Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cruising the Web

Marc Thiessen recommends that GOP candidates follow Ben Carson's example of how to do if Black Lives Matter protesters show up at their events.
Carson didn’t wait for the protesters to come to him. He took his campaign to Harlem last week to make the case that the GOP has better solutions for the challenges of poverty, dependency and lack of mobility. “Of course black lives matter,” Carson declared during his Harlem campaign stop, “But instead of people pointing fingers at each other and just creating strife, what we need to be talking about is: How do we solve problems in the black community? . . . Whether I get the votes or not, I want people to start listening to what I am saying and understanding that . . . there is a way to go that will lead to upward mobility as opposed to dependency.”

That is precisely the message every Republican candidate should be delivering. When confronted by Black Lives Matter protesters, Republicans should declare that they fully agree — black lives do matter — but that the policies of the past seven years have not made black lives better. They should point out that the African American youth unemployment rate in July 2015 was 31 percent — more than double that of whites, at 14.4 percent. To put that figure in perspective, in 1932 — the very worst point of the Great Depression — the national unemployment rate was 22.9 percent. So for young black men and women today, the employment rates of the Great Depression would be a step up from those of the Obama “recovery.”

In the past seven years, the poor have gotten poorer and the rich have gotten richer, while dependency on food stamps, Social Security disability insurance and other government assistance has grown to record levels. On Obama’s watch, we have fewer paychecks, more welfare checks and fewer opportunities for people to earn their own success.

Republicans should declare that disappearing mobility is a civil rights issue. They should say that the lack of opportunity for those at the bottom is unacceptable — and promise that they will fight to make sure that every African Americans citizen in this country has the chance to build a life of opportunity and dignity. And they should declare — as Carson did — that they will fight for these vulnerable Americans whether they vote for them or not.

The point is not to persuade the protesters. It is not even to win African American votes (though that would be great if it happened). Rather, it is to persuade persuadable voters who are watching the GOP’s interactions with the protesters and convince them to give Republicans a chance to solve these problems.

Chris Stirewalt ridicules Hillary's attempts to downplay her scandal.
Clinton, whose conduct as secretary of state is currently the subject of a federal criminal probe, joked in Iowa on Friday “You may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account,” she said. “I love it. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.”

Ugh.

The team of writers who worked on that joke should be fired, en masse. Like George W. Bush’s jokes about the search for the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it wasn’t that it was too soon, it was that it would never be funny. In Clinton’s worldview, her shady email antics are but a distraction. She’s wrong.

Given the ethical allegations against Clinton plus the controversies surrounding her time in office, especially her Libya misadventure, hiding emails is serious stuff. And as the poll shows, 58 percent of registered voters believed she lied about having classified material on her private server. Fifty-four percent said doing so put national security at risk. Ha-ha-ha…

More telling, though, is what Clinton said to reporters about the widening FBI probe of her security practices. Clinton said she would “let whatever this inquiry is” run its course and not get distracted because that’s not what voters are asking her about.

Good grief!

So not only does the candidate denigrate the investigation while it is ongoing but also supposes that because of what people pre-selected by her campaign for human interaction say to her it’s not resonating with voters. If they were picking panda bears for her to nuzzle instead of Iowans, one assumes Hillary would be consumed with talk of delicious, leafy tender baby bamboo. Mmmmm, bamboo…

If the other candidate of privilege, Jeb Bush, were this bad at running for president he would have already had to quit the race. And anyone else would have had to have fled the country.

If Clinton really is this bad as a candidate, there is no amount of money or power that can rescue her. Democrats will instead have to place all of their hopes on a complete Republican meltdown. So at least they’ve got that going for them…

And now the tote board is up to 305 emails.
A federal judge on Monday scheduled a hearing for later this week to discuss whether the State Department has ensured the retrieval of all official records Clinton, the former secretary of state, and her top aides held on personal email accounts or devices. This came after a lawyer for the technology firm that maintained Clinton’s private server after she left office held out the prospect that at least some of the data is likely preserved on a backup server.

New figures emerged in a court filing about the number of potentially classified messages held in Clinton’s private account, now up to 305. And a Republican senator pressed Clinton’s personal lawyer for answers on how the emails were stored and whether he had the security clearance to retain a thumb drive of potentially sensitive data.
And she is going to have trouble proving that the chain of custody of her server contained only people with the clearance to see classified reports. And there are a lot of more people involved than Hillary might have ever imagined. And probably none of them had such clearance.
Clinton gave Kendall a thumb drive with more than 30,000 State Department emails. He reportedly instructed his staff to review the thumb drive and print out hard copies for the department.

“We do know it was Kendall’s subordinates — the names for which we do not know — who did that search. But we don’t know who they are to this day,” the congressional source said.

Kendall has previously received various levels of clearances, most recently as the lawyer for former CIA Director David Petraeus, who pled guilty to mishandling classified materials by sharing documents with a mistress who was writing a book.

Petraeus could have received prison time but was sentenced to two years’ probation.

Kendall has maintained that he enjoyed a security clearance because of his work with Petraeus, but the congressional source told TheDCNF that, “I’d be floored if the attorneys had it for the review.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley told Kendall in a letter made public Monday that “it appears the FBI has determined that your clearance is not sufficient to allow you to maintain custody of the emails.”

The Iowa Republican noted that Kendall received the emails in December 2014, but it was only in May of this year that the State Department delivered a classified materials-certified safe to store the thumb drives.

After it was disclosed that “Top Secret” classified information was on the hard drive, Kendall was ordered to build a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, at Williams & Connolly. A SCIF is a hardened room with very secure restrictions for access.

Grassley added, “since at least May 2015 and possibly December 2014, it appears that in addition to not having an adequate security clearance, you did not have the appropriate tools in place to secure the thumb drives.”

Other parties may have had unauthorized access to the Clinton materials if Kendall printed out the emails using either a commercial printing company or an unsecured Williams & Connolly copier machine.

To print out 30,000 paper emails, “it seems likely that [Kendall] would have contracted a commercial printing firm and then as a result, that has now been exposed to someone else,” observed Alex McGeorge, the head of threat intelligence at Immunity, Inc.

Even if Williams & Connolly printed out the 30,000 emails in-house, the best copiers are really computers with large storage capacity that would keep the classified information, McGeorge said.

The committee is also looking at Platte River Networks, a small IT company in Colorado that was under contract to upgrade and maintain Clinton’s server in July, 2013. TheDCNF reported Friday that Platte River was not certified by the Defense Department to handle classified materials.

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Here are seven reasons why Clinton's email scandal isn't going away.

USA TOday fact-checks Hillary's claim from her statement in March about her server. She doesn't come out well.

The State Department seem to be working to cover Hillary's behind.
State Department officials tasked with screening Hillary Clinton's emails for release under the Freedom of Information Act are using exemptions in the transparency law to mask the extent of classified information they encounter.

Intelligence community officials who were brought into the FOIA review process amid concerns over potentially classified material have alerted their inspector general that State FOIA officers are altering classification decisions, according to a report by the Washington Times.

After intelligence officials have flagged parts of emails as classified, State Department employees have instead redacted those same passages under one of nine exemptions permitted under FOIA.

This is a law that Republicans should support.
The National District Attorneys Association has come out in favor of the Safe Campus Act, a bill that would increase due process for students accused of sexual assault.

Currently, colleges and universities are handling such accusations, and allowing accusers to decide whether the criminal or quasi-judicial campus court system handle the complaint. The Safe Campus Act would require mandatory reporting to law enforcement.

Michael Ramos, the district attorney of San Bernardino County in California and the NDAA's president-elect, told the Wall Street Journal that "You have to take away the whole perception that academic institutions are on their own separate island."

Opponents of the new bill said it would make campuses less safe because women would be less likely to come forward. But Joe Cohn of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education argues that police involvement would ultimately benefit victims and the community.

"Rape, after all, is a serious, dangerous crime. When law enforcement and courts are not involved early, perpetrators remain free to prey on new victims," Cohn wrote in the Hill.

"Does anyone think it was reasonable for New York University to wait two months before advising the police that one of its students had uploaded a video of himself lighting his girlfriend on fire as she lay passed out in her dorm? NYU apparently delayed reporting the incident to the police to honor the victim's preference."

The Safe Campus Act would not only require mandatory reporting to police, but would also buff up due process protections for accused students. The bill would allow accusers and the accused to hire an attorney at their own expense. Accused students would also be given the right to know the charges against them and see the evidence against them (something, shockingly, most schools do not provide currently).
Such reforms would be the right thing to do and it would also be a political plus. When liberals demagogue that it would not protect young women, there is a simple answer - we think protecting women is so important that we want to prosecute those who abuse young women to the fullest extent of the law. But we also want to protect the accused. Any parent of a boy would welcome such an approach.

Even though Hillary is quite injured now, the Democrats have few other options. It would be very difficult to stop the Clinton steamroll.
I keep emphasizing "in case of emergency" because I don't think many Democrats outside of the Sanders left and friends of Biden or Gore are actively looking for a candidate other than Clinton. They are concerned enough about Clinton's email server, lackluster swing state numbers, low ratings for trustworthiness even among Democrats and a surprisingly competitive New Hampshire primary to contemplate a Plan B, but not enough to implement one.

But that only illustrates another aspect of the Democrats' dilemma: Hillary is still pretty strong despite her obvious liabilities and is likely to remain so absent the absolute worst case scenario concerning her emails. So any conceivable emergency option would not merely be a replacement like Hubert Humphrey stepping in for Lyndon Johnson, but would have to be ready to pry the nomination away from Hillary like a rifle from Charlton Heston's "cold, dead hands."

That's essentially what Barack Obama did in 2008. We all remember Clinton's collapse that year, but we tend to forget Obama got just 0.1 percent more of the vote than her nationally (estimates from caucuses can perhaps bump this up to as much 0.4) and lost most of the biggest states in the country. He had to take the nomination away from her and it wasn't easy.

Again, that's why we keep hearing about senior Democrats Gore and Biden. It's not that the Democrats don't have a bench, though that has surely been depleted by the 2010 and 2014 midterms. There just aren't many potential Democratic candidates who can compete with the Clinton machine on even terms, especially with Obama on the sidelines or actively supporting Hillary. The prospect of trying has to be intimidating to any Democrat who has anything to lose.

This is pretty devastating. Though it might be too early to start running such ads.

Speaking of the old crowd of Democrats - they're thinking about what would be involved in jumping in the race.
Operatives for Vice President Joe Biden and former VP Al Gore have begun contacting top New York Democrats, virtually all of whom have endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton, to see if they’re willing to switch allegiances in the race for president, The Post has learned.

The Biden and Gore operatives, in contacts made over the past few days, didn’t make clear whether either man wanted to directly challenge Clinton in the Democratic primaries or were simply moving to position themselves to run if Clinton, mired in her e-mail deletion scandal, is forced to drop out, sources familiar with the conversations said.

However, one thing that did become clear during the discussions, the sources said, was that there is “a growing shallowness in New York in the support for Hillary.”

Michael Brendan Dougherty has an astute analysis of Trump's appeal. He seems to be a "free man."
People are attracted to him because Trump is a free man. He is free to ignore conventions of running for politics. He is free to say he won't give up the leverage of a third-party bid while running for the GOP nomination. He's free to say, to a conservative audience, that single-payer health care works in Scotland and Canada. A man who doesn't need permission and consistently resists any external demands on his behavior is a fantasy character. In another time, this romance of the free man settled on the vengeful, rich, violent Andrew Jackson. Today it is on Donald Trump.

This isn't an insight original to me, or to conservatives who are unnerved by the way Trump has captured the imagination of a certain segment of Americans. Some have attributed Trump's success to his anti-PC style. "I don't have time for political correctness," he explained to Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly. And it is true, Trump will not be shamed into asking for forgiveness from the language cops. Not even God can get a "my bad" from The Donald.

But it's not just PC. Most Americans are not free men in the way Trump is free. Trump commands others. Even people who are supposed to be his adversaries suck up to him. Most Americans spend most of their time being commanded. They have bosses. They have HR departments informing them on how to socialize. They have creditors checking in on them. They can't even put a little fright into their kid's little league coach, let alone the head of Fox News.

But free men and reactionary nationalists are not the same thing. A reactionary wears the burdens of his office, and a nationalist defends his people. Trump brags about making a lot of money in Atlantic City, then ditching the place as it slid into misery.

And that's the paradox. Trump is admired because he doesn't give a crap about political conventions and niceties. But there is a reason why Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio bow and scrape before certain institutions — the party, the movement — which is that they are the very things that demonstrate some form of connection between a politician and the interests of a nation. Those mechanisms for accountability may be broken, or they may be weighted dangerously toward the wealthy, but they still serve a basic purpose.

Believing Trump will bring America back is as foolish as believing he would bring Atlantic City back. Unlike Rubio and Bush, he's a free man — and perfectly willing to walk away and say it was your fault, but that he enjoyed the ride anyway.

For leftists who so admire Scandinavian countries as socialist paradises, the news is that these countries are less socialist than their admirers think. And wealth inequality is worse there than its admirers might realize.
In some ways, Sweden is now less progressive than the United States. Harvard professor Gregory Mankiw writes that the wealthiest decile of Swedes carries 26.7 percent of the tax burden. In The United States, the figure is a whopping 45.1 percent. Additionally, wealth inequality is more pronounced in Scandinavian countries than it is in the United States. In Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway, the top decile of earners own between 65 and 69 percent of the country’s total wealth, an astonishing figure. Sanders is apparently unaware of this reality, given that one of his primary reasons for praising Scandinavia was their low levels of wealth inequality.
Instead of admiring Scandinavia, we might take a closer look at Switzerland, one of the most capitalist countries in the world.
Switzerland is ranked best in the world on many categories related to economic development, including “innovation, on-the-job staff training, attracting talent from elsewhere, and for government-provided training.” Ultimately, The Huffington Post claims, “Switzerland is home to one of the world’s most thriving economies and also one of the happiest populations on the globe.” Many leftists extol the limited successes of Sweden and Finland without ever acknowledging Switzerland, although it outperforms much of Europe in various economic and social metrics.

Although it is very capitalist, Switzerland boasts many of the advantages that socialist Scandinavian states are supposed to claim exclusively. Switzerland’s unemployment rate is just 4.5 percent, which is one of the lowest rates in the world. The country’s poverty rate is similarly low (XLS). Those who immigrate to Switzerland have an average employment rate of 76 percent, which is much higher than the European average of 62 percent.

Furthermore, the Swiss educational system is ranked third in the world by the OECD. Only Korea and Japan are ranked higher, which means Switzerland’s educational system is the best in the Western world. Many claim this distinction belongs to Finland, but Finnish schools are in fact ranked 10/37 in math and 4/37 in reading.

Additionally, income inequality and debt are both quite low in Switzerland. This reality persists although Switzerland’s wealthy have the lowest tax burden in the world; the richest decile in the country pays only 20.9 percent of the country’s taxes. Remarkably, even though the tax burden on the wealthy is minimal, Switzerland’s national debt as a percentage of its gross domestic product is lower than Finland’s, Sweden’s, and Denmark’s.

Switzerland is the closest to “paradise” of any European country, yet it remains one of the most capitalist economies on Earth. Its success is a powerful antidote to socialist claims about the benefits of progressive taxation, and all but destroys the assumption that Scandinavia as a bastion of socialism shows that only collectivism can produce success.

Associated Press is working to save the exit poll which is endangered because so many people are not going to vote on election day but are doing it by mail or during early voting. It's much more expensive to reach those people.

Forbes look at Carly Fiorina's leadership as the head of Hewlett-Packard. A business reporter in the New York Times has a similar story about her business record. It's not a great record. Before Republicans go all gaga on an inexperienced politician just because she can deliver good lines against Hillary as well as explaining conservative ideals, we should be certain that her record matches her rhetoric.

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The holes in our cybersecurity continue to be ominous.
The Internal Revenue Service announced in May that hackers had gotten into its system, and it estimated then that 114,000 taxpayers' accounts had been compromised. But a thorough review of activity on the IRS site throughout the 2015 tax-filing season revealed that the intrusion affected nearly three times that many accounts, the agency said Monday.

In its investigation, the IRS found about 220,000 additional instances where intruders were able to clear a verification system meant to keep sensitive tax information safe, as well as about 170,000 failed attempts to get around the verification system.

That puts the agency's estimate of the total size of the breach at 330,000 accounts, and its estimate of total failed attempts to get into its system at 281,000.

The IRS said in June that it believes the attack came from Russia.

The hackers were able to use information about taxpayers that they had acquired separately to "prove" to the system that they were authorized users. They targeted the agency's "Get Transcript" service, which allows taxpayers to call up their tax history and important information.

The service required users to enter personal information about themselves to confirm their identities, suggesting that hackers had access to many pieces of information about the individuals they targeted.

This is how wrongheaded the deal with Iran is.
The [oil export] ban dates to the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which Congress passed in response to that era’s oil crisis. The idea was that if we could keep oil produced within our borders for the domestic market, it would insulate Americans from price spikes.

This thinking never made sense even in the days when oil supplies were scarce and prices were rising. It makes even less sense today, when America is becoming one of the world’s leading oil and gas producers. Today the main effect of the ban is to discourage some American producers from drilling for more supply, while leading others to get around the ban by exporting their oil in the form of refined gasoline and diesel, which can be exported....

There are also good strategic reasons for lifting the ban. It’s absurd to keep American oil producers from selling crude oil on global markets at a moment when the U.S. is about to lift the limits imposed by sanctions on the Iranians. Expanding the supply of U.S. oil would also provide allies in Eastern Europe with alternatives to their current oil dependence on Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

But the administration keeps defending Iran from critics of the deal. They have four basic arguments that they're making. None of these arguments are appealing.

This Vanity Fair article about dating in a world of Tinder is very depressing.
“Guys view everything as a competition,” he elaborates with his deep, reassuring voice. “Who’s slept with the best, hottest girls?” With these dating apps, he says, “you’re always sort of prowling. You could talk to two or three girls at a bar and pick the best one, or you can swipe a couple hundred people a day—the sample size is so much larger. It’s setting up two or three Tinder dates a week and, chances are, sleeping with all of them, so you could rack up 100 girls you’ve slept with in a year.”

He says that he himself has slept with five different women he met on Tinder—“Tinderellas,” the guys call them—in the last eight days. Dan and Marty, also Alex’s roommates in a shiny high-rise apartment building near Wall Street, can vouch for that. In fact, they can remember whom Alex has slept with in the past week more readily than he can....

And yet a lack of an intimate knowledge of his potential sex partners never presents him with an obstacle to physical intimacy, Alex says. Alex, his friends agree, is a Tinder King, a young man of such deft “text game”—“That’s the ability to actually convince someone to do something over text,” Marty explains—that he is able to entice young women into his bed on the basis of a few text exchanges, while letting them know up front he is not interested in having a relationship.

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Heather MacDonald explores the world of post-Ferguson policing.
Cops are “walking on eggshells because of how they’re scrutinized in the media,” Boackle said last week.

This reluctance to act is affecting police departments across the country, as virtually every tool in an officer’s tool chest — from traffic stops to public-order maintenance — is villified as racist. In Baltimore, following anti-cop riots and the indictment of six officers for the death of drug dealer Freddie Gray, arrests dropped 60 percent in May compared with arrests the previous year. In New York City, criminal summonses, a powerful gauge of proactive enforcement, were down 24 percent through July, compared with the same period the previous year; total arrests were down 16.5 percent. Arrests in Los Angeles are down 8 percent city-wide, and even further in some of the highest-crime areas. In the LAPD’s Central Division, home to the chaotic, squalid Skid Row, arrests are down 13 percent, while violent crime is up 57 percent. Some top brass are trying to counter what I and others have dubbed the “Ferguson effect.” “We ask our officers to stay engaged,” says LAPD assistant chief Michel Moore. Unfortunately, when officers do stay engaged, they often confront hostile, unruly crowds and resistance from suspects.

There are signs that law and order, and the moral support for such order, are slowly breaking down.
If the Black Lives Matter movement were correct that law enforcement is a scourge on the black community, this unraveling of proactive policing should be an enormous benefit to black well-being. Instead, the country is seeing the biggest violent-crime spike in 20 years, and the primary victims are, as usual, blacks. In 35 big U.S. cities, homicides are up 19 percent this year on average, according to a survey done by the Major City Chiefs Association. Milwaukee has seen a 118 percent rise in homicides; Minneapolis and St Louis, close to 50 percent; and Baltimore, 60 percent. In Dallas, homicides are up 39 percent; in Houston, 36 percent through mid-July. In Chicago, homicides were up 21 percent as of August 2; in New York, 10 percent. Sixty-two percent of surveyed cities reported increases in non-fatal shootings as well. In Cincinnati, shootings have reached a ten-year-high. As of August 8, the number of shooting victims in Los Angeles was up by 25 percent; violent crime in L.A. has risen by 20 percent. The overwhelming majority of shooting and homicide victims have been black, as are their assailants. It turns out that when the police back off, it is residents of poor inner-city neighborhoods who pay, too often with their lives.

But the police pay, too. The mainstream media quickly buried the vicious but non-fatal shooting attack on St. Louis–area officers during the renewed anarchy in Ferguson last week at the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. The murder of Memphis police officer Sean Bolton during a traffic stop on August 2 garnered hardly more attention. But such incidents will probably multiply as the media continue to amplify the activists’ poisonous slander against the nation’s police forces.

There are signs that law and order, and the moral support for such order, are slowly breaking down. Few leaders have the courage to speak honestly about the rising violence; even some police chiefs have

Yeah, the MSM don't know what a swing voter really is.

Sam Baker at the National Journal explains why Republicans are not likely to reverse Obama's executive orders on the first day in office no matter what they're telling voters.

A map refutes the claim that cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood would leave women without basic health care.
The map pinpoints the 665 Planned Parenthood locations and health-care clinics in the United States, compared side-by-side with the 13,540 clinics clustered across the country that are currently offering comprehensive women’s health care, according to the two groups’ data....

Further, these clinics could meet more women’s needs than Planned Parenthood does now. For example, contrary to a common misconception, Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms, but only mammogram referrals. Its clinics are not equipped with expensive mammogram machinery.

This is how power works. It's not pretty.
hree of the most prominent anti-John Boehner rebels in the House of Representatives find their political futures under threat this summer as Republican state lawmakers prepare to redraw local congressional maps.

Different forces (and lawsuits) are at work in Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina, but the results could be the same for three Republicans who have challenged the House speaker this year. Reps. Dan Webster, Dave Brat, and Mark Meadows could all basically get drawn out of their jobs before the 2016 election.

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