation, traditional values and a strong military, secure borders and a merit-based immigration system, law enforcement, the rule of law, the Second Amendment, life, liberty and not letting China eat America for lunch (among other things).

Altogether, that sounds like an agenda most conservatives could, and should, support.

There may be other positions out there that people in positions of influence would like to see the GOP adopt. If there are, they should say so now, so that a discussion can be had. Simply throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as some suggest, would erase decades of progress by conservatives in defining the GOP as a coalition standing for free minds, free people and free markets.

That’s not to suggest everything about Trump should be swallowed whole. Like many of his predecessors, he refused to tackle entitlements, did nothing to address spending and approached important intergenerational issues and societal changes in a ham-handed, angry fashion. It’s one thing to push back against the Left—and it’s important he did—but it’s equally important to pursue consensus and to remember that compromise does not necessarily equal capitulation.

Right now, the GOP is stuck. To move forward and regain the majority in Congress as well as the presidency, the party must figure out how to take from Trump what was best while casting off things that were political or electoral liabilities. It’s not as hard as it sounds—and it’s been done before, as in 1994, when Republicans got past President George H.W. Bush’s betrayal of his promise to never raise taxes to win back Congress for the first time in 40 years.

The party’s mission, as the former president told CPAC, “must be to create a future of good jobs, strong families, safe communities, a vibrant culture and a great nation for all Americans.” If the GOP can come up with a plan to do that, its future electoral success is assured.


Trump Quits Actor’s Union

The Hollywood left has been trying to cancel Donald J. Trump ever since he announced his bid for the presidency. Not content to let him retire from office in peace his union, one of screenland’s most important, had undertaken an effort to expel him, charging him with violating the union’s Constitution.

Mr. Trump responded Thursday with a charge of his own, calling the union “useless” to its members and saying of the expulsion effort, “Who Cares!”

“I write to you today regarding the so-called Disciplinary Committee hearing aimed at revoking my union membership. Who cares!” Trump wrote in a signed letter to union President Gabrielle Carteris — who played Andrea Zuckerman on “Beverly Hills, 90210” for a decade, various news outlets reported. 

A more than 30-year member of SAG-AFTRA, a group whose predecessor organization was once headed by Ronald Reagan, Mr. Trump apparently has little concern his body of work will be affected. 

“While I’m not familiar with your work,” he said in a letter to Carteris, the former president asserted his continuing pride in his “work on movies such as Home Alone 2, Zoolander and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; and television shows including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Saturday Night Live, and of course, one of the most successful shows in television history, The Apprentice – to name just a few!” 

Mr. Trump then twisted the knife by giving bad reviews to SAG-AFTRA’s “dismal record as a union.”

“Your organization has done little for its members, and nothing for me – besides collecting dues and promoting dangerous un-American policies and ideas – as evident by your massive unemployment rates and lawsuits from celebrated actors, who even recorded a video asking, ‘Why isn’t the union fighting for me?’” he wrote. “As such, this letter is to inform you of my immediate resignation from SAG-AFTRA. You have done nothing for me.”

In January Carteris said Mr. Trump had “attacked the values that this union holds most sacred – democracy, truth, respect for our fellow Americans of all races and faiths, and the sanctity of the free press” following the conclusion by the union’s national board that he had violated union rules by fomenting a riot on Capitol Hill on January 6, an incident for which he was also impeached for a second time without the benefit of due process.

Some actors, commentators, and film writers have gone so far as to suggest Mr. Trump’s appearance in such films as Home Alone 2 – which amounts to a cameo lasting mere minutes – be edited out of any future showings of movies in which he participated. 


The End Game – What Went Wrong

By Peter RoffNewsweek

It would be nice if everyone had given their attention to how quickly Congresscompleted its work Wednesday. How, after a brief disruption, it counted the electoral ballots and confirmed President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris‘s victory. That the norms were upheld and the victorious indeed emerged triumphant.

It would be nice—but it would ignore the elephant in the room.

Many regard the U.S. Capitol with the same kind of awe and reverence shown by Jimmy Stewart’s character in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I know I do and, after nearly 40 years of being intimately involved in the political process, I confess a great deal of earnest sentimentalism has managed to survive beneath my hard-shell journalistic cynicism.

The Capitol is an amazing building, unique for what it represents. To the world, its dome means freedom, liberty and equality. It stands for the idea every man and woman has an equal chance to succeed, unhampered by those factors that in other nations perpetuate class, caste and regional differences. We are, as a friend often reminds me, a great country full of amazing people who often do amazing things.

What happened Wednesday is an abomination. More than that, it sullies the very democratic institutions and processes those who came to protest the counting of the Electoral College ballots in what they believe is a stolen election said they had come to protect. Spontaneous or not, the assault on the Capitol was an affront to us all, DemocratsRepublicans and independents alike—no matter who committed it.

As has been argued by others, President Donald J. Trump bears considerable responsibility for this madness. He sent those people off on a mission believing they were patriots standing up against the culmination of a corrupt process that denied him a second term. That is not, however, an indictment of the nearly 75 million Americans who voted for him in November.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks at the “Stop The Steal” Rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.TASOS KATOPODIS/GETTY

Those who broke the law should be sought out and, if apprehended, punished to the full extent allowable by law. Those who entered the Capitol to ransack it not only made a mockery of the majesty and ritual with which America’s legislative process is conducted, they proved the Founding Fathers to have been correct in every way in which they warned against the dangers of the mob.

There is a coarseness in politics today that, for some time, has debased our democratic system. James Madison warned that partisanship would be problematic. We can see now how prescient he was. Disagreement and dissent are now too often presented as dishonorable, especially by the people on the other side of any given disagreement. The plain fact is there’s plenty of blame to go around, and the mob that attacked the Capitol were no more “patriots” than the assassins of the two New York City police officers murdered in 2014 while sitting in their cruiser were “civil rights activists.”

Words are the way we are supposed to settle things—not violence. That’s what my mother and father taught me and, I presume, it’s what most of you who are reading this now were also taught in your formative years. The disputes we have over the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, whether grounded in reality or a fantasy-fueled attempt to hang onto power, cannot and will not be settled by brawling or attacking democratic symbols.

As a new administration comes into office, hopefully both Democrats and Republicans will adopt a calmer approach to settling differences. The persistence of our democratic republic is a tribute to the vision of the Founders and the living legacy of men like Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Kennedy and Reagan—all of whom did so much to give it life. It is a tribute to them that our institutions and our democratic republic have not yet crumbled on account of the lesser lights who have been sometimes chosen to lead it.

However unfairly Mr. Trump was treated during his presidency, he must realize at some point that he brought many of these indignities upon himself. He chose to throw sharp elbows and should not have been surprised when they were thrown back. He could have left the presidency on a high note, confident he’d built a movement that would outlast him and that, in just four years, he’d successfully pushed policies leading to greater peace and prosperity (at least before COVID-19 hit). Ultimately, he surrendered to the lesser parts of our nature and seems, for the moment at least, to have destroyed any meaningful legacy he might have left.


The best path forward is bipartisan statesmanship, not the 25th Amendment or impeachment

By David DavenportWashington Examiner

Americans are bandwagon people, jumping quickly from one opinion to another. Once we jump, we want to fire up the engines and go full speed ahead.

Now, in the wake of the Capitol insurrection, many want to impeach the president right now or use the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove him from office less than two weeks before his scheduled departure.

The fact is that our Founders designed an ocean liner government, not a speedboat. The government is intentionally designed not to take sudden turns or execute instant changes of course. The republic was constructed with all manner of filters, checks and balances, and separations of power, requiring time and deliberation to change course. Our Founders urged that we follow “the cool, deliberate sense of the community” over time, not the passions and factions of the moment.

Impeaching a president requires not just a vote of the House to impeach but a subsequent trial in the Senate. The most recent impeachment trial, of President Trump himself, took approximately three weeks to complete. At five weeks, former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial was even longer.

The notion that a president would be impeached, prepare, and stand for a full trial in less than two weeks (with both chambers on recess and out of town, no less) is simply not realistic. Our system was not built for that kind of speed. It was built for deliberation.

The use of the 25th Amendment is also problematic. It is really designed for a president who is disabled, not one we no longer trust. All three times it has been used involved medical procedures for former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Like impeachment, it is also a complicated process that will take time, requiring first a declaration by the vice president, supported by the majority of the Cabinet, that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Does not liking or trusting how he is discharging them render him “unable”? I doubt it.

Then, the president could dispute the declaration, causing Congress to reconvene and decide the matter (requiring a two-thirds majority vote to find him “disabled”) within 21 days. By then, of course, Biden will be president.

Removing the president promptly, then, is highly unlikely through the push of a constitutional button. But there is another alternative, one that the Founders also contemplated: We will need statesmen and leaders to help guide us through the next two weeks.

We will need Vice President Mike Pence, who stood up and told the president he could not change the electoral vote, and who apparently also called for the National Guard to help quell the riots, to step up. It will mandate that members of Congress worry less about how they look to Trump’s political constituencies and care more about how they lead the republic. It will call for more from Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse and less from the intemperate Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz.

In our time, we think any problem should be fixed immediately, like that truck I saw hauling sod down the freeway with its sign reading, “Instant grassification.” But a democratic republic is a slow, careful, deliberative, sometimes messy business. However, it does respond to the voice of the people, more often through leadership than through structural processes.

We will be healthier in the long run if we survive the next two weeks through greater bipartisanship and leadership rather than through more Senate trials or divisive impeachment and 25th Amendment votes. Let the rational voices stirred by the mob this week, and the steadier leadership we have seen from some of our leaders, see us through.

It’s not only the best way. Given the limited time for the alternatives, it is the only way we will make it.


Media Elites, Not Trump Supporters, Are Disconnected From Reality

It’s not Trump supporters who are living in a fantasyland, but members of the corporate media who sense their power and influence waning.

By John Daniel DavidsonThe Federalist

With the end of Donald Trump’s presidency fast approaching, we’ve seen a surge of columns and posts asserting that Republicans and Trump supporters have lost touch with reality. After four years of marinating in “falsehoods” and “disinformation”—a term that really just means “information I don’t like”—Trump’s backers are all turned around, we’re told. They believe much that isn’t so.

David Brooks of The New York Times explains that these poor saps, most of whom, he says, are uneducated, uncredentialed people who don’t live in prosperous cities, have retreated to conspiracy theories to explain their misfortune and unhappiness. “People in this precarious state are going to demand stories that will both explain their distrust back to them and also enclose them within a safe community of believers,” he writes. Trump, QAnon, and Alex Jones “rose up to give them those stories and provide that community.”

Over at The New Yorker, editor David Remnick ponders the grave costs of Trump’s “assault on the press and the truth,” asking how many COVID-19 victims “died because they chose to believe the President’s dismissive accounts of the disease rather than what public-health officials were telling the press? Half of Republican voters believe Trump’s charge that the 2020 election was ‘rigged.’ What will be the lasting effects on American democracy of that disinformation campaign?”

These are just representative samples, but across the mainstream commentariat the gist is all the same: if you support Trump, you’re likely a poor person who believes conspiracy theories and is dangerously disconnected from reality, partly because you resent successful people like Messrs. Brooks and Remnick. You live in a fantasyland because it assuages your feelings of inferiority, which are mostly justified. You’re paranoid because you’re powerless, and the alternate reality you’ve constructed for yourself gives you a sense of power and agency in a confusing, unsettled world.

But here’s the thing. Everything these media elites say about Trump supporters can more properly be said about media elites themselves. Who really has been living in a fantasyland these last four years? Is it the ordinary Americans—including a lot of educated, white-collar professionals—who voted for a president they felt would shake up the sclerotic status quo in Washington, or a press corps that perpetuated an actual conspiracy about Trump-Russia collusion for years?

It was Remnick’s New Yorker, after all, that published a serious-seeming essay in September 2018 that claimed Facebook had been weaponized by “Russian agents who wanted to sow political chaos and help Trump win” in the 2016 election—an effort, the author said, that had an “astonishing impact.” Never mind the preposterousness of claiming that a couple hundred thousand dollars in Facebook advertising had an “astonishing impact” on the outcome of the 2016 election, there has never been a shred of evidence that “Russian interference” changed or altered even a single vote in 2016.

A New Yorker staff writer named Evan Osnos wrote that article. Osnos won the National Book Award in 2014 and in 2015 was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He’s won many other prizes and worked all over the world, and, just before the election, published a flattering book about former Vice President Joe Biden. Osnos is the sort of fellow Brooks has in mind when he talks about “professional members” of the “epistemic regime”—the people who know what’s real and tell us so, a job for which they are richly rewarded.

What else has this supposedly enlightened member of the epistemic elite told us? In June, he compared Trump’s White House, which had a temporary fence around it after Black Lives Matter protests turned into riots, to the Zhongnanhai, the seat of China’s communist government in Beijing, where “people are more accustomed than Americans are to the notion of leaders who live and work secluded from the public.”

Earlier that month, Osnos dashed off a post that described—falsely, as it turned out—protests in Lafayette Square on June 1 as “peaceful.” We all know, even if the media refused to report it, that the protesters were not at all peaceful, and in fact were hurling “bricks, frozen water bottles and caustic liquids” at police.

This isn’t really about Osnos, his hackery notwithstanding, but about his professional class—a class that fervently believes much that isn’t so. Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, members of Osnos’ class still believe that Trump got substantial help from Russia in 2016. They believe, still, that Trump is a dangerous authoritarian who might just destroy the republic. They believe, still, that the only reason tens of millions of Americans would support Trump is that they are racists or rubes, or both.

Osnos and Remnick and the rest of our media elites believe these things for the same reason Brooks thinks Trump supporters are conspiracy theory-addled suckers: they are becoming irrelevant, they are losing power and influence, their status as members of the epistemic regime is uncertain—indeed, their entire regime seems to be collapsing, and they know it.

It’s not too much to say, quoting Brooks, that “people in this precarious state are going to demand stories that will both explain their distrust back to them and also enclose them within a safe community of believers.”

So we will continue to see stories and commentary from the epistemic regime that soothe men like Brooks, Remnick, and Osnos, assuring them all is well, that credulous, mendacious Trump supporters have been put in their place, and that after a harrowing four years, all is once again as it should be.


President Trump Is Right to Push Back Against China’s Expansionism

By Ernest IstookKOH AM Newstalk

President Trump Is Right to Push Back Against China’s Expansionism

President Trump is making a post-election push of his MAGA agenda.

An executive order of Nov. 12 cuts off American investments in Chinese “military-controlled” companies, banning them from American stock and investment markets, and from being held in pension fund portfolios, effective in January.

Americans have subsequently been told to divest themselves within a year of their holdings in those stocks and securities as well.

In the wake of this executive order and to little surprise, prices quickly plunged in China and Hong Kong’s stock market.

The ban is a follow-up to this summer’s Pentagon report that listed 31 major Chinese companies doing business in the United States while assisting the Chinese military — which controls those corporations. Congress ordered the list — which is heavy with companies involved in electronics, space and aviation, communications, construction and shipbuilding — to be compiled.

The Defense Department additionally determined that each company “supports the modernization goals of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by ensuring its access to advanced technologies and expertise acquired and developed by even those PRC companies, universities, and research programs that appear to be civilian entities.”

Trump’s executive order is a blow to two major initiatives of China’s Communist Party:

1. Its “Made in China 2025” strategic plan to expand the manufacturing sector of the PRC (People’s Republic of China), and

2. Its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) plan to control global trade and transportation infrastructure

The Belt and Road Initiative, with a presence in over 100 countries, involves $1.3-trillion dollars spent by China to build or buy control of the transportation and logistics facilities that are critical to global trade.

That dollar figure comes from Australian conglomerate BHP, which says the BRI is seven times larger than the Marshall Plan funded by America to rebuild Europe after World War 2.

As Forbes puts it, China has been on a “seaport shopping spree” buying control of major port facilities worldwide. Furthermore, another Department of Defense report says the BRI is “leveraging civilian construction for military purposes; and . . . logistics . . . for military purposes.”

A new assessment by the Center for Strategic and International Studies notes that China’s state funding is building over a third of the world’s ocean-going merchant ships, producing 96 percent of the world’s shipping containers, and controlling the largest port and logistics company in the world, all to serve as “the maritime supply arm of the People’s Liberation Army.”

The result is that China builds about 1,200 merchant ships a year, while the United States only builds eight.

With regards to combat ships, an October report from the Congressional Research Service warns Congress that China’s fast-growing navy is now “a major challenge to the U.S. Navy . . . in the Western Pacific — the first such challenge the U.S. Navy has faced since the end of the Cold War.”

Since 90% of global trade travels by ship, China is developing a chokehold that it could apply to threaten the economies of every nation, including the United States, in order to enforce its Communist will.

Sadly, there are some who want to invite China to expand its grip on America by repealing the Jones Act a, law prevents any vessel from conducting internal trade within American waters unless it’s American-built, American-owned and American-crewed.

This applies to cargoes carried on our waterways, along the intercoastal canals, and between American ports.

It would require a major U.S. commitment to reverse the trend of Chinese dominance of global trade. But keeping the Jones Act prevents China from accelerating the trend by taking control over our internal waters. Homeland security would be at risk if any foreign power infiltrated into the American economy in that way.

Keeping the Jones Act by itself will not remedy the problem of China’s militant expansionism. Cutting off U.S. funds from China’s commercial/military complex may help.

However, to develop real solutions, a first step is that the American people must be better-informed about what China is doing.


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