Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cruising the Web

Jay Nordlinger reminds us why it is so distressing for President Obama to have allowed himself to be photographed in front of a mural commemorating the thug Che Guevara. Here is what Nordlinger wrote back in 2005 about all the liberals and young people who celebrate Guevara without knowing how truly terrible a man he was.
He was an Argentinian revolutionary who served as Castro’s primary thug. He was especially infamous for presiding over summary executions at La Cabana, the fortress that was his abattoir. He liked to administer the coup de grace, the bullet to the back of the neck. And he loved to parade people past El Paredon, the reddened wall against which so many innocents were killed. Furthermore, he established the labor-camp system in which countless citizens–dissidents, democrats, artists, homosexuals–would suffer and die. This is the Cuban gulag. A Cuban-American writer, Humberto Fontova, described Guevara as “a combination of Beria and Himmler.” Anthony Daniels once quipped, “The difference between [Guevara] and Pol Pot was that [the former] never studied in Paris.”

And yet, he is celebrated by “liberals,” this most illiberal of men. As Paul Berman summed up recently in Slate, “Che was an enemy of freedom, and yet he has been erected into a symbol of freedom. He helped establish an unjust social system in Cuba and has been erected into a symbol of social justice. He stood for the ancient rigidities of Latin-American thought, in a Marxist-Leninist version, and he has been celebrated as a freethinker and a rebel.”
Either Obama is like all those leftists and young people who admire Guevara without knowing anything about him. Or he knowingly allowed himself to be used as a tool of Cuban propaganda. Is he that supine? Either choice is terribly dismaying for an American president. Would he allow himself to be photographed before a huge photograph of Vladimir Lenin? With this president, I'm not so sure.

A British Member of the European Parliament, Dan Hannan, tells President Obama to butt out of the debate over Brexit. There is something really off-putting about lecturing a foreign population about how they should vote in such a crucial issue. Hannan explains why he believes that the British would benefit from exiting the EU and that it is none of Obama's "bloody business." And he makes a final argument using our own Declaration of Independence.
The EU is showing its age. It's a leftover from the top-down, dirigiste, big-bloc thinking of the 1950s. This might explain President Obama's soft spot for it. But the rest of the world is going in the opposite direction. In an era of Skype and cheap air travel, regional customs unions look obsolete. The idea that we should meekly acquiesce in the rulings of transnational bureaucracies seems terribly 20th century.

Take another look at your Declaration of Independence. See how aptly the colonists' grievances might now be leveled against the EU: "a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution"; "abolishing the free System of English Laws"; "declaring themselves invested with the power to legislate for us"; "obstructing the Laws for the Naturalization of Foreigners". There is even, uncannily, an anticipation of the European Parliament, which moves every month between Brussels and Strasbourg: "He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable and distant".

On June 23, Britain will vote on whether to recover her independence. Americans, of all people, should sympathize.
But then so much of Obama's thinking is "terribly 20th century."

These are our great friends with whom the Obama administration so proudly negotiated a catastrophe of an agreement.
ran intends to celebrate its capture of 10 Americans sailors earlier this year by building a monument.

Admiral Ali Fadavi, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps naval commander, recently revealed the plan to erect the monument, which he said would serve as a “tourist attraction,” according to a report in London’s The Telegraph.

“There are very many photographs of the major incident of arresting U.S. Marines in the Persian Gulf in the media and we intend to build a symbol out of them inside one of our naval monuments,” Fadavi reportedly told Iran’s Defense Press news agency, misidentifying the sailors as Marines.

The statue would be the latest of several instances in which Iran has celebrated the sailors’ January capture. In February, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei awarded medals to Fadavi and four other naval commanders for detaining the U.S. sailors, complimenting them on an “excellent job.” Weeks later, participants in a Tehran rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution imitated the sailors’ capture.
Remember, this was the behavior for which John Kerry thanked Iran for their "quick and appropriate response." That's our Secretary of State, ladies and gentleman.

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Stephen Hayes examines what conservatives who support Donald Trump would like us to believe.
First, they asked us to believe Trump was a conservative. But that argument couldn't survive a cursory look at his background, and it falls apart further with nearly every policy pronouncement Trump makes. Then they said he was antiestablishment. But Trump financed the establishment of both parties for years and is now telling anyone who will listen that he intends to go establishment once he gets the Republican nomination. Then they asked us to look past his boorishness and promised he'd tone it down as the process went on. But Trump continued his subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) race-baiting and lately has encouraged violence against those who protest at his rallies. And when his supporters answered his call, he defended their actions and once again raised the possibility that he'd pay the legal fees of offenders. They promised he'd surround himself with the very best people. But Trump's campaign manager manhandled a female reporter, and when Trump was asked last week to make good on his promise to name his foreign policy advisers, he said: "I'm speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I've said a lot of things. .  .  . My primary consultant is myself, and I have a good instinct for this stuff."
They also want us to believe that Trump could defeat Hillary despite the large number of Republican voters who tell pollsters that they would never vote for him, even against Clinton.
In the five contests held on March 15, the share of GOP primary voters who told pollsters flatly they would not support Trump if he becomes the nominee ranged from roughly a quarter to a third. When GOP voters were asked if they'd be "satisfied" with a Clinton vs. Trump matchup or if they'd look at supporting a third-party candidate, the numbers were staggering. In Missouri and Illinois, 43 percent of GOP primary voters said they'd "seriously consider voting for a third-party candidate." In Ohio, 42 percent said they were potential third-party voters. In North Carolina it was 39 percent, and in Florida, Trump's best state that day, 3 in 10 Republican primary voters said they'd seriously consider a third party.

As those numbers indicate, a large swath of the Republican primary electorate is either so stubbornly opposed to Trump that they will not vote for him or dissatisfied enough that they will consider alternatives outside of their party. Those percentages may diminish, but given the intensity of views about Trump, they may not come down that far. So much for the myth, eagerly propagated by Trump enthusiasts, that the battle for the GOP nomination is a fight between Donald Trump and the protectors of the "establishment" in Washington....

Hillary Clinton has beaten Donald Trump in 43 of the past 49 head-to-head national polls. Sixty-seven percent of American voters have a negative view of Trump, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll out last week, and 56 percent say their view is "strongly" unfavorable. His favorable rating is at 30 percent, giving him a net favorable rating of negative 37. That's not only the lowest rating of any candidate in the 2016 race, it's among the lowest ratings seen in modern history.

Clinton has abysmal honest/trustworthy ratings; Trump's are lower—in some cases nearly twice as bad as Clinton's. In head-to-head comparisons with Trump, she's seen as a candidate who is more empathetic and relatable and who has the right experience for the job. And, importantly, the more voters have seen of him, the worse he's looked. His numbers in all of those categories have declined since September, in some cases markedly.

A separate Washington Post poll released in late January found that nearly 7 in 10 Americans say that the idea of a Trump presidency gives them "anxiety." For Clinton, it's 5 in 10. (Fifty-one percent say they're "very" anxious about Trump; 35 percent say the same of Clinton.)
Trump loves to throw poll numbers at us to substantiate his superiority as a candidate. Unsurprisingly, he ignores such poll results or outright lies about them. He practices living by the polls or lying about the polls.
In short, the same people who have asked us to overlook his cronyism, his liberalism, and his chauvinism now want us to disbelieve all the data on Trump's electability, and some of them would have us believe he wouldn't just win but would triumph in a landslide.

When that doesn't happen—and when Trump either loses or proves a disastrous president—they'll go looking for someone to blame.

They won't have to look far.
Donald Trump came to Washington and had an interview with the Washington Post yesterday. Philip Bump highlights what he calls "the most baffling moments" from that interview when Trump was asking about using tactical nukes against ISIS.
Trump responded that he didn't want to "start the process of nuclear," then reminding the editors that he was "a counter-puncher."

"Remember, one thing that everybody has said, I’m a counter-puncher," Trump said. "Rubio hit me. Bush hit me. When I said low energy, he’s a low-energy individual, he hit me first. He spent, by the way -- he spent 18 million dollars’ worth of negative ads on me. That’s putting..."

Ryan (Washington Post publisher] jumped in. "This is about ISIS," he reminded Trump. "You would not use a tactical nuclear weapon against ISIS?"

"I’ll tell you one thing," Trump replied. "This is a very good looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I’m talking to?"
Ooookay. He's asked about using tactical nukes against ISIS and his response is first to compare the conflict to campaign rhetoric and then comment on the good looks of his interlocutors. There's the art of the deal right there. That wasn't the only weird moment.
Immediately prior to the question about the nuclear strike, for example, Trump spent 550 words and several minutes defending the size of his hands ... and correlated appendages. Why did he bring up size during the debate? "I don't want people to go around thinking that I have a problem."
>Reports from the Vanity Fair profile in which Graydon Carter called him a "short-fingered vulgarian" about how riled up Trump got about that epithet now ring true. The guy really is upset that anyone would question the size of his hands. Instead of laughing it off, he goes on and on about it years later. Just the way he can't seem to let go that Megyn Kelly questioned him about his misogynistic comments. He also told the Post that he wants to loosen up libel laws so that they can be sued for not portraying him the way he wants. Would he have resorted to a lawsuit against Vanity Fair for questioning the size of his hands? In Trump World, that doesn't seem so unlikely.

With apologies to Philip Bump, these aren't "baffling moments." He deflected a question on how he would handle ISIS because he doesn't know what he'd do or hadn't thought about using tactical nukes. Anyone contemplating becoming president should have thought about that question and decided on his approach, but not Trump. And he talked about the size of his hands because he's a narcissist and can't stand and this one comment on his appearance really, really gets to him. He didn't seem to mind being called a vulgarian, but the whole short-fingered thing seems to him to be a question of his manhood. And that he can't stand. And he'd like to change the libel laws so he could do something about anyone criticizing him or, in his view, portraying him unfairly. That's not baffling. That is who this guy is.

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This is what happens when a Democrat takes over after a Republican: minorities will suffer when it comes to education. The new Democratic governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, is putting limits on the very successful school choice program that has helped low-income, mostly minority students in that state.
If Democrats are so committed to equality and fairness, why do the party’s politicians protect teachers unions over minority students looking for a good education? The latest example is on display in Louisiana, where new Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards is trying to curb school choice.

Mr. Edwards this week proposed restrictions on the Louisiana Scholarship Program, which allows low-income students in schools rated by the state as C, D or F to apply for a scholarship to attend a parochial or private school. The initiative started thanks to former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal and serves more than 7,100 students, almost 90% of whom are minorities.

The Governor would limit scholarships only to students stuck in D or F schools. He says C schools “by definition, are not failing” and what an aspirational view of education that is. Some Louisiana schools get a C grade even if fewer than 25% of students achieved what the state calls “mastery,” which it defines as “well prepared for the next level of studies.” Last year some 365 state schools earned a C, more than the number that notched D and F combined. More than one in three voucher students hail from a C school.
And I would bet that the governor is just getting started. Ideally, teachers unions and their Democratic lapdogs would like to shut down as many charter schools and school choice programs as they can regardless of how many students are being helped by those schools.

Hans Spakovsky notes the odd decision by the Obama administration to launch a video touting their nominee for librarian of Congress. It's clear from the video that she doesn't have the scholarly background of notables in that position. It's rather funny what their nominee, Carla Hayden, seems to think is the role of the librarian of Congress.
hat was unwise, for the video turns out to be more revealing than the White House could have imagined. Indeed, Hayden’s own words make a compelling case against her confirmation. Her misguided vision for the Library is simplistic, wrong-headed, and alarming.

In her White House video, Hayden describes her experience in Baltimore:
The neighborhood libraries were opportunity centers. An opportunity to get the latest Harry Potter as soon as it came out, a place that you could apply for a job … and a place that you could find that step up in your life.
That statement reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of the Library of Congress (LOC). Hayden seems to think of the LOC as just another neighborhood branch library, merely on a larger scale. It isn’t. The LOC is not a local library that loans books to the public.

No one can check out “the latest Harry Potter,” or for that matter any book, from the LOC.

Nor is the LOC an online job-search center. Again, local libraries can do this, as they have apparently done in Baltimore. Nor is the Library of Congress the place “to find that step up in your life” -- whatever that means.

It sounds like Hayden is lobbying for another term as president of the American Library Association, not the position of librarian of Congress.

Hayden claims the Library of Congress “epitomizes what libraries are in every community.” Hayden is wrong. The LOC does not “epitomize” what every community library is, nor should it be treated as a community library. It is a unique institution with several specific and special missions that is not like other libraries.
How can Hayden and her White House handlers be so ignorant of the role of the LOC? It's a research institution that preserves the vast number of publications that come out every year for future generations. Couldn't she have just taken the tour that the LOC offers tourists? That would have let her know the difference between the Library of Congress and a community library. People can't just walk in and check out books. They have to fill out a form to verify that they are researchers and then put in a request for the resources they want and then wait until the materials are brought to them. When I was in college, I did research at the LOC for my honors thesis and it was an awe-inspiring experience, but it was also an all-day experience as I waited for my books to be brought to me. And that was before all the security procedures that are in place now.

The real reason that she got this nomination is, just as Obama said when he nominated her, because she is female and African-American. Nothing about her ability to lead the LOC into the future using digital research, a major focus that the LOC is very proud of.
Ms. Hayden’s capabilities to undertake anything similar for the Library of Congress appear to be absent; her rudimentary online efforts up until now give the impression of a balky floppy disk in an age of global cloud services.

In today’s digital world, a vital test of management skill for any large information enterprise is securing its data and online services. Yet a security review of Ms. Hayden’s current institution reveals that the password for the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s “epfl-wpa” wireless network is actually disclosed openly on the EPFL website.

This risks the security of not only the Library’s network and resources, but also the laptops and mobile devices of every library patron who logs in at the library.
Yes, because every password should be provided free to its patrons. This is what happens when identity politics trumps competence.

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Bill Clinton just can't help himself. Fifteen years after he left the White House he speaks now in riffs and it's clear that he is still angry that Obama defeated his wife in 2008. So he rambled on about how she was the best person to help the country after the abysmal past eight years.
But if you believe we can all rise together, if you believe we’ve finally come to the point where we can put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us and the seven years before that when we were practicing trickle-down economics and no regulation in Washington, which is what caused the crash, then you should vote for her because she’s the only person who basically had good ideas will tell you how she’s going to pay for them, can be commander in chief and is a proven change maker with Republicans and Democrats and independents alike.
Now the Clinton campaign, which is basing its whole strategy on appealing to Obama supporters has to explain why Clinton referred to the "awful legacy of the last eight years" if he was not referring to Obama. He was trying to refer to the Republicans and their obstruction of Obama's wonderfulness. Note the timeline of the past eight years. The Republicans only took over Congress after the 2010 elections. That is not eight years ago. Either the Big Dog can't do arithmetic or he just made a doozy of a Freudian slip. Republicans thank him for expressing their opinion of the Obama presidency.

Mollie Hemingway noticed that some Clinton supporters in the media get very, well, angry when someone notes how angry Hillary sounds so much of the time, particularly when giving victory speeches. Apparently, that, like most criticisms of Hillary, are sexist. Remark on her problems with honesty are just representations of a critic's sexism.
Not everything is sexism, despite our lazy media trying to fit everything into that box. Yes, Hillary likes to emphasize the fact that she’s a woman as a reason to vote for her for president. Fine. But noticing that she does not have the dulcet tones or speaking ability of an NPR host is not sexist. Neither is noticing that Bill and Hillary Clinton have legendary problems telling the truth. It’s not sexist. It’s not even that observant. It’s just obvious and true.
Perhaps there are some female voters out there who will agree that any criticism of their goddess is sexist, but I would bet a whole lot more voters simply judge Hillary as she is. And they don't like what they see. It has nothing at all to do with her gender, but her character.

David French notes this tidbit in the Clint email scnadal - an email from Sidney Blumenthal to Clinton on her unclassified account, as John Schindler reports in The Observer, that was based on highly sensitive NSA information.
This email contains an amazingly detailed assessment of events in Sudan, specifically a coup being plotted by top generals in that war-torn country. Mr. Blumenthal’s information came from a top-ranking source with direct access to Sudan’s top military and intelligence officials, and recounted a high-level meeting that had taken place only 24 hours before.

To anybody familiar with intelligence reporting, this unmistakably signals intelligence, termed SIGINT in the trade. In other words, Mr. Blumenthal, a private citizen who had enjoyed no access to U.S. intelligence for over a decade when he sent that email, somehow got hold of SIGINT about the Sudanese leadership and managed to send it, via open, unclassified email, to his friend Ms. Clinton only one day later.

NSA officials were appalled by the State Department’s release of this email, since it bore all the hallmarks of Agency reporting. Back in early January when I reported this, I was confident that Mr. Blumenthal’s information came from highly classified NSA sources, based on my years of reading and writing such reports myself, and one veteran agency official told me it was NSA information with “at least 90 percent confidence.”

Now, over two months later, I can confirm that the contents of Sid Blumenthal’s June 8, 2011, email to Hillary Clinton, sent to her personal, unclassified account, were indeed based on highly sensitive NSA information. The agency investigated this compromise and determined that Mr. Blumenthal’s highly detailed account of Sudanese goings-on, including the retelling of high-level conversations in that country, was indeed derived from NSA intelligence.

Specifically, this information was illegally lifted from four different NSA reports, all of them classified “Top Secret / Special Intelligence.” Worse, at least one of those reports was issued under the GAMMA compartment, which is an NSA handling caveat that is applied to extraordinarily sensitive information (for instance, decrypted conversations between top foreign leadership, as this was). GAMMA is properly viewed as a SIGINT Special Access Program, or SAP, several of which from the CIA Ms. Clinton compromised in another series of her “unclassified” emails.
This is clearly illegal and Blumenthal is going to be in trouble for that. As French predicts, such evidence is going to be particularly dangerous for Blumenthal.
If true, this report highlights the extent to which close Clinton friends and confidantes may soon find themselves in serious legal jeopardy. Clinton’s extraordinarily selfish act — her insistence on setting up a private server and a special, for-herself-only communications protocol — meant that her inner circle was inevitably ensnared. If she insisted on communicating with her own devices – and simultaneously demanded timely intelligence information — then aides would constantly encounter a choice between following the law and obeying Hillary.

As the FBI investigation winds towards its conclusion, the first shoe to drop may be an indictment of one or more of Clinton’s aides. Arresting aides would be less politically explosive than initially indicting Clinton, and any subsequent cooperation with the government could make it extraordinarily difficult for the Obama administration to shield Hillary herself. The endgame is approaching.
Schindler predicts that, if the FBI recommend prosecution of Hillary and her aides for actions that those not the leading Democratic candidate for president are routinely prosecuted for, and the Department of Justice stalls or declines to prosecute, we can expect even more leaks from the investigation. And the problems for Clinton are not just from the FBI. Schindler reports on how Hillary and her staff resented NSA requirements that they leave their Blackberrys behind when entering a Secure Compartment Information Facility or SCIF.
A SCIF is required for handling any Top Secret-plus information. In most Washington, D.C., offices with a SCIF, which has to be certified as fully secure from human or technical penetration, that’s where you check Top-Secret email, read intelligence reports and conduct classified meetings that must be held inside such protected spaces.

But personal electronic devices—your cellphone, your Blackberry—can never be brought into a SCIF. They represent a serious technical threat that is actually employed by many intelligence agencies worldwide. Though few Americans realize it, taking remote control over a handheld device, then using it to record conversations, is surprisingly easy for any competent spy service. Your smartphone is a sophisticated surveillance device—on you, the user—that also happens to provide phone service and Internet access.
She wanted to use her Blackberry to be able to check her email at all times. She refused to use desktop computer provided her. Using a desktop computer like everyone else was not good enough for Hillary and she issued demands to NSA to accommodate her desires. You'd think that a new Secretary of State would defer to the standard security practices in place from the NSA, but she is above such mundane security concerns. And she had her own email server to get around those concerns. And now it's come back to bit her and the repellent Sidney Blumenthal. And it's her own dang fault. She might like to blame the Republicans, but they weren't the ones who decided to evade federal law.