Friday, January 13, 2017

The Biggest Scandal Of All Is The Mass Media's Unwillingness To Reveal the Truth. The Rorschach!

The biggest scandal of all is the unwillingness of the mass media to tell the truth about their anointed.
(See 1 below.)
No honeymoon for Trump.  Will his irascibility cause him to lose opportunities for accomplishing?

I have always maintained , at the very least, all seeking the presidency should be given Rorschach tests.  Hillary was on the scene long enough so we got to know her psychotic ways.  With Trump we have had only a short span of time to learn about his mental quirkiness.

Let the roller coaster ride begin and hope that his desire to be great, his good heart and true intentions will carry us through the rough patches of his personality. (See 2 below.)
Obama told us he would transform America.  The problem was the vision he had of and for America was not the vision so many Americans had.

He viewed our nation from an ideological viewpoint shaped by people who were radical and who had negative feelings about America.

Worst of all he was a bully who used the power of government to coerce and/or placed those in government through which he accomplished his same nefarious goals. (See 3 below)
Today's lead WSJ Editorial calls for FBI Director Comey to resign.  He politicized that agency and it is no longer trusted.  Perhaps Atty Gen. Lynch put him in a difficult position after her own indiscretions but he could have refused to play the role he did which placed him in violation of his own agency's rules.

Meanwhile my friend Kim Strassel has reminded us about intimidation being an increasingly used weapon  by those in government to ruin people. (See 4 below.)
1) Scandals Aplenty
The media just pretended they didn't exist.

Less than a fortnight after his successor was elected, Barack Obama got to work on shaping his legacy. “I'm extremely proud of the fact that over eight years we have not had the kinds of scandals that have plagued other administrations," he said. On January 1, White House consigliere Valerie Jarrett—does anyone have a firm grasp on what her actual job description has been over two terms?—appeared on CNN and reiterated the sentiment: "The president prides himself on the fact that his administration hasn't had a scandal and that he hasn't done something to embarrass himself."

As achievements go, this would be one in which a modern president could take pride. But in making the claim for himself, Obama proves he cannot even accurately describe the events of his presidency. His tenure saw an astounding number of scandals: Benghazi, Fast and Furious gunrunning, Solyndra and green energy subsidies for campaign donors, cash for Iranian hostages, IRS targeting of conservative groups, spying on journalists, Hillary Clinton's private email server, the Veterans Administration disaster, trading deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders held in Guantánamo, droning American citizens without due process, and firing inspector general Gerald Walpin for investigating an Obama crony who was abusing federal programs. And that list isn't exhaustive.
The media have certainly tried their best to buttress Obama's claim to have presided over a scandal-free administration—starting long before he even made it. In 2014, New Yorker editor and Obama biographer David Remnick told the (skeptical) host of PBS's Charlie Rose that the president had already racked up "huge" achievements. On his list: "The fact that there's been no scandal, major scandal, in this administration, which is a rare thing in an administration." Remnick was hardly alone. Veteran journalist Jonathan Alter wrote a column for Bloomberg back in 2011 headlined "The Obama Miracle, a White House Free of Scandal." More recently, Glenn Thrush, then a Politico reporter, tweeted, "As Obama talks up legacy on campaign trail important to note he's had best/least scandal-scarred 2nd term since FDR." Even conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks last year declared the Obama administration "remarkably scandal-free."

Remnick's remark is particularly notable for how it presaged White House talking points. Obama's chief campaign strategist David Axelrod was asked at the University of Chicago in 2015 about the administration's broken promise to bar lobbyists from working for it. Axelrod admitted things hadn't been "pristine" but said, "I'm proud of the fact that, basically, you've had an administration that's been in place for six years in which there hasn't been a major scandal."

As Noah Rothman observed in Commentary, "The qualifier 'major' lays the burden on shoulders of the press to define what constitutes a serious scandal, and political media had thus far reliably covered the administration's ethical lapses as merely the peculiar obsessions of addlebrained conservatives."
So what would constitute a "major" scandal? Would it involve, say, dead bodies? The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gave thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels; they used some of them to kill dozens of people, including American border patrol agent Brian Terry. When Congress tried to investigate why the ATF gave away so many guns and failed to track them, the Department of Justice engaged in unprecedented stonewalling. The department withheld 92 percent of the documents requested and forbade 48 relevant employees from speaking to congressional investigators. Attorney General Eric Holder was ultimately held in contempt of Congress, with 17 Democrats supporting the measure. An explanation for why the ATF gave thousands of guns to violent criminals has yet to emerge—but we are to understand that this is not a "major" scandal.
Four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya, died in a premeditated terrorist attack in Benghazi two months before Obama's reelection. The White House claimed, though it almost immediately had evidence to the contrary, that the raid was fallout from a spontaneous protest over an American anti-Muslim YouTube video. The maker of the video was promptly arrested on old, unrelated charges. The CBS news program 60 Minutes recorded Obama refusing to rule out the possibility Benghazi was a terrorist attack in an interview the day after it occurred but didn't broadcast it. A transcript of Obama's stunning concession was quietly released a few days before the election, but by then the waters had been sufficiently muddied so that it was difficult for Mitt Romney to press his case that Obama had lied. (The GOP candidate was famously interrupted by moderator Candy Crowley when he tried to make this point in one of the presidential debates.) It probably helped that Obama's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, who would later brag about dishonestly selling the Iran nuclear deal, is the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes. There were four dead bodies at the heart of a political cover-up, but the media attacked the subsequent investigation as an overreach of an obsessive Republican Congress.
Unforeseen events such as Benghazi often prompt a cover-up that leads to scandal. The Obama administration, however, took disrepute to the next level. Its two major achievements, Obamacare and the Iran nuclear deal, were premised on a strategy that embraced overt dishonesty.
It's liberating to know that you can tell whatever lies are politically useful without consequence. The Obama administration could almost always count on the media to back it, regardless of the contortions necessary. The most brazen untruth the administration used to sell Obamacare was "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it." Pulitzer Prize-winning "fact checker" PolitiFact rated Obama's oft-repeated claim "true" six different times, right up until the year after Obama was reelected and millions lost their health insurance after the key provisions of Obamacare went into effect.
In the case of the Iran deal, the administration had more direct help: An outside group, the Ploughshares Fund, provided a grant for an email listserv in which liberal journalists honed talking points and directed swarms of supporters to shut down anyone advancing arguments critical of the deal. Ploughshares also gave more than a hundred thousand dollars to left-leaning media outlets such as NPR to ensure arguments in support of the White House's Iran policy were heard.
"We created an echo chamber," Ben Rhodes later told the New York Times in explaining how the administration sealed the Iran deal. Policy experts and members of the media "were saying things that validated what we had given them to say."
The question is: Why was the press such a willing partner? Several Obama scandals, after all, revolved around the administration's mistreatment of the media. Obama's Justice Department, frustrated by leaks to reporters, used the 1917 Espionage Act—a law so expansive it was used to jail people who distributed flyers protesting the draft in World War I—to justify spying on the Associated Press newsroom and Fox News national security correspondent James Rosen. James Goodale, the lawyer who represented the New York Times in the landmark Pentagon Papers press freedom case, declared that "President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom." The steadfastly fawning coverage of Obama is even more difficult to fathom when you realize the masochism it must have entailed.
In the end, the real legacy of the Obama presidency might be that after eight years of constant misconduct with media-assisted denial, abuse of power and betrayal of the public trust are no longer scandalous by default. The media certainly seem puzzled that Americans tuned out their shrieks about Trump's tax returns and sexist remarks. But thanks to Obama, determining what constitutes a scandal is no longer straightforward. It is like a zen koan, in which the question is more evocative than answerable: What is the sound of one hand clapping? If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? And is it a scandal if the media refuse to say it is?
Mark Hemingway is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++2) What happened to the honeymoon?
Trump is wearing out his welcome, and he hasn’t even taken office

The shortest honeymoon on record is officially over. Normally, newly elected presidents enjoy a wave of goodwill that allows them to fly high at least through their first 100 days. Donald Trump has not yet been sworn in and the honeymoon has already come and gone.

Presidents-elect usually lie low during the interregnum. Trump never lies low. He seized the actual presidency from Barack Obama within weeks of his election — cutting ostentatious deals with U.S. manufacturers to keep jobs at home, challenging 40-year-old China policy, getting into a very public fight with the intelligence agencies. By now he has taken over the presidential stage. It is true that we have only one president at a time, and for over a month it’s been Donald Trump.

The result is quantifiable. A Quinnipiac poll from Nov. 17 to 20 — the quiet, hope-and-change phase — showed a decided bump in Trump’s popularity and in general national optimism. It didn’t last long. In the latest Quinnipiac poll, the numbers have essentially returned to Trump’s (historically dismal) pre-election levels.

For several reasons. First, the refusal of an unbending left to accept the legitimacy of Trump’s victory. It’s not just the demonstrators chanting “not my president.” It is leading Democrats pushing one line after another to delegitimize the election, as in: He lost the popular vote, it’s James Comey’s fault, the Russians did it.
Second, Trump’s own instincts and inclinations, a thirst for attention that leads to hyperactivity. His need to dominate every news cycle feeds an almost compulsive tweet habit. It has placed him just about continuously at the center of the national conversation and not always to his benefit.

Trump simply can’t resist playground push back. His tweets gave Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes screed priceless publicity. His mocking Arnold Schwarzenegger for bad “Apprentice” ratings — compared with “the ratings machine, DJT” — made Trump look small and Arnold (almost) sympathetic.

Nor is this behavior likely to change after the inauguration. It’s part of Trump’s character. Nothing negative goes unanswered because, for Trump, an unanswered slight has the air of concession or surrender.

Finally, it’s his chronic indiscipline, his jumping randomly from one subject to another without rhyme, reason or larger strategy. In a week packed with confirmation hearings and Russian hacking allegations, what was he doing meeting with Robert Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccine activist pushing the thoroughly discredited idea that vaccines cause autism?

We know from way back during the Republican debates that Trump himself has dabbled in this dubious territory. One could, however, write it off as one of many campaign oddities that would surely fade away. Not so, apparently.

This is not good. The idea that vaccines cause autism originally arose in a 1998 paper in the medical journal the Lancet that was later found to be fraudulent and had to be retracted. Indeed, the lead researcher acted so egregiously that he was stripped of his medical license.

Kennedy says that Trump asked him to chair a commission about vaccine safety. While denying that, the transition team does say that the commission idea remains open. Either way, the damage is done. The anti-vaccine fanatics seek any validation. This indirect endorsement from Trump is immensely harmful. Vaccination has prevented more childhood suffering and death than any other measure in history. With so many issues pressing, why even go there?

The vaccination issue was merely an exclamation point on the scatter-brained randomness of the Trump transition. All of which contributes to the harried, almost wearying feeling that we are already well into the Trump presidency.

Compare this with eight years ago and the near euphoria — overblown but nonetheless palpable — at the swearing-in of Barack Obama. Not since JFK had any new president enjoyed such genuine goodwill upon accession to office.

And yet it turns out that such auspicious beginnings are not at all predictive. We could see it this same week.
Tuesday night, there stood Obama giving a farewell address that only underscored the failure of a presidency so bathed in optimism at its start. The final speech, amazingly, could have been given, nearly unedited, in 2008. Why, it even ended with “yes we can.”

Is there more powerful evidence of the emptiness of the intervening two terms? When your final statement is a reprise of your first, you have unwittingly confessed to being nothing more than a historical parenthesis
3) The one act that defined President Barack Obama

It is fitting that presidents give farewell messages.  But given the venue and setting President Obama had chosen, it was fairly easy to surmise that this would be a final political rally and national lecture.
I will simply recount the one lasting legacy of Barack Obama that will always be emblazoned in my memory.  When I think of him, I will think of this.  When I reflect on his promised era of hope and change, I will be drawn to this image. 

Despite your personal feelings on his coolness, his character, his charisma, or his competence, Barack Obama will forever be the president who worked diligently to put the gun of government to the heads of the Little Sisters of the Poor, demanding that they either pay to destroy children in the womb or be crushed.

You can't candy-coat that.  You can't hide it.  You can't pretend it wasn't what it was.  For 177 years, the Little Sisters of the Poor has been a large Roman Catholic religious ministry that takes vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and hospitality.  Serving the Kingdom of God on earth in over 30 countries, they have one stated mission: to care for impoverished people as they near the end of their lives.  As Ashley McGuire describes it, "The only fight they go looking for is to make the last days of some very downtrodden people brighter and happier, to send as many people into the next life surrounded by love, not garbage."

Barack Obama knew that, personally.  Regardless, he instructed his administration to rewrite executive regulations nine separate times to ensure these nuns be forced to either violate their conscience by helping distribute abortifacients or be fined $70 million a year and out of existence.  Their beliefs, their ministry, their cause, and even the incredible work that they do were secondary to President Barack Obama's devotion to funding and expanding the destruction of infants with tax dollars.

The president's own lawyers admitted in court that there were compromises available that would have met their objectives while sparing the Sisters' consciences.  But President Obama refused.  Using the coercive power of the state to compel nuns to pay for abortion drugs became an issue of pride for this small man.

His obsession was so out of touch that the Supreme Court, divided as it is, issued a unanimous ruling telling Obama he must find another way.  When Ruth Bader Ginsburg joins hands with Clarence Thomas to rebuke your fixation with forcing nuns to violate their conscience, you have reached the pinnacle of ideological extremism.
After 22 years of torture in a Cuban prison for his refusal to sign a government document supporting Fidel Castro, Armando Valladares was honored by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.  In his speech, he said of the Little Sisters of the Poor, “They know what my body knows after 22 years of cruel torture: that if they sign the form…they will be violating their conscience and would commit spiritual suicide.  If they did this they would forfeit the true and only wealth they have in abandoning the castle of their conscience

That President Obama failed to ever respect that eternal truth is both pitiful and shameful.  And it's why I'm beyond elated to bid him a permanent farewell.

Peter Heck is a speaker, author, and teacher.  Follow him @peterheck, email, or visit

4) Dumpster Diving for Dossiers

The team that created the Trump file went digging for divorce records in 2012.

The president-elect at a press conference in New York, Jan. 11.
The president-elect at a press conference in New York, Jan. 11. PHOTO: ZUMA PRESS
Washington and the press corps are feuding over the Trump “dossier,” screaming about 
what counts as “fake news.” The pity is that this has turned into a story about media 
ethics. The far better subject is the origin of the dossier itself.
“Fake news” doesn’t come from nowhere. It’s created by people with an agenda. This 
dossier—which alleges that Donald Trump has deep backing from Russia—is a
 turbocharged example of the smear strategy that the left has been ramping up for a 
decade.Team Trump needs to put the scandal in that context so that it can get to 
governing and better defuse the next such attack.
The more that progressives have failed to win political arguments, the more they have 
turned to underhanded tactics to shut down their political opponents. (For a complete 
account of these abuses, see my book, “The Intimidation Game.”) Liberals co-opted the 
IRS to crack down on Tea Party groups. They used state prosecutors to launch phony investigations. They coordinated liberal shock troops to threaten corporations. And they
—important for today’s hysteria—routinely employed outside dirt diggers to engage in
 character assassination.
This editorial page ran a series in 2012 about one such attack, on Frank VanderSloot. In 
2011 the Idaho businessman gave $1 million to a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. 
The following spring, the Obama re-election campaign publicly smeared Mr. Vander
Sloot (and seven other Romney donors) as “wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable 
This national shaming, by the president no less, painted a giant target on Mr. Vander
Sloot’s back. The liberal media slandered him daily on TV and in print. The federal 
bureaucracy went after him: He was ultimately audited by the IRS and the Labor 
Department. About a week after the Obama attack, an investigator contacted a courthouse
in Idaho Falls demanding documents dealing with Mr. VanderSloot’s divorces, as well 
as any other litigation involving him. We traced this investigator to an opposition-
research chop shop called Fusion GPS.
Fusion is run by a former Wall Street Journal reporter, Glenn Simpson. When we asked 
how he could justify dumpster-diving into the divorce records of private citizens, he said 
only that Mr. VanderSloot was a “legitimate” target. He refused to tell us who’d paid him 
to do this slumming, and federal records didn’t show any payments to Fusion from 
prominent Democratic groups or campaigns. The money may well have been washed 
through third-party groups.
Why does this matter? Guess who is behind that dossier against Mr. Trump: Fusion GPS. 
A Republican donor who opposed Mr. Trump during the primaries hired Fusion to create 
a file on “the real estate magnate’s past scandals and weaknesses,” according to the New 
York Times. After Mr. Trump won the GOP race, that donor pulled the plug. Fusion then
seamlessly made its product available to “new clients”—liberals supporting Hillary Clinton. Moreover, it stooped to lower tactics, hiring a former British spook to help tie 
Mr. Trump to the Russians. (Fusion GPS did not respond to a request for comment.)
No media organization has so far been able to confirm a single allegation in the dossier. 
Given Fusion’s history and tactics, trying arguably isn’t worth the effort. Truth was never
 its purpose.
The point of the dossier—as with the dredging into Mr. VanderSloot’s personal life, or 
the smearing of the Koch brothers, or Harry Reid’s false accusation that Mitt Romney 
didn’t pay taxes—was to gin up the ugliest, most scurrilous claims, and then trust the 
click-hungry media to disseminate them. No matter how false the allegations, the subject 
of the attack is required to respond, wasting precious time and losing credibility. Mr. 
Trump should be focused on his nominations, his policies, disentangling himself from 
his business. Instead his team is trying to disprove a negative and prevent the accusations,
no matter how flimsy, from seeping into voters’ minds.
Opposition research and false claims are an equal opportunity game. But it says 
something about the brass-knuckle approach of the left that it would go so far as to write 
a dossier suggesting that Mr. Trump is a Manchurian candidate—and then to foist that 
report into the hands of intelligence officials.
Mr. Trump can expect plenty more of this to come. In winning the election, he blocked 
the left’s ability to use some of its favorite intimidation tactics. It no longer controls an accommodating federal bureaucracy. It no longer runs a Justice Department willing to 
threaten political opponents and turn a blind eye to liberal abuse.
So the left will increasingly rely on campaigns of delegitimization designed to force 
opponents onto a back foot, push them off task, or even bully them out of the public 
arena. In the absence of a winning policy argument, this is, in their minds, the best 
they’ve got. Republicans had better be ready for it.

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