The Russians (and Donald Trump) Did It!

http://intelligence.house.gov/

I just finished watching yesterday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers. I came away from it with the opinion that the Democrats on the committee are only interested in advancing a political agenda, as evidenced by the many, many statements they made rather than actually asking questions of the two subjects. Those statements were all based on information taken from the media, which is ironic because Director Comey made clear that media accounts regarding classified information are almost without exception inaccurate. (He gave them an accuracy of maybe ten percent.)  He also said that the “sources” used by the media are often some distance removed from the actual information and that the information they provide members of the media is usually inaccurate. Yet, even after he made this statement, the Democrats on the committee continued to read their obviously pre-written statements that were largely based on media accounts. Such a travesty!

The purpose of the hearings was, at least ostensibly, to hear from the two agency directors regarding the ongoing investigation into Russian “meddling” in the 2016 presidential election. The Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, was not there, probably because he just took over the agency. At the time of the alleged “meddling,” the CIA director was John Brennan, an Obama appointee who left office on January 20. Congressman Trey Gowdy, a former Federal prosecutor, insinuated that Brennan may have been responsible for some of the highly illegal leaks of information that have appeared in the media since President Trump’s election, leaks that Director Comey made clear are criminal and that the leakers should be found and prosecuted. The most serious is the leaking of information pertaining to Lt. General Mike Flynn, the short-lived Director of Intelligence in the Trump Administration. (Gowdy may have even been insinuating that Obama himself is the leaker. Someone in his administration authorized the “unmasking” of the general after his voice was found on recordings of the Russian ambassador.)

As the hearings proceeded, it became obvious that the object of Democrats was to attempt to influence Director Comey to investigate/prosecute various members of the Trump circle, particularly General Flynn. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, a black woman from Alabama, was the attack dog. She kept harping on General Flynn, insinuating that he is a criminal, in spite of Director Comey’s continual refusal to answer her questions. Comey had made it clear at the beginning of the hearing that he was not going to answer any questions related to individuals or information that had appeared in the media. (It has recently come to light that General Flynn’s company was paid $500,000 for consulting work for a Dutch company that is suspected of “having ties” to Turkey.) Sewell was obviously trying to get Comey to have Flynn charged for not registering as a foreign agent (which he did on March 8.) GOP Congressman Trey Gowdy, insinuated that the Obama White House leaked information about General Flynn that had been obtained illegally by the NSA. Remember that General Flynn is alleged to have engaged in a number of conversations with the Russian ambassador, information that could have only been obtained by surveillance, which is illegal since General Flynn is an American citizen and surveillance requires a court order.

When it comes to the actual Russian “interference” in the election, very little was actually said about it. At the beginning of the hearing, Congressman Nunes solicited statements from both directors that there is no evidence that the Russians changed the vote in any of the states that President Trump won by a narrow margin. Both Director Comey and Admiral Rogers stated that there is no evidence of any Russian interference in the actual election in those states. The two directors referred to the findings of the three intelligence agencies – CIA, FBI and NSA – that the Russians meddled in the election primarily by spreading “propaganda” on the Russian government-owned television station RT and it’s associated web site designed to hurt Mrs. Clinton. (There was no mention of the American propaganda stations – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC. However, as stated previously, Director Comey stated that their stories are highly inaccurate.) In reality, the information I’ve seen on RT was no different than accounts I have seen on other outlets dating back to the 1990s. Both Director Comey and Admiral Rogers referred to Russia as an “adversary” of the United States, but neither actually stated why they considered the two countries to be adversaries. (Adversary is not the same as an enemy – adversary is actually synonymous with opponent, as in a contest.)

Are Russia and the United States actually in competition with one another? If so, just how? Back when the Soviet Union was still in power, there was the matter of ideology as the Soviet Union was the leading advocate of the spread of communism. Those days are over, however. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and since then Russia and the United States have had a different kind of relationship. Russia is not trying to manipulate ideology in the West; in fact, Russia is now capitalist even if the country is run, at least allegedly, by an oligarchy (another word that is often thrown about without consideration – some allege that the United States is an oligarchy, or was before Donald Trump became president. Since then, it’s often called fascist – by people who are actually Marxist themselves.) The truth is that the United States has nothing Russia wants. Yes, Russia now owns a company that owns a uranium mine in the US but it also has large uranium reserves of its own, more than twice as much as the United States. It’s the same with oil – Russian oil reserves are more than double those of the United States. The fear and hatred of Russia characteristic of so many Americans, particularly those in government, is actually a holdover from the Cold War combined with animosity over Russia’s occupation of Crimea and influence in Ukraine, both of which have strong connections to Russia dating back for centuries. It’s actually Europe that fears Russia, and that fear has spread into elements in the United States.

Director Comey stated something that has been made public in the past, that the FBI never had access to the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers. The claim that they were hacked by “the Russians” (the hackers were actually not from the Russian government, but are alleged to have been working for it) is based on information provided by a third party internet security company contracted by the DNC. He alleged that this is not abnormal, but that the FBI often depends on information from third party internet security companies when investigating cyber crimes.

Personally, I doubt that the hearings and the House (and FBI) investigations will accomplish anything. One writer has referred to the hearing as a “nothing burger.” I tend to agree.

 

 

Freedom of “the Press” – Or, Don’t Believe the Media

 Members of the modern media have a highly exalted opinion of themselves, a completely unjustified opinion, an opinion based on misrepresentation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, an opinion that is completely false. It has been a long time coming because it hasn’t been so obvious, but the result is an emerging war between television news networks, newspapers and the administration of President Donald Trump, a war fought with words rather than the kind of bullets that kill and maim. To hear them tell it, the media is on a mission from God to “tell the truth” about the United States government. However, the real truth is that media is and always has been highly partisan and editors, journalists and TV newsmen and women rarely ever relate anything resembling truth. Instead, newspapers and TV news publish opinions and represent it as truth when it is anything but. “Fake news” is a new term but it accurately describes the media as it exists in the United States (and the world) and how it has existed since the printing press first came into being, for much of what has claimed to be “news” has always been politically motivated and has been slanted to represent a particular political point of view.

When the First Amendment was adopted, its meaning was far different than it is represented as today. It reads as follows – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The amendment begins with the words “CONGRESS shall make no law…” which is a clear indication that it was intended to apply to only one body of government, the United States Congress. Left-wing legal scholars have reapplied it to every level of government by disregarding the Founders’ original intent and substituting their own but original intent is still there. It was not intended to apply to state, county, or local government nor was it intended that the duly elected officials of government at any level were not free to challenge those exercising either of the three “freedoms” spelled out in the amendment, the first being religion, followed by speech and then by “the press” as represented by only three words. (Challenging and making laws are not the same.) Those words do not establish the press as “the watchdog of the people” in any form. In fact, the words “the press” doesn’t refer to what we consider today to be “the media” but actually refers to the printing press, regardless of how it is used, whether to print books, political pamphlets or, both last and least, “newspapers.” In fact, the phrase refers to exactly the same thing “speech” refers to, which is the expression of individual opinion although through the published, rather than the spoken, word. The problem is that the media has developed practices of expressing opinion and passing it off as “news”. They also misrepresent their opinions as being the corporate opinion of the nation as a whole.

When it comes to members of the media, it is important to understand that while they represent themselves as vast repositories of knowledge, they really have no knowledge of, well – anything, especially not the inner workings of government – nor do they have “facts”. The only “news” agencies that actually might have real knowledge are those that are part of government, regardless of level. They put out the official statement of whatever government body they represent, whether it is the White House itself, a government agency or a branch of the military. Only official press releases are based on any knowledge of the actions of government; any other “news” is mere speculation and depends on information provided by “sources” who may or may not be reliable and who, as often as not, have some kind of political ax to grind. A classic example is the “Watergate” scandal – the scandal, as it developed, didn’t become public knowledge because Bernstein and Woodward “uncovered” it by “investigative reporting”, but rather because the assistant director of the FBI, William M. “Mark” Felt, a Democrat, fed them information about the ongoing investigation into the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. (Although he had become an FBI agent in 1941, Felt had been a staffer for two Democratic senators from Idaho. He was at odds with President Nixon, although whether it was for political reasons or because he wanted to somehow protect the FBI is unclear. Woodward, who knew him from when he had served in the White House as a naval officer, referred to him as “a terrible gossip”.)Without that source, they would have had nothing.

Speaking of nothing, there is nothing in the Constitution or its amendments even implying a “public right to know.” This is an invention of (Who else?) the media themselves! Now, granted, official information services may not tell everything that the public thinks they want to know and sometimes they may not be completely truthful but the media is even worse, far worse, because members of the media quite often make up stories and represent it as truth. In fact, this is quite common. Journalists are employees, whether fulltime or freelance, and in order to earn a living, they must produce copy that editors want to publish. Newspapers, news magazines and TV “news” put out whatever their editors want to put out, as often as not in an attempt to sway public opinion and with little regard for the veracity of the content. Their stories are often false, although they represent them to be “truth” and may actually believe them to be. Much of “news” is the publishing of the opinions of members of the party not in power, and of so-called “activists” group, which are actually political action groups, nearly all of which are far left-wing. The media also publishes fake news fed to them by political campaigns and by the political parties themselves – and they publish fake news distributed by Federal agencies. For example, the Central Intelligence Agency feeds fake news to foreign news outlets in an attempt to influence elections and promote or discredit the party in power. The CIA is barred by law from domestic activities but they doesn’t mean they aren’t involved, as evidenced by the current “revelation” of information damaging to President Donald Trump by the previous CIA director. The CIA has a long history of illegal activities.

I first came to realize that journalism cannot be depended on in the spring of 1966 when I was a twenty-year old airman in the United States Air Force assigned to duty in Thailand flying nightly missions (actually every other night) over southern North Vietnam and Laos looking for truck and river traffic on the complex of roads, trails and rivers leading out of North Vietnam through Laos into South Vietnam that had come to be collectively known as “the Ho Chi Minh Trail.” Once we spotted something that looked like it might be traffic, our pilot initiated a complex series of communications to obtain clearance to direct air strikes against the targets. He radioed an airborne command post that orbited high overhead with a team of battlefield controllers on board. The airborne controller then contacted higher headquarters, who then went even further to obtain permission for air strikes against the targets. Over Laos, the contact went to the American embassy in Vientiane and from there to the local province chief. On missions over North Vietnam, permission had to come from the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam through a joint command center in Saigon. The purpose of this complex procedure was to minimize civilian casualties. By the time we received clearance to send fighters in to attack the targets, the trucks would have pulled into one of the fake villages the North Vietnamese had constructed along their infiltration routes and thus be impervious to air attack. That, however, was not what newspapers in the United States were reporting – we saw the articles – they were reporting that US airmen were conducting “unrestricted warfare” even though that was nowhere even close to the truth; it was, rather, an outright lie. Reporters, who lived and worked primarily in Saigon, and who attended daily news briefings, had no idea what American airmen were actually doing so they made up a story to tell, a story designed to embarrass the Johnson Administration and the military. Reporters knew that air attacks were only on specified targets but they wanted to tell a different story. In short, newspapers, particularly the New York Times, were lying to the American people about what was really taking place in Southeast Asia. They continued to lie until the United States withdrew from the war in Vietnam and continue to lie about it to this day. Very much of what has appeared in print about the Vietnam War over the past five decades came from journalists who made up their stories in the bar of the Caravelle Hotel in Saigon and never actually saw a military operation firsthand.

Members of the media claim they are impartial but in reality, American newspapers – and newspapers around the world for that matter – have NEVER been impartial. In fact, American newspapers were originally organized to represent a particular political viewpoint, whatever it might be. They can be traced back in the United States to the conflict between Thomas Jefferson and his Republican Democrats and Alexander Hamilton’s Federalists in the earliest days of our nation. Both sides used the press to produce pamphlets advocating their viewpoint. The pamphlets were then distributed by various means. Pamphleteering led to newspapers, which published under a name that often indicated their particular political viewpoint. Of course, modern news media’s main purpose is to make money for their owners but they also have a particular political agenda and are often associated with a political party – and always have been. For example, at one time there were newspapers all over the United States that had either “Democrat” or “Republican” in their names. Papers had – and still have – political agendas as do broadcast networks, both radio and television. This is also true of national news magazines, with some representing a more conservative viewpoint while others have adopted the “progressive” viewpoint. Since the 1930s and the complete control of government by the Roosevelt White House, the slant has been increasingly toward the “progressive” viewpoint, a viewpoint based on a decidedly European view of socialism and Marxism. This should come as no surprise since Marxism began spreading throughout the world in the mid-nineteenth century and had become firmly entrenched in political thought by the turn of the Twentieth Century. In order to give themselves legitimacy, such outlets began claiming a nonexistent status for themselves as “guardians of the public trust.” In fact, however, they are no such thing. They fancy themselves to be public opinion makers and, until the advent of electronic means of communication, they were.

The current conflict between the national media and President Donald Trump is due to his not being a politician, and not willing to play the political game. President Trump couldn’t care less what the media thinks of him. He knows that the so-called “mainstream” media was opposed to him as a candidate and that most journalists, editors and publishers were caught by surprise when he won the election. He knows that they based their opinions on polling methods that have become unreliable now that Americans have Caller ID and simply don’t answer calls when they don’t know who he is calling. He furthermore knows that certain media outlets, particularly the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN are working hard to delegitimize his presidency. This should come as no surprise since the editor of the New York Times declared open war on Mr. Trump when he was a candidate and even went to the extent of offering payment for information obtained by illegal means. Nearly every large city newspaper in the country endorsed Hillary Clinton, often  claiming that Donald Trump was “unfit to be president” but without offering any solid reasoning for such a claim. (The Constitution establishes the qualifications for the presidency and they are very liberal, being only that the president must be 35 years of age or older and must be a “natural born citizen” of the United States. (The media and academics have caused considerable confusion regarding the meaning of the “natural born” phrase, which simply means that they are citizens by birth and require no action on the part of government to make them citizens.)

Cable news is as political as newspapers. CNN founder/owner Ted Turner is a lifelong Democrat who makes no secret of his political views. Turner supports Democrats and, like newspaper editors and owners of the past, has long been using his “cable news” network as a means of advancing the progressive political agenda. Australian-born media magnate Rupert Murdock, who is generally conservative, owns Fox. MSNBC is Far Left in its political viewpoint, representing the socialist view. All claim to be broadcast “news” but they mostly broadcast political opinion. Since Donald Trump was inaugurated, instead of letting media publish “news” that is not really news but is actually political opinion, the White House is pushing back and calling them out for what they put out. As President Trump recently stated, journalists don’t know what is actually happening in the White House or any branch of the government. They rely on unidentified sources who may or may not be telling the truth and who usually are grinding an ax. Good examples are the stories about Trump campaign officials “ties with Russia.”

There is an effort to equate the Federal Government of Russia with the former Soviet Union, which disbanded and ceased to exist almost thirty years ago. Media accounts frequently refer to the KGB, the Soviet Union’s counterpart to the American Central Intelligence Agency even though the KGB ceased to exist along with the Soviet Union. This is being done in an effort to cause Americans, who grew up in fear of a Soviet Union that was often equated with Russia since it was the largest member state, to believe that the Cold War has resumed or, more accurately, that it never ended. Media accounts refer to “ties” between Trump campaign officials and Russia, without acknowledging that Americans, particularly businessmen, have been involved with Russian nationals since the early 1990s when the collapse of the Soviet Union and the establishment of a new Russia opened up both dialogue and business opportunities between Americans and Russians. Large numbers of Russians immigrated to the United States and became involved in various businesses, including financial and communications. American oil companies – most of them – became involved in oil exploration in Russia, which, after all, is not only the largest nation in the world, is the richest in natural resources. Doing business with Russia has been quite common for three decades but you’d never know in to hear the media tell it – they represent having “ties” to Russia as some kind of Federal crime.

Ever since documents from the Democratic National Committee were leaked to the world by Julian Assange’s Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton supporters have been claiming they were leaked by “the Russians.” As soon as the leaks came out, the Clinton campaign claimed the DNC computer server had been “hacked” although no proof of such a claim has even been offered. They put out claims that there was “evidence” of hacks by actors “associated with Russian intelligence” which is actually a play on words because (1) evidence of hacks can only be assumed and (2) the word “associated” has multiple meanings. In fact, when the “intelligence community” put out a statement that the DNC was hacked by “the Russians”, the statement merely contained the same allegations put out by the Clinton campaign and offered no solid proof. They also stated that such evidence as they had came from “third party” sources. In short, the statement has the appearance of political propaganda, which is no surprise since the primary advocate was former CIA head John Brennan, an Obama political appointee and a critic of Donald Trump. (Brennan is also known to have strong ties to left-wing politics, and has admitted to voting for the Communist Party, USA candidate for president in an election in the 1970s.) As I write this, a major “news story” is that that are calls for a special prosecutor to “investigate ties to Russia by Trump campaign officials,” calls made by Democratic Party politicians and activists.

Regardless of the stories appearing in the various forms of media, just remember one thing – you can’t trust media, whether it’s newspapers, news magazines, cable “news” or major television “news” networks. They are all accomplished liars.

 

 

 

 

 

Electoral Confusion

Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.

The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President; and if no person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list the said House shall in like manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each state having one vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes of the electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them by ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.

There seems to be a lot of confusion and ignorance in the United States right now. We held an election this week as the Constitution instructs in the preceding paragraphs but there seems to be a group who do not want to accept the results because Hillary Clinton “won the popular vote.” They think that when they voted, they were actually voting for the candidate and that the results should be based on the number of Americans who voted for the candidates. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was no “national” election, there were 50 state elections and in the District of Columbia. Voters in each state and the District voted to determine who each state’s electors will vote for in the actual election, which will be held on December 19. That is how elections have been held in this country since it was established and is how they are held today.

A few people – mostly Democrats – have expressed hostility toward our system of election. They don’t like it because it allows the nation to elect the president rather than the major population centers, which is what the Founders intended. When the Founders were meeting in Philadelphia, their purpose was to establish a nation of states, a single nation in that there would be a national government whose role would be to represent the interests of the states as a whole. They decided to have a single branch, the Legislative Branch, with one house to be made up of representatives of the states elected by the people and the other to be elected by the state legislatures. The Executive Branch would be administered by a President of the United States, who would be chosen in the manor described above.

2016

The map shows how each county in the United States voted in the recent election. Note that the counties in Red, the ones that voted for Trump, cover the entire country while the counties in blue show up as islands in a red sea. Also note that in most cases they represent large population center. Note, for example, that the state of New York is mostly red except for New York City and the counties along the Hudson River. Other areas represent concentrations of either blacks or Hispanics. In New Mexico, the blue areas are Indian reservations. None of the blue areas represent the national as a whole. It was to prevent areas of high population from controlling the nation – as we’ve seen for the past eight years – that the Founders created the electoral college.

So, who did I vote for when I cast my vote for a straight Republican ticket two and a half weeks ago on the first day of early voting?  Although I was casting my vote for Donald Trump, I was actually voting for the electors who will actually vote for him on December 19. My vote was only to determine for whom Texas’ electoral votes will be cast. My vote does not go into some kind of national poll of votes to be totaled up to determine who the president will be. In the term “national vote” and “popular vote” are erroneous because there is no such thing. Nowhere in the Constitution is a national or popular vote mentioned and there are no regulations pertaining to such a vote. In short, it’s an invention of the media and serves no purpose.

There are “movements” to abolish the electoral college but there are movements for everything. The only way the electoral college can be abolished is to change the Constitution itself. This would require Congressional action and any change would have to be ratified by a majority of the states. In short, those who are protesting the electoral college and seeking to replace it with a single national vote are pissing in the wind.