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N.B.: Language alert and red pills below. Controversial. Not for the faint of heart.

On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, in discussing immigration, President Donald Trump allegedly made a remark about immigration from ‘sh*thole countries’, according to Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).

The conversation, including several others, took place behind closed doors in the Oval Office.

Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia) attended the meeting and said that only Dick Durbin heard it. Perdue discussed the issue with ABC’s George Stephanopolous:

As usual, media and politicians have been harping on this ever since.

Never-Trumper Mia Love (R-Utah) issued a statement:

Allegedly, Trump asked why there couldn’t be more immigration to the United States from countries like Norway. Why did he mention that nation in particular? Because he had welcomed the Norwegian prime minister to the White House that day:

This is Trump’s explanation:

Media reports said that Haiti, in particular, was singled out:

Trump retweeted an important fact revealing Dick Durbin’s hypocrisy:

Durbin also made a false claim about a Republican during the Obama years:

On Friday, January 12, Trump honoured Martin Luther King Jr Day:

Housing and Urban Development secretary — the retired brain surgeon from the slums of Detroit — Dr Ben Carson is on the left and Isaac Newton Farris Jr, a nephew of Martin Luther King Jr, is on his right. Vice President Mike Pence is behind them. Several other people attended this event, during which:

President Donald J. Trump signed H.R. 267 into law on January 8. Named the “Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Act,” the law redesignates a National Historic Site in Georgia—the state where King was born—as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park.

This was Trump’s message to the nation on Monday, in which he reviewed Martin Luther King Jr’s beliefs and ideals and how important they were to the Civil Rights movement — and to Americans today:

On Saturday, Martin Luther King Jr’s niece, Alveda King, gave an interview to Fox & Friends, explaining what Trump meant by his remark just days before:

“Racism is just a word that is being bandied about and thrown… at the president unjustly,” she said. “President Trump is not a racist.”

King said that, in his reported remarks, Trump was not disparaging Africans or Haitians but instead calling attention to the fact many of their governments are inadequate and corrupt.

“Some of their own leaders have taken advantage of them,” she said.

She also criticized American Urban Radio Networks correspondent April Ryan, who repeatedly shouted “are you a racist” at the president during the King Birthplace park signing ceremony.

Years ago, minorities viewed Trump as their ally:

Here’s the irony about the mention of Haiti:

Donald Trump may or may not have called Haiti a “s***hole” – everyone freaks out. UN peacekeepers actively ran a child sex ring in Haiti – nobody bats an eye.

If we’re going to talk about Haiti, who exploited it more than Billary Clinton via their (in)famous foundation?

Yet, Hillary got pious when reacting to Trump …

… which elicited many critical reactions, including this one …

… and this one:

If we’re going to talk about other countries of this nature, look at what ended up in 2016’s Podesta WikiLeaks. This is from Gabe Podesta, John’s son:

The media went nuts and said ‘sh*thole’ more times than you can shake a stick. CNN even wrote the word on a whiteboard.

On a Trump-supporting news site, Gateway Pundit, lead writer Jim Hoft applauded (bold in the original):

That’s our president.

And THAT’S why we love him!

President Trump responded today to the “Gang of Six” immigration plan.
Could not have said it better myself.

Dilbert’s Scott Adams translated the words into normal American parlance:

Poor countries with bad schools that have favored immigration status.

Adams also posited that leakers of sh*thole comments are the real race baiters:

Although, not surprisingly, many Americans were shocked by this fake news, others started to point out the fallacy in Democrats’ — including media’s — thinking. One Twitter user calls it The Sh*thole Conundrum:

Those countries aren’t sh*tholes.

Illegal aliens can’t go home because their country is a sh*thole.

Regardless of language used, The_Donald‘s readers agreed with Trump, including this person:

people trying to act like this is offensive, but its honestly the truth and I don’t even like trump that much

That same thread had the following comment:

MASH : Make America a Sh*t Hole, the Dem 2018 campaign slogan. Not to be confused with get-out-the-vote arm, SHARD, Sh*t Holes Are Reliably Democrat.

It seems that person was not the only one thinking that, because the online world started filling up with examples of Democrat-run cities:

I was amazed to find the photo on the right shows Houston.

A US Navy veteran from St Louis, Missouri, rightly took issue with the state of Durbin’s nearby Illinois constituency, which he has been serving since 1983, first as congressman and now senator. Watch:

Here are four more incredible films about Dick Durbin’s East St Louis. For those unaware, the empty lots in the residential parts of town are where houses were razed. Watch:

Dick Durbin should be ashamed of himself. But, that’s impossible. He’s a Democrat.

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As we can see below, CNN has their priorities right:

Anyone wanting real news has to go hunting for it:

Then there was the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, January 13, 2018, warning of a ballistic missile threat — ‘this is not a drill’:

There’s something deeper behind this incident (language alert):

Here is a better image of the boxed text (from 4chan or 8chan), which is from an Air Force Fusion Analyst at Hickham in Hawaii. Particularly concerning are these sentences:

The false alert was not a mistake. We were informed it was to be a drill, but then all information was put out that the threat was real.

I overheard them [Governor’s office] state that this ‘Demonstrated weakness in the Trump admin and a refusal to protect his people.’

We don’t really know what to do or what’s going on. Which is really bothersome because it’s literally my job to process all information going in and out of this place for reports. I don’t know what to do or what’s going to happen to me.

If this was designed to upset people, it worked:

Breitbart’s Nick Nolte responded:

As did Fox News’s Greg Gutfeld:

Something is definitely wrong:

Correct:

The head of the FCC says his agency will investigate:

They should also revisit the siren incident in 2017, when Obama was still in the White House. Note the time and date:

In the meantime, CNN can resume normal service and criticise the Trumps for not owning a dog.

——————————————————————————————

UPDATE: ‘Worker who sent out Hawaii missile alert is reassigned’ (New York Post, January 14, 2018)

The Hawaii public employee who plunged the state into chaos by accidentally sending out an incoming-missile emergency alert Saturday has been reassigned, according to reports.

The unnamed emergency department worker will not be fired because he made an honest mistake, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Rapoza told the Washington Post

The agency has already put in place new safeguards to prevent such a misfire — including a “cancel” button that will immediately send out corrective alerts if an erroneous warning is issued, officials said Sunday.

Further reading:

‘Hawaii releases timeline of what transpired after false ballistic missile warning’

On Saturday, January 6, 2018, Newsbusters posted an article about a BBC interview with Michael Wolff, author of Fire and Fury, which is about President Donald Trump.

Incidentally, the book is currently available for free online. As such availability likely violates copyright law, I have not posted the link.

Nicholas Fondacaro’s article, ‘Wolff Touts Book “Will Finally Bring Down…This Presidency”’ recaps a BBC interview Wolff gave to the BBC’s Nick Robinson last Saturday. Excerpts follow (emphases in the original):

In an interview with BBC Radio on Saturday, Michael Wolff, the author of the dubiously sourced gossip book targeting President Trump, boasted to host Nick Robinson that “the story” that he told, “will finally end…this presidency” once and for all …

Now, all of this is fascinating, it’s an insight, it’s gossip some of it, it may not be enough to stop him from being president. Whereas, the allegations about Russia may be,” Robinson prefaced. “Do you believe that anything in the book will actually change the chances of the allegations of collusion with Russia being found to be true and therefore leading to the impeachment of the President?

Wolff said:

You know, I think one of the interesting effects of the book so far is a very clear emperor-has-no-clothes effect. That, the story that I have told seems to present this presidency in such a way that it says he can’t do his job. The emperor has no clothes. Suddenly everywhere people are going: ‘Oh my God, it’s true, he has no clothes.’ That’s the background to the perception and the understanding that will finally end this – that will end this presidency.

As retired courtroom lawyer Lionel says, such talk is potentially dangerous:

Incredibly, Wolff told Robinson that Trump hardly has any staff and that he will do little as president. Despite stellar economic results in 2017, Wolff said:

The economy is booming possibly because you’ll have someone who’s not capable of actually implementing any policies or regulation.

In a way, that makes no sense.

In another, such a statement implies that the economy does better with less government interference.

Trump’s insistence on rolling back Obama era regulations has helped the economy improve. Trump was also busy last year negotiating various trade initiatives, such as coal.

In June, the New York Post published an article on coal by Salena Zito, who does an excellent job of covering small town life in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

‘Don’t be so quick to dismiss Trump’s coal mining initiative’ is an eye-opener. For the first time in a decade, a new coal mine opened in Acosta, Pennsylvania. Trump sent his congratulations via video shown to local residents (emphases mine below):

The Acosta Deep Mine in Somerset County marks a dramatic upturn for the area. And while President Trump cannot claim that he brought the industry back here personally (this new mine was already being developed before the election), he is an effective cheerleader for folks who’ve been discounted by the political elite.

“We will begin by employing 70 to 100 miners and we hope to open a total of three new mines in the next 18 months — and that will mean additional hiring,” said George Dethlefsen, CEO of Corsa Coal, which owns the mine.

More than 400 people applied for the first wave of jobs that will pay from $50,000 to $100,000, Dethlefsen said.

In a region where the median household income is $29,050, and nearly 12 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, the economic injection is huge.

It also creates a ripple effect: For every new job generated by the mine, even more jobs like waitresses, hotel workers, barbers or grocery workers are needed to support the community.

Absolutely.

Furthermore, the coal mined in Acosta is being used for steel production:

The coal from this mine is not going to be used for energy — instead, it will be used for the production of steel for the next 15 years. (According to the World Steel Association, coal is used to make 70 percent of the steel today.)

Every single one of us relies on steel in our daily lives. It’s found in our cars, bikes and public transportation. Those wind turbines so loved by environmentalists? Made of steel. The utensils we use to eat? Steel. Medical devices used to save lives? Steel.

Roads, bridges, appliances and even iPhones and computers all contain steel.

Exactly.

This is a great move.

And there is more good news on the coal front. In July, The Conservative Treehouse reported on the increase in American coal exports. This came as news to me:

U.S. EIA data shows a gain of 60.3% so far this year in exports of both steam coal (used to generate electricity) and coking coal (metallurgical coal used for steel manufacturing) as a direct consequence of President Trump’s common sense energy policy.

Interestingly, the largest destinations for the growth in American coal export are the U.K. (+175%) and a doubling of tonnage to both France (+100%), and Asia (+100%). High transport costs to ship coal to the EU are being offset by U.S. coal manufacturing efficiencies and improvements in mining productivity.

Reuters has more:

“Simply to know that coal no longer has to fight the government – that has to have some effect on investment decisions and in the outlook by companies, producers and utilities that use coal,” said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association.

Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Energy Department, said: “These numbers clearly show that the Trump Administration’s policies are helping to revive an industry that was the target of costly and job killing overregulation from Washington for far too long.”

Coal could also be a major economic weapon used against North Korea, one of China’s principal coal suppliers.

Recall that China’s president Xi Jinping met with Trump at Mar a Lago on April 6 and 7, 2017. On April 11, Reuters reported:

Following repeated missile tests that drew international criticism, China banned all imports of North Korean coal on Feb. 26, cutting off the country’s most important export product.

To curb coal traffic between the two countries, China’s customs department issued an official order on April 7 telling trading companies to return their North Korean coal cargoes, said three trading sources with direct knowledge of the order …

The Trump administration has been pressuring China to do more to rein in North Korea, which sends the vast majority of its exports to its giant neighbor across the Yellow Sea …

North Korea is a significant supplier of coal to China, especially of the type used for steel making, known as coking coal.

To make up for the shortfall from North Korea, China has ramped up imports from the United States in an unexpected boon for U.S. President Donald Trump, who has declared he wants to revive his country’s struggling coal sector.

Eikon data shows no U.S. coking coal was exported to China between late 2014 and 2016, but shipments soared to over 400,000 tonnes by late February.

This trend was exacerbated after cyclone Debbie knocked out supplies from the world’s top coking coal region in Australia’s state of Queensland, forcing Chinese steel makers to buy even more U.S. cargoes.

I digressed from Wolff. However, he and his fellow ilk in the media deserve to have their collars felt by the authorities. What Wolff is doing with his book and what the media have been doing with fake news could be construed as advocating the overthrow of government, or, as Lionel tweeted, sedition.

On December 31, 2017, Fox News had an excellent guest editorial by financial columnist Liz Peek.

A summary and excerpts from ‘Liz Peek: What Trump DIDN’T Do in 2017’ follow.

Casting our minds back to 2016, after President Donald Trump’s victory, an ‘expert’ made the following predictions:

Paul Krugman predicted the stock market, which initially sold off on the unexpected outcome, would “never” recover from the blow.

… a despondent Krugman said Trump would plunge the country into a terrible recession.

In fact, on November 9, 2016, the day after Trump won:

the Dow soared 257 points, and has barely paused for breath ever since.

After ‘Trump can’t win’, we had ‘Trump won’t last’:

Columnist David Brooks, who fancies himself a moderate, said Trump would “probably resign or be impeached within a year.”

There were also widespread predictions that Trump would start World War III. Europeans, in particular, lost their collective mind.

Remember, too, that Trump was going to mess with monetary policy and start a trade war.

Earlier in 2017, ‘experts’ predicted Trump would:

fire Special Counsel Mueller or Attorney General Sessions.

None of the ‘expert’ predictions came true.

In reality:

President Trump accomplished a great deal in his first year of office: helping to pass a massive tax overhaul, putting Neil Gorsuch on the court, snuffing out President Obama’s regulatory excesses, signaling a more robust foreign policy and damping illegal immigration, for starters …

Moreover, the president surprised many by following through on his threat to withdraw from the TPP trade deal (a promise also made by Hillary Clinton), his disavowal of the Paris climate accord and, most recently, by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel.  There is nothing incoherent or reckless in these decisions however; they are compatible with Trump’s focus on jobs, and applauded by his supporters. While 66 percent of Democrats worry about climate change “a great deal”, for example, only 18 percent of Republicans are so concerned. Trump voters, like the president, see the Paris deal as bad for our economy.

A realistic assessment of Trump’s first year would note a transition to a smoother and more disciplined White House, better coordination with Congressional allies and a more integrated messaging on foreign policy.

Yet, people are still freaking out about Donald Trump.

Peek concludes by saying that the media and other Democrats will continue to push the same talking points in 2018, particularly impeachment. That said:

If the economy continues its steady climb, wages move higher (as is almost certain), and the stock market follows suit, they will need new talking points. Judging from surveys of consumer and business sentiment, Americans do not think the world is coming to an end.

I will post a list of Trump’s 2017 accomplishments soon.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump left the White House for Mar a Lago on Friday, December 22, 2017.

Earlier that day:

Crowds welcomed him upon his arrival in Florida:

On December 24, the Trumps fielded telephone calls from American children eager for the arrival of Father Christmas. The Daily Mail has a report with spectacular photos:

… the first couple surprised kids who had called in to NORAD to find out where Santa Claus is.

The president and first lady were patched in to a handful of NORAD’s expected 150,000 Christmas Eve calls from the living room at Mar-a-Lago where the Trumps are celebrating their first Christmas in office.

‘What would you like more than anything?’ Trump was overheard asking a child named Casper from Virginia as members of the media briefly listened in.

Reporters were unable to hear Casper’s response, but the president gave the request away in his answer.

‘Building blocks. That’s what I’ve always liked too,’ said the president, who was a successful real estate developer before jumping into politics. ‘I always loved building blocks,’ Trump continued.

‘Well, I predict Santa will bring you building blocks. So many you won’t be able to use them all,’ said the president, using his trademark bombastic language.

Speaking to another child, Trump was impressed by the boy’s Santa request.

‘So you want your grandma to get out of the hospital?’ Trump said. ‘That’s what your wish is?’

‘That’s great,’ the president continued. ‘That’s better than asking for some toy or something, that’s better right?’

He then assured the young boy that grandma would be alright.

‘So your grandma’s gonna be good, OK? She’s gonna be good,’ the president said.

At another moment he told a child, ‘When you’re in Washington, you’ll come and see me.’

In total, the president chatted with 11 kids, while the first lady talked to ten.

This video — trending at No. 27 on YouTube on December 28 — has the conversations:

Trump held a teleconference with various branches of the military to send Christmas greetings:

The US Navy and the crew of the USS Sampson tweeted their appreciation.

The military sent some exceptional tweets this year. I especially liked the Navy’s video. Open in new tab, if necessary:

Trump tweeted another seasonal message later on Christmas Eve:

His friend in Israel sent customary Christmas greetings to the American people. This year, however, is a special one for Benjamin Netanyahu:

The president and Mrs Trump attended the 10:30 p.m. service at the Episcopal church they go to, Bethesda-by-the-Sea.

The Palm Beach Post reported:

Bethesda-by-the-Sea is just under a five-minute drive up the Atlantic Ocean from the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club. The historic sanctuary — it is the oldest Protestant church in the region — has played a major role in the first family’s lives: The president and first lady married there in 2005. Their son, Barron, was christened there the following year. And the couple, occasionally joined by other family members, have attended Christmas Eve and Easter services there.

When Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April, first lady Melania Trump took Mrs. Abe to Bethesda-by-the-Sea. “Proud to share part of my family history with Mrs. Abe at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea where @POTUS & I were married, where we celebrate and we pray,” the first lady said in a post on her @FLOTUS Instagram account accompanied by a photo of the church’s garden.

Security was tight:

Since his election, the president and first lady enter Bethesda-by-the-Sea from the south side of the building, a side entrance that allows more direct access to the seats set aside for them toward the front of the church.

The service was not on Trump’s schedule released to the media, and church officials have declined in the past to confirm whether Trump would attend.

But regular attendees are becoming familiar with the security practices put in place ahead of Trump’s arrival: Worshippers are ushered through metal detectors. Women’s purses are searched. Men in dark suits with earpieces walk the line of parishioners waiting to enter the 500-person capacity sanctuary.

Once inside:

The church was standing room only, but the Palm Beach Post article stated that a few people in the congregation managed to make contact with Trump:

During the greeting, several people gathered around the president to shake his hand. As Communion was offered, people who lined up next to Trump — who was seated on the center aisle — paused to say, “Merry Christmas,” offer words of encouragement or, as one woman did, mouth, “Thank you.”

The Gateway Pundit had a great write up with videos and tweets that I’ve used here, including one of the service. The article says that the choir’s version of Silent Night is ‘hauntingly beautiful’:

I won’t include any of the sermon, as it was the usual Social Justice Warrior material we have come to expect from a once-great denomination.

On December 25, Mrs Trump released a selfie:

Trump tweeted a brief video of the White House — along with a special greeting:

The Palm Beach Post reported:

“Melania and I are delighted to wish America and the entire world a very Merry Christmas,” Trump says in the video. 

Trump also quotes a verse from the bible in the book of Isaiah, noting what the celebration of Christmas is about.

Melania speaks about celebrating our blessings as Americans and “prays for peace all over the world.”

Fox News had more:

… the president and first lady Melania Trump released a video message, with Mrs. Trump saying “at this time of year, we see the best of American and the soul of the American people.” President Trump added his own remarks, calling on Americans to “renew the bonds of love and good will between our citizens —and most importantly we celebrate the miracle of Christmas.”

“For Christians we remember the story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph that began more than 2,000 years ago. As the book of Isaiah tells us, for to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This good news is the greatest Christmas gift of all, the reason for our joy and the true source of our hope.”

Here is the YouTube version, which, even on December 28, is No. 8 in YouTube trends:

The same Fox News article also reported that Trump laid on a grand Christmas dinner for people often taken for granted:

… administration sources confirmed to Fox News that the president also provided and paid for hundreds of Christmas dinners served up to the U.S Secret Service agents and officers, military service members and Palm Beach County sheriff deputies who were working Christmas Day at Mar-a-Lago.

Described as a “Christmas feast,” served in the Mar-a-Lago ballroom, the buffet meal included a menu of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and dessert. The buffet was offered from the early afternoon into the evening, in an effort to cover two of the shifts for security personnel working the holiday.

Christmas is a one-day celebration for President Trump:

The Trumps are still at Mar a Lago. On December 27, the president visited firefighters and first responders in West Palm Beach:

Meanwhile, although the president has to be the most people-oriented and transparent for generations, Trump Derangement Syndrome continues unabated.

And I’m still getting Christmas card messages from across the pond denigrating a man who truly loves his country!

What on earth is wrong with people?

The week of December 11, 2017 has been chock-a-block with news.

It’s unlikely Big Media have reported the bulk of it. What follows are a few stories people might have missed.

The anti-Trump FBI ‘insurance policy’

A series of text messages between FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page were released on Tuesday, December 12. The Daily Caller reports (emphases mine):

Two FBI officials who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation exchanged text messages last year in which they appear to have discussed ways to prevent Donald Trump from being elected president.

I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok wrote in a cryptic text message to Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer and his mistress.

It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40,” Strzok wrote in the text, dated Aug. 15, 2016.

Andy is likely Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

Several congressional panels have been after these text messages since the beginning of December, when news emerged of their existence. However, Strzok was dismissed from the Mueller investigation four months ago.

The text messages, some of which The Daily Caller quotes, are anti-Trump. Some have four letter words. Most are cryptic:

“Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” Page wrote.

“I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps,” Strzok replied.

Like many of the exchanges, the full context of the message is not entirely clear.

Strzok also offered praise for Clinton while suggesting that he planned to vote for her.

In a March 2, 2016 text Strzok said he would likely vote for Clinton. In another exchange he wrote that if Trump won the Republican primary, Clinton would likely win the presidency.

On Wednesday, December 13, the Department of Justice inspector general, Michael Horowitz, released more information about the texts. The Daily Caller has more on the story. Horowitz received the text messages on July 20:

A week later, he met with Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to inform them of the politically-charged texts.

Strzok was “immediately” removed from the investigation after Mueller was told of the texts.

Strzok, who then served as the FBI’s No. 2 counterintelligence official, conducted many of the biggest interviews in the investigation, including with Clinton and her top aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills

The FBI handed over those messages on July 20, 2017. After reviewing those exchanges, Horowitz expanded the investigation to include all of the text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page from Nov. 30, 2016 to July 28, 2017.

Horowitz’s office received those messages on Aug. 10.

Strzok’s departure from Mueller’s team was reported by ABC News on Aug. 16. The network reported that Strzok had been placed in a job in the FBI’s HR department.

The reason for Strzok’s demotion remained a secret for nearly four months as the Justice Department and Mueller’s office declined media and congressional requests for an explanation. The levy finally broke on Dec. 2, when The Washington Post and New York Times simultaneously reported the existence of the text messages.

A sample of the texts were released Tuesday night ahead of Rosenstein’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee …

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee pressed Rosenstein on that text message, suggesting that Strzok was indicating that he planned to prevent Trump from being elected.

[Senator Charles] Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Rosenstein on Wednesday inquiring about the text message.

Rosenstein said Wednesday that the Justice Department and FBI plan to soon make Strzok available for an interview with the House Intelligence Committee.

Strzok’s cryptic Aug. 2016 text [re the insurance policy] was sent just after he was handpicked to supervise the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Horowitz’s letter leaves a few questions unanswered. For one, it is not clear whether Strzok sent politically-charged texts with anyone else. It is also not clear whether the messages contained in the second requested batch of Strzok texts contain any controversial remarks.

The Wall Street Journal has more (note final paragraph):

This is a developing story which has the potential for unveiling criminality — but ultimately:

Alabama special election

In a surprise upset, the Democrat candidate Doug Jones was elected to the Senate, defeating Roy Moore.

The background to the story is that Jeff Sessions vacated his Senate seat in Alabama to serve as Attorney General earlier this year. Sessions appointed Luther Strange to replace him. Alabama governor Kay Ivey directed that a special election take place. However, I read anecdotally that she did not need to hold a special election. Strange could have served until his term ran out.

In any event, Luther Strange ran against Judge Roy Moore in the Republican primary. Strange lost to Moore. Accusations of molesting a teenage girl in the 1970s — unproven — led by an attorney who tried to smear then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 — dogged Moore. Even so, Moore did not have any get-out-the-vote programme, whereas Jones and the Democrats did. Moore then lost to Jones — but only by 1.5%.

Could this have been a case of voter fraud in a state that votes overwhelmingly Republican?

Rumours are circulating that out-of-state voters were brought into Alabama and driven around from polling station to polling station — a classic Democrat strategy that works.

The Republican Party — specifically Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader — also refused to help Moore. McConnell’s detractors refer to him as Turtle.

Imperator_Rex has a good analysis, excerpted below:

He concludes that Trump surely has a game plan in mind.

The 2018 mid-terms require Republicans like McConnell to shape up or ship out.

However, as Imperator_Rex says, McConnell and his ilk don’t really care. They are all part of the Uniparty, so life continues for them much as before. Democrat dominance, especially when it comes to opposing Trump, is preferable to a Republican majority that might be persuaded to turn Trump policies into law.

Jones’s election nearly puts the number of Democrat senators on a par with Republicans. Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

Message to the black electorate

On December 13, the Revd Leon Benjamin and his family were guests at the White House.

They are an example of the middle class families helped by Trump’s proposed tax reform. Trump spoke about the tax plan, then invited the pastor to speak.

Pastor Benjamin had an important message, which began with:

To God be the glory!

Former Milwaukee sheriff David A Clarke expressed similar sentiments the day before:

Happy news

On Wednesday, December 13, First Lady Melania Trump participated in a charity drive for toddlers, the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots, at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders received a verbal kicking after Thanksgiving from CNN’s April Ryan, an annoying journo at the White House press briefings. Ryan criticised Sanders’s pecan pies, accusing the press secretary of not having made them herself.

So (although the crusts look store-bought) …

Here’s what happened on the day. Food really does bring people together:

Never mind that. Sarah’s dad had a message for her:

This will be my last news-related item until after Christmas.

On December 11, 2017, Politico published an extensive interview with former CIA head Mike Morell, ‘Ex-Spy Chief: Russia’s Election Hacking Was An “Intelligence Failure”‘.

This is an important admission:

So, I don’t think it was a mistake. I think there were downsides to it that I didn’t think about at the time. I was concerned about what is the impact it would have on the agency, right? Very concerned about that, thought that through. But I don’t think I fully thought through the implications.

One downside could have been not expecting Donald Trump to win the election.

Not thinking through the implications could be a way of saying that Americans now know that the CIA (like other security agencies) is politicised.

Here’s another interesting admission:

So, I think there was a significant downside to those of us who became political in that moment. So, if I could have thought of that, would I have ended up in a different place? I don’t know. But it’s something I didn’t think about.

No, because Hillary Clinton was a dead cert to win.

There is a bit more history to Mike Morell. Remember how, after 9/11, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the US government had received intelligence briefings weeks before but did not act on them? I do.

National Interest published an article in January 2017 about Mike Morell. This is what it says about 9/11:

On August 6, 2001, Morell served as the CIA debriefer for President Bush’s most critical ever Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB); the one that read, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.” It was essential that he impress upon Bush the importance of the memo. But he didn’t. Morell recollected in his memoir that NSC staffer Steve Biegun, who accompanied Morell to the Crawford Ranch where Bush was vacationing, apparently relayed to others that he, Morell, had indicated to the president, “there was no need to worry about an Al Qaida attack on the homeland…” Morrell himself directly observed that in retrospect, “I did not treat it as a ‘hair on fire’ or action-forcing piece and the president did not read it that way either.”

Surely Bush was not given the assessment that Morell’s colleague, counter-terrorism expert, Cofer Black, gave to Condoleezza Rice weeks earlier: “An attack is impending” and “this country needs to go on a war footing now.” On 9/11, close to 3,000 people perished in attacks on both New York and Washington.

Despite that, Morell’s career continued its ascent:

The 2003 Iraq War provided an opportunity for Morell to advance his career. Leading a group of CIA analysts, he was assigned to help prepare Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 5 U.N. Security Council speech.

Justifying the forthcoming invasion of Iraq, a passage in the speech affirmed that Iraq possessed “biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.” False! We still don’t know who was directly responsible for leaving this passage in Powell’s speech. However, Morell was in charge of the CIA analysts who were vetting it. In 2015, Morell apologized to Powell.

Then came Benghazi in 2012:

Morell, then CIA Deputy Director, quickly learned it was a well-planned terrorist attack. However he also discovered the President and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with the 2012 November election in mind, were pushing a different interpretation—a “spontaneous demonstration” over an anti-Muslim video. Given his status as a high-ranking official, it would be surprising if he did not receive, or was unaware of, an email from Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes: “The goal: To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of [our] policy.”

Then Morell was asked to review an important document—the talking points that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was to disseminate to the media explaining the attack. Morell complied. He altered the talking points. The doctored, scrubbed and bogus video story was presented by Rice to the U.S. public on TV stations, helping to save Obama’s presidency. Yet, even after the elections, Morell, accompanied by Susan Rice, continued to defend his altered product with three GOP heavyweights, John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-NC).

[Senator Lindsay] Graham later reported Morell “did not accept responsibility for changing the talking points. He told me the FBI had done this. I called the FBI—They went ballistic. . . . Within 24 hours, this statement was changed where he [Morell] admitted the CIA had done it.”

Good grief.

This short video explains a lot about CIA activity in recent years, complete with newspaper sources. This is not fabricated:

The description reads:

How do you start a fight when your opponent doesn’t want a fight with you? You force it… you create fear… you create fear and sell another stinkin’ pile of lies til the body count meets your project goals.

There is more analysis on Morell and the CIA at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

Some reading this would be delighted if President Donald Trump were toppled from office.

With the recent revelations during the past two weeks, it does not appear as if this will happen (thank goodness), but the coup is real.

In July, I wrote about a South African — now American — Evangelical pastor who held a 24/7 prayer vigil at his church praying for Trump’s safety.

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne is no tin-foil hat wearer. The danger is real.

Cascade Free Zone has an excellent article, ‘The Deep State Coup’, which is brilliantly written and informative. I highly recommend it.

Brief excerpts and a summary follow. Emphases mine below.

The coup has been going on since the November 8, 2016 election. The means and accusations were in place long before then — e.g. the Russian dossier. Note that the dossier is still in active play and old accusations about Trump and women are making the news cycle once again. Impeachment stories feature strongly as do news items about the president’s mental state.

Now:

We are approaching the end of the first-phase of the coup. This is a non-military coup, but what we are witnessing clearly fits the definition of “the overt seizure of the state by an elite within the state apparatus”.

Renowned patriot author and speaker Matt Bracken, in a series of postings and interviews, has outlined the basic mechanics of the coup.   Central figures include former FBI director James Comey and the Independent Counsel Robert Mueller, assistant US Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and current  acting director of the FBI Andrew McCabe.  Motivation for all of them is self-preservation.  As we have learned Clinton-World was a very corrupt place and the list of self-serving deals and those who benefited from them includes all of the key plotters.  None of them believed there was any chance Hillary would lose and leave them exposedShe didThey are.

Here is an illustration of the plot:

The Special Counsel investigation of Russian collusion — led by Robert Mueller — has not found the president guilty of anything.

Meanwhile, several Democrats have found themselves embroiled in impropriety.

So have law enforcement organisations, such as the FBI:

Americans of a certain generation have to strip away the years of propaganda indoctrination that the FBI are “the good guys” and look closely at what they do. The DOJ are their partners in all this, together they are the muscle of the Deep State plotters.

As for the wiretapping — the word the New York Times used in a headline — of Trump Tower last year:

This was clearly an illegal use of the most powerful wiretapping tool in the US law enforcement arsenal. FISA warrants were created to help prevent terrorism, not to ensure election of Deep State approved candidates. It has been criminally misused by the Obama administration to spy on political opponents and blackmail them with the illicitly obtained knowledge.

This goes further than deposing Trump. This is meant to also prevent his successor, Vice President Mike Pence, from taking his place:

the Deep State agenda is not merely to remove Trump, but also to remove Pence, Ryan, McConnell and whoever else stands in their way. Discussion of “do-over elections” is a serious topic there, as is simply removing every person until a flexible insider is found to run things.

Good grief. If that isn’t a totalitarian notion, what is?

There are minor — yet seemingly powerful — players, too. Saul Montes-Bradley has a good Twitter thread, excerpted below, spelling edited (photos in the thread):

(3) Two major events occupied out time last year during the campaign: The Clinton investigation over Hillary’s corrupt and felonious handling of her office as Secretary of State, and the,”Steele Dossier,” that abhorrent and at times sophomoric attempt to besmirch candidate Trump.

(6) I have tried to keep abreast of events as they developed, from the collusion of a venal press with the DNC, to the shenanigans of FBI agents in the Mueller probe.

(8) But it is much, much worse.

And all is coming together now.

Let’s bring a few more names to the forefront.

Does anyone remember Aaron Zebley? …

(9) Zebley was Mueller’s Chief of Staff at the FBI before becoming a Senior Counselor in the National Security Division at the Department of Justice.

Before that he was Special Agent of the FBI in the Counterterrorism Division for seven years.

(10) In between his two tours at the FBI, Zebley served as an Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) in the National Security and Terrorism Unit in Alexandria, Virginia.

If he is any measure, no wonder the fight against terrorism was an utter failure for years!

(11) In March 2014, he joined the law firm Wilmer Hale. “Aaron’s experience at the FBI, DoJ and the US Attorney’s Office will add to our internal investigations, crisis management and cybersecurity capabilities,” crowed his new managing partner …

wilmerhale.com/pages/publicat…

(12) Guess who this upstanding shyster represented there?

Justin Cooper

(13) Yep.

The cretin who set up the Hilldebeast private email server in her basement and then took a hammer to the blackberries she claimed she did not use!

The one who handled classified information without a security clearance.

(14) [Zebley] … went from defending Cooper to the Russia investigation under Mueller, working with McCabe and Strzok, who were supposed to have investigated Cooper

Go figure.

(15) There’s always room for a couple more … in this caper.

Enter Andrew Weissman, for one.

(16) he returned to the Bureau in 2015 (amazing how many of these vermin found their way back to the bureau in 2015, isn’t it.)

This time as Chief of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Fraud, mind you.

(20) There are quite a number more.

Like Jeannie Rhea, a shyster in Mueller’s team, who defended Ben Rhodes, finally a focus of the investigation into the “unmasking” caper.

She and 8 others donated to the Hilldebeast’s campaign.

(21) Or Rudy Contreras, judge who presided over @GenFlynn’s plea agreement without telling anybody he was on the FISA court that authorized the tapping of Trump’s phones and God knows why, suddenly remembered and recused himself.

ONE DAY AFTER THE PLEA.

Did he find religion?

(22) And then of course, there’s good ‘ol Bruce Ohr, former Associate Deputy Attorney General, AND Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces.

“Former” since Trump demoted him four days ago

(23) Why was he demoted?

Oh, well, he forgot to declare a minor detail to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) investigating a tiny thingy called the “Trump Dossier.”

What did he forget?

(24) Nothing much. Just that he had “ties” to Fusion GPS and its founder, Glenn Simpson.
It gets better. Simpson had introduced him to Christopher Steele (though some sources he has known Steele for 10 years!).

(25) Steele, yes, the chap who concocted that abomination paid for by the DNC to smear candidate Trump.

Ohr met with Steele SEVERAL TIMES during the campaign, just as this thing was going on, and back with Simpson soon after the election.

What a coincidence!

(26) In fact, Simpson and Ohr met “around Thanksgiving” to discuss “the anti-Trump dossier, the Russia investigation and what Simpson considered the “distressing development of Trump’s victory.”

Distressing, indeed. And after all that work, too!

(27) But that’s not all.

Who was working with Steele in the cooking of the infamous dossier but Ohr’s better half, his wife, Nellie.

What do you know, SHE was HIRED by Fusion GPS in 2016!

Her area of expertise? You guessed it: Russia, Russia Russia.

(28) Ohr didn’t declare any of this. Oops! Forgot.

It was discovered by the HPSCI, but only after threatening Director Wray and Deputy Dog Rosenstein with finding them in contempt …

(29) And this in spite of the obstruction of … Adam Schiff, who tried every which way to stop the committee.

Uncharacteristically, he is now silent over this.

Cat ate his tongue.

(30) Who else had his nose in this?

Peter Strzokwho interrogated @GenFlynn without a lawyer and without disclosing his conflicts of interest.

(31) Now, as the Dimms like to remind us, there is under Federal law the crime of conspiracy to perform a criminal act.

Indeed, if it turns out that these band of 3rd world misfits conspired to undermine the investigation into the Clinton mishandling of classified information

(32) AND to pervert the 2016 elections AND to undermine the legitimately elected President of the United states, while endangering the country creating conflicts with foreign powers

(33) …not to mention other beauties like egregious violations of the Hatch Act, lying to Congress, falsifying informationthey should be in a world of trouble

(34) Meanwhile, five have already been demoted or suspended pending investigation, one has been recused and, suddenly, it looks as if the … charge against @GenFlynn might well end up dismissed as the only evidence against him is the tainted word of a felon.
Poisoned fruit

(35) What upsets me the most, especially today, is that the FBI these vermin corrupted into a political police doing the dirty job of the DNC, neglected its counter espionage functions and endangered us all.

(37) I said months ago that the Dimms may come to regret ever having demanded this investigation.

It looks like that was an understatement.

They swallowed the hook, line and sinker.

Amateur hour is over.

Somebody WAS looking.

FINIS

Ultimately, the coup will fail. In fact, it looks as if many of the players are imploding. More will follow suit.

We can only hope that they are fully investigated and, where possible, prosecuted and sentenced.

James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has struck again, this time with two undercover videos about the Washington Post.

It seems WaPo management took as long as the New York Times did a few months ago to catch on to the sting:

This video came out on Monday, November 27:

The description reads:

In newly released undercover video, Washington Post National Security Correspondent Dan Lamothe and Director of Product Joey Marburger speak to the paper’s hidden agenda. Evidently, covering Trump the way they do is good business, even though it’s fake news.

Dan Lamothe told two Project Veritas reporters that he thinks the paper goes ‘over the top’ sometimes in its reporting, particularly when it’s about President Donald Trump. However, he said he thought that the New York Times and CNN are much worse in their coverage.

Lamothe, probably not a Trump fan, draws a distinction between the news side of the paper and the editorial side. He said the editorial board is like a ‘god’ in that it is trying to ‘educate’ the reader to adopt a certain point of view. He thinks the editorial side blows Trump out of proportion:

Woah, I work for that place?

He says that everyone at WaPo is obsessed with Trump, especially his tweets. He laments that such an obsession:

draws the oxygen out of the room.

and:

They definitely don’t like Trump…

Also:

I can’t tell you how many times we get an email at work: ‘Oh did you see what (Trump) just tweeted? What are we gonna do about it?

Joey Marburger’s position as Director of Product involves the non-print aspect of the paper. He told the Project Veritas reporter that he talks to owner Jeff Bezos ‘all the time’.

One of Marburger’s assignments was to work closely with Bezos in finding a slogan for the newspaper. Whereas Lamothe finds the slogan ‘Democracy dies in darkness’ over the top, Marburger says that Bezos thought of it himself. When it came time to choose one of three slogans, Bezos decided on ‘Democracy dies in darkness’. Marburger confirms that Bezos is referring to Trump.

At the end of the video, James O’Keefe pointed out that, like other Big Media outlets, the thing to look at is what WaPo does not report. He says:

Democracy can also die in silence.

Lamothe reacted on Twitter:

The next Project Veritas video appeared on Wednesday, November 29. It features an interview with National Security Reporter Adam Entous, who is the main correspondent on the notional Trump-Russia collusion story:

The last part of the video features Melissa McCullough, Director of Newsroom Operations. She cannot stand Trump. The description reads:

In this all new Project Veritas video, two Washington Post employees are caught on hidden camera expressing their biases and acknowledging that the Trump-Russia collusion. O’Keefe also takes a swing at The Washington Post, saying “The media wants me to kneel down and apologize. I will not.”

The theme of this video is:

Entous says there is no solid evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians to win in 2016, which is the same thing as CNN’s John Bonifield — and Van Jones, who worked in the Obama administration — say.

Entous tells Project Veritas that the Russia narrative is a:

f*cking crap shoot, f*cking black box … maybe it doesn’t exist at all.

Also:

Our reporting has not taken us to a place where I would be able to say with any confidence that the result of it is going to be the president being guilty of being in cahoots with the Russians. 

McCullough just says a few anti-Trump things then concludes:

I shouldn’t be saying these things because we don’t… We’re not supposed to really talk about that kind of stuff.

So, the WaPo presents news stories but if one only read the op-ed pages, the slant would be really biased:

On November 27, the day the first video dropped, Project Veritas’s offices were vandalised:

O’Keefe has written a book about what his undercover reporters have revealed:

On Tuesday, December 6, O’Keefe won an Impact award:

He also gave a speech:

O’Keefe said that people are afraid to speak up because they do not want to have their reputations — and careers — ruined.

The pressure from media and other elites is designed to intimidate citizen journalists like O’Keefe and whistleblowers.

Thank goodness there are gutsy people like them to tell the truth, especially at great personal risk.

On Monday, December 4, 2017, President Donald Trump travelled to Salt Lake City, Utah, to sign two proclamations restoring the use of federal land to Americans.

This was a controversial move, and lawsuits have already been filed.

However, while leftists believe Trump and his Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke are wrong, Trump campaigned on this issue in 2016. He wants greater co-ordination between the federal government and states on the use of government-owned land.

US Government still owns the land

First of all, the US government has not sold any land.

Although most of us think of the western United States as the wide open spaces where freedom reigns, in fact, the federal government owns most of the land in those states.

History

A commenter at The Conservative Treehouse points out that this started early in American history (emphases mine):

It has been long and beneficial arrangement for the American people and individual states which dates back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. There is a misconception that land has been “taken” from states and aggregated to the Federal government. This is simply not true, as the vast majority of Federal lands have always been owned and administered by the federal government. Often, these lands included large areas of desert waste and wilderness that were not accessible or open to economic development in the 19th century, ie lands that the territories/states and their governments/populations had little use or administrative control over at the time. Indeed, most Federal lands are an artefact of the process of incorporating unsettled Western land into territories and then admitting those territories into the Union.

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law, protecting national sites of natural interest for the nation. He had good intentions and increased the number of national parks.

The Conservative Treehouse commenter says that problems arose with federal ownership after the Second World War, possibly before, when the New Deal programmes of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (Teddy’s cousin) started:

There is a problem, however: post New Deal/World War II, and particularly since the Clinton Administration, and very particularly under the Obama Administration, the Federal Government has been increasingly prescriptive in regards to Federal land management. Traditional land right uses, which are critical to Western states’ economies and including activities such as mining, ranching, drilling, have been all but banished via the Antiquities Act of 1906 and through agency-driven regulation.

Left-wing politicians believe that Native Americans and ranchers should have less access to lands that they have been successfully managing:

People whose families have used lands for centuries have suddenly found themselves treated as trespassers and criminals due to this shift. States which have counted on the economic development and use of Federal lands have been crippled. Federal land agencies have been weaponized like so much of the Washington government, to the detriment of the people.

Perhaps the conditions surrounding federal landownership need a rethink:

the local conditions of the 19th century no longer apply. States now have the ability to administer and develop remote areas within their borders. It is therefore time to examine whether the 18th century arrangement between federal and state government in regards to land ownership is the most efficient in the 21st century.

Clinton administration expansion

The Education Forum has an article about a proclamation President Bill Clinton signed in 1996 — during his re-election campaign — appropriating 1.7 million acres of land in Utah to the federal government. He did this from Arizona.

While this looked like a good thing for the environment, Clinton’s actions hid a bigger goal — to prevent American coal being mined there as a political favour, increasing the nation’s dependency on foreign coal:

Why would he dedicate a Utah monument while standing in Arizona? Well, this federal land grab was done without any consultation with the governor of Utah or any member of the Utah congressional delegation or any elected official in the state. The unfriendly Utah natives might have spoiled his photo-op.

The state already had six national monuments, two national recreation areas and all or part of five national forests. Three-quarters of Utah already was in federal hands. Still, the land grab was sold as a move to protect the environment.

At the time, the Clintons were worried that Ralph Nader’s presence on the ballot in a few Western states would draw green votes from Clinton in a race that promised to be close after the GOP retook Congress two years earlier.

In fact, the declaration of 1.7 million Utah acres as a national monument, thereby depriving an energy-starved U.S. up to 62 billion tons of environmentally safe low-sulfur coal worth $1.2 trillion and minable with minimal surface impact, was a political payoff to the family of James Riady.

He’s the son of Lippo Group owner Mochtar Riady. James was found guilty of — and paid a multimillion dollar fine for — funneling more than $1 million in illegal political contributions through Lippo Bank into various American political campaigns, including Bill Clinton’s presidential run in 1992.

Clinton took off the world market the largest known deposit of clean-burning coal. And who owned and controlled the second-largest deposit in the world of this clean coal? The Indonesian Lippo Group of James Riady. It is found and strip-mined on the Indonesian island of Kalimantan.

The Utah reserve contains a kind of low-sulfur, low-ash and therefore low-polluting coal that can be found in only a couple of places in the world. It burns so cleanly that it meets the requirements of the Clean Air Act without additional technology.

“The mother of all land grabs,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said at the time. He has called what was designated as the Grande Staircase of the Escalante National Monument the “Saudi Arabia of coal.”

Obama expansion

Late in 2016, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation to create the Bears Ears monument in Utah, which had 1.35 million acres.

Extent of federal lands

Big Think has an excellent article, complete with eye-opening illustrations of the extent of federal land ownership out West.

Excerpts follow:

The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC. Until you look at the title to the land. The federal government owns large tracts of the western states: from a low of 29.9% in Montana, already more than the national average, up to a whopping 84.5% in Nevada

Few minds will stir when they learn that the US federal government owns a grand total of 640 million acres of land: that figure is so vast that it becomes meaningless [1]. The sum of all that acreage adds up to about 28% of the nation’s total surface, 2.27 billion acres. That sounds like a lot, but since it is an average, and because we have nothing to compare it to, that percentage is, to use one of my favorite quotes, “the kind of information they conceal in books” [2].

By contrast, the federal government owns significantly less of Midwestern land and practically nothing on the East coast.

The land is administered by different governmental bodies:

According to the Congressional Research Service [4], a total area of just under 610 million acres – more than twice the size of Namibia – is administered by no more than 4 federal government agencies:

* The United States Forest Service (USFS), which oversees timber harvesting, recreation, wildlife habitat protection and other sustainable uses on a total of 193 million acres – almost the size of Turkey – mainly designated as National Forests.

* The National Park Service (NPS) conserves lands and resources on 80 million acres – a Norway-sized area – in order to preserve them for the public. Any harvesting or resource removal is generally prohibited.

* the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), managing 248 million acres [5] – an area the size of Egypt – has a multiple-use, sustained-yield mandate, supporting energy development, recreation, grazing, conservation, and other uses.

* the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) manages 89 million acres – an area slightly bigger than Germany – to conserve and protect animal and plant species.

The first agency is part of the Department of Agriculture, the latter three of the Department of the Interior. The Department of Defense manages an additional 20 million acres – a bit larger than the Czech Republic – as military bases, testing and training grounds, etc.

That is a lot of feds of whom to fall afoul.

Citizens cross the federal government at their peril

Big Think reminds us of one well-known recent case of an ordinary American crossing the federal government on these lands which ended badly:

That conflict came to a head very publicly last year with the case of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher whose conflict with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights led to the federal government impounding his cattle [6].

The case is still unresolved, as footnote 7 to the article explains:

[7] Mr. Bundy refused to pay $1.2 million in grazing fees to the BLM, arguing that the land his cattle uses belongs not to the federal, but the state government. In the spring of last year, BLM officials agreed to leave his property and release his cattle after hundreds of armed supporters showed up at the Bundy ranch. As the Washington Post recently reported, the conflict remains unresolved.

As for Big Think‘s article and graphics:

Ultimately, this map reverberates and keeps bouncing around the internet because it touches a divide in American politics and wider society that is about much more than land use. It pits libertarians versus federalists, with the gap between them increasing to such an extent that the former often seem to the latter to be no more than right-wing vigilantes, the latter to the former nothing less than world-government-promoting socialists. Until some middle ground emerges to bridge that divide, this map (and other incendiary devices) will continue to add fuel to the ideological fire.

Is extensive federal land ownership constitutional?

The Independence Institute has a good article on whether such extensive land holdings are constitutional.

This is a grey area as Rob Natelson, the author, explains. In part:

* Under the Property Clause (Art. IV, Sec. 3, Cl. 2), land titled to the federal government and held outside state boundaries is “Territory.” Federal land held within state boundaries is “other Property.”

* The Property Clause gives Congress unconditional power to dispose of property and authority to regulate what is already held. It does not mention a power to acquire.

* As for acreage (“other Property”) within state boundaries: Under the Necessary and Proper Clause, the federal government may acquire and retain land necessary for carrying out its enumerated powers. This includes parcels for military bases, post offices, buildings to house federal employees undertaking enumerated functions, and the like. It is not necessary to form federal enclaves for these purposes.

* But within state boundaries the Constitution grants no authority to retain acreage for unenumerated purposes, such as land for grazing, mineral development, agriculture, forests, or parks.

Looking at the issue historically, he concludes:

Most states were admitted to the union pursuant to treaties, agreements of cession, and/or laws passed by Congress. These are called organic laws. They include, but are not limited to, enabling acts and acts of admission. These laws cannot change the Constitution, but they have some interesting ramifications for federal land ownership. That is a topic for another posting.

My article has been cited widely. But  it will not surprise you to learn that many reject the conclusions. Liberals are unhappy, because they want to keep much of our territory socialized. Conservative land activists are disappointed because they want the federal government to convey land to the state governments, not dispose of it in other ways. It is significant, however, that no one has even tried to rebut my conclusions or the evidence for them.

Zinke visits Utah — May 2017

Ryan Zinke must be the most active Secretary of the Interior ever. He is always travelling around the United States.

In May, he visited Utah:

for a four-day listening tour. He met with community members, stakeholders, and representatives of federal, state, local and tribal governments, regarding an executive order to review some large national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act.

That description goes with this video. You can see him on horseback at the three-minute mark:

Zinke’s recommendation was to reduce the size — though not the ownership — of of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National monuments.

This is the background on Trump and Zinke visiting Salt Lake City on December 4.

Trump and Zinke visit Salt Lake City

The Salt Lake Tribune has a good report about Trump and Zinke’s visit, excerpted below:

To the cheers of Utah politicians and dismay of environmental and tribal groups, President Donald Trump swept into Utah on Monday and erased most of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National monuments — shaving 2 million acres from their boundaries and replacing them with five smaller monuments

At the invitation-only Capitol Rotunda ceremony, he signed a proclamation to shrink Bears Ears, created last year by President Barack Obama, from 1.35 million acres to 201,876. The remnants were placed into two new monuments: Shash Jaa (Navajo for Bears Ears) at 129,980 acres and Indian Creek at 71,896 acres.

He signed a second proclamation to reduce Grand Staircase-Escalante — created in 1996 by President Bill Clinton — from 1.9 million acres to 1 million. It was replaced by three monuments: Grand Staircase at 209,933 acres; Kaiparowits at 552,034; and Escalante Canyon at 242,836. The protected areas are still larger than Rhode Island.

“Past administrations have severely abused the purpose, spirit and intent of the century-old law known as the Antiquities Act,” Trump said, referring to the law used by Clinton and Obama to create the monuments.

He said presidents are supposed to set aside in monuments only the smallest area necessary to protect important resources.

The following video shows the beauty of the Grand Staircase-Escalante. The person who made this is upset, however, there will still be plenty that is preserved, even if coal mining begins. The coal mining will not be in the same area as the Grand Staircase:

National Geographic says that tourism is the mainstay of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, however, that is seasonal traffic. Those who live there are disappointed that the government bought out the leases for a proposed coal mine on the Kaiparowits Plateau in 1996. While there are service jobs aplenty, mining would give many of the residents a much better quality of life.

As for Bears Ears, National Geographic explains that, as visitor numbers increase, so does the damage to nature and Native American history:

tourists pocketing potsherds, campers using century-old Navajo hogans for firewood; graffiti on ancient rock panels; all-terrain vehicles blasting through ancestral burial grounds.

Some residents are suspicious of the federal government:

… many locals oppose relying on what they see as the heavy hand of the federal government to resolve it. The feds, says [San Juan County Commissioner Phil] Lyman, “have become very much the enemy,” and monument designation only strengthens the federal regulatory grip. “They need to leave San Juan County, not own San Juan County.” The cuts to the monument, however, are unlikely to send either the BLM or the visitors away.

It is a complicated situation. The governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, wrote an excellent Myth and Fact piece on Bears Ears for the Deseret News, which is well worth reading. Excerpts follow:

Myth: Without national monument status, the vast landscape of the Bears Ears region will be subjected to unchecked exploitation.

Fact: Before Obama’s monument declaration in December 2016, the Bears Ears region was mostly federal public land subject to a network of federal protections that conserve the area’s natural beauty and archeological treasures. Trump’s reconfiguration of the monument’s boundaries does not change the federal ownership of these lands and maintains the existing system of federal protections

Myth: Without national monument status, the Bears Ears region will be crisscrossed by coal mines, oil rigs and gas pipelines.

Fact: Mineral resources beneath Bears Ears are scarce. There is no developable oil and gas. The region’s nonrenewable resources, including uranium near the Daneros Mine, were actually outside the expansive monument boundaries declared by Obama. The integrity of the Bears Ears landscape, long kept intact before the creation of the monument, will almost certainly remain intact after Trump’s announcement. And to ensure this going forward, the state of Utah is asking for congressional legislation that will exclude the region from mineral extraction …

Utah reaction in the Capitol building

Inside Salt Lake City’s Capitol building, Ryan Zinke gave a brief speech before Trump’s arrival.

He then introduced a Navajo stakeholder who expressed her deep gratitude to everyone involved, including President Trump. She also complimented Zinke on his horseback riding:

Other state officials then spoke briefly. Finally, Trump arrived:

What follows is an excerpt from his speech:

Here, and in other affected states, we have seen harmful and unnecessary restrictions on hunting, ranching, and responsible economic development. We have seen grazing restrictions prevent ranching families from passing their businesses and beloved heritage on to the children — the children that they love.

We’ve seen many rural families stopped from enjoying their outdoor activities. And the fact they’ve done it all their lives made no difference to the bureaucrats in Washington.

We have seen needed improvements, like infrastructure upgrades and road maintenance, impeded and foreclosed. We have seen how this tragic federal overreach prevents many Native Americans from having their rightful voice over the sacred land where they practice their most important ancestral and religious traditions. (Applause.)

These abuses of the Antiquities Act have not just threatened your local economies; they’ve threatened your very way of life. They’ve threatened your hearts.

He then signed the proclamation:

This was the reaction:

Politically contentious

The Hill reported that Congress wants to take action on how the Antiquities Act is used in future.

As Trump wants to return use of federal lands to the American people where possible:

The House Natural Resources Committee approved a bill in October that would restrict the president’s ability to quickly and unilaterally declare large national monuments.

Republicans, including Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), consider the bill an important check on presidential power, and they are intent on moving the reform bill through Congress this session.

The next steps will be to move beyond symbolic gestures of protection and create substantive protections and enforcement and codify in law a meaningful management role for local governments, tribes and other stakeholders,” Bishop said in a Monday statement.

Democrats have vowed to resist any effort to diminish the presidential monument-making power, setting up potential fights if the bill moves to the House floor and the Senate.

Conclusion

This move is not nearly as calamitous and damaging as environmentalist activists say it is.

It helps the American people, especially those Native Americans, ranchers and other residents in these areas regain use of their resources.

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