Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cruising the Web

The Washington Post tries to figure out how Hillary Clinton got into this whole mess with her emails and server. Their conclusion is that she just wanted to use her Blackberry.
Hillary Clinton’s email problems began in her first days as secretary of state. She insisted on using her personal BlackBerry for all her email communications, but she wasn’t allowed to take the device into her seventh-floor suite of offices, a secure space known as Mahogany Row.

For Clinton, this was frustrating. As a political heavyweight and chief of the nation’s diplomatic corps, she needed to manage a torrent of email to stay connected to colleagues, friends and supporters. She hated having to put her BlackBerry into a lockbox before going into her own office.

Her aides and senior officials pushed to find a way to enable her to use the device in the secure area. But their efforts unsettled the diplomatic security bureau, which was worried that foreign intelligence services could hack her BlackBerry and transform it into a listening device.

On Feb. 17, 2009, less than a month into Clinton’s tenure, the issue came to a head. Department security, intelligence and technology specialists, along with five officials from the National Security Agency, gathered in a Mahogany Row conference room. They explained the risks to Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, while also seeking “mitigation options” that would accommodate Clinton’s wishes.

“The issue here is one of personal comfort,” one of the participants in that meeting, Donald Reid, the department’s senior coordinator for security infrastructure, wrote afterward in an email that described Clinton’s inner circle of advisers as “dedicated [BlackBerry] addicts.”

Clinton used her BlackBerry as the group continued looking for a solution. But unknown to diplomatic security and technology officials at the department, there was another looming communications vulnerability: Clinton’s Black­Berry was digitally tethered to a private email server in the basement of her family home, some 260 miles to the north in Chappaqua, N.Y., documents and interviews show.
That's the most favorable take that there can be on Hillary's choices. But think of that - because she just liked using a Blackberry, she ignored the security concerns from those in charge of maintaining security. Her comfort with the Blackberry trumped any other concerns. And knowing that there were deep concerns about preserving the security of her Blackberry, she didn't hesitate to link it to her private server that was not protected against hacking.

As the Post points out, Clinton had campaigned in 2008 promising openness and quick compliance with Freedom of Information Act requests. Yeah, sure.
Buut in those first few days, Clinton’s senior advisers were already taking steps that would help her circumvent those high-flown words, according to a chain of internal State Department emails released to Judicial Watch, a conservative nonprofit organization suing the government over Clinton’s emails.
So immediately on getting the job, she arranged to get around the laws concerning national security as well as the preservation of official records. And it isn't as if she was unaware of the dangers from hacking into communication devices.
The State Department security officials were distressed about the possibility that Clinton’s BlackBerry could be compromised and used for eavesdropping, documents and interviews show.

After the meeting on Feb. 17 with Mills, security officials in the department crafted a memo about the risks. And among themselves, they expressed concern that other department employees would follow the “bad example” and seek to use insecure BlackBerrys themselves, emails show.

As they worked on the memo, they were aware of a speech delivered by Joel F. Brenner, then chief of counterintelligence at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on Feb. 24 at a hotel in Vienna, Va., a State Department document shows. Brenner urged his audience to consider what could have happened to them during a visit to the recent Beijing Olympics.

“Your phone or BlackBerry could have been tagged, tracked, monitored and exploited between your disembarking the airplane and reaching the taxi stand at the airport,” Brenner said. “And when you emailed back home, some or all of the malware may have migrated to your home server. This is not hypothetical.”

At the time, Clinton had just returned from an official trip that took her to China and elsewhere in Asia. She was embarking on another foray to the Middle East and Europe. She took her BlackBerry with her.
Such mundane concerns about security for little people not the Blackberry Diva, as David French terms her. She ran her communications through her private server that, as the Post reminds us, didn't even in the beginning have standard encryption on it. And this woman now pretends that she did nothing wrong. She's a Clinton and that is all the defense she thinks she needs. And she may well be right.

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Politico reports that Donald Trump, who is running on his ability to make the best deals, is not doing very well in making the deals to guarantee that he gets delegates to the GOP convention.
While Trump cries foul, Cruz is racking up support from prospective delegates across the country, even in states where Trump dominated the primary. From Louisiana to Georgia to South Carolina — all Trump victories — delegates and delegate candidates are lining up to back Cruz, who’s romped among the Republican activist class that tends to control this part of the process. South Dakota’s delegates and early contests in Iowa also appear to favor Cruz.

“I've been telling the Trump campaign for eight months now that they're making a mistake by not reaching out to RNC members to establish relationships,” said one South Carolina Republican participating in the state’s delegate selection process. “He hasn't done any of that. ... That's usually the kind of thing that presidential candidates do.”

None of this matters much if Trump grabs the 1,237 pledged delegates he’d likely need to win a majority vote on the convention’s first ballot. But if he doesn’t, the convention could go to further rounds of voting where many delegates are free to vote for a candidate of their choosing — and that’s where Trump could run into trouble.

In a contested convention, the South Carolina Republican added, “Every state delegation will turn to its state chairman and RNC members and say, ‘What should we do?’ There's no loyalty. It would be very easy for those state leaders to cut and run on Trump.”

In state after state, GOP leaders report impressive efforts by the Cruz campaign to understand the intricacies of local delegate battles and maneuver to install its loyalists in coveted convention slots.
Apparently, Trump didn't realize that part of the art of the deal is to know the rules and what needs to be done to maneuver within those rules. As he assures us that he's going to hire the very best people to staff his future administration, he doesn't seem able to have hired those staffers who know how the Republican system works. It's very complicated and the rules change from state to state often with party leaders within the state controlling the process. And those are just the people who are less than sympathetic to Trump's candidacy particularly as poll after poll shows Trump doing the worst of the three remaining candidates against Hillary Clinton. He's even down big to Sanders. Of course, such polls are quite problematic at this point, but Trump and Clinton are very well known at this point. Cruz and Kasich are still not all that well known by the general public and the Clinton campaign could still drive down their numbers if either of them ended up as the GOP candidate. But, such polls do nothing to support Trump's claims about how well he'd do against Clinton.

The Hill points out all the ways in which Trump is defying standard Republican positions on foreign policy.
This week, the celebrity real estate mogul doubled down on statements that NATO is “obsolete.” Those remarks came in the wake of a terror attack in the treaty organization’s home city of Brussels.

Last year, Trump said that the U.S.’s alliance with Japan “doesn't sound so fair,” since “we have to go to their defense and start World War III” if Japan is attacked but "Japan doesn't have to help us."

In South Korea, where thousands of American troops have been stationed for decades, “we get practically nothing compared to the cost of this,” Trump has said.

"We have 25,000 soldiers over there protecting them. They don't pay us. Why don't they pay us?"

Taken together, Trump’s comments about foreign policy often hinge on the idea that the U.S. should withdraw from much of the world and negotiate a “better deal” before reengaging. In addition to casting doubts on alliances, he has also been a prominent opponent of the 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal.
Add in his assurances that the military under a President Trump would follow his orders to target terrorists' families.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with challenging the orthodoxy,” added Danielle Pletka, a senior vice president at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who is a critic of Trump. “The problem is that you ought to do it based on some vision, some piece of information, some insight into how you want to lead.”

“Unfortunately, 'greatness' is not a foreign policy.”

Evan Carter reminds us of how ugly American political discourse has been over the years and this year is not the worst ever.

A woman who worked as the communications director for Trump's Make American Great Again Super PAC writes that Trump's goal was never to be president or even win the nomination. He just wanted to do well enough to have grabbed the public's attention and be able to talk about what he would have done if he'd won. Then surprisingly, he did well in the polls and stayed up there and started winning elections.
I don't think even Trump thought he would get this far. And I don’t even know that he wanted to, which is perhaps the scariest prospect of all.

He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver's seat, and nothing else matters. The Donald does not fail. The Donald does not have any weakness. The Donald is his own biggest enemy....

Superhero powers where "I alone can solve" problems are not real. They do not exist for Batman, for Superman, for Wrestlemania and definitely not for Donald Trump.

What was once Trump's desire to rank second place to send a message to America and to increase his power as a businessman has nightmarishly morphed into a charade that is poised to do irreparable damage to this country if we do not stop this campaign in its tracks.

I'll say it again: Trump never intended to be the candidate. But his pride is too out of control to stop him now.

You can give Trump the biggest gift possible if you are a Trump supporter: stop supporting him.

He doesn't want the White House. He just wants to be able to say that he could have run the White House. He’s achieved that already and then some. If there is any question, take it from someone who was recruited to help the candidate succeed, and initially very much wanted him to do so.

The hard truth is: Trump only cares about Trump.
She goes on to explain how she went from enthusiastically supporting Trump to being horrified by his candidacy.
Unfortunately, the more vitriolic Trump has become, the more the people responded to him. That drove him to push the boundaries further and further.

I also started seeing a trend of incompetence and deniability.

When there was a tweet that contained an error, he would blame it on an intern; when there was a photo containing a World War II Nazi Germany background, he would blame it on an intern; when he answered questions in an overtly controversial fashion, he would claim that he did not properly hear the question. He refused to take responsibility for his actions while frequently demanding apologies from others.

Imagine Trump wronged you, even in the smallest possible way. He would go to the grave denying he had ever done anything wrong to you — ever.

Trump acts as if he's a fictional character. But like Hercules, Donald Trump is a work of fiction.

No matter how many times he repeats it, Trump would not be the "best" at being a president, being in shape, fighting terrorism, selling steaks, and whatever other "best" claim he has made in the last 15 minutes.

He would be the best at something, though. He is the best at looking out for Donald Trump — at all costs.

Don’t let our country pay that price.

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This is how silly the political season has gotten: Bill Scher writes at Politico that Al Franken would make a good vice presidential running mate for Hillary. Really.
With Hillary Clinton’s grip on the Democratic nomination firm, and Trump on track to insult his way to the Republican nomination, Democrats will want their vice presidential choice to accomplish the following:

1. Prevent Bernie Sanders’ energized left-wing youth from snubbing Clinton and flocking to the Green Party;
2. Protect the Rust Belt from Trump’s blustery charms; and
3. Navigate an unprecedented media circus dominated by Trump’s barrage of taunts.

That set of criteria marks a shift from what Democrats were initially expecting. But with the elimination of Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush from the Republican primaries, the electoral incentive for a Latino vice-presidential nominee is diminished. Democrats didn’t have many options anyway, lacking any Latino governors and senators, save for the indicted New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. Speculation has centered on minor Cabinet officials Juli├ín Castro of Housing and Urban Development and Tom Perez of Labor, both a stretch to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

To sate the desire for an economic populist, neither Sanders nor beloved-on-the-left Senator Elizabeth Warren are likely to fit the bill. For one, neither is likely to say yes, since both can wield more influence as outside agitators than as Clinton surrogates, sublimating their rhetoric to the top-of-the-ticket candidate. And for her part, Clinton would rather have a team player on her ticket instead of constantly worrying that her veep will go rogue.
Enter Al Franken. Just what the country needs now. As if Joe Biden hasn't been enough of a joke as a vice president, now we should have to endure Vice President Al Franken. Shoot me now.

The statistics don't seem to support the idea that Donald Trump's presence in the campaign is driving up GOP turnout in the vote so far.

Ted Cruz seems to be borrowing from the Trump campaign.
Basically, Republicans’ turnout surge is not being caused by a hypodermic shot of Trump voters into the primary electorate. Non-Trump Republicans also have been inspired to vote at higher rates -- some probably in opposition to Trump and others simply because the contest is competitive.

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Those optimistic projections from the CBO on Obamacare just aren't coming true.
Three years ago, on the eve of Obamacare’s implementation, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that President Obama's centerpiece legislation would result in an average of 201 million people having private health insurance in any given month of 2016. Now that 2016 is here, the CBO says that just 177 million people, on average, will have private health insurance in any given month of this year—a shortfall of 24 million people.
In fact, things might even be worse under Obamacare.
Indeed, based on the CBO's own numbers, it seems possible that Obamacare has actually reduced the number of people with private health insurance. In 2013, the CBO projected that, without Obamacare, 186 million people would be covered by private health insurance in 2016—160 million on employer-based plans, 26 million on individually purchased plans. The CBO now says that, with Obamacare, 177 million people will be covered by private health insurance in 2016—155 million on employer-based plans, 12 million on plans bought through Obamacare's government-run exchanges, and 9 million on other individually purchased plans (plus a rounding error of 1 million).

In other words, it would appear that a net 9 million people have lost their private health plans, thanks to Obamacare—with a net 5 million people having lost employer-based plans and a net 4 million people having lost individually purchased plans.

President Obama was complaining this week about how "balkanized" the American media have become. But, as Callum Borchers writes in the Washington Post, Obama had contributed to that balkanization that he is pretending now to be so perturbed about.
When it comes to granting interviews, he very often favors media that target particular slices of the electorate that are largely aligned with him already: left-leaning comedians, bloggers, YouTubers and podcasters.

He is more reluctant to submit to questioning by mainstream news outlets and conservative publications that would push back harder on issues on which his opponents disagree with him — and that might, you know, allow him to help the situation by reaching people who generally disagree with the president....

The pattern is unmistakable: To make a point about the folly of selection bias, Obama selects media with audiences that are mostly biased in his favor or aren't going to ask the toughest questions. He perpetuates the problem even as he denounces it.

On other occasions when the president has wanted to deliver an important message, he has chosen a media path of little resistance. When the Affordable Care Act insurance deadline was approaching in 2014, Obama promoted his signature health-care law on “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” a Funny or Die video series. Around the same time, the White House composed a GIF-filled post for BuzzFeed that listed seven reasons to purchase coverage.

Last year, after an alleged white supremacist shot and killed nine black parishioners at a church in Charleston, S.C., Obama gave an extensive interview to “WTF,” a podcast that liberal comedian Marc Maron tapes in his Los Angeles garage.

That’s about as “balkanized” as it gets.
Barack Obama is a hypocrite? What a shocker that is!