Monthly Archives: January 2017

Brunson and Butler on Vernuccio/Novak

This week’s  Vernuccio/Novak Report features:

  • Ben Brunson, renowned commentator on Middle Eastern affairs and author of “Esther’s Sling” and “The Falstaff Enigma”
  • Charles Butler, one of America’s most forthright pundits and host of the popular radio program, “The Reality Check.”

Voter Fraud Does Exist, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its review of voter fraud.

Former Justice Department Attorney J. Christian Adams, with unique and specialized experience in the topic, provides extraordinary evidence.  Among the examples, as reported by Realclearpolitics:

One of these frauds involved sending out absentee ballots to people who had never asked for them. Then a political operator would show up — uninvited — the day the ballots arrived and “help” the voter to fill them out. Sometimes the intruders simply took the ballots, filled them out and forged the signatures of the voters.These were illegal votes for Democrats…As for race-based “voter suppression,” amid all the political hysteria, how many hard facts have you heard? Probably none that supports that claim. Widely available free photo identification cards mean that poverty is no barrier to voting.Since blacks and whites both have to show photo I.D. for everything from cashing checks to getting on a plane, why has requiring a photo I.D. for voting caused such shrill outcries?”

Among the numerous examples provided by another organization, Discover the networks :

  • “September 2, 2015: Eight Texas Counties List More Voters Than Residents:“We are deeply concerned (that) voter rolls contain substantial numbers of ineligible voters,” True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht stated in a letter to the eight Texas counties.
  • “December 2, 2014: Senator Mary Landrieu’s Chief of Staff Encourages Voter Fraud:A Louisiana mayor whose son is Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s chief of staff told voters at a private event to vote twice, speaking to a partisan crowd 24 hours before Election Day last month. Opelousas, Louisiana Mayor Don Cravins Sr.’s Nov. 3 remarks show him telling a crowd in his home town that “if you ‘early voted,’ go vote again tomorrow. One more time’s not going to hurt.”  Louisianans, like Americans in many states, had the option of either voting ‘early’ or showing up on Election Day. Taking advantage of both options would be a crime.And for voters worried about criminal fraud charges, Cravins said he had an insurance policy – the re-election of a Democratic district attorney. “Tomorrow we’re gonna elect Earl Taylor as the D.A. so he won’t prosecute you if you vote twice,” Cravins said.
    Taylor won a fourth term ….
  • “October 30, 2014: Voter Fraud in Maryland (Massive Voting by Non-Citizens) An election integrity watchdog group [Virginia voters Alliance] … discovered massive and ongoing fraudulent voting by non-U.S. citizens in one county. But because of the way that the non-citizens are able to cast votes in elections, the fraud is likely happening in every single county and subdivision across the state. The group believes that the illegal voting has been happening for years.
  • “October 27, 2014: Study Reveals Significant Number of Non-Citizens Vote in U.S. Elections: Most non-citizens do not register, let alone vote. But enough do that their participation can change the outcome of close races. Our data comes from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES). … How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 …Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections.

True the Vote (TTV) has released a report on its recent discovery of thousands of duplicate voter registrations in North Carolina’s ten largest counties and the coordinated attempts by left-leaning political organizations to threaten the NC counties with new litigation and hostile document demands in a failed effort to stall lawful maintenance efforts.

The Heritage Foundation notes that 24 million registrations are inaccurate, out of date, or duplicative; 2.8 million people are registered in two or more states, and 1.8 million registered voters are deceased.  Heritage’s figures don’t include the many, perhaps millions, of illegal aliens who are registered to vote.

Judicial Watch adds: “The sad truth is that our nation’s recent history consists of far too many elections which have been called into question due to allegations of incompetence and outright misconduct.  Most notable have been the abuses by ACORN and its state organizations, which in 2008 were implicated in at least 35 well-documented election fraud schemes in 17 states, leading to multiple convictions, fines, and even prison.  And while ACORN activities have become so nefarious it was forced to disband (though, in reality, spinoff groups have survived) Project Vote, an affiliate of ACORN, remains very active…”

Judicial Watch adds: “The sad truth is that our nation’s recent history consists of far too many elections which have been called into question due to allegations of incompetence and outright misconduct.  Most notable have been the abuses by ACORN and its state organizations, which in 2008 were implicated in at least 35 well-documented election fraud schemes in 17 states, leading to multiple convictions, fines, and even prison.  And while ACORN activities have become so nefarious it was forced to disband (though, in reality, spinoff groups have survived) Project Vote, an affiliate of ACORN, remains very active…”

The evidence of voter fraud, particularly in the realm of unlawful registration, is clear and abundant.

Voter Fraud Does Exist, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its examination of voter fraud. 

From across the nation, news reports and studies verify the reality of voter fraud, campaign violations, and the growing influence of illegal aliens. Here’s a sampling:

  • The Obama Justice Department harassed states that seek to clean up voter registration roles and enforce state voter ID laws.
  • The Washington Post notes  “a group of undocumented immigrants is knocking on doors in Northern Virginia in support of Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates…The vote-seekers are some of the 750,000 recipients of temporary legal status under the Obama administration’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. …‘All DACA recipients should take this on as an added responsibility, to change the power structure,’ said Luis Angel Aguilar, 28, who received his protected status in 2013 and is helping to coordinate the effort. ‘Our voices need to be heard”
  • Project Veritas reported:  NYC Democratic Commissioner of the Board of Elections Alan Schulkin stated at a  United Federation of Teachers party that there is widespread voter fraud in New York City…”Schulkin, a Democrat, said that to effectuate illegal voting, people are bussed to various polling sites. He places a blame on NYC’s radical-left Mayor de Blasio.  “He gave out ID cards. De Blasio. That’s in lieu of a driver’s license, but you can use it for anything. But, they didn’t vet people to see who they really are. Anybody can go in there and say I am Joe Smith, I want an ID card. It’s absurd. There’s a lot of fraud. Not just voter fraud, all kinds of fraud.”
  • A Science Direct white paper reported: We find that some non-citizens participate in U.S. elections, and that this participation has been large enough to change meaningful election outcomes including Electoral College votes, and Congressional elections. Non-citizen votes likely gave Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress.
  • The Gateway Pundit’s  examination of a wikileaks release found that Clinton campaign chief John Podesta stated it was OK for illegals to vote if they have a drivers’ license . The quote: John Podesta:  On the picture ID, the one thing I have thought of in that space is that if you show up on Election Day with a drivers license with a picture, attest that you are a citizen, you have a right to vote in Federal elections.

What may be an intentional refusal to update voter registration rolls allows the significant amount of fraud to be perpetuated. A Washington Times examination  of voters who moved out of the Nation’s capital to Prince George County in Maryland found that “The list of voters with names so unusual that there has been only one in the District and one in Prince George’s and who are listed as voting in both jurisdictions in the 2012 election is in the thousands. In an examination of 85, The Times confirmed through interviews and other public records that 15 were in fact the same person…Indeed, the list of Prince George’s voters with unusual names that match those on voter rolls in the District was far longer, at 13,000…The biggest risk of having nonresidents listed on the rolls is not the risk of people voting twice themselves, but of others appropriating their names by the hundreds…They are easy targets for those who would cast votes in other people’s names in bulk, often by absentee ballot, after scanning the list for names of people who hadn’t voted in years and would therefore not show up to hear that their vote already had been cast.”

Roger Vadum, writing in Polizette, notes that “Voter fraud is commonplace in elections in America today. It has always been around to varying degrees because completely eliminating this kind of crime is impossible. The most policymakers can do is create laws and policies that attempt to minimize it. But this is where people on the Right and Left differ. Conservatives think fighting voter fraud is important; liberals and progressives don’t care …The Left promotes voter fraud by fighting electoral integrity laws in the courts, often enjoying great success… some officials are hostile to election observers from nonpartisan good government groups like True the Vote monitoring their polling precincts. The Left labels such attempts to keep elections honest ‘voter intimidation.’

Realclear politics notes that “One of the biggest voter frauds may be that there is no voter fraud, that laws requiring voters to have a photo identification are just attempts to suppress black voting. Reporter John Fund has written three books on voter fraud and a recent survey by Old Dominion University indicates that there are more than a million registered voters who are not citizens, and who therefore are not legally entitled to vote.”

The Report concludes tomorrow.

Voter Fraud Does Exist

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government presents a three-part examination of voter fraud.

President Trump announced in a tweet that he “will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and … even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!”

The President has been subjected to unprecedented pressure to back off on his intention to clean up the voting process.  His comment was met with hostility and derision on the part of the media.  The New York Times  headlined an article about the comment “Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers.”

The reality is, voter fraud, including unlawful registration, does exist.

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government predicted the move in 2016, writing: “In the past eight years, a combination of acts of questionable legality and constitutionality by the Obama White House, allied political forces, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have led opponents to call for a number of investigations, which the Justice Department has decided do not warrant indictments.  The fury of those opposition groups has been further incited by outright acts of political intimidation by the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service, other government agencies, and some Democrat state attorneys general. There is little doubt that a GOP takeover of the White House could lead to serious indictments.”

Despite the barrage of criticism, the President is taking an appropriate step. Consider:

Washington Examiner article noted that Ms. Clinton initiated an program to use undocumented aliens as a “voter registration army” that concentrates on recruiting non-citizens into the election process.

Another route taken to enlarge the body of Democrat voters is giving felons and ex-felons (who are by overwhelming majority Democrats) the right to vote. California has recently enacted legislation to give felons voting rights, as reported by the San Francisco CBS affiliate.  “Governor Brown gave the right to vote back to tens of thousands of felons…Assembly Bill 2466, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City) restores voting rights for felons who are not doing time in state or federal prisons.Under the new law, anyone convicted of a felony, but who is not currently in state or federal prison or on parole, is allowed to vote.”

The Richmond-Times Dispatch  reports that “Harrisonburg officials and the FBI are investigating allegations of voter registration fraud after officials say almost 20 voter applications were turned in under the names of dead people. Harrisonburg Registrar Debbie Logan said Thursday that investigators have found from 18 to 20 potentially fraudulent registrations. … No charges have been filed.”

Breitbart notes: “Democrats have railed against voter ID laws…but Democratic National Convention officials will only issue credentials to those who present state-issued IDs. The DNC’s website says that ‘all pickup persons must have a state-issued ID that matches the name submitted’ to receive credentials. Media members attending the DNC have to present photo IDs at multiple checkpoints. But even as Democrats require IDs to enter their convention and The Voter Integrity Project discovered there were 30,000 dead North Carolinians still on the state’s voter rolls, Democrats continue to fiercely oppose voter ID laws.”

According to Ballotpedia, ” As of July 2016, only 18 states required voters to present photo identification… In some states, a voter who is unable to present valid identification may still be permitted to vote without casting a provisional ballot.”

A 2015 report by the Washington Times noted “President Obama’s temporary deportation amnesty will make it easier for illegal immigrants to improperly register and vote in elections, state elections officials testified to Congress …saying that the driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers they will be granted create a major voting loophole…secretaries of state from Ohio and Kansas said they won’t have the tools to sniff out illegal immigrants who register anyway…”

A Pew Center on the States study found “millions of voter registration records nationwide that are either inaccurate or no longer valid…based on data [indicating] a voter died, moved, or had been inactive from 2004 to March 2011.”  The study revealed that 2,758,578 individuals were registered to vote in more than one state.  In addition, “12.7 million records nationwide…appear to be out of date and no longer reflect the voter’s current information, more than 1.8 million records for people who are no longer living, but have active registrations on voter rolls, and 12 million records with incorrect addresses…once duplicates among categories are eliminated, approximately 24 million registration records, or nearly 13% of the national total, are estimated to be inaccurate or no longer valid.”

Jack Kelly, wrote in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, notes that there have been recent investigations, indictments, or convictions for vote fraud in California, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and Maryland.

 Hans Spakovsky, writing in the Free Speech & Election Law Practices  publication, emphasizes the problem of noncitizens registering to vote.  He reports that in a random sampling of 3,000 registrations in California’s 39th Assembly District, 10% contained phony addresses or were not U.S. citizens.

A number of states have attempted to attack fraudulent registrations by passing legislation requiring a valid ID to vote.  To the dismay of those dedicated to honest balloting, The Obama Justice Department has responded with significant hostility to this measure.  Although almost all the reported fraud has aided hard-left Democrats, Kelly reports, even liberal United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens stated “There is no question about the legitimacy or importance of  state’s interest in counting only eligible voters’ votes” in a 2008 case that upheld Indiana’s stringent ID law following a challenge by the Democrat Party and its allies.

 In testimony before the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Rules ad Administration, John Samples, The Cato Institute’s Director of the Center for Representative Government  stated that the Motor Voter Act “has made it difficult if not impossible to maintain clean registration rolls…the inaccuracy in the rolls caused by the Act has thrown into doubt the integrity of our electoral system.”

The Judicial Watch organization, in response to its August 9, 2011 Freedom of Information Act filing, received records which they describe as detailing friendly communications between the Justice Department and a former ACORN attorney now serving as Director of Advocacy for Project Vote.  The ACORN connection is ominous. 70 ACORN staff throughout 12 states were convicted of voter registration fraud; more than one third of the registrations that group submitted were found to be invalid.

The Report continues on Monday

Dealing With Russia, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government concludes its review of Russian-U.S. relations

Russia’s energy sales have a direct impact on its military buildup. Increasing the supply of energy on the global marketplace by opening up U.S. federal lands to energy exploitation would reduce the amount of funds Putin could devote to his growing weapons programs.

A National Interest study  noted that “…the rearmament plan announced by President Vladimir Putin was to be funded from the golden river that was generated by the taxes on energy exports that had helped to fill the Kremlin’s coffers.” The Wall Street Journal  concurs. In an article last March, it reported that “Russian defense procurement will drop by about 10% this year as low oil and gas prices drain income from the state budget, according to the powerful head of the conglomerate that controls the key pieces of Russia’s military-industrial complex. Sergei Chemezov, chief executive of the Russian state industrial holding Rostec—the maker of weapons including Kalashnikov assault rifles and Pantsir antiaircraft systems—said he expected the Russian defense sector to contend with a decrease in government orders. ‘Oil and gas prices aren’t as high as desired, and they’re the main source of income for the budget,’ said Mr. Chemezov. ‘So, of course, it’s completely understandable that there is a reduction in defense orders.’”

Russia subsequently suffered when energy prices fell, but it is now seeking to return to a more prosperous mode by conspiring with other energy producing nations to limit production to increase prices. The United States has the capacity to counter this by opening up federal lands to energy exploitation. This additional source of energy would diminish Russia’s income, affecting its ability to finance its massive arms buildup and international adventurism. It would free Europe from its dependence on Moscow’s energy supplies, and reduce the Kremlin’s influence on the continent.

In might even be beneficial for the Russian people.  It’s energy based economy is run by Putin and his oligarchs. It has been a major factor in the reduction of political and economic freedom within Russia. As The American Enterprise Institute notes,

“State control or outright ownership of the oil and gas industry became a central element in the ‘Putin Doctrine,’ which postulated the recovery of the state’s political, economic, and geostrategic assets following the antitotalitarian revolution of late 1987–91. The state was to become again the only sovereign political and economic actor in Russia, with the private sector, civil society, and its institutions mere objects. Putin saw as nonnegotiable the state’s control of ‘rent flows’ from the sale of mineral resources, with nonstate property rights remaining ‘contingent.’ Almost a decade and a half later, the authors of an influential analytical report on the composition and division of labor in the Kremlin’s Politburo singled out “’ong-term natural gas contracts, and the management of the natural gas industry in general and Gazprom in particular’ as one of only two areas ‘under Putin’s direct control.’ (The other sector was the largest banks.)

“In pursuit of this agenda, the Putin regime has effected a steady accretion of the state’s sway over the oil industry. (Unlike oil, Russia’s natural gas production escaped large-scale privatization in the 1990s. As a result, the majority-state-owned Gazprom dominates the sector with 78 percent of the national output and has a pipeline and export monopoly.) The key to the effective state takeover of more than half of Russian oil output was a dramatic expansion of the majority state-owned Rosneft, headed since 2010 by Putin’s confidant and former KGB officer Igor Sechin. Starting as a minor company that the government tried and failed to sell in 1998 because nobody wanted it, Rosneft skyrocketed in 2004 after it took over the key assets of Russia’s formerly largest and privately owned oil corporation, Yukos, which the Kremlin had bankrupted, broken up, and sold at rigged auctions.”

Opening up federal lands to energy exploitation would also have positive effects for the U.S. economy, as outlined by the Institute for Energy Research:

“GDP increase: • $127 billion annually for the next seven years. • $663 billion annually in the next thirty years. • $20.7 trillion cumulative increase in economic activity over the next thirty-seven years. n These estimates include “spillover” effects, or gains that extend from one location to another location. For example, increased oil production in the Gulf of Mexico might lead to more automobile purchases that would increase economic activity in Michigan. Spillover effects would add an estimated $69 billion annually in the next seven years and $178 billion over thirty years.

Jobs increase: • 552,000 jobs annually over the next seven years. • Roughly 2.7 million jobs annually over the next thirty years. n Jobs gains would be not only in fields directly related to oil, gas, and coal but more than 75% of the jobs would be in high-wage, high-skill employment like health care, education, professional fields, and the arts.

Wage increase: • $32 billion increase in annual wages over the next seven years. • $163 billion annually between seven and thirty years. • $5.1 trillion cumulative increase over thirty-seven years.

Increase in tax revenue: • $3.9 trillion increase in federal tax revenues over thirty-seven years. • $1.9 trillion in state and local tax revenues over thirty-seven years. • $24 billion annual federal tax revenue over the next seven years, $126 billion annually thereafter. • $10 billion annual state and local tax revenue over the next seven years, $61 billion annually thereafter.”

Dealing with Russia, Part 2

Second of a three-part review of Russian-U.S. relations

How should President Trump deal with Russia? His stated hope to improve relations with Moscow must be tempered by the realization that persuading Putin to stand down from his massive arms buildup, threatening posture towards Europe, and dangerous adventurism across the globe can only be accomplished from a position of American strength.

Aside from rebuilding America’s diminished conventional and strategic forces and reviving relations with allies, President Trump has a significant card to play, one which affects the economic survival of the Putin regime: Russia’s dependence on energy sales for financial survival.

Russia’s dependence on energy sales is clear.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration  reported in 2014 that: “Russia is a major exporter of crude oil, petroleum products, and natural gas. Sales of these fuels accounted for 68% of Russia’s total export revenues in 2013, based on data from Russia’s Federal Customs Service. Russia received almost four times as much revenue from exports of crude oil and petroleum products as from natural gas. Crude oil exports alone were greater in value than the value of all non-oil and natural gas exports. Europe, including Turkey, receives most of Russia’s exports of crude oil and products, as well as virtually all exports of natural gas. Asia (especially China) receives substantial volumes of crude oil and some liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia. Recently, Russia finalized a 30-year, $400 billion deal to supply China with natural gas from fields in Eastern Siberia, which will further increase Russian export revenues. North America imports some Russian petroleum products, particularly unfinished oils used in refineries. Although Russia exports less crude oil and less natural gas than it consumes domestically, domestic sales of crude oil and natural gas are much lower in value than exports because of vertical integration of the oil and natural gas industry and subsidized domestic prices.”

In 2006, The Brookings Institution  noted:

“Energy is at the heart of Russia’s remarkable change of fortune over the past seven years. Emerging from a state of virtual bankruptcy in August 1998, the country now enjoys large surpluses, has inverted its debt burden with the outside world, and has racked up successive years of economic growth and low inflation. This dramatic turnaround is directly related to Russia’s status as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas—the country has benefited tremendously from soaring prices on the world market. With this newfound economic strength, Russia has also regained a sense of sovereignty. No longer content to play second fiddle to the West or China, it is reasserting itself as a major global player and reversing the international humiliations of the 1990s. In charting an independent foreign policy course, Russia is exerting dominance over the former Soviet republics of Eurasia (its so-called ‘near-abroad’). And it is trying to leverage self-proclaimed status as an ‘energy superpower’ with other oil and gas consuming nations in Europe and further afield. Behind the scenes, however, Russia’s entire political and economic system is extremely tenuous. Rather than rebuilding the economy through judicious policymaking and modernization, Russia has balanced its future on the twin pillars of oil and gas, which are vulnerable to the vagaries of the global market. The country’s success depends on high energy prices and the ability to sustain production—both of which are in question.”

Research from The American Enterprise Institute (AEI)  reveals that Russia is  “One of the world’s two largest oil producers and the leading provider of natural gas to Europe, [it] has increasingly used its revenues from energy exports to strengthen the Putin regime. In an article published a year before he became president, [Putin] reiterated that Russian mineral resources would be central to the country’s economic development, security, and modernization through “at least the first half” of the 21st century…In Putin’s view, the only way for Russia to achieve economic growth of 4 to 6 percent per year—the tempo he deemed minimally necessary for Russia to reduce its lag behind the developed countries—was via ‘extraction, processing and exploitation of mineral raw resources.’ This was the key to Russia’s becoming ‘a great economic power,’ Putin believed. For Putin, oil and gas were also paramount politically as guarantors of the security and stability of the Russian state. As he put it, ‘The country’s natural resource endowment is the most important economic and political factor in the development of social production.’ Furthermore, the ‘raw material complex’ was the ‘basis for the country’s military might’ and an ‘essential condition’ for modernization of the military-industrial complex. Finally, he believed the mineral extraction sector of the economy ‘diminishes social tensions’ by raising the ‘level of well-being’ of the Russian population.

Targeting Moscow’s dependence on energy sales is a tried-and-true strategy. A Newsweek  analysis encapsulated the concept:  “In truth, the might of the Brezhnev-era USSR was built on high oil and gas prices. When those prices began to fall in the 1980s—with more than a little help from Ronald Reagan’s White House—Soviet power crumbled with it… ‘Putin looks strong now, but his Kremlin is built on the one thing in Russia he doesn’t control: the price of oil,’ says Ben Judah, author of Fragile Empire, a study of Putin’s Russia. ‘Eventually, the money is going to run out, and then he will find himself in the same position Soviet leaders were in by the late 1980s, forced to confront political and economic crises while trying to hold the country together.’ Energy is a potent weapon for the West in the new Cold War against Vladimir Putin—just as it was the last time around.”

The Report concludes tomorrow

Dealing with Russia

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government begins a three part examination of Russian-U.S. relations.

There is a foreign policy conceit that affects all new American presidents, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative.

Despite the reality that nations retain roughly the same international goals for centuries, newly elected White House occupants seem to believe that somehow, some way, they can by charm or skill persuade foreign leaders to disregard the course of their history. Most Presidents realize the folly of that perception relatively quickly.  Unfortunately, former President Obama utterly failed to learn the lesson throughout his entire tenure.

Relations with Russia will not change for the better merely because there has been a personnel change in the Oval Office. The Associated Press  recently reported that “It would be challenging to reach common ground [between Russia and the U.S.]  on some issues even if Trump and … Putin both want it, as the interests of Russia and of the United States differ sharply…”

President Trump has indicated that he is seeking better relations with his Kremlin counterpart. The intention may be commendable, but the reality is it will not occur.  Russia will only reduce its aggressive tactics if it is compelled to do so by powerful economic or military factors.  Washington should not ignore past and ongoing Russian misdeeds by signing onto agreements that require lifting sanctions or limiting U.S. troops in Europe in return for assurances from Moscow that it will behave more reasonable. The concept is unrealistic. Offering arms pacts is also a futile gesture.  Bluntly, Russia is already cheating on those it has already signed.

President Trump is not wrong in signaling that he is willing to speak or meet with Putin in the hopes of improving communications. The two leaders should develop a relationship to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations that could lead to conflict. However, common ground will not be found unless Russia does a full reverse on many of the activities it engaged in during the Obama presidency.  These include its continuing unlawful activities in Ukraine, its dramatic military buildup, (Russia’s massive military buildup should be a key issue for the Trump Administration.  Despite pressing domestic needs, Putin surged forward with his armaments program at a time when Russia faced no viable threats.  It has allied with China, on its southern border. European nations have very weak military capabilities, a fact that became a campaign issue when Trump complained about their inadequate contribution to NATO. The U.S., under Obama, sharply reduced its military funding)  its threatening positioning of troops bordering Eastern European nations, its meddling in the internal affairs of its neighbors, its resumption of nuclear bomber patrols along the coastlines of the United States, its return to Cuba and Nicaragua, its militarization of the Arctic, its support for Iran’s nuclear program, and other related activities.

Unlike Islamic extremists, Russia, while aggressive, is neither irrational not prone to suicidal actions. It will respond positively when it realizes that its actions will produce more harm than benefit.  The Kremlin realized that its dependence on its military for international gains was failing when President Reagan responded to it with a major increase in U.S. military strength. Russia’s realpolitik outlook helped prevent the Cold War from turning hot. President Trump’s pledge to strengthen the U.S. military should have a similar positive result.

But when Moscow encounters weakness, either at the negotiating table or in the field of arms, it has and will take every advantage possible. By advocating a reversal of President Obama’s devastation of the U.S. military and America’s system of alliances throughout the globe, President Trump has singled a return to a more realistic worldview. That practicality should not be diminished by a belief that relations with Moscow can be improved without creating conditions that compel Putin to believe that he has no other viable alternative.

The Report continues tomorrow

A Revolt Against Biased News

Was the 2016 election a popular revolt against what many perceive to be a biased media?

During the Obama Administration, there was a tacit collusion between the White House and its ideological allies in the press, who overlooked major presidential failures in national security, terrorism, economic recovery, race relations and other areas, and an intentional lack of adequate coverage of scandals highlighted by the misuse of federal agencies for partisan purposes, most notably including the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice.

In return for the biased media’s downplaying of policy failures, the White House attacked rivals of its sympathetic left-wing press friends with an unprecedented vigor.

Newsworthy events of extraordinary interest were heavily downplayed by the major media. Examples include:

Obama-friendly officials on the Federal Communications Commission, in what may have been one of the most controversial programs ever initiated by a federal agency, initiated an effort entitled “critical information needs” (known as CIN) involving federal oversight of broadcasters and journalists throughout America. It would have placed government employees in the private internal conversations and meetings of journalists, media organizations, and even internet sites, thereby hobbling opponents of the Administration.

Largely under-covered was the stunning legislation,  previously reported in the New York Analysis of Policy & Government, proposed by two Obama allies in the Senate, Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) and Charles Schumer (D-New York). They proposed a measure that would limit free speech protections as they pertain to campaign donations. The proposed legislation gained 43 Senate supporters—all Democrats. At a Senate Rules Committee  Schumer stated that “”The First Amendment is sacred, but the First Amendment is not absolute. By making it absolute, you make it less sacred to most Americans.”

The contemptuous attitude towards the First Amendment could be seen in comments, also downplayed by media sources friendly to the President, by Federal Elections Commissioner, Ann Ravel, first reported in a Washington Examiner article. Ravel stated that “Upholding constitutional principles is not an appropriate role for a member of the Federal Election Commission. As noted previously in the New York Analysis of Policy and Government, The Democrat members of the Federal Election Commission attempted to impose a penalty on one news station that has been uniformly critical of the Obama Administration, based on a complaint from an obscure candidate that he wasn’t invited to a televised debate. Of course, those same commissioners have never considered imposing similar sanctions against the Democrat National Committee, which has inappropriately tilted towards Hillary Clinton in her primary effort against Bernie Sanders. The attempt was blocked by Republican Commissioners.

The tacit understanding between the Oval Office and the progressive-oriented mainstream media constituted one of the most significant threats against the First Amendment in U.S. history.  Attempts to suppress views contrary to the Obama Administration’s came from a number of sources.

Perhaps the most widely viewed and blatant example of media biased was seen in the 2012 presidential campaign. Candy Crowley, a reporter tasked with moderating a candidates debate between Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, abused her position and repeatedly attacked Romney.

The inappropriate bias over the past eight years was recently noted by Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes  in a Hollywood Reporter article. “The threat to the First Amendment came from the Democratic side,’ Bewkes said during a conversation with Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget at a conference in New York in a session that was webcast… the Democratic party had a campaign plank to change the First Amendment, and they were doing it in the guise of campaign finance reform.’ The CEO, continuing his theme, even acknowledged that the news media does, indeed, lean left, as conservatives have long complained. ‘That was worrying me more, because the press tends to miss that because they tend to lean that way, and therefore they were supporting what they were viewing, I think overly charitably, as something in cleaning up money in politics when in fact what it would do is restrain multiple voices…So, I thought the threat to the First Amendment came from the Democratic side more. I think there won’t be a serious effort on the Republican side.” Bewkes comments came in response to angry statements from President-elect Trump about media bias.

During the recent election, author David Limbaugh, quoted in Stream  noted: “I don’t know how reasonable people can fail to recognize the overt collusion of the Obama administration, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Party and the liberal media to shield Hillary Clinton from accountability for her many misdeeds and abundant corruption.”

The Free Thought Project notes: “After only a cursory search using Wikileaks invaluable database, ‘The Podesta Emails’ reveal not only direct evidence of media coordination, but an attempt to alleviate the damage…”

Views of the Inaugural

A first-hand report by New York Analysis of Policy & Government’s
editor-in-chief, Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D.

I covered, live, both President Trump’s inaugural address from the Capitol, and its protesters.

My work began before I left my home in New York City.  Flights and trains were already booked (and it would have been impossible to find parking in D.C.) so I took an interstate bus.

My cab driver to the terminal had, decades ago, emigrated from the Dominican Republic, and was now a U.S. citizen.  He mentioned that, to the dismay of his friends, he supported Trump.  “Things keep getting worse in this country, especially over the last eight years.  It’s time for a big change,” he stated.

The bus (which broke down in New Jersey and had to be replaced) was largely populated by protesters, some of whom were heading to McPherson Square to demonstrate during the inaugural, while others planned to take part in the women’s march the following day. Many wore buttons that bore obscene phrases about the (then) president-elect, while others had signs accusing Trump of being a racist, a Nazi, a homophobe, or a misogynist.

I asked a number of the passengers which Trump statements or policies led them to their concerns. The responses generally fell into one of four categories: 1) Trump was a billionaire, which they felt made him incapable of understanding the concerns of everyday people, 2) he was a Republican, which they believed automatically made him despicable, 3) his statements about gaining control of the borders meant he was a white supremacist.

It was the fourth category which had the most respondents, however: the presidency should have gone to Hillary Clinton, and both the fact that Trump won, and at times during the campaign,  personally criticized her was, to them, unacceptable. They were particularly galled when he called her a “nasty woman,” and several had buttons which read “A nasty woman against Trump.”

Trump’s speech was certainly not hard-core conservative. It was filled with references about infrastructure and neglected American workers.

An objective analysis of the speech reveals two main targets of his blunt comments.

First, both Democrat and Republican legislators and bureaucrats who had made lucrative and extended careers by centering power in Washington while not delivering (and even obstructing) solutions to the nation’s problems. Trump stated, “What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people … We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action – constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.”

Second, the governments of nations who had enriched themselves by both engaging in unfair economic policies towards America, while at the same time benefiting from U.S. assistance.

The new President also overturned eight years of White House reluctance by condemning, in no uncertain terms, “Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.” The response from the crowd was visceral, loud, and deeply favorable. Indeed, the ethnically diverse crowd I was with at the Capitol responded enthusiastically to just about every phrase.

Interestingly enough, the loudest and most sustained “boos” for the invited dignitaries were not aimed at Ms. Clinton, but for Senator Charles Schumer, who included a number of subtle criticisms of the new President in his guest remarks.  Schumer remains unpopular with many for his 2014 legislative proposal which would have weakened First Amendment protections for certain types of political speech.

After the ceremony, I went to McPherson Square, where the mood was decidedly different. An angry protest crowd included a number of groups which shouted epithets at police officers, journalists, and passersby (who, if they wore business attire, were apparently considered pro-Trump.)

Most of their signs and banners, rather than criticizing specific policies, tended to be general or profane comments about Trump, his family, and Republicans in general. What distinguished those protesting this inauguration from those in the past was the general lack of specificity. It seemed to be more of a collective temper tantrum on the part of the left that the American electorate had dared to disagree with them.

Many media reports appear to have understated the size of those who attended to be part of those supporting the new president.  This is nothing new. Major news outlets have consistently engaged in the inappropriate practice of intentionally understating crowds at conservative-oriented events, and drastically overstating attendance at leftist-oriented gatherings.