Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cruising the Web

Philip Klein lists all the tax hikes that Bernie Sanders is proposing. They total up to $19.6 trillion over 10 years. Yes, trillion.
Taken together, Sanders is proposing $19.6 trillion in new taxes over a decade, according to an analysis by the Washington Examiner, of which $14 trillion would come from his healthcare plan alone. To put that in perspective, the Congressional Budget Office projects that federal revenues over the next 10 years will be a total of $41.6 trillion, meaning that Sanders would raise taxes by 47 percent over current levels.
Here's the list.
Just imagine what that would do to the economy. I think it's quite telling that Hillary hasn't yet used this astronomical total against Sanders. She must think that the Democratic electorate is so far out there to the left that they don't care about such tax increases. They just don't understand that those taxes won't fall just on the rich, but on everyone. There is no way to raise that kind of money by taxing just high income people. He has to go after where the real money is for raising revenue - the middle class.

I just don't see why we should care about whom Sarah Palin endorses. She really is yesterday's news. Fox News doesn't even air her show any more. Donald Trump is not a true conservative so her endorsement seems more opportunistic to get in on his headlines than a true ideological endorsement. Palin has endorsed some good candidates and some real disasters. Trump likes to talk about winners, but what has Palin won since she was first elected governor of Atlanta Alaska, a job she then abandoned? I guess they have reality shows in common. The one thing that her endorsement does is swallow up news for a day or two making it even harder for any of the other candidates to break through.

Allahpundit links to a post Charles C. W. Cooke wrote about a year ago about Palin.
Palin should leave the field to those who are in possession of genuine political aspirations, and she should refrain from treating the Republican party as if it were a little more than a convenient vehicle for her private ambition. In the meantime, conservatives who are finally cottoning on to the ruse should recognize that this Iowa sojourn was not an aberration or a blip, but the foreordained culmination of a slow and unseemly descent into farce that began almost immediately after Barack Obama was elected in 2008. So Sarah Palin has become Amy Winehouse? Of course she has. How else exactly was this going to end?

“It would be hard to say,” York observed drily, “that Palin’s 35-minute talk had a theme.” But, one might ask, “Do they ever?” For a long while now, Palin has not so much contributed arguments and ideas as she has thrown together a one-woman variety show for a band of traveling fans. One part free verse, one part Dada-laden ressentiment, and one part primal scream therapy, Palin’s appearances seem to be designed less to advance the ball for the Right and more to ensure that her name remains in the news, that her business opportunities are not entirely foreclosed, and that her hand remains strong enough to justify her role as kingmaker without portfolio. Ultimately, she isn’t really trying to change politics; she’s trying to be politics — the system and its complexities be damned. Want to find a figure to which Palin can be reasonably compared? It’s not Ronald Reagan. It’s Donald Trump.
Well, that was certainly both apt and prescient. He even predicts exactly what happens to anyone who has the nerve to criticize Palin.
Consider, if you will, what happens to a person who suggests that Sarah Palin is anything other than saintly. Right off the bat, they are accused of disliking America or Alaska or conservatives or mothers or the working class — or even women in general — and then they are informed that their “hatred” is showing. Next, their motives are questioned and their supposedly secret “agenda” is exposed for the world to see, for no right-thinking person could dislike Palin on the merits, natch. “I hope you enjoy your elite cocktail parties,” the apologists will say, and then they will huffily tell you that they “hope signaling that you are ‘one of them’ was worth it.” And finally — as is the case when one expresses disapproval of other cult figures, such as President Obama, Ron Paul, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Paul Krugman — it is presumed that all animadversion must be motivated by envy or by snobbery or by secret admiration, and that it can therefore be safely ignored. “What have you done,” they will ask, “that compares to my paragon of virtue?” All told, it’s really quite pathetic.

It is deeply unconservative, too. The Right will likely never agree on how best it should move forward, but we might at least unite against the belief that there exist superheroes who are able to save the country from itself; against the idea that any one person can be the official standard bearer of a whole ideological or demographic group; and against the presumption that conservatism will gain anything much at all from the promotion and advancement of its most erratic champions.
Sound familiar? He's right. Of course, she was going to endorse Trump. They're two halves of the same dispiriting phenomenon. Cooke writes today.
If you are surprised by this development, you shouldn’t be. Ours is an age in which politics and entertainment are melted together without opposition or disfavor; a silly, self-indulgent, shallow age in which Kanye West thinks he can be the president of the United States and the president of the United States thinks he can be Kanye West. That Palin and Trump are together at last is no accident of ideology or timing; rather, it is the inevitable and rational confluence of two ghastly cults of personality — a fat-cutting, cash-saving merger that will serve to increase overall market share. Under their own steam, both figures have convinced a significant portion of the American population that their personal advancement is the key to the country’s success. Together, just think how great America can be!...

Like Palin, Trump has mastered the art of the interminable ramble, the purpose of which is not to convey meaning or to advance a useful argument but to stun the audience into dumb submission. Like Palin, Trump has embraced his ignorance and wielded it as a sign of strength and normality against the ever-protean “elite.” And, like Palin, Trump has betrayed his desire to fix the political system not by mastering or replacing it, but by becoming it. This isn’t an insurgency, it’s a shakedown. And the conmen are moving in packs.

Alas, there is no grand principle on display here. There is nothing but opportunism and ego. For a long time now, Sarah Palin has been apt to say anything and everything to keep the cameras buzzing around her hive. This rotten endorsement completes the decline. What, we might ask, has become of Palin’s beloved Tea Party? What, too, of her purported admiration for limited government, and of her ostensible hatred of heretics and fakers? The prospect of a mass movement that was earnestly committed to libertarianism was always a little too good to be true, but even I didn’t imagine it ending like this. All that talk of the Constitution and the Declaration; all that energy expended against the cronies and the rent-seekers; all those purifying voter drives — and for what? So that Sarah Palin could add a few zeroes to her bank balance and Donald Trump could go from the purchaser to the bought? Today was the day that Rick Santelli’s famous yelp finally melted into populism and avarice. Today, at about ten minutes past six, P. T. Barnum beat out Hayek for the soul of the insurgent Right. Today, the rebels became the charlatans they had set out to depose. What comes next will be anybody’s guess.

I'm with Greg Gutfeld.
But the rub here is you have a staunch religious conservative tossing aside a staunch religious conservative for a Rockefeller Republican. And it shows in a way the opportunism of a lot of top conservative leaders, when they see the bandwagon, they jump on the bandwagon.”

He later stated, “I do see a lot of religious conservatives and hard-right conservatives going to Trump, because they sense he might be a winner and Cruz isn’t. Why would you be sacrificing your ideological beliefs otherwise?”

....But I have no sympathy for Ted Cruz right now, because an appeaser — is, that saying goes, an appeaser is a person who feeds a crocodile, hoping that the crocodile eats him last. Cruz declined to denounce Trump’s attacks on [Sen.] Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), as well as other notable righties, did not go after Trump for making fun of McCain for being a POW. So, now Trump is eating him last.”

Mark Antonio Wright marvels how some Tea Party favorites are now regarded as establishment RINOs.
A specter is haunting the conservative movement. From the dark underbelly of corrupt Washington, D.C., an unyielding “Republican establishment” has come out to feast upon the mutilated corpses of Reagan, Goldwater, and Buckley. The smarmy hucksters who make up its rank are masters of disguise: During the day, they insist that they represent the great silent majority of conservative Americans; at night, they prove that they’re in it only for the money, the power, and the Georgetown social scene. The monsters have names — such as Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Nikki Haley, Trey Gowdy, Mike Lee, and . . . wait, what?

To turn on talk radio or to sift through the murkier regions of the Internet is, invariably, to be told that the leaders of today’s reform conservative movement are RINOs — Republicans in Name Only — through and through. According to many who inhabit the Right, even those men and women who rose in the 2010 tea-party wave have fallen now to the dark side. Once, they led the fightback against Barack Obama; now, just a few short years later, they have allied themselves with official Washington in a dastardly scheme to maintain the status quo.

Is this claim true? No, it is not. Indeed, by simply taking a look back at the last five years of conservative commentary on three well-known reform conservatives, we can see that the storyline of “tea-party champion becomes establishment stooge” doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
Read the article. He's right that this is really silly. And now the non-establishment guy is a billionaire who has bragged about buying politicians. How he has become a populist hero is a constant source of amazement to me.

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This is very serious and damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton's emails on her unsecured, homebrew server contained intelligence from the U.S. government's most secretive and highly classified programs, according to an unclassified letter from a top inspector general to senior lawmakers.

Fox News exclusively obtained the unclassified letter, sent Jan. 14 from Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III. It laid out the findings of a recent comprehensive review by intelligence agencies that identified "several dozen" additional classified emails -- including specific intelligence known as "special access programs" (SAP).

That indicates a level of classification beyond even “top secret,” the label previously given to two emails found on her server, and brings even more scrutiny to the presidential candidate’s handling of the government’s closely held secrets.

“To date, I have received two sworn declarations from one [intelligence community] element. These declarations cover several dozen emails containing classified information determined by the IC element to be at the confidential, secret, and top secret/sap levels,” said the IG letter to lawmakers with oversight of the intelligence community and State Department. “According to the declarant, these documents contain information derived from classified IC element sources.”

Intelligence from a "special access program,” or SAP, is even more sensitive than that designated as "top secret" – as were two emails identified last summer in a random sample pulled from Clinton's private server she used as secretary of state. Access to a SAP is restricted to those with a "need-to-know" because exposure of the intelligence would likely reveal the source, putting a method of intelligence collection -- or a human asset -- at risk. Currently, some 1,340 emails designated “classified” have been found on Clinton’s server, though the Democratic presidential candidate insists the information was not classified at the time.

“There is absolutely no way that one could not recognize SAP material,” a former senior law enforcement with decades of experience investigating violations of SAP procedures told Fox News. “It is the most sensitive of the sensitive.”
NBC reports that the two emails with the SAP designation are not the same ones as emails from her server that have long been reported as containing information deemed Top Secret.

She might try to laugh this off, but other people who have shared such highly classified information, such as General David Petraeus, have been indicted and convicted.
According to court documents, former CIA Director David Petraeus was prosecuted for sharing intelligence from special access programs with his biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell. At the heart of his prosecution was a non-disclosure agreement where Petraeus agreed to protect these closely held government programs, with the understanding “unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention or negligent handling … could cause irreparable injury to the United States or be used to advantage by a foreign nation.” Clinton signed an identical non-disclosure agreement Jan. 22, 2009.
Remember that this letter is not from a GOP official, but the inspector general for the intelligence community. That is the person whose job is to provide oversight of how the intelligence community conducts itself. The Defense Secretary is considering demoting General David Petraeus for his leaking of classified information.
The Pentagon is considering retroactively demoting retired Gen. David Petraeus after he admitted to giving classified information to his biographer and mistress while he was still in uniform, three people with knowledge of the matter told The Daily Beast.

The decision now rests with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who is said to be willing to consider overruling an earlier recommendation by the Army that Petraeus not have his rank reduced. Such a demotion could cost the storied general hundreds of thousands of dollars—and deal an additional blow to his once-pristine reputation.

“The secretary is considering going in a different direction” from the Army, a defense official told The Daily Beast, because he wants to be consistent in his treatment of senior officers who engage in misconduct and to send a message that even men of Petraeus’s fame and esteemed reputation are not immune to punishment.
How does the administration do this to the man who led the successful surge in Iraq and close their eyes to what Hillary has done.

Meanwhile, Clinton's campaign just blames the "vast right-wing conspiracy" for this story about the IG's report.

This is how Hillary gamed the State Department to allow her private lawyer to keep copies of her emails.
The State Department put up virtually no resistance when Hillary Clinton’s private lawyer requested to keep copies of her emails—even though those emails contained classified information, and even though it was unclear whether the attorney was cleared to see such secrets.

Experts on the handling of classified information tell The Daily Beast that the seemingly chummy arrangement between Clinton’s lawyer and her former State Department aides was “quite unusual.”

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This seems like a pretty dumb attack from a Rubio super PAC.
In one of the commercials, a narrator asks: "What's Canadian about Ted Cruz? His tax plan." It casts his "business flat tax" proposal as a "value added tax." Cruz has said his tax is not a VAT.
Do people even know what a VAT is? It's something that policy wonks talk about, but I bet there isn't a single voter who will make their choice based on whether or not Cruz is advocating a VAT.

Jonah Goldberg contrasts how much attention the media showed Cindy Sheehan when she used her son's death in Iraq to mobilize protests against George W. Bush with the attention not given today to the father of Tyrone Woods who was killed in the Benghazi attack. We had almost non-stop coverage of Sheehan's protests against Bush. But then Obama became president and people abruptly ignored her criticisms of Obama.
Sheehan’s use-by date was January 20, 2009, President Obama’s inauguration day. She was — and is — a vocal critic of Obama, too. But there was no room in the script for that. When she was a thorn in Bush’s side, she was just a normal American mom speaking truth to power. When she started criticizing Obama, the same media dismissed her as a crackpot.

This isn’t particularly unusual in American politics. Activists often pretend to be “normal” people plucked out of obscurity by events. And sometimes, normal people plucked out of obscurity by events become activists as a result.

But how the press treats, say, Joe the Plumber or Sandra Fluke or Valerie Plame often seems to hinge on their political utility, or lack thereof.
Now we have Tyrone Woods' father telling us that Hillary Clinton told him, after the attack, that "we are going to have the film maker arrested who was responsible for the death of" his son. But Hillary now denies that she said that and the media, except for Fox News and the conservative press, are ignoring him and his story.

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The NY Post contrasts how national Democrats have treated the two stories of Flint and Chicago. Both involve cover-ups of terrible stories, yet they're jumping to blame the Republican governor Snyder for what has happened in Flint while not saying a peep about Rahm Emanuel.
Yet there’s not a shred of evidence Snyder played much role in the decision to get water from the tainted Flint River. Nor that he held back once the problem was known.

Yes, a state-appointed emergency financial manager OK’d the proposal — from local officials — to use the river, saving money for the cash-strapped city.

State regulators also fell down by not catching the disastrous mistake. But so did federal regulators.

And once Flint residents began showing signs of higher lead levels, Snyder formed a task force to probe the disaster, and forced out his top environmental regulator.

On Chicago, Clinton’s been mum, while Sanders has so far offered only general condemnations like “any elected official with knowledge that the tape was being suppressed . . . should resign.”

He means the tape of that fatal shooting — which Team Emanuel kept under wraps as Rahm faced a tough election. Evidence continues to grow that City Hall (maybe Emanuel himself) knew the video contradicted cops’ statements but pretended otherwise.

Just last month, the Chicago mayor said he feels “pretty confident” he still has Clinton’s support. Of course, he was her hubby’s senior adviser and a fellow member of Team Obama.

And Hillary always employs two standards: one for her and her friends — and one for her enemies.
Jason Riley adds about Hillary's tactics in blaming Gov. Snyder for the disaster in Flint and painting the story as a civil rights issue,
To appreciate the opportunistic nature of the former secretary of state’s indignation, compare it to her response Sunday morning when asked on “Meet the Press” about the 2014 death of Laquan McDonald in Chicago. The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, is facing questions over whether his administration covered up details of the police shooting last year to help him win re-election. The city hid from public view a dashcam recording of the incident that contradicted the police’s version of events. If released, it likely would have cost the mayor black support that he needed to win. The Justice Department is investigating.

When Mrs. Clinton was asked if Mr. Emanuel, a top aide in her husband’s administration, still had enough credibility to lead the city, she demurred. “That’s going to be up to him and up to the people of Chicago to prove,” she said. Calling out a Republican governor is more useful to Mrs. Clinton than is calling out the Democratic mayor of the president’s hometown. Her concern is not the plight of poor blacks in general but the plight of those blacks best situated to help her win the White House. In Michigan, the governor needs to be held accountable. In Chicago, the mayor gets a pass.

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After Donald Trump said that the New York Times didn't matter when they said he had advocated a 45% tariff, they probably had a lot of fun putting out the transcript of his meeting with the editorial board advocating a tariff of 45%.
I would tax China coming in—products coming in. I would do a tariff. And they do it to us. We have to be smart. I’m a free trader. I’m a free trader. And some of the people would say, ‘Oh, it’s terrible.’ I’m a free trader. I love free trade. But it’s got to be reasonably fair. I would do a tax, and the tax—let me tell you what the tax should be. The tax should be 45 percent.
But a tariff on Chinese goods would hit all of us in our pocketbooks. And it hurt a lot more people than it would help.
If you shop at Wal-Mart, you’re getting a lot of cheap goods from China. Critics of China’s trade policy argue that the company’s imports—an estimated $49 billion in 2013—cost the US 400,000 jobs over a twelve years, though they rely on labor cost estimates from 2001 which may inflate that figure. (For perspective, the US created 2.9 million jobs in 2015). But imagine if Wal-Mart suddenly had to pay an extra 45% on its imported goods: The company would have to raise prices and look for new cheaper sources of goods. But it wouldn’t go looking in the US, where labor costs are high—it would more likely opt for low-cost labor markets like Vietnam.
And if China started limiting what we sell them, we'd be big losers, particularly those people who work for big manufacturers who ship to China.
China is the third-largest market for US exports after Mexico and Canada, and falling sales there would punish US companies at home, including big employers like GM, GE, Caterpillar and Boeing.

All in all, this doesn’t look like an amazing plan to improve the outlook for low-skill US workers and others threatened by global economic forces. It’s easy to promise punishment for your enemies, but it’s problematic when your ostensible enemy is also, in economic terms, one of your most productive friends.
It might sound good as a rabble-rousing line, but it's terrible economics.

Berny Belvedere examines President Obama's often soaring rhetoric to try to figure out why it isn't working any more.
Another of Obama’s legacies will be to have desensitized Americans to the thrill of soaring political rhetoric. The frenzied support generated by quasi-messianic appeals to his transformative power as a candidate in 2008 remain a thing of wonder.

But when the “hope” and “change” campaign gave way to the frustrating reality that Washington’s other politicians wouldn’t automatically bend to Obama’s will (although an unnervingly large amount of them did, and many from the Republican aisle), the American people noticed. Entering office, Obama’s approval rating was nearly 70 percent; not even a year later, his numbers sank below 50 percent.

I suspect this has made American ears immune to the actual power of grandiose language. In 2008, this sort of oratory moved the electoral needle; in 2016, an understandable measure of cynicism has crept in.

In an essay about Obama's legacy, M.G. Oprea puts her finger on one aspect of his legacy.
More than anything, Obama’s record of executive action is a key example of how little he cares about long-lasting policies. Obama’s strategy here is to refuse to negotiate with Republicans on an issue, blame them for the stalemate, then heroically proclaim he is going to transcend “party politics” and do what’s “right.” He then proceeds to bypass Congress with an executive order that will only last so long as he, or someone from his party who agrees with him, is in power. His two major executive actions, on immigration and gun control, play well to his media admirers but not to American voters in general.

Obama’s most signature policy achievements are achievements in name only.
Unlike Lyndon B. Johnson who, for better or for worse, created long-lasting social programs, Obama is the master of the quick fix. He’s looking for that big headline, that big press announcement, that sound bite.

So long as he can say, technically, “I brokered a nuclear deal with Iran,” he doesn’t care how long that deal lasts, what it really achieves, or what instability will follow in its wake. He can, for the rest of his life, say those seven words. He wants to claim personal and political victory even if it’s shoddily done and won’t last. While LBJ was looking out for future generations, Obama is looking out for himself.

It’s not that the things Obama has done won’t have lasting ripple effects, possibly for generations to come. Nor has he achieved no long-term goals... It’s that his most signature policy achievements are achievements in name only.

This is because Obama cares more about the letter of the law—did he technically do X, Y, or Z—than the spirit of it—did he actually attain his goal. He’s so anxious to be seen as creating a legacy that he isn’t really creating one at all, or at least not the one he’s hoping for. For all of his talk of being on the right side of history, our president has a surprisingly short-sighted view of his own legacy—one that will likely damage his party far more than it will damage him.

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Bill Clinton is still raking in money from his 2001 pardon of Marc Rich. In case you've forgotten who Marc Rich is, Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, provides a reminder.
Marc Rich was wanted for a list of charges going back decades. He had traded illegally with America’s enemies including Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, where he bought about $200 million worth of oil while revolutionaries allied with Khomeini held 53 American hostages in 1979.

Rich made a large part of his wealth, approximately $2 billion between 1979 and 1994, selling oil to the apartheid regime in South Africa when it faced a UN embargo. He did deals with Khadafy’s Libya, Milosevic’s Yugoslavia, Kim Il Sung’s North Korea, Communist dictatorships in Cuba and the Soviet Union itself. Little surprise that he was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.

Facing prosecution by Rudy Giuliani in 1983, Rich fled to Switzerland and lived in exile.

What bothered so many was that Clinton’s clemency to Rich reeked of payoff. In the run-up to the presidential pardon, the financier’s ex-wife Denise had donated $450,000 to the fledgling Clinton Library and “over $1 million to Democratic campaigns in the Clinton era.”
And the payoffs continue.
Rich died in 2013. But his business partners, lawyers, advisers and friends have showered millions of dollars on the Clintons in the decade and a half following the scandal.
Here is a key example.
Then there’s Russian investor Sergei Kurzin. He worked for Marc Rich in the 1990s, traveling around Russia looking for suitable investment opportunities in the crumbled former Soviet Union.

An engineer by training, Kurzin has been involved in lucrative deals in Kazakhstan and other countries, including the lucrative Uranium One deal that involved Bill Clinton and Frank Giustra.

Russia bought 20 percent of all uranium production capacity in the US, a deal that needed to be signed off on by the State Department when it was headed by Hillary Clinton. While the deal was going through, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 to give a speech in Moscow, paid for by a Russian investment bank promoting the uranium deal.

Kurzin, meanwhile, donated $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Just what we've all been waiting for - a documentary about Anthony Weiner. Interestingly, the NYT review of the documentary, aptly titled "Weiner," focuses on how it evokes Hillary's lifetime of dealing with her husband's scandals.

It's come to this. The NFL has hired Joe Lockhart, the former press secretary for President Bill Clinton to help out Roger Goodell.
Joe Lockhart was hired to provide "insulation for Commissioner Roger Goodell" over how he has handled recent league scandals, including the New England Patriots' deflated footballs and domestic violence among players.
I think Goodell is going to need more than a Clinton spokesman to improve his image.