10 January 2018

Watergate-Level Corruption: Mueller Investigation, Clinton Email Scandal, and Steele Dossier

Stephen Kershnar
High-Profile Investigations Constitute a Watergate-Level Scandal
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
January 9, 2018

            The investigations of the Trump campaign, Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, and Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation of Russian collusion were and are so incestuous, conflicted, and dirty that they constitute a Watergate-level scandal.

            Consider Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation of alleged Russian collusion. Mueller was appointed after former FBI director James Comey leaked confidential notes about his conversation with President Trump. The leaking is likely a crime, but he’ll get a pass. Comey admitted that he was hoping to appoint a special counsel to investigate Trump whom Comey admitted, under oath, he was not investigating. This makes no sense. Department of Justice officials held over from the Obama administration (swamp creatures) chose Mueller who was Comey’s longtime friend and co-worker. Given that Comey is a potential witness in the case and could be, in effect, an accuser, this conflict of interest stinks.

There are incestuous relations between Mueller’s team, Hillary Clinton’s legal world, and those who investigated her email scandal. The Hoover Institution’s Victor Davis Hanson points out that at least six of Mueller’s staff of fifteen lawyers donated to the Clinton campaign. He reports that the team includes Jeannie Rhee who provided legal services to the Clinton Foundation and who generously donated to the Clinton campaign.

He also notes that it includes Aaron Zebley, who represented the IT staffer who set up Clinton’s server and reportedly smashed Clinton’s cell phones with a hammer to prevent them being searched.

Most spectacularly, the Mueller team included an FBI investigator Peter Strzok who was later thrown off the team reportedly for nasty texts about Trump with another member of the Mueller legal team (Lisa Page) with whom he was having an affair. Strzok was at neck deep these investigations. He was the lead investigator of the Clinton email scandal and helped draft the memo recommending that Clinton not be prosecuted for her server. He deleted language in the memo that said that Clinton was “grossly negligent,” the requirement for the relevant crime. The memo was drafted and Strzok changed it well in advance of interviewing some of the people involved, including Hillary Clinton. Now this is an investigation one can believe in.

Strzok was present in all three investigations. He led the investigation of and interviewed Hillary Clinton about the server (not under oath – a sweetheart deal) and interviewed Trump Administration official Michael Flynn about Russia. Flynn is now being prosecuted what he said in the interview. Strzok made suspicious comments in a text about a plan to save the country were Trump elected. He made these comments in response to what appears to be a meeting with Page and the second in command at the FBI (Andrew McCabe).

Another member of Mueller’s legal team, Andrew Weissman, has a checkered past and there is evidence of his being incredibly biased against Trump.

            A Justice Department official, Bruce Ohr, was demoted in part because he concealed meeting with the firm (Fusion GPS) that produced an opposition research document (Steele dossier). It is widely reported that information from the dossier was used to get a FISA court warrant to monitor people in the Trump campaign. This despite the fact that Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid for the dossier and that it was quickly discredited. Ohr’s wife worked for Fusion GPA and, of course, Bruce Ohr failed to disclose this as well.

            The investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email was awash in sweetheart deals, conflicts of interest, and obstruction of justice. It was overseen by Andrew McCabe, the second in command at the FBI. He did not recuse himself until one week before the presidential election despite the fact that his wife received almost $700,000 from the Clintons’ longtime moneyman Terry McAuliffe (specifically, from his organizations). The investigation involved a refusal to apply the statutory standard (gross negligence), a refusal to prosecute Clinton and company for what others have been prosecuted for (see Kristian Saucier and David Petraeus), immunity deals handed out like candy, looking past destruction of subpoenaed evidence, failure to subpoena relevant parties, and on and on.

            There is also the unmasking scandal whereby the Obama administration monitored members of the incoming Trump administration as part of its attempt to surveil foreign officials. Former national security advisor Susan Rice lied about her requests to have Trump’s people unmasked. The congressman who heads the committee looking into noted that the unmasking had little to no intelligence value. Rice was already famous for repeatedly lying about the Benghazi debacle.

            There are several lessons to be drawn from all of this. First, the FBI and Justice Department are conflicted, unethical, and, at times, dirty. The place needs to be cleaned out like a basement with a rat infestation. Swamp creatures such as Comey, McCabe, Mueller, Strzok, Weissman, and those high level officials who recommended or tolerated their hiring need to have their name blackened and never again allowed to hold a government position. Making things worse, the Justice Department and FBI refuse to hand over documents to Congress regarding the Mueller investigation. 
            Second, we should have no confidence in the ability of the government to investigate itself. The failure to prosecute former Presidents (for example, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton), their underlings (for example, Eric Holder and Lois Lerner), and dirty members of Congress (for example, Charley Rangel) is a mistake. This sends the message that government officials are above the law. The shocking decision not to charge Bill Clinton with obstruction of justice, perjury, and witness tampering and spoke volumes. Clinton merely had to pay a fine for contempt of court and surrender his law license.

            Third, this Watergate-level scandal needs to be investigated and evildoers punished. Using a dubious opposition research document to get a FISA warrant (if this occurred), using the warrant to collect information on Trump campaign members, and then using this information to get a special counsel appointed involves naked aggression against political enemies. This cannot be tolerated. We saw earlier instances of this when, under the Clinton and Obama administrations, the IRS was weaponized and the Justice Department looked the other way. The past and holdover Obama administration officials’ actions threaten American democracy. This threat is similar to that posed by the Nixon administration’s lawless behavior.

Unfortunately, between the Congressional sissies and the cowardly Attorney General Jeff Session, this will all be shoved down the memory hole.

28 December 2017

The Harvey Weinstein Effect: Eliminate Sexual Harassment Law

Stephen Kershnar
The Weinstein Effect and Sexual Harassment Law
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
December 21, 2017

            The Weinstein effect involves famous or powerful people being publicly accused of sexual misconduct. It began when several women accused movie producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. This effect is a good opportunity to consider whether sexual harassment law should be repealed.
            The Weinstein effect took down a number of public figures. Senator Al Franken and Representative John Conyers resigned over such charges and Roy Moore was not elected over it. Entertainers Louis CK, Richard Dreyfuss, Dustin Hoffman, Ryan Seacrest, Steven Seagal, and Kevin Spacey have been disgraced, fired, or isolated in response to allegations of sexual misconduct. Journalists Tom Ashbrook, Garrison Keillor, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Tavis Smiley were similarly treated.

No such effect followed the reasonably well-evidenced rape and sexual battery allegations against Bill Clinton. Apparently, some rapists are too big to fail.         

Sex harassment law comes from the ban on sex discrimination found in the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer … to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” The law applies to private businesses, federal, state, and local governments, public and private colleges, and unions.

There are two types of sex harassment: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo harassment involves a boss asking an employee to trade sex for a job-related benefit such as getting hired, promoted, or a raise. A hostile work environment involves a boss or co-worker creating a work environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile, or abusive. An employer can be held liable for failing to prevent such an environment. Such an environment might come about in part from sexual comments, photos, dating requests, and so on.

Sexual harassment law is unnecessary. Rape, sexual battery (unconsented touching), and sexual threats are already crimes. Such acts can and do lead to recovery under civil law. A quid pro quo offer is a type of prostitution and therefore already illegal. There is an interesting question as to whether prostitution should be illegal, but in any case, criminal law currently prohibits it.
This leaves only the hostile-work-environment line of sex harassment law. Workplaces vary with the degree to which employers and employees welcome sexual comments, jokes, photos, requests for dates, dating, and sexual hookups. There is no one answer as to which, if any, of these activities should be permitted in a workplace. Rather, it should depend on the employers’ and employees’ preferences. The former own the premises and pay the bills. In addition, employers are subject to market discipline. If they have too strict or lax standards, they will not get the best employees or have to pay the best more to come to their firm or stay there. This is a big incentive to be reasonable.

It would also allow employees to decide what sort of workplace in which they work. Many employees would prefer not to have stifling political correctness in the workplace. This is particularly true given that, as American Enterprise Institute’s Christina Hoff Sommers points out, the rate of sexual harassment is dropping (from 6.1% women in workplace harassed per year in 2002 to 3.6% in 2014 – still far too high) and women hold more than half of managerial, professional, and related positions.

Given the Weinstein-effect mess, there is reason to wonder whether employers subject to market discipline would do a better job of policing themselves than the government does of policing them. If the Weinstein mess is far reaching, and this is not clear, we should wonder whether government policing of workplace etiquette works well for anyone: employers, employees, or women.

Not only would allowing employers to set their own standards allow people to find workplaces that fit their tastes, it would also avoid the lying, sneaking, and privacy invasions that accompany a blanket ban on dating and sex. On one estimate, one in six marriages began at work. How many of these marriages would have prevented under today’s workplace rules? At Fredonia State, for example, faculty from many departments married former students or colleagues (consider, for example, education, English, foreign language, history, and music). Workplaces that ban such relationships turn workers into liars and sneaks.

The ban on a hostile workplace makes rudeness illegal. The government makes a mess out of everything it touches and, predictably, has made a mess of enforcing workplace etiquette. Also, if the role of government is limited to protecting people’s moral rights and, perhaps, funding public goods, then the government has no business enforcing workplace etiquette.

Also, plenty of jobs involve conditions that a reasonable person would find intolerable. Consider, for example, the demands made by medical residencies, SEAL team training, and Wall Street law firms. The government does not have a general moral license to eliminate intolerable workplace conditions. 

As a legal matter, the ban on hostile work environment chills, if not prohibits, speech that should be protected by the First Amendment. Prudent worker are scared to ask someone out on a date, discuss sex with a friend at work, or socialize after work, despite the fact that such activities are protected under current law. It also discourages male-female mentoring and informal discussion of workplace strategy, both of which are important. Even the legal justification for the federal law, workplace discrimination affecting interstate commerce depends on a misreading of the Constitution. 

An objector might claim that sexual harassment is inefficient because it discourages women from joining the work force and, as a result, should be stamped out. This mistakenly assumes that employers don’t have a strong incentive to make their workplace hospitable to employees. Also, it’s an odd complaint coming for those who want to fund the army of pricey attorneys, diversity officers, and government bureaucrats to micro-manage workplace etiquette. 

13 December 2017

The DACA Sellout: The ruling class outdoes themselves

Stephen Kershnar
DACA Amnesty: Are you kidding me?
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
December 10, 2017

            The Democrats have made Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty their top priority in recent Congressional negotiation over the budget despite its being irrelevant to the budget. The Republican establishment also wants DACA. The political class states that DACA is merely temporary relief for educated-and-promising children and teens whose parents brought them here without their consent. It argues that DACA is compassionate because DACA children would do poorly if returned home and yet they are good for the American people. DACA is a disgrace and shocking display of the ruling class’ priorities.

            DACA began as Barack Obama’s proposal to allow some people who came illegally as minors to stay here for two years with the chance for renewed permission after that. The policy forgave people who were younger than 31 years old on June 15, 2012.  In 2014, Obama expanded and implemented the plan via executive action. It currently amnesties roughly 800,000 people and another 500,000 are eligible. More than half the states then sued. In September, Donald Trump canceled the policy, but delayed acting on the cancellation for six months to give Congress time to act. Had Trump not canceled the policy, the courts would done so because Obama’s executive action was clearly unconstitutional.

             DACA is a disgrace in part because it rests on a bed of lies. First, the amnesty for DACA would be massive and not given to just DACA children and teens. The Department of Homeland security found that while the average immigrant brought in (sponsored) three family members, the average Mexican immigrant sponsored six family members. Forbes reports that 78% of the DACA beneficiaries are Mexican. Assuming that, on average, an immigrant brings in six family members, then, the amnesty would bring in 4.8 million people.

Some context is helpful here. DACA is above and beyond the more than one million immigrants a year the U.S. admits. It is also above and beyond the 84 million immigrants and their U.S. born children (27%) of the population who are already here (Migration Policy Institute). The ruling class has been flooding the country with people from the third world. DACA is just a part of this.   

            Far too many DACA immigrants are neither children nor teens and many are shockingly uneducated. Writing for The Daily Signal, Hans Von Spakovsky notes that the majority of DACA beneficiaries are adults. He further notes that fewer than half of DACA beneficiaries have a high school education despite the fact that the majority are adults. The Center for Immigration Studies’ Steven Camarota found that, perhaps, 24% are functionally illiterate and another 46% have only basic English ability. Similarly, the Migration Policy Institute found that in 2014 only 5% of the DACA beneficiaries had a college degree.

            The DACA beneficiaries will not meet many of the advertised eligibility requirements. For example, von Spakovsky reports, the Obama administration regularly waived the DACA education requirement. If the future is anything like the past, the government will waive and eventually drop many of the eligibility requirements for DACA-based amnesty.
             The presidential sleaziness surrounding DACA is a wonder to behold. Obama’s executive amnesty was blatantly illegal. A president cannot unilaterally change immigration law. Obama attempted to do by claiming that the executive branch has prosecutorial discretion. Like so many of Obama’s legal claims, this is childish. No one thinks that president Trump could in effect eliminate the capital gains tax by using prosecutorial discretion to make it clear that people who don’t pay the tax get off scot-free. Trump’s voters took seriously his promise to return DACA invaders. If he goes back on his promise, he is just another lying politician. His voters will notice.  

Also, Trump and his voters know well that every successive amnesty encourages millions more to sneak in.    

            The people sneaking in and their family members will be costly to taxpayers. Writing for the Heritage Foundation, Robert Rector and Jason Richwine note that the U.S. government gives a lot of money to poor people. Using 2010 numbers, they note that on average, households headed by people without a high school diploma receive $35,000 more in benefits each year than they pay in taxes. They further note that half of illegal-alien households are headed by someone without a high school degree and 25% have only a high school degree.  

The Democrats’ prioritizing DACA is incredible. Surely, Democratic politicians can find a priority that focuses on U.S. citizens. The might, for example, focus on overpriced and disastrous public schools, the sea of incarcerated Americans, or shoring up unsustainable entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Why do Democratic voters let themselves be such a low priority?   

American voters oppose amnesty. They rose up in outrage over the attempt to sneak amnesty in through the back door during the Bush II administration and elected Trump in large part to prevent further amnesties. They don’t think the country’s problems can be fixed by flooding the U.S. with tens of millions of poor-and-uneducated third world immigrants, especially from Central America. Why is it so hard for the American people to get what they want, especially given that they are in the right?

Also, why does the country have to draft so many low quality immigrants when other countries (for example Canada) select high quality ones by drafting for skill, education, or money? As Ann Coulter points out, the New England Patriots drafts the best players it can get. Cornell University admits the best students it can get. The U.S. should pick new citizens similar to how the Patriots and Cornell choose. The country loses out when the country admits DACA beneficiaries rather than the best and brightest immigrants China, India, and Turkey have to offer. 

The DACA amnesty is based on lies. It rewards Obama’s law-breaking and Trump’s promise-breaking. It harms American people and they don’t want it. The ruling class really outdid themselves on this one.