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Sunday, June 9th open thread: ‘You Were Meant For Me’

June 9, 2019

“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 KJV)

  open-threadHere is this week’s open thread. Please feel free to post links to interesting articles and to discuss whatever issues arise during the course of the day. Nothing is off-topic here.

 You can subscribe to America’s Watchtower to receive email updates and you can also follow America’s Watchtower on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links on the right. 

  Here is Jewel performing “You Were Meant For Me” live in 2006:

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The Mueller report omitted a Russia-linked figure was a State Department operative

June 8, 2019

  Last week it was reported that the Mueller report contained the transcript of a voicemail left by one of Donald Trump’s lawyers to Donald Trump which was incomplete and deceptively edited to make it seem incriminating. When something like this occurs it causes one to question the validity of the whole report because if there is one omission or edit what else has been changed?

  But it gets worse because now it appears as if a second “error” of omission has occurred, this time in the form of the description of a man who worked for Paul Manafort that the report says had ties to Russia. Here is more:

In a key finding of the Mueller report, Ukrainian businessman Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked for Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, is tied to Russian intelligence.

  That sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Well, that was because it was supposed to. But there is more to this story which was left out of the Mueller report.

But hundreds of pages of government documents — which special counsel Robert Mueller possessed since 2018 — describe Kilimnik as a “sensitive” intelligence source for the U.S. State Department who informed on Ukrainian and Russian matters.

Why Mueller’s team omitted that part of the Kilimnik narrative from its report and related court filings is not known. But the revelation of it comes as the accuracy of Mueller’s Russia conclusions face increased scrutiny.

  I think it is pretty obvious why part of the narrative was missing from the report but I digress, back to the story:

The incomplete portrayal of Kilimnik is so important to Mueller’s overall narrative that it is raised in the opening of his report. “The FBI assesses” Kilimnik “to have ties to Russian intelligence,” Mueller’s team wrote on Page 6, putting a sinister light on every contact Kilimnik had with Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman.

What it doesn’t state is that Kilimnik was a “sensitive” intelligence source for State going back to at least 2013 while he was still working for Manafort, according to FBI and State Department memos I reviewed.

  So Kilimnik was actually a spy working for Barack Obama’s administration against Russia and, as the story I linked to above states, the FBI knew all about this before Robert Mueller’s report was concluded and still decided to misrepresent his ties to Russia to make Paul Manafort and Donald Trump look dirty.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

The United States and Mexico reach deal to end catch and release program

June 8, 2019

  Both Republicans and Democrats were upset when Donald Trump announced he would put tariffs on Mexican goods if our southern neighbor did not step up and help control people who were sneaking over its border into the United States illegally.

  However, that threat seemed to draw Mexico to the negotiating table and now it is being reported here that Mexico has reached a deal with the United States which will end the catch and release program.

President Donald Trump has announced an immigration reform deal with the Mexican government which likely will allow border officials to end the catch-and-release of Central American migrants.

… it means border officials now have a legal alternative to the catch-and-release rules which allow migrants to legally enter the United States if they bring children and claim asylum.

Those catch-and-release rules set by Congress and the courts also allow the migrants to get work permits before their asylum court hearings, which are now backlogged for two or more years.

Instead of catch-and-release, the migrants can be returned to Mexico until their asylum claims can be heard by a judge.

Here is part of a release by the State Department:

… those [migrants] crossing the U.S. Southern Border to seek asylum will be rapidly returned to Mexico where they may await the adjudication of their [US.] asylum claims.

In response, Mexico will authorize the entrance of all of those individuals for humanitarian reasons, in compliance with its international obligations, while they await the adjudication of their asylum claims. Mexico will also offer jobs, healthcare, and education according to its principles.

The United States commits to work to accelerate the adjudication of asylum claims and to conclude removal proceeding as expeditiously as possible.

    Here is Donald Trump’s tweet on the subject:

  In return the United States will not impose the tariffs and will help to spur economic development in Mexico, and Donald Trump will drop his demand that Mexico label itself a  “safe third country.”

  For all of the blathering and windbaggery coming from both sides on this when Donald Trump made his announcement it appears as if the President just might have known what he was doing after all. We’ll just have to wait and see how the left spins this into a negative, but I am sure they will.

  Of course this means that Mexico has to keep its end of the bargain, and I think that country will need to be watched very closely to ensure it holds up its end of the bargain, but with the threat of tariffs looming over its head perhaps Mexico cannot afford to back out of this deal.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

John Kerry denies setting up a back-channel with Iran

June 6, 2019

 John Kerry might be feeling a little bit of heat after comments he made back in May of last year which he reaffirmed as late as last September where he admitted to conducting shadow diplomacy with Iran in order to save his Iran nuclear deal. In case you have not heard this story here is what he said back then:

Former Secretary of State John Kerry disclosed that he has been conducting rogue diplomacy with top Iranian officials to salvage the landmark nuclear deal and push the Islamic Republic to negotiate its contested missile program, according to recent remarks.

Kerry, in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt to promote his new book, said that he has met with Iranian Former Minister Javad Zarif—the former secretary’s onetime negotiating partner—three or four times in recent months behind the Trump administration’s back.

“I think I’ve seen him three or four times,” Kerry said, adding that he has been conducting sensitive diplomacy without the current administration’s authorization. Kerry said he has criticized the current administration in these discussions, chiding it for not pursuing negotiations from Iran, despite the country’s fevered rhetoric about the U.S. president.

  This led to talk about a possible LOGAN Act violation and Marco Rubio asked Jeff Sessions to look into it, but of course we know that the do-nothing Attorney General did nothing. But recently the President has mentioned the possibility of having William Barr investigate these allegations and this might have John Kerry a little worried as I alluded to above because now the former Secretary of State seems to be changing his tune.

  Here is what he said in a recent interview:

Well,I haven’t talked to the Iranians substantively about any issue. I’ve only talked with one Iranian once between the decision that was made to pull out. I saw the foreign minister briefly for a few minutes at the Munich Security Conference. But I have not said a word, substantively, to what they ought to do or not do, publically like this, since the decision was made to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. From that forward, this is a public issue, and I don’t engage in any diplomacy.

No, I haven’t had any back-channel on that issue since the decision was made to move out. And before that, it was not a back-channel. I met publicly, as the New York Times editorial board did, as members of Congress did, as senators did and as other secretaries of state have done throughout history.

  It is never a good sign when one’s story starts to change and we know about John Kerry’s personal family ties to Iran. We can only hope William Barr will do his job and look into this.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

House Democrats want to give themselves a $4,500 raise

June 4, 2019

  Since winning control of the House in 2018 the Democrats have done absolutely nothing but attempt to stop the President and argue among themselves as to whether or not they should attempt to impeach Donald Trump. As for having an agenda, it is all hate Trump and nothing else.

  But apparently they believe that all this nothing deserves a pay raise, and a rather large one at that. According to this story the Democrats in the House are proposing a $4,500 pay raise for themselves. Here is more:

House spending leaders want to break a decade long pay freeze and give members of Congress a cost-of-living bump that could pad their salaries with an extra $4,500 next year.

Congressional salaries have been frozen at about $174,000 since 2009, when Democrats controlled Congress and decided to suspend automatic cost-of-living increases while heading into the 2010 election year.

Now, House Democrats say they are moving forward with fiscal 2020 funding bills that won’t block those pay increases, which are guaranteed by a 1989 federal ethics law.

  But of course we cannot lay all the blame for this at the feet of the Democrats because if there is one thing both parties can agree upon it is that they are underpaid.

“There is strong bipartisan support for these modest inflation adjustments,” said Evan Hollander, a spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee, noting that the panel does not have to take action to allow the automatic increases and will simply be forgoing language that would block the raises.

  Don’t you just love the way they try to frame a $4,500 pay raise as “modest?” The Democrats keep telling us they want to help the forgotten middle class and this is the first economic package they put forward? I think we see where there priorities are.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

 

Judge rules House has no standing to sue Donald Trump over using Pentagon funds to build the wall

June 3, 2019

  Last week a Federal Judge partially blocked Donald Trump’s attempt to reallocate funds from the Defense budget to build the wall. This order only halted wall building on a few certain sections of the border, but allowed construction to continue on other sections of the wall.

  Meanwhile, the lawsuits continue and today a Judge has ruled that the Democratic controlled House does not have the standing to sue the Trump administration to stop it from reallocating military funds. Here is more:

A federal judge has ruled against congressional Democrats who sought to temporarily stop the president from using military funds for a border wall.

Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, handed the president a needed victory after the White House suffered several losses in legal battles with Democrats in recent days. 

McFadden ruled that House Democrats cannot go to court to block Trump from using military funds to build the border wall “because the Constitution grants the House no standing to litigate these claims.”

“To be clear, the Court does not imply that Congress may never sue the Executive to protect its powers,” McFadden wrote. 

But he said that because the House failed to show it has standing in court and given the lack of binding precedent showing it can sue and rulings made in related cases, “the Court cannot assume jurisdiction to proceed to the merits.”

“The Court declines to take sides in this fight between the House and the President,” McFadden added.

  This looks to be a big victory for Donald Trump because it seems to uphold his executive authority as Commander in Chief of the military. I am not sure how it works from here: now that this court has rule the House does not have standing to sue on this issue can the House turn around and appeal? Or does the no standing ruling mean there is no appeal?

  Either way the battle still rages on because there are still pending lawsuits upcoming, but we can enjoy watching the Democrats in the House get slapped down for a little while.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Sunday, June 2nd open thread: ‘Waltz #2’

June 2, 2019

“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 KJV)

  open-threadHere is this week’s open thread. Please feel free to post links to interesting articles and to discuss whatever issues arise during the course of the day. Nothing is off-topic here.

 You can subscribe to America’s Watchtower to receive email updates and you can also follow America’s Watchtower on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links on the right. 

  Here is Elliott Smith performing his song “Waltz #2” live in 1998: