Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cruising the Web

Ladies and gentleman, this is our Secretary of State.
Secretary of State John Kerry lamented Wednesday that a terrorist who the Obama administration released from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay subsequently returned to fight for al Qaeda, telling lawmakers “he’s not supposed to be doing that.”

....Al Qosi was an aide to Osama bin Laden when he was taken to Guantanamo in 2002. He was released 10 years later after pleading guilty to war crimes in 2010 and was sent to his native Sudan. Upon the terrorist’s release, his lawyer, Paul Reichler, said al Qosi was looking forward to a quiet life of freedom, but the two never had contact after al Qosi left Guantanamo.

Al Qosi remerged this month as a prominent figure in AQAP propaganda videos calling for the takeover of Saudi Arabia and an end to the U.S.-Saudi alliance.

This recent development came shortly before President Obama announced his plan on Tuesday to close Guantanamo by releasing many of the remaining 91 detainees to foreign countries and transferring the rest to a prison on U.S. soil.
Yeah, don't you hate what that happens? Don't you hate when terrorists act like...terrorists? The only surprise is that Kerry is surprised that a terrorist would return to what he knows just because Obama wants to close down Gitmo.

And then there is this story to give the lie to Obama's pretense that released Gitmo detainees aren't a danger.
Spanish and Moroccan police on Tuesday arrested four suspected members of a jihadi cell that sought to recruit fighters for the Islamic State group, including one described as a former Guantanamo detainee who once fought with militants in Afghanistan.
The guy in question was released under Bush, but last March the Director of National Intelligence reported that 116 detainees released from Guantanamo had returned to terrorist action. Don't they know that they're "not supposed to be doing that"?

PHilip KLein explains why judicial confirmation fights have gotten so ugly. It is because we expect the courts to do too much and we also look to the courts to preserve the enlarged role of government.
The reason is that the federal government has grown so big, and has seized so much power, that every federal official or member of the judiciary can wield outsized control over the lives of the citizenry — far more than was ever intended by the nation's Founders.

In modern Washington, appointed bureaucrats can issue sweeping regulations imposing billions of dollars in costs on industry, small businesses, and consumers; they can determine what type of health coverage every citizen must buy; and can make individuals pay more for electricity.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Originally, the federal government was to be one of limited powers. Whatever power wasn't explicitly granted to Washington, or ruled out, was to reside with the states and their people. When that's the case, it allows citizens to debate divisive issues amongst themselves, giving them a voice in the process, and allowing for regional differences to exist on particularly contentious issues.
But now Congress has outsourced its authority to unelected bureaucrats in the administrative state as Philip Hamburger explains in his excellent, yet depressing Is Administrative Law Unlawful? When liberals can't get their agenda through Congress, they are using executive authority and administrative law to enact their agenda.
o it's no surprise that, in this environment, every federal appointment has become contentious. And it's especially understandable that we've reached the point where we are now: a place at which the death of one single man, who was never elected to anything, could have dramatic implications for every individual living in this country.

Scalia, perhaps more elegantly than anybody, wrote about this disturbing trend throughout his judicial career.

In his famous 1992 dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Scalia argued that the reason why the abortion issue had remained so contentious, and the subject of regular marches and protests on the Court for decades, is that the Court had short-circuited any process for hashing out the emotionally charged issue at the state level, "by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting."

Instead of carrying out the limited role envisioned by the Founders, Scalia argued, the Court had morphed into an "Imperial Judiciary," in which justices substituted their own arbitrary value judgments over the actual written meaning of the Constitution. Given this, Scalia argued, it was only natural that the Court should devolve into a political body subject to popular pressure, and that confirmation proceedings would become political circuses.

Isn't it nice that we pay tax money to fund the National Endowment of Arts to liberal propaganda.
Name a liberal political issue—gun control, climate change, open immigration, gender identity—and you can find a government-funded art project that promotes it. Last month the agency doled out thousands of dollars for a play about activist lesbians who “are staunchly opposed to gun ownership.” They paid $20,000 for a series of “climate change-themed public art installations” in Minneapolis. Checking the immigration reform box, it approved a theatrical interpretation of President Obama’s deferred action program for $40,000.

Taxpayers funded a play that centers on Michael Brown, which employs the thoroughly debunked “hands up, don’t shoot” meme.
The list of such leftist grants in the arts goes on and on. And this is quite a contrast with how Republicans used the NEA when they controlled the government.
During the Bush years there were no NEA grants promoting the Iraq War, or plays advocating for No Child Left Behind. The only art project to mention either Iraq or Afghanistan was a $10,000 grant for a photograph and oral history exhibit of female wounded warriors.

Despite a Republican being in the White House, works dedicated to liberal causes managed to get funding, while no projects with a hint of a conservative agenda can be found. In 2007, the Chicago Humanities Festival received $10,000 for writers, musicians, and visual artists to “participate in symposia centered on the issue of global warming.”
I'm not sure why the federal government even needs to fund the arts. My AP US History class was just finishing up studying the Great Depression this past week and I had the students make a list of the impact of the New Deal and they came to quickly realize how the role of the federal government changed in that period so that it was funding policies that would have astounded the Founding Fathers. And one of the examples that a student brought up to support that point was the funding of the Federal Theater Project. The kids started laughing at the response of the Anti-federalists if they had been told that in a century and a half, the government would be paying for entertainment. Of course, if Republicans proposed phasing out NEA funding, there would be a horrified outcry as if such funding was a sacred task of the federal government.

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This is the way the Obama administration address true mismanagement at Veterans Affairs - they give the top people raises. And this is how one failed VA leader got rewarded for her incompetence.
Rima Nelson disappeared from public view after the St. Louis Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital she managed potentially exposed 1,800 patients to HIV, was closed twice for serious medical safety issues and ranked dead last in patient satisfaction.

But Nelson wasn’t fired. Her VA superiors hid her literally on the other side of the Earth in 2013 at the department’s only foreign facility, a seldom-used clinic inside the palatial U.S. Embassy in the Philippines capital city of Manila.

She resides in a government-provided condo and gets the same $160,000 salary she made in St. Louis, which allows her to live like royalty in a country where the average person makes only $2,500 a year.

The Clinton campaign is blaming "right wing attacks" for an order by a judge appointed by her husband to force her aides to answer questions about setting up Hillary's private email network.
But Clinton could face a new set of legal challenges now that a judge, appointed to federal court by her husband, has raised the possibility of issuing a subpoena for her and one of her top campaign staffers, Huma Abedin. Even if those subpoenas never materialize, Clinton's closest aides will be required to tell the court why a personal server was set up in Clinton's New York home and how they decided which emails they would ultimately erase from that server in 2014.

The decision to grant Judicial Watch, a conservative nonprofit, its motion for discovery in the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit at hand marked a rare and significant step in the legal battle over Clinton's emails. Attorneys for Judicial Watch have in the past argued that what little is known to the public about Clinton's email arrangement suggests she and her staff intentionally hid records that could have raised uncomfortable questions for her presidential campaign.

"It just boggles the mind that the State Department allowed this circumstance to arise in the first place," Judge Emmet Sullivan of U.S. District Court said during the FOIA hearing Tuesday. "It's just very, very, very troubling."
Gosh, who knew how powerful that right wing network was?

You think this is a coincidence?
U.S. spy agencies have told Congress that Hillary Clinton’s home computer server contained some emails that should have been treated as “top secret” because their wording matched sections of some of the government’s most highly classified documents, four sources familiar with the agency reports said.

The two reports are the first formal declarations by U.S. spy agencies detailing how they believe Clinton violated government rules when highly classified information in at least 22 email messages passed through her unsecured home server.

The State Department has already acknowledged that the emails contained top secret intelligence, though it says they were not marked that way. It has not previously been clear if the emails contained full classified documents or only some information from them.

The agencies did not find any top secret documents that passed through Clinton’s server in their full version, the sources from Congress and the government’s executive branch said.

However, the agency reports found some emails included passages that closely tracked or mirrored communications marked “top secret,” according to the sources, who all requested anonymity. In some cases, additional classification markings meant access was supposed to be limited to small groups of specially cleared officials.
I guess that is what happened when Hillary instructed her aide to take off the markings so he could send her classified info. This sort of thing doesn't happen by accident.

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The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they finally ground to a stop for Rick Perry and the bogus charges that a partisan prosecutor brought against him.

The felony prosecution of former Texas governor Rick Perry ended Wednesday when the state's highest criminal court dismissed an abuse-of-power indictment that the Republican says hampered his short-lived 2016 presidential bid.

The 6-2 decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is dominated by elected Republican judges, frees Perry from a long-running criminal case that blemished the exit of one of the most powerful Texas governors in history and hung over his second failed run for the White House.

A grand jury in liberal Austin had indicted Perry in 2014 for vetoing funding for a public corruption unit that Republicans have long accused of wielding a partisan ax.

The unit worked under Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, an elected Democrat. Perry wanted her to resign after she was convicted of drunken driving.

Perry was accused of using his veto power to threaten a public official and overstepping his authority, but the judges ruled that courts can't undermine the veto power of a governor.

'Come at the king, you best not miss,' Republican Judge David Newell wrote in his concurring opinion, quoting a popular line from the HBO series 'The Wire.'

....The court said veto power can't be restricted by the courts and the prosecution of a veto 'violates separations of powers.' A lower appeals court had dismissed the other charge, coercion by a public servant, in July.
As Kevin Williamson writes, Rick Perry might have been innocent, but there was a whole lot of corruption in the Texas political culture.
Rick Perry, arguably the most successful American governor in a generation, is in forced retirement. Rosemary Lehmberg, the vodka-swilling, retribution-promising, drunk-driving human dumpster fire who indicted Governor Perry for exercising the ordinary powers of his office — vetoing funding for her office — remains in power. That, in short, is what is wrong with Texas — and the country....

But it wasn’t the drunk driving that bothered me — or, more to the point, that bothered Governor Perry. Upon her arrest, Lehmberg immediately went into “Do You Know Who I Am?” mode and was so abusive that she had to be put in restraints. She demanded special treatment and threatened law-enforcement personnel with legal retaliation for refusing to let her slide. Specifically, she threatened to have them arrested. Amusingly, this is all captured on a hilarious video that never gets old.

To recap:

This is the prosecutor in charge of the statewide task force policing political ethics. Think on that for a minute.

Governor Perry, being a reasonably responsible chief executive, judged this state of affairs to be intolerable. But Lehmberg is not a state employee subject to gubernatorial dismissal; she is an elected official of Travis County. Her office, however, is funded by the state government, and Governor Perry made it clear that he would veto that funding so long as the person in charge of the place was — let’s reiterate — an out-of-control criminal misusing her official prosecutorial powers in an attempt to suborn misconduct from law-enforcement personnel.

Governor Perry carried through on his promise, and Lehmberg retaliated by indicting him on felony charges, alleging that his use of the veto — an ordinary part of his prerogatives as governor — constituted an abuse of power. That Rosemary Lehmberg, of all people, was developing innovative theories about the abuse of official power is the source of some grim mirth. But politically motivated felony prosecution of governors and presidential candidates is no joke.

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Jack Shafer has an interesting take on Donald Trump's approach
to the truth. He demonstrates as much concern for the truth as those who forward bizarre email stories to everyone on their mailing list. He'll just spout stuff and has no concern if it's true, just that it's interesting. So he'll put forth that Cruz and Rubio might not be eligible for the presidency.
Trump, pressed for time to check the veracity of the material he retweets, still has time to find and retweet politically advantageous material. Over the weekend, he retweeted a tweet that questioned the eligibility not only of Ted Cruz to run for president but of Marco Rubio, too. Asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos whether he was sure that Rubio was not eligible, Trump said, “I really—I’ve never looked at it, George. I honestly have never looked at it. As somebody said, he’s not. And I retweeted it. I have 14 million people between Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and I retweet things and we start dialogue and it’s very interesting.”

Well, yes, the dialogue is interesting, but interesting in the way that the email your Aunt Polly forwarded to you about an ACLU lawsuit to ban prayer in the military and uproot all cross-shaped headstones from military cemeteries is interesting. That is, it’s untenable, brain-dissolving bunk. Trump’s idea of presidential campaign “dialogue” is to claim that George W. Bush lied to get the United States into the Iraq War, as he did during the South Carolina debate, and then walk it back with a piece of illogic a few days later. “I don’t know if [George W. Bush] lied or not. He could have lied. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. I guess you’d have to ask him,” Trump told Stephanopoulos....

I suspect Trump’s propensity for repeating twaddle and his ability to repeat it and paying no price is a mystery to him, too. Asked Sunday on Meet the Press to settle what, exactly, his self-conflicting views over time on the wisdom of the Iraq invasion was, Trump spoke to the chaos of his method.

“I really don’t even know what I mean, because that was a long time ago, and who knows what was in my head,” he offered. If he doesn’t know, how can we?
His followers don't seem to care if he's just retweeting garbage or if he seriously means the things he says. All that seems to matter to them is that he's not PC and that he annoys the establishment. They don't care that he lies regularly about his positions or his biography. Who needs honesty anymore in one's leaders?

There may or may not be something fishy in Donald Trump's taxes, but Mitt Romney is the last person who should be making the allegations that he suspects something about Trump's tax returns.
"I think there's something there," Romney told host Neil Cavuto. "Either he's not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is or he hasn't been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay, or perhaps he hasn't been giving money to the vets or the disabled like he's been telling us he's been doing."

"The reason I think there's a bombshell in there is because every time he's asked about his taxes, he dodges and delays and says. 'Oh well we're working on it.' Hey, we're not talking about the taxes that are coming through this year. Of course they're working on those, they won't be ready for months."
It was sleazy when Harry Reid alleged that Romney hadn't paid any taxes for ten years. He made that allegation on the floor of the Senate. That was sleazy and shameful. It was totally baseless, but Reid still won't apologize because, "Romney didn't win, did he?" So it's strange and, frankly, disappointing to see Romney make allegations about Trump's taxes. He could just call for Trump to release his returns without the speculation. Either he knows something and should make that public or he should keep his mouth shut.

Donald Trump has tweeted his response.
Notice that there is no refutation of Romney's allegations about Trump's own taxes.

Allahpundit reminds us that Donald Trump lost a libel suit against a journalist who called him a millionaire instead of a billionaire. The suit was rejected in New Jersey courts based on the libel laws requiring actual malice. But what is interesting is that Trump didn't submit any evidence to support his assertions that he's a billionaire.
As for Trump's own estimation of his net worth, Trump's lawyer says it has been "proven conclusively" to exceed $7 billion.

Then again, during a deposition, Trump admitted that his sense of financial worth depends on his feelings day-to-day. Asked whether it was really true that his "net worth goes up and down based upon [his] own feelings," here's Trump's funny response:

"Yes, even my own feelings, as to where the world is, where the world is going, and that can change rapidly from day to day. Then you have a September 11th, and you don't feel so good about yourself and you don't feel so good about the world and you don't feel so good about New York City. Then you have a year later, and the city is as hot as a pistol. Even months after that it was a different feeling. So yeah, even my own feelings affect my value to myself."
So how does he enter his "feelings" on his tax returns?

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This is typical behavior
from the Obama administration.
Republicans on Capitol Hill are questioning the legality of a move by the Obama administration to give billions to insurers under a program implemented under Obamacare that they say is equal to an insurer bailout.

At issue for lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is whether the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services violated the Affordable Care Act by diverting $3.5 billion intended for the U.S. Treasury to insurance companies.

“[Earlier this month], the administration announced that they would be using billions of taxpayer dollars to make payments to insurance companies under the Obamacare reinsurance program,” Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Penn., said Wednesday during a hearing with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

“The announcement that the administration made represents an illegal wealth transfer from hardworking taxpayers to insurers,” he continued, “and this law is very clear—$5 billion of reinsurance fees must be returned to the taxpayers.”
Of course, this administration totally ignores what the law says and feels invincible in moving money around at its own wishes regardless of what the law says.