Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cruising the Web

Steven Groves of Heritage explains what John Kerry doesn't understand about what a treaty is and what the role of the Senate is.
At a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked why the administration did not submit the Iran nuclear agreement to the Senate for its advice and consent as an Article II treaty.

Kerry responded that the agreement wasn’t treated as a treaty “because you can’t pass a treaty anymore.”
So, since getting 2/3 of the Senate is difficult and needs consensus, the solution is just to ignore the Constitution. It's no wonder that Kerry would think that. After that is the reason his boss has given for ignoring Congress when it came to changing immigration law. And Kerry's assertion isn't even true. It would just be true of the terrible deal that he negotiated with Iran.
So a historically important nonproliferation agreement was created as a measly executive agreement not based on principle or standard practice– but solely for reasons of expedience.

This is not a good reason to avoid Senate scrutiny on important international agreements, particularly deeply flawed agreements such as the Iran nuclear deal.

Indeed, if the Iran nuclear deal was palatable, it may have sailed through the Senate since most senators, including the chairman and ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, prefer diplomatic solutions to war.

Moreover, during the administration of George W. Bush, the Senate managed to give its consent to ratification of more than 160 treaties.

Indeed, during his own tenure as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then-Senator Kerry ushered through a major arms control treaty with Russia—the so called “New START” nuclear arms reduction treaty.

Therefore the Senate is clearly capable of passing treaties, just not unpopular ones like the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, or apparently the Iran nuclear deal.
Yeah, it's those treaties with terrorist nations that are hard to get 2/3 support for.

John Kerry has another hole in his knowledge of or respect for the Constitution. Apparently, the administration he serves is above the law.
While testifying before the House of Representatives on the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry would not commit to following the law should Congress override a threatened presidential veto.

Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) asked what the administration would do if Congress overrides a veto and rejects the deal. “You strongly do not want us to override a presidential veto, but if we do that triggers certain American laws,” Sherman asked, “I’d like to give you an opportunity — you don’t want us to do it, you think it’s terrible policy, you think the rest of the world would be against us — but lets say Congress doesn’t take your advice, we override a veto. And the law that’s triggered then imposes certain sanctions. Will you follow the law even though you think it violates this agreement clearly and even if you think it’s absolutely terrible policy?”

Secretary Kerry said he could not answer that question. “I can’t begin to answer that at this point without consulting with the president and determining what the circumstances are,” he responded.

Sherman interrupted, asking, “So, you’re not committed to following the law if you think it’s a bad law?”

“No,” Kerry said, “I said I’m not going to deal with a hypothetical, that’s all.”
It might be a hypothetical, but there should be only one answer to a question about what the administration should do if the Congress passes a law regarding Iran over a presidential veto. But such mundane concerns are beneath this Secretary of State and this President.

Politico tries to figure out who Donald Trump really is and what he really believes. It's a tough job.
hich side is Donald Trump on?

Trump once endorsed a massive surtax on the rich. But he now wants the top income tax rate cut in half.
Story Continued Below

He opposed the war in Iraq, but says he now has a “foolproof” plan to defeat ISIL.

He’s praised single-payer health care, yet loathes Obamacare. But a decade ago he proposed “health marts” that sound suspiciously like today’s Obamacare exchanges.

Over the past two decades he was a Republican, then an independent, then a Democrat, then a Republican. Now, registered as an independent, he leads the Republican 2016 presidential field.

But what does Donald Trump really believe on policy? It’s hard to tell — his campaign will identify no policy director, he has no “issues” tab on his campaign website and he hasn’t given any substantive policy speeches on the campaign trail.

“His hair has been more permanent than his political positions,” said Thomas P. Miller, a health care policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “It’s a total random assortment of whatever plays publicly.”
Voters are drawn to Trump more for his I’ll-say-anything style than for his policy views. But a close inspection of Trump’s two published policy tomes, “The America We Deserve” (2000) and “Time To Get Tough” (2011), along with Trump’s public statements in interviews, on Twitter and in public appearances, indicate that Trump’s policy preferences are eclectic, improvisational and often contradictory.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump signs an autograph before addressing the Republican Party of Arkansas Reagan Rockefeller dinner in Hot Springs, Ark., Friday, July 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Some of his policy stances are flatout disqualifying to the Republican establishment, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The inconsistencies may even be an asset in assembling a coalition.

To a large extent Trump’s policy contradictions reflect his rapidly shifting political alliances over the past 15 years.

In 1999, Trump quit the Republican Party, saying “I just believe the Republicans are just too crazy right.” Trump was then conferring with political consultant Roger Stone about a possible presidential run as a candidate of the Reform Party, the political organization founded by his fellow billionaire Ross Perot.

In 2001, Trump quit the Reform Party to register as a Democrat. “It just seems that the economy does better under Democrats,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in 2004. The Clintons attended Trump’s Palm Beach wedding to former model Melania Knaus in 2005. The following year Trump gave $26,000 to the House and Senate campaign committees.
By the late aughts, though, Trump’s political giving had started shifting back to the GOP, and in 2009 Trump registered again as a Republican. Two years later he registered as an independent while contemplating a third-party bid.

It was during Trump’s leftward drift in 1999 that he first proposed a wealth tax — a one-time 14.25 percent levy on fortunes more than $10 million that inequality guru Thomas Piketty might salivate over. “The concept of a one-time tax on the super-wealthy is something he feels strongly about,” Stone told the Los Angeles Times.
The list goes on and on. It's a handy list for some Republican to stand up on stage at the debate next week and challenge Trump on or for reporters to ask him.

And some GOP voters were upset by the handful of flip flops that Mitt Romney had made.

Even if you're an angry Republican voter who is disgusted with the leaders of the party, why would Donald Trump be the answer to those complaints? Kevin Williamson writes on that theme.
The Trumpkins insist that this isn’t about Trump but about the perfidious Republican establishment, which is insufficiently committed to the conservative project. Fair enough. But what of Trump’s commitment? Being at the precipice of his eighth decade walking this good green earth, Trump has had a good long while to establish himself as a leader on — something. He isn’t a full-spectrum conservative, but he seems to have conservative-ish instincts on a few issues. What has he done with them? There are many modes of leadership available to the adventurous billionaire: Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who is the less famous and more competent version of Trump, is directly involved in campaigns, while Charles and David Koch have engaged in electoral politics and done the long-term (and probably more consequential) work of nurturing a stable of institutions dedicated to advancing the cause of liberty, and Bill Gates has put his billions behind his priorities. Trump has made some political donations — to Herself, to Harry Reid, to Nancy Pelosi, to Schumer — and his defense is that these were purely self-serving acts of influence-purchasing rather than expressions of genuine principle. There is no corpus of Trump work on any issue of any significance; on his keystone issue, illegal immigration, he has not even managed to deliver a substantive speech, a deficiency no doubt rooted in his revealed inability to voice a complete sentence.

Donald Trump, who inherited a real-estate empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars from his father, has had every opportunity to involve himself in the consequential questions of his time. He has been a very public figure for decades, with a great deal of time, money, celebrity, business connections, and other resources to put in the service of something that matters. Seventy years in, and his curriculum vitae is remarkably light on public issues for a man who would be president. One would think that a life spent in public might inspire at least a smidgen of concern about the wide world. He might have had any sort of life he chose, and Trump chose a clown’s life. There is no shortage of opportunities for engagement, but there is only one thing that matters to Trump, and his presidential campaign, like everything else he has done in his seven decades, serves only that end.

But don't worry about Trump - Mark Cuban likes him. I guess that billionaires stick together.

Debra Saunders reflects on how Hillary Clinton's server scandal links to everything people haven't liked about Hillary.
In 1996, The New York Times' William Safire branded Clinton a "congenital liar" in a column that cited the first lady's amazing acumen in the commodities market, her role in firing staff in the White House travel office and the mysterious disappearance and appearance of documents from her former law firm. The Clintons have a way of playing the clock until the public loses interest in an overcomplicated story.

The Clinton email/private server story is too technical, as well, but it directs attention to other Clinton vices:

1) Blind ambition. Clinton was her party's front-runner in 2008, but then Democrats bolted to a first-term senator from Illinois. Yes, they liked Barack Obama, but also, they did not trust Clinton, who had voted for the Iraq War before she turned against it.

2) Greed. Bill and Hillary Clinton raked in $25 million in speaking fees over 16 months. Clinton maintains she wants to fight for income inequality, even as she charged UCLA $300,000 for one speech last year -- and that fee, paid by a private fund, was her special "university rate."

3) Mendacity. Given Clinton's history in the White House, it is impossible to believe she thought she should use a private server for sensitive national security correspondence, which is part of the public record. If she wanted to keep her personal emails private, Clinton knows she should have kept a separate private account. It shows how little respect Clinton has for the public that she would contend that she simply did not want to carry two phones.

In July, Clinton told CNN's Brianna Keilar: "Everything I did was permitted. There was no law. There was no regulation. There was nothing that did not give me the full authority to decide how I was going to communicate." Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler gave that statement three Pinocchios for "significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions."

Clinton treated a top Cabinet post as a personal fiefdom. How do you think she would treat the White House?

Don't trust the recent news that the Social security Trust Fund had moved back one year the date when the Trust Fund is going to run out of money. The assumptions in that forecast are much more generous than the ones that the CBO and Federal Reserve and OMB have made.

Ah, the familiar dodge of Democratic politicians when they're caught out wasting energy like flying on private planes - they say they'll be "carbon neutral" by doing some sort of offsets. That's Hillary's campaign's answer to questions about her hypocrisy. Once again, as Boccaccio wrote, it's a matter of "Do as we say, not as we do." Back in the 16th century, those were called indulgences and they're as phony now as they were then.
An investigation by The Christian Science Monitor and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting has found that individuals and businesses who are feeding a $700 million global market in offsets are often buying vague promises instead of the reductions in greenhouse gases they expect.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?
They are buying into projects that are never completed, or paying for ones that would have been done anyhow, the investigation found. Their purchases are feeding middlemen and promoters seeking profits from green schemes that range from selling protection for existing trees to the promise of planting new ones that never thrive. In some cases, the offsets have consequences that their purchasers never foresaw, such as erecting windmills that force poor people off their farms.

Carbon offsets are the environmental equivalent of financial derivatives: complex, unregulated, unchecked and – in many cases – not worth their price.

And often, those who get the “green credits” thinking their own carbon emissions have been offset, are fooled. The Vatican was among them.
It's nice of the campaign to promise that they'll be offsetting their waste of energy; they know that no one will ever look into what they actually did and if that was effective.

Meanwhile, we have other things to fear.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that if the U.S. doesn’t respond to the recent cyberattacks on the federal government, it will cause digital adversaries to “get bolder and bolder.”

Pressure has been building on the Obama administration to retaliate or at least publicly accuse someone for the hacks at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The data breach exposed more than 22 million people’s sensitive information. Clapper called the stolen data “a gold mine for a foreign intelligence service, whoever it was,” during an interview Tuesday on “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”
Officials have said privately they believe China is behind the attack. But they have also indicated the White House will withhold from publicly blaming the Asian superpower over concerns about exposing classified intelligence.

Christian Schneider of the Milwaukee Journal sentinel exactly nails it that it is just lazy of politicians to jump to Hitler comparisons to describe their political opponents. He has in mind Wisconsin liberals who have reached for the Hitler comparison for Scott Walker. But if you're going to compare a politician with whom you have policy disagreements to a genocidal maniac, there are other choices out there.
For instance, you may want to opt for Mao Zedong, who made Hitler look like a piker. Hitler is blamed for the deaths of around 17 million civilians; Chairman Mao, on the other hand, is credited with the deaths of between 50 and 80 million people during his rule in China.

If Mao is too obvious, I'd suggest going with Josef Stalin, who's credited with the deaths of 23 million people. And if you really want to impress your friends, invoke the frequently forgotten Leopold II of Belgium, who was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 10 million Congolese citizens.

So if you're keeping score at home, you have Mao Zedong at 80 million casualties, Stalin at 23 million, Hitler at 17 million, Leopold at 10 million and, just a hair behind them, Gov. Scott Walker

Look, we are all rooting for you. So if you're going to embarrass yourself, be bold and unapologetic. Moderation is for people who just don't care as much as you do. With just a little research, you can finally reach your goal of being the smartest ignoramus we all know you can be.

It can be a very slippery slope to let the Supreme Court define what liberty is. Liberals might be concerned about that.
[Justice] Alito pointed out that under this view, “liberty” is in the eye of the beholder: A libertarian Supreme Court justice might be willing to throw out minimum wage laws under the “liberty of contract” or zoning laws as violating property rights; a socialist justice might decide that “liberty” includes free college tuition and a guaranteed annual income.

The Washington Post has a very nice article about Atlas Corps, the non-profit organization at which my younger daughter has worked for the past three years. We're very proud of her. And it's a great organization.

This is funny - "The 20 Biggest Plot Holes in World HIstory If It Was a Movie."
11. A real jump the shark moment was when they let Napoleon come back just for them to beat him again. Really lazy writing there.

13. A plague wipes out vast quantities of Europeans, and then shows up randomly later? Obvious sequel bait.
Hey, here is a movie idea - have Napoleon unleash a secret weapon at Waterloo - a Tyrannosaurus Rex and other giant dinosaurs. Because everyone knows that giant lizards would be on the side of the French.