Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Traitor in Washington

Devin Nunes, chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, is an American traitor. What he did yesterday was so profoundly wrong that by comparison Benedict Arnold is an American hero. Nunes betrayed his office as a member of Congress; he betrayed his role as chairman of the intelligence committee; he betrayed the other congressmen and members of his committee; but worst of all, David Nunes betrayed the trust of the American people.

The committee he is in charge of is investigating the Trump administration’s ties to the Russian government. There is mounting evidence members of the Trump campaign – possibly even Donald Trump himself – colluded with the Russian government. If this proves to be the case, it would mean Americans acting as agents of a foreign government manipulated an election to place a Manchurian candidate in the White House. The magnitude of the situation cannot be exaggerated. Such a scenario, if proven, would be a thousand  times greater scandal than Watergate (in comparison, described accurately by Richard Nixon as “a two-bit burglary”). So it’s extremely important to get to the truth of the matter.

Congress has determined the best way to get to the truth is to let the House Intelligence Committee investigate the matter. But as with any investigation, the evidence must be kept secret as it is being collected. That’s why it’s important the committee members be individuals of integrity. They must be able to be trusted with confidential and Top Secret information. Yesterday, Devin Nunes showed himself to be a man totally devoid of integrity.

As soon as he was entrusted with confidential information, Nunes did four things in rapid succession culminating in one of the most shocking and scandalous displays Washington has ever seen.

First, Nunes held a press conference and revealed what many had suspected but was not confirmed: that the subject of wiretapping was not Donald Trump, but rather Russians targeted by FISA warrants. This means no one was bugging Trump or Trump Tower; the bugs were at the other end, probably on the Russian ambassador’s phone line and that’s how his conversation with former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was recorded. And that means President Obama didn’t order a wiretap on Trump: U.S. presidents cannot even do that as a FISA warrant comes directly from the FISA court. All FISA information is Top Top Secret, just as the FISA court proceedings are secret. Yet the chairman of the intelligence committee called a press conference to reveal such confidential information.

Second, Nunes deliberately did not reveal any of this information to the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. This is a break from protocol and ethics never before seen in Washington, DC. Nunes is supposed to share confidential information that comes to the committee with the ranking committee member of the opposition party; instead he shared it with everyone else but the ranking member. Right after the press conference he told House Speaker Paul Ryan about it. But he still never told the ranking Democrat on his committee.

Third, as soon as his press conference ended, Nunes rushed to the White House to brief Donald Trump on what he had learned. As Trump may be considered a possible subject of the investigation, this is akin to a police detective hurrying to a suspect to show him what evidence they’ve collected. The information likely came from a federal employee who, as a whistleblower, is protected by law. But how likely are future potential whistleblowers to come forward after watching the committee head they’d entrust with their information immediately run to go show their boss? Can you say “chilling effect”?

Fourth, Nunes then held a second press conference after speaking with Trump! Nunes obviously has a need for attention even greater than that of the Donald. But here is the man entrusted with the nation’s secrets as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee gathering the media to blab secrets while still not finding the time to say a word to the ranking Democrat on the committee.

Nunes has destroyed the integrity of the investigation and possibly corrupted it to a point where it cannot continue, at least not through his committee. He has leaked confidential information four times in a single day while managing to not tell the one person he was required by protocol to tell.

Why would Nunes possibly commit such an egregious breach and betrayal? Shouldn’t the head of an investigatory committee proceed in an unbiased manner to arrive at the truth and not be a surrogate for the Trump administration, as ranking Democrat Adam Schiff described him? What possible reason could explain Devin Nunes’ outrageous behavior? Perhaps the first sign of bias came on February 27 when Nunes made headlines warning against “a witch hunt” over Trump-Russia ties. "We still don't have any evidence of them talking to Russia," Nunes said. Then the FBI produced the evidence. Ironically, that same day Nunes said he was “concerned about leaks of classified and sensitive information.” Apparently, he’s not as concerned when he’s the one doing the leaking.

But there’s one thing I didn’t mention about Devin Nunes that might explain his behavior and his apparent bias in favor of the Trump administration in lieu of the impartiality one would expect from a committee chairman assigned to ferret out the truth: Republican Devin Nunes was a member of President Donald Trump’s transition team.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Guest Blog - Reader Submission

In my last blog post, I introduced the concept of a Cthulhu Moment. I also asked my newsletter subscribers to submit their Cthulhu Moments and promised to choose one to publish on my blog. After wading through all the submissions, I’m pleased to present this Cthulhu Moment shared by Linda S.

From Linda S.:
My first one happened when I was 14 and moved from Massachusetts to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I was shocked at how kind, warm and approachable people were here. I looked back at my old home and saw it in an unforgiving light. My more recent one was a mixture of the U.S. election campaign, the election itself, and the reality we are now facing. It dismays me to see things so divisive, polarized and frustrated. I thought that the world was in a colossal mess, but I now realize that even though I had a relatively clear view of the world, I had no idea the depths that it could sink to in such a short period of time.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Have You Ever had a Cthulhu Moment

Cthulhu, a creation of fantasy horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, was a cosmic entity from another planet. Cthulhu and his brethren were worshiped as elder gods by cultists. These elder gods were so unbelievably hideous that no human could look upon their true form without going mad. One of Lovecraft’s major themes was the complete irrelevance of humanity in the face of these cosmic horrors that ruled the universe. Remember Jack Nicholson’s line from A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth”? That’s what happens in Lovecraft’s universe. It turns out mankind’s not in control of its own destiny and humans aren’t at the center of the universe… They’re an afterthought, only a byproduct of creation. When they discover the truth – that everything they thought they knew about reality was completely wrong – they’re driven insane. They think the world is like this, but it’s really like that, and their brains can’t process it.

So a Cthulhu moment would be one in which you discover everything you thought to be true… isn’t. It’s when you realize you’ve been living in a false reality. Perhaps it’s the moment you see your spouse in a new light and realize “this isn’t the person I thought I married; I need to get a divorce.” Or maybe you were watching the election results, saying “No, that can’t be right.”  Or a lifelong friend suddenly says something that makes you realize this person hasn’t ever really been your friend. Or you see increasing hatred and violence throughout the country and shake your head, thinking this isn’t the country you grew up in.

Cthulhu moments may be uniquely personal or may be a shared experience. Have you had a Cthulhu moment? Tell me about it in the comments section below.