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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Cruising the Web

Interestingly, perhaps the tea leaves from Monday's hearing on whether the word "Legislature" in the Constitution to signify which level of government should control time, place, and manner of actually means the actual legislature. In that case which concerns whether a voter initiative establishing a redistricting commission could usurp the role of Arizona's legislature in drawing district maps. The three women justices clearly were not troubled with reading the word "Legislature" in the Constitution to mean something other than a state "legislature." But the conservative justices and Anthony Kennedy did seem to realize that legislature has always meant the actual legislature.
More ominously for Waxman, although Justice Anthony Kennedy had earlier expressed to Clement some concern about how broadly a ruling for the legislature might apply, he appeared even more dubious about the commission’s position. At one point, he told Waxman that “history works very much against you” because until the Constitution was amended to allow voters to elect senators directly, it also provided that senators from each state “shall be chosen by the Legislature thereof” – a phrase that was consistently understood to refer only to the institution. And Kennedy later questioned how the commission could therefore read “Legislature” to mean one thing in that provision of the Constitution but something very different in the Elections Clause.
In today's case, King v. Burwell, the matter involves not Constitutional interpretation, but statutory interpretation, but it's a similar question. Does the word "State" mean a state or does it mean the federal government. I can well imagine that the liberal justices will be quite willing to ignore the actual meaning of the word in the face of what they consider the greater good. But perhaps Anthony Kennedy might bring the same common sense to this question as he seemed to bring to deciding what the word "Legislature" means.

John Podhoretz analyzes how Obama made Netanyahu's speech much more significant than it might have been.
On Tuesday, Bibi Netanyahu gave the speech of his life before a joint session of Congress — and he has Barack Obama to thank for it.

Yes, the very same Barack Obama who hates Bibi, the same Obama who was furious the speech was being given at all, walked the bases full for Netanyahu and served up the sucker pitch he hit for a grand slam.

For six weeks, the president and his team have been letting it be known just how angry they are that the leader of the House of Representatives invited the Israeli prime minister to speak about the threat from Iran.

The enraged leaks and overt hostility toward the head of state of an ally have been unprecedented.

The White House even tried to engineer a mass Democratic boycott of the speech, an effort that either (take your pick) met with success because 50 members of his party agreed to it, or was a failure because 75 percent of elected Democrats on Capitol Hill defied him and chose to attend.
What did all of this do? It made the Netanyahu speech the most important political event of 2015 by far.

It elevated Netanyahu’s powerful case against a nuclear deal with Iran to the highest level possible — so that the leader of a country of 8 million people roughly the size of New Jersey now possesses as much authority to discuss the issue as the leader of the Free World.
Obama’s own national-security mouthpiece, Ben Rhodes, has said the White House views a deal with Iran as “biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy.”
Obama’s fit of pique against Netanyahu has led to a man-to-man showdown that will likely complicate that “biggest thing” immensely.

Netanyahu yesterday laid out calmly and comprehensively the reasons the deal is likely to be a bad one — and he had not only an audience of Americans vastly larger than he would’ve had if the president hadn’t had his hissy fit, but also the ear of the audience that matters most in this regard.

That audience is the United States Senate.

And his audience heard him.
President Obama can continue to argue for a deal that depends on Iran following the provisions of that agreement when the IAEA has announced that they don't have the capability to determine if Iran is complying with the provisions they're supposed to following now. Do we really want to trust their word? The main state sponsor of terrorism? The idea is laughable.

As James Oliphant points out
In that context, Netanyahu argued that any deal struck by Obama and Kerry would fail to significantly slow Iran's nuclear program and instead would "guarantee" that Tehran would obtain nuclear weapons. He profoundly disagreed with administration assessments on how soon Iran could build a bomb if it chose to break the compact with the United States and its allies. He was dismissive of Obama's belief that it isn't realistic to expect Iran to completely dismantle its program.

The potential deal, Netanyahu said, "does not block Iran's path to the bomb. It paves Iran's path to the bomb."

He called on the West to keep sanctions in place until Iran shifts in tone and behavior. "If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country," he said. "This is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal. We're better off without it." That prompted an ovation.

In short, Netanyahu accomplished everything Republicans wanted and the White House feared. Polls show that the American public is skeptical of Iran's motives in striking a deal, and the Israeli prime minister stoked those suspicions. Obama has taken a large—and likely a legacy-defining—risk in advocating for the talks. And Netanyahu reminded the world of just how large a risk it is.

The president's challenge in that regard just got tougher. And it doesn't help that he didn't bother to engage with Netanyahu at all. In the interview with Reuters, Obama clung to the notion that he didn't want to affect the outcome of Israeli elections in two weeks, even as he suggested that Netanyahu's judgment with regard to Iran couldn't be trusted.

Yes, the speech to Congress was, at heart, a propaganda piece, one carefully orchestrated by Obama's adversaries. But that didn't make it any less effective. And it was one whose aftereffects this White House could be feeling for a long time.

Peter Wehner observes one notable contrast between how President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu frame their arguments.
As someone who is a lifelong lover of words and the power of words to persuade and reveal the truth of things, it was a relief to finally have a leader of a nation speak to a joint session of Congress and demonstrate intellectual integrity. Unlike President Obama, who never engages the argument of his critics in an honest manner, Prime Minister Netanyahu fairly (if briefly) stated the arguments of those with whom he disagrees. And he proceeded to deal with them in a methodical, empirical, logical way, which of course explains why Mr. Obama fought so hard to prevent Mr. Netanyahu from speaking in the first place. The president knew his position would wither when exposed to reality. There was a maturity and seriousness of purpose in the Israeli prime minister that is missing from our president.

It’s a shame we Americans have to wait for a foreign leader to speak to us in a manner characterized by intellectual excellence and moral seriousness. But such are the times in which we live.

The two lawyers arguing King v. Burwell today before the Supreme Court have very different styles.

Chris Cillizza reminds us of how Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail address as Secretary of State encapsulates what people dislike about her and her husband:
1. They don't think the rules apply to them
2. They are surrounded by enablers.
3. They're always hiding something.
4. They only think about politics.
5. They never own up to anything.
And besides the breaking of the law regarding using private email accounts for government business, there are the security concerns. She was using a domain that had already been hacked once before. The Daily Mail has the details of that previous hacking.
Clinton never had an official '' email address. Her aides reached her at '' for the four years she was America's top diplomat.

The first hint of a secret Clinton email address came from the infamous Romanian hacker who used the nom-de-hack 'Guccifer.' He was later sentenced to four years in prison for his illegal exploits.

Marcel Lazar Lehel – Guccifer's real name – breached the email account of Sidney Blumenthal, a former Bill Clinton aide who later joined Mrs. Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. Blumenthal had sent emails to her at the '' address, according to The Smoking Gun.

Some of the messages Guccifer leaked online consisted of intelligence reports, sent in late 2012 to Clinton's back-channel address, and covered matters in Libya – including the aftermath of the September 11, 2012 terror attack in Benghazi.
The only defense the State Department has been able to put forward is that her emails would be archived because she was communicating with State Department employees who were actually obeying the law and using the government system. Really? That is all the defense they come up with? They have no answer to the obvious question about any other communications she might have had with people outside the Department.
National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs expressed concern over Clinton's 'extensive' use of a private account, deeming it 'insecure'.
Jason Baron, the agency's former director of litigation, told the Times thatthe ided was practically 'inconceivable,' especially regarding a cabinet-level official.
'It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario – short of nuclear winter – where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level-head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,' he said.

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Jennifer Rubin summarizes recent controversies swirling around Hillary Clinton from her establishing a private email domain the day of her nomination hearings in the Senate, her family's foundation accepting money from foreign governments, her silence on Iran. And those are just the stories from the past couple of weeks.
I would argue, however, that it is the third that is really the worst if Hillary Clinton intends, as everyone is certain she does, to run for president. This is, of course, the most important national security issue of our time, and if she has neither the courage nor conviction to tell us what she thinks, she arguably shouldn’t be running for the job as commander in chief.

Needless to say, the political media are focused on the e-mails and not the nukes, but then foreign policy is only superficially considered and dimly understood. Whatever the emphasis, however, it is hard to escape the flashing red lights in front of party regulars and activists: Do you really need Clinton so badly that you would crown her now as the nominee? Wouldn’t it be better to have someone with no responsibility for the most egregious foreign policy disaster of our time (i.e. allowing Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability)?

It is unfathomable why Democrats feel as though they have no choice. Surely, there are fans of Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others who would recognize that the Democratic Party badly needs not merely a sparring partner in the primaries but an alternative to Clinton who is not perceived as personally corrupt or secretive and is not burdened by an increasingly problematic Obama foreign policy record. Surely, even a candidate who will have to work harder to raise money and create name identification but who is capable and not burdened by scandal would be preferable to a 67-year old woman of immense wealth, low ethical standards and nonexistent candor. Or perhaps the Democratic Party is so devoid of talent that it simply has no choice but to take Clinton with all her obvious and serious defects.

As Mollie Hemingway writes, "1996 called, wants its Clinton fundraising and documents scandals back."
I know that some of you were too young to remember the 1990s, but this was basically what happened with the Clintons all the time. That revelation of a discovery of law firm billing documents that had been subpoenaed by federal investigators two years prior (the Clintons claimed they didn’t have them) came not 24 hours after another revelation of a missing document.

That document was a 2-year-old memo that admitted Hillary Clinton had, according to the Times, “played a far greater role in the dismissal of employees of the White House travel office than the Administration has acknowledged.”

....Seriously, the original investigation into the Clintons dealt with alleged corruption in a land deal years earlier. Close business partners were sent to prison on fraud, conspiracy, federal mail fraud and tax evasion charges. Then it somehow involved the firing of White House travel agents, the improper use of FBI files and a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee of Clinton’s. And, as you may have heard, it involved President Clinton’s lies regarding his sexual relationship with a young intern named Monica Lewinsky. He was impeached not for the sex but, as it happened, for obstructing justice and committing perjury in that case. (Though I have even read the footnotes of the Starr report, and you would not believe how detailed they are. We’ll leave that for another time.)

This administration also had a fundraising scandal that involved China trying to influence American politics by giving money to the Clintons. Stop me if you’ve heard this before....

The bottom line, though, is that this story couldn’t be more vintage Clinton if it tried. Some people have fond memories of the Clintons but that’s mostly because they’ve repressed all the memories of the constant idiotic scandals they dragged the country through — all while protesting that a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy was to blame.
Memories in politics can be so very short, but the Clintons can't seem to help reminding us of their sleaziness.

The exaggerations of Bill O'Reilly are piling up. Conservatives shouldn't rally around him just because they like him. We would have criticized liberals who rallied around Dan Rather or Brian Williams based on ideology and shouldn't fall into that same trap.

This gives you confidence, doesn't it?
An Egyptian-born imam who in 2007 said that Somali-born activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali should receive the death penalty for her criticism of Islam is now a Department of Justice contractor hired to teach classes to Muslims who are in federal prison.

According to federal spending records, Fouad ElBayly, the imam at Islamic Center of Johnstown in Pennsylvania, was contracted by the DOJ’s Bureau of Prisons beginning last year to teach the classes to Muslim inmates at Cumberland Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md.

John Hinderaker has a good recommendation for Ben Carson. He should run for the seat that Barbara Mikulski has just announced she will not run for. Carson has been making all sorts of noises about running for president, but there is absolutely no chance that the Republicans will choose someone with zero political experience. He is no Dwight Eisenhower. But he has much to contribute and he could do that from the Senate. He would have a tough time winning in Maryland, one of the most Democratic states in the nation, but one that just elected a Republican governor. He could be an appealing candidate, but not for the top job. If he truly wanted to contribute, he would abandon his hubristic ambitions that his first job in politics should be the top job and aim a bit lower.

More behavior from a federal agency acting as if it is above the law. And people still think that federal bureaucrats are somehow more noble than people in the private sector.
An inspector general’s report last fall, which somehow escaped publicity, found that political appointees at the Department of Labor violated contracting rules on one project and spent what many would consider an absurd amount of money on another. An earlier IG letter indicated the same officials were involved in misusing department resources on yet a third project.

Of course, when the administration is itself determined to evade the law, more lawbreaking will occur. And this administration definitely is that determined.
The administration processed about 100,000 applications for amnesty for so-called Dreamers under some of the expanded rules President Obama announced last year, lawyers told a Texas judge late Tuesday, in a move that could complicate their claim that they have halted all action under the amnesty.

The New Yorker pays tribute to Greg Gutfeld's Red Eye show.

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