Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cruising the Web

The 90s called and want their excuse-making and stonewalling back.

Even the MSM is not impressed with Hillary's press conference yesterday.

The NYT talks to experts on government secrecy who are quite skeptical that a secretary of state would not have sent any email that was classified.
Mrs. Clinton insisted that she kept classified information out of her email, as the law required. Storing classified information in a personal, nongovernment email account on a private computer server, like the one at Mrs. Clinton’s home, would be a violation of secrecy laws.

And relations with other countries are particularly subject to secrecy claims. “Foreign government information” — information received from another government with the expectation that it will be held in confidence — is an official category of classified information in secrecy regulations.

A former senior State Department official who served before the Obama administration said that while it was hard to be certain, it seemed unlikely that classified information could be kept out of the more than 30,000 emails that Mrs. Clinton’s staff identified as involving government business.

“I would assume that more than 50 percent of what the secretary of state dealt with was classified,” said the former official, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to seem ungracious to Mrs. Clinton. “Was every single email of the secretary of state completely unclassified? Maybe, but it’s hard to imagine.”

Steven Aftergood, who directs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said he suspected that if there had been no fuss and a researcher or journalist had sought all of Mrs. Clinton’s emails under the Freedom of Information Act, the answer might have been different.

“It would have been a real surprise if none of it was withheld on the grounds of classification,” Mr. Aftergood said. To start with, he said, “they’d have to say there’s no ‘foreign government information’ in the chief diplomat’s email.”
I'm also quite skeptical of her assurances that there has been no breach of security on her server. How would she know? And remember that Sidney Blumenthal's email was hacked a couple of years ago and the subject lines of those emails with Hillary Clinton were posted online. Those subject lines indicated that the emails dealt with Libya. What are the chances that she talked only about unclassified information about Libya?

Chris Cillizza explains several reasons why her excuse that she set up her own server for the sake of convenience is not believable. Lots of Obama administration officials at the Cabinet level who used a single device with both a personal and work email. And lots of people carry two devices. In fact, just a few weeks ago, Hillary talked about the various devices she regularly carries.

The Washington Post's Fact Checker column disputes what it calls the "misleading Democratic spin" on Hillary's emails. Don't be impressed with the argument that she was the only secretary of state to turn over emails in response to a 2014 request from the National Archives. The Post points out that Condoleezza Rice didn't use personal email and Colin Powell's personal email account has been closed for years. And regulations were different when Powell was in office. And Madeleine Albright didn't use email while in office.

The Washington Post editorial page is not happy with Hillary.
By Ms. Clinton’s account Tuesday, the sorting of more than 60,000 e-mail messages from her time at the State Department — to separate the personal and the work-related — was carried out entirely by her and her lawyer. She claims that all the work messages have been turned over to the department, but there is no way to check. She disclosed Tuesday that the remainder, the personal e-mails, were deleted. Why did she not provide the work-related e-mails when she left the department? Had she used government e-mail in the first place, it is possible that the messages would have been preserved there, and there might have been fewer doubts today.

Ms. Clinton also confirmed that she used a mail server at her home in New York, which was also for former president Bill Clinton, “on property guarded by the Secret Service” — as if the primary risk was not cybertheft but rather burglars sneaking in to steal floppy disks. Ms. Clinton said she did not discuss classified material in e-mail, but surely her days and messages were taken up with “sensitive but unclassified” matters that would be of interest to snoopers. She didn’t address that security issue, nor did she say anything about whether the State Department had security concerns about her private arrangement.

In the end, it is clear Ms. Clinton was acting in a gray zone, one created in part by the rapid pace of technological change. But it is also apparent that her decisions on her e-mail were based on what was best for her — what was “convenient”— and not so much for the public trust.

John Harris of Politico understands the subtext of Hillary's press conference.
Beneath the politesse, however, was an unmistakable message in her 21-minute news conference in New York on Tuesday, easily distilled into three short words: Go to hell.
That's not usually the attitude of potential presidential candidates toward the media. Democratic candidates. Republicans often see political benefit in giving that message to the media. The fact that this is Hillary Clinton's attitude tells us a lot.

Another liberal writer, Frank Bruni, just wishes Hillary wasn't the Democrats' annointed one.
But the real problem with the news conference wasn’t anything specific that she said or didn’t say, any particular tone of voice or set of her shoulders that she aced or bungled.

It was what kept coming to mind as she stood before the cameras once again, under fire once again, aggrieved once again by Americans’ refusal to see and simply trust how well intentioned and virtuous and good for the country she is:


It was all so very yesterday.

And elections are about tomorrow. Yes, that’s a cliché, but it’s also unassailable political truth.

And Clinton’s challenge is to persuade an electorate that has known her since the Mesozoic era and trudged wearily with her through so much political melodrama that to vote for her is to turn the page, to embrace a new chapter, to move forward.

On Tuesday she didn’t look as if she was leaning into the future. She looked as if she was getting sucked into the past.

DaTech Guy thanks Hillary for doing what the right could never have done - opened the eyes of those too young to remember the 90s to how deceitful Hillary Clinton is.
I can write about Whitewater, Filegate, Vince foster, the Rose Law firm, Cattle Futures, Bimbo Eruptions, impeachment till the cows come home and it’s not going to do a thing to convince a young person who wasn’t alive to see them how big a liar Mrs. Clinton is.

But even the least political person with what would pass for remedial knowledge about email can see she is lying through her teeth and the memes that will be created and shared on facebook accounts all over the country will make her an object of ridicule among them.

It might even cause the brightest among those youngsters, if they think even a little bit, to figure out a former first lady, former senator and a current secretary of state just might have access to someone to configure a phone for two email address for her or could easily hire a 10 year old to do it.

So thank you Mrs. Clinton for explaining to the youth & low information voters exactly the type of person you are in a way they will understand.

Bill Clinton's spokesman claimed just yesterday that he had sent only two emails in his life and both of those were while he was in office and were not to Hillary despite her claim that her server included private emails with her husband. So one of them is putting forth a lie.

The WSJ editorializes,
In the preposterous category, Mrs. Clinton explained that she preferred a private email account simply as a “convenience” because it allowed her to “carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.” We know plenty of people who have two accounts on the same device, and they don’t even have a retinue of aides to help carry their devices.

To allow for such splendid convenience, Mrs. Clinton had to go to the inconvenience of getting her own domain name for this secret email on the day of her confirmation hearing in 2009, and then setting up a system to manage it. Her “one device” excuse reminds us of her explanation from 1993 that she had made a 10,000% killing on cattle futures by reading the Wall Street Journal.

The more likely truth is that she and her husband wanted to control how much of her communications at State would eventually become public—in case, say, she ran for President some day. And sure enough Mrs. Clinton violated State Department policy at the time by not turning over the emails in that private account to the government for its archives. She gave some of them to State only after Congress had requested them as part of the Benghazi probe, and State had none in its possession.

Asked on Tuesday why she didn’t turn over the emails from the start, Mrs. Clinton ducked the question and claimed “I’d be happy to have somebody talk to you about the rules.” She then added a new entry for the Clinton Ethics Pantheon: “I fully complied with every rule that I was governed by.” Just not the policy she was supposed to abide by.

The biggest news Tuesday was Mrs. Clinton’s disclosure that she has since destroyed the rest of the emails that she didn’t turn over to State. These were “personal” business, she averred, and “I didn’t see any reason to keep them.” They were about, you know, things like daughter Chelsea’s wedding, her mother’s funeral, and her “yoga routines,” and “no one wants their personal emails made public.”

Now, that’s what we call convenient. With those emails gone, and her private server off-limits to investigators, no one else will be able to see how much of that “private” business really was private. Though Mrs. Clinton conducted both State business and personal business in her personal account, only she gets to determine what was really personal and what was the business of State.

Mrs. Clinton also asserted that “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.” But the emails between a Secretary of State and others in government don’t have to be classified to be valuable to foreign hackers.

A simple report to the National Security Adviser about a conversation with a foreign head of state, or advice on how to approach a meeting, could be exploited against U.S. interests. If Mrs. Clinton’s email wasn’t hacked, as she insists it wasn’t, she was lucky.

The entire performance raised more questions than it answered, but if the 1990s pattern holds don’t expect any more explanations. The Clinton method is to settle on a defense and then hunker down unless some new information forces her hand.

What a surprising coincidence!
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) recommended for powerful federal posts three partners at a Nevada-based firm that donates to a nonprofit run by his current and former aides.

It's rather disappointing to see both Scott Walker and Jeb Bush sucking up to Iowa voters by endorsing federal requirements on corn-based ethanol.

For all those Democrats suddenly shocked and horrified that Republican senators would intervene in foreign policy, they are demonstrating selectively short-term memory loss. Some prominent Democrats have even traveled to foreign capitals to demonstrate their opposition to a Republican president's foreign policy.
n 1985, for example, then-freshman Senator John Kerry traveled to Nicaragua for a friendly get-together with the Sandinista president, Daniel Ortega. The position of the Reagan administration was to support the opposition Contras. Kerry wasn't much interested in the administration's position. Upon his return to the United States, Kerry met with President Reagan to convey a message from Ortega. Reagan "wasn't thrilled," Kerry later told the New York Times. This week, it's Kerry's turn to be less than thrilled.

In late 2006, Democratic senators Kerry, Chris Dodd (Connecticut), and Bill Nelson (Florida), as well as one Republican who later became a Democrat, Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania), traveled to Damascus. That is, at a time when the policy of the Bush administration was to isolate the Bashar Assad regime because of its aggression in Lebanon support for terrorism, the senators decided to show their support for renewed U.S. relations with Syria.

They also had nice things to say about Syria's dictator. “I feel quite confident in saying this was a conversation worth having and that the administration ought to pursue it,” Kerry declared. Specter claimed to detect in Assad "an interest in negotiating with Israel to try to bring a peaceful settlement" in the Middle East. Nelson praised Assad's supposed "willingness to cooperate with the Americans."

The Florida senator was not impressed by White House press secretary Tony Snow's unequivocal statement that "We don't think that members of Congress ought to be going there." The Associated Press reported that Nelson "shrugged off suggestions he was challenging Bush's authority by sidestepping administration policy that the U.S. have no contact with Syrian officials. 'I have a constitutional role as a member of Congress,' Nelson said."

Which is, in fact, almost exactly what the 47 Republican senators wrote this week about their constitutional responsibility regarding Iran -- except, of course, that instead of pressing the U.S. government to make concessions to pro-terror regimes, as Kerry and others have done, these 47 senators are urging this administration to refrain from such concessions.

Vice President Biden and other defenders of the administration's Iran policy may not recall such instances of senators taking such an active role in foreign policy matters, but they are numerous, including at least two involving the current secretary of state.
Add in Nancy Pelosi's own visit to Assad in defiance of Bush's policies at the time.

And the sainted Senator Ted Kennedy was particularly egregious in his willingness to work behind the scenes to thwart presidential foreign policy he disagreed with or simply for political advantage.
Senator James Abourezk (D-South Dakota) secretly met with Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat in 1973, and arranged for Adlai Stevenson III (D-Illinois) to do likewise. This violated both American government policy and U.S. law, which prohibited such contacts because of the PLO's involvement in terrorism and refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist.

In December 1979, Sen. Abourezk undertook a secret trip to Tehran, at the behest of his colleague Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts). The Iran hostage crisis was generating public sympathy for President Jimmy Carter, making it difficult for Kennedy to gain traction in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Kennedy hoped Abourezk, an Arab-American, could negotiate a release of the hostages, and thus deprive Carter of the political advantage.

The episode became public only in 1986, when congressional candidate Joseph (son of RFK) Kennedy rejected a $100 contribution from Abourezk, because of the latter's extreme animus toward Israel. Abourezk took revenge by writing Kennedy a letter -- and making it public -- in which he announced, "I risked my life and my career" by going to Tehran in response to a request from Sen. Ted Kennedy. The request was conveyed by Kennedy aide Jan Kalicki, former JFK aide Theodore Sorensen, and Kennedy's close colleague, Sen. John Culver (D-Iowa). Abourezk explained to the Los Angeles Times that he did not speak directly to Sen. Kennedy, in order "to give him an element of deniability."

Sen. Kennedy himself was no stranger to the world of friendly contacts with hostile governments. In 1991, a London Times reporter combing through newly released Soviet archives found an internal KGB memorandum reporting a remarkable communication to the Soviet leadership from Kennedy, via his close friend ex-Sen. John Tunney, in May 1984.

According to the memo, Kennedy proposed to visit Moscow in order to help Soviet leaders craft more effective "explanations" to use against the Reagan administration concerning nuclear disarmament issues. He also offered to arrange U.S. television appearances for Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov to make a "direct appeal" to the American people that would undermine the administration. Kennedy evidently hoped these efforts would increase the Democrats' chances of retaking the White House that year.
Just ponder that for a few minutes. A prominent Democratic senator was offering to work with the Soviet Union to hurt Reagan's chances for reelection. And don't believe Joe Biden's supposed horror over Republican senators sending a letter to Iran reminding them of how the American government system works.
Nevertheless, when the ex-senator and former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman condemns his successors for daring simply to point out that any substantive agreement with Iran will not become a binding treaty without Senate consent, it is hard not to chuckle. For when presidents were Republican and Senates were Democrat, Senator Biden sang a significantly different tune.

Writing in 1989 on the "constitutional partnership" between presidents and senators, then-Senator Biden invoked "the wisdom of the Founding Fathers" for a much less restrained Senate under the Constitution's treaty power.

"Among the Framers," Biden argued, "it was Alexander Hamilton who, though renowned as the leading advocate of a strong presidency, stressed that it would have been 'utterly unsafe and improper' to entrust the power of making treaties to the president alone." (Emphasis added.)

He then quoted "Hamilton's most famous dictum," in Federalist 75, on the treaty power:
The history of human conduct does not warrant that exalted opinion of human virtue which would make it wise in a nation to commit interests of so delicate and momentous a kind, as those which concern its intercourse with the rest of the world, to the sole disposal of a magistrate created and circumstanced as would be a President of the United States.
"The essence of the treaty power," Biden concluded, "is that the president and the Senate are partners in the process by which the United States enters into, and adheres to, international obligations."

Back then, Senator Biden was taking a victory lap for having convinced the Senate to limit its approval of President Reagan's treaty with the Soviet Union on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, by attaching a "condition" that would require the executive branch to defer to the Senate's interpretation of the treaty's terms.

But the condition—which, with characteristic modesty, Biden called "the Biden Condition"—did even more than that. As Senator Biden put it in 1989, the Senate's move did nothing less than "repudiate decisively" the Reagan administration's theory of the president's diplomatic authority under the Constitution.

We need not go back a quarter-century to catch Biden in a moment of astonishing hypocrisy. Just seven years ago, in 2008, Senator Biden complained loudly against the suggestion that President George W. Bush might sign a status-of-forces agreement with Iraq without Senate consent. In a positively Cotton-eque letter to the White House, Senator Biden told President Bush that the president could not purport to bind the nation without the Senate's consent:
Such a commitment cannot be made by the Executive Branch on its own under our Constitution. Congress must participate in formulating, and ultimately authorizing, such a commitment.

... "[T]he means of a democracy are its ends; when we set aside democratic procedures in making our foreign policy, we are undermining the purpose of that policy." I expect that the Committee will review this issue in hearings next year, and look forward to close consultation with your Administration. In advance of such hearings, I would welcome a clarification from you on the scope of the agreement you are considering, and the specific security assurances and commitments that it might entail. I would also appreciate a definitive statement from you affirming that Congress must authorize or approve any “security commitments” the United States negotiates with Iraq.
So when Biden complains, twenty-five years later, that the senators' assertion of the Senate's constitutional treaty powers would "undermine the ability of" President Obama and his successors to conduct foreign affairs, perhaps he means this as a very subtle compliment. Were he in their shoes, he probably would have done the same thing.

Come to think of it, he did. Repeatedly.

One doctor explains why, even with federal subsidies, Obamacare is no deal for his patients.
But, again, even with the subsidies, it’s no bargain.
When you use the insurance, you find that you have to pay out-of-pocket for your x-ray, ultrasound or lab work — and keep on paying for tests until you spend enough to cover your $5,000 deductible.
You can’t afford the test, so you delay it.

You also have to pay out of pocket to see your doctor (me) when you’re sick, and even though I may charge you half price for a visit, you find that the prominent dermatologist I’d usually refer you to for your severe psoriasis isn’t part of your new network and won’t give you a discount.
The skin doctor I come up with instead is less prominent and devises a treatment plan that doesn’t work that well.

Here in New York, the law has put in jeopardy the entire way I practice as a primary-care physician. The law is so heavy with restrictions and penalties, and so light with actual improvements to care, that it isn’t working well even with the subsidies.
I spend more than half of my time on any given day on computer documentation, pre-approvals, contesting billing errors by labs or hospitals and choosing unknown specialists from ObamaCare lists to refer patients to.

I see no evidence that the federal subsidies are going to pay for essential health care. Instead, they bolster rising premiums and help keep insurance companies solvent and profitable.

Steven Hayward ponders this bit of hypocrisy from the Obama administration.
Curious, isn’t it, that Obama wants the imprimatur of Congress for a three-year battle plan against ISIS, but wants to bypass Congress completely on a 10-year weapons deal with Iran. Attacking ISIS is likely within his sole “commander-in-chief” powers, and in any case he could just rely on his Libya precedent of denying that he’s engaging in “hostilities” for purposes of the War Powers Act (which is unconstitutional anyway), while the “advise and consent of the Senate” clause on treaties seems to have fallen out of his pocket copy of the Constitution, which I just know Obama carries with him everywhere, right next to his Blackberry.

John Hinderaker laughs at the outrage on the left over the Tom Cotton open letter to Iran.
To my knowledge, no one has tried to deny that what the letter says is accurate. Nevertheless, liberals are hysterically denouncing the Republican senators for reminding, not just the government of Iran, but the Obama administration and the American people, of what the Constitution says. As Scott noted earlier this morning, the New York Daily News has branded the 47 senators as traitors. Chris Matthews says that pretty much the entire Republican Senate delegation should be jailed under the Logan Act. Countless liberals on Twitter are echoing the Daily News in denouncing the Republicans as traitors.

As Paul notes, this is a bizarre reaction to an open letter that simply sets out basic constitutional principles. Paul points out that there is no analogy to prior incidents where groups of Congressmen and others have secretly tried to cooperate with hostile governments. I would add another instance to that list: Ted Kennedy’s secret attempt to collaborate with the KGB in order to swing the 1984 presidential election to the Democrats. In this instance, Tom Cotton and his colleagues are not secretly conspiring with Iran to sell out the interests of the United States and its allies. That is, perhaps, what the Obama administration is doing. The Republican senators are publicly trying to prevent America’s most bitter enemy from getting nuclear weapons.

The Democrats’ cries of “treason” may be silly, but they are not meaningless. They tell us what liberals really think. Liberals (not all liberals, but most who are politically active on the Left) believe that nothing can be allowed to stand in the way of the leftward march of history. Certainly not the Constitution. In liberals’ minds, publicly citing the Constitution as an obstacle to executive action (by a Democratic president, of course, not a Republican one) is an act of lèse-majesté. To remind the American people of what the Constitution says is, if inconvenient to a Democratic administration, treasonous. Is that extreme, even crazy? Yes, but it is where American liberalism is today.

Jason Riley explains how liberals are "drawing the wrong lessons from Selma about America today."
Ferguson, Mo., in 2015 is not Selma, Ala., in 1965. Black people in America today are much more likely to experience racial preferences than racial slights. The violent crime that is driving the black incarceration rate spiked after the civil-rights victories of the 1960s, not before. And if voter-ID laws threaten the black franchise, no one seems to have told the black electorate. According to the Census Bureau, the black voter-turnout rate in 2012 exceeded the white turnout rate, even in states with the strictest voter-ID requirements.

The socioeconomic problems that blacks face today have nothing to do with civil-rights barriers and nearly everything to do with a black subculture that rejects certain attitudes and behaviors that are conducive to upward mobility. Yet Mr. Obama has a political interest—and the civil-rights industry has a vested interest—in pretending that the opposite is true.

“Liberalism in the twenty-first century is, for the most part, a moral manipulation that exaggerates inequity and unfairness in American life in order to justify overreaching public policies and programs,” writes the Hoover Institution’s Shelby Steele in “Shame,” his timely new book on political polarization and race relations in the U.S. This liberalism, he adds, is “not much interested in addressing discrimination case by case; rather, it assumes that all minorities and women are systematically discriminated against so that only government-enforced preferential policies for these groups—across the entire society—can bring us close to equity.”

Liberalism, moreover, tends to ignore or play down the black advancement that took place prior to the major civil-rights triumphs of the 1960s and instead credits government interventions that at best continued trends already in place. Black poverty fell 40 percentage points between 1940 and 1960—a drop that no Great Society antipoverty program has ever come close to matching. Blacks were also increasing their years of schooling and entering the white-collar workforce at a faster rate prior to the affirmative-action schemes of the 1970s than they were after those programs were put in place to help them.

The civil-rights battles of the 1960s have been fought and won, thanks in part to the thousands of brave souls who marched 50 years ago from the Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Selma to the Montgomery Statehouse. The racial disparity that persists today is not evidence that too many blacks face the same challenges they did in 1965, that “the march is not yet finished,” as Mr. Obama asserted. Rather, it is evidence that too few blacks—as Selma’s mayor told NPR—have taken advantage of the opportunities now available to them.

Studies of successful business models demonstrate how competition leads to improved products. The Democrats should remember that as they contemplate Hillary ascending to the party's nomination without any competition at all.

If you have been caught up in the Hillary Clinton email story, you can now buy your own Hillary Clinton action figure with her own Blackberry.