FBI leakers admit to spying on Trump campaign 100 days before the election. The purpose of the leaks to to cover-their-butts in advance of the Inspector General report.

It's been nearly 24 hours since it has been revealed to the world that President Barack Obama's Justice Department conducted a counterintelligence investigation on the Trump campaign. The investigation began 100 days before the presidential election and was executed with all the traditional tools of spy trade-craft including informants (spies) and electronic surveillance (wire tapping.)

These stunning revelations were memorialized in the bible of the Mainstream Media: It was written in the Gospel According to the New York Times.

Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says it's "a good thing" that Obama was spying on his political opponent.

Clapper admitted the FBI "may have had someone who was talking to them in the campaign," referring to President Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. He explained away the possibility of an FBI informant spying on the campaign as the bureau was trying to find out "what the Russians were doing to try to substantiate themselves in the campaign or influence or leverage it."

Obama's Director of National Intelligence then went on to say, "So, if there was someone that was observing that sort of thing, that's a good thing."

Mollie Hemingway dissects the NYT article based on the leaks.

This is a stunning admission for those Americans worried that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies might use their powers to surveil, leak against, and target Americans simply for their political views or affiliations. As Sean Davis wrote, "The most amazing aspect about this article is how blasé it is about the fact that the Obama admin was actively spying on four affiliates of a rival political campaign weeks before an election."

The story says the FBI was worried that if it came out they were spying on Trump campaign it would "only reinforce his claims that the election was being rigged against him." It is easy to understand how learning that the FBI was spying on one's presidential campaign might reinforce claims of election-rigging.


Muller's indictment of Russian conspirators appears to be backfiring.

Against all expectations, in April, lawyers for one of the Russian corporate defendants, Concord Management and Consulting, LLC, entered their appearances in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. They followed up by serving extensive discovery requests on Team Mueller seeking full disclosure of the government's case and investigation including sensitive national security and intelligence information.

This type of discovery is called "graymail" (as distinguished from blackmail) in which the government is faced with having to disclose closely guarded state secrets in order to proceed with the prosecution. The alternative is to drop the charges.

Given that the maximum penalty against Concord is an uncollectable $500,000 fine or equally uncollectable compensation to anyone damaged by the alleged conspiracy, the choice is all the more bitter for Team Mueller. Should they litigate the discovery requests? If they lose and are faced with having to disclose sensitive intelligence information about the case and their investigation, should they withdraw the indictment against Concord? And, if they drop the charges, are they prepared for the resulting public mockery and howls of derision?

Andrew C. McCarthy has more on the topic of judicial hardship for Mueller. Seems like it's past time to wrap up this investigation.


I don't care what some scientists say, Pluto is a planet. No scientist has the right to tell us how to use words.

But the process for redefining planet was deeply flawed and widely criticized even by those who accepted the outcome. At the 2006 IAU conference, which was held in Prague, the few scientists remaining at the very end of the week-long meeting (less than 4 percent of the world's astronomers and even a smaller percentage of the world's planetary scientists) ratified a hastily drawn definition that contains obvious flaws. For one thing, it defines a planet as an object orbiting around our sun -- thereby disqualifying the planets around other stars, ignoring the exoplanet revolution, and decreeing that essentially all the planets in the universe are not, in fact, planets.

Even within our solar system, the IAU scientists defined "planet" in a strange way, declaring that if an orbiting world has "cleared its zone," or thrown its weight around enough to eject all other nearby objects, it is a planet. Otherwise it is not. This criterion is imprecise and leaves many borderline cases, but what's worse is that they chose a definition that discounts the actual physical properties of a potential planet, electing instead to define "planet" in terms of the other objects that are -- or are not -- orbiting nearby. This leads to many bizarre and absurd conclusions. For example, it would mean that Earth was not a planet for its first 500 million years of history, because it orbited among a swarm of debris until that time, and also that if you took Earth today and moved it somewhere else, say out to the asteroid belt, it would cease being a planet.

Language is descriptive, not prescriptive. Not to mention the absurdity of this particular decision.


Roger Simon says that modern journalists depend more on leaks than on investigative ability.

After all, this was the Golden Age of Journalism. That was what should have been emphasized. Look how Donald Trump was being so bravely exposed.

What a crock! It's the Golden Age of Leaking, not Journalism. The fantastic success of Woodward and Bernstein during Watergate has brought us to that. Blame "Deep Throat." A journalist is now someone who answers the phone from a leaker, takes down what he or she says, and spits out the innuendos and lies to win a Pulitzer. You don't have to be Hemingway to do that. You just have to have a decent digital rolodex and be a good kiss-ass.


The article doesn't explain why, but Finland has decided to continue but not expand its experiment with a Universal Basic Income (UBI). In an era of increasing automation and artificial intelligence, many futurists think that mass unemployability and some form of UBI are inevitable.

Currently 2,000 unemployed Finns are receiving a flat monthly payment of €560 (£490; $685) as basic income.

"The eagerness of the government is evaporating. They rejected extra funding [for it]," said Olli Kangas, one of the experiment's designers.

Some see basic income as a way to get unemployed people into temporary jobs.

The argument is that, if paid universally, basic income would provide a guaranteed safety net. That would help to address insecurities associated with the "gig" economy, where workers do not have staff contracts.

Supporters say basic income would boost mobility in the labour market as people would still have an income between jobs.

Find a job that is unlikely to be automated, and stay employed as long as you can. Invest in equity and own the robots.


Last month I wrote about government Democrats scrambling to hire Andrew McCabe after he was fired from the FBI for-cause, and I warned them that they might regret embracing the former acting FBI director after his perfidy became more widely known. Obviously I was right.

Comey has declared that McCabe is simply not telling the truth when he said that Comey knew of his leaking information to the media. Indeed, he said that he ordered the investigation into finding the culprit. McCabe's lawyer Michael Bromwich has insisted that people should not buy Comey's "white knight" account and that he is offering a false narrative.In the meantime, McCabe is lashing out at this accusers, including the career officials of the Inspector General's office who took the unprecedented step of calling for the former acting FBI Director to be fired. Bromwich says that McCabe will now sue the Trump administration for defamation and wrongful termination. Good luck with that. The Office of Professional Responsibility and the Inspector General's office is composed of career officials who decided that McCabe should be fired. The IG found that McCabe leaked the information for his own personal interest and not the public interest. That hardly seems like a compelling basis for either wrongful termination or defamation unless Bromwich knows some major fact that that is not public.

In the meantime, after raising over $500,000 on GoFundMe (a campaign that I criticized as being premature), Bromwich has announced that he is going back for more donations. The last campaign ended just before the IG disclosed that McCabe lied not once but four times -- and before Comey himself effectively called McCabe a liar. Indeed, Comey is invested in showing McCabe is a liar since he previously testified under oath that he never leaked or approved a leak as director.

I defended James Comey almost a year ago, but that was clearly a mistake considering the motivations he has explained in his book.

We must have the worst political class in American history.

Former deep-stater Jack Goldsmith describes how the intelligence community is damaging American and itself by flailing wildly against President Trump. Before I even begin the quote, it's worth mentioning that there is so far no public evidence that anyone in the Trump campaign or administration illegally conspired with Russia.

Even if it turns out that Flynn and others close to Trump were in the bag for the Russians, many people will for a long time view the anti-Trump leaks as political abuse of intelligence to harm political enemies.

This perception will be deepened by the Trump administration's relentless and often false attacks on the integrity of the intelligence community, including its false suggestion that the original collection that incidentally captured Flynn's communications, as opposed to the leaks of such information, was illegitimate.

The Flynn and related leaks didn't just violate the law - they violated a core commitment the intelligence community made in after the era of Hoover not to politicize, or appear to politicize, the use of surveillance tools or the fruits of their use.

Can it Happen Here? review: urgent studies in rise of authoritarian America
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The whole intelligence collection system - which has an importance that far transcends its undoubtedly large importance in this discrete context - is vulnerable here for the simple reason that the intermixture of politics with intelligence collection is the intelligence system's Achilles' heel.

However bad you think Trump is, he manages to bring out even worse from his opponents.


As civilization gets more complex, we should expect to see a proliferation of unintended consequences. The human mind simply can't foresee the consequences for its actions, and most of the time unintended consequences are bad. Wariness of unintended consequences should be a strong motivation for limited, simplified government.

... the problem facing the U.S. was that deaths from so-called semi-synthetic opioids, such as oxycodone (the drug in OxyContin) and hydrocodone, ballooned to more than 10,000 in 2010 -- up from fewer than 3,000 a decade before, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The part of the plan to get addicts off OxyContin worked reasonably well, at least initially. Many addicts no longer abused the reformulated medication.

But it didn't necessarily result in a happily-ever-after scenario.

Instead, the junkies quickly switched to heroin, according to the NBER research.

"The reformulation did not generate a reduction in combined heroin and opioid mortality -- each prevented opioid death was replaced with a heroin death," states an April-dated paper titled "How the Reformulation of Oxycontin Ignited the Heroin Epidemic."

"We attribute the recent quadrupling of heroin death rates to the August 2010 reformulation of an oft-abused prescription opioid, OxyContin," continues the report, authored by William Evans and Ethan Lieber, both from the University of Notre Dame, and Patrick Power from Boston University.

Good intentions aren't enough, and something doing nothing is the best course of action.


Alan Dershowitz is right: if the shoe were on the other foot, civil libertarians would be going ballistic.

Alan Dershowitz reacted to a federal raid on the office of President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Dershowitz said it is a "dangerous day today for lawyer-client relations." ...

"If this were Hillary Clinton [having her lawyer's office raided], the ACLU would be on every TV station in America jumping up and down," he said. "The deafening silence of the ACLU and civil libertarians about the intrusion into the lawyer-client confidentiality is really appalling."

Don't forget: Hillary's lawyers were also her accomplices in mishandling classified information and then covering it up, and the DOJ allowed them to hide behind bogus attorney-client privilege.

As we have previously observed, the Justice Department barred the FBI from questioning Mills about the process of selecting which e-mails were disclosed and which destroyed. This was absurd. It prevented investigation of the core of the case. Mills was an actor in the facts under investigation and was not, in any event, eligible to function as Clinton's lawyer. The fact that she may have learned some additional information about Clinton's e-mail set-up after leaving the State Department is irrelevant; she could not be Clinton's lawyer for these purposes, and her communications about the e-mail vetting process were not privileged.

RELATED: If Hillary Is Corrupt, Congress Should Impeach Her

More significantly, however, are the indications that the Clinton team was engaged in a fraud and crime -- perhaps several crimes arising out of the overarching scheme to 1) hoard Clinton's e-mails; 2) shield thousands of them from lawfully required disclosure to Congress, the courts, and the public; and 3) destroy thousands of them notwithstanding (a) a congressional subpoena; (b) their known relevance to several investigations and court proceedings; and (c) their patent status as government records.

Read the whole article, but the point should be pretty obvious. If a prosecutor is determined to find a crime to pin on someone, he'll do it. If he's determined to not find a crime, he can look very busy while doing that.


This is one of the dumbest things I've ever read.

Knives have been essential tools since our Stone Age ancestors banged rocks together to sharpen them. Somehow Boy and Girl Scouts have managed to carry knives for a century without stabbing anyone.

Maybe London's problem isn't knives, but people who want to stab each other.



Why disarm everyone except the people you don't trust?


I'm a staunch capitalist, but I do worry about technological unemployment.

The automation trend clearly makes workers uneasy, but hard facts are unavailable because technological unemployment is not identified and highlighted in economic reports as it should be. This lapse lulls some into disbelief about dire predictions because, after all, unemployment levels are relatively low, (though so is labor force participation), and job creation growth appears respectable. But a glimpse into what's underway was contained in a 2014 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which measured hours of work (whether by self-employed, part-time or full-time workers) and not jobs over a 15-year period from 1998 to 2013.

During that time, economic output in the United States increased by 42 percent (or $3.5 trillion after inflation adjustments). But the number of hours worked remained exactly the same, at 194 billion hours in total. This is technological unemployment: Zero growth in the number of hours needed to create wealth despite a population increase of 40 million people. The study, not replicated since, proves that work itself is shrinking.

"Male jobs" like driving trucks and stocking warehouses are being hit hardest now, but as robots get more capable they will displace traditionally "female" jobs as well.

Maybe it will all work out like after the industrial revolution: workers displaced by machines moved from farms to cities and found new jobs. But... what if it really is different this time? It's hard for any one person to do much about the trends, but you can take some action to protect yourself and your family.

  1. Take urgent action to get a job that is less likely to be automated. Stay employed.
  2. Invest in the stock market. Equities will rise because companies will own the robots.
  3. Save your money. It will be worth a lot more when robots make everything and there aren't any jobs.


Democrats are lining up to hire former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe after he was fired two days before he became eligible to collect his federal pension. He claims he did nothing wrong, but Democrats would be smart to wait for the inspector general's report before offering McCabe a job. There's no hurry: he can get earn his maximum pension with two more days of work, even if he has to wait a bit.

More Democratic lawmakers are coming forward with offers to hire former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe after he was fired Friday, just two days before he was eligible for his pension.

Democratic Reps. Seth Moulton (Mass.), Jamie Raskin (Md.) and Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.) have all made job offers on Twitter. The lawmakers are extending the offers in an attempt to help McCabe to qualify for his benefits.

"Would be happy to consider this," Moulton said of hiring McCabe. "The Sixth District of MA would benefit from the wisdom and talent of such an experienced public servant."

This must poll well for Democrats, but the FBI should take dishonesty from its employees very seriously.

"I was encouraged and hopeful," said Humphries, 53, in an exclusive interview with the Tampa Bay Times, reacting to the news that former FBI director Andrew McCabe had been fired.

A day earlier, both men left the FBI after 21-year careers.

Humphries retired, a short while after serving a 60-day unpaid suspension for previously speaking to the Times without permission.

McCabe, fired after the Justice Department rejected an appeal that would have let him retire this weekend, is accused in a yet-to-be-released internal report of failing to be forthcoming about a conversation he authorized between FBI officials and a journalist.

Humphries said McCabe's firing was good for the organization because it is important for top officials to be held accountable for the same transgressions agents like him are. The McCabe firing is fitting, Humphries says, for a man accused of lack of candor about media contacts whose office launched an investigation into him talking to a newspaper.

"Every employee of the FBI voluntarily swears to observe the bureau's strict standards of conduct, especially in terms of candor and ethics," said Humphries. "When we fall short of that, we can expect appropriate sanctions. Yesterday's firing of the former deputy director demonstrates that those sanctions are meted out uniformly, regardless of rank or position."

The inspector general's report isn't public yet, so anyone who hires McCabe now might be stepping into quicksand.


President Trump trolls the world by issuing a sort of challenge on the new border wall.

President Trump said during a visit to San Diego on Tuesday that he needs his proposed border wall with Mexico to be a tough physical obstacle, as those seeking to enter the U.S. illegally are "incredible climbers."

"Getting over the top is easy. These are like professional mountain climbers, they're incredible climbers. They can't climb some of these walls," Trump told reporters during a tour of border wall prototypes.

This is the best wall ever, the greatest, you're going to love this wall, no one can climb it!

Eladio Sanchez is unimpressed by the eight border wall prototypes looming over his house in Tijuana, Mexico, almost within spitting distance of where US President Donald Trump will visit Tuesday.

At age 30, he has already snuck over the border several times, and doesn't expect Trump's wall will have much effect on undocumented migrants like him.

Pointing to the only prototype with an angular barrier at the top -- a concrete structure built by Texas Sterling Construction Company -- Sanchez says that one might slow him down a little more than the others.

But, he told AFP, "you can get over it anyway."


Video and audio technology is becoming so good that soon it will be weaponized -- seeing won't be believing.

"The idea that someone could put another person's face on an individual's body, that would be like a homerun for anyone who wants to interfere in a political process," said Virginia Senator Mark Warner. He believes manipulated video could be a game-changer in global politics.

"This is now going to be the new reality, surely by 2020, but potentially even as early as this year," he said.

"Derpfakes" is the anonymous YouTuber who has made fake videos of President Trump, Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin, based off of performances by the cast of "Saturday Night Live."

Here's an example.

Humans are pretty adept at reading other humans through sight and sound, so I think we can win this arms race for the near future -- but for how long?


Expect to see major changes over the next decade as the center-of-gravity for tech innovation moves away from Silicon Valley.

"If it weren't for my kids, I'd totally move," said Cyan Banister, a partner at Founders Fund. "This could be a really powerful ecosystem."

These investors aren't alone. In recent months, a growing number of tech leaders have been flirting with the idea of leaving Silicon Valley. Some cite the exorbitant cost of living in San Francisco and its suburbs, where even a million-dollar salary can feel middle class. Others complain about local criticism of the tech industry and a left-wing echo chamber that stifles opposing views. And yet others feel that better innovation is happening elsewhere.

"I'm a little over San Francisco," said Patrick McKenna, the founder of High Ridge Venture Partners who was also on the bus tour. "It's so expensive, it's so congested, and frankly, you also see opportunities in other places."

Mr. McKenna, who owns a house in Miami in addition to his home in San Francisco, told me that his travels outside the Bay Area had opened his eyes to a world beyond the tech bubble.

"Every single person in San Francisco is talking about the same things, whether it's 'I hate Trump' or 'I'm going to do blockchain and Bitcoin,'" he said. "It's the worst part of the social network."

This shift will be a benefit to almost everyone: tech shareholders, tech workers, and tech users. The biggest loser will be the state of California.


I'm not a Trump booster and have no responsibility to promote or defend him, but Matt Latimer's article about how "Trump is winning" because of luck is pretty hilarious.

Donald Trump is on track to win reelection to the presidency of the United States.

Yes, despite Russiagate, despite shitholegate and despite whatever gate he blunders through next. Despite approval ratings that would make Nixon weep. Despite his mind-numbing political misjudgments--defending accused pedophiles, for example--and the endless, unnecessary daily drama. Trump is winning. It is actually happening, people. And if there are those who want to stop it--and there are, of course, millions--they need to know what they are up against. It's a lot more than they overconfidently think.

First, consider the fact that Trump is simply lucky.

Then Latimer lists off a bunch of Trump's accomplishments and "accomplishments", completely missing the fact that they're due in large part to Trump's bombast, not in spite of it. He concludes:

Yep. Trump is a helluva lucky guy. And that just might give us six more years.

At some point don't you have to concede that your victorious opponent is just better than you?


... writes Andrew C. McCarthy for the millionth time. He's my favorite legal commentator on the never-ending Russia imbroglio.

Trump has intervened unhelpfully in a number of cases, as I've pointed out. Of course, we should disapprove of this. A president should not intercede in pending criminal investigations -- I'd prefer if he never did it, and he certainly shouldn't make a habit of it. It would be better if the president hewed to that norm and custom. It would have been better if Trump had not pled on Michael Flynn's behalf to FBI director James Comey -- just as it would have been better if Obama had not publicly announced in April 2016 that he did not believe Mrs. Clinton should be indicted. But the fact that it would be preferable for a president to refrain from signaling how he wants an investigation to turn out does not mean such signaling is tantamount to a criminal obstruction felony. The authority that FBI agents and prosecutors exercise when they weigh in on the merits of an investigation or prosecution is the president's power. There is no power that the president's subordinates may exercise but that he may not, regardless of what norms and customs counsel against it.

McCarthy points out (again) that President Trump can only be checked-and-balanced by Congress and the courts, not by any kind of legal action. The problem for Democrats is that impeaching the president requires political power that they don't have, so they strain for a law enforcement option that simply doesn't exist.

They prefer to imagine Special Counsel Robert Mueller cobbling together a magic-bullet obstruction charge that might knock their nemesis out of office. It is not going to happen.


I don't understand the ridicule aimed at President Trump's proposal for a military parade. America has a long history of honoring our military with parades. It seems like some people mock the president reflexively, without even giving his ideas serious thought.

Contrary to fake news reports, the United States has held massive, flashy military parades since at least 1865. Subsequent public displays of military might, including tanks, missiles, and hundreds of thousands of troops occurred in 1919, 1942, 1946, 1953, 1957, 1961, and 1991.

Also contrary to mainstream media headlines, it wasn't so long ago that military parades ranked among the few issues to draw bipartisan support. No less a Democrat than Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) vocally supported a military parade on American soil as recently as 2014. The camera-happy senator's call to arms stirred even New York's Bolshevik Mayor Bill De Blasio, who proclaimed, "The brave men and women who have selflessly served our nation with courage and skill in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve a recognition for their sacrifice. I stand with Sen. Schumer in his call for a parade to honor our veteran heroes, and New York City would be proud to host this important event."


Adam O'Fallon Price writes lovingly about the em dash, which I also love. (Although I like to put spaces on either side of them, which appears to be entirely wrong.) I'm sure I overuse them -- but why shouldn't I? They're awesome. I'm going to write a poem about em dashes -- stay tuned.

It might be useful to include an official definition of the em. From The Punctuation Guide: "The em dash is perhaps the most versatile punctuation mark. Depending on the context, the em dash can take the place of commas, parentheses, or colons--in each case to slightly different effect." The "slightly different" part is, to me, the em dash's appeal summarized. It is the doppelgänger of the punctuation world, a talented mimic impersonating other punctuation, but not exactly, leaving space to shade meaning. This space allows different authors to use the em dash in different ways, and so the em dash can be especially revealing of an author's style, even their character.

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