Monday, March 27, 2017

Mayor De Blasio connects racist murder to Trump, ‘atmosphere of hate’

Mayor De Blasio connects racist murder to Trump, ‘atmosphere of hate’

BY JOHN SEXTON

Last week James Harris Jackson surrendered himself to police after (allegedly) stabbing 66-year-old Timothy Caughman in the chest. Caughman made it to a nearby police station but later died from his injuries. What shocked the city, and the reason this murder became national news, was Jackson’s motive for the crime. According to a prosecutor in the case, Jackson said he had driven from Baltimore to New York for one purpose: to kill black people. Jackson told police the murder of Caughman was “practice” for a larger attack he intended to carry out in Times Square.

A doctor quoted by CBS News describes Jackson’s family as being “as liberal can be.” His attorney is said to be planning to explore the possibility that mental health issues played a role in the crime. Needless to say, there will be a battle in court over precisely what motivated Jackson to commit this racist murder.
But the Mayor of New York thinks he already has an idea what motivated the killing. This week, Bill de Blasio told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, “The challenge here is that a dynamic of hatred has been growing in this country over the last year or more.” De Blasio continued, “It has particularly come out in the open after the election and it’s clearly related to the rhetoric of Donald Trump and even other candidates during the presidential election that have unleashed forces of hate all over the country.” De Blasio went on to say, “It gets back to the core point. An atmosphere of hate has been created and we have to fight that atmosphere of hate with everything we’ve got.”
This is one of the left’s most cherished political arguments. Every time a racist or an insane person with a gun attacks someone the left immediately connects the killing to a climate of hate which serves to spread the blame to the right in general. In this case, De Blasio is being very explicit about connecting this murder to candidate Trump’s rhetoric. It’s the same kind of talk we saw in 2011 after the Tucson shooting. Back then the effort made by the left was to connect a deranged killer’s behavior to Sarah Palin, though it eventually turned out he had no connection to Palin.
What you rarely, if ever, see is the same argument being made when a killer appears to be acting with a left-wing motive. For instance, five police officers were killed in Dallas last year, plus 3 more in Baton Rouge by killers who could arguably have been said to be motivated by a left-wing climate of hate. What would De Blasio think of that argument?
In 2014, a man named Ismaaiyl Brinsley drove from Baltimore to New York, just like James Harris Jackson did, only his motive was to shoot and kill cops as revenge for the highly publicized deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Brinsley assassinated NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos as they sat in their patrol car. At the time, De Blasio did not connect the killing to any broader movement. In fact, here is part of what he said about the attack [emphasis added]:
When a police officer is murdered, it tears at the foundation of our society. It is an attack on all of us. It’s an attack on everything we hold dear. We depend on our police to protect us against forces of criminality and evil. They are a foundation of our society, and when they are attacked, it is an attack on the very concept of decency. Therefore, every New Yorker should feel they, too, were attacked. Our entire city was attacked by this heinous individual.
De Blasio went on to say, “I don’t think it’s a time for politics or political analysis,” thereby refusing to make any broader, societal connections.
So a man who traveled from Baltimore to New York to commit a revenge killing on police officers over deaths being amplified in the media by Black Lives Matter (often wrongly, i.e. “hands up, don’t shoot”) was just a “heinous individual.” But a man who travels from Baltimore to New York to commit a racist murder is proof of an “atmosphere of hate” connected to the president himself. That’s what you call a double-standard.
At some point, it would be nice if the media would notice that the left constantly uses this climate-of-hate argument to indict the right every chance it gets but denies any such climate exists when the target is a conservative or a police officer. The left is so quick to blame the right that they often don’t even wait for the facts. We saw another example of that just this week as neither of the people so far arrested for making telephone terrorist attacks on Jewish Community Centers fit the profile of right-wing anti-Semite. One was a left-wing journalist and the other was a Jewish teenager. That must have been a disappointment to the progressives who, once again, were trying to connect this spree to threats to President Trump.
The left can’t be allowed to have this both ways. Either people, including people with mental problems, are influenced by political rhetoric or they are not. If this really is a problem then it can’t just be a problem for the right.

DEMOCRATS’ CELEBRATION IS PREMATURE

DEMOCRATS’ CELEBRATION IS PREMATURE

Pretty much everyone thinks the House’s failure to pass the GOP’s repeal-and-replace bill is a disaster for Republicans. The Democrats are giddy with glee, and Matt Drudge calls it a “catastrophe.” Perhaps they are right, but I doubt it.
Obamacare is in a death spiral. It is rapidly collapsing, and steadily becoming more unpopular as it fails more and more Americans. Congress will now move on to other tasks, like cutting taxes and building up the military. The Democrats had one chance to save Obamacare and they blew it: why isn’t that the conventional narrative?
Minnesota’s own Amy Klobuchar writes on Facebook:
So now what? Are we just going to walk away, as the White House suggested? Or are we going to work together to bring healthcare costs down? There’s so much we can do – reduce prescription drug costs, help out people on the exchange, reform delivery systems, eliminate the medical device tax and more. We can’t walk away from the American people. Moving beyond healthcare isn’t an option.
Oh, yes, it is. If the Democrats have ideas on reducing prescription drug costs, helping people on the exchange, and so on, where have they been for the last seven years? And since when are Democrats interested in “working together”? They passed Obamacare with zero input from Republicans and zero Republican votes. When they had an opportunity this week to save Obamacare, not a single House Democrat was willing to vote for it.
Fine. Democrats are stuck with the Obamacare they passed. It won’t be reformed, and it will limp along for the time being. But the day will come, before long, when Obamacare’s collapse is so complete and so manifest that repeal will be revisited. In the meantime, I see no reason why Republicans should take the hit for the Democrats’ disastrous overreach.
Is that too optimistic a view of the situation? Maybe. But that is how it looks to me.

What’s really hidden deep within all this intel squabbling

What’s really hidden deep within all this intel squabbling

BY ANDREW MALCOLM

One of the tricks in political communications when experiencing difficult times is to drag several other issues into the fray, muddying the waters to distract attention from the main controversy.
That’s what you’re witnessing now in the arcane kerfluffle over wiretapping, eavesdropping, surveillance and congressional protocol. So, let’s clear things up.
Forget President Trump’s unsubstantiated tweets about being wiretapped by a certain ex-president who’s fled to French Polynesia for a month. Forget about Russians and what they may or may not have done last year. And ignore the manners expected of a House committee chairman. In other words, disregard all the pots calling all the kettles black.
Here’s what really matters: During the waning days of the Obama administration U.S. intelligence was indeed monitoring the conversations of foreign persons of interest after the Nov. 8 election and before the Jan. 20 inauguration. That’s normal and actually encouraging given how many key things those agencies have missed in recent years.
In those eaves-droppings they overheard Trump aides being mentioned or talking to agencies’ foreign targets. That’s called “incidental contact” in the intel world. That means they weren’t supposed to be targeting the American, but he or she came up. That’s unavoidable in intelligence-gathering if you’re doing a thorough job.
T​o avoid “unmasking” those innocent bystanders, t​ranscripts of those overheard conversations refer to the foreign target by name and identify the other person simply as American ​No. ​1 or American ​No. 2. ​A very small number of very senior intelligence officials ​will ​know the actual identity of the American​, people like, oh, then-CIA director John Brennan or Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser.​
​Remember Trump’s first national security adviser, retired Gen. Michael Flynn? He was picked up talking with the Russian ambassador as part of his transition work. Subsequently, he was fired​, not for the conversation but for misrepresenting that conversation to Trump teammates, including Vice President Pence. Trump accurately saw that as fatally corroding the trust he needs in such a close aide.
But here’s the deal: We should never have known it was Flynn.
Yes, as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency Flynn was very unpopular among Obama administration members and indeed was frozen out of contact with the commander-in-chief because he favored a much stronger response to ISIS, among other things. Talk about a president dodging opposing views.
Like Flynn or not, it is illegal — as in against the law — for anyone to reveal the name of an incidentally-overheard American. Someone in a small circle of Obama intelligence officials who knew the identity of that American No. 1 committed a felony by leaking Flynn’s name to media.
Safe to say the leak, like numerous others since Hillary Clinton was not inaugurated as president, was not intended to facilitate the smooth presidential transition that Obama so often publicly promised.
Before you faint from the revelation of illegal duplicity among partisan spies in Washington, hear this. Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has made public appeals for information on intelligence matters, beyond official intel briefings.
On Wednesday Nunes, who was on Trump’s transition, said, “I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions the intelligence community … collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.” The chairman said the monitorings involved transition team members and possibly Trump himself, adding, “I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.”
Nunes then briefed Trump at the White House, a violation of political protocol because he did not first tell committee Democrats. They went into immediate ​p​hoto-op orbit to — wait for it — distract from the actual revelation about their departed dear leader.
But forget such hissy fits. Also, ignore whether this supports Trump’s claim of being “wiretapped” by Obama.
We now know Obama administration intelligence operatives listened in on Trump aides’ conversations. We now know they illegally leaked the identities. And it’s not a stretch in this poisonous partisan environment to wonder if those intel encounters were truly incidental.
Or ​perhaps did the monitoring use foreign officials as mere covers to gather information, hopefully damning, on the Republican’s transition team and on this Trump usurper who had no business upsetting Clinton on Nov. 8?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

WILL SMOKING GUN DOCUMENTS VINDICATE TRUMP?


In the wake of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’s statements to reporters on Wednesday, the outline of what could become the biggest political scandal of the last 100 years is becoming clear. Obama administration officials, possibly aided by Obama’s January 2017 order expanding access to the NSA’s raw signals intelligence data, are alleged to have misused the NSA’s surveillance capabilities to spy on the incoming Trump administration. The NSA’s raw data includes names of US citizens, which are supposed to be “masked.” Obama officials allegedly “unmasked” the names of people associated with Donald Trump, and feloniously leaked information (which may have been true or false) about those individuals to reporters in order to damage the incoming administration.
That will be the claim. James Rosen of Fox News, himself an victim of Obama administration spying, reports:
Republican congressional investigators expect a potential “smoking gun” establishing that the Obama administration spied on the Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House Intelligence Committee this week, a source told Fox News.
Classified intelligence showing incidental collection of Trump team communications, purportedly seen by committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and described by him in vague terms at a bombshell Wednesday afternoon news conference, came from multiple sources, Capitol Hill sources told Fox News. The intelligence corroborated information about surveillance of the Trump team that was known to Nunes, sources said, even before President Trump accused his predecessor of having wiretappedhim in a series of now-infamous tweets posted on March 4.
The intelligence is said to leave no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources.
The key to that conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, the sources said, adding that the paper trail leaves no other plausible purpose for the unmasking other than to damage the incoming Trump administration.
Hopefully we will see the paper trail before long. Rosen reports that the FBI has so far not cooperated with the House committee’s requests, but the NSA is expected to deliver responsive documents to the committee as early as today. This might be a good time to mention that I don’t trust James Comey any farther than I can throw him.
The Free Beacon has more:
A House intelligence committee investigation took a dramatic shift this week after newly disclosed intelligence reports suggested the Obama administration improperly gathered and disseminated secret electronic communications from President Trump and his transition team prior to inauguration.
***
Nunes said he was alarmed by what he saw in several dozen intelligence reports that include transcripts of communications, including communications directly from Trump. The reports were based on a foreign electronic spying operation between November and January. They were revealed by an intelligence community insider who alerted Nunes.
Nunes said on CNN that after reading the reports he was confident the Obama White House and numerous agencies “had a pretty good idea of what President-elect Trump was up to and what his transition team was up to and who they were meeting with.”
The full extent of the improper spying—including the improper unmasking of Americans whose identities were to be hidden in reports of foreign communications intercepts—is expected to be disclosed Friday, Nunes said.
I think we can be quite certain that the “full extent” of any improper spying by the Obama administration will not be disclosed today. Not to the committee, and certainly not to the public. In any event, stay tuned. One can only hope that if these reports are true, all Obama administration officials who were involved in the scheme, including if appropriate Barack Obama, will be criminally prosecuted.
One last comment: if it turns out that Donald Trump was right all along in charging the Obama administration with improperly conducting surveillance on him, it will be a stunning political reversal and a severe setback for the Democratic Party.

Trump Is 100% Vindicated On Wiretapping, and 7 Other Things You Should Know

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
BY:
 JOHN NOLTE
Yeppers, I said 100% vindicated, and those who disagree are either being stubbornly hyper-literal about the word "wiretap," or the placing of a "physical wiretap," or Obama himself placing the wiretap, or standing by the point Ben Shapiro makes that Trump is still wrong because the surveillance was "incidental."
I'll touch on the "incidental" issue at length in the points below, but to immediately address Ben's argument, even if the collection was incidental, once the unmasking and dissemination of that "incidental" information occurs, that is the Obama administration illegally targeting Trump using surveillance, and that is the exact same thing as outright spying. And being illegally spied on was, of course, Trump's overall claim.
As far as the THIS WASN'T A WIRETAP nonsense, it reminds me of someone accusing a 70-year-old (Trump's age) of lying when he claims someone stole his record collection after the bad guy is found only with the old man's iPod.  You said records! Where's the vinyl! Where's the vinyl! Where's the vinyl!
Not for a second did I imagine Trump meant an actual physical phone tap -- you know, like you'd see Mike Connors do on "Mannix." Welcome to the 21st Century, pedants!
Anyway, if we're going to obsess over definitions, this is an excerpt from a 2010 MIT book called "Privacy On The Line," which clearly shows that the word "wiretap" fits the exact definition we are talking about:
Wiretapping is the traditional term for interception of telephone conversations. This should not be taken too literally. The word is no longer restricted to communications traveling by wire, and contemporary wiretaps are more commonly placed on radio links [ed. cell phones] or inside telephone offices. The meaning has also broadened in that the thing being tapped need no longer be a telephone call in the classic sense; it may be some other form of electronic communication, such as a fax or data.
Compared with the more precise but more general phrase "communications interception," the word "wiretapping" has two connotations. Much the strong of these is that a wiretap is aimed at a particular target, in sharp contrast to the "vacuum cleaner" interception widely practiced by national intelligence agencies. The weaker connotation is that it is being done by the police.  [ed. Big hat tip to Stuart Dean]
And that is precisely what the Obama administration did. I'll make this point clearer below, but for now put yourself in Trump's shoes…
1) The leaking is everywhere, including Mike Flynn's telephone calls and the President's own calls with foreign leaders.
2) The media knows about all the palace intrigue.
3) Media report after media report actually reveal that the Obama administration obtained surveillance warrants on you and/or your team. The New York Times reports that the Obama White House is looking at your "wiretap intel."
So, yes, unless you want to argue with MIT or become so painfully literal we all have to talk like a Vulcan, Trump was 100% correct about Obama "tapping his wires." Incidentally or not, his wires were tapped, and then the surveillance was intentionally made not-so incidental through the illegal act of unmasking, disseminating, and worst of all, the horrific act of leaking classified information to the media for purely partisan purposes.
And according to no less than CNN, it was Trump's transition team that was "picked up," and where was his transition team?
Trump Tower.
Surveilled.
Wiretapped.
Potato.
Potatoh.
2. "Incidental," My Aunt Fanny
Sorry, no.
Not for a moment do I believe the Obama administration "inadvertently" or "incidentally captured" Team Trump communications.
What? -- and then they "inadvertently" (and illegally) "unmasked" the Trump staffer not named on the surveillance warrant; and then "inadvertently" disseminated information (that had nothing to do with Russia) throughout the intelligence community; and then "inadvertently" leaked to the media information coming from Trump's transition team, information that included communications about Trump's own family, and almost certainly included game-planning the first 100 days?
I don't believe that anymore than I believe the IRS "inadvertently swept up" conservative groups for crippling, Kafka-esque persecution while Hail Satan high school clubs sailed through the same tax-exempt process.
Let's not be stupid.
3. Obama's Creepy History of Manipulating the FISA System
In order to spy on James Rosen of Fox News, Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder named him as a criminal co-conspirator and, quite incredibly, a flight risk. This gave the Obama administration "legal" access not only to Rosen's emails but Rosen's parents' phone records.
According to numerous media reports, going back to last summer, the Obama administration applied for a warrant to "monitor" members of Trump's team. They were turned down. In October, however, while the election was still on (another claim of Trump's was that the spying occurred during the election), a surveillance warrant was granted.
Another trick the Obama Administration could have played was to ask for surveillance warrants of those who they believed Team Trump might be speaking with. Using this end-run, they could then still monitor Trump and enjoy "plausible deniability" when the truth was revealed.
Regardless of how it was collected, once Team Trump communications were "unmasked" and disseminated, that is when the illegal spying began. The leaks to the public through the media (which was almost certainly done by Obama appointees and partisans) are just icing on the felonious cake.
4. This Was Political Spying; This Was a Successful Watergate Bugging
The whole point behind the Watergate break-in was to bug the headquarters of the Democrat National Committee simply for the sake of political advantage -- to find out what the other side was up to.
That is exactly what happened here, and there is little doubt in my mind that was the Obama administration's intent all along, especially after Trump won, which would explain why the bulk of the spying appears to have occurred during the transition.  
5. The National Media Knew All of This and Covered It Up
The media knew!
Say it loud, say it proud!
The media knew!
Of course the media knew what the Obama administration had done.
First off, when they thought the news would hurt Trump, the national media publicly reported on the fact that the Obama administration had spied on Team Trump. It was only after that knowledge became a liability for Precious Barry that the media pretended otherwise. In other words, they LIED.
Why do you think I was such a dog with a bone with that story? Because the media knew the Obama administration had spied on Trump and then tried to pretend otherwise.  
Secondly, who do you think most benefited from all of this surveillance intel?
Of course it was the media. They are the ones who got the intel, reported it out (unnamed sources), including transcripts of phone calls that could have only come from -- wait for it, wait for it -- wiretaps!
While the national media was receiving information that could have only come from surveillance; while the media was drinking white wine with their Deep State Source and chortling over the illegally obtained communications about Trump's family; while the media was using this Intel to plot its own strategy to undermine Trump's agenda -- THEY WERE SMEARING TRUMP AS A LIAR WHEN THEY KNEW HE WAS TELLING THE TRUTH.
6. Devin Nunes Handled This Exactly Right
We don’t live in Candyland. We live in a hard, cold world where leaks, illegal surveillance, and the entire infrastructure of the national media are coordinating to destroy and remove a duly elected American president.
You want to play by some idealized version of The Rules while CNN's Jake Tapper is stopping the world from turning using BREAKING FAKE NEWS based on what he knows are lies?
I'm sorry, but losing like a gentleman when your country is at stake is no virtue.
By breaking the news about the Obama Administration's surveillance on members of Trump's transition team, and doing so in the most dramatic and disruptive way imaginable, Nunes beat these evil bastards at their own evil game.
We all know what would have happened had Nunes gone through proper channels -- the truth would have been smothered like an unloved stepchild until it was dead.
7. CNN Is a Deep State Propaganda Arm
It is no coincidence that just hours after Nunes dropped his bombshell that we all saw left-wing CNN try to change the subject by turning a Nothingburger into a Somethingburger.
CNN's breathless, BREAKING NON-NEWS report last night about possibly, perhaps, maybe this kinda mighta happened, was not only an embarrassment to CNN, but whoever their likely F.B.I. sources are.
Here is CNN's idea of news, with my emphasis:
The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, US officials toldCNN.
The Nunes bombshell might have just outed F.B.I. director James Comey as a liar, maybe even a perjurer. In response, working hand-in-hand with the most unethical news outlet in America, the Deep State fired off a sad, little *squeak* squirrel.
Whether it is through a phony scandal  or outright assassination, CNN wants Trump gone, and in order to achieve that, The Least Trusted Name In News is willing to conspire with Deep State disinformation propaganda or create an outright climate of hate.
8. The F.B.I. Investigation Into RussiaGate Is Now Tainted
If Nunes is correct, we'll know more on Friday, then it appears as though the F.B.I. director lied about the Trump surveillance. At best, he was highly and intentionally deceptive.
We are also being told that the F.B.I. is now refusing to cooperate in this matter.
When you combine this with the Nothingburger CNN leak that likely came from the F.B.I. last night, there is no question the entire F.B.I. is politicized, which means its entire investigation into RussiGate is already compromised.

Lawsuit: Did Hillary’s secret email ‘damage national security?’

I FIGURE THE ANSWER IS YES, AND THAT’S WHY DEMS ARE DOUBLING DOWN ON THE TRUMP/RUSSIA THING AS DISTRACTION:Lawsuit: Did Hillary’s secret email ‘damage national security?’

A government watchdog group Tuesday demanded that the nation’s intelligence czar and State Department determine if former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s secret email server damaged national security.
In a lawsuit against the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and State, Judicial Watch demanded that they conduct an assessment of the damage and report it to the public.
“The Obama administration conspired with Hillary Clinton regarding her emails, so it is no surprise that Obama officials wouldn’t want to hold her to account for her mishandling of classified materials,” charged Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This lawsuit is an opportunity for the Trump administration to get back to basics on the Clinton email scandal and find out what damage was done to our national security as a result of her illicit email practices.”
The suit cited a 2014 rule requiring a damage assessment if there is a suspicion that classified information was compromised and damaged national security.
Judicial Watch cited FBI Director James Comey’s statement on July 5, 2016, that Clinton’s unsecure email system contained classified information.
The people have a right to know, and a charge this serious demands an investigation.
by Glenn Reynolds 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Time to Investigate Obama, not Just Trump

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff is in high dudgeon over the bad form of House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes in reporting his bombshell -- that the chairman had been shown actual surveillance (not involving Russia) of the Trump transition team and possibly of the then president-elect himself -- to President Trump before he presented the evidence to the committee.
Bad form, quite possibly.  But so what?
The facts are what they are.
What appears at this writing is that Trump transition team members and possibly Trump himself had their identities revealed, were  "unmasked" in the parlance, while foreign diplomats were being surveilled. The identities of American citizens were not sufficiently "minimized," as they are required to be by law. This is a crime one would assume would put the perpetrators in prison.  So far it hasn't. More than that, such behavior is a grave threat to a free society, to all of us.

In effect, Trump was wiretapped -- if not in the corny, old sense of the word, something very close. Technologically, he was wiretapped, as were several (actually many)  others.
A fair amount of this happened not long before Barack Obama suddenly changed the rules regarding raw intelligence, for the first time ever allowing the NSA to share its data with 16 other intelligence agencies, thus making the dissemination of said data (i. e. leaking) many times more likely.  That was done on January 12, 2017, just three scant days before Trump's inauguration.  Why did the then president finally decide to make that particular change at that extremely late date, rather than on one of the previous seven years and three hundred fifty-three days of his presidency?  You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes or Watson to smell a rat.  Something's rotten somewhere -- and it's not Denmark.
Whether Barack Obama ordered the surveillance of Donald Trump during the transition is not the question.  He would never have had to. In fact, he would have been highly unlikely to have done so for obvious legal and practical/political reasons.  Instead, supporters of the then president in a position to authorize or activate such surveillance would normally know or assume his wishes anyway without having to be told and could act accordingly.
That is the way of the world since there was a world.
The operative question is whether these recorded conversations then ever wound up on Obama's desk or whether he knew about them in some other manner... and, if so, when. If the worst is true, it is a scandal that makes Watergate seem like a child's prank.  Even Watergate's own Bob Woodward seemed to acknowledge as much on The O'Reilly Factor on Wednesday night.

This is why any legitimate investigation by a congressional committee or anyone else must encompass both Obama and Trump.  This is a two-part story.  If both parties are not investigated -- they cannot be separated -- this is no more than a partisan show.  Further, the press cannot even faintly be trusted to investigate or adjudicate this matter.  Their bias is so overwhelming it would sink the Titanic twice.
Although I have more confidence in Trump (whose errors usually seem those of braggadocio) than I  do in Obama (who -- from the evidence of Obamacare and the Iran deal alone -- seems to have been capable of the most consequential prevarications), the issues inherent in this situation are bigger than the pluses and minuses of either man.  We have reached a point in our history when there appears to be no privacy for anyone at any level of society, nor organizations, such as the FBI, that can be relied upon.
Meanwhile, this situation keeps exploding. A letter just published online alleges that not only Donald Trump has been been bugged, but the chief justice of the Supreme Court. It also avers our intelligence agencies have been engaged in systematic illegal surveillance of prominent Americans for years while lying to us consistently. But the subject of the letter, who claims to have left his contractor job at the NSA and the CIA with "47 hard drives and over 600 million pages" (of classified information), is himself accused of fraud.   So I take no stand.
Nevertheless, something must be done about this privacy problem from top to bottom if we are to have decent lives as citizens and have a democratic republic in any way similar to what the Founders conceived.  How this can be accomplished in the present atmosphere is, to say the least, unclear.  The hatred of Trump by the media and the Democrats is so profound that rational discussion seems close to impossible. But we are headed toward being a society devoid of trust, if we don't try.  I made my little attempt at comity.  Originally this article was titled "Time to Investigate Obama, not Trump."  I add the "Just" -- for fairness.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media.  His latest book is I Know Best:  How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If  It Hasn't Already. Follow him on Twitter @rogerlsimon.

This Just In: Boycott of N.C. Over Bathroom Bill Dies With a Whimper

Image via Shutterstock, the flag of North Carolina, waving in the wind.
The economic boycott of North Carolina over the state’s controversial “bathroom law” that requires men and women to use their respective bathrooms in public facilities is a failure.
As reported by Bradford and Valerie Richardson in the Washington Times:
Tourism has thrived: Hotel occupancy, room rates and demand for rooms set records in 2016, according to the year-end hotel lodging report issued last week by VisitNC, part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
Meanwhile, North Carolina ranked fourth in the nation for attracting and expanding businesses with the arrival of 289 major projects, and seventh in projects per capita — the same as in 2015, according to Site Selection magazine, which released its 2016 rankings in the March edition.
North Carolina finished first for drawing corporate facilities in the eight-state South Atlantic region, said Site Selection, which uses figures tracked by the Conway Projects Database.
And in November, both Forbes and Site Selection magazine ranked North Carolina the No. 2 state for business climate.
Also unscathed was the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, which registered at 5.3 percent in January 2016 and 5.3 percent in January 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Despite NC Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest saying that the effect of the boycott was “less than on-tenth of 1 percent” of the state’s annual gross domestic product, opponents of the law say that doesn’t tell the whole story. Chris Sgro of Equality NC says the state could have done much better if HB2 had been repealed.
“It is a universally agreed-upon fact at this point that HB2 is hurting the state of North Carolina economically,” Sgro told the Washington Times reporters.
While “what might have been” is difficult to quantify, it’s clear that the boycott, which was aimed at punishing hardworking North Carolinians because they value the privacy and security of women, wasn’t as effective as opponents of the law hoped.

HB2 came about in reaction to a Charlotte city ordinance in which all businesses — not just public institutions, but privately owned businesses as well — were required to permit men who claimed to be women (and vice versa) to use the bathroom of their choice. This would have allowed men free access to a previously private space reserved for women, and it would have involved government intrusion into the private sphere by telling business owners what they can and can’t do with their bathrooms.
This violation of the private property rights is often ignored in this debate, but it is an important point. Leftists seek to expand government in the name of “social justice,” exposing their statist agenda, which reduces freedom for all Americans.
In North Carolina, state legislators intervened to protect the rights of private businesses and the rights of women in particular to privacy and security in public restrooms and locker rooms. This has been a critical point lost in the uproar over the bathroom law. Opponents make it seem like men or women who claim to be of the opposite sex are being denied their rights to a bathroom. That’s not true at all. Everyone in North Carolina can use a bathroom. In private businesses, like Target, if they want to use either bathroom, they’re free to do so. But when it comes to the public sphere, where we can make collective decisions about what to do with shared property, they have to use the bathroom that matches their biological sex.
Regardless, activists reacted as if transgender people were being forced to urinate and defecate in the streets. To right this mythical injustice, they called for an economic boycott of the state. The NCAA championship moved March Madness games from Greensboro, N.C., to Greenville, S.C.. NCAA president Mark Emmert said, “We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events.” (Never mind that opening women’s bathrooms to men does the exact opposite.)
Boycotters applauded the NCAA, until Duke fans, at least, were confronted with the law of unintended consequences. As reported by Ty Duffy at The Big Lead, “Duke got burned by North Carolinas HB2 bathroom law.”
The South Carolina Gamecocks upset Duke 88-81 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils (No. 2) were the higher seed, but they were at a significant disadvantage playing in Greenville, South Carolina. It was a de facto home game for the Gamecocks.
This round of games was initially scheduled for Greensboro, North Carolina (less than an hour drive from Duke’s campus). The NCAA moved it from the state in response to North Carolina’s HB2 Bathroom Law, which required transgender people to use the bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates.
First, I just have to point out the continued misreporting on the bathroom law in this post. Notice how Duffy says that transgender people were required “to use the bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates.” This is a falsehood by omission. The only bathrooms maintaining the status quo are public, not private. That means most of the bathrooms in North Carolina have open access — if private property owners allow for it.
Despite the inflammatory headline blaming one more thing on the bathroom law, Duffy admits in the post, “We can’t say whether a change in venue would have altered the result. Duke provided its fair share of disappointment this season. But, it certainly compounded Duke’s difficulty.”
We don’t know if it compounded Duke’s difficulty or not. Given South Carolina’s stunning performance, they would have likely lost no matter where they played. As a UNC-Chapel Hill grad, I’m just glad they’re out, whatever the reason.
A Duke loss, though, is small potatoes compared to the suffering HB2 haters wanted for the people of North Carolina. All of those who fled the state,including the NCAA and NBA, Lionsgate, PayPal, Cirque du Soleil, Wicked, Bruce Springsteen, Itzhak Perlman, Ringo Starr, and a congo line of other celebrities, wanted to punish the state for merely wanting to protect the privacy and security of its citizens and guests.
Thankfully, the boycott didn’t work—at least not to the degree these “socially conscious” radicals wanted. According to a lodging report cited in the Washington Times, hotel business actually increased by 3.4 percent from the year before, and “each month of 2016 experienced the highest occupancy on record.”
The average room rate of $98.88 per night represented a 3.6 percent jump from 2015, which also set a state record and exceeded the national increase of 3.1 percent.
The strong hotel performance “indicates more people are visiting North Carolina and hotel operators are bringing in more revenues,” despite the “predictions of doom-and-gloom for North Carolina,” said the conservative advocacy group 2ndVote.
In light of these numbers, boycotters seemed to have shot themselves in the foot.
Given the state’s booming tourism industry, Mr. Forest said, the sports leagues may have hurt themselves more than North Carolina. A week before the game was played, the NBA had “the lowest ticket sales” in All-Star Game history, he said.
“So they lost money comparatively to what they would have made in Charlotte,” Mr. Forest told Texas legislators. “The other one was the ACC championship football game that’s been hosted year over year. They moved it to Orlando and had the lowest attendance in history, again losing money.”
While PayPal canceled plans last year to construct an operations center in Charlotte that would have employed about 400, other companies have stepped in. Already this year, Moen, Corning and Alevo have announced in-state expansions, bringing in about 650 jobs over the next several years, according to the partnership.
It’s funny how the free market works, which is why state boycotts are often a bust. While consumer boycotts of individual corporations can be successful at least for the short-term, trying to damage an entire state is difficult to sustain and even measure.
The boycott’s messaging, however, is of greater concern — and it’s this slanderous message promoted by activists that North Carolinians need to counter. The notion that the state expects people to use the bathroom that matches their biological sex — as they always have done without conflict — is hardly bigoted. This is especially true when the aim of the law is to protect the actual rights of men and women.
There was a time when liberals valued a woman’s right to privacy, even pushing for an abortion law that allowed for the killing of an unborn child in order to protect that right. Now, they are willing to expose women to possible harm and violate their rights to privacy — all for men who might or might not be struggling with their self-perception regarding their biological sex.
Before seeking to punish people for doing the right thing and acting in good faith for the benefit of their fellow citizens, maybe these social justice warriors need to take a long look in the mirror and reflect on their own beliefs and motives. They might just discover that the real bigot is looking back at them.