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Friday, March 06, 2015

Cruising the Web

Daniel Henninger wonders why anyone should trust Obama when he assures us that he is doing the right thing with Iran.
Now comes the Iran nuclear deal, whose details the administration will not make known for public debate, and should the deal happen March 24, the White House says it will not submit the agreement to Congress for a vote. As to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ’s detailed critique of the deal before Congress, Mr. Obama flicked it away as “nothing new.”

With public discussion, congressional oversight and criticism from Iran’s neighbors all dismissed as irrelevant, the administration has systematically reduced the reasons for supporting the agreement to one: because Barack Obama is doing it....

In six years, from Washington to capitals around the world, Mr. Obama has eroded the trust that the political world normally concedes to the U.S. presidency.

A principal reason domestic policy is at a standstill in the U.S. is that congressional Republicans no longer believe Mr. Obama will keep his word on any legislative commitment. The ObamaCare legal rewrites came with a political price. It is a reality that sits on Washington like a heavy stone.

So now Secretary of State Kerry is attempting to reassure our partners against ISIS in the region that the U.S. will not "take our eye off Iran's destabilizing actions" in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula, and Yemen. So he admits how Iran has been working to destabilize the entire region, but we're supposed to trust them on a nuclear deal even when the IAEA announces publicly that they can't verify what Iran is doing with its nuclear efforts.

Charles Krauthammer writes on the same theme of how unrealistic it is to trust Iran.
For six years, Obama has offered the mullahs an extended hand. He has imagined that with Kissingerian brilliance he would turn the Khamenei regime into a de facto U.S. ally in pacifying the Middle East. For his pains, Obama has been rewarded with an Iran that has ramped up its aggressiveness in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen, and brazenly defied the world on uranium enrichment.

He did the same with Russia. He offered Vladimir Putin a new detente. “Reset,” he called it. Putin responded by decimating his domestic opposition, unleashing a vicious anti-American propaganda campaign, ravaging Ukraine and shaking the post-Cold War European order to its foundations.

Like the Bourbons, however, Obama learns nothing. He persists in believing that Iran’s radical Islamist regime can be turned by sweet reason and fine parchment into a force for stability. It’s akin to his refusal to face the true nature of the Islamic State, Iran’s Sunni counterpart. He simply can’t believe that such people actually believe what they say.

That’s what made Netanyahu’s critique of the U.S.-Iran deal so powerful. Especially his dissection of the sunset clause. In about 10 years, the deal expires. Sanctions are lifted and Iran is permitted unlimited uranium enrichment with an unlimited number of centrifuges of unlimited sophistication. As the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens points out, we don’t even allow that for democratic South Korea.

The prime minister offered a concrete alternative. Sunset? Yes, but only after Iran changes its behavior, giving up its regional aggression and worldwide support for terror.

Netanyahu’s veiled suggestion was that such a modification — plus a significant reduction in Iran’s current nuclear infrastructure, which the Obama deal leaves intact — could produce a deal that “Israel and its [Arab] neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally.”

Obama’s petulant response was: “The prime minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.” But he just did: conditional sunset, smaller infrastructure. And if the Iranians walk away, then you ratchet up sanctions, as Congress is urging, which, with collapsed oil prices, would render the regime extremely vulnerable.

And if that doesn’t work? Hence Netanyahu’s final point: Israel is prepared to stand alone, a declaration that was met with enthusiastic applause reflecting widespread popular support.

It was an important moment, especially because of the libel being perpetrated by some that Netanyahu is trying to get America to go to war with Iran. This is as malicious a calumny as Charles Lindbergh’s charge on Sept. 11, 1941, that “the three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration.”

In its near-70 year history, Israel has never once asked America to fight for it. Not in 1948 when 650,000 Jews faced 40 million Arabs. Not in 1967 when Israel was being encircled and strangled by three Arab armies. Not in 1973 when Israel was on the brink of destruction. Not in the three Gaza wars or the two Lebanon wars.

Compare that to a very partial list of nations for which America has fought and for which so many Americans have fallen: Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Vietnam, Korea, and every West European country beginning with France (twice).

Oh, the irony.
An internal 2011 State Department cable, obtained by Fox News, shows that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's office told employees not to use personal email for security reasons -- while at the same time, Clinton conducted all government business on a private account.

Sent to diplomatic and consular staff in June 2011, the unclassified cable, bearing Clinton's electronic signature, made clear to employees they were expected to "avoid conducting official Department business from your personal e-mail accounts." The message also said employees should not "auto-forward Department email to personal email accounts which is prohibited by Department policy.”

And Hillary's State Department forced the ambassador to Kenya to resign and one of the reasons was that he used his private email account for official business.

And now a hacker has again broken into her private account.
Hillary Clinton appears to have established multiple email addresses for her private use, and possibly the use of her aides, under the domain of “,” according to a prominent member of the hacking community who supplied independent research data, conducted with high-tech tools, to Fox News.

The hacker used an open-source tool, publicly available, called “The Harvester” to search a variety of data sources – including well-known platforms such as Google, Bing, LinkedIn, Twitter and others – for any stored references to email addresses seen using a particular domain, in this case Hackers working under contract for private firms, also known as “White Hat hackers,” routinely use The Harvester during so-called “penetration testing,” or “pen testing,” on behalf of clients trying to ensure that their internal systems are secure.

The application of The Harvester to revealed additional email addresses besides the one that Clinton aides have insisted publicly that she used, and have said was the only one that she used, when she served as Secretary of State: namely,

A screen grab of The Harvester’s findings provided to Fox News by the source in the hacker community – whose professional resume also boasts extensive experience in the U.S. intelligence community – lists rather similar, but nonetheless different, email addresses, including,,,, and
How soon before other hackers go deeper into her account? Would you feel confident arguing that Chinese and Russian hackers hadn't already broken in?

And as Chris Cillizza writes, Hillary's tweet that she wants the public to see her emails isn't going to make the scandal go away.
Remember that the State Department doesn't HAVE all of Clinton's e-mails. They are held on her own private e-mail server. That's the problem. The 55,000 pages of e-mails she has turned over to State were selected by either Clinton or someone on her team.

Given that, a better tweet might have been: "I am going to turn over all of my e-mails -- as soon as I can." Putting the burden on State is sort of a red herring; this isn't really the State Department's fault. Clinton chose to exclusively use a private e-mail account against guidance from the Obama administration. Why she did so remains to be seen -- she hasn't said -- but because of that choice, it's incumbent upon her to make more e-mails available.

The way Clinton's tweet is phrased -- and, yes, I am parsing words here but the totality of what she has said on the matter amounts to 26 words -- suggests that she has asked State to release the contents of the 55,000 pages of e-mails she has turned over. Which is fine -- and better than nothing. But, again, those are the e-mails that Clintonworld decided should be turned over. That's not exactly the classic definition of transparency.

Democrats are getting really worried about how Hillary might implode as a candidate. And then there is basically no one on the bench to replace her. Right now, such Democratic leaders are whistling past the graveyard.
“Find me one persuadable voter who agrees with HRC on the issues but will vote against her because she has a non-archival-compliant email system and I’ll kiss your ass in Macy’s window and say it smells like roses,” he said.

Other Democrats were more measured, insisting that the news was worrisome and that the party should field more presidential contenders in case Clinton struggles in a serious way. But most kept their criticisms to a minimum, and just one early-state figure reported hearing from any of the other potential candidates since the news broke on Monday night.

Some of Clinton’s financial backers are scratching their heads as the story has spiraled into a major point of conversation on cable news and radio, questioning the turbulent home-stretch of Clinton’s pre-campaign phase.

One Democratic donor told POLITICO on Wednesday that Clinton’s last few days have caused concern in New York’s influential donor community. But most of her high-level donors have stood staunchly by her side, and Clinton had a chance to speak with many of her backers on Wednesday night as she headlined the Clinton Foundation’s annual gala — which cost between $2,500 and $100,000 to attend — in Manhattan’s financial district.
Well, she might not lose those who agree with her on the issues, but what about independents?

Gawker investigates how secure Hillary's server was.
When Hillary Clinton ditched government email in favor of a secret, personal address, it wasn't just an affront to Obama's vaunted transparency agenda—security experts consulted by Gawker have laid out a litany of potential threats that may have exposed her email conversations to potential interception by hackers and foreign intelligence agencies.

"It is almost certain that at least some of the emails hosted at were intercepted," independent security expert and developer Nic Cubrilovic told Gawker.
And Gawker reminds us that they had reported two years ago about her use of a private email address when they reported on how Sidney Blumenthal's emails to Hillary had been hacked by a Romanian hacker.

The fictional president Frank Underwood on "House of Cards" is more responsible than the real presidents that we have had as he gave a TV speech to tell the American people the truth about entitlement spending.
The American Dream has failed you. Work hard. Play by the rules. You aren’t guaranteed success. Your children will not have a better life than you did…. We’ve been crippled by Social Security. By Medicare. Medicaid. Welfare. And entitlements. And that is the root of the problem. Entitlements. Let me be clear: You are entitled to nothing. You. Are entitled. To nothing.
One day we will have to have a president who tell us these truths, but today any politician would be killed by attacks as how he or she is trying to take away senior citizens' benefits.

Peggy Noonan explains why Hillary figured it was perfectly fine for her to use her own email account despite breaking her own department's regulations and federal law.
The press is painting all this as a story about how Mrs. Clinton, in her love for secrecy and control, has given ammunition to her enemies. But that’s not the story. The story is that this is what she does, and always has. The rules apply to others, not her. She’s special, entitled, exempt from the rules—the rules under which, as the Federalist reports, the State Department in 2012 forced the resignation of a U.S. ambassador, “in part for setting up an unsanctioned private e-mail system.”

Why doesn’t the legacy press swarm her on this? Because she is political royalty. They are used to seeing her as a regal, queenly figure. They’ve been habituated to understand that Mrs. Clinton is not to be harried, not to be subjected to gotcha questions or impertinent grilling. She is a Democrat, a star, not some grubby Republican governor from nowhere. And they don’t want to be muscled by her spokesmen. The wildly belligerent Philippe Reines sends reporters insulting, demeaning emails if they get out of line. He did it again this week. It is effective in two ways. One is that it diverts attention from his boss, makes Mr. Reines the story, and in the process makes her look comparatively sane. The other is that reporters don’t want a hissing match with someone who implies he will damage them. They can’t afford to be frozen out. She’s probably the next president: Their careers depend on access.

But how will such smash-mouth tactics play the next four, five years?

....An aspect of the story goes beyond criticism of Mrs. Clinton and gets to criticism of us. A generation or two ago, a person so encrusted in a reputation for scandal would not be considered a possible presidential contender. She would be ineligible. Now she is inevitable.

What happened? Why is her party so in her thrall?

She’s famous? The run itself makes you famous. America didn’t know who Jack Kennedy was in 1959; in 1961 he was king of the world. The same for Obama in ’08.

Money? Sure she’s the superblitz shock-and-awe queen of fundraising, but pretty much any Democrat in a 50/50 country would be able to raise what needs to be raised.

She’s a woman? There are other women in the Democratic Party.

She’s inevitable? She was inevitable in 2008. Then, suddenly, she was evitable.

Her talent is for survival. This on its own terms is admirable and takes grit. But others have grit. As for leadership, she has a sharp tactical sense but no vision, no overall strategic sense of where we are and where we must go.

What is freezing the Democrats is her mystique. But mystique can be broken. A nobody called Obama broke hers in 2008.

Do we really have to return to Scandal Land? It’s what she brings wherever she goes. And it’s not going to stop.
This is, as Kimberley Strassel reminds us, all typical behavior from Hillary.
There are few politicians alive today who have a better understanding than the Clintons of the perils of paper trails—and the benefits of not having them. It really wasn’t all that long ago that Mrs. Clinton was failing to answer questions about how her Rose Law firm billing records vanished. Or using executive privilege to sit on documents that showed her involvement in the Travel Office firings. Or grappling with testimony from a Secret Service agent who said Mrs. Clinton’s top aide had removed files from Vince Foster ’s office. Or explaining her connection to Sandy Berger, who was prosecuted for stealing Clinton-related National Archives records.

If you don’t think all this wasn’t informing Mrs. Clinton’s decision—on the day of her first confirmation hearing—to register, you aren’t thinking.

The opportunities for racism continue to abound. Just in case you hadn't realized it, eating three meals a day and using good grammar are now racist.

Charles C. W. Cooke examines what the loss of Hillary might do to the demographic projections of Democratic strength.
nce we take Hillary out of the equation, the game looks rather different. As potent as it might be on paper, the Democratic party’s present edge within the Electoral College is by no means infinite, and it does not obtain in a personality vacuum. Such as they are, the current predictive models tend to presume less that the Democrats are bulletproof per se, and more that the party will field a strong and popular candidate in the mold of a Barack Obama or a John F. Kennedy or a William Jefferson Clinton and that this good candidate will start from a position of structural strength. Does the party have such a figure, other than Hillary? I cannot see that it does, no. Certainly, it is amusing for us to sing “Run, Liz, Run,” to tease Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, and even to pretend that Andrew Cuomo or Martin O’Malley could ever be elected president of the United States. But, idle levity to one side, there is ultimately no hiding from the recognition that Clinton is the only viable game in town. Historically, running for a third term is extraordinarily tough. Are Americans expected to return a nobody to the highest office in the land purely because the on-paper estimates favor his party?

In the last few days, we have seen a host of progressive commentators begin to call for an alternative. And yet for all the thrilling “Challenge!” headlines that this dissent has inevitably provoked, it remains the case that pretty much every single person who has called for a contested Democratic primary has chosen to rest his argument on the presumption that a nomination fight would help Hillary to improve, not that it would help her party to select a more appropriate candidate.

What are the worst colleges for free speech?

Finally. Now that Harry Reid is no longer Senate Majority Leader, we may finally be able to open the Yucca Mountain nuclear dump.

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