Posts Tagged ‘politics’

The Memo and the Mueller Probe

February 5, 2018

If the investigation arose from partisan opposition research, what specific crime is he looking into?

Special counsel Robert Mueller leaves a Capitol Hill meeting, June 21, 2017.
Special counsel Robert Mueller leaves a Capitol Hill meeting, June 21, 2017. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The memo released Friday by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was the product of necessity, not choice. Even before its release, the debate over its provenance, motive and effect was obscuring the crucial point that it is the underlying facts the memo alleges that present the real issues.

The committee’s memo says that yet another memo, which goes by the cloak-and-dagger title “Steele dossier,” provided at least part of the basis for a wiretap of Carter Page, a U.S. citizen who had volunteered as a foreign policy-consultant to the Trump campaign. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court granted the wiretap application from the FBI and Justice Department two weeks before the 2016 election. In order to obtain the warrant, the government had to show probable cause that Mr. Page was acting as the agent of a foreign power and that in so doing he had committed a crime.

The Steele dossier is 35 pages of opposition research on Donald Trump, described by former FBI Director James Comey as “salacious and unverified.” It was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent who had a luminous dislike for Mr. Trump and was also an informant for the FBI.

The House memo reports that the FBI and Justice Department did not advise the FISA court that the dossier was funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. It also reports that the government’s cited support for the accuracy of contentions in the wiretap application—statements in a news article—had originated in a leak from Mr. Steele himself. Mr. Steele was fired by the FBI for a later unauthorized disclosure to the press, a cardinal offense by an informant. But the FBI continued to receive information from him through a Justice Department employee whose wife worked for the opposition-research firm that employed Mr. Steele and was paid by the DNC and Clinton campaign through a law firm, which acted as a cutout to conceal the source of the payments.

All that and more was known by the FBI and the Justice Department, according to the House memo, but not disclosed to the FISA court. That is certainly scandalous, but how consequential it is would seem to depend at least in part on what role the Steele dossier played in the application for the warrant.

According to the House memo, the FBI’s then deputy director testified in December that there would have been no application for the warrant but for the dossier. The committee’s Democrats deny he said that. In any case, it appears the Steele dossier played some role in the FISA application. The dossier, thanks to a long-ago leak, is publicly available; if you’d enjoy a swan dive into a cesspool, go read it. The FISA application is not available. How come?

Such applications are at the highest level of classification. They often contain sensitive intelligence information that can betray confidential sources and methods; disclosure can severely damage national security. But notice that the FBI’s only objection to the House memo at the time of its release was that it was incomplete, not that it disclosed sources and methods. Thus it is possible to summarize parts of a classified document to disclose information relevant to a public issue without disclosing secrets.

It is also possible to redact a classified document to the same end. It should be possible to disclose the parts of the FISA application that are alleged to come from the Steele dossier to see if there is any there there. That was not done because the FBI and the Justice Department resisted, and the committee had to make do with a summary. That is why the memo was a product of necessity, not choice.

Those critical of its release say it is intended to damage special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. How does possible misconduct by senior FBI officials, which is certainly bad enough, intersect with the Mueller investigation? As follows: The Justice Department regulation that authorizes the appointment of special counsels requires a determination that a “criminal investigation” is warranted, and that there is a conflict or other good reason that prevents ordinary Justice Department staff from conducting it.

The regulation that governs the jurisdiction of the special counsel requires that he be “provided with a specific statement of the matter to be investigated.” The letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing Mr. Mueller says he is to “conduct the investigation confirmed by then-Director James Comey before the House Intelligence Committee on March 20, 2017,” which covers “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” and any matters that may arise “directly” from that investigation.

But the investigation then disclosed by Mr. Comey was not a criminal investigation; it was a national-security investigation. Possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election is certainly a worthy subject for a national-security investigation, but “links” or “coordination”—or “collusion,” a word that does not appear in the letter of appointment but has been used as a synonym for coordination—does not define or constitute a crime. The information, and misinformation, in the Steele dossier relates to that subject.

If partisan opposition research was used to fuel a national-security investigation that has morphed into a series of criminal investigations, and the special counsel has no tether that identifies a specific crime, or “a specific statement of the matter” he is to investigate, that is at least unsettling. By contrast, the Watergate, Iran-Contra and Whitewater investigations, whatever you think of how they were conducted, identified specific crimes. The public knew what was being investigated.

Here, none of the charges Mr. Mueller has brought thus far involved “coordination” or “collusion” with the Russians. Mike Flynn and George Papadopoulos both pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, the latter over the timing of conversations with Russians in which he was allegedly offered but never received “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton, including her emails. He also attempted to set up a meeting between the Russians and Mr. Trump, but the campaign blew off that effort. Notably, Mr. Papadopoulos did not plead guilty to participating in any plot that involved “coordination.” The Paul Manafort and Rick Gates indictments charge fraud on the government through receipt of and failure to disclose payments from a pro-Russian Ukraine politician.

What to do? I believe that at a minimum, the public should get access to a carefully redacted copy of the FISA application and renewals, so we can see whether officials behaved unlawfully by misleading a court; and Mr. Mueller’s mandate should be defined in a way that conforms with the legal standard of his office. Both would go a long way toward assuring that we do more than talk about a “government of laws.”

Mr. Mukasey served as U.S. attorney general (2007-09) and a U.S. district judge (1988-2006).

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-memo-and-the-mueller-probe-1517777842
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Israel Is Approaching a Severe Water Crisis — Water crisis grips Cape Town, South Africa

January 30, 2018
Haaretz

Despite recent rains, Israel is headed for long-term shortage, Water Authority warns

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Israel's Lake Kinneret.
Israel’s Lake Kinneret.Gil Eliahu

Amid growing signs of a long-term water crisis, the Israel Water Authority and the government water company Mekorot have devised a plan to ensure enough water for homes and farms at a cost of 7.5 billion shekel ($2.2 billion) through 2050.

Even if 2018 proves sufficiently rainy to avoid the declaration of a fifth straight drought year, Israel will remain in crisis mode. Water levels will not return to what they were a decade ago when Lake Kinneret, Israel’s biggest water source, and underground aquifers were full, officials warned Sunday.

“The Kinneret will never go back to what it was, and in 20 years it won’t be there at all, it’ll be a swamp” said a figure close to the planning process who asked not to be named.

Concern that an unexpectedly wet year may take some of the urgency out of the planned water drive caused the Water Authority to reverse itself over the weekend. On Friday, it expressed cautious optimism that a rainy February could save the year from being designated a drought year.

But on Saturday night, the authority took back the statement and said it was still acting on the assumption that 2018 would be a drought year. The authority reportedly backtracked under pressure from the Energy Ministry, which feared that without the designation plans for additional desalination plants could be shelved.

“It doesn’t make a different whether this year is declared a drought year or not, the government must prepare a strategic plan determining how much water we need over the next five years and how we can obtain it,” one source told TheMarker.

The water crisis is already so severe that one industry figure warned that a plan to build a new neighborhood in Herzliya for 1,000 people whose apartments would be part of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Mahir Lemishtaken (Buyer’s Price) program could be postponed due to the water shortage.

Officials are also concerned about the Western Galilee, which is waiting for a new desalination plant. “We could reach a situation in the next year in which in some areas no water will come from the faucet, mainly in the Western Galilee,” said one source at Mekorot.

The problem in the Galilee has been exacerbated by the fact that the region relies on natural water sources and the shortage that has developed isn’t expected to change significantly for the foreseeable future due to climate change. Pumping water from underground aquifers is no longer a viable option.

The emergency program, put together over the last month and a half, addresses the medium- to long-term problems facing Israel with four measures: new drilling to take water from aquifers, new desalination plants, pumping water into Lake Kinneret and reducing water consumption. The program aims to add up to 1.3 million cubic meters of water.

In addition to the 7.5 billion shekels from the government, the private sector is also expected to contribute, in part by building three new desalination plants: one in the Western Galilee, one in Sorek, south of Tel Aviv and one in the Hefer Valley, north of Tel Aviv.

The cost of connecting each desalination plant to the national system is estimated at 350 million shekels. An alternative to building one of the facilities could be expand existing desalination plants.

Another part of the plan calls for upgrading existing wells and drilling 500 new ones into aquifers, 300 of them by 2030. The total cost of that part of the plan is around 4 billion shekels. The cost of upgrading the existing pipeline system and other facilities to accommodate the additional water is put at 1.7 billion shekels just for the 2020 to 2025 period.

The plan calls for spending 1 billion shekels in the first two years alone. Three-quarters of the sum is to go tot which will be used on water pipes, improving the usage of reclaimed sewage for crop irrigation and for drilling. Israel uses 85% of its reclaimed water but by bringing the figures up to nearly 100% Israel can add 70 million cubic meters to its overall water supply.

In 2018-19 some 150 million shekels will go toward buying desalinized water from plants that haven’t been operating at full capacity. Another 700 million shekels is designated to be spent between now and 2025 to bring water to Lake Kinneret and the north from Israel’s south.

Long-term projects, which will be completed mainly in 2023-25, will cost 6.5 billion shekels.

Understanding the Trump Show

December 27, 2017

After tax reform, we might have to rethink how America gets things done.

President Trump sits next to the tax-reform bill after signing it into law in the Oval Office, Dec. 22.
President Trump sits next to the tax-reform bill after signing it into law in the Oval Office, Dec. 22. PHOTO: MIKE THEILER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

For this viewer, the meaning of the Trump show began to change with last week’s tax bill. Donald Trump normalizes nothing new and outré in our politics after all. He is but an effective parody of the politicians we have, and have long had.

We are also learning something about the relationship, in our age, between the political show and movement, however fitful, on the nation’s business.

Republicans’ performance at last week’s White House in celebration of the party-line tax bill may have been bombastic and obsequious, but the party placed its bet on a growing economy. The show, however odd, exploited the party’s star attraction, Mr. Trump, whom the cable channels can’t resist, to push out the message to America “good things are happening.”

Every bit as hysterical, excessive and embarrassing was the countershow put on by Democrats. But they put themselves on the side of bad things happening. Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and their junior shadows danced around the maypole, lighted candles, burned effigies—in hope that you will lose your job in 2018, see your hours cut, or fail to get an expected raise.

This probably is an ill-advised bet by Democrats. The world’s major economies are in a synchronized upswing. The world’s central banks are using the window to withdraw their histrionic and destabilizing monetary accommodations of the past decade. To the extent that “it’s the economy, stupid” still trumps, the GOP will benefit.

Democratic economists are reworking their “secular stagnation” models to say the Trump program is leading not to faster growth but higher inflation. They are likely to be disappointed. The Trump economy—which we’ve maintained since before Election Day is the economy you get when you take President Obama’s foot off its neck—seems predisposed to remain benign through next year’s congressional election.

Republicans and Democrats, including Barack Obama, have long said our corporate tax system was dysfunctional and needed to be fixed. The rest of the tax bill may be anticlimactic, but it broadens the standard deduction, cuts rates a bit, and slightly reduces itemized deductions, those corrupt and corrupting schemes by which Washington rewards you for redirecting your income to various lobbying interests (including state and local government).

From the Trump show we are getting steps in the direction of “good government” as that term has traditionally and reliably been understood for decades. And unless 250 years of economic thought is ready to be junked, increasing the after-tax return on business investment will lead to more investment.

How different would a Democratic party-line tax bill have been? Probably not much different on the corporate side, unless you think the difference between 21% and 28% is vast and telling. On the personal side, Democrats would likely have focused on trimming back different deductions (for the rich!), but would likely have made it up to voters with a larger standard deduction and lower rates just as Republicans did.

It took three Reagan tax bills and five years before we got the bipartisan 1986 tax reform. If that history is borne out a second time, then last week’s victory will be a down payment on better things to come. This could be another way the Trump show, if it creates successes that both parties eventually want to own, teaches us something mysterious about what is required to move our country ahead now.

Incentives matter, and in this business of incentives not all is coming up roses, however.

The Harvey Weinstein phenomenon, we submit, is really a Trump phenomenon. The country has seen sex-abuse scandals before. It was the spectacle of Mr. Trump’s election that turned blue-state America, from which most of the recent scandals stem, toward genuine repentance and then toward indiscriminate intolerance of male sexual aggression in any form.

Unfortunately, when we stipulate that all accusations must be believed, we guarantee not only the lodging of more allegations, but more false allegations. A few months ago Mike Pence was mocked for his practice of never meeting or dining alone with a woman who is not his wife. Now every man in blue America will have to adopt such a policy as insurance against a malicious allegation.

But one thing has come into focus. At the beginning of 2017, it was impossible to figure out how the Hulu production of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” about a dystopian future in which consensual, nonprocreative sex is all but outlawed, became in the minds of so many liberal commentators symbolic of the age of Trump. Now it starts to make sense.

Democrats Are Walking Into a Trumpian Trap — Living in the “House of Outrage”

December 15, 2017

Opinion

Doug Jones supporters celebrate victory. Credit Bob Miller for The New York Times

Take a walk with me, dear reader, into the yard, down the street — anywhere, really, just so that we can step outside of our house of outrage. It’s a roomy house, with space for everyone from woke progressives to disillusioned conservatives. It’s a good house, filled with people united in a just and defiant cause. It’s a harmonious house, thrumming with the sound of people agreeing vigorously.

And lately, we’ve started to believe we’re … winning.

We breathed relief Tuesday night when Roy Moore went down to his well-earned political death, like Jack Nicholson’s Joker at the end of Batman. We roared when Robert Mueller extracted a guilty plea from a cooperative Michael Flynn, and the investigative noose seemed to tighten around Donald Trump’s neck. We cheered when Democrat Ralph Northam trounced Ed Gillespie after the Republican took the low road with anti-immigrant demagogy.

It’s all lining up. Democrats have an 11-point edge over Republicans in the generic congressional ballot. The president’s approval rating is barely scraping 37 percent. Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States is on the “wrong track.” Isn’t revenge in 2018 starting to taste sweet — and 2020 even sweeter?

Don’t bet on it. Democrats are making the same mistakes Republicans made when they inhabited their own house of outrage, back in 1998.

You remember. The year of the wagged finger and the stained blue dress. Of a president who abused women, lied about it, and used his power to bomb other countries so he could distract from his personal messes. Of a special prosecutor whose investigation overstepped its original bounds. Of half the country in a moral fever to impeach. Of the other half determined to dismiss sexual improprieties, defend a democratically elected leader and move on with the business of the country.

Oh, also the year in which the Dow Jones industrial average jumped by 16 percent, the unemployment rate fell to a 28-year low, and Democrats gained seats in Congress. Bill Clinton, as we all know, survived impeachment and left office with a strong economic record and a 66-percent approval rating.

If nothing else, 1998 demonstrated the truth of the unofficial slogan on which Clinton had first run for president: It’s the economy, stupid. Prosperity trumps morality. The wealth effect beats the yuck factor. That may not have held true in Moore’s defeat, but it’s not every day that an alleged pedophile runs for office. Even so, he damn well nearly won.

1998 also showed that, when it comes to sex, we Americans forgive easily; that, when it comes to women, we don’t always believe readily; and that, when it comes to presidents, we want them to succeed. However else one might feel about Mueller — or, for that matter, Ken Starr — nobody elected them to anything.

Which brings us back to Trump. Democrats may like their polling numbers, but here are a few others for them to consider.

The first is 3.3 percent, last quarter’s annual growth rate, the highest in three years. Next is 1.7 percent, the core inflation rate, meaning interest rates are unlikely to rise very sharply. Also, 4.1 percent, the unemployment rate, which is down half a percentage point, or nearly 800,000 workers, since the beginning of the year. Finally, 24 percent, which is the rise in the Dow Jones industrial average since Trump became president — one of the market’s best performances ever.

Democrats will find plenty of ways to explain that these numbers aren’t quite as good as they sound — they are not — or that we’re setting ourselves up for a big crash — we might well be — or that the deficit is only getting bigger — it is, but so what? Politically speaking, none of that matters. Trump enters 2018 with a robust economy that will, according to the estimate of the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, grow stronger thanks to the tax bill.

What about the outrage over the president’s behavior? Kirsten Gillibrand and other Senate Democrats have called on Trump to resign following new accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Good luck getting him to agree. Tom Steyer and other liberal plutocrats want the president impeached and thrown out of office. Good luck electing 67 Democrats to the Senate.

Every minute wasted on that whale hunt is a minute the Democrats neglect to make an affirmative case for themselves.

Which leaves us with Mueller. All of us in the house of outrage are eager for the special counsel to find the goods on the president and Russia, obstruction, financial shenanigans, anything. The clues seem so obvious, the evidence so tantalizingly close.

Yet we should also know that the wish tends to be the father of the thought. What if Mueller comes up short in finding evidence of collusion? What if the worst Mueller’s got is one bad tweet that, maybe, constitutes evidence of obstruction? And what if further doubts are raised about the impartiality of the investigation? The president’s opponents have made a huge political bet on an outcome that’s far from clear. Anything less than complete vindication for our side may wind up as utter humiliation.

Dear reader, I too live in the house of outrage, for all the usual reasons. Just beware, beware of growing comfortable in it. As in 1998, it just might turn out to be a house of losers.

Bonfire of the academies: Two professors on how leftist intolerance is killing higher education

December 13, 2017
At colleges and universities all over the country, students are protesting in increasingly virulent and sometimes violent ways. They demand safe spaces and trigger warnings, shouting down those with whom they disagree. It has become rote for outsiders to claim that the inmates are running the asylum; that this is analogous to Mao’s Red Guard, Germany’s brown shirts, the French Revolution’s Jacobins; and, when those being attacked are politically “left” themselves, that the Left is eating its own. These stories seem to validate every fantasy the Right ever had about the Left.
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As two professors who recently resigned from positions at a college we loved, and who have always been on the progressive-left end of the political spectrum, we can say that, while none of those characterizations is exactly right, there is truth in each of them.

The Evergreen State College is a public liberal arts college in Olympia, Wash., at the southern tip of Puget Sound, surrounded by water and forests. Being public means it has a socioeconomically diverse student body, which brings a variety of life experiences to campus. It is not an elite college made up primarily of rich kids. It is, rather, an experimental college with a curricular structure that, for both better and worse, is like no other. Most students take full-time 16-credit programs, for up to a full academic year. Instead of hopping from organic chemistry to genetics to art history, students are immersed with others whom they come to know well in full-time, interdisciplinary programs that are often team-taught by faculty. This allows professors to know each student individually, and is particularly well-suited to students with high potential and unusual learning styles.

To give but one example of what was possible at Evergreen, in 2015-16, we team-taught a year-long program called Evolution and Ecology Across Latitudes. It included an intensive, 11-week trip through Ecuador, in which we explored the Amazon, the Andes Mountains, and the Galápagos Islands, and also studied the pre-Colombian peoples of Ecuador — the Inca, Cañari, and Huaorani, to name just a few. We started the year with epistemology, taught statistics, and considered the modern history of Latin America as well. Before our trip, we worked with several of our low-income students to help them get grants so that they could study abroad with us. We were a diverse group in nearly every way.

We were among Evergreen’s most popular faculty, and year in, year out, our students wrote stellar evaluations of us. Our programs were always full, even in a time of falling enrollments. Yet, we work at Evergreen no more. What happened to this brilliant, flawed experiment? There are too many subplots to recount, but here is one thread that, we hope, others can use to spot insurgencies on their own campuses.

In 2015, Evergreen hired a new president. Trained as a sociologist, George Bridges did two things upon arrival. First, he hired an old friend to talk one-on-one to members of our community — faculty, staff, and students. We talked about our values and our visions for the college. But the benefit of hindsight suggests that he was looking for something else. He was mapping us, assessing our differences, our blind spots, and the social tensions that ran beneath the surface. Second, Bridges fired the provost, Michael Zimmerman. The provost, usually synonymous with the vice president for academics, is the chief academic officer at an institution of higher education. Zimmerman would have disapproved of what Bridges had in mind and would have had some power to stop it. But he was replaced by a timid (though well-liked) insider who became a pawn due to his compromised interim status and his desire not to make waves.

Having mapped the faculty and fired the provost, Bridges began reworking the college in earnest. Surprise announcements became the norm as opportunities for discussion dwindled.

The president took aim at what made Evergreen unique, such as full-time programs. He fattened the administration, creating expensive vice president positions at an unprecedented rate, while budgets tightened elsewhere due to drops in student enrollment and disappearing state dollars. He went after Evergreen’s unparalleled faculty autonomy, which was essential to the unique teaching done by the best professors.

All of this should have been alarming to a faculty in which professors have traditionally viewed administrative interference in academic matters with great suspicion. But Bridges was strategic and forged an alliance with factions known to be obsessed with race. He draped the “equity” banner around everything he did. Advocating that Evergreen embrace itself as a “College of Social Justice,” he argued that faculty autonomy unjustly puts the focus on teachers rather than students, and that the new VP for Equity and Inclusion would help us serve our underserved populations. But no discussion was allowed of students who did not meet the narrow criteria of being “underserved.” Because of the wrapping, concerns about policy changes were dismissed as “anti-equity.” What was in the nicely wrapped box turned out to be something else entirely.

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When protesters interrupted the fall 2016 convocation, claiming that “Evergreen cashes diversity checks but doesn’t care about blacks,” Bridges did not let the self-described radicals take over. He might as well have, though, for the next day he apologized for not doing so. “I regret having made this decision,” he wrote, making it clear that, upon reflection, he felt he should have let the protesters dominate and derail the proceedings.

Any parent, or indeed, anyone who has ever mentored someone will recognize that the president’s apology was guaranteed, if not calculated, to embolden the protesters. Put aside for the moment that the grievances being aired — Evergreen is a hotbed of racism! — amount to empty assertions. We have heard no stories that hold up under scrutiny of actual institutional racism at the school. Those who assert that racism is ubiquitous at the college cannot point to it. Even so, assume for the moment that Evergreen did have racism running rampant. Even under those conditions, would apologizing to students for asking them to respect the college and its invited speakers be the right move? Of course not.

What happened next was predictable. Protests became more frequent and intrusive. Protesters showed up at the swearing-in ceremony of the new campus police chief, Stacy Brown, and shut it down. Brown, an officer with impeccable credentials and a good heart, who is herself also an Evergreen graduate, was thus denied the honor she deserved. One faculty member added insult to injury by writing to her to say that police are not wanted on campus. Soon thereafter, protesters showed up at another ceremony, the dedication of a campus building to the last president of Evergreen, Les Purce. Purce happens to be black. Protesters grabbed the microphone and read an epithet-rich announcement claiming that the school is “unsafe for marginalized students.” The current president stood in the background, silent and limp.

Meanwhile, the “Equity Council” that Bridges had appointed and empowered shifted into high gear. It produced a document laden with proposals that tear at the foundations of a liberal arts college. It recommended, for example, using “diversity and equity in the criteria for prioritizing faculty hires.” As is clear from the minutes of the council’s meetings, this goes well beyond affirmative action, which is itself illegal in the state of Washington. Taken to its logical conclusion, this policy would mean hiring no more artists, or chemists, or writing faculty, or any faculty, really, unless their research or training could be defended on the grounds of “equity.” That would spell the end of the liberal arts college.

In Nov. 2016, the Equity Council held the “canoe meeting.” Remarkably, as with so much of the history we are laying out here, this meeting was captured, and the whole episode is available for viewing online. It has to be seen to be believed. Ostensibly, the meeting was called to discuss the adoption of a Strategic Equity Plan. But the contents of the 38-page plan were not discussed. Instead, there was a celebration, with much hand-wringing and some tears, of just two pages of the plan devoted to its goals. These were nothing more than a string of platitudes about helping historically disadvantaged people in order to put all graduates on an equal footing. There was no debate or discussion about how this incredible feat was to be accomplished. There was no time given to objections. After all, who could possibly object? The audience was told that there was a binary choice between being allies of the plan or becoming enemies, and that regardless of anyone’s opinion, “we’re going to do it.”

And then came the canoe. First, senior administrators were called by name, invited to walk down to the stage, and to step into a large and imaginary canoe. Then, everyone in the room was invited to come aboard, en masse. Finally, everyone walked in a line, as if in a canoe, out of the building together, on a fantastical voyage toward campus equity. An Indian drum beat and the recorded sound of crashing surf were in the background.

Afterward, Evergreen’s email system echoed to the virtuous cry of “I’m in the canoe!” Bret, who had refused to climb aboard, wrote and circulated his dissent, suggesting that what was happening at the college amounted to a campaign of intimidation. Dissent was impossible. He added that he did not believe the plan would benefit students of color, now or in the future. The email responses were disheartening. One colleague wrote that “white people … cannot dictate the terms of this conversation.” Another emailed that “there are multiple versions of ‘truth’ that exist at once.” Still another wrote: “If our students are telling us … that they are experiencing a hostile environment, we must take our students at their word.”

That is the sound of inquiry and due process dying.

At the beginning of this year, true believers in faux-equity intensified their campaign. Evergreen was, remarkably, compared to Little Rock in 1957. At faculty meetings, Bret was publicly denounced as a racist for repeatedly and fruitlessly asking that the plan be discussed thoroughly. Heather was on sabbatical, engaging far less with the goings-on on campus.

In April, the event that nominally brought Evergreen to national attention arrived. Historically on campus, a day in April has been chosen as a “Day of Absence,” on which some people of color chose to absent themselves from campus to demonstrate their important roles at the college. This year, the organizers decided that the process should be reversed, and white people were “asked” to leave the campus for the day. When Bret respectfully challenged the invitation to absent himself over email, the blowback from faculty and staff was telling. One wrote, “I love imagining students, staff and colleagues of color having the campus to themselves to do their work.” Another commented, “By switching the Day of Absence programming, we are physically moving our bodies so that people of color can be centered for ONE DAY on campus.” Yet another wrote: “I feel strongly about honoring the call for white-identified people to absent themselves from campus.” The interim provost had already sent an email saying “This expanded programming and call for even broader participation in both Day of Presence and Day of Absence also mean faculty will need to make adjustments to teaching and associated classroom scheduling.” Many faculty committed long in advance to require students to participate.

If this is an ask, we don’t want to see a tell.

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Weeks later, on the morning of May 23, an unruly group of students disrupted Bret’s class, yelled and chanted at him, barred the police from entering the scene, and then went to hold court with the college administration. Many of the protesters did not even know what they had been asked to come protest. Students acted badly, and then stupidly, taking video and posting it for the whole world to see. But it was not the students who were the driving force behind this disruption. They were, rather, empowered and encouraged by bad decisions by the administration, and by the faux-equity cabal, represented by a minority of faculty and staff.

These faculty members and their accomplices in the administration are primarily at fault. They are the adults. At an institution of higher education, it is the faculty’s job to teach, not to preach; to educate, not indoctrinate. Some of the students who became protesters will be paying off their loans for years, and for what? They were let down by an institution that imposed and nurtured grievance and propaganda rather than educating and conferring knowledge. Evergreen handed them temporary power, an intoxicating thing, instead of establishing boundaries and legitimately empowering them with insight and wisdom.

Later that afternoon, hundreds of people, mostly students, held a forum in a fourth floor room. The entry, a long hallway, was entirely controlled by protesters who had been emboldened by the successes of their disruptions earlier in the day. The college administration had promised that it would “train” faculty, and the campus police chief had been ordered to attend the forum unarmed, an important symbolic victory for a movement that advocates an end to police presence on campus with the acronym ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards). Bret attended, as did many of his students. Two of his students, neither of them white, attempted to defend him to the angry crowd. They were shouted down. Not following the faux-equity party line meant that you would be informed that you were wrong, that you were a traitor, and that you needed to change.

The meeting was decidedly threatening and unsafe. While it was going on, some of Bret’s students texted him from other points in the room to tell him that protesters were hiding mace, and discussing not letting him leave. He texted Heather, in case he found himself a hostage: “I am told I will not be allowed to leave.” “Not sure what to do.”

At that moment, Heather was holding our two sons close to her at home. By coincidence, it was also the moment when a giant maple in our backyard cracked in half, and fell, crashing into another tree and landing suspended, where it would hang for months. The silence that followed was deafening. It seemed that our world was shifting. The protesters might detain Bret, the police chief had been disarmed, and nobody with authority was stepping up.

These protests at Evergreen were not like protests many readers will remember from their own college days. Nor were they like the ones we had participated in ourselves. Both of us protested as college students before the first Gulf War, and again after the bailouts that followed the 2008 financial collapse with the Occupy movement. It was heady stuff, but it never approached violence. And, agree with us or not, we were objecting to policy, not claims of bias that are immune to scrutiny. This was different.

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The protesters did let Bret leave, but they assigned “handlers” to him and his students. And although Bret was able to have a productive, if tense, dialogue with protesters in small groups, the leaders inevitably intervened to stop such off-script activity.

By the next day, any gains were lost. Protesters stormed the last faculty meeting of the year, where newly emeritus faculty members were being lauded. They took over the meeting, stole a celebratory retirement cake, and said things like “Didn’t you educate us on how to do shit like this?”

The radicals blockaded the library, trapping employees and students inside, frightening several. One faculty member who had participated with the students in shutting down the faculty meeting held court outside the library, telling two faculty colleagues that “you are now those motherfuckers that we’re pushing against.” She told them to “go inside and listen to the students … or take your ass home … Two options: Go inside, go home.”

The protesters subjugated and humiliated everyone who did not fall into line. When they ordered the college president to stop gesticulating with his hands, on account of the presumably aggressive nature of his hand gestures, he promptly did so. When they insisted that he have an escort to use the bathroom, he acquiesced. They hurled obscenities and insults at him and others.

That evening, the same faculty member who had been issuing peremptory commands outside the library wrote to the campus community to say how proud she was of the protesters, and to reinforce an earlier thought from one of the radicals. “They are doing exactly what we’ve taught them today,” she wrote. What do you suppose the response to this email was? Horror, shock, quiet distaste? In some circles, yes, but the only people who responded publicly wrote to thank her.

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On Thursday of that week, May 25, Bret and his students held class off campus, for their safety. Some of his students had been followed, harassed, doxxed. A day earlier, protesters had scoured the campus looking in cars for “an individual” whom Brown, the police chief, believed to be Bret. On Thursday, while biking past campus to get to town, Bret watched people recognize him and dive for their phones. Uncertain whether he was being paranoid, he diverted to the campus police station. Brown told him that he needed to get off campus immediately, and off his bike, too, indefinitely. He was too easy a target on his bike, and the police couldn’t protect him, as they had been ordered to stand down. In practice, that meant the police were locked in the police station.

At the same moment, the interim provost sent an email to all staff and faculty claiming he had not felt threatened on campus that week, but that if others had, they should find time to “come talk to me or an academic dean in person.” Heather wrote back to the list, suggesting that the administration was obscuring the truth, and that there was a public safety problem on campus. On social media, the same faculty member who had celebrated the radicals’ behavior responded by suggesting that “some white women come collect Heather Heying’s racist ass.”

Later that day, a sign on the locked door of the police station read, “Police Department is Closed. Call 911 in case of an Emergency.” We went with Bret’s class to the Capitol, where we spoke with the governor’s advisers on higher education and civil rights. We told them that the campus had descended into a state of anarchy, and that we needed help. Help never arrived.

As one faculty emeritus wrote during the chaos, “What is screamingly strange about the charges of racism … is that never are we given specific examples.” Nobody denies that racism exists. But our school was being likened to the battlegrounds of the civil rights movement, despite a failure to produce any examples. When one wondered why, another clause in the activist script became apparent: Asking for evidence of racism is itself evidence of racism.

On May 26, Friday morning, Fox News called. It was Tucker Carlson’s producer. The show was going to run a segment on Evergreen that night. Did Bret want to be part of it? No, he didn’t want to. But he felt he needed to. Fox was, at that point, the only member of the national news media that had shown up. YouTube was on fire with videos that protesters had posted, but most journalists were staying away, presumably because the story didn’t fit comfortable, mainstream narratives.

Two notable things happened after Bret went on Fox. One was that a substantial minority of our colleagues at Evergreen called for a “disciplinary investigation” against him. Why? Apparently, people on the Left aren’t allowed to talk to those on the Right. It is against the rules. Prohibitions against talking to “the other side” widens the intellectual fissure opening up in our society. It creates the very silos we are warned against. By speaking to others, Bret was breaking rank, and so treated like a deserter, or traitor. One thing we know is that when you’re being told by your antagonists who you’re not supposed to talk to, it’s probably a good indicator of who you should be talking to.

The other thing that happened after Bret went on Fox was that well over 1,000 viewers wrote to him. A couple of emails came from white nationalists, people perhaps similar to the New Jersey man who later phoned in a threat to the college, which shut the campus down for two days. Another email was a nasty piece of anti-Semitic hatred. But the overwhelming majority were supportive and eloquent. The writers were from across all known fault lines — socioeconomic class, race, national origin, location on the political spectrum. There were letters from First Nations people, high school students and university faculty, Evergreen students and alums, a man building a school in Uganda. And the thing that unites them is their call to stand strong. They say: Do not back down. And: At this moment, I am so glad to have respect for someone with whom I might politically disagree.

Doesn’t that sound like an antidote to the polarization that has gripped the body politic? An ability to reach out across prejudice and talk to people? To respect those with whom we do not share identical core beliefs?

Brown, the police chief, resigned in August, telling us that she had been given all of the responsibility, but none of the authority, to keep people safe on campus. Zimmerman, the ousted provost, testified in a congressional hearing to both the value of a liberal arts education, and to the madness occurring on campuses. We were told, during mediation with the college at the very end of summer, that the college was quite pleased with the direction it was going, and that there would be no veering from the course that we continue to regard as disastrous. We suggested that we could help change Evergreen’s reputation as a laughingstock to that of a beacon of hope, of viewpoint diversity and actual civil rights, in an ever bleaker higher education landscape. The college wanted no part of it.

We asked for leave, and were denied it. The college made it clear that they wanted us gone permanently. And so, in shock, feeling betrayed, heartbroken and livid, we left. We settled with the college for half a million dollars — about two years’ joint salary after our legal fees — a small price for two tenured professorships. Grief takes many forms, and we feel it, but we also feel that we were paid to leave a burning building. Unfortunately, we can do nothing for our many friends — students, staff, and faculty — still stuck on the inside.

The story goes on and on and on. There are so many threads and subplots that it feels dishonest to tell any version without all of them, but we must.

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Hateful white nationalists comprise a tiny but exceedingly loud minority of people on the Right. The analogous group on the Left is the virulent social justice crowd. Those who would have us destroy Martin Luther King’s dream comprise a small but disproportionately loud minority of people on the Left. Also, we would argue that “Right” and “Left” make little sense in either of these contexts. Both fringe groups, extremists wherever they are found, are more accurately described as authoritarian.

We come from the Left, and our values and worldview have not changed. But our understanding of the landscape has, as has our understanding of who is most likely to be interested in pursuing democratic goals through democratic means. A democratic system needs intelligent dissent, which means that it must create and protect the conditions in which people can learn how to think critically, and how to critique ideas and proposals. Those are longstanding values on the Left, but today, they are hanging by a thread.

At Evergreen, a small fraction of students was the face of the protests, some even going so far as to patrol campus with baseball bats, threatening people, and vandalizing property. But the vast majority of students were not part of the protests. Some were yelled at, insulted, assaulted, even battered. Some left the school. Some graduated. Some are keeping their heads down, angry and scared, until they, too, graduate, while they wonder why their experiences are apparently of no interest to the college administration.

What of Martin Luther King’s dream? Why are we being advised by the social justice crowd that we shall not focus on the content of our character, but instead must focus primarily on the color of our skin (and our gender identification, sexual orientation, and various other signifiers of intersectional oppression)? This would be MLK’s nightmare. Why is it being handed a megaphone?

We are honored to be part of the nascent Coalition for Free Speech and Civil Rights, spearheaded by 1960s-era civil rights activist Bob Woodson. At a meeting this fall in Washington, Pastor Darryl Webster, who runs an organization that helps men integrate with family and community, made clear an important distinction in these discussions. There are those who would have us concentrate on historical and current inequities that provide people different leverage in life; and there are those who argue, no matter what hand you were dealt, to look forward, and make the most of your cards. The distinction is an important one as the conversation moves forward.

Left and Right historically disagree on the extent of current inequities in the system, and on the wisdom of solution making. Those on the Left tend to focus on the inequities in the system; those on the Right tend to argue for personal responsibility. The Left tends to see structural unfairness, and is inclined to intervene. The Right tends to see a landscape of opportunity, and fears the unintended consequences of new initiatives. Both positions have merit and, despite the frequent tenor of conversations between factions, they are not mutually exclusive. Wisdom is likely to emerge from the tension between these worldviews, uniting good people around the value of a fair system that fosters self-reliance as it distributes opportunity as broadly as possible.

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So, is this present uprising Maoist? Are the inmates running the asylum? Has the extreme Left gone off the deep end? A bit, a bit. But with apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien, we offer a different analogy: One script to rule them all, One script to find them, One script to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

For today’s social justice warriors, only one narrative shall be allowed. It is unquestionable. Those who dissent are guilty. The “equity and inclusion” movement, cloaked in words that sound benevolent and honorable, is a bludgeon. To the outside world, Evergreen’s implosion looked like a student-motivated response to conditions on the inside. But the terrible conditions don’t really exist, and the real power dynamics, between administrators and faculty, were obscured by a narrative constructed to make resistance impossible.

The script showed up at our public, liberal arts college, and we, the evolutionary biologists, are now gone. It showed up at Duke Divinity School, and Paul Griffiths, a Catholic theologian, has resigned after being vilified for questioning training in racial equity. His words are to the point: “Events of this sort are definitively anti-intellectual. (Re)trainings of intellectuals by bureaucrats and apparatchiks have a long and ignoble history; I hope you’ll keep that history in mind as you think about this instance.”

Includes videos:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/bonfire-of-the-academies-two-professors-on-how-leftist-intolerance-is-killing-higher-education/article/2642973

Racism, Protests, Magazine Political Correctness, Higher Education, Race and Diversity, Freedom of Speech,Fox News, College, Education ,News ,Politics

Also read: Harvard vs. Hillsdale: It’s cultural suicide to sic Washington on the Left’s institutions

Don’t miss: Ohio professor claims ‘global warming is worse than war’

Mueller Investigation, Michael Flynn and Alan Dershowitz — Mueller’s look into Russian election meddling has all kinds of twists and turns

November 30, 2017
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Michael Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner
High praise for Michael Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, from Alan Dershowitz on Fox News, Thursday, November 30, 2017, in the 1:30 PM time block.Dershowitz said Flynn’s lawyer “knows how to play the game” and is among the best players in the Mueller investigations.

Without mentioning Mr. Kelner’s name, Dershowitz said “he’s got a big sign around Flynn’s neck that says ‘testimony for sale .””

Then he quickly added, “Or for rent.”

Dershowitz seemed to say that Flynn’s lawyer was trying to entice the Mueller team to make a deal for Flynn’s testimony. But Dershowitz also said thet Flynn is a known liar and would never be considered a capable and truthful witness by the Mueller team…

 

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Alan Dershowitz: Mike Flynn ‘will say anything’ to get a deal from Robert Mueller

Harvard law school professor Alan Dershowitz speculated Tuesday that former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn “will say anything” to get a deal from special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation.“It’s not clear that Flynn has anything to offer,” Dershowitz told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. “He’s trying to save his son. He’s trying to save himself. He’ll say anything. He’ll not only sing, he’ll compose and create evidence if he has to do that in order to get a deal.”

Dershowitz called Flynn’s credibility “worthless” because he’s been accused of perjury for denying to the FBI that he discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Flynn’s lawyers told Trump’s lawyers they will no longer share information about the special counsel’s investigation, signaling that Flynn may be cooperating with Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Trump’s lawyers believe Flynn may try to negotiate a deal because Flynn has indicated he’s worried charges might be brought against his son, Michael G. Flynn, who was chief of staff to his father.

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Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal

Trump’s legal team confirmed late last week that Flynn’s attorney Robert Kelner alerted the team that he could no longer engage in privileged discussions about defense strategy in the case — a sign Flynn is preparing to negotiate with prosecutors over a deal that could include his testimony against the president or senior White House officials.

That process would typically include a series of off-the-record discussions in which prosecutors lay out in detail for Flynn and his lawyers the fruits of their investigation into his activities. Prosecutors would also provide Flynn an opportunity to offer what’s called a proffer, detailing what information, if any, he has that could implicate others in wrongdoing.

When reached Monday, Kelner declined to comment on the nature of his morning visit to Mueller’s offices in Washington, D.C.

Sources familiar with the discussions between Flynn’s legal team and Trump’s attorneys told ABC News that while there was never a formal, signed joint defense agreement between Flynn’s defense counsel and other targets of the Mueller probe, the lawyers had engaged in privileged discussions for months.

Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump’s legal team, told ABC News last week that the break was “not entirely unexpected.”

“No one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about Gen. Flynn cooperating against the president,” Sekulow said.

The New York Times broke the news, calling it an indication that Flynn may be cooperating with prosecutors.

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Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP via Getty Images
Michael Flynn Jr. is seen behind his father, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, as they arrive at Trump Tower in New York on Nov. 17, 2016.

Sources familiar with the Flynn investigation have told ABC News the retired lieutenant general has felt increased pressure since prosecutors began focusing attention on his son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked as part of the Flynn Intel Group, the consulting firm founded by the elder Flynn, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Michael G. Flynn also traveled with his father to Russia in 2015 for his now famous appearance at a Moscow dinner where he sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Democrats in Congress have told ABC News they forwarded information to the Mueller team alleging that Michael T. Flynn illegally concealed more than a dozen foreign contacts and overseas trips during the process of renewing his security clearances.

“It appears that General Flynn violated federal law by omitting this trip and these foreign contacts from his security clearance renewal application in 2016 and concealing them from security clearance investigators who interviewed him as part of the background check process,” Reps. Elijah Cummings and Eliot L. Engel, both Democrats, wrote in a letter to Flynn’s attorney.

The letter highlights information House investigators collected from executives at three private companies advised by Flynn in 2015 and 2016. The companies were pursuing a joint venture with Russia to bring nuclear power to several Middle Eastern countries and secure the resulting nuclear fuel before Flynn joined then-candidate Trump on the campaign trail.

Flynn is a decorated military officer who served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 until his retirement in 2014. He was out of the spotlight only briefly. He joined the Trump campaign as an adviser in 2016, and Trump later named Flynn as his first national security adviser. He was forced to resign, however, after just 24 days on the job, when it was revealed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

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Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
Robert Mueller, special counsel on the Russian investigation, leaves the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., June 21, 2017.

Cummings told ABC News that Flynn’s foreign contacts — which involved high-ranking foreign officials and business executives — were so numerous they could not have been inadvertent omissions or incidental contacts.

“He has, over and over again, omitted information that he should have disclosed,” Cummings said. “It’s not an aberration, and that’s clear.

Flynn’s lawyer has declined to comment on the letter, and when ABC News tracked down Flynn this summer at a beach in Newport, Rhode Island — his hometown — he didn’t say much more.

“I’m just having a great time with the family here,” Flynn said. “I’m doing good, [but] I’m not going to make any comments.”

The alleged omissions could be a serious matter — and not just for Flynn. While Cummings said intentionally omitting foreign contacts when applying for security clearance can carry a five-year prison term, he acknowledged that penalties are rarely so severe. The leverage the alleged transgressions provide, however, could prove useful to prosecutors seeking to use the threat of prosecution to compel Flynn’s assistance in the broader investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Former FBI Director James Comey provided a window into that strategy during his three hours of testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this year.

“There is always a possibility if you have a criminal case against someone and you bring them in, squeeze them, flip them, [that] they give you information about something else,” Comey said.

The alleged omissions are just the latest to make trouble for Flynn. He failed to declare a December 2015 trip to Russia, where he sat next to Putin and for which was paid $33,000. In March 2017, Flynn submitted a late filing with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, revealing that the Flynn Intel Group was paid $530,000 for three months of work on behalf of a Dutch firm owned by a Turkish businessman with close ties to the Turkish government.

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Susan Walsh/AP Photo, FILE
President Donald Trump walks in front of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, and after arriving at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 6, 2017.more +

Flynn’s work for Turkey remains the subject of additional scrutiny. Of interest to federal agents, according to people interviewed by the FBI, is his alleged role in a bizarre, unrealized proposal first reported by The Wall Street Journal to kidnap Turkish dissident cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is living in exile in rural Pennsylvania and is suspected of involvement in a failed coup attempt.

Gulen, who has denied involvement in the coup attempt, has lived legally in the Pocono Mountains since 1999, and the Turkish government has been financing efforts to persuade the U.S. government to return him to Turkey for years.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey confirmed for ABC News he was at a meeting in which Flynn allegedly raised the idea.

“It became clear to me that they were seriously considering a kidnapping operation for Gulen, and I told them then that it was a bad idea, it was illegal,” Woolsey said. “I won’t say that they had firmly decided to do that. But they were seriously considering it.”

Kelner, Flynn’s lawyer, took the rare step of publicly refuting those assertions, saying there was no such discussion and calling them categorically “false.” In mid-July at a press conference, the Turkish ambassador to the U.S. also denied the notion of a kidnapping plot.

“There’s no truth to that,” he said, adding that the Turkish government was following “traditional” procedures to have Gulen extradited “through the legal channels.”

ABC News’ John Santucci contributed to this report.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/michael-flynns-lawyer-meets-members-special-counsels-team/story?id=51412187

UK officials want to know if Russia meddled in the Brexit vote

October 25, 2017
They’ve asked Facebook to provide information on Russian-purchased ads.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

UK officials are wondering if Russia tampered with its Brexit referendum and they’ve now officially asked Mark Zuckerberg to look into whether Facebook possibly played a role, The Guardian reports. Damian Collins, the UK’s chair of digital, culture, media and sport committee sent Zuckerberg a letter saying that the committee was investigating fake news and wanted Facebook to provide them with any information it had on politically-divisive advertisements purchased by Russian actors.

In the letter, Collins said, “Part of this inquiry will focus on the role of foreign actors abusing platforms such as yours to interfere in the political discourse of other nations. It is for this reason that I am requesting that Facebook provides to my committee details relating to any adverts and pages paid for or set up by Russian-linked accounts.” Specifically, the committee wants to know if Russia-linked accounts purchased ads on Facebook, how much they paid to do so and how many times those ads or pages were viewed.

Facebook announced a few weeks ago that Russian groups purchased around $100,000 worth of ads used to spread fake news during the 2016 US presidential election and that around 10 million people viewed them. Those ads and related information have been handed over to congressional investigators. Following the US election and the reports that Facebook played a hand in the spread of fake news, the company made a concerted effort to minimize its impact on the French and German elections earlier this year.

Collins and the committee have asked that Facebook provide them with the requested information by November 7th.

The Dreamer Debacle — Another Trump Unforced Error? — Trump acted on DACA. Now it’s time for Congress to show heart and smarts on immigration

September 6, 2017

By Steve Cortes

Published September 05, 2017

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White House discussing whether DACA deadline can be moved

Congress needs to act to reform America’s immigration laws, following President Trump’s announcement Tuesday that he is phasing out a program called DACA that allows 800,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain here temporarily.

The president was right to say it is up to Congress to determine whether these immigrants, known as Dreamers, should be allowed to stay in our country. He explained that the Constitution does not allow the president the power to unilaterally change immigration law by executive order.

Under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which was created by an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012, the federal government allowed children brought to the U.S. in violation of the law to get permits so they could stay here legally for two years at a time, with the ability to renew their permits.

President Obama said he issued the executive order because Congress was deadlocked and couldn’t reach agreement to pass legislation to fix our badly broken immigration system.

Conservatives rightly assailed President Obama for assuming lawmaking jurisdiction, clearly usurping the constitutional authority of the Congress to pass laws.

Even more egregiously, Obama achieved nothing but talk regarding immigration reform when he entered office in 2009 with a solidly Democratic Congress. He instead waited for a politically opportune time before the 2012 election to waive his scepter like a king and pronounced DACA as an edict.

On the other side, many Hispanics and immigration advocates now correctly decry the threat of deportation facing Dreamers, who were brought to America by their parents and had no say in breaking our immigration laws.

Congress should show heart and smarts through a three-part law that would help the Dreamers and at the same give America a sound immigration policy that serves our nation’s best interests.

First, Congress must accede to the president’s insistence on a fully funded wall along our border with Mexico, which was clearly a foundational pillar of his 2016 victory. Our government has an obligation to secure our border.

Second, DACA should be turned from an unconstitutional executive order into a law. But is should also be phased out, so that no more immigrants can sign up for the program. It is one thing to allow people already protected by DACA to stay here. It is quite another to make this a permanent program that would incentivize never-ending violations of our immigration laws.

And third, the RAISE Act – supported by President Trump and sponsored by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Sonny Perdue of Georgia – should be approved by Congress. The legislation would transform our present chain-migration system based on relatives already in this country to one based on skills, so that we welcome the best and brightest of the world who also love our values.

Paradoxically, it is President Trump – so roundly and unjustly maligned by the mainstream media as anti-Hispanic – who stands uniquely positioned now to achieve this substantive immigration reform, and on “America First” terms.

President Trump has, amazingly, largely secured our border only months into office and empowered U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement to accelerate the deportation of dangerous criminal illegal aliens.

At the same time, the president clearly aches for the predicament of the Dreamers themselves. So he is in the best position to achieve a long-awaited solution to their uncertain immigration status.

Many DACA residents know no other country, speak English as their primary language, work legally and raise children who are American-born.

I disagree with some of my Team Trump brethren who believe these 800,000 residents should be “returned to sender” to their birthplaces. In my view, they comprise a totally different category than adults who willfully broke our immigration laws.

So Congress, I hope you enjoyed the August break that you didn’t deserve. Now get to work!

Steve Cortes is a Fox News contributor, former Trump campaign operative and spokesman for the Hispanic 100. For two decades, he worked on Wall Street as a trader and strategist.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/09/05/trump-acted-on-daca-now-its-time-for-congress-to-show-heart-and-smarts-on-immigration.html

Related:

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The Dreamer Debacle

Cynical politics by both parties puts thousands of young adults in jeopardy.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration at the Justice Department, Sept. 5.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration at the Justice Department, Sept. 5. PHOTO: ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES
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Updated Sept. 5, 2017 9:07 p.m. ET

President Trump is taking flak from all sides for ending his predecessor’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, thus putting some 800,000 young immigrants—so-called Dreamers—in legal limbo. Though the President and Barack Obama share responsibility for instigating the crisis, Mr. Trump and Congress now have an obligation to fix it and spare these productive young adults from harm they don’t deserve.

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Mr. Trump was at his worst during the campaign when he assailed DACA as an “unconstitutional executive amnesty,” though to his credit he later evinced a change of heart toward these immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The White House continued DACA despite legal misgivings. But in June, 10 GOP state Attorneys General presented an ultimatum: Kill DACA or we’ll sue.

They could make this threat because President Obama unilaterally issued the policy in June 2012 putatively because Congress failed to reform immigration, but the end-run was timed to galvanize his base before the election. He also knew that Dreamers have widespread public sympathy, including among Republicans who otherwise support strict immigration enforcement. He figured Republicans would harm themselves politically by opposing the compassionate policy and that a GOP successor couldn’t roll it back without a public backlash.

This was Mr. Obama at his most cynical, and it takes gall for him to scold Mr. Trump as he did Tuesday for making a “political decision” about “a moral question” and “basic decency.” Mr. Obama’s “political decision” to act as his own legislature teed up this moral crisis and created the legal jeopardy.

DACA allows undocumented immigrants under age 36 to apply for legal status and work permits, which can be renewed every two years. Applicants cannot have a serious criminal conviction. They must attend school, have a job, or serve in the military.

As America’s problems go, these young adults shouldn’t even be on the list. And it shows the Republican Party at its worst that the state AGs and Attorney General Jeff Sessions want to make this an urgent priority, rather than let Congress take it up when it has a less crowded schedule. They are pandering to the restrictionist right that is a minority even within the GOP.

But as a legal matter, they are right that Mr. Obama’s DACA diktat presents legal problems. The Constitution gives Congress the power to write immigration law, and issuing work permits confers a right that is the purview of the legislative branch.

The GOP AGs led by Texas’s Ken Paxton threatened to amend their lawsuit against the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which Mr. Obama issued in November 2014. That sweeping order granted legal protections to four million or so undocumented immigrants and stretched far beyond any reasonable definition of prosecutorial discretion.

In 2015 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed DAPA, holding that the order usurped congressional authority. The Supreme Court left the injunction in place last year. Mr. Sessions is probably right that DACA “is vulnerable to the same legal and constitutional challenges that the courts recognized with respect to the DAPA program.”

But DACA presents distinct humanitarian and economic concerns—as well as a government promise that carries a moral if not legal obligation. Unlike DAPA, which was never implemented, some 800,000 Dreamers have used DACA to reorder their lives.

The Obama Administration invited Dreamers out of the shadows and asked them to submit personal identification and records that could now allow the feds to track them down. These young immigrants have committed no crime and trusted the federal government to protect them. A study last year by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center found that 87% of DACA beneficiaries are employed.

They would no longer be able to work legally once their DACA permits expire. And if they forge work documents, they would become a deportation priority. Dreamers could be forced to return to a country where they have no family and may not even speak the language. Is deporting these people really how Republicans want to define themselves?

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The White House seems to understand the terrible political optics, which is why it has tossed the issue to Congress. It plans what it calls “an orderly wind-down of DACA” rather than wait for a potentially disruptive court injunction. Current Dreamers whose permits expire over the next six months will be allowed to apply for renewals by Oct. 5, though no new applications will be accepted.

This gives Congress at least some time to enact the current Dreamer legalization process in a statute that is the proper legal path under the Constitution’s separation of powers. Mr. Trump signaled his willingness to sign such a bill on Tuesday when he tweeted, “Congress, get ready to do your job—DACA!” We hope he means it.

This will be a test of the sincerity of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Some Republicans like Iowa Rep. Steve King will oppose any DACA legalization as “amnesty,” and will want to load up a bill with poison pills that moderates and Democrats can’t abide. Many Democrats may also be more than happy to block legislation and use the Dreamers as a cudgel against Republicans next year.

An obvious bipartisan solution would trade authorizing DACA in return for additional border enforcement. But Republicans should also be prepared to send Mr. Trump a clean authorization to make good on the government’s moral obligation to these young people.

Appeared in the September 6, 2017, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-dreamer-debacle-1504654115

Trump took a giant step toward truly legalizing the Dreamers

September 6, 2017

The New York Post

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Even in our divided politics, it should be a matter of consensus that the president of the United States can’t write laws on his own.

That’s what President Obama did twice when he unilaterally granted amnesties to swaths of the illegal-immigrant population. The courts blocked one of these measures, known as DAPA, and President Trump has now begun the process of ending the other, DACA, on a delayed, rolling basis.

In a country with a firmer commitment to its Constitution and the rule of law, there’d be robust argument over how deal with the DACA recipients — so-called DREAMers who were brought here by their illegal-immigrant parents as children — but no question that Congress is the appropriate body for considering the matter, not the executive branch.

Instead, President Trump is getting roundly denounced by all his usual critics for inviting Congress to work its will. Obama came out of his brief retirement to join the pile-on. In a Facebook post, the former president said it’s wrong “to target these young people,” and called Trump’s act “cruel” and “contrary to our spirit, and to common sense.”

This is a lot of hyperventilating, even for a former president of the United States who must loathe his successor. Trump’s decision is a relatively modest way to roll back what is clearly an extra-legal act.

The president goes out of his way to minimize disruption for current DACA recipients. The administration will stop accepting new applications for the program but will continue to consider two-year renewals for recipients whose status is expiring between now and March 5.

This gives Congress a six-month window for its own solution before anyone’s status changes.

The proximate cause of the Trump decision was a threat by the attorney general of Texas and other states to bring a suit challenging the legality of DACA. Attention had to be paid because Texas and other states successfully got the other Obama unilateral amnesty, DAPA, enjoined by the courts.

In his post, Obama waives off the legal challenge. He says DACA is based “on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion.” He maintained the exact same thing about DAPA, and that didn’t save it in the courts, including the Supreme Court.

True prosecutorial discretion involves a case-by-case determination by authorities. Obama’s executive amnesties were sweeping new dispensations designed to apply to broad categories of illegal immigrants.

They didn’t involve simply deciding not to prioritize the deportation of the affected illegal immigrants, but the conferral of various positive benefits on them, most importantly, work permits.

This is clearly a new legal system for these immigrants, and in fact, President Obama once slipped and told an audience, “I just took action to change the law.” Prior to DACA, Obama repeatedly said that he didn’t have the authority to implement his own amnesty absent congressional action — before doing just that.

Now, Trump is giving Congress another chance. It has gotten out of the practice of legislating, but it isn’t hard to see the parameters of a deal: a codification of DACA, putting it on firm legal footing, in exchange for enforcement measures.

Whatever Congress arrives at, it will have more legitimacy than the jerry-rigged legislating of a president wielding a pen and a phone.

President Obama’s executive amnesties rendered the Left’s warnings about Trump during the campaign a little tinny. What was the worst a President Trump could do? Push for legislation and when it failed, impose it on his own? Obama had already done it, and neither the former president nor his supporters have second thoughts, yet warn hourly of Trump’s threats to our constitutional system.

President Trump has exercised his powers foolishly at times, but he’s never exceeded them. What Obama calls, pejoratively, the White House shifting “its responsibility for these young people to Congress,” is really just basic civics. Congress writes the laws, even on immigration.

FILED UNDER            
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http://nypost.com/2017/09/05/trump-just-took-a-giant-step-toward-truly-legalizing-the-dreamers/
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Marine Le Pen Wins French Parliamentary Seat, but Key Aides Miss Out

June 18, 2017

PARIS — French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Sunday won a seat in France’s parliament, as did her partner Louis Aliot, but two of her top aides were eliminated in a night where her arch rival Emmanuel Macron’s party swept to power with a huge majority.

Florian Philippot, her righthand man in the National Front (FN), failed to win the seat he was fighting, and Gilbert Collard, another top adviser who was one of only two far-right lawmakers in the 2012-2017 parliament, lost his seat.

(Reporting by Andrew Callus; Editing by Leigh Thomas)