Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cruising the Web

Just more one example of how, in the Clintons' minds, they are above the rules that limit ordinary politicians.
The board of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation has decided to continue accepting donations from foreign governments, primarily from six countries, even though Hillary Clinton is running for president, a summary of the new policy to be released Thursday shows.

The rules would permit donations from Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the U.K.—countries that support or have supported Clinton Foundation programs on health, poverty and climate change, according to the summary.

That means other nations would be prohibited from making large donations to the foundation. But those governments would be allowed to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative, a subsidiary of the foundation where companies, nonprofit groups and government officials work on solutions to global problems.

Ministers from any government would be allowed to attend meetings and appear on panels at the group’s meetings and their governments would be allowed to pay attendance fees of $20,000.

The new policy, which was designed to address growing concern that the donations would present a conflict of interest for a Hillary Clinton presidency, all but ensures that Mrs. Clinton’s links to the charity will be a feature of the emerging presidential campaign....

The six countries on the approved donor list are less controversial and politically sensitive than some who gave in 2014, such as Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Still, even the allowed countries would pose issues for a Hillary Clinton administration. Canada’s Foreign Department has made Clinton Foundation donations and is also leading the charge to win approval for the Keystone XL pipeline. Germany and the U.K. are two of the five countries, including the U.S., that drafted an antinuclear accord with Iran. The U.S. and Germany also differ on how best to respond to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

The foundation plan will likely renew the foreign-gift controversy just as Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign launched this week. Earlier this year, Mrs. Clinton came under fire from both Democrats and Republicans when The Wall Street Journal reported that foreign donations to the foundation had resumed last year after a virtual halt when she served as secretary of state from 2009-13.
but why would the family that rented out the Lincoln bedroom to donors care about the perception of corruption.

Timothy Carney analyzes how Hillary "Clinton represents everything Democrats say they oppose."
Sen. Clinton, of course, voted for the Iraq war and spoke on the Senate floor in defense of it. But it's not just Iraq. Her entire record is pro-war. Her husband launched wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. When he was getting impeached in 1998, he launched missile attacks on Iraq.

As Obama's Secretary of State, Clinton was one of the three Obama aides most responsible for the illegal pre-emptive war in Libya. "We came, we saw, he died," she gloated after the U.S. helped depose dictator Moammar Qadhafi. This regime change, like the one she supported in Iraq, left a power vacuum that has been filled by chaos and murder. Libya has become a terrorist hotbed and an Islamic State foothold.

Hillary Clinton is a war candidate. Is the Left now cool with that sort of thing?

Ethics, good government, the fight against big money, and the devolution of power away from the lobbyists and political power-brokers — these were the other major themes in 2006 and 2008. Democrats ran promising lobbying reforms. One of Obama's most compelling themes was his war on lobbyists, and his promise to "end the game-playing" in Washington.

Maybe Obama's failures in this regard have made the Left give up hope for any change in this regard. That's the best way to explain how the same electorate could be happy with Hillary Clinton.

Clinton isn't simply cozy with K Street. She is a hub of the Democrat-K Street axis. Her closest advisors are mostly revolving-door operatives who used their connections from her husband's administration to get rich as lobbyists or consultants, and then peddle their influence in the Obama administration.

John Podesta, arguably her closest advisor, was a pioneer in the industry of revolving-door lobbyists in the late 1980s, founding a firm with his brother Tony, also a former Democratic aide. In the 1990s, Podesta joined the Clinton administration, and then cashed out again to rejoin his lobbying firm. The firm's lobbying clients included Citigroup, Aetna, Blue Cross, Dow Chemical, Eli Lilly, AOL-Time Warner, General Electric and other corporate titans.

Clinton-world is full of names that hardly scream good government: Terry McAuliffe, Rahm Emanuel, Mark Penn, Sandy Berger and Lanny Davis. These are the people Democrats are inviting back into the inner circles of power if they send another Clinton to the White House.

Finally, there's her total resistance to transparency — a necessary pillar of good government. Clinton is famously and stubbornly closed to media. She refused to use the State Department's email system, instead creating her own email system, which was scrubbed totally clean once congressional digging got too close.

At worst, the email saga shows that Hillary is covering up something. At best, it shows she suffers from a paranoid obsession with secrecy.

Are America's Democrats really ready to put up with four years of war, corporatism and power-hungry secrecy?
In the face of how much Hillary represents so much of what the Democratic left hates, they'll have to yank her to the left in the upcoming campaign. Daniel Henninger predicts what is going to happen.
Mrs. Clinton is a Democrat inheriting the economic headwinds of the Obama presidency, six years of below-average economic growth that has produced middle-class anxiety over flat incomes and flat jobs. Her solution: Make big government bigger.

Start to finish, the Clinton campaign will be about income maintenance, education subsidies, refundable tax credits, expanded Social Security payments and, needless to say, pumping more helium into the ObamaCare balloon.
We're already seeing her do this. That is why it is so important for the Republicans to have a candidate who can forcefully and eloquently defend conservative principles.
More than anything, Leviathan has become vulnerable. The benevolent edifice of big government has been cracking, perhaps since FEMA’s nonperformance during Hurricane Katrina. The loss of faith accelerated under Barack Obama, with bland, acronymic facades cracking across Washington, from HHS to the IRS to the VA.

Marco Rubio this week called the whole federal thing so last century. And of course it is. It’s hard to know whether voters born in the 1980s or ’90s, women, independents and minorities will buy the argument that they or their families will be better off if government steps back. What we know for sure is that the lady in the Scooby van has to spend 19 months arguing for more of the same.

Doyle McManus of the LA Times writes on the same theme of how many Democrats are working hard to pull Hillary to the left.

James Pethokoukis defends the Marco Rubio tax proposal which several conservatives have criticized.
And, for all you heartbroken liberals, here's good news: In that debate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is still a full-fledged player — not as a candidate but as an insistent voice in Clinton's left ear.

Warren, the heroine of the party's progressive wing, met with Clinton a few months ago to urge her to run a populist campaign.

The senator outlined some of the policies she'd like to see: an increase in Social Security benefits, a much higher minimum wage and stronger financial regulation to force big banks to get smaller.

And one more request: Warren urged Clinton to distance herself from the Wall Street fat cats who she thinks have amassed too much influence in Democratic administrations, including both Bill Clinton's and Barack Obama's.

Warren didn't get a solid commitment, I'm told, so she's a long way from giving her blessing to Clinton's campaign.

"I want to see who else gets in this race, and I want to see what the issues are that they push," she said in a CNN interview last week....

While we don't know how things will shake out, the results matter. At stake is whether the Democratic nominee will continue in the center-left "New Democratic" tradition of Bill Clinton, the slightly more liberal vein of Barack Obama, or move further to the populist left.

Clinton already knows what she thinks about most of those issues, of course; she's been in politics a long time. But she's avoided taking precise positions, a way of keeping her options open to see how the campaign develops. That can't last. It's not just pesky reporters who will be asking her questions; as soon as she starts talking with ordinary Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire, whose voters are among the best informed in the country, they're going to demand to know where she stands.

Christina Hoff Sommers takes on the ridiculousness of "trigger warnings."

What a lovely story. Chief Justice John Roberts reported for jury duty in Rockville, Maryland.
John G. Roberts Jr. showed up for jury duty in Rockville like other civic-minded citizens and was being considered for a civil trial in a case involving a car crash. He answered two questions in open court about relatives — noting that his sister in Indiana is a nurse, and his brother-in-law was with Indiana State Police — but none about his own line of work, which would be listed on a questionnaire. He then talked with attorneys and the judge privately at the bench.

Roberts was not selected, and left court without comment.

Justices are often called for jury duty — Justice Elena Kagan has been to the courthouse in the District at least twice — but rarely chosen. Roberts, who lives in Chevy Chase, was being considered for a two-day trial....

Rubin eventually asked people to raise their hands if they were involved in certain professions or were close to people involved in those professions. When the topic turned to medicine, Roberts spoke up.

“Juror 49,” he began. “My sister is a nurse.”

Rubin asked for a few more details and got them – she lived in Indiana, with a specialty of cardiology. Then Rubin asked the highest ranking member of his profession a question he obviously knew by rote: “Would that in any way make it difficult or impossible for you to be fair and impartial?”

“Nope,” the chief justice said....

Minutes later, Rubin asked No. 49 to step to the bench, asking the lawyers in the case to join them for a quiet conversation out of the presence of the other prospective jurors. It seemed clear what Rubin was doing: He was about to ask the panelists if they had any experience as a lawyer or close connections to lawyers, and Rubin wanted to save Roberts from having to answer in the detailed affirmative in front of everyone else.

“Sir, good morning. How are you?” Rubin asked No 49.

“Very good, thank you,” No. 49 said.

“I’ve discussed this with counsel. Obviously we know what you do for a living, sir.”
I think the lawyers should have picked him. Who better to sit in judgment in an unbiased manner than someone whose job description is to do that very thing?

John Hinderaker laughs at the hypocrisy of the Clinton campaign that is planning to raise $1.5 or $2 billion to run for presidency, but now is talking about a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
Citizens United held that the federal government cannot make it a crime to put out a movie criticizing a candidate for public office shortly prior to an election. Don’t take my word for it, read the opinion yourself. Oh, and, by the way–who was the politician who was criticized by the movie at issue in the Citizens United case? Hillary Clinton.

The Udall Amendment would go far beyond repealing Citizens United, i.e., authorizing the federal government to fine people or send them to jail for producing movies and books that criticize politicians prior to elections. Bad as that certainly would be, the Udall Amendment goes much further.
Read the rest of his discussion. He concludes,
The Udall Amendment would repeal the core of the First Amendment, the constitutional right to support and oppose candidates for office, and Hillary Clinton is in favor of it.

Why? She knows that Republicans believe in free speech and would never try to criminalize opposition to their policies and candidates. The Democrats, on the other hand, can’t wait to shut the rest of us up. That is why they keep talking about “money in politics.” They don’t mean their money, they mean ours.

The hypocrisy abounds.
Mrs. Clinton said in her Sunday campaign video that the “deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” and she would know based on her taste for amenities and expenses along with her speaking fees. “She insists on staying in the ‘presidential suite’ of luxury hotels that she chooses anywhere in the world, including Las Vegas,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote last August. “She usually requires those who pay her six-figure fees for speeches to also provide a private jet for transportation—only a $39 million, 16-passenger Gulfstream G450 or larger will do.”

There’s one more way she and husband Bill have stacked the deck in their favor. The average worker—if she could even dream of pulling down $200,000 for an hour of work—would pay taxes on this income; Mrs. Clinton often doesn’t.

By routing speaking fees through their family’s foundation, the Clintons ensure that the money won’t be taxed before it is directed to support foundation travel, meals and promotional events, among other things. The highly compensated political influence peddlers at the top of the untaxed sector of the U.S. economy have found their champion.
Hey, wealthy hypocrites need representation also.

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James Taranto notes how the same media that hated the Citizens United outcome have found one aspect of corporate speech that they fully endorse.
Over the past couple of weeks we were keeping an eye (though only one) on the Indiana kerfuffle, and we were struck by an editorial from the New York Times in praise of corporate speech: “Big corporations like Walmart, Apple, and General Electric and their executives have done the right thing by calling on officials in Indiana and Arkansas to reject ‘religious freedom’ laws designed to give businesses and religious groups legal cover should they deny service to gay couples.”

The Times editors were pleased but not satisfied: “Just issuing corporate statements against such a law is relatively easy and actually doesn’t provide protection against discrimination.” The Times wants corporate America to engage in far broader political activism. For one thing, “corporations and their executives . . . should make clear that they will not donate to or support the campaigns of politicians who back such regressive legislation.” (Actually, campaign donations by corporations are legally prohibited at the federal level.)

The editorial adds: “Another thing businesses can do is to make clear that they want lawmakers in all states to pass anti-discrimination protections for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. More than three dozen chief executives of technology companies did just that in a statement released on [April 1].”
So here is one kind of corporate activism in elections that the NYT loves even thought it had a conniption after Citizens United was decided.
The charge of hypocrisy certainly fits. What the Times now urges is that corporations attempt to “intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding”—precisely what it found objectionable five years ago. On the other hand, it is possible to reconcile the paper’s objection to Citizens United with its support for corporate political activism—but that resolution reveals something worse than hypocrisy.

The Times’s position is that corporations (with the convenient exception of “media corporations” like the New York Times Co. itself) have no rights under the First Amendment. That view underlay its histrionic objections to both Citizens United and last year’s Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, in which the high court extended the religious-liberty protection of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to corporations that objected to the ObamaCare abortifacient mandate on conscientious grounds.

But now the Times is urging corporations, and executives acting in their corporate capacity, to speak out aggressively in favor of a political cause the Times supports. How could they even do so without free speech?

That seems like a rhetorical question but isn’t. Opponents of free speech, such as the Times editorial board, do not oppose speech. They oppose freedom. Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes may not brook dissent, but they encourage speech in favor of the regime. Totalitarian regimes frequently compel pro-regime speech.

To be sure, the New York Times is not a government; its editorials have the force of wishes, not laws. But the aspirations here are authoritarian in character. In the Times’s ideal world, corporate speech would be permitted, but only in the service of permissible viewpoints. That is the antithesis of free speech, a central feature of which is viewpoint-neutrality.

We can't even trust Hillary to tell us the truth of how her "Scooby van" got its name.