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Thursday, December 12, 2019

The profound damage President Trump has inflicted on our liberties can be measured by widespread complacency in the face of his administration's escalating attacks on the rule of law, our public servants and the truth itself. read more

Inspector General Michael Horowitz's long-awaited report on the FBI's "Crossfire Hurricane" investigation is a textbook account of confirmation bias that should raise disturbing questions about the adequacy of the FISA process. The heart of the report deals with the Carter Page FISA application, and documents a progression that ought to sound familiar to anyone who's studied the history of the intelligence community: An investigation begins with a kernel of reasonable suspicion, and facts are marshaled to support a theory. read more

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Republicans in the Senate blocked a Bipartisan Bill introduced by Marco Rubio (r) and Chris Van Hollen (D) that would have automatically triggered sanctions within 30 days of the discovery of election meddling by foreign nations. read more

In September 2017, CNN reporters Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown produced an exclusive alleging that "U.S. investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election" under FISA. Monday's release of the report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz brought some dim news for CNN. "FBI and NSD officials told us that the Crossfire Hurricane team ultimately did not seek FISA surveillance of [George] Papadopoulos, and we are aware of no information indicating that the team requested or seriously considered FISA surveillance of [Paul] Manafort or [Michael] Flynn." read more

Walter Shaub, the former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, on Tuesday called Attorney General William Barr a "threat to democracy" and warned he may try to interfere in the 2020 presidential election to benefit President Donald Trump. read more


And to put it as simply and bluntly as possible using simple everyday documented indisputed common knowledge, confirmation bias is nothing more than a creeping, internal norm that has come to skew a real non-biased view of evidence or a set of circumstances where the actor's preconceived notion of or past experiences project into an anticipation that what happened then is harbinger for what is or will happen with the newer, similar case.

Confirmation bias is the LEO belief that young black males are a much greater threat to their safety than other respective groups so they are openly treated by LEO more wearily - and often times subjected to quick-trigger escalations of police force - due to individual or institutional bias.

In the realm of LEO and especially in a shop working in secret to protect this country's national security from foreign attacks and incursions, a coordinated attack from a handful of careerist, internal, paperwork-pushing attorney-agents being a functional part of an ad-hoc cabal deciding to expressly put their hands on the scales in the attempt to harm a presidential candidate through an unknown functionary attached to the campaign just doesn't pass the smell test.

And perhaps the most telling evidence of why it doesn't make sense is that nothing came from the endeavor. If there were true political bias at play it's much more likely we would have seen much more of a push to extend the same political bias into other aspects, elevating the case beyond just simple secret surveillance. It never was. Even the wrongly fertilized investigation fizzled, and everyone moved on, and nothing else of politically motivated misbehavior was anyplace else to be found as it regards the entirety of the FBI Russia investigation.

Omissions matter because FISA applications typically remain secret forever"indeed, the Page application is the first to ever become public even in part. That means not only does the FISA Court rely on the government to present it with a complete picture, including facts that might call the reliability of government sources into question (something that's true of every wiretap application) but there's typically little risk that an agent who submits a tendentious affidavit supported by cherry-picked evidence will have to defend their work in the harsh light of an adversarial proceeding, such as a criminal trial. If the government isn't forthright about presenting evidence that cuts against a finding of "probable cause," as well as the evidence for it, they're unlikely to be held to account.

It's worth emphasizing, though, that the picture Horowitz paints remains fundamentally at odds with claims that FBI or DOJ leadership conspired to mislead the FISA Court, plotting to use surveillance of a peripheral campaign advisor as the linchpin of some Rube Goldbergian scheme to undermine the Trump Administration. Each of these gaps represents information that lower-level case agents failed to recognize as material to the application"and in at least one case, an agent providing an erroneous response when a DOJ attorney asked for clarification about precisely when Page had been a source of information for CIA.

What they do show, however, is that the much-ballyhooed Woods Procedures, designed to ensure that representations to the FISA Court match the information in the FBI's case files, are no guarantee that the Court is getting a complete picture. If the Horowitz report reflects what we find when we start turning over rocks under those conditions, what kind of errors and omissions might we expect to uncover in the case files of FISA targets less likely to inspire congressional hearings? It's past time to find out.

The latter question hopefully will be answered by the next investigation of the FISA warrant application process and a bipartisan Congress will insure needed reforms indeed take hold inside the bureaucratic system. But knowing what we know of the history of both traditional law enforcement and particularly the climate of anticipatory fear created in the aftermath of the 9/11 intelligence failures, it is not a stretch to say that without tangible, inscrutable evidence to the contrary it's far more likely that the problems encountered in the Page FISA process were endemic of institutional bias, not any politically motivated biases of the lower-level attorneys who committed the grievous processing errors which allowed what appears to be a very controversially-issued series of surveillance permits on Page.

Sometimes what looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, really is a duck... not a mongoose.

Here are twelve ways that Putin has received his payout:

This does not mean the Kremlin explicitly directed or coordinated with the Trump administration on the decisions and actions below. Instead, it shows that Putin's gamble that a Trump administration would benefit Russia has paid off.

1. Putin's Goal: Weaken and divide the transatlantic alliance.
Putin's Payout:Trump undermines US relationships with European allies and calls the US's commitment to NATO into question.

2. Putin's Goal: Degrade the European Union and foster pro-Russian political movements.
Putin's Payout:Trump attacks the EU and actively supports anti-EU, Kremlin-backed parties.

3. Putin's Goal: Disrupt American leadership and dominance of the global economic order.
Putin's Payout: Trump is eagerly pushing for an all-out trade war with Europe

4. Putin's Goal: Build global resentment and distrust towards the US and stoke anti-American sentiment.
Putin's Payout: America's closest allies are explicitly suspicious and distrusting of the US because of Trump's rhetoric and actions.

5. Putin's Goal: Relieve economic and domestic political pressure from US sanctions on Russia.
Putin's Payout: Trump tries to roll back, impede, and blunt the impact of sanctions at every step.

6. Putin's Goal: Legitimize his regime in the eyes of the world.
Putin's Payout: Trump repeatedly praises and defends Putin, lending the credibility of the US presidency to Putin's standing.

7. Putin's Goal: Revive Russia's status as a great power and gain international recognition for its illegal seizure of Crimea.
Putin's Payout:Trump publicly says that Crimea is part of Russia and calls for Russia to be welcomed back into the international community with no concessions.

8. Putin's Goal: Continue to sow discord in Western democracies and avoid repercussions for interfering in American and European elections.
Putin's Payout: Trump dismisses Russian interference and has done nothing to prevent future interference, putting him at odds with his own intelligence community.

9. Putin's Goal: Soften America's adversarial stance toward Russia.
Putin's Payout: Trump is shifting the Republican Party's generations-long hawkish views on Russia.

10. Putin's Goal: Destabilize the US from within.
Putin's Payout: Trump attacks US institutions while driving divisive politics and eroding democratic norms.

11. Putin's goal: Advance the Kremlin's narrative to shape global perceptions.
Putin's payout: Trump has repeatedly, and inexplicably, parroted Kremlin talking points across a range of global issues.

12. Putin's goal: Undermine international norms and democratic values abroad.
Putin's payout: Trump has repeatedly failed to respond to human rights violations or support democracy abroad, creating a more permissive environment for autocrats to crack down.

The pattern is clear: Putin has received" and continues to receive"a good payout on his investment in Trump's campaign.

As Attorney General William P. Barr was reducing the Justice Department to a legal defense and public relations firm, Trump himself (who pretends to be law enforcement's greatest friend) was attacking the FBI in terms that authoritarians use to prepare the way for persecuting their political enemies.

"Look how they've hurt people," Trump told his supporters Tuesday night in Hershey, Pa.. "They've destroyed the lives of people that were great people, that are still great people. Their lives have been destroyed by scum. Okay, by scum."

Please pause here. "Scum" was the word used twice by the president of the United States about those who dedicate their lives to battling wrongdoing and lawlessness. And because he is Trump, the response involved mostly shrugs and head shaking.

When this presidency began, it was commonplace to write off fears that our political and journalistic systems would eventually "normalize" the president's abuses. The worry was that however strong our system might have been in the past, we would come to accept behavior that had never been acceptable before.

This is exactly what has happened.

Putin's wettest dreams are coming true all over the globe, but his biggest emission is Donald Trump. Trump is the lynchpin the whole thing rests on. Brexit, unrest in France, refugee crisis in Germany and all over Europe fueled by the conflict in Syria. All of these anxiety-driving actions happening simultaneously as both the EU and rational America stands idly by watching it all go down.

Putin told us what he wanted to do, and now that Trump is doing it, half the people act oblivious to Putin's handiwork in all these coincidences. Congratulations, thanks to Trump's constant volume of lies and turned-to-11 insults and degradations of citizens daring to cross his path, his followers feel justified in going for his opponent's throats.

We're not trying to bushwack Trump, we're trying to use the Constitution's remedy for a Congress that believes the President is out of control in some respect to his oath of office. That isn't illegal, unless manufactured evidence and false testimony was the basis of the charges against him and that isn't the case. In fact, it's just the opposite. He's withholding evidence of his guilt (who would keep exculpatory evidence hidden if it exonerated you?) and saying that a co-equal branch of government has no right to question how he interprets the law, not them or the courts. This is tyrannical and underscores the reason he should be held accountable and fairly judged for what's he's done, not because of what anyone thinks of him outside of what the facts and evidence prove of him.

So, Tony'Cut&Paste'Roma - do you believe this to be an honest statement: "I've never seen anyone say that the economy would crash just because Trump was elected."

You keep proving my point without ever realizing it. And that wasn't the same question you asked above, or do I need to show you what question we responded to? Okay, let's do both. First, this question.

Of course I've seen people say that the economy would crash just because Trump was elected. I've also seen people say that the world would end if Trump was elected. I've also seen people say that they'd leave the country if Trump was elected. I could go on forever.

There is a difference between a reasoned response based on an evidentiary basis for the answer and ungrounded, emotionally driven hyperbole or hysteria. I know the difference because I think, not emote, through my feelings based on the logic and intellect I've been given and have used for 60 years of life experience.

Your other question was did I think that the election of Trump would crash the economy and I printed over a hundred words telling you based on statistical realities why I didn't. What factual basis would I have had that just the specter of Trump would crash the economy regardless of how I might feel about him? Trump stewarding the economy was far down on my list of things he might screw up because the economy was already doing great before he was elected and actually bumped up after his election and before he was inaugurated, telling me that the market liked his election.

Anything else junior?

Here's the problem with Ira, right here:

Only 9% of 15-year-olds can tell when facts are really facts " not opinions

Most teens can't detect the validity of supposed "facts" from contextual clues.

They regurgitate, but they don't incubate, nor contemplate the totality of universal possibilities outside the one they hyper-focus upon. They might see the reality of the tree, but they're non-observant of how that reality is shaped by the forest of which the tree is a part of.

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