Monday, August 17, 2015

Cruising the Web

Salena Zito reports one analyst's perfect metaphor for Hillary Clinton.
“The problem,” he said, “is Hillary.

“She is the New York Jets of American politics. All the damage comes from inside her own locker room. The blows are from her own non-campaign, her own (Internet) server, her own emails, her own foundation, and her own remarks,” such as how she and Bill left the White House “dead broke.”

The toughest opponent Hillary Clinton faces is Hillary Clinton. And she's losing to her.
Isn't that the truth? She's never been talented politically dating back to her desire to keep her maiden name in Arkansas and bragging that she didn't stay home and bake cookies. The only time she has been popular was when she could portray herself as the poor injured woman. That got her elected senator and she then rode that sympathy and her gender into a presidential campaign in 2008 that revealed how flimsy her political skills are. This summer has just been a reminder of that. And we still haven't seen any argument based on her tenure as Secretary of State for why she should be president.

Zito goes on argue that the Democratic Party has problems that have been hidden by all the attention on the GOP race.
The second problem for Democrats is the disappearing coalition that swept Barack Obama into office in 2008 and 2012. The party's identity politics and coastal wings have not found a candidate who speaks to them personally.

The writing on the wall — that the Obama coalition would not hold — was always there, yet most experts never looked at the wall. If they had, they would have perceived post-Obama problems in the midterm election waves of 2010 and 2014.

Both elections totally rejected Obama's policies with historic defeats for Democrats in races for governor, U.S. Senate and House, and state legislatures across the country.
Apparently, Obama's celebrity only works for Obama.

The pregame for 2016 shows that all the elements of Obama's stitched-together coalition are competing for their own wants and needs; in many cases, individual factions feel entitled to be the Democrats' ascendant wing.

American politics doesn't work that way, however. Just ask Republicans: In 2008 and 2012, when their competing factions didn't get what they felt entitled to, they didn't show up to vote.
As the Obama force-of-personality fades, the Democrats' problems — who they are, what they stand for, how they pull all of that together and move forward — is a question that no one knows how to answer for certain.

And that is why you see soft support for Hillary, an insurgency for Bernie, and homemade signs urging Joe to run in rural America.

Clinton's problems are growing as the number of Clinton emails that contained classified information has grown now to 60.
Among the first 60 flagged emails, nearly all contained classified secrets at the lowest level of “confidential” and one contained information at the intermediate level of “secret,” officials told the Times.

Those 60 emails do not include two emails identified in recent days by Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III as containing “top-secret” information possibly derived from Pentagon satellites, drones or intercepts, which is some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets.

State officials and the intelligence community are working to resolve questions about those and other emails with possible classified information, a process that isn’t likely to be completed until January.

That will be right around the time Mrs. Clinton is slated to face voters in the Iowa caucuses in her bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

However, Ross Douthat argues that "Hillary Clinton's got this." Despite all the bad news for Hillary, she'll still win the nomination.
Many things are possible. But to this soothsayer, it feels like a good time to double down on that thesis instead, and make my prediction as firm and wiggle-free as possible: Hillary’s going to win the nomination, and it isn’t going to be particularly close.

First and foremost, she’s going to win the nomination because she only needs Democratic votes to win it, and Democrats still like Hillary — a lot. She looks today like a somewhat weaker general-election candidate than she did six months ago, and the Sanders surge has been fun to watch. But mostly he’s just been consolidating the party’s natural anti-Clinton bloc — white, well-educated, and quite left-wing — rather than making deep inroads into her national support.

That anti-Hillary bloc is overrepresented in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where Sanders’ poll numbers are particularly robust, but it isn’t the basis for a winning coalition; not even close. For that, you would need a candidate capable of performing the same feat as Obama in 2008, and winning not only white liberals but a large share of minority support (an overwhelming share of the black vote, in his case) as well.

And none of Hillary’s possible rivals, real and hypothetical, are well-suited to building that kind of coalition....

Any other path to the nomination, meanwhile, requires persuading white Democratic women to turn on Hillary en masse — an even more unlikely scenario, it’s fair to say, than imagining Biden as a Rainbow Coalition candidate.

What’s more, even if the path were there, late-entering white knights have a simply terrible track record in modern presidential politics: See Fred Thompson, Rick Perry, and Wesley Clark for recent cautionary tales. And all of those men were leaping into a campaign with a much weaker front-runner, joining a more divided field. It may be possible to get into a primary race late and win; I thought someone might have done it against Mitt Romney in 2012, given how much the G.O.P. base pined for an alternative. But against a candidate as well-funded, widely-endorsed and, again, popular within her own party as Hillary? I think not.

Which is why any “Hillary Loses” scenario has to involve some extra-political event, some scandal beyond anything the Clintons have endured before. And here I’m afraid that I am a bit cynical: While the email scandal is a serious business, I simply do not believe that the Obama Justice Department is going to indict the former secretary of state and Democratic front-runner for mishandling classified information, even if the offenses involved would have sunk a lesser figure’s career or landed her in jail.

And to continue to wax cynical, I think it would take an indictment of Herself, not merely an investigation that ultimately finds a fall guy in Clinton’s IT team or even among her intimates, to turn Democratic primary voters against Hillary or force her from the race.

Because absent an indictment— or, I suppose, an email showing her deliberately accepting payola from Vladimir Putin — the email affair, no less than the shady Clinton Foundation dealings, looks like the kind of scandal that Clinton supporters have long conditioned themselves to justify: An inappropriate and self-interested episode, clumsily covered over, but at once murky and slow-dripping enough for Democratic partisans to shrug, say, “LOLBenghazi” and move on.
Doesn't that say something really terrible about the state of our politics that it is quite possible that the Obama Justice Department would protect her simply because of politics from the same prosecutions that they happily indulged in with other individuals? And Hillary can dismiss those sorts of allegations with jokes about Snapchat.

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James Taranto puts forth an interesting thesis - that Hillary's problems stem from her decision to leave the Senate to become Secretary of State.
Well, that was a mistake.

Maybe even the mistake of a lifetime. You’ve probably heard that Mrs. Clinton is seeking the presidency again. As in 2008, she is the inevitable Democratic nominee but her prospects are looking shaky. This time virtually all of her problems, except those having to do with her character and political talent (or lack thereof), can be traced to her decision to leave the Senate and join the Obama administration.

Start with the one that is most obvious, and most severe: the metastasizing scandal over her improper use of a private email server.
She wouldn't have had those problems since the laws for open records don't apply to Congress so she wouldn't have had to maintain her own server to keep her communication private. Taranto links to a Hans von Spakovsky story on how Senator Leahy leaked national security information while serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Mr. Leahy . . . leaked like a sieve during his previous tenure on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The San Diego Tribune, for example, reported that in a 1985 television interview, Mr. Leahy, then vice chairman of the committee, disclosed a top-secret communications intercept of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s telephone conversations. The intercept had facilitated the capture of the Arab terrorists who had hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro and murdered American citizens. Mr. Leahy’s callous disregard for maintaining the secrecy of American intelligence activities ended up costing the life of an Egyptian operative involved in the operation.
In July 1987, The Washington Times reported that Mr. Leahy had disclosed secret information about a 1986 covert operation planned by the Reagan administration to topple Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Federal intelligence officials told the paper that Mr. Leahy had communicated a written threat to expose the operation directly to CIA Director William Casey. Then, just weeks later—surprise, surprise—news of the secret plan turned up in The Washington Post, causing it to be aborted.
Gosh, that's horrifying. And he got to hang around in the Senate although he had to resign from the Senate Intelligence Committee. Taranto's point is that Hillary wouldn't have had problems if she'd leaked classified information as a senator rather than a Secretary of State. And of course, she wouldn't have had to answer for the debacle that became Libya and Benghazi if she'd still been in the Senate. She wouldn't be so tied to unpopular Obama policies and would be freer to criticize the Iran deal, for example.
And it is not the only administration policy for which the former secretary of state may be called to account. As the New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins concedes, in a column mainly critical of Jeb Bush’s comments on Iraq: “She played a supporting role in a disastrously managed withdrawal, which helped lay the groundwork for the catastrophe that followed.” A Sen. Clinton would have the flexibility to dissent from the administration on matters like the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Iran deal if she thought it either wise or expedient to do so.

On domestic policy, too, keeping her perch in the Senate would have allowed her to operate with greater independence. She probably would have been constrained to vote for ObamaCare in 2009; every other Democrat was, and she was a longtime advocate of “health-care reform” who (unlike Obama) campaigned in favor of compelling the purchase of medical insurance. But she could have supported it with reservations and emerged as a critic of some of the program’s worst aspects rather than just another mindless supporter.

Mrs. Clinton’s decision to leave the Senate also made her money scandals much worse. Assuming she had sought re-election in 2012 (and there is no doubt she’d have won easily), she would have been barred by congressional rules from collecting all those embarrassing fat honorariums between 2013 and 2015, and she would be tied to the Clinton Foundation’s shenanigans only by association.

Of course that wouldn’t be great for the family and the foundation’s bottom line, not only because of her forgone fees but because her husband’s take might not be quite so inflated if he had remained the spouse of a senator rather than the secretary of state. Then again, his fees now, and hers a decade hence, might be considerably higher if her presidential prospects were brighter. So maybe it was a case of—to coin a phrase—short-term thinking.

What do you imagine Bill Clinton and President Obama talked about out there on the golf course this weekend? I wonder if the FBI investigation of Hillary or Biden's possible race for the presidency came up in conversation?

Platte River Networks, the Denver-based cybersecurity firm Hillary Clinton hired in 2013 to maintain her old email server, says it is “highly likely” a full backup of the device was made and that the thousands of emails Clinton deleted may still exist, ABC News is reporting.
And it turns out that the Platt River company wasn't cleared to have access to classified material. Neither did her attorney David Kendall who was in charge of going through all her emails. And who knows what people in Kendall's office also saw her emails?
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Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey writes in the WSJ that Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server is subject to several laws, but most worrying for the thought that this woman aspires to the presidency is what a lack of common sense her decision indicates.
The common-sense issues in this matter are more problematic than the criminal ones. Anyone who enters the Situation Room at the White House, where Mrs. Clinton was photographed during the Osama bin Laden raid, is required to place any personal electronic device in a receptacle outside the room, lest it be activated involuntarily and confidential communications disclosed.

Mrs. Clinton herself, in a now famous email, cautioned State Department employees not to conduct official business on personal email accounts. The current secretary of state, John Kerry, testified that he assumes that his emails have been the object of surveillance by hostile foreign powers. It is inconceivable that the nation’s senior foreign-relations official was unaware of the risk that communications about this country’s relationships with foreign governments would be of particular interest to those governments, and to others.

It is no answer to say, as Mrs. Clinton did at one time, that emails were not marked classified when sent or received. Of course they were not; there is no little creature sitting on the shoulders of public officials classifying words as they are uttered and sent. But the laws are concerned with the sensitivity of information, not the sensitivity of the markings on whatever may contain the information.

The culture in Washington, particularly among senior-executive officials, is pervasively risk-averse, and has been for some time. When I took office as U.S. attorney general in 2007, members of my staff saw to it that I stopped carrying a BlackBerry, lest I inadvertently send confidential information over an insecure network or lest it be activated, without my knowledge, and my communications monitored.

When I attended my first briefing in a secure facility, and brought a pad to take notes, my chief of staff leaned over and wrote in bold capital letters at the top of the first page, “TS/SCI,” meaning Top Secret, Secure Compartmentalized Information—which is to say, information that may be looked at only in what is known as a SCIF, a Secure, Compartmentalized Information Facility. My office was considered a SCIF; my apartment was not.

The point he was making by doing that—and this is just the point that seems to have eluded the former secretary of state—is one of common sense: Once you assume a public office, your communications about anything having to do with your job are not your personal business or property. They are the public’s business and the public’s property, and are to be treated as no different from communications of like sensitivity.

That something so obvious could have eluded Mrs. Clinton raises questions about her suitability both for the office she held and for the office she seeks.

Jonah Goldberg has fun taking on Hillary's inferior skills of duplicity.
The tragedy for Hillary Clinton is that she is all too human. As Bill’s mortal sidekick, she’s had a good ride. But whereas Bill has an almost Jedi-like ability to lie convincingly — “these aren’t the interns you’re looking for” — Hillary has no superpowers to fall back on. She just has to grind it out. Like Syndrome in The Incredibles or the entire cast of Kick-Ass, she has to compensate for a lack of raw superpowers through guile and technology — and minions, lots and lots of minions. They do her dirty work for her. They burrow into the bureaucracy and cover for her. They get appointed to commissions and erect firewalls against accountability. They tell her what she wants to hear and explain how all bad news is someone else’s fault. They scrub the paper trail. They even shove classified evidence in their pants, if that is what is required. As Renfield to her huband’s Dracula, Otis to his Lex Luthor, Gogo Yubari to his O-Ren Ishii , Alistair Smythe to his Kingpin, Tom Hagen to his Don Corleone, Bizarro World Radar O’Reilly to his evil Colonel Potter, she has amassed considerable resources and abilities of her own. There’s now an entire Clinton-Industrial Complex that fuels and funds the vast interconnected network of minions. They are like agents of Hydra, embedded in the media, in government, and in academia. Places like Media Matters are like huge industrial farms for breeding Clintonian hacks where the larvae are grown in vats.

Convinced they are the rightful heirs of some new American aristocracy, they are willing to make astounding personal sacrifices for the cause. It would not have shocked me if Sandy Berger had yelled “Hail Clinton!” even as the National Archives guards were pulling paperwork out of his fly.

But the problem remains; Hillary is not the charismatic leader her husband is, or was. She’s good at cleaning up the loose ends of her husband’s lies, but she’s not the person you want out front laying down the lies in the first place. His superpowers did not rub off on her, and to assume they did is to confuse the elephant for the guy sweeping up behind it.

The thing is, Hillary’s been riding shotgun on all those hairpin turns with Bill behind the wheel for so long she thinks she can do what he does. She can’t. It’s understandable, of course. The great ones always make it look easy.
Goldberg then goes on to respond to those fans of Donald Trump who like him because they think he's un-PC.
There’s still this bit about Trump being un-PC and how he’s worth giving the nuclear codes to because he challenges the “establishment.” I was on Bill Bennett’s radio show the other morning and a caller said something to the effect of “You know why I like Donald Trump? Because he befuddles people like Jonah Goldberg . . . Political correctness has been destroying this country and blah blah blah.” (Obviously, I’m quoting from memory).

So first let me say, as I said to the caller, that I agree that political correctness is a huge problem, one I’ve written about many times (often punctuated with many un-PC jokes). Second, as I also said to him, maybe I’m not the one who is befuddled. Perchance Trump fans are the ones who are confused, while I see the man more clearly.

Third, and this I wish I had said on air: What the kind of screwed up standard for picking a president is that? Let’s choose the candidate who most annoys Jonah Goldberg! By that standard, Mt. Rushmore would be lined up with the visages of Carrot Top, Alec Baldwin, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Tom Friedman.

It is a lie that Donald Trump stands athwart political correctness, yelling Stop.
But here’s the important point: It is a lie that Donald Trump stands athwart political correctness, yelling Stop.

For example, you may recall that Donald Trump and I got into a Twitter fight a few months back. At one point I wrote that he was “relentlessly tweeting like a 14-year-old girl.”

How did Trump respond? If you guessed with Churchillian statesmanship, you guessed wrong. If you guessed with anti-PC fearlessness, you guessed wrong again.

Instead, he played the political-correctness card. He said my tweet was a “horrible insult to women. Resign now or later!”

I still love the “or later.”

He followed up with more demands that I lose my job because of my insult to women.

In words Donald Trump could never say sincerely, I know this isn’t all about me. So recall that Trump — the man whose best selling point for some people is that he’s inarticulate when discussing Mexicans — bashed Mitt Romney for being too “mean-spirited” about immigrants. In response to the backlash against his immigration remarks, he’s been slowly revising his position. He’s now for a convoluted kind of amnesty that involves rounding up illegal immigrants and then re-admitting them on an expedited basis if they are “terrific.”

All this week, he’s been defending himself against the charge he’s piggish towards women by attacking Jeb Bush for his gaffe on women’s health. Meanwhile, on the actual issue of Planned Parenthood he’s been all over the place, saying it does great work one moment, saying he’d shut it down another. All the while he says Ivanka Trump is his guide on women’s health issues and he wants everyone to know what a “big heart” he has. What could go wrong there?

Imagine if a Republican administration did this.
The federal government authorized searches against news organizations 10 different times in 2014, the Justice Department said Friday.

In two of the cases, however, the government ultimately decided not to issue the demands, after receiving authorization from then-Attorney General Eric Holder.

Additionally, the government twice gave federal agents the authority to question people whom it treated as journalists — including once during a national security investigation — though that questioning remained voluntary.

Oh, darn.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday said he is not taking part in the presidential election next year as he is focusing on his remaining diplomatic goals.
Now he can continue to muck up our nation's foreign policy.

And Russia's demands continue.
Russia sees no reason for the United States to push forward with plans to deploy a missile shield in Europe following the July nuclear deal with Iran, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters.

"We don't see any reason to continue with the program, let alone at such an accelerated pace," he said.
How soon before Obama gives in on this?

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