Monday, August 22, 2016

Cruising the Web

Colin Powell doesn't appreciate being used as cover for her private server.
When asked by the FBI about her email use at the State Department, Clinton reportedly told investigators that former Secretary of State Powell had advised her to use a personal email account at a private dinner.

But Powell, who had said last week in a statement that he had no recollection of the conversation, told Page Six at Saturday’s Apollo in the Hamptons event, “The truth is she was using it (her personal email) for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did [during my term as Secretary of State].

“Her people have been trying to pin it on me.”

When asked why Clinton’s team were attempting to blame him, he responded, “Why do you think?”
He refuses to be thrown under the Hillarybus.

The WSJ scoffs
at the Clintons' sudden ethical concerns about a conflict of interest regarding the Clinton Foundation.
If such fund-raising poses a problem when she’s President, why didn’t it when she was Secretary of State or while she is running for President? The answer is that it did and does, and they know it, but the foundation was too important to their political futures to give it up until the dynastic couple were headed back to the Oval Office. Now that Hillary is running ahead of Donald Trump, Bill can graciously accept new restrictions on their pay-to-play politics.

Bill must be having a good laugh over this one. The foundation served for years as a conduit for corporate and foreign cash to burnish the Clinton image, pay for their travel expenses for speeches and foreign trips, and employ their coterie in between campaigns or government gigs. Donors could give as much as they wanted because the foundation is a “charity.”

President Obama may have banished Sidney Blumenthal from the State Department, but Bill could stash his conspiratorial pal at the foundation, keeping him on the family payroll while Sid flooded Hillary with foreign-policy advice. Her private email server was supposed to hide their email traffic—until that gambit was exposed last year. But FBI Director James Comey let Hillary off the hook on the emails, and he declined to investigate the foundation, so it looks like they’re home free.

By now the corporate and foreign cash has already been delivered, in anticipation that Hillary Clinton could become the next President. So now it’s the better part of political prudence to claim the ethical high ground....

You also have to suspend disbelief that the foundation won’t live on as a Clinton political vehicle. Even if Bill and Chelsea take eight years off, the Clinton entourage appears to be taking no such vow. That would let friends and retainers continue to solicit donors and keep the joint running until the First Couple can return in 2025.

As an ethical matter, is a donation solicited by long-time Clinton body woman Cheryl Mills different than one solicited by Bill? Even in a smaller, more restricted form under these new donation limits, the foundation will continue to operate as a campaign-in-waiting for a future Senator Chelsea Clinton.
When the Clintons talk about banning corporate and foreign donors, they're talking about the backbone of their funding. The Washington Post reports,
More than half of the Clinton Foundation’s major donors would be prevented from contributing to the charity under the self-imposed ban on corporate and foreign donors the foundation said this week it would adopt if Hillary Clinton won the White House, according to a new Washington Post analysis of foundation donations.

The findings underscore the extent to which the Clintons’ sprawling global charity has come to rely on financial support from industries and overseas interests, a point that has drawn criticism from Republicans and some liberals who have said the donations represent conflicts of interest for a potential president.

The analysis, which examined donor lists posted on the foundation’s website, found that 53 percent of the donors who have given $1 million or more to the charity are corporations or foreign citizens, groups or governments. The list includes the governments of Saudi Arabia and Australia, the British bank Barclay’s, and major U.S. companies such as Coca-Cola and ExxonMobil.
So they're admitting that there is a conflict of interest to get money from such groups if she is president, but not when she was a senator or Secretary of State just waiting to run for the presidency. And given that he established the foundation when he was still president in 1997, why was that okay then? And why can these groups still give money from now until November? Yeah, this all makes sense.

As the Boston Globe points out, quite a few of the Clinton-connected organizations would be exempt from these new rules.
Big chunks of the Clinton family’s charitable network would be exempt from a self-imposed ban on foreign and corporate donations if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, loopholes that highlight the complexity of disentangling her from the former first family’s myriad potential conflicts of interest.

The most prominent of the exceptions applies to the Boston-based Clinton Health Access Initiative, which in 2014 accounted for 66 percent of spending by the Clinton network of charities. The initiative’s board plans to meet “soon” to discuss whether to participate in the planned restrictions....

Shutting off all access to foreign government grants would be potentially crippling to the charity, which relied on such funds for 60 percent of its revenue in 2015, according to the charity’s papers. Another 38 percent of funds came from private foundations, some of which are connected to large corporations, including the Ikea Foundation.

Though the CHAI organization is by far the largest piece of the Clintons’ network, it maintains a much lower profile and has a history of failing to follow the rules set up by the related Clinton Foundation to avoid conflicts of interest while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

This charity works in 32 countries and saw a huge increase in foreign donations while she helmed the State Department. But CHAI never reported those increases to the State Department as was required by an agreement hammered out between the charity and the Obama administration. It also failed to report new foreign donations, another requirement.

The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership has been another flashpoint. It was founded to create “social enterprises that help people lift themselves out of poverty,” according to Clinton charity filings. The New York Times revealed that Giustra benefited when Clinton’s State Department signed off on a deal that helped Giustra’s uranium mining interests.
Though, as Jonah Goldberg writes, the desire for money is not the worst of Hillary Clinton's corruption.
Hillary Clinton is corrupt in countless ways, but her desire for personal profit is among the least of her transgressions. She didn’t stay in her thoroughly corrupted marriage for money, she didn’t set up her server for money, she didn’t fire the White House travel office for money, she committed these sins — and myriad others — in order to seek the power and status that she covets and feels she is due.

Apparently, astronomy is sexist and we should care. It's not enough to bemoan how female astronomers have been given short shrift throughout history. But we should really worry about all the constellations that are named after male mythological figures.
To this day, astronomy remains one of the only scientific fields that relies so heavily on ancient Greek and Roman mythology for its naming conventions. Cosmology and mythology have been interwoven throughout human history, so it’s not surprising that modern-day astronomers have inherited this tradition. But classical mythology is deeply misogynistic, and using it to identify celestial bodies contributes to a scientific culture that diminishes the achievements of women like Caroline. Male deities and figures reign with nearly unlimited power, while their female counterparts suffer violence and humiliation.
And the constellations named for females are women who suffered or were attacked by males while the males are heroes. Even NASA spacecraft are named after males. Well, except for those named after females.
Today, the skies are still filtered through this tradition of mythic misogyny. Naming conventions for spacecraft and constellations are a subtle but significant way that the discipline of astronomy perpetuates a male-dominated culture. Simply giving more celestial bodies female names is not the solution. Rather, change must begin with the recognition that astronomy’s self-image is built upon an age-old habit of telling stories about the abuse of women.
I bet you hadn't realized how the man was keeping the goddesses down.

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Apparently, the Clinton defense doesn't work for ordinary folks.
A former Navy machinist mate who admitted taking photos inside a nuclear submarine was sentenced to a year in prison Friday, with a federal judge rebuffing a request for probation in light of authorities deciding not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information on a private email server as secretary of state.
But he did get a lesser sentence than the prosecutors had requested, so maybe there's that: Do something much less bad than what Hillary did and you won't get the full sentence.

Jonah Goldberg comes to the defense of Peter Thiel for funding Hulk Hogan's lawsuit that has basically brought down Gawker. Some people seem to think that private citizens shouldn't be funding lawsuits against a media outlet.
Not only did Thiel allegedly have an axe to grind – Gawker had outed him as gay in 2007 — but Thiel’s politics are unsavory in the eyes of many on the left; He’s a libertarian who’s supporting Donald Trump. (I suppose I should also disclose that he’s been a supporter of National Review, where I am a senior editor, though his support hasn’t stopped National Review from being a vocal critic of Thiel’s preferred candidate.)

I don’t understand why any of this is particularly relevant. Rich people help fund lawsuits filed by the ACLU, NAACP, Greenpeace, and countless other groups all the time.

The real issue seems to be that journalistic corporations are just different than every other kind of corporation. No one would bat an eye if, say, George Soros, bankrolled an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit by the ACLU against a “normal” corporation like Microsoft or Bank of America. But when a media outlet is in the dock, the rules are different.

Gilles Wullus of the group Reporters Without Borders told the BBC that the Gawker case poses a dire threat to press freedom. “Journalism ethics should be taken care of by journalists themselves,” he said. “In case they do not, we think that nobody else can do it in their place, neither states nor governments; especially not wealthy individuals.”

What nonsense. Yes, a free press is an important institution in a democracy (and even more important in non-democracies), but journalists don’t have any rights the rest of us don’t. A reporter has the right to free speech, and so does a plumber.

Indeed, in the era of smartphones, it has never been more true: We all have the right and ability to commit journalism. That right manifests itself in people, not corporations. The New York Times, to the extent that it is a “corporate person,” should have no more (and no fewer) rights than Exxon Mobil. Imagine the outrage if I said, “Petroleum-industry ethics should be taken care of by petroleum industry executives themselves.”

It’s certainly fair to argue against the merits of the verdict. But no one is above the law. Not even journalists, never mind corporations in the journalism business.

That was one expensive lie.
As of 2012, Lochte reportedly received $2.3 million annually in sponsorships from brands like Speedo, Mutual of Omaha, Gillette, Gatorade, and Ralph Lauren. He didn’t have quite as many endorsement deals when the 2016 Rio Olympics got underway, but does still work with Speedo, Ralph Lauren, and the mattress firm Airweave. All of these endorsement deals are presumably now in jeopardy. “It would be hard to imagine, if this story does come to fruition and this was a lie, for any of those companies to stand behind him,” ESPN reporter Darren Rovell said in an interview Thursday.

The potential for new sponsorships for Lochte would seem to be dead as well, even though he had a strong performance at the Olympics. So it’s a safe bet that the scandal will cost the Olympian many millions of dollars over the years.
There's a moral lesson for your children when you're trying to teach them not to lie. You can't look to today's political leaders, but you can sure point to Ryan Lochte.

Though USA Today's reconstruction of the whole drunken encounter
that night is closer to Lochte's characterization of the evening to Matt Lauer than it is to the way the media have been characterizing it. They didn't trash the gas station bathroom and might have never gone in there, according to security camera footage. Apparently, they used an alley for public urination and Lochte pulled down a canvas sign on the wall. Security officials demanded money which was turned over. A lot of the problem seems to have stemmed from the language barrier and the swimmers' drunkenness. What I was struck by was the security at this gas station. They had cameras and had hired off-duty prison guards as security guards. Why Lochte decided to make up a story about this encounter which might have escaped notice is unknown. And the story might never have come out if he hadn't lied to his mother and she hadn't mentioned it to a reporter on a shuttle bus. The truism that the cover-up is worse than the crime.

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Can you imagine what the response would be if naked statues of Hillary Clinton were cropping up around the country? Cable news would be talking about the sexism of Republicans for days. We'd be told that opposing Hillary means that we're sexist even though we don't know it. There would be long thumb-sucking pieces in all sorts of journals about the inherent misogyny of the American people. But someone is putting up naked statues of Donald Trump around the country and it's barely noticed except for some snarky humor.
The statues were created by an artist in Cleveland. They are of a stern-faced Trump with his hands folded over a bulging belly. Some parts of male genitalia are visible while others seemingly are missing.

"It is through these sculptures that we leave behind the physical and metaphorical embodiment of the ghastly soul of one of America's most infamous and reviled politicians," INDECLINE said in its statement.

Trump's campaign declined to comment on the statues.

A statue in New York's Union Square quickly drew the attention of people, many of whom posed for photographs with it, before it was removed by the city's parks department.
I get that this group and many others hate the idea of Donald Trump as president, but I don't think I'm far off base with my thoughts about how the media would treat the same behavior if it were directed at Hillary. Perhaps his behavior toward women at various periods of his life means he deserves mockery of his naked physique, but I think there are so many other things to ridicule about him that we don't need to make fun of a 70-year old man's naked body.

Noah Rothman notes that the media, which has been very worried about the indications that the Trump campaign might lead to violence against those who oppose him has been relatively silent about violence from the left against Trump supporters.
Political violence returned to American political life in 2015 when Donald Trump mobilized and cemented his support by inciting his most unstable devotees to defend his honor with force in his successful campaign for the Republican nomination. Many heeded his calls, and, for months, the fear that Trump’s reckless rhetoric would yield to widespread bloodshed preoccupied the minds of political observers—to the exclusion of the offenses to civic responsibility carried out against him and his supporters.

For at the very same [time] Trump was sowing animosity and inspiring isolated acts of brutality, a coordinated and violent response to Trump went largely ignored.

The counter-savagery of the left against the Trump campaign was not a spontaneous phenomenon. It arose as a paradoxical response to the long-standing effort to conflate controversial speech itself with actual violence, on campuses and elsewhere.

If speech is violence, then it stands to reason that violent resistance to speech you consider violent is therefore permissible simply as a matter of self-defense. Thus has the pursuit of safe spaces and anodyne speech led to their opposites.
Sanders supporters have tried to shutdown his rallies and have even attacked police officers who were working the rally. Protesters have attacked people attending his rallies or wearing his paraphernalia. This is a trend that should alarm anyone who believes in open speech, particularly political speech. It is the same sort of behavior we're seeing more and more on college campuses to try and silence any who hold opinions that are deemed objectionable.
For an unacceptably large number of progressive activists, a violent response to speech has not only become excusable but obligatory. Such undemocratic behavior is the natural outgrowth of an increasingly mainstream progressive worldview in which the distinctions between speech and violence have been blurred beyond recognition.

Central to the ethos of a new class of progressive activist is the notion that “hate speech” can be traumatic, and not in a figurative sense. They contend that this trauma is not different from genuine physical violence. The conflation of speech with violence has resulted in the acceptance of real violence as an equivalent of free speech.
Rothman is correct to call this an "authoritarian impulse." And it is dangerous as we saw in the murders at Charlie Hebdo as there were many who said, while they deplored the murders, the satirical magazine should have known better than to make fun of Islam.
Months later, after Paris was again struck by Islamist violence, no less a figure than Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the coordinated attack by a pair of gunmen on sites across the city in November 2015, which killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more, was far more senseless than the attack on Hebdo. Kerry said that those who killed cartoonists and writers months earlier had “a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, ‘Okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.’”

The White House has routinely questioned the prudence of provocative speech lampooning radical Islamist fundamentalists. From the inflammatory YouTube video that the White House said had inspired the murder of four Americans in Benghazi to the satirical drawings of the Prophet Muhammad in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, the Obama administration and its fellow travelers have been quick to note that speaking freely and provocatively has consequences—and, implicitly, that those consequences are in some way deserved.

When on May 3, 2015, two terrorists tried to kill the attendees of a “cartoon drawing” event in Garland, Texas, in solidarity with Hebdo (an attack for which the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria claimed credit), MSNBC host Chris Matthews insisted that organizer Pamela Geller was intentionally “provoking,” “taunting,” and “daring” Islamist radicals to commit murder. The Washington Post noted that Geller had strangely refused to apologize for exercising her freedom of speech. “Do you at some level relish being the target of these attacks,” CNN host Erin Burnett asked Geller. “Looks like Pamela Geller will get her wish: More dead Americans at the hands of radical Muslims,” the New York Daily News’s Linda Stasi emoted.

The Western left indulged in a similarly haughty response when a Danish cafĂ© hosting Jyllands-Posten cartoonist Lars Vilks was attacked by an Islamist gunman weeks later. Before he was targeted by Islamists with bullets, Vilks had been targeted by his fellow Western Europeans—students who attended his by-invitation lecture at Swedish university—with eggs.

It isn’t merely Islamist terrorists who find forgiveness from the left if they claim they were incited to violence by inflammatory acts of free expression. When the clinically demented Jared Lee Loughner killed six people and gravely wounded former Representative Gabrielle Giffords outside of a Tucson supermarket, the nation’s liberal commentators became earnestly convinced that he was some sort of Manchurian Candidate who had been remotely activated by the picture of a target on Sarah Palin’s website.
Rothman then goes on to remind us how liberals applauded the lawless behavior of the Occupy Wall Street movement. They liked the message and so closed their eyes to the property damage and violence that was occurring in the encampments. For some on the left, such lawless acts were actually an expression of free speech.

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Jim Geraghty pointed to this story in in the NYT about how donors to universities are suddenly waking up to how weasely administrators have gotten in standing up to crybaby student tyrants. And donations have dipped.
A backlash from alumni is an unexpected aftershock of the campus disruptions of the last academic year. Although fund-raisers are still gauging the extent of the effect on philanthropy, some colleges — particularly small, elite liberal arts institutions — have reported a decline in donations, accompanied by a laundry list of complaints.

Alumni from a range of generations say they are baffled by today’s college culture. Among their laments: Students are too wrapped up in racial and identity politics. They are allowed to take too many frivolous courses. They have repudiated the heroes and traditions of the past by judging them by today’s standards rather than in the context of their times. Fraternities are being unfairly maligned, and men are being demonized by sexual assault investigations. And university administrations have been too meek in addressing protesters whose messages have seemed to fly in the face of free speech.

Scott C. Johnston, who graduated from Yale in 1982, said he was on campus last fall when activists tried to shut down a free speech conference, “because apparently they missed irony class that day.”

....“The worst part,” he continued, “is that campus administrators are wilting before the activists like flowers.” Yale College’s alumni fund was flat between this year and last, according to Karen Peart, a university spokeswoman.

Among about 35 small, selective liberal arts colleges belonging to the fund-raising organization Staff, or Sharing the Annual Fund Fundamentals, that recently reported their initial annual fund results for the 2016 fiscal year, 29 percent were behind 2015 in dollars, and 64 percent were behind in donors, according to a steering committee member, Scott Kleinheksel of Claremont McKenna College in California. His school, which was also the site of protests, had a decline in donor participation but a rise in giving.

At Amherst, the amount of money given by alumni dropped 6.5 percent for the fiscal year that ended June 30, and participation in the alumni fund dropped 1.9 percentage points, to 50.6 percent, the lowest participation rate since 1975, when the college began admitting women, according to the college. The amount raised from big donors decreased significantly.
Perhaps being hit in the pocketbook will do more to help these administrators grow a spine when kids start shouting about the newest cause du jour instead of knuckling under to the intimidation of the mob.

With all the depressing news that's out there, it's stories like this that inspire me about how people pull together in the worst times.
They came in bateaux, canoes, crawfish skiffs and dual-engine fishing craft, launching off the sides of roads, where highways dipped into several feet of murky water. Many set off from their own driveways to float out with neighbors.

Dubbed by some as a "Cajun Navy," the citizen-sailors braved nasty water and nastier currents and became a symbol of the Great Flood of 2016.

As soon as the waters of the Amite, Comite and Tickfaw rivers started rising, a massive citizen flotilla from down the street and across the state set to work pulling folks by the hundreds -- along with sacks of possessions and frightened pets -- from once-dry homes now surrounded by growing lakes.

With river levels rising several feet above historic all-time highs, local authorities soon found their resources stretched beyond their limits and themselves overwhelmed by calls for rescue. But along back roads and highways hundreds of boat-towing pickups streamed toward high water.
It reminds me a bit of stories of everyone who had any sort of boat showing up to help pull the British forces off of Dunkirk in World War Two in what Churchill called the "Miracle at Dunkirk." Something very similar happened after 9/11 with anyone with a boat showing up to help evacuate people from the island. And just imagine, people do this without the government running everything.

Here is a lovely, in-depth profile
of Coach Pop by ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. I learned a lot that I hadn't known. I hadn't known the story of how he didn't make it onto the 1972 Olympic team because of basketball politics.

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