Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Cruising the Web

Elizabeth Warren didn't always think very well of Joe Biden.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote scathingly of Vice President Biden while she was on the faculty of Harvard Law School, mocking his White House ambitions while slamming his support for a bankruptcy bill that she said “hurts women.”

“With his presidential aspirations growing, Senator Biden must be delighted ... with the halo effect that suggests that he is one public official politically active women can trust,” Warren wrote in a 2002 Harvard Women’s Law Journal article....

In 2002, years before her political career began, she criticized then-Sen. Biden (Del.) as siding with big credit card companies over working-class women in the debate on bankruptcy reform.

“The group that will be most affected by the changes in the bankruptcy legislation Senator Biden so forcefully supports will be women, particularly women heads of household who are supporting children,” Warren wrote.

“Not a single women’s group that has spoken publicly about the bankruptcy bill agrees with him, but his public position as a champion of women seems untarnished,” she continued.

The International Business Times first reported on Warren’s criticism of Biden in the law journal.

Warren also questioned at the time whether Biden believed women were financially literate enough to understand what was in their interest.

“On financial topics, are women, as his words seem to suggest, unable to understand what helps them or hurts them?” she asked.

 “Why isn’t Senator Biden in trouble with grassroots women’s groups all over the country and with the millions of women whose lives will be directly affected by the legislation he sponsors?”

In a 2003 book, co-authored with her daughter, Warren also wrote that “[s]enators like Joe Biden should not be allowed to sell out women in the morning and be heralded as their friend in the evening.”

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This is why the Democrats should be very worried about pushing through the Iran deal.
But if Obama is left with a deal that is opposed by a majority of either the Senate or the House, the Democrats will be stuck with it. They will then be on the defensive with every hostile move Iran makes with the $150 billion the mullahs are going to get.

No doubt they’re going to try to skate through it.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper has reported an amazing lack of reaction by the Obama administration and others to rocket attacks from Syria that last week struck northern Israel and that were initiated by Iran.

Those rockets are but a wake-up call to what lies ahead, just in time for a presidential election. That’s the next big fight if this deal goes through, defeating the candidate of the Democratic Party that appeased Iran. Staggering betrayal, indeed.

The violations of federal law regarding Hillary's private, unsecured server were almost not discovered because there wasn't a State Department IG to do the job.
Hillary Clinton’s use of a private, unsecured server to store classified information while she was secretary of state now dominates the news cycle — making it easy to forget that her transgression very nearly went undiscovered. Without the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s initial probe into Clinton’s communications, even the fact that she used a private e-mail account to conduct government business may have remained a secret.

It’s puzzling. At the time, many State Department employees did appear to know of Clinton’s private account, yet the State Department inspector general (IG) only opened an investigation into the scandal in April 2015, years after she had left office. Before then, the agency’s top watchdog had given no indication that it was either aware of, or concerned by, Clinton’s e-mail practices. Why?

There was no permanent, Senate-confirmed inspector general at any point during Clinton’s tenure at State. Despite its own repeated pledges of transparency and bipartisan pleas from Congress, the Obama administration declined to nominate an official IG until five months after Clinton had left office. By then, she had become the only secretary of state to serve without the oversight of a permanent inspector general since the position was created in 1957.

That vacancy mattered a great deal, say two former federal inspectors general and Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They claim that without a confirmed IG, the State Department’s investigative arm was effectively crippled by a lack of independence and institutional authority. If Harold Giesel, the “acting” inspector general who headed the office from 2008 to 2013, did know about Clinton’s private server, his temporary status made any inquiry into the issue difficult and politically dangerous. And worries about his independence were only compounded by his close ties with State Department higher-ups.
Oh, by the way, the tote board on classified emails on Clinton's server is now up to 150.

Kimberley Strassel details the corruption in the EPA resulting in their own email problems.
Mr. North was, until a few years ago, a biologist at the Environmental Protection Agency, based in Alaska. Around 2005 he became enmeshed in reviewing the Pebble Partnership’s proposal to develop a mine there. Mr. North has openly admitted that he was opposed to this idea early on, and he is entitled to his opinion. Still, as a government employee his first duty is to follow the law.

In the normal course of law, Pebble would file for permits and the Army Corps of Engineers would get the first say over approval. The EPA has a secondary role. But records show that EPA officials, including Mr. North, had no intention of letting the process get that far. They set about to “pre-emptively” veto the mine, before Pebble could even file for permits. But for the EPA to so flagrantly insert itself into the process, it needed cause. This is where Mr. North and his private email come in.

The biologist was deeply involved in most of the work on Pebble, and would later brag about his role in killing the project. He had briefed high-level officials; drafted an early “options paper” laying out the veto strategy; and taken a star role in the “science” the EPA would use to justify the 2014 veto. But perhaps Mr. North’s biggest contribution was as serving as a liaison to (and coordinating with) anti-mine activists.

The EPA would ultimately claim that it acted “in response to petitions” filed against the mine in 2010 by Native American tribes. But those petitions didn’t spring from nowhere. According to documents Pebble has given a federal court, Mr. North was working with those outside activists to engineer the petitions—from inside the EPA. He also worked with the activists, including a lawyer representing the tribes, to hone the EPA’s veto strategy. And he did this via a private email address. Why? Because he shouldn’t have been doing any of it.

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James Taranto is back from vacation and deriding Hillary's attempts to distract from her corruption woes by using extreme rhetoric to excoriate Republicans who want to cut federal aid to Planned Parenthood by calling them terrorists.
“Women’s health” is the euphemism du jour for abortion—and it’s not just a euphemism but a false conjunction. It’s meant to suggest, just as Mrs. Clinton did, that opposition to abortion entails opposition to “women’s health” in general—even to procedures, such as HIV tests, that are not specific to the female sex.

Mrs. Clinton’s likening antiabortion Republicans to “terrorist groups” is especially vexatious given her own history. Under her leadership, the State Department, in an effort to secure Barack Obama’s re-election, characterized the actual terrorists who murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, as “protesters.” Now here she is likening lawful dissent to terrorism. The Orwellian inversion is complete....

“Terrorist groups” and “boxcars” do not appear to be mere gaffes. If you watch the videos of Mrs. Clinton’s comments, you will note that both inflammatory utterances are preceded by pregnant pauses, suggesting that she chose the words deliberately—that her intent was to inflame. Why?

One answer is that she is following the lead of the man she seeks to succeed. Although Barack Obama is capable of soaring oratory, he has also lowered the standard of presidential rhetoric, most notably with his scurrilous (and Orwellian) assertion earlier this month that “Iranian hard-liners” who wish death to America are “making common cause with the Republican caucus.”

Another is that her campaign has been in some trouble of late—and that’s putting it mildly. Last week Fox News reported that “An FBI ‘A-team’ is leading the ‘extremely serious’ investigation into Hillary Clinton’s [private email] server and the focus includes a provision of the law pertaining to ‘gathering, transmitting or losing defense information.’ . . . The section of the Espionage Act is known as 18 US Code 793.”

....The Hill explains it all this way: “Hillary Clinton is resetting her campaign strategy with aggressive attacks against Republicans to move the conversation away from questions about the email controversy that has dogged her for months.”

That’s based on interviews with various Democratic strategists, such as Joe Trippi, who says: “The more the discussion is about the differences between her and the Republican field on women’s health or immigration, that’s far better turf for her to be fighting on than another news cycle on the emails or the server.” In other words, it’s a partisan appeal designed to focus Democrats on their antipathy toward Republicans rather than on Mrs. Clinton’s weaknesses.

Is the ugly rhetoric really necessary? Maybe so. In an interview with the Register, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon offers this explanation for the Sanders surge: “Voters right now are flocking to the angry, authentic outsiders and moving away from the cautious or calculating establishment insiders.” (One might add that also describes Trump and the Republicans.) Mrs. Clinton is no outsider and will never be described as authentic, so she has to try extra hard to appeal to anger.
Ah, inauthentic anger. What could be more appealing in a leader?

Sounds like the ground is being prepared to cry foul in Ohio's voting.
Meanwhile, Ohio leaders are largely ignoring what a bipartisan federal panel called an “impending crisis:” voting equipment that’s at least a decade old and in need of replacement. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted sounded the alarm two years ago in testimony before President Obama’s bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration. “The next time we go to the polls to elect a president, these machines will be 12 years old,” he said. “That's a lifetime when it comes to technology.”

Yet his office has failed to forward any plan to replace the equipment, leaving cash-strapped counties to devise their own solutions. In the rolling farmland of Ohio’s Amish Country, for example, the Holmes County Board of Elections is strategically pinching pennies—holding off purchases of printers and other items—in hopes the county can scrounge together a few hundred thousand dollars to replace its aging voting equipment. And Holmes is actually one of the few counties that have any plan.

This crisis has its roots in the solution to a previous problem. The 2002 Help America Vote Act provided more than $3 billion to help states purchase new equipment, and the majority of local jurisdictions bought replacements over the next few years—mostly either touch-screen devices or optical scan machines that record votes from a paper ballot. The result is that, with rare exceptions, the country’s voting machines are all aging out at the same time.
It's amazing that, fifteen years after the mess in 2000, state officials still haven't fixed their problems.

Another blow to the Obama Department of Justice in their attempts to get North Carolina's voter ID laws and ending same-day registration tossed out as unconstitutional.
Incredibly, the Justice Department, the NAACP, and the other plaintiffs claimed that all of these changes were “discriminatory” and violated the Voting Rights Act — a law designed to break down racial barriers to the ballot box. Apparently, in 2015 North Carolina, not being able to register when you are 16; having to register 25 days ahead of time; having only ten days before the actual date of an election to vote; and being required to vote on Election Day in the precinct where you actually live is not only racist, but a barrier to voting itself. Contrast these “conditions” with the ugly discrimination of the early ’60s.

Times have certainly changed. When the racial interest groups sued North Carolina over its reforms, a swarm of lawyers from gigantic law firms donated their services. The Justice Department devoted hundreds of thousands of dollars and man-hours to attack the law. But no witnesses could be found to say they couldn’t vote because of the changes.

The Justice Department also pumped untold thousands of dollars into a database run by a company called Catalist. This database has been populated with data provided by the Democratic National Committee, unions, and other liberal organizations and is used to help them win elections. Catalist’s infrastructure and database are expensive to maintain, but fear not, the Justice Department, in the North Carolina trial and elsewhere, has provided federal tax dollars to its expert witnesses so that they could purchase Catalist’s proprietary data. Yes, federal dollars were used to fund a database that will be used next year to try to win the 2016 election for Democratic candidates.

For all the resources expended, the Justice Department’s entire case was built on speculative claims. Not able to produce a single eligible voter who was or would be unable to vote, the plaintiffs relied on hypothetical statistical arguments to claim that the turnout of black voters would be “suppressed” because they might use early voting and same-day registration slightly more than white voters, and because black voters are “less sophisticated voters.” DOJ experts actually made the borderline-racist argument that “it’s less likely to imagine” that black voters could “figure out or would avail themselves of other forms of registering and voting.” That’s a shameful way to enforce a law that was used to protect real victims of real discrimination in the Deep South.

In the end, real statistics destroyed the Justice Department’s case. The reforms the plaintiffs claimed would disenfranchise “less sophisticated” black voters didn’t depress turnout at all. Indeed, in comparison with the 2010 primary, the turnout of black voters actually increased a whopping 29.5 percent in the May 2014 primary election, while the turnout of whites increased only 13.7 percent,. The same thing happened in the general election. This knocked the stuffing out of the plaintiff’s discrimination claims.

The Justice Department still holds a thoroughly demeaning view of civil-rights law. It is a view that insists blacks are incapable of performing basic societal functions, and therefore the law must step in any time they are asked to comply with a simple procedural step to participate in the electoral process. This is not only an abuse of the department’s authority; it’s a misuse of the Voting Rights Act.

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Jack Shafer explains how the much derided Citizens United decision has made the wide diversity of candidates we're seeing this year possible and made mincemeat of the complaints that the decision's critics have.
But these expectations that big money would float the best-financed candidate directly to the White House have yet to materialize this campaign season. The best-financed candidates seem to be enjoying no dramatic advantage over their less-well financed opponents. On the Republican side, Jeb Bush has collected $120 million in donations to lead all Republicans in the money sweepstakes, yet he trails Donald Trump badly in the polls. Trump has raised a mere $1.9 million—and $1.8 million of that is a Trump loan! Ben Carson is beating both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in the polls despite raising a fourth of their loot.

On the Democratic Party side, poll leader Hillary Clinton leads the money race with $67.8 million, but her poll numbers are dropping at about the same rate that Bernie Sanders’ are rising, and the Sanders campaign has raked in only $15.2 million.

Obviously, campaigns need money. Without money, a candidate can’t buy ads, can’t travel, can’t hire staff, can’t poll and so on. But campaign 2016 is demonstrating the Citizens United Cassandras wrong—the biggest money doesn’t necessarily buy an election. Citizens United has, however, allowed billionaires to create pop-up presidential candidacies. On the Republican side, Ted Cruz, who has raised an astounding $52.5 million, has billionaire Robert Mercer. Scott Walker has Diane Hendricks, Marco Rubio has Norman Braman, and Rick Perry has a pair. “Chris Christie counts about a dozen billionaires” as supporters, reports the Wall Street Journal. (At least eight billionaires have given to Clinton’s campaign.)

All this wild spending has helped broaden the Republican field to 17 candidates, expanding democratic choice. If you’re a Democrat, you might say that 17 offers little choice, but in the Fox News Channel debates each candidate labored to differentiate his candidacy. Rand Paul, for example, played the civil libertarian card. Chris Christie posed as the national security tough guy. John Kasich and Jeb Bush distanced themselves from Donald Trump’s punitive immigration stand. Scott Walker declared solidarity with the Egyptian regime. Ben Carson appeared to have signed on for more waterboarding. Money didn’t create this surfeit of candidates and views, but it has helped.

Although Trump is a billionaire, his candidacy stands as a rebuke to those who think the presidency can be bought. Instead of spending money, he’s leveraging his celebrity and logging hours of free TV airtime by giving provocative speeches. This low-budget, high-profile approach makes him the opposite of fellow Republican Rudy Giuliani, who spent about $50 million in a well-financed campaign in 2008 to capture just a single Republican delegate. At that rate, the Los Angeles Times noted, Giuliani would have needed $60 billion to win the Republican nomination. (As long as we’re ridiculing the Giuliani crusade’s waste, let’s talk about Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign in which seven billionaires blew a combined $64 million of super PACs money to support him. Or the $20 million that Sheldon Adelson lavished on Newt Gingrich in 2012.

Like the Trump campaign, the Sanders campaign shows how money matters less when a candidate’s ideas burn like a sodium fire among voters. His message has filled arenas and enthused supporters in a way hundreds of thousands in campaign dollars never could. “I don’t want money from the billionaires,” Sanders says. As POLITICO’s Tarini Parti and Jonathan Topaz reported in late June, the Sanders campaign refuses to have a super PAC and has a tiny fundraising team. The Trump and Sanders candidacies may be 2016 anomalies or the template for future billionaire-busting campaigns.

Perhaps that is why Hillary and Sid Blumenthal plotted how to reverse Citizens United.

Jay Nordlinger, whose musings on politics and culture I always enjoy, has some "Trumpservations."
1) The other day, Donald Trump had a lady from the audience come up and pull on his hair, to confirm that it was real. This was charming, refreshing, un-politician-y — Trump at his best, I think....

3) Mona Charen made a good point on our podcast last week (among other good points): Conservatives, more than most voters, have always prized character. Indeed, Peggy Noonan wrote a book about Reagan: When Character Was King.

Have you heard Trump talk about Megyn Kelly? Or John McCain? Have you seen honor, decency, and chivalry in him? I know that all “real” conservatives are supposed to hate the Bushes, plus Romney, because they are gentleman losers (in this cracked view). But really. Conservative does not equal lout. It never has....

5) What I hear from Trump supporters, or apologists, is, “At least he got people talking about immigration! And political correctness!” Um . . . have we not talked about those things every day of our lives — every moment of our lives — for as long as most people can remember?

6) The thing about Trump supporters: You can’t shake them. You can’t move them from their man. You can’t introduce a sliver of doubt.

They don’t care where Trump has been on abortion, Kelo, D.C. statehood, health care, etc. (Single payer!) They don’t care whether he has given the Clintons $8 trillion. They don’t care whether he approves of Miley Cyrus at her twerkiest. I guess she’s the “conservative” poster girl now. The symbol of wholesome living!

The Donald could ax-murder four nuns in church, and his peeps would say the old biddies had it comin’.

All they care about is that he is opposing something called “the establishment”: the RNC, NR, and those other oppressors of men.

7) This is a gaudy, vulgar country — a wonderful one, too. Donald Trump, as I have said, is part of the parade. An American original, an American type. He adds to the gaiety of life. The dough, the broads, the glitz!

I get a kick out of Trump, I really do. Most guys would. (Not sure about women.)

But the American presidency is a fairly serious thing. And the Republican party is important. This country needs the GOP. It is all that is standing between us and — further Obamite “fundamental transformation.”

Politico asked a bunch of historians to write about which historical figure Donald Trump reminds them of. Answers range from George Wallace, Henry Ford, Silvio Berlusconi to William Randolph Hearst. Meanwhile, Jim Geraghty argues that Trump is heir to Pat Buchanan.

check out the childhood pictures of all the 2016 candidates. A few of these I could never have picked out.