Durham Harvests More Small Potatoes

I had almost forgotten about U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the Russia collusion hoax until it resurfaced in the news not long ago. Durham is now a Special Counsel, which I guess means his investigation can go on more or less forever.

Durham has now procured only his second indictment in three years. At this rate, he will be getting to the real issues in the Democratic Party/Hillary Clinton/Perkins Coie/Fusion GPS/Washington Post/New York Times/FBI/CIA effort to swing the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton by fabricating a conspiracy between Donald Trump and the Russians some time in the next few decades.

So, what is the current indictment?

The defendant is Michael Sussmann, a lawyer at the Perkins Coie firm. Perkins Coie has long been the Democrats’ go-to law firm. The DNC’s chief lawyer there was Marc Elias, who recently left that firm. Who knows, maybe that is a sign of gathering storm clouds. But I doubt it. I still don’t understand why Perkins Coie and Elias can’t be criminally prosecuted for laundering the money that the Clinton campaign paid to Fusion GPS to fabricate the Russia hoax, fraudulently listing the payment as a legal expense to avoid scrutiny. It was not, obviously, a legal expense. But Elias and his colleagues are wily, and likely they identified a loophole in federal election laws that allowed them to perpetrate this fraud without going to jail.

So what did Sussmann do? The Epoch Times reports:

Special prosecutor John Durham has charged Washington-based lawyer Michael Sussmann, who represented former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, with lying to the FBI during Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Lying to the FBI is one of those offenses that may or may not be a problem, depending on how well connected you are in the Democratic Party. Just ask Andrew McCabe.

The lawyer was indicted on a single felony count of making a false statement during a meeting with FBI General Counsel James Baker in September 2016. Prosecutors allege that Sussmann lied by denying he represented any client when he told the federal law enforcement agency about evidence that allegedly linked then-candidate Donald Trump’s Trump Tower to a bank in Russia.

This was a now-mostly-forgotten part of the Russia collusion hoax that the Clinton campaign, the DNC and Perkins Coie drummed up to try to stop Donald Trump. Sussmann allegedly lied to the FBI by denying that he had been acting on behalf of a Perkins Coie client–presumably the DNC or the Clinton campaign–when he fed false information to the FBI. Sussmann later admitted to the lie:

In 2017, Sussmann was asked by congressional investigators about his interview with Baker and testified that he passed along information on behalf of his client.

To say that these DNC lawyers are sleazy is an understatement, but Durham will have to pick up his game considerably if he wants to unravel the full scope of the Russian collusion hoax, and hold anyone responsible for it, within our lifetimes.

If You Don’t Believe In Critical Race Theory, You Can’t Work

A lot has been said about the fact that the Biden administration is trying to bar people who don’t want to be vaccinated against covid, for whatever reason, from gainful employment. To say that this is a novel incursion on our civil rights is an understatement. But here is a worse one: how about firing anyone who won’t sign on to the racist, anti-American ideology of Critical Race Theory? Shockingly, that is now happening, all across corporate America. The current message is: believe in CRT, or more likely pretend to believe, or you are fired.

The Upper Midwest Law Center, on whose board I serve, is representing several individuals who have been fired or demoted because they disagreed with Critical Race Theory. One of those plaintiffs is Chuck Vavra. Vavra was an engineer at Honeywell, which imposed mandatory Critical Race Theory-based training on its employees. The “curriculum” called America irredeemably racist and asserted that all whites are the same, and insisted that whites admit their inherent racism and status as evil oppressors, while blacks were characterized as victims, good people but intrinsically unable to lead successful lives due to white racism.

Vavra objected to this bizarre Marxist world-view. The result? Honeywell fired him.

It is notable that the “training” insisted upon by Honeywell was not a matter of compliance with federal civil rights statutes or other laws, nor did it have anything to do with Vavra’s job duties as an engineer. It was simply an effort to impose fealty to an extreme left-wing, anti-American agenda as a condition of employment at the company.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Upper Midwest Law Center is representing Chuck Vavra and others who have had similar experiences in lawsuits against their former employers. If you don’t think employees of private companies should be required to swear allegiance to absurd, anti-American dogmas as a condition of continued employment, you can donate to UMLC here.

Climate Summit in Jeopardy?

These ought to be the green salad days for the climatistas. They are within an ace of getting a cornucopia of “Green New Deal” spending enacted by Congress, but more importantly corporate America has thrown in the towel, and pledged its fealty to the Climate Catechism of “carbon net-neutrality” by mid-century if not sooner. This includes even major carbon-based energy companies like Exxon-Mobil, who have essentially announced their agreement to go out of business. Eventually.

Of course, there are embarrassing headlines reminding us of how reality intrudes on the green dreams:

Owners of the UK’s last remaining coal power stations are in line to be paid record sums to keep the lights on as energy prices reach fresh highs, and could be pushed even higher by lower wind power. Coal plants have been called on to supply power steadily in recent months, through one of the least windy summers on record since 1961 and sharply rising prices in the wholesale energy market.

Or this one:

In the first half of 2021, coal shot up as the biggest contributor to Germany’s electric grid, while wind power dropped to its lowest level since 2018. Officials say the weather is partly to blame.

Expect more of this kind of thing as we make the forced transition to the sunny magical uplands of electric cars.

But the really curious story right now, not making much of a presence in the American media however, is that a lot of the climatista groups are asking that November’s big UN climate summit in Glasgow (COP 26 as it is known is the trade) be postponed. Here’s the BBC:

Green groups say that the COP26 climate conference due to be held in Glasgow in November should be postponed. They argue that vaccine inequity and unaffordable accommodation will lock out “huge numbers” of developing country delegates.

The “vaccine inequity” excuse is a fig leaf for two more fundamental problems: China, India, and other developing nations have made it clear that they simply won’t go along with any new emissions reductions commitments, which are said to be central to the success or failure of this particular UN summit. But even more important is that the grift at the heart of the UN climate program has hit the wall. The Paris Accord pledged that rich nations would be transferring $100 billion a year to poor nations by now (which guess who paying the most?).

As one friend who follows this circus on a daily basis writes:

The main reason the ‘viro groups are asking to delay COP-26 is what the article says—they are afraid that the delegates from poor countries won’t make it.  And thus the main goal will be frustrated, which is to demand that the rich countries cough up the cash and then raise a big stink about their failure to do so.  Remember that by 2020 the Green Climate Fund was supposed to have $100 billion per year to hand out.  Obama reprogrammed $3 billion in the State Department budget; Biden will do the same and has now pledged $7 billion by 2024.  But the U. S. share is supposed to be $22 billion per year.

Stay tuned. It will be curious to see how the climatistas spin what is obviously a slow loss of momentum in terms of real commitments for cash and emission targets.

Newest Dem Idea: Subsidies for Newspapers

We should never be surprised at what handouts and special interest giveaways will be found in the fine print of the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spendapalooza blowout bill, but would you believe it even includes subsidies for newspapers? Here it is.

In plain English, the federal government will pay the employer’s side of the payroll tax for “news journalists,” or, to use equally plain English, “Democrats with bylines.”

And that’s not fake news.

General Milley: Guilty As Charged

Bob Woodward alleges in a forthcoming book that General Mark Milley conspired with senior military officers of the Chinese Communist Party against his boss, President Donald Trump. Yesterday I expressed skepticism that any American military officer would do such a dishonorable thing, while noting that Milley had not yet disputed Woodward’s charges.

Now, based on this statement by Joint Staff Spokesperson Col. Dave Butler, it appears that Woodward’s reporting is, shockingly, accurate. Col. Butler’s statement was issued in response to Woodward’s report and the firestorm of controversy that it ignited. Thus, the most significant fact about the statement is that it does not deny the truth of any part of Woodward’s account. Rather, Col. Butler tries to put Woodward’s reporting in a sympathetic light:

His calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability.

So Milley did talk with his Chinese counterparts at the time alleged by Woodward. His only defense is that those conversations were normal. They “convey[ed] reassurance.” Well, that is what Woodward wrote: Milley told the Communist Chinese that if President Trump intended to launch an attack against them, he, General Milley, would betray his country by giving them advance warning. No doubt that was reassuring to the CCP.

The Joint Chiefs spokesman’s statement also confirms Woodward’s claim that Milley met with other senior military officers to instruct them not to obey certain possible orders from President Trump:

Also in keeping with his responsibilities as senior military advisor to the President and Secretary of Defense, General Milley frequently conducts meetings with uniformed leaders across the Services to ensure all leaders are aware of current issues. The meeting regarding nuclear weapons protocols was to remind uniformed leaders in the Pentagon of the long-established and robust procedures in light of media reporting on the subject.

So what Woodward wrote is correct. The idea that President Trump was likely to order a nuclear strike on China is fanciful, to put it politely. That the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs took such a fantasy seriously demonstrates how out of touch he was, and is. Trump, for better or worse, was the least warlike of presidents. Did he ever order American servicemen into a new conflict? Unlike just about every president since Eisenhower? No, he did not.

General Milley is obviously a slave to left-wing ideology, which is why he has inflicted Critical Race Theory on America’s fighting men and women. This far-left ideology is also reflected in his view that President Trump, against all evidence, was some kind of warmongering loose cannon, and his even more sinister view that the leaders of China’s armed forces were his peers and his allies in undermining the foreign policy of the United States.

I never would have imagined that the U.S. military could sink to the level represented by Milley. He should be fired, cashiered, court-martialed, drummed out of the Army, criminally prosecuted if possible. And we need a thorough investigation into how the leadership of our armed forces could possibly have sunk so low.

Do Mask Mandates Work?

Much has been written, pro and con, on the effectiveness of mask mandates in stopping or slowing the spread of covid. Various experiments have purported to show that masks can work; I criticized one such product by the Mayo Clinic here. In my opinion, the most persuasive approach is to chart covid cases, or hospitalizations, before and after dates when mask mandates went into effect, or were rescinded. I have seen many such charts and have never been able to discern a pattern where masks have a material effect.

Our friend Kevin Roche has charted the impact of Minnesota’s mask mandate at Healthy Skeptic. Minnesota is a good test case because Minnesotans tend to be compliant, if not downright ovine. If you tell us to wear masks, we will mask up to the last man. As Kevin writes:

Throughout this period Minnesota had one of the highest mask-wearing rates in the nation, most of the time over 90%.

So did the mask mandate work? This chart says it all. Click to enlarge:

Kevin explains:

Here is a chart showing the date the mandate was enacted. At that time the state said it would take two weeks to work, but later amended that to four weeks. So we labeled four weeks later, see the big drop? Me either. See the huge spike while mask wearing was 90% plus. And then there is the date the mandate finally expired. Kind of ironic how the mask mandate didn’t work to reduce cases until the mandate was ended, or is that paradoxical? You will note that at no time during the mandate were cases ever lower than before the mandate. And as I constantly said, what really matters is mask wearing. Throughout this period Minnesota had one of the highest mask-wearing rates in the nation, most of the time over 90%. Yeah those masks worked great, as virus collection devices.

Of course, mask nazis can assert that if it hadn’t been for the mask mandate, the numbers would have been even worse. But there is zero empirical basis for such a claim, which is pretty much the lowest form of argument.

Some states and municipalities are now re-instituting mask mandates. That is the weird thing about public policy in general: failure rarely discredits a policy. Far more likely, failure will lead to calls to double down or reinstate the policy that didn’t work the first time. I don’t know what to do about this, except try to get voters to be smarter.

Morningafterwise in CA

Paul and Scott have already noted the prominent reasons why the Newsom recall failed, and failed badly. This is worse than a rout: it is going to embolden California progressives to push their agenda even harder.

Let us recall that even Nate Silver, a month ago, thought Newsom was in genuine peril:

Then came Larry Elder, who was unknown outside the conservatives who listen to talk radio. He was the perfect foil for Democrats to turn the recall in to a genuine general election with Newsom running against Elder rather than defending his own sorry record, and light up a heretofore apathetic Democratic base. Elder’s campaign could have been better: it didn’t emphasize runaway homelessless that is extremely unpopular, nor did he attack Newsom for our $5 gasoline prices that are largely the result of obsolete state regulations that a sensible governor could get the Biden Administration to waive if it wanted to.

But there are a couple silver linings: progressive overreach might provoke a backlash in next year’s election. Newsom might get upset, perhaps by a bland GOP candidate like former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, who was planning to run next year already. Also, the recall did win in a couple of swing congressional districts suggesting that the GOP might pick up a House seat or two next year.

Finally, the exit polls show Newsom performed more poorly than expected with . . . Latino voters. Hmmmm.