Thursday, April 20, 2017

Last Call For Gang-Related

The most dangerous thing about the Jeff Sessions DoJ is the fact that he thinks designating criminals as terrorists is a good idea.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the MS-13 gang could be designated as a terrorist organization. 
Asked by Fox News's Tucker Carlson on Tuesday whether he thinks the designation would be helpful, Sessions replied, “I think so, perhaps. I believe it could qualify for that." 
"There are rules that I guess the State Department does to establish that," he added. El Salvador has already designated MS-13 a terrorist group. 
Sessions called the gang "one of the most violent gangs in the history of our country." 
“We can devastate this gang. We’re going after them," he said. "We’re not going to allow them to take over a block, a corner of our communities and terrorize people with this violence.”

Now MS-13 is definitely a dangerous and violent criminal gang, but legally designating them as terrorists opens up a Pandora's Box of unconstitutional actions that could potentially be taken against US citizens in US territory.  Once you define down "terrorist" as "a group of criminals" then all criminal groups become terrorists.  Being designated as one means you get the other for free.

Again, taking law enforcement action against MS-13 gangsters in the US is entirely different from deeming them terrorists and using possible military force against them.  And what about places where MS-13 exists outside of the US?  Do we invade El Salvador in order to stop MS-13?  Mexico? Guatemala?  Belize, too?

Yeah, this is all kinds of bad here folks, and we should definitely be concerned here.  Who gets designated as a terrorist organization next?

Considering we already have a domestic terror problem with white supremacists and sovereign citizens?  Why are we suddenly concentrating on creating fear of Scary Brown People as a terrorist threat?

Oh wait, I answered my own question.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Meanwhile, Reuters gives us another piece of the Putin puzzle pertaining to Russia's efforts to elect Trump and undermine Clinton.  The Russians knew exactly what they were doing, and they knew exactly how to accomplish what they wanted.

A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters
They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [], after the election. 
The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office. 
The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals. 
It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said. 
A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said. 
The current and former U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the Russian documents’ classified status. They declined to discuss how the United States obtained them. U.S. intelligence agencies also declined to comment on them.
Putin has denied interfering in the U.S. election. Putin’s spokesman and the Russian institute did not respond to requests for comment.

The documents were central to the Obama administration's conclusion that Russia mounted a “fake news” campaign and launched cyber attacks against Democratic Party groups and Clinton's campaign, the current and former officials said.

So Team Vlad had a roadmap to push Trump to victory and to crush Clinton by damaging the legitimacy of the US election process, and they executed the plan well enough to get both goals done. The country got played like a fiddle and we're stuck with a semi-senile orange toddler with nuclear weapons, and a Republican party so corrupt that it's going right along with the Russian plan to continue to wreck the country.

And yet we still pretend that Donald Trump's election is a normal act.

It's not.

The Beaver Goes Home

GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz is going to be spending time with his family in 2019, so don't you dare tell me that the narrow Dems losses from special elections so far this year in districts that Republicans won last year by 20 points aren't scaring the hell out of Republicans who would be facing much tougher contests.

Representative Jason Chaffetz, the powerful chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told supporters on Wednesday that he would not seek re-election to Congress — or for any office — in 2018. 
Mr. Chaffetz, 50, a Utah Republican who plainly relished his oversight role more under a Democratic administration, said he was ready to return to the private sector after more than 13 years in public service, calling his decision a “personal” one. 
“I have long advocated public service should be for a limited time and not a lifetime or full career,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook. “After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time.” 
He said his decision was not based on either health or political concerns, adding that he was “confident” of his re-election should he have pursued it and retained support from Speaker Paul D. Ryan for his committee chairmanship

More than 18 months out from the election in the heavily Republican district, there were already possible signs of a challenging race in Mr. Chaffetz’s future. Kathryn Allen, a physician and political newcomer running as a Democrat, has already raised nearly $400,000 more than Mr. Chaffetz this year, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Sunday — most of it from donors outside of Utah. And Mr. Chaffetz had also acquired a primary challenger: Damian W. Kidd, a lawyer and another newcomer who accused the congressman of caring more about himself than his district. 
Even with his announcement, Mr. Chaffetz left open the possibility of his return.“I may run again for public office,” he added, “but not in 2018.”

I'm sure Chaffetz will be back in some capacity in GOP politics in Utah sometime next decade, (maybe a primary run against GOP Gov. Gary Herbert, who would be facing his fourth term in 2020?)  but the notion that he's not running for the hills after Tuesday's near-upset by Jon Ossoff in Georgia's 6th special election primary is completely laughable.

Expect to see a lot of House Republican retirements ahead of 2018.  Chaffetz here won't be the last by any stretch.
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