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Monday, April 27, 2015

Cruising the Web

Jonah Goldberg sure can coin a phrase.
The Clintons are like the Tudors of the Ozarks. They believe they are royalty, but they also understand that even monarchs need friends. The Clinton Foundation is the perfect vehicle for their ambition. Like the medieval Catholic Church, it blurs the lines between ideals and interests. On the one hand, it does yeoman’s work in the Church of Liberal Dogoodery, but it also provides a conduit for business interests, foreign governments, academics, activists, and journalists to gain access to the imperial court-in-waiting.

Even if Hillary hadn’t conveniently wiped her servers clean, I suspect there wouldn’t be a lot of e-mails about quid-pro-quos. Such transactions aren’t made in the language of the bazaar, but in the lingua franca of loyalty, friendship, and noblesse oblige. Yes, Clinton Inc. needs money, but the money is likely seen more as tribute than bribery, a bit of coin offered up as a sign of loyalty to the coming Ozarkian Restoration — a restoration that may just have to wait for Chelsea.
My husband finds another aspect of the Clinton Foundation scandal - it's the convergence of Bootleggers and Baptists.
George Will explains why opposition to e-cigarettes is yet another example of this powerful theory.

My modest contribution to the theory is to note that, sometimes, the Baptists and the bootleggers can be the same people. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Clinton Foundation!
For example, donors could give money to the Clinton Foundation to supposedly help Haiti and then get a multi-million dollar contract that doesn't do anything to help Haitians, but sure enriches the donor.
Fox News Senior National Correspondent John Roberts then reported on Digicel, which, according to Schweizer, was the “chief beneficiary” of an initiative to have a service that allowed money to be transferred via cell phone in Haiti pushed by the Clintons. Schweizer said, “shortly after the Clintons began reconstruction in Haiti, and began handing out contracts, sometime during that period of 2010 or 2011 he [Digicel’s owner Denis O’Brien] made a multi-million dollar contribution to the Clinton Foundation.” And that O’Brien also arranged for three “lucrative” speeches by Bill Clinton.

Schweizer then reported, “two of the speeches that Bill Clinton gives, actually, are sandwiched around Digicel being given a grant, by the taxpayers for $100,000 as part of the HMMI Award. At the same time, you have taxpayer money, $2 million being committed to the Digicel Foundation in Jamaica.”

He continued, discussing the mining contract in Haiti given to VCS Mining. “Tony Rodham [Hillary’s brother] meets the executives from VCS Mining in September of 2012 at a Clinton Global Initiative seminar. Three months later, the Haitian government grants the gold exploitation permit to VCS Mining. And literally within the year, Tony Rodham is placed on the board of VCS Mining,” despite Rodham’s lack of a background in either Haiti or mining.

The report concluded with Caracol Industrial Park, that received “more than $100 million” in US taxpayer money. According to Schweizer, “the three biggest beneficiaries [from the cheap labor the park provides] are actually three retailing companies closely tied to the Clintons. Gap, Target, and Wal-Mart.

Roberts also reported that building the park required kicking people in the area of their land and bulldozing their crops. One of the people interviewed by Roberts said the farmers were ordered to leave at gunpoint. He also spoke to a worker at the textile factory that is the park’s biggest tenant, who said he is paid about $5 a day.

The report concluded that there are only about 5,000 jobs at Caracol, not the 65,000 promised by the US State Department.

The Democrats seem poised to put their hopes in proven losers in the Senate races for 2016.
Pop quiz: What do Russ Feingold, Kay Hagan, Michelle Nunn, Mark Begich, Ted Strickland and Joe Sestak have in common?

If you answered that all were highly touted Democratic senatorial or gubernatorial candidates who lost in 2010 or 2014, you would be correct. Feingold, Hagan and Begich lost their Senate seats to Republicans; Nunn and Sestak lost open-seat Senate contests in Georgia and Pennsylvania in 2014 and 2010, respectively; Strickland was unseated as Ohio governor by John Kasich in 2010.

But you would also be correct right if you answered that are all either plausible or presumptive Democratic nominees for 2016 Senate races. Both parties are deep in the candidate recruitment process, and according to AP’s Erica Werner, these six politicians – whom she refers to as “proven losers” – top the Democratic recruiting list in potentially critical Senate contests.

Allysia Finley reports on one aspect of the California drought that hasn't gotten as much attention from the MSM or Obama's rant at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
In California, it takes about 1.1 gallons of water to grow an almond; 1.28 gallons to flush a toilet; and 34 gallons to produce an ounce of marijuana. But how many gallons are needed to save a three-inch delta smelt, the cause célèbre of environmentalists and bête noire of parched farmers?

To protect smelt from water pumps, government regulators have flushed 1.4 trillion gallons of water into the San Francisco Bay since 2008. That would have been enough to sustain 6.4 million Californians for six years. Yet a survey of young adult smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta last fall yielded just eight fish, the lowest level since 1967. An annual spring survey by state biologists turned up six smelt in March and one this month. In 2014 the fall-spring counts were 88 and 36. While the surveys are a sampling and not intended to suggest the full population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warns that “the delta smelt is now in danger of extinction.”

The agency acknowledges that its “existing regulatory mechanisms have not proven adequate” to arrest the fish’s decline since its listing under the Endangered Species Act in 1993 and that “we are unable to determine with certainty which threats or combinations of threats are directly responsible.”

Herein is a parable of imperious regulators who subordinate science to a green political agenda. While imposing huge societal costs, government policies have failed to achieve their stated environmental purpose....

Even if the delta smelt were eliminated from the delta forever, the federal government would continue to restrict pumping to protect other fish: the longfin smelt, steelhead and Chinook winter-run salmon. And green groups would continue petitioning the government to expand its list of endangered species. Parched Californians may soon wonder when it’s their turn for such concern.

Betsy McCaughey revisits Hillary Clinton's Senate confirmation hearings and notes that Senators Richard Lugar and David Vitter questioned her closely about the Clinton Foundation's acceptance of foreign donations. And Hillary was adamant that she wasn't going to change the foundation's policies and her agreement with President Obama was enough.
Lugar asked if the agreement could be amended to disclose the timing of gifts, the amounts and future pledges, not just donors’ names. Hillary flatly refused: “The agreement already goes far beyond what any spouse of a Cabinet official has ever done.”
Shockingly, she made it clear that if any concerns were raised by the Obama White House or the State Department about foundation fundraising, the foundation would be the arbiter of what’s “appropriate,” not the US government.

“In many, if not most cases, it is likely that the foundation or President [Bill] Clinton will not pursue an opportunity that presents a conflict.”

Translation: It will depend on the amount of money being dangled in front of the ex-president. If the amount is large enough, national interest be damned.

Vitter took a turn at questioning Hillary, raising concerns about foreign individuals and companies — not just countries — donating to the foundation. He cited one foundation donor who was tangled in a web of connections with Iranian terrorism. One partner of the donor had been named by the Treasury two days earlier as “a terrorist entity” and another partner, Bank Melli, “had long been thought to be a procurement front for the Iranian nuclear program.”

Clinton regurgitated the stock answer: “Well again, this is an agreement that has been worked out between all of the parties, and the fact is that the concerns that were raised in the discussions between the foundation and the president-elect’s team were thoroughly discussed.”
So I guess we can say that she warned us.

Michael Barone notes that bipartisanship is breaking out all over.
Exhibit A is the Corker-Cardin legislation, passed unanimously in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, providing for limited congressional review of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear weapons program. Exhibit B is the legislation combating human trafficking, passed unanimously by the Senate last Wednesday. Exhibit C is the elimination of the annual "doc fix," engineered by Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi....

Bipartisanship is busting out on other issues too. Agreement was reached on extension of the children's health insurance program, first passed as part of a bipartisan agreement between Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., reached agreement in the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee on reauthorization of the education bill passed in 2001 as No Child Left Behind. Murray showed similar skill in reaching a bipartisan budget agreement with Paul Ryan, then House Budget Chairman, in 2013.

Similarly, legislation on energy efficiency standards is moving forward after agreement by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. That's not earthshaking issue, but it's one of those issues on which Congress needs to keep laws up to date in light of experience and technological developments.
Add in bipartisan support for giving the president trade promotion authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Amazing how this can happen when Harry Reid lost his power to control the agenda in the Senate. Now the bipartisan ball is in President Obama's court. Yet he doesn't seem all that interested in it.
Which brings to mind the one person who is largely missing from the bursting out of bipartisanship: President Obama. All these recent bipartisan agreements have been reached with little or no involvement by him. They were forged by knowledgeable members of Congress skillful at bridging differences with colleagues across the aisle.

As Senate majority leader, Harry Reid blocked bipartisan measures, and Obama has shown neither the inclination nor the capacity to advance them. But with McConnell opening up the Senate floor for votes and amendments, agreements are now possible.
And I would bet that a lot of Senate Democrats are content to have McConnell run things if it means that they can contribute more to legislation and have more input into the sorts of bipartisan legislation that Reid blocked from coming to a vote.

Amy Davidson of the New Yorker puts forth five questions arising from the story about the Clintons and uranium company. Setting aside whether we'll ever find any evidence of an explicit quid pro quo, what about the actual policy choice of allowing so much of American uranium to go to Russia?
4. Putting aside who got rich, did this series of uranium deals damage or compromise national security? That this is even a question is one reason the story is, so to speak, radioactive. According to the Times, “the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States.” Pravda has said that it makes Russia stronger. What that means, practically, is something that will probably be debated as the election proceeds.
Is that what she meant by the Russian reset?

Hillary Clinton's supporters are trying to push the argument now that she's not being phony when she rants about income inequality because she's always been a left-wing populist. Peter Beinart agrees that that was the end of the ideological spectrum that she inhabited when she first came on the national scene. However, her attempts to move to the center since then are coming back to haunt her.
ut there’s an irony here. If Hillary’s advisors are angry that the press doesn’t describe her as “left-wing” anymore, they themselves are partly to blame. That’s because they, and she, have spent much of the last two decades trying to overcome exactly that reputation. In 1993, when journalists suggested that her college thesis on Saul Alinsky proved she was a big government liberal, Hillary insisted that it proved the opposite. “Even at that early stage I was against all these people who come up with these big government programs that were more supportive of bureaucracies than actually helpful to people,” she told The Washington Post. “You know, I’ve been on this kick for 25 years.” In a 1993 interview with The New York Times, she praised an article by Daniel Patrick Moynihan called “Defining Deviancy Down,” in which the scholar-senator argued that liberals had become too tolerant of anti-social behavior among the poor. Hillary made Mark Penn, among the most centrist of her husband’s political consultants, the architect of her 2000 Senate run and 2008 presidential campaign. And in 2005, she affiliated herself with the Democratic Leadership Council, the New Democratic group with whose views many pundits assumed she disagreed.

So is Hillary a left-winger who, having masked that reality during her days as First Lady and in the Senate, is now coming clean? It’s more complex than that. Terms like “left” and “right” lump together a variety of subjects. To the extent Hillary has an ideological core, it’s economically progressive, culturally moderate and hawkish on foreign policy. She’s just stressed different aspects of this political identity at different times.

In the 1990s, for instance, while working behind the scenes, often unsuccessfully, to push Clinton administration economic policy to the left, Hillary tried to publicly overcome her lefty reputation by insisting that she wasn’t a cultural radical. In 1994, she said she was “not comfortable” with the distribution of condoms in schools and in her 1996 book, It Takes a Village, she promoted abstinence and criticized easy divorce.

That wasn’t dishonest. As one Clinton administration aide put it, “She’s a very judgmental Methodist from the Midwest.” But today, with America’s cultural debate having moved left, Hillary is downplaying her judgmental, moral side and emphasizing her progressive economic views instead.

Similarly, after 9/11, Hillary trumpeted her hawkish foreign views. She not only voted to invade Iraq in 2002; the following year, she called for expanding the US military. That wasn’t dishonest either. During the 1990s, Hillary had been strongly influenced by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who championed military intervention in the Balkans. And in October 2000, almost a year before 9/11, she had given a speech at the Council Foreign Relations denouncing the refrain, then-associated with Albright’s nemesis, Colin Powell and now-associated with Barack Obama:
That we should intervene only when we face splendid little wars that we surely can win, preferably by overwhelming force in a relatively short period of time. To those who believe we should become involved only if it is easy to do, I think we have to say that America has never and should never shy away from the hard task if it is the right one.
But now, with Democratic voters less sympathetic to hawkish views, Hillary doesn’t talk that way either.
As always with the Clintons, their ideology seems to shift as light shines on them from different angles.

So NBC News has found out that Brian Williams exaggerated his personal involvement in reporting on crises 11 times. So what is the tipping point at which someone is no longer a reliable news reader?

Joe Biden gave a speech about the evils of campus sexual assault. Ashe Schow has a good question for him and other liberals. If sexual assault is so terrible and should rightly be criminalized, why aren't college campuses treating it like a crime?
Sexual assault – at least on college campuses – is now being treated as a disciplinary matter, just like plagiarism (something Biden has experience with).

Biden also said that campus rapists shouldn't just be facing expulsion, but "should go to jail." Absolutely. The problem is that if expulsion and jail are possibilities, as they are with crimes, then both accusers and accused should have due process rights. But that might cut down on the number of students suspended or expelled, as evidence and the presumption of innocence are less valued in disciplinary hearings than accusations are.

Stephen A. Smith beclowns himself once more by calling Tom Brady a racist for not going to meet Obama last week along with most of the rest of the New England Patriots.
For the record, Tom was attending a party for his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Pretty sure they weren’t going to change the date just to fit Barry’s schedule, Stephen.

ALSO, why aren’t Brandon Browner or Vince Wilfork — both black males were important members of last year’s Super Bowl championship squad — racist for not going to the Thursday’s events?

John Hinderaker presents a little science and logic to respond to President Obama's shtick at the Washington Correspondent's Dinner. And Byron York ponders what the whole Luther the Anger Translator really revealed.
Of course, it was all comedy — don't the critics understand it's just a joke? — but Obama gave his imprimatur to the Luther interpretation of the Obama presidency. Criticism directed at Obama about seemingly non-racial issues, from Ebola to the BP oil spill to climate change, is more severe for Obama than it would be for a white president because it is rooted in racial animus. That animus showed its face in more obvious ways in the birther and Obama-is-a-Muslim memes, but it's always there. Now, in his second term, Obama is finally free to air his resentments.

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