Opinions Split on Memo Exposing FBI Abuses
The release of the House Intelligence Committee memo summarizing FBI abuses of its surveillance authority sparked differing reactions across the political spectrum. The gist of the Agency's crime is that top FBI officials knowingly used an unverified dossier created at the behest of the Democratic National Committee to dupe a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge into issuing a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.
President Trump, target and victim of the FBI's political vendetta, described the FBI's actions as "worse than Watergate where a handful of Nixon campaign operatives broke into Democratic Party offices to spy on the McGovern campaign. Now we see the Obama Department of Justice used the full weight of the federal government to try to rig the election against me. I think it's terrible. I think it's a disgrace."
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif) insists that "the disgrace is that Trump would allow the House memo to be declassified. The heroic actions of these dedicated FBI law enforcement officers to try to protect the nation from being taken over by an unqualified usurper are now being held up to scorn merely because they manipulated the legal process. Well, there are times when patriots have to put the greater good ahead of adherence to the law. I think Trump is lucky that all they did was try to derail his election and prompt his impeachment. As Sen. Schumer (D-NY) has pointed out, our nation's intelligence agencies have access to more lethal options for disposing of threats against this country."
Former FBI Director James Comey derided the release of the memo for "exposing matters that were better left classified. By its nature, intelligence work entails doing things that an unsophisticated general public might consider dishonest or even criminal. But dire threats call for dire deeds. Did the nation berate FDR for authorizing the firebombing of German and Japanese civilians? No. They accepted these harsh measures as the price of freedom. In this context, the FBI's tactic of merely sabotaging the Trump campaign and supporting the resistance when that effort failed strikes me as both justified and more merciful than other steps they could have taken."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called the memo's release "a stain on our reputation. By unveiling the disreputable behavior of the FBI for all the world to see we are conveying the impression that America has its own secret police who abuse their authority for political reasons. Comparisons to the Soviet KGB or Nazi Gestapo are now inevitable. The damage this does to our nation is incalculable. It would have been better if the errant FBI men had conveniently perished in a train wreck that could've been arranged by trained assassins from one of our other intelligence agencies."
CNN political analyst Brian Karem characterized the release of the memo as "the death knell for our democracy. Congressional intrusion into the independence of the FBI tears our Constitution to shreds. That a body with an overt political role could divulge information that an intelligence agency wants to conceal overturns decades of agreement on both sides of the aisle. It's like the analogy made by former CIA Director Leon Panetta, 'who should we trust when it comes down to what is best for the country—James Bond or the gas bags in Parliament, or in our case, Congress.'"
The primary author of the memo—House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif)--says "the reactions I'm seeing from both sides reaffirms my belief that releasing the memo was the right thing to do. The notion that some of my Democratic Party colleagues have that the FBI ought to be independent from congressional scrutiny, that we ought to blindly trust our intelligence agencies is about as far away as we could get from the type of open, democratic, and free government that our Constitution intended. I hope it will inspire the types of reform that can guard against future abuses of power by those whose jobs are to defend the law and the safety of the citizens of the United States."
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) warned President Trump that "firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or any other high-ranking member of the Department of Justice on the pretext that their involvement in the improper use of the FISA system renders them unworthy of being trusted would be clear grounds for impeachment. Every Democrat and quite a few Republicans in the House and Senate implicitly trust these men despite any missteps they may have inadvertently taken in the pursuit of justice and American security interests."
In related news, the latest batch of text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page revealed the two discussing the best way to illegally copy and transmit classified material without being caught. A text from Strzok to Page explicitly states that "If I want to copy/take classified, I'm sure as hell not going to do it on this phone." While admitting that this looks bad, Attorney General Jeff Sessions took the occasion to point out that "not everyone who works at the FBI or Department of Justice is crooked. We just have to hope that the good apples outnumber and outwork the bad ones."
Fidel Castro Jr. Commits Suicide, Trump Blamed
This week, the 68-year-old son of the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro committed suicide. Though communism enabled his famous father to amass a billion dollar personal fortune, "Fidelito" was said by friends to have become depressed upon realizing "that Yankee bastard is right. My country is a sh*thole."
Long-time compadre, Vacio Cabeza professed himself "mystified. He wanted for nothing. We lived like kings. Admittedly, life is kind of tough for the average Cuban, but what does that matter to men like us? Why should we care what Trump said about Cuba?"
Reminded that Trump did not explicitly include Cuba in his complaint about "bringing in so many people from these sh*thole countries," Cabeza retorted, "we aren't stupid. Look around you. Why do you think so many Cubans try to paddle their way to America? With Fidelito gone I might have to try the same thing. Who will pick up the tab for me now?"
Fidelito's uncle and current Cuban dictator Raul Castro is reported to have set up "suicide hotlines to assist fellow comrades who may wish to follow my nephew's example. Surely, there are others who have even greater reasons for wanting out than our beloved Fidelito."
Raul lamented that "I partially blame myself for not suppressing Trump's scurrilous remarks, but then what could I do. It's not like the old days when we could just execute people who spread capitalist propaganda. There are just too many of them these days. The imperialists have infiltrated fantastical images of the prosperity that exists outside our island paradise and fomented disloyalty everywhere."
Retiring Planned Parenthood CEO Gives Farewell Speech
Retiring Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards urged abortion supporters to "fight back against the moralists who threaten women's freedom." She pointed to "a few bright spots we've seen in recent weeks that should encourage our faith in the ultimate victory of our cause."
"First there was the virtually unanimous vote by House Democrats against requiring abortionists to render medical aid to infants who survive the procedure," Richards recounted. "This nonsensical Republican attempt to impose their own notion of what they call 'common human decency' would completely negate the purpose of the procedure. The mother came for the express purpose of terminating her unwanted pregnancy. To require the doctor to offer life-saving aid after he has botched the termination effort is cruel and demented."
"Next, there was the successful Democrat filibuster against the Senate Republicans' attempt to prevent abortions that cause pain for the fetus," Richards continued. "Seeing the Democrats high-fiving each other after killing the bill was exhilarating. For the GOP to try to use the few moments of pain experienced by the fetus as it is ripped apart inside the mother's womb as a ploy to foist a lifetime of obligation on the parents is a moral atrocity."
"Not content with their efforts to nullify a woman's right to an abortion, the GOP is now touting legislation that would greatly inconvenience women by allowing the doctor they prefer to perform the procedure to decline on the grounds that it violates his conscience," Richards complained. "Their bill would overturn President Obama's decree that doctors must abide by the consciences of their patients and have no right to insert their own moral objections into the transaction. Permitting individuals to each make their own moral judgments is the road to anarchy. If the government is to fully empower women to choose whether to be mothers it must enforce compliance upon those the government has licensed to practice medicine and compel doctors to perform requested abortions."
MSNBC Lunatics Pan Trump's State-of-the-Union Speech
Despite polls showing that 70% of those who saw or heard President Trump's State-of-the-Union speech approved of it, the media talking heads at MSNBC roundly panned it.
Joy Reid, host of the weekend "news" show A.M. Joy, contended that "his praise of church, family, and the National Anthem are clearly outside the mainstream of the values shared by most of the country. We've moved on from these outdated and obsolete ideas. And his total failure to reach out to the LGBTQ community puts him at odds with the progressive aspirations laid out for America by President Obama."
Stene Schmidt, the network's "Republican" strategist, backed his MSNBC colleague, saying that "I found Trump to be divisive and delusional. What about the people who disparage religion, abort their families, and despise the Anthem's encouragement of patriotism? What does Trump have to offer them? How can he unite the country without fighting for their values like President Obama did?"
Host of MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews wondered "what's the deal with all of Trump's references to MS-13? Even if we concede that this is a vicious gang of murdering thugs there's no evidence they colluded with the Russians to interfere with our elections. We shouldn't let Trump get away with using them as a distraction from his collusion with the Russians to undermine the ascension of Hillary Clinton to the presidency."
Donny Deutsch, a regular guest on the MSNBC talk show Morning Joe, declared that "the speech proves Trump is a dictator. I urge people to take to the streets and overthrow this monster before we lose all of our freedom."
In related news, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell defended his organization's decision to reject the American Veterans (AMVETS) ad asking Super Bowl attendees to "please stand for the National Anthem." "We have invested a lot of energy empowering those who have grievances to sit or kneel for the Anthem," Goodell said. "We are not about to let a gang of aged jar heads abuse our forum by making an insensitive political statement that undermines the progress we've made."
Pelosi Explains "Crumbs" Statement
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) defended her dismissal of the $1,000s in bonuses and tax cuts flowing to the middle class from the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as "crumbs."
Using herself as an example, Pelosi observed that "the pittances being received by members of the working classes are dwarfed by the hit I'm taking. By limiting the deductability of mortgage interest to only $10,000 on only an owner-occupied home, those of us who own multiple houses worth millions of dollars are losing far more than these commoners are gaining. My tax accountant tells me I'll have to pay an additional $100,000 or more in income taxes because of this. I'm maybe a hundred times worse off than the average Joe. So it is small comfort to me that ordinary folks are benefiting by a few thousand apiece because of this dumb tax cut."
The House Minority Leader is one of the richest members of Congress with a net worth estimated at over $190 million.