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Friday, August 26, 2016

Cruising the Web

Rich Lowry comments on Trump's sudden Kempification. Trump can't even give a clear answer as he twists and changes his positions on immigration from his hard-line position that helped him take the lead in the primaries to one that could have been one that Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio might have enunciated - and with more clarity. Trump is also trying to appeal to African Americans by pointing out to them how little the Democratic Party has done of the past few decades of leading most big cities in the U.S. Trump is hoping to convince people that he's not a racist as he suddenly starts courting African-American and Hispanic voters.
Trump is planning trips to urban areas — with stops at churches, charter schools and small businesses in black and Latino communities — and is developing an empowerment agenda based on the economy and education, aides said. Under consideration is an early September visit to Detroit, where retired neurosurgeon and former Republican primary rival Ben Carson would guide him on a tour of the impoverished neighborhoods where he grew up.
I'm not sure how many blacks will buy Trump's efforts. Perhaps what he is really after is persuading white college-educated voters that he is not as odious as they seem to think he is. I suspect it's too late for that.

Those arguments trying to reach inner-city blacks are an important message. Paul Ryan has been doing this for years, but he does it beneath the radar. Lowry pauses to think of what could have been.
Trump's turn is an implicit acknowledgment that the Republican Party can't just be a Trump party and hope to win. It has to have broader reach than working-class whites, and avoid positions and rhetoric that convince people already inclined to believe such things that the GOP is thoughtless and retrograde. In other words, the party needs the likes of Paul Ryan—so scorned by Trump allies—who has invested the time in coming up with a serious anti-poverty policy agenda.

If Trump loses, one of the tragedies of the campaign will have been that a more populist Republicanism could, in theory, have won over working-class voters of all races. This is something that should have been a focus of the campaign many pivots ago, if not when Trump first descended his escalator.

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While thoughtful people around the world at horrified by the Turkish government's mass round-ups of anyone they could label as a rebel after the failed coup attempt last month, Joe Biden is not one of them. He's full of praise for the courage that Erdogan has shown in crushing the rebels.
Standing at the side of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during an Ankara press conference today, Vice President Joe Biden tried to soothe relations with the Islamist government by slamming last month's coup attempt as "a violent betrayal by a small group of folks who were sworn to defend the very people that they say they care and love."

"The attempted coup went to the heart of who your people are -- principled, courageous and committed. And for a people who have struggled so long to establish a true democracy, this was, from my perspective and the president's perspective, the ultimate affront. So my heart goes out to not just the government, but to the Turkish people," Biden said....

"I personally, the president personally, the American people stand in awe of the courage of your people," Biden gushed during the press conference. "And we understand, Mr. President, the sensitivities the Turkish people feel about international security. That's why the United States is committed to doing everything we can to help bring justice for all those responsible for this coup attempt while adhering to the rule of law."
Reports are that Erdogan has rounded up more than 40,000 people since the coup attempt.
Erdoğan's purge since the coup attempt has included basically any secular opponent to his Islamist government: more than 40,000 people have been rounded up, from soldiers to jurists to bankers and even teachers and a comedian. Human rights groups have charged that the rule of law has gone out the window as detainees have been kept in makeshift facilities without proper access to legal representation and suffering beatings, rapes and starvation. Erdoğan has also intensified his battle against the free press.
Amnesty International is not as impressed with how Erdogan is bringing justice to those he believes are responsible for the coup attempt.
Amnesty International said thousands rounded up by the Turkish government after the failed coup attempt against the Islamist ruling party have faced rape, starvation and torture behind bars.

The group said Sunday that more than 10,000 people -- mostly soldiers deemed loyal to the secular state but also judges, prosecutors, police and other civil servants, both men and women -- have been detained both in regular jail facilities and in "informal" locations, such as the stables at a riding club and the sports hall at Ankara's police headquarters.

Accounts of the treatment being suffered by detainees were given by lawyers, doctors and one person working at a detention facility. Detainees are being denied access to family members and attorneys and are not being informed of the charges levied against them.

Amnesty heard "extremely alarming accounts of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees," including senior military officers being raped with police batons, food being withheld for up to three days at a time and water being withheld for two days, and detainees being zip-tied into stress positions. Those suffering vicious beatings are often not receiving medical care; one person told the human-rights group that a police doctor was heard saying of a severely beaten detainee, “Let him die. We will say he came to us dead.”

The group found only one detainee who was able to choose her own lawyer. Lawyers have reported detainees coming to interrogations in blood-soaked shirts and some trying to commit suicide.

They said a pattern has emerged in the reports: the higher the rank of the soldier held, the worse the treatment.
And Biden admires his courage. What a buffoon.

Office and School Supplies

The Manhattan Institute has done a study to examine
the impact of the 1996 welfare reform that transformed the program into block grants with states having to come up with ways to transition welfare recipients off of welfare and ended welfare as an open-ended benefit for recipients. So what has happened as a result? Here are the key findings.
KEY FINDINGS

Children—in particular, those in single-mother families—are significantly less likely to be poor today than they were before welfare reform: child poverty overall fell between 1996 and 2014. This is the case because of household earnings, lower taxes, several refundable tax credits, food stamps and other noncash benefits.

“Deep poverty”—defined as having a family income below half the official poverty line—was probably as low in 2014 as it had been since at least 1979.

Practically no children of single mothers were living on $2 a day in either 1996 or 2012 (the latest year for which we have reliable statistics), once the receipt of all government benefits are factored in. In 2012, fewer than one in 1,500 children of single mothers were living in what is called “extreme poverty.” This finding is consistent with other research.

Official poverty statistics can create a misleading impression that hardship has increased, and that this increase has been due to welfare reform. Government statistics underestimate the income of poorer families, exclude entirely the receipt of valuable benefits, and overstate inflation. The most reliable indicators showing some increase in hardship after 1996 reflect the rise and fall of the business cycle but do not rise steadily—and generally grew worse among groups of Americans who never received cash welfare. The idea that rolling back the 1996 welfare reform would help the poor is wholly unjustified by the evidence.
You can read the full report here.

You know those promises that the Clintons were making that the family would step away from the Clinton Foundation if Hillary got elected. And you know those promises to end corporate and foreign donations? Well, not so fast.
The Clinton Foundation is considering exceptions to its plan to stop accepting corporate and foreign donations and reduce family involvement as a way to insulate Hillary Clinton from potential conflicts of interest if elected president.

As recently as this summer, the foundation was discussing with some allies plans for Chelsea Clinton to leave the board, along with former President Bill Clinton, if Mrs. Clinton should win. But on Wednesday, foundation spokesman Craig Minassian said Chelsea Clinton plans to stay on the board. Mr. Clinton told donors he still plans to leave.

While the parent Clinton Foundation will stop accepting money from foreign governments and corporations, the foundation’s largest project, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, might continue to accept foreign government and corporate funding, Clinton health initiative officials said Wednesday.
The Clintons will continue to be the Clintons. Just as you can't believe Trump's pivots, don't believe Clinton promises to suddenly end their corruption.

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Charles Krauthammer explains what he believes is the central problem of Hillary Clinton's private server and email scandal. It goes to why she took the risk of setting up her private server in the first place. The Foundation is at the heart of all these recent scandals.
The central problem with Hillary Clinton’s emails was not the classified material. It wasn’t the headline-making charge by the FBI director of her extreme carelessness in handling it.

That’s a serious offense, to be sure, and could very well have been grounds for indictment. And it did damage her politically, exposing her sense of above-the-law entitlement and — in her dodges and prevarications, her parsing and evasions — demonstrating her arm’s-length relationship with the truth.

But it was always something of a sideshow. The real question wasn’t classification but: Why did she have a private server in the first place? She obviously lied about the purpose. It wasn’t convenience. It was concealment. What exactly was she hiding?
As Krauthammer points out, she set up the server before she even was sworn in.
The foundation is a massive family enterprise disguised as a charity, an opaque and elaborate mechanism for sucking money from the rich and the tyrannous to be channeled to Clinton Inc. Its purpose is to maintain the Clintons’ lifestyle (offices, travel, accommodations, etc.), secure profitable connections, produce favorable publicity and reliably employ a vast entourage of retainers, ready to serve today and at the coming Clinton Restoration.

Now we learn how the whole machine operated. Two weeks ago, emails began dribbling out showing foundation officials contacting State Department counterparts to ask favors for foundation “friends.” Say, a meeting with the State Department’s “substance person” on Lebanon for one particularly generous Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire.

Big deal, said the Clinton defenders. Low-level stuff. No involvement of the secretary herself. Until — drip, drip — the next batch revealed foundation requests for face time with the secretary herself. Such as one from the crown prince of Bahrain.

To be sure, Bahrain, home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, is an important Persian Gulf ally. Its crown prince shouldn’t have to go through a foundation — to which his government donated at least $50,000 — to get to the secretary. The fact that he did is telling.

Now, a further drip: The Associated Press found that more than half the private interests who were granted phone or personal contact with Secretary Clinton — 85 of 154 — were donors to the foundation. Total contributions? As much as $156 million.

Current Clinton response? There was no quid pro quo.

What a long way we’ve come. This is the very last line of defense. Yes, it’s obvious that access and influence were sold. But no one has demonstrated definitively that the donors received something tangible of value — a pipeline, a permit, a waiver, a favorable regulatory ruling — in exchange.

It’s hard to believe the Clinton folks would be stupid enough to commit something so blatant to writing. Nonetheless, there might be an email allusion to some such conversation. With thousands more emails to come, who knows what lies beneath.

On the face of it, it’s rather odd that a visible quid pro quo is the bright line for malfeasance. Anything short of that — the country is awash with political money that buys access — is deemed acceptable. As Donald Trump says of his own donation-giving days, “when I need something from them . . . I call them, they are there for me.” This is considered routine and unremarkable.

It’s not until a Rolex shows up on your wrist that you get indicted. Or you are found to have dangled a Senate appointment for cash. Then, like Rod Blagojevich, you go to jail. (He got 14 years.)

Yet we are hardly bothered by the routine practice of presidents rewarding big donors with cushy ambassadorships, appointments to portentous boards and invitations to state dinners.

The bright line seems to be outright bribery. Anything short of that is considered — not just for the Clintons, for everyone — acceptable corruption.

It’s a sorry standard. And right now it is Hillary Clinton’s saving grace.
If Krauthammer is right that Hillary set up the server to keep her communications with the Foundation secret, just think what that means. She entered office planning to be corrupt and to hide the evidence from federal laws concerning transparency. It was premeditated corruption and law-breaking. That's the Clintons for you. They plan ahead.

Even Vox is having to admit that Hillary Clinton's sleazy behavior at State of maintaining such close ties between her Foundation and State was a problem.
The key to understanding why good government advocates are upset about the new revelations is to first get past the argument that Clinton Foundation donors were transactionally rewarded for their gifts.

This is not what my sources argued. Instead, the heart of their complaint was that the foundation’s contributors appear to have gained a greater ability to make their voices heard by Clinton’s State Department by virtue of donating to her husband’s private foundation.

This is why they see the new email disclosures as such a big deal. Talking with top government officials obviously isn’t the same as getting them to do your bidding, but doing so can help structure how they think, whom they turn to for advice, and, ultimately, what they decide to do. And the emails at least strongly suggest that foundation donors had a better opportunity to mold the secretary of state’s worldview than they would have otherwise.

Elise Jordan, an NBC News/MSNBC analyst writes in Time Magazine about Hillary Clinton's appalling response to her scandals.
Every day that she fails to seriously address the rotten consequences of her poor judgment, Clinton further erodes the already lacking public trust in her. By avoiding a sincere display of contrition, she risks her candidacy and the foundation her family built.
Well, perhaps that is because there is no honest answer to the questions that reporters would ask that wouldn't make her look worse.
When it comes to the Clintons, it’s not only about what happens, but how they react. The fact that Clinton has not given a press conference in 264 days is far more damaging than the seeming corruption itself.

If she didn’t do anything wrong, why won’t she defend herself? By avoiding taking responsibility, Clinton only exacerbates the perception she is dishonest and untrustworthy, the primary hurdle on her path to the White House.

Optics matter when the issue is transparency. How ironic that Clinton defenders were quick to attack the AP’s report as cherry-picking from an insufficient sample when the AP had to sue the State Department for access to the limited records included in their investigation....

It comes down to Clinton’s judgment, and the culture she and the former President create. Even if you give Clinton the benefit of the doubt that her staff acted on her behalf trading access in a way that’s technically above board, she created the culture that encouraged the behavior. As Secretary of State, she did not clip her husband’s wings, a scary precedent that promises Bill Clinton would be a distraction for her entire presidency. The unseemly overlap of the Clinton Foundation with her official role as our nation’s lead diplomat shows she cannot keep her worlds separate and disconnected.

Maybe she didn’t technically do anything wrong, but what’s wrong is that she skirted the line so closely that there’s debate over what actually happened. For years, insider trading was legal for members of Congress, but that doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do. We are right to expect better of people in public service.

And that’s why this election comes down to one question. Is Hillary Clinton’s judgment better than that of Donald Trump, whom she adroitly called out as a man who can be baited with a tweet? The answer is the depressingly low bar by which voters will decide who is more fit to serve as leader of the free world.
Yup, it's the most depressing electoral choice I could ever imagine.

The union-linked organization trying to increase Colorado's minimum wage to $12 don't pay the workers they hired to get signatures to put the measure on the ballot the wage that they are arguing is so very important.
The campaign to increase the minimum wage to $12 in Colorado reportedly didn't even pay many of their own campaign workers that amount to get the measure on the ballot. According to a circulator and wage report filed with the Colorado Secretary of State's office by the campaign, 24 of the workers out collecting signatures to get the measure on the ballot were paid less than the $12 per hour proponents are attempting to codify into the Colorado constitution. The report was obtained Keep Colorado Working, the opposition campaign, in an open records request.

The proponents of increasing the minimum wage, Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, funded largely with union money, hired Fieldworks, a signature gathering firm, to collect the necessary signatures for ballot access. Colorado requires a report detailing hours and pay of signature gatherers be filed with the Colorado Secretary of State's office.

"The irony of paying someone less than $12 an hour to stand on a street corner to mandate a minimum wage increase to that amount is dripping off this story," said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. "Unions are trying to force small businesses already operating on razor thin margins to increase pay just so they can line their pockets, and they aren't even paying their own workers that. The hypocrisy is palpable."

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John Hood has an answer for Bill Bennett's criticism of those conservatives who continue to oppose Trump. Bennett called such #NeverTrumpers as putting "their own vanity and taste above the interest of the country." Bill Bennett used to care about moral values in our nation's leaders. Hood writes,
Human beings are flawed creatures. We all fall short of the mark. We all fail to live up to our own standards of morality and decorum on occasion. Those who oppose Trump would never reject a good-faith effort on his part to admit past errors and seek to atone or make up for them. But a speech or two — particularly when they don’t contain any specifics and clearly represent the ideas of someone else rather than the speaker — do not constitute a significant change of attitude or behavior. They don’t let candidates off the hook for longstanding patterns of thought and behavior. Past conduct is, indeed, a pretty useful guide for what will come next. And character counts. It isn’t irrelevant to the ability to lead or the choices that voters should make when they cast ballots — a decision that is, after all, about bestowing the coercive powers of government on specific human beings, not about picking legislative proposals or party platforms.

Bennett and others who are enabling Trump’s seduction of the conservative movement ought to know better than to make excuses for Trump’s lifetime of deceitful, crass, and abhorrent behavior. They ought to recognize that using dishonorable means to achieve your ends is unwise and counterproductive in the long run. Here are some of the most persuasive statements on the subject you will ever find:

“It is our character that supports the promise of our future — far more than particular government programs or policies.”

“The President is the symbol of who the people of the United States are. He is the person who stands for us in the eyes of the world and the eyes of our children.”

“If we are surrounded by the trivial and the vicious, it is all too easy to make our peace with it.”

“People of good character are not all going to come down on the same side of difficult political and social issues. Good people — people of character and moral literacy — can be conservative, and good people can be liberal. We must not permit our disputes over thorny political questions to obscure the obligation we have to offer instruction to all our young people in the area in which we have, as a society, reached a consensus: namely, on the importance of good character, and some of its pervasive particulars.”

Bill Bennett has a way with words, doesn’t he?





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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cruising the Web

More friendly actions by our negotiating partner - the Iranians.
Four Iranian boats approached a U.S. destroyer in the Persian Gulf in a dangerous stunt Tuesday, according to a Navy official.

The small Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy craft drove within within 300 yards of the destroyer Nitze, deployed with the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, near the Strait of Hormuz, said the official who was not authorized to speak on the record about the incident.

The Navy is calling the incident "unsafe and unprofessional," he said.
"Unsafe and unprofessional." Really? What wimpy language. Can't we at least get an "unacceptable"?

The WSJ's Jay Solomon has written a new book, The Iran Wars:Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals That Reshaped the Middle East, about Obama's obsession with trying to negotiate some sort of deal with the Iranians. Eli Lake reviews what Solomon reports on how far Obama went in 2009 not to help the Iranian green movement protesting the stolen election that Ahmadinejad supposedly won. He was too afraid of losing the opportunity to negotiate with Iran's hardline government that he didn't want to risk offending them. That has been his overarching goal from the beginning, no matter what.
Behind the scenes, Obama overruled advisers who wanted to do what America had done at similar transitions from dictatorship to democracy, and signal America's support.

Solomon reports that Obama ordered the CIA to sever contacts it had with the green movement's supporters. "The Agency has contingency plans for supporting democratic uprisings anywhere in the world. This includes providing dissidents with communications, money, and in extreme cases even arms," Solomon writes. "But in this case the White House ordered it to stand down."

At the time, Solomon reports, Obama's aides received mixed messages. Members of the Iranian diaspora wanted the president to support the uprisings. Dissident Iranians from inside the country said such support would be the kiss of death. In the end, Obama did nothing, and Iran's supreme leader blamed him anyway for fomenting the revolt.

It's worth contrasting Obama's response with how the U.S. has reacted to other democratic uprisings. The State Department, for example, ran a program in 2000 through the U.S. embassy in Hungary to train Serbian activists in nonviolent resistance against their dictator, Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic, too, accused his opposition of being pawns of the U.S. government. But in the end his people forced the dictator from power.

Similarly, when Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze met with popular protests in 2003 after rigged elections, George W. Bush dispatched James Baker to urge him to step down peacefully, which he did. Even the Obama administration provided diplomatic and moral support for popular uprisings in Egypt in 2011 and Ukraine in 2014.

Iran though is a very different story. Obama from the beginning of his presidency tried to turn the country's ruling clerics from foes to friends. It was an obsession. And even though the president would impose severe sanctions on the country's economy at the end of his first term and beginning of his second, from the start of his presidency, Obama made it clear the U.S. did not seek regime change for Iran.

It's debatable whether the U.S. ever did support such a policy. But it's striking the lengths to which Obama went to make good on his word. As Solomon reports, Obama ended U.S. programs to document Iranian human rights abuses. He wrote personal letters to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei assuring him the U.S. was not trying to overthrow him. Obama repeatedly stressed his respect for the regime in his statements marking Iran's annual Nowruz celebration.

His quest to engage the mullahs seems to have influenced Obama's decision-making on other issues too. When he walked away from his red line against Syria's use of chemical weapons in 2013, Solomon reports, both U.S. and Iranian officials had told him that nuclear negotiations would be halted if he intervened against Bashar al-Assad.
So if he had to pay a ransom and then lie to the American people about sending cash because we couldn't wire them when we actually did wire them over a billion dollars, who cares? We had to get that deal even though the Iranians from the very beginning openly flaunted their intention to ignore parts of the deal. And if Obama had to let go his original requirements for the deal, what did that matter as long as there was something to sign?
Eventually, the Iranians wore down the U.S. delegation. At the beginning of the talks in 2013, the U.S. position was for Iran to dismantle much of its nuclear infrastructure. By the end of the talks in 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry and his team "agreed that Iran would then be allowed to build an industrial-scale nuclear program, with hundreds of thousands of machines, after a ten year period of restraint."

Other U.S. red lines were demolished too. The final deal would allow the U.N. ban on Iranian missile development to phase out after eight years, and the arms embargo against Iran to expire after five. Iran would not have to acknowledge that it had tried to develop a nuclear weapon, even though samples the Iranians collected at its Parchin facility found evidence of man-made uranium.

In one particularly revealing passage, Solomon captures the thinking of Kerry, who engaged in detailed negotiations over the deal in the final months of the talks. "So many wars have been fought over misunderstandings, misinterpretations, lack of effective diplomacy," Kerry told Solomon in a 2016 interview. "War is the failure of diplomacy."
Iran publicly talks about their desire to destroy Israel. They certainly don't think that the deal forestalls the possibility of war. This farce of a deal was not worth ignoring the brave Iranians who were willing to stand up to their tyrannical government in 2009.

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Office and School Supplies

John Kerry continues his reign of cluelessness. He recently visited Nigeria and lectured them on the best way to defeat Boko Haram - don't use the military; be more understanding.
Mr. Kerry dedicated much of his speech to urging Nigeria to employ and educate young people so they do not join groups like Boko Haram. Mr. Kerry decried Boko Haram’s “nihilistic view of the world.”
The WSJ writes,
John Kerry used his visit to Nigeria on Tuesday to lecture the government about how “extremism can’t be defeated through repression or fear.” The U.S. Secretary of State was trying to tell Abuja how to win its war against Boko Haram, but he would have done better to deliver arms instead of sanctimony....

Boko has proved impervious to Western Twitter campaigns asking it to return kidnapped children. More effective has been a military campaign led by President Muhammadu Buhari, a devout Muslim elected last year. The former general has forged a coalition of Nigeria’s neighbors to defeat the terror group. He has barraged Boko Haram with heavy artillery, increased air attacks and mobilized local tribal hunters to smoke out Boko positions in Borno State, Boko’s birthplace.

Mr. Buhari’s campaign is restoring security and rule of law to areas once controlled by Boko. This is so even if reports on the eve of Mr. Kerry’s visit that Boko leader Abubakar Shekau was recently killed in an air raid turn out to be unfounded.

Mr. Kerry’s visit should have been an opportunity for the U.S. to forge closer ties with Africa’s most populous country. Congress has yet to approve the proposed transfer of 12 Super Tucano aircraft to Abuja, and America’s anti-antiterror crowd continues to lobby against the sale, citing Nigeria’s human-rights record.

Mr. Buhari’s government has many faults, but Boko will not be defeated by kindness. It’s hard to think of a worse recipe for human-rights abuses than a failure to defeat it swiftly and decisively, and it behooves the U.S. to aid its ally in the effort.

Politicians regularly make campaign promises that can't be kept. But Trump makes ones that are impossible to believe and just makes himself ridiculous by doing so. This is what he is saying to minorities living in dangerous inner cities.
'I will fix it. I’ll be able to make sure that when you walk down the street in your inner city or wherever you are, you’re not gonna be shot, your child isn’t gonna be shot.'
Gee, why didn't anyone think of that before? Of course, he doesn't say how he, as president, would carry out such a promise. He can't because no one can. And local policing is not a federal responsibility. In Trump's mind, the president can wave a magic wand and any problem anywhere can be solved. He doesn't really have any proposal or any understanding of exactly what is a federal or a state or a local responsibility. The sloganeering is enough.


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Good to know - Obama's Energy Secretary says that fracking has been good for the environment.
The oil and gas boom is reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Monday.

"The increased production of oil and natural gas in the United States has, obviously, been a major story in terms of our economy, and also our environment," Moniz said at a field hearing in Seattle convened by Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

"The natural gas boom, in particular, has led to the displacement of high-carbon coal with low-carbon natural gas producing fewer [carbon dioxide] emissions," Moniz said.

Moniz's comments follow those by the head of the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department's analysis arm, earlier this month, indicating that carbon emissions are lower than they have been since 1992 because of increased reliance on natural gas from hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.
But that hasn't stopped environmental activists from trying to stop fracking.
Since the Environmental Protection Agency’s advisory board published a study earlier this month debunking the widespread claim that fracking contaminates drinking water, environmentalists have attempted to double down — claiming that the study didn’t have enough scientific evidence in it to back up its findings. Moniz’s testimony at last week’s hearing was meant to dispel these criticisms and confirm to the public that fracking doesn’t just drastically reduce the cost of energy, it also helps the environment.

In the past five years, there have been at least 75 scientific studies that all reach the same conclusion: methane emissions are falling — despite a huge increase in the level of natural gas, The Daily Caller’s Andrew Follett reported.

A recent study found that fracking has reduced carbon emissions by 20 percent, whereas the costly and heavily subsidized development of solar and wind energy has only reduced these same emissions by roughly 1 percent.

John Oliver has never been my cup of tea, but he really stepped in it when he decided to demonize charter schools. (Full disclosure: I teach at a charter school from which my younger daughter graduated and my older daughter works for a charter school organization in Washington, D.C. I am a huge fan of charters.) He clearly was more interested in touting the teachers' unions' talking points rather than actually learning anything about actual charter schools. Joy Pullmann excoriates Oliver's ignorance and his apparent desire for poor children to remain in awful schools. He doesn't seem to care whether or not charters provide better educational environments for students or whether they're more successful than regular public schools or whether parents are happier with charters.
I don’t know how any morally responsible person can look a child in the face and tell him or her, “You must go back to your violent traditional public school where only 1 in 5 of your peers will graduate with any hope of sustainable employment, because I’m just not sure about this ‘private individuals running schools’ thing.” A child in a charter school is a sign of both desperation and hope, because a parent has to actively pull his child from his default public school to enroll in a charter. If that child is there, there’s a reason. We should not discount it, especially not with empty-headed jokes.
But jokes are so much easier than actually looking at what is happening in regular public schools compared to charter schools in the same neighborhoods.
Oliver also complains that charters, unlike traditional schools, sometimes close. He highlighted one that closed six weeks after school started and 14 that didn’t finish their first school year in Florida: “When schools close that fast, it’s shocking,” he says. Actually, what’s shocking is when they never close despite years of sub-standard graduation rates and above-average illiteracy rates bought with millions of dollars of other people’s money.

School closure has been found to be one of the very few effective remedies for a failing school. It is also a major reason charter schools are dramatically improving over time and compared to non-charter public schools. Most of the nation’s inner-city schools have been failing huge numbers of their students since the 1960s. How many of them have been closed? Nearly none.

Closing terrible schools is an excellent thing in the long run. We don’t need less of it; we need more of it. Where do the kids go when this happens mid-year (an extremely rare occurrence)? Well, has Oliver ever heard of this little thing called “transferring”? People do it all the time. And they don’t die of it, either.
He singles out a few charter schools that have been found guilty of fraud. As Pullmann points out, plenty of regular public schools have been found guilty of fraud, often of multi-million dollar scams. Pullmann writes, "Apparently it’s too much to ask of Oliver to spend a couple minutes on Google before going on camera." And then there is this ignorant criticism.
He complains that “charter schools are uneven in quality.” Um, this is actually a big complaint about traditional public schools, too. Rich kids get good ones, poor kids get bad ones. There are lots of reasons for this, but one is that rich families choose schools through a) private school tuition, like Oliver’s parents did or b) high property tax rates that underwrite their tony public schools. (Although let’s be clear here, because the nation’s worst public schools actually tend to spend like pricey private schools. DC per-pupil spending is $25,038, New York City’s is $20,331, Detroit’s is $13,825, and Chicago’s is $16,432 (plus $38,000 per student in unfunded liabilities), for example.) Poor people can’t buy their way into better schools. That’s kind of a function of being poor people. So they get trapped in the bad ones.

Money by itself doesn’t improve education quality, but giving individuals control over their own money sure does. School choice, of which charters are a part, gives poor families more leverage to negotiate their children’s attendance with schools. It confers to poor people some of the power rich families have, so they can negotiate more of what they want out of whatever schools they choose to attend....

John Oliver and his parents were willing to trust his education and his career to the free market (he’s employed by a private company, after all), but for some reason, Oliver is scared stiff of everyone else doing the same. Is he just stupid, or cruel?
Read the rest of Pullmann's take-down of Oliver's silly broadcast. Jon Gabriel at Ricochet adds his ridicule of Oliver.
We all know John Oliver’s shtick. Each Sunday he goes on HBO to inveigh against some progressive bogeyman — DC lobbyists, big bankers, Donald Drumpf, etc. — replete with out-of-context clips, snarky rebuttals, and lots of F-bombs. And the left-leaning press heralds his brilliance with viral videos insisting he “destroyed,” “eviscerated,” and “disemboweled” his quarry. But last Sunday, he took a break from snarking on the rich and powerful to focus on a new target: kids who attend charter schools....

Wealthy parents have been able to choose their kids’ school forever, but middle-income and lower-income families have only recently gained that ability. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, 76 percent of US charter school students are non­white, and 39 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced­ price lunch. This presents a massive opportunity for cash-strapped families to educate their children as least as well as the rich families living on the other side of town.

Oliver starts his “evisceration” with a half-hearted disclaimer: “Critics argue charters overstate their successes, siphon off talented students, and divert precious resources within a school district. Now for this piece … we’re going to set aside whether or not charter schools are a good idea in principle.” He then proceeds to single out a handful of the worst-run schools while zealously avoiding the thousands of successes.

Here’s a bad charter school in Florida. And look at this jerk in Ohio! He wants the viewer to extrapolate these nightmare scenarios (all of which were discovered by the state and punished accordingly) into an indictment of all 6,000 schools. His argument, if you can call it that, is basically, “Here’s a bad charter school, therefore all charter schools are bad.” If he was truly interested in not taking a side on whether the model is good or bad, he would have spent at least as much time promoting the good examples.

Oliver also could have rattled off a list of scandals embroiling government-run schools, but his show only lasts 30 minutes. Instead he wants to impugn the inspiring teachers, involved parents, and dedicated students who make up the charter school community.

A multi-millionaire celebrity like John Oliver can send his child to any school he wants. I’m disappointed that he doesn’t want you to have that choice.

Of course, his stupidity will reach millions of people, while the debunking will just reach thousands. It is so sad, because so many charters are doing wonderful things for all sorts of students. They should be celebrated instead of attacked.

Cheers to the University of Chicago. Charles Lipson reports that the prestigious university has taken a stand for the free exchange of ideas.
Today, the University of Chicago told incoming students exactly what they need to hear. We believe in free expression because it is vital to real, unfettered inquiry and intellectual debate. Here’s the kernel of the letter sent to incoming students.Today, the University of Chicago told incoming students exactly what they need to hear. We believe in free expression because it is vital to real, unfettered inquiry and intellectual debate. Here’s the kernel of the letter sent to incoming students.

One of the University of Chicago’s defining characteristics is our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression. . . .

Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own. . . .
Signed, Jay Ellison
Dean of Students in the College
It seems strange to have to cheer such a common-sense statement, but in these days, this is a sign of courage among our university elites. Bravo!

The Brazilian authorities tried to hold up one of the American swimmers involved in the Lochtemess story for about $50,000 to let him leave Brazil. In other contexts, this would sound like a kidnap victim trying to negotiate with his captors.

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Hillary Clinton is going to have to answer questions under oath to Judicial Watch. Deroy Murdock has some suggestions of questions they could ask her. Here are a few pertinent ones we'd all like to know the answers to.
3. Did you believe that America’s secrets would be more secure on a computer server in the basement of your home than on one in the basement of the State Department? If so, why? If not, why did you rely on your private server?

4. In your public statements, you claimed to have had one server and one mobile device while secretary of state. FBI Director Comey indicated that, in fact, you “used several different servers” and “mobile devices to send and to read e-mail on that personal domain.” How many private servers did you use, and how many devices did you employ while secretary of state? Why did you lie to the American public about these simple facts?

7. Did the staffers, consultants, vendors, attorneys, and others with access to your private servers and devices have security clearance high enough to allow them to see the e-mails that traversed this equipment? If not, why did you grant them such access?

9. You repeatedly have said that you never saw or received any e-mails “that were marked classified.” You spent six years as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Given that experience, how could you possibly not recognize classified documents without having to see them marked with the word “classified”?

10. When you received e-mails from U.S. ambassadors, the secretary of defense, the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, and other public servants involved in America’s most delicate diplomatic, military, and intelligence activities, how could you possibly think that their official, foreign-policy e-mails were anything but classified, even if they were not so marked?

The Clinton campaign has been criticizing the AP's report that more than half the private individuals who visited her at State also donated about $158 million to the Clinton Foundation. That's a lot of money from 85 individuals. Their criticism is that the AP only covered part of her tenure there at State and didn't include in their analysis the foreign diplomats and members of the government with whom she met so it was deceptive reporting and outrageous, yadda, yadda, yadda. Within their story, AP acknowledged that they weren't including representatives of foreign governments, but that data might not have been as helpful as the Clintonistas imply.
Clinton met with representatives of at least 16 foreign governments that donated as much as $170 million to the Clinton charity, but they were not included in AP's calculations because such meetings would presumably have been part of her diplomatic duties.
Yeah, her regular diplomatic duties included being a bagwoman for the Foundation accepting money from foreign governments. Ha!

The AP answers back.
The Associated Press’ reporting relied on publicly available data provided by the State Department about Hillary Clinton’s meetings, phone calls and emails, cross-referenced against donor information provided by the Clinton Foundation and its related charities on its websites.

As AP wrote, our reporting was based on Mrs. Clinton’s calendars covering the entirety of her tenure as secretary of state and on more detailed schedules of meetings and phone calls covering roughly half that period. AP first requested Mrs. Clinton’s calendars and schedules in 2010 and again in 2013 but was unsuccessful. AP then sued the State Department in federal court to obtain the schedules it has received so far. AP expects to receive the remaining files before Election Day and will continue to examine them and report on their contents.

AP has been transparent in how it has reported this story. It focused on Mrs. Clinton’s meetings and calls involving people outside government who were not federal employees or foreign diplomats, because meeting with U.S. or foreign government officials would inherently have been part of her job as secretary of state.

We focused on Mrs. Clinton’s meetings and calls involving those people outside her duties as secretary of state whom she chose to include in her busy schedule.

This reporting was done by the same AP investigative team that discovered Mrs. Clinton’s private email server and traced it to her basement in Chappaqua, New York, and whose reporting last week resulted in the resignation of Donald Trump’s top campaign strategist. AP has been examining issues facing the presidential candidates and will continue to do so.
Point. Game. Match

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cruising the Web

The Associated Press has gone through the list of outside people who met or talked with Clinton when she was Secretary of State and found a big overlap between talking to Hillary Clinton and donating money to the Clinton Foundation.
More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. It's an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.

At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.

Donors who were granted time with Clinton included an internationally known economist who asked for her help as the Bangladesh government pressured him to resign from a nonprofit bank he ran; a Wall Street executive who sought Clinton's help with a visa problem and Estee Lauder executives who were listed as meeting with Clinton while her department worked with the firm's corporate charity to counter gender-based violence in South Africa.

David Harsanyi comments on how the Clintons are proving that big money in politics can be corrupting just as the Democrats have been warning us. Regarding the Associated Press story on the fact that more than half the private citizens who met with her when she was head of the State Department donated to the Clinton Foundation, he writes,
It’s implausible that a majority of the 154 citizens — people who’d kicked in at least $156 million to her charity — would also happen to catch Clinton’s ear as she toiled away at State. It’s also worth remembering this list doesn’t even include officials from the 16 governments — many of them autocrats — who threw the foundation another $170 million.

Recently, the foundation announced it would ban donations from corporations and foreign countries if Hillary is elected president. The question is: If it’s a conflict of interest when Hillary will be president, why wasn’t it a problem when she was secretary of state?

Let’s also not forget that during Clinton’s tenure at State she failed to disclose that regimes across the world were giving her charity hundreds of millions. Because she needed to hid this, she ended up sending 110 e-mails containing classified information — eight of which had “top secret” information, according to the FBI.

These days, Hillary brazenly goes on Jimmy Kimmel to clown around about her “boring” e-mails.

Well, if they’re so irrelevant, why was she hiding them from the Justice Department? If it’s no big deal, why did it take four years and a lawsuit against the State Department to gain access to her planning schedules? Why did she lie to the American people? Erase tens of thousands of e-mails? Set up a private server in the first place?

Hillary claims running the State Department gave her the experience and temperament necessary to be president. But if anything, it reminds us of the Clintons’ propensity for scandal and dishonesty. And if Clinton wins this year, she’ll become the most ethically compromised president in contemporary times. Perhaps ever.
And then there is this detail that Bre Payton reports on in The Federalist.
Shortly after then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the crown prince of Bahrain, a Clinton Foundation donor, the United States sold his country a ton of arms.

A newly released batch of emails reveals that Clinton met with the crown prince in 2009, who has personally donated over $32 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, only after a Clinton Foundation bigwig pressured her into doing so.

Just after this meeting took place, Clinton’s State Department “significantly increased arms export authorizations to the country’s autocratic government, even as that nation moved to crush pro-democracy protests,” the International Business Times reports.

Throughout her tenure as secretary, Clinton’s State Department gave the green light to sell $630 million worth of arms to Bahrain’s military — a huge increase from $219 million worth of weapons the United States sold to the country between 2006-2008.

The increase coincided with the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, when Bahrain military forces tear-gassed civilians to squelch the demonstrations. During this period, the United States sold $70,000 worth of “toxicological agents” to the autocratic regime — a huge increase from the $700 sold the period before.

Clinton’s State Department also tried to quietly sell armored vehicles and missiles to Bahrain, saying there was no need for “formal notifications” or a “public explanation” as the amount of arms “didn’t meet the threshold” to require such formalities.

The plan was temporarily foiled after members of Congress expressed human rights concerns, but a year later the deal was back on track after the crown prince met with Vice President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
I'm sure that the donations to the Foundation are just a coincidence. After all, we don't have an email saying, give our Foundation money and we'll sell you arms that you can use on your own citizens. But sometimes the details are just a bit too cozy. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk."

With this week's revelations about the emails not turned over and the close contacts between her State Department and the Clinton Foundation, Hillary must be hoping that Trump will say something incendiarily stupid and distract the squirrels in the media away from all the evidence of her corruption.

S. E. Cupp advises the media and everyone else to stop searching for a Trump pivot. Charlie Brown had the football pulled out from under him fewer times than we've been told that Trump was pivoting to being more presidential.
Google "Trump pivot" and you get about 707,000 search results. That's because reporters, political strategists, pundits, many voters -- and presumably members of his own staff -- have for this entire election cycle been collectively wondering if Donald Trump is ever going to become a smart, serious and disciplined candidate....

But while the focus now seems to be the durability or otherwise of this latest "pivot," few are asking the much more important question: When did we construct this new version of the political pivot, whereby a year's worth of garbage is erased or forgiven, and why do we apply it only to Donald Trump?

....Clearly, Trump has done little, save for occasionally reading from a teleprompter, to indicate he is capable of, let alone interested in, changing his penchant for "telling it like it is" -- or, what psychologists call blurting.

But as GOP strategist Rick Wilson noted, with exasperation, the media falls for the pivot talk every time. "It's the 87th pivot this year. And every time this happens you know that there's a clock running. And that clock is, when does Donald Trump get his phone back and start tweeting again? When does Donald Trump start letting his verbal dysentery spray out all over the world again?"
Of course, most presidential candidates have to shift somewhat after courting their base voters to courting undecideds, independents and moderates. But those shifts typically look more like a slight broadening and softening of message.

What those shifts do not entail is an expectation of some kind of mass amnesia, whereby general election voters forget about the inexcusable, offensive, alarming things the candidate has said or done for the past year.

Those that have mulled a more dramatic repositioning have learned that you cannot, as Mitt Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom suggested in 2012, treat the general election pivot as an "Etch A Sketch" where you can "kind of shake it up and we start all over again."
Why? Because we don't live in the era of the Pony Express, when news took forever to reach us. There's no un-seeing or un-hearing what someone -- especially someone as loud-mouthed as Trump -- has been saying for a year. Even a voter who isn't tuning in during the primary will have heard about his antics.

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Jim Geraghty notes this amusing fact from the list of Clinton Foundation donors that makes it so clear how it was obviously "pay to play."
No doubt the sprawling Clinton Foundation, enjoying hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and spending nearly $250 million in 2013 and 2014, does some good work around the world. Take, for example, the Full Participation project, “an initiative of the Clinton Foundation which aims to advance the full participation of girls and women around the world.” The project has worked to expand women’s access to contraception and education, increase their involvement in the workforce, and fight child marriage.

But the Foundation’s commitment to women’s rights is odd, when you consider some of its biggest donors: From 2001 to 2014, Qatar gave between $1 million and $5 million, Kuwait gave between $5 million and $10 million, and Saudi Arabia gave between $10 million and $25 million. These governments are not exactly known for their equitable treatment of women. If they wanted to promote women’s rights, changing their own laws would do far more than their millions in donations ever will. And yet, something made them decide that donating to the Clinton Foundation was most worthwhile. Why is it unreasonable to suspect that these countries thought they were ingratiating themselves with a secretary of state who stood a good chance of becoming president in the near future?

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William McGurn isn't buying the Clinton defense that no one can prove that there was any quid pro quo involved in the money going to the Clinton Foundation while those donors were also trying to get some benefit from the State Department.
Quid pro quo is notoriously hard to prove in such cases, and we will never know what (if anything) Mrs. Clinton or State delivered in return. We’re asked to believe that it was somehow an accident that so many of the millions former President Bill Clinton raked in from speaking fees would come from companies, countries or people who had business before a State Department run by his wife. The truth is, this was inevitable under the Clinton Foundation business model. And it beggars belief to think all these dollars were being given out without an expectation of something in return.
Just like all those donors of millions in soft money when Clinton was president didn't really want anything more than a chance to hob nob with Bill and Hill.


James Longstreet remembers
Bill Clinton's 1995 State of the Union address talking about stopping illegal immigration and promising to do more to stop it. He got a standing O from both parties for those lines. Think of how far the Democratic Party has moved in the past 20 years from that position. As Longstreet points out, what President Clinton said then could easily have come from Donald Trump - at least until he decides to "pivot" from his previous calls for a wall and the calls to expel those who here illegally. Will the media ask either of the Clintons to ask them why they changed their minds from back then.

Jim Geraghty explains why
some stories get a lot of media attention and some are ignored.
Milwaukee erupts in riots that injure police officers, but it barely becomes national news. Louisiana is devastated by floods, but it takes a week for the national press to notice. The number of fatal overdoses has exploded since 2010. The suicide rate has increased by 2 percent per year since 2006, and hit the highest levels in nearly 30 years last year.

If you view the national news media, based in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and a handful of other cities, as way too monolithic in its political views and driven by conscious and subconscious agendas, the half-hearted-at-best interest in these stories isn’t that hard to explain. These stories aren’t easily used to advance the narrative that Republicans are bad and Democrats are good.

If a terrible natural disaster in Louisiana can be blamed on a Republican president, then it’s one of the biggest stories of the decade. If the lack of a public statement on a Louisiana disaster during a presidential vacation might reflect badly on a Democratic president, it’s best to treat the flood as a “page A4″ story, check-the-box journalism.

A paranoid schizophrenic shooting a Democratic Congresswoman in Tuscon warrants national conversation on whether the Tea Party’s rhetoric is inherently inciting to violence, and whether gun owners as a whole represent some threat to their fellow citizens. But an illegal immigrant shooting a young woman in San Francisco offers no further explanation or discussion, no need for a national conversation on whether a “sanctuary city” might protect dangerous criminals. A racist madman shooting up a Charleston church group indicts all Southerners, but the twisted cruelty of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell is just a “local crime story.”

If there really is a giant and widening cultural gap between America’s elites and the rest of the citizenry in “flyover country,” how much of it is driven by narrative-minded journalism? If you die in a particular way that can advance the Democrats’ legislative agenda, your death is going to be an enormously big deal. If the circumstances of your death are politically inconvenient to the Left – Brian Terry or the Benghazi four or those who died on the waiting list for the VA — there are no greater lessons to be learned or need for further action; it’s just an unfortunate set of circumstances. One set of citizens are in the picture; one set of citizens on the periphery get cropped out. It just doesn’t fit the picture that someone wants to create.

Daniel Payne writes at The Federalist about how younger people are quite eager to scrap the First Amendment when it comes to what they deem to be hate speech.
Some poll numbers suggest as much: two-thirds of Americans, for instance, think people who engage in “hate speech” are “more dangerous” than the people who would censor it. Among younger Americans—millennials—the polls indicate a staggering opposition to freedom of speech: out of 800 students polled at colleges across the country, more than a third believed the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” with a third also claiming the First Amendment is “outdated;” more than half believe colleges should have speech codes to police the speech of students and professors.

Forty percent of millennials, meanwhile, think government should be able to censor “offensive statements about minorities.” Indeed, millennials appear to be the most censorious generation alive. As older generations die off or become less politically active, we can assume that more and more anti-free speech millennials will make up a larger and larger share of the electorate.

All of which is to say: if we are worried about the anti-free speech ambitions of our two presidential candidates and the parties they represent, we should also be concerned about the American body politic, a substantial percentage of which is greatly inclined to censor “offensive” speech. A generation so inclined to muzzle its fellow Americans could pose an existential threat to the First Amendment.
I've definitely noticed these opinions among my students. I try to do as much as I can to teach what the First Amendment means and its history, but I still will have students every year who will argue that the First Amendment shouldn't cover speech that is hurtful to any group or can be termed "hate speech." When I ask who they would have decide what speech is hate speech, they seem confident that judges are capable of doing so. I find it rather frightening how so many young people think that protecting people from being offended should trump protections of freedom of speech.
The problem for Democrats, though, is that they might not retake the House even if they managed to perform as well as the Democrats of 2006 or 2008, or the Republicans of 2010.

Why? To extend the wave analogy: The Republican House is on very high ground, and it will take a particularly large wave to bring it down.

Perhaps the easiest comparison is with 2006, when the Democrats gained 31 seats. That number is a convenient example, because the Democrats need to pick up 30 seats this year. Now consider the various ways that the Democrats will be fighting on harder terrain than the Democrats of 2006.

Heading into the 2006 election, the Republicans held 21 seats that were more Democratic than the country as a whole, as measured by the Cook partisan voting index (P.V.I.) — an average of the vote in the last two presidential elections compared with the country. But in 2014, the Republicans won just 10 seats with a Democratic-leaning Cook P.V.I. There are far fewer easy pickings.

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Nate Cohn assesses the probability that the Democrats will retake the House.

Rich Lowry ridicules Hillary's attempt to blame Colin Powell for her decision to use a private server.
The influence that Colin Powell has over Hillary Clinton is something to behold. His word is her command. When he tells her to break the law and endanger the nation’s secrets, she doesn’t hesitate. She salutes smartly and does as she is told.

Clinton has been desperate for the moral cover of Colin Powell for her e-mail arrangement since the scandal first broke last year. Now we’ve learned that Clinton told the FBI that Powell advised her to use private e-mail as secretary of state at a dinner in 2009. This escalates Clinton’s e-mail defense from “Hey, Colin Powell did it, too,” all the way to “Colin Powell made me do it.”

The Powell defense has given Clinton shills something to say on TV, but it doesn’t make much sense. While the former general used a private e-mail as secretary of state, it was at a time when the department didn’t have a robust email system of its own. And he obviously didn’t set up his own private server. After Powell left State, the department’s rules steadily got stricter about using official e-mail for State Department business and preserving e-mail records — and Clinton blew through them all.

Tom Barella lists 14 attacks
on Trump which are also true of Obama and Hillary. It's very well done. All three have lied and also hypocrites. Both, particularly Obama, have demonstrated a tendency to bully those with whom they disagree or just to achieve their policy ends. All three are arrogant. Both Obama and Trump display narcissism. The list goes on and on with many examples. For example, Trump has been accused of corrupt business deals, but that pales compared to Clintonian corruption. And shouldn't the corruption of public officials trouble us more than that done in the private sector?
Sorely missing from the debate has been recognizing the chasm between Trump’s highly criticized activities in the private sector and Hillary Clinton squeezing every ounce of personal benefit that being at the top of government provides. As a public official, are her abuses of power not an order of magnitude more outrageous than anything Trump could do as a private business person?
Of course, Trump is still an odious figure. Sadly, we're at a point in our political history when both major-party candidates are contemptible.

Claudia Rosett reports on some of the details on how the Obama administration got the money to pay Iran the ransom.
Congressional investigators trying to uncover the trail of $1.3 billion in payments to Iran might want to focus on 13 large, identical sums that Treasury paid to the State Department under the generic heading of settling “Foreign Claims.”

The 13 payments when added to the $400 million that the administration now concedes it shipped to the Iranian regime in foreign cash would bring the payout to the $1.7 billion that President Obama and Secretary Kerry announced on January 17....
The details are quite intriguing.
Yet more questions surround the administration’s handling of the remaining $1.3 billion. Could this have been drawn from a fund bankrolled by American taxpayers and housed at Treasury, called the Judgment Fund? And why were the 13 payments in amounts of one cent less than $100,000,000?

The Judgment Fund has long been a controversial vehicle for federal agencies to detour past one of the most pointed prohibitions in the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

The Judgment Fund, according to a Treasury Department Web site, is “a permanent, indefinite appropriation” used to pay monetary awards against U.S. government agencies in cases “where funds are not legally available to pay the award from the agency’s own appropriations.”

In March, in letters responding to questions about the Iran settlement sent weeks earlier by Representatives Edward Royce and Mike Pompeo, the State Department confirmed that the $1.3 billion “interest” portion of the Iran settlement had been paid out of the Judgment Fund. But State gave no information on the logistics.

The 13 payments that may explain what happened are found in an online database maintained by the Judgment Fund. A search for “Iran” since the beginning of this year turns up nothing. But a search for claims in which the defendant is the State Department turns up 13 payments for $99,999,999.99.

They were all made on the same day, all sharing the same file and control reference numbers, all certified by the U.S. Attorney General, but each assigned a different identification number. They add up to $1,299,999,999.87, or 13 cents less than the $1.3 billion Messrs. Obama and Kerry announced in January.

Together with a 14th payment of just over $10 million, the grand total paid out by Treasury from the Judgment Fund on that single day, January 19, for claims pertaining to the State Department, comes to roughly $1.31 billion.

Treasury has provided no answers to my queries about whether these specific payments were for the Iran settlement. Nor why these transfers comprised 13 payments, each of which was a cent under $100,000,000. Nor whether the $10 million related to the same matter.

The Judgment Fund database contains over the past year no other payouts pertaining to State that come anywhere near the scale of $1.3 billion of the announced with Iran. And it contains no details on what the State Department might have done with the $1.3 billion.

It does say, as a general matter, that “Defendant Agency Name is the same as the Responsible Agency Name.” It leaves open the question of whether it was State rather than Treasury that determined by what route and in what form the funds would reach their final destination.

State has refused to disclose even such basic information as the date on which Iran took receipt of the $1.3 billion. As recently as August 4, a State spokesman told the press: “I don’t have a date of when that took place.”

Nor has the administration answered whether the $1.3 billion was transferred to Iran via the banking system, or, like the $400 million, in cash. According to the Judgment Fund web site, the “preferred method” for payments is “by electronic fund transfer,” approved by the relevant government agency, to the party receiving the award.

But, the Weekly Standard noted last week, President Obama recently defended his $400 million cash shipment to Iran on the grounds that “We don’t have a banking relationship with Iran... We could not wire the money.”

The Judgment Fund’s public database provides no information about where precisely the $1.31 billion in January payments went, or how. The Fund’s web site does provide blank “Voucher for Payment” forms, requiring administration officials to provide such details, and sign off on them.

These payouts from the Judgment Fund were made within days of the announcement of the Iran settlement. The Judgment Fund’s web site states that while its bureaucracy has recently become more efficient, “processing times” for payments still take “6 to 8 weeks.”

If the multiple 10-digit payments of January 19 do turn out to be connected to the Iran settlement announced January 17, that would suggest that the Judgment Fund completed its processing for Iran in a mere two days one of which — Monday, January 18 — was a federal holiday.
All this raises some pertinent questions about why the payments were made this way. Why was $400 million paid in cash? That was ostensibly to settle the arms deal from 1979. The additional $1.3 billion was the interest owed on the original $400 million. Got that? Obama said they paid in cash because they couldn't wire the money since we don't have banking relations with Iran. That excuse, of course, ignores the fact that we could have sent the money through a third country that does have such relations. But it also raises the question as to why the $1.3 billion was wired and why the Treasury Department's money was given to the State Department in those interesting sums that were one penny less than $100 million. If the money that is listed on the Treasury website ultimately went from Treasury to State, were they wired instead of cash? That seems to be the preferred method used for that fund. But, as John Sexton notes, the State Department doesn't want to answer questions about that payment even though it's listed on a government website.
The Weekly Standard notes that the Judgment Fund website lists “electronic fund transfer” as its preferred method of payment. And yet all of these payments appear to have been made on January 19th, just two days after the cash delivery to Iran (and one of those days, January 18th, was a federal holiday). How is it possible that it was necessary to send the $400 million in cash but was possible to send the $1.3 billion in interest by wire just two days later? Couldn’t the cash delivery have waited another two days? Or was it because the administration wanted to use the cash as leverage?

Today, reporter Matt Lee of the Associated Press asked State Department spokesman Mark Toner about those payments from the Judgment Fund. “These transfers certainly appear to have been made by wire not paid in actual cash,” Lee stated. “If that is the case I’m wondering…why you couldn’t have paid the $400 million in the same way?” Lee asked.

Spokesman Mark Toner replied, “I’m not sure if I can give you a complete answer on that.” He went on to mention the fact that the U.S. did not have a “bank to bank” financial relationship with Iran at the time. Toner said he couldn’t speak to how the payment of interest was made.

Lee pressed the point saying, “But you’re suggesting that there might have been some change in your banking relationship between the 17th of January and the 19th of January that would have allowed this to…the 18th as I recall was a federal holiday.”

Toner replied, “I don’t know” and added, “And we’ve said we’re not going to talk about this.”

“This stuff keeps coming out, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip,” Lee said. “If the administration wants to put this behind itself it would seem to me that it would be smart to actually get an answer to these questions,” he added.

Toner replied there were “reasons for us withholding this information…to protect the confidentiality.” He would not even confirm that the 13 payments of just under $100 million were the interest payments to Iran, though he promised to look into it. Toner seemed to become a bit agitated at this point saying, “If you guys think that I enjoy standing up here and getting continual questions from you about the process here, I don’t.”

“It’s not you,” Lee replied, “It is this hell-bend desire to keep this stuff secret when it’s not secret anymore.”
Note that that exchange is with a reporter from the Associated Press, no right-wing publication. Even ordinary reporters are fed up with the deceptions and lame spin coming out of the State Department.

Oh, and our good negotiating partner, the Iranians, with whom John Kerry has been urging businesses to open up trading deals. Well, the State Department has just issued a travel advisory for Americans, particularly Iranian-Americans, traveling to Iran about the danger of being detained and prevented from leaving Iran. I guess the administration doesn't want to have pay any more ransom money that they'll lie about and pretend isn't ransom money. Larry O'Connor asks,
Why would a criminal regime like Iran take hostages? Logic suggests that the evil practice would be so that they could gain something from America. You know, the same way the Taliban kept alleged deserter Bowe Bergdahl in captivity and did not release him until five senior Taliban terrorists were released from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Of course, it makes no sense for Iran to want to abduct innocent Americans and hold them in return for some sort of international concessions or even cash payments from America. After all, we don’t pay ransom for hostages.

Oh… wait a second

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And finally, this made me smile.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cruising the Web

This is simply amazing.
The FBI found nearly 15,000 emails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton never turned over to the government after she left office — despite her insistence she’d handed in all her work-related messages.

The Obama administration revealed the messages in a court hearing Monday.

The 14,900 emails are just part of thousands the FBI has turned over, after it took control of Mrs. Clinton’s secret email server.
The State Department wanted to wait until after the election to release some of these ads, but the judge overhearing the FOIA request case from Judicial Watch isn't giving in on such an obvious politically motivated delay.
A federal judge set a preliminary schedule Monday for the release of nearly 15,000 documents between Hillary Clinton and top aides when she was the secretary of state.

The State Department was directed to assess 14,900 documents it received from the FBI as part of the investigation into Clinton's use of her private email server while she was secretary of state, determine a plan to release the documents and report back to the court September 23.

The State Department had proposed releasing the documents the second week of October, but Judge James Boasberg of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, at the request of the conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch, is asking State to focus on new documents uncovered by the FBI.
These, apparently, were work-related, but she didn't turn them over to the State Department, thus giving the lie to her claims to have turned everything over. When you consider that, after her team's questionable methods for picking out work and non-work related emails by just searching the subject lines, this new batch of close to 15,000 emails is about half of the around 30,000 emails that her lawyers did turn over in December 2014. That's a lot of emails to miss and it puts this new revelation in some context.
Government lawyers disclosed last week that the FBI has turned over eight computer discs of information: one including emails and attachments that were sent directly to or from Clinton, or to or from her at some point in an email chain, and were not previously turned over by her lawyers; a second with classified documents; another with emails returned by Clinton; and five containing materials from other people retrieved by the FBI.

The 14,900 documents at issue now come from the first disc, Fitton said.

In announcing the FBI’s findings in July, Comey said investigators found no evidence that the emails it found “were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them.” Like many users, Clinton periodically deleted emails, or they were purged when devices were changed.

Clinton’s lawyers also may have deleted some of the emails as “personal,” Comey said, noting their review relied on header information and search terms, not a line-by-line reading as the FBI conducted.
Well, let's not forget that there is a federal law for all her work emails to be saved and archived by the government to make them available for future researchers or FOIA requests.

Think about how many times we're finding out something new that indicates that Hillary was lying in her claims about the server. And as the details dribble out from the emails that are released, there is just no doubt of the political coordination between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation to benefit the Clintons.

As Chris Cillizza writes,
these are emails that the FBI was aware of when Comey decided not to prosecute her. They were the ones who found them.
But, the whole thing just makes it harder and harder for Clinton to sell the idea that her process for sorting emails into professional and private piles was effective. And that raises the possibility that Clinton got rid of lots of emails that she shouldn't have via a process that was something short of transparent. Which is a very bad look for someone who is currently the clear front-runner to be the next president.

The emails that have been released demonstrate how the Clinton Foundation worked with the State Department. Just as Peter Schweizer detailed a year ago in Clinton Cash, a book the liberal media pooh-poohed, donors would give money to the Foundation and then, just by coincidence, they'd get something they wanted from the State Department. The Washington Post gives some examples.
A sports executive who was a major donor to the Clinton Foundation and whose firm paid Bill Clinton millions of dollars in consulting fees wanted help getting a visa for a British soccer player with a criminal past.

The crown prince of Bahrain, whose government gave more than $50,000 to the Clintons’ charity and who participated in its glitzy annual conference, wanted a last-minute meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

U2 rocker and philanthropist Bono, also a regular at foundation events, wanted high-level help broadcasting a live link to the International Space Station during concerts.

In each case, according to emails released Monday from Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, the requests were directed to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and confidante, Huma Abedin, who engaged with other top aides and sometimes Clinton herself about how to respond.

The emails show that, in these and similar cases, the donors did not always get what they wanted, particularly when they sought anything more than a meeting.

But the exchanges, among 725 pages of correspondence from Abedin disclosed as part of a lawsuit by the conservative group Judicial Watch, illustrate the way the Clintons’ international network of friends and donors was able to get access to Hillary Clinton and her inner circle during her tenure running the State Department.

The release of the correspondence follows previous disclosures of internal emails showing a similar pattern of access for foundation contributors, and it comes as Republicans allege that Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, used her perch in the Obama administration to trade favors for donations. Clinton and the foundation have vigorously denied the charge.
It's all a coincidence just like those big donors getting to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom in exchange for soft-money donations to the Democratic Party when Bill was president were all on the up and up. It's just those nasty, partisan Republicans who are making anything of all these revelations. If there is no evidence that anyone explicitly said, "I'll give you this money if you'll do this favor for me" then the Clinton defenders can just keep denying that there is any evidence of a quid pro quo as if everyone involved didn't know what was going on.

It is also notable that so much of the information we're finding out about Clinton's server and emails are coming out from Judicial Watch and Citizens United FOIA requests. That makes it easy for the Clinton team to dismiss any new revelation as just something that a "right-wing organization" like Judicial Watch uncovered as if that negates the sleazy details. When I teach about FOIA to my students, I usually describe it as something that anyone can do: academics, the media, interest groups, and individuals. How come most media organizations aren't the ones filing these FOIA requests, though credit goes to the Associated Press for filing a lawsuit for emails from Hillary's time at State.

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An African-American Democrat has some criticisms for the smugness of white liberals.
For so long, as a Black American, I have been told that the problem is Conservative Republicans. While I’ll admit they may have done little to try to improve African-American lives, they also don’t promise to every election season like the liberal elites. Instead we have given our loyalty and votes to Democrats, who paternalistically tell us they want to help us, but we have little to show for it since blacks started voting Democrat back in the 1960’s. I have never lived in a city as an adult that was run by Conservatives or Republicans, but I live in the biggest poor city in the country, Philadelphia. A city, for decades, run by liberal insiders....

The truth is that Liberalism is about making elites feel better about themselves and their lives without requiring the underlying action of significantly improving the lives of African-Americans. Hillary Clinton rightly says that it’s not about what you say about problem, but you should be judged by what you are doing to solve the problem. In this election, let’s take her at her word and take a deeper look at what Liberalism is really doing for us.
She is right that African Americans need to do more to hold Democrats' feet to the fire. But as long as they vote over 90% for Democrats, why should Democratic politicians do more than pay lip service to the concerns she is discussing.

The excuse-making from Hillary Clinton's good friend and aide at State and in her campaign Huma Abedin and the State Department to respond to the NY Post story is so very lame. The Post has reported that from 1996 and 2008 Abedin was listed as "assistant editory" of a journal, JOurnal of Minority Muslim Affairs, of which her mother is the editor-in-chief and of which her siblings had jobs as associate and assistant editors. The journal published articles which should have been anathema to anyone who values principles that most Americans value.
the Saudi-based and -funded Journal of Minority Muslim Affairs, which featured radically anti-feminist views and backed strict Islamic laws roundly criticized for oppressing women.

A journalism major at George Washington University, Abedin, 40, was listed as “assistant editor” of the journal from 1996 to 2008, when her name was removed from the staff box and she went to work for Clinton at the State Department....

The journal supported a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia laws, which call for beheadings, require women to cover their bodies and faces and advocate death for “infidels” — which in their view includes just about everyone but the most extreme religious hardliners.

The publication also blamed the US for the 9/11 terror attacks, which were carried out largely by Saudi nationals.

Typical fare in the publication includes a 1996 piece titled “Women’s Rights Are Islamic Rights,” which argues that single moms, working moms and gay couples with children should not be recognized as families.

It also maintained that revealing dress “directly translates into unwanted results of sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility and indirectly promote violence against women.”

In another 1996 article, Abedin’s mother wrote that Clinton was advancing a “very aggressive and radically feminist” agenda that was un-Islamic because it focused on empowering women.

“‘Empowerment’ of women does more harm than benefit the cause of women or their relations with men,” Saleha Mahmood Abedin wrote.
So what's Huma's answer? She's not talking. Instead a Clinton campaign spokesman is claiming that her name was just on the masthead of her mother's journal as a "figurehead," and she wasn't truly on the staff. Gee, how much of Huma's resume involved her being a do-nothing figurehead?

Stop worrying about the depth of organization of the Donald Trump campaign. They're so on top of things.
Donald Trump's campaign has some young blood among its leadership.

And by young, that means 12 years old.

In one of the most important counties in swing state Colorado, Donald Trump is relying on 12-year-old Weston Imer, who runs the Jefferson County operation for the Trump campaign.

Jefferson County is one of the most populous counties in Colorado and is part of the Denver metro area.

Imer is in charge of the operation where volunteers will gather and help get out the vote, and while sitting behind a desk may not be the coolest thing to do, he hopes to use the position to inspire others.

"Get involved," Imer said. "That's what I'm going to say. Get involved. Kids need to be educated."


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Jed Babbin argues
that Obama's lies are worse than Hillary's lies. He's lying about public policy that will affect Americans for a long time past Obama's leaving the White House for golf courses around the world.
Lies in a political campaign should matter but those lies that are the basis for national security decisions — lies that are a matter of policy — can create existential dangers. The lies that President Obama has been peddling surrounding his deal with Iran on nuclear weapons are just such a case.
Sure, Hillary has clearly been lying about her server and deliberately twisted what the FBI Director said. However Obama's lies about Obamacare and the Iran deal are so much more dangerous to us as a country.
But the lies surrounding Obama’s Iran deal are so deadly, so obvious, and so much a part of his Iran policy that we must remind ourselves of them, expose them and examine them at every opportunity.

Four Americans were hostages. Some had been brought up on bogus charges of espionage, but none were held for any legitimate reason. When it was first revealed that there had been a payment of $400 million in cash to Iran at the same time the hostages were released, Obama denied that the payment was ransom. He said, “We were completely open with everybody about it, and it’s interesting to me that this suddenly became a story again. We do not pay ransom for hostages.”

Obama’s statement quickly overcame Hillary Clinton’s entries in the Lie of the Year contest, but Obama stuck to his story.

....Interviewed by CNN, [State Department spokesman] Kirby said that the money was Iran’s, “But when the lines all came together, right there in January in a very short 24 hour or so period, it would have been foolish, we believe, for us not to hold on just a little bit longer to make sure that we had the right leverage to get those Americans out and that was the priority.” Interviewed by Fox News’s Martha McCallum, Kirby insisted that the payment wasn’t ransom but admitted that the money was withheld until the hostages were released.

The fact that the payment was contingent on the release is clear. That the payment was made at all — regardless of the timing of the release — makes clear Obama’s intention to ensure his nuclear weapons deal would be undisturbed. The hostage release was merely an ancillary political benefit he could claim....Yes, four Americans were released by payment of the ransom. But why was it made in cash?

When the payment was first admitted, Obama claimed it was made in cash because we had no banking relationship with Iran. That’s a lie of evasion. Bankers in Switzerland and other nations could have served as intermediaries for a non-cash payment, but Iran insisted on cash. Why?

Because cash is fungible and easily moved. Unless it’s marked for future identification, it can’t be traced. And you can bet that it wasn’t marked because Obama doesn’t want it to be traced to the terrorist networks that will receive it.

Even Vichy John Kerry admitted that some of the money paid to Iran at the end of sanctions would go to fund terrorism. $400 million in cash can go a long way to pay for acts of terrorism....

Cash can be sent abroad from Iran quickly and easily to pay the cost of terrorist attacks.

It costs money to have hundreds of salaried clerics who incite terrorist attacks at every Friday sermon. Cars and trucks probably aren’t much more expensive but they have to be rented or bought, as do bomb-making materials.

And it costs a lot for Iran to maintain the 80,000 or more Shiite fighters it has in Iraq today.
And Obama has sent them cash to pay those terrorists. And then he and his administration brazenly lied to the public. All so Obama can pursue his idée fixe to conclude a deal that clearly doesn't accomplish what he claims it does.
Obama has said repeatedly that the deal blocks all of Iran’s paths to nuclear weapons, which is precisely the opposite of the truth. Hillary won’t disturb Obama’s lies about the Iran deal because it’s as much a part of her legacy as it is a part of his.

Obama’s lies — on Islamic terrorism, Iran, Syria, Russia, China and the rest — will remain undisturbed if, as seems likely, America elects the woman Safire labeled congenital liar as president. On Iran, Obama’s lies deserve the label “historic” because they will shape our history, and those of our allies.

When presidential lies are synonymous with policy, our nation is in great danger.
Of course, Donald Trump would be no better. He has lied openly and repeatedly in this campaign. It's all so depressing, but let's ignore the lies of leading politicians and instead fixate on whether or not Ryan Lochte was either a very big liar or just a medium-size liar.

Glenn Reynolds writes
that individuals should learn from what we've seen of Louisiana's "Cajun Navy" that they must depend on themselves instead of government in times of natural disaster.
A collection of boat-owning volunteers called the ”Cajun Navy” has been rescuing people and transporting supplies, using Facebook to coordinate their efforts. As one said, "In South Louisiana, we don’t wait for help, we are the help.”

That’s a good approach, because the history of major disasters suggests that it’s a mistake to expect help to come very soon. We’ve seen this over and over again, and not just with Katrina.

After the 9/11 attacks in New York, when things were paralyzed, an impromptu navy composed of ferryboats, tugboats, and other maritime professionals, along with ordinary citizens in pleasure boats evacuated survivors and brought supplies in.
They kept ferrying people for three days until Day Four when the authorities took over.
“Day Four, when federal authorities took over.” That says it all, doesn’t it? Likewise in New Orleans after Katrina. Although Democratic leader Donna Brazile later admitted that George W. Bush in fact did all that could be expected after Katrina, people still waited a long time for help to arrive.

And after New York and New Jersey experienced Hurricane Sandy, it looked like Katrina On The Hudson. Relief was slow, gas shortages were made worse by Gov. Chris Christie’s economically illiterate assault on “price gouging,” and FEMA’s performance, according to Rudy Giuliani, wasn’t any better than under Bush and Katrina.

Well, the truth is that it’s better to be the help than to wait for help. There’s one group of first responders that’s always on the scene at every disaster — the people who are already there. After a disaster, roads are likely to be blocked, power lines are likely to be down, and it’s likely to be days or weeks before outside help arrives in any quantity.

You had to know that Donald Trump couldn't keep from making distracting tweets that demonstrate a totally immature attitude instead of keeping focused on his policy proposals and attacking Clinton.
Donald Trump took his escalating feud with "Morning Joe" to a new level on Monday, threatening to "tell the real story" of the relationship between hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

In a series of tweets on Monday, the Republican presidential nominee slammed the MSNBC hosts over their criticism of his brash campaign style.
What is he, a middle-schooler? That is about the behavior I saw in 12 years of teaching in middle school. Someone would criticize someone else, the response would be a bunch of irrelevant attacks spewing forward silly gossip. Who cares whether two unattached people are having a romantic relationship?

So if you're a Republican who had been comforting yourself that Trump had spent a week without one of these kerfuffles breaking out over something stupid that Trump has done, time's up.

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CNN keeps raiding Fox News for their talent.
Kirsten Powers, a longtime Democratic pundit with Fox News, is moving to CNN.

Powers will join CNN effective immediately, the network announced.

Her first appearance will be on "Anderson Cooper 360" on Monday night.

CNN has been adding Fox News talent over the past two years.

Liberal commentator Sally Kohn and former "Fox and Friends Weekend" co-host Alisyn Camerota came over in 2014. Former co-host of "The Five" and Democratic strategist Bob Beckel came to CNN last year. Conservative commentator Mary Katharine Ham went from Fox News to CNN in March of this year.

This is the attitude of EU officials
to economic approaches not in accord with their idea of increased government spending accompanied by high taxes.
Theresa May's Brexit negotiations with the European Union will be "more difficult" if she cuts corporation tax, European leaders have warned.

Stefan Loefven, the Swedish Prime Minister, said that any "aggressive" tax cuts by Britain will damage relations with the European Union.

It comes as Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, prepares to "reset" Britain's fiscal policy in his Autumn Statement by cutting taxes and borrowing to invest in infrastructure....

He told Bloomberg: "If the UK wants some time to think about the situation, this will also give EU countries some time.

“On the other hand, you hear about plans in the UK to, for example, lower corporate taxes considerably. If they, during this time, begin that kind of race, that will of course make discussions more difficult.”

Mr Loefven added: “We will continue to invest, because that’s the future,” Loefven said.

“Tax cuts are not the future. We need to continue to invest, and, for example, make sure our children get a good education.”
So the Swedish Prime Minister doesn't think another country should have the temerity to embrace economic policies of which he disapproves. Countries in the EU might have to listen to his advice. Such arrogance is one of the reasons that British voters voted to leave the EU.