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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Cruising the Web

Jed Babbin lets loose some righteous ridicule over how the FBI allowed Hillary Clinton to get away some clear lies in their interview as well as granting her some rather absurd privileges. He asks how, in light of the special treatment for Hillary Clinton and the ways in which President Obama has bypassed Constitutional provisions, we are really different from a banana republic.
The newly-released FBI documents on the investigation of Hillary Clinton make it clear beyond argument that the fix was in and that the FBI never had any intention of recommending that she should be prosecuted for her crimes.

That is very hard to write. I have had very good friends among the agents of the FBI, men of unshakeable dedication to the fair enforcement of the law. But that is no longer the FBI’s goal, as just a few references to the documents published last week reveal.

First, you had to notice that the FBI agreed that there would be no videotape of its interview of Clinton. Not only would there not be a videotape, but no court reporter would be present to record a transcript. That itself is highly unusual, but there is far more, and far worse.

Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, had to have participated in sending classified material to Clinton on her private and unsecured “” email system. Yet when the FBI questioned Clinton, Mills was permitted to attend as one of Clinton’s lawyers. That is not only unethical under the Bar’s unenforced ethics standards, but obviously a huge violation of the most elementary of FBI procedures that requires witnesses — and possible suspects — to be questioned separately in isolation from one another.

Clinton told the FBI that she relied on others’ judgment in sending her sensitive information on the unsecured email system. She also claimed that as a result of a head injury she didn’t recall key events such as being trained by the State Department on handing classified information or retaining records in accordance with federal law.

Clinton, as a U.S. senator, served on the Armed Services Committee from 2003 to 2009. She was a member of three subcommittees, including the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. In that capacity, she would have been instructed on how to handle highly-classified information and a great deal of it would have passed through her hands. She would have had many occasions to handle it and to transmit it among her colleagues and staff and executive branch officials. Further training by the State Department would have been unnecessary for her to know how such information had to be protected against disclosure.

Clinton’s obvious lie was one of many she told the FBI. Let’s remember that on at least one occasion, she told her State Department staff to remove the classified markings on some material and send it “in the clear” on an unsecured channel — her private email system....

For all of Clinton’s lies, and there are far too many to recount, the worst lie of all was Comey’s. He said that there was no precedent for a prosecution of someone who had behaved as Clinton had and that no responsible prosecutor would bring charges. (Former CIA directors John Deutch and David Petraeus each pled guilty to mishandling classified information. Deutch was pardoned in 2001 by Bill Clinton.)

Comey also said that there was evidence that Clinton and her staff had handled classified information in an “extremely careless” way. Title 18 Section 793(f) says that anyone who is “grossly negligent” in handling classified information is guilty of a federal felony.

If we cannot trust the FBI to enforce the law, and we cannot, America is now characterized by one of the two facts defining a banana republic.

As a parting shot, the FBI also found that several email accounts that Clinton had communicated with while secretary of state had been intercepted (hacked) by hostile foreign actors, but that they couldn’t determine if Clinton’s email was hacked.
And then there is President Obama's deceptions about the Iran deal.
Mr. Albright’s Institute for Science and International Security (not to be confused with the other ISIS) reported that the international commission running Obama’s nuclear weapons deal with Iran has, in secret, allowed Iran to pretend to obey the deal’s conditions while violating them.

Albright’s report says that by the deal’s effective date, Iran was obligated to perform certain tasks in order to qualify for relief from the international sanctions that had been imposed. Among them was the disposal of low-enriched uranium (LEU), a limitation on its “hot cells,” and the shipment out of Iran of “heavy water” (deuterium oxide).

Iran didn’t dispose of, by shipment to another nation or otherwise, the required amount of LEU, leaving it more than enough to further enrich it to produce nuclear weapons. The “hot cells” — which can be used to produce plutonium, another key ingredient of some nuclear weapons — hadn’t been reduced in size to prevent the plutonium production. And the heavy water had been shipped to Yemen, where it remains under Iranian control.

Under the awful Corker Amendment (more fully discussed here) all side agreements, secret or not, were required to be disclosed to the senate. As a couple of senators have said publicly — and one to told me directly but privately — they weren’t.

Over the weekend, Obama signed the latest economy-killing global warming deal. Both the BBC and the Washington Post reported the event as U.S. ratification of the deal. Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution provides that only the Senate can ratify a treaty.

Which results in the definition of Obama’s Iran deal being precisely concurrent with the other factor defining a banana republic. Obama’s autocratic foreign policy has been conducted in secret, and in opposition to our national security interests.

You may forgive me, dear reader, if I feel as if I were John Adams in a memorable scene from the musical “1776.” In that scene, Adams sings and shouts to heaven, “Is anybody there? Does anybody care?”

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Andrew McCarthy's mind is boggled by Hillary's FBI interview.
Among the most eye-popping claims Clinton made to the FBI was that she was unfamiliar with the markings on classified documents. Yes, you read that correctly: one of the highest ranking national security officials in the United States government – an official whose day-to-day responsibilities extensively involved classified information; who had secure facilities installed in her two homes (in addition to her office) so she could review classified information in them; and who acknowledged to the FBI that, as secretary of state, she was designated by the president as “an Original Classification Authority,” meaning she had the power to determine what information should be classified and at what level – had the audacity to tell the interviewing agents that she did not know what the different classification symbols in classified documents signified.

For example, when asked about an email chain containing the symbol “(C)” – meaning “confidential,” a designation ubiquitous in classified documents – Clinton claimed not to know what it meant and, according to the notes, “could only speculate it was referencing paragraphs marked in alphabetical order.” This is a response so absurd as to be insulting (the interview notes do not tell us if the FBI asked her to find (A), (B) and (D) notations that would be necessary to have the “alphabetical order” story make sense – assuming, for argument’s sake that one would indulge the possibility that this could be a truthful answer from a classified information consumer as high-level as Clinton).

Mind you, Mrs. Clinton was not just secretary of state for four years. She was a United States senator for eight years, during nearly all of which she was assigned to the Senate Armed Services Committee (and such Armed Services components as the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities). Reviewing classified information, including highly sensitive national defense secrets, is a routine part of that committee’s work.
There is no indication that the FBI agents broke into giggles as she claimed this.

What really sets McCarthy off is the presence of Cheryl Mills at the interview.
Finally, something else about those lawyers. I nearly fell out of my chair upon reading the very first paragraph of the notes of Clinton’s interview, which identifies the lawyers for Clinton who were permitted to be present for the interview. Among them is Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s longtime confidant and chief-of-staff at the State Department.

Readers may recall that I suggested back in May that “the fix” was in in the investigation of the Clinton emails. The reason was that the Justice Department was allowing Cheryl Mills – a witness, if not a subject, of the investigation – to invoke attorney-client privilege on behalf of Mrs. Clinton in order to thwart the FBI’s attempt to inquire into the procedure used to produce Clinton’s emails to the State Department. Mills was a participant in that procedure – and it is the procedure in which, we now know, well over 30,000 emails were attempted to be destroyed, including several thousand that contained government-related business.

When she worked for Clinton at State, Mills was not acting in the capacity of a lawyer – not for then-Secretary Clinton and not for the State Department. Moreover, as Clinton’s chief-of-staff, Mills was intimately involved in issues related to Clinton’s private email set up, the discussions about getting her a secure BlackBerry similar to President Obama’s, and questions that were raised (including in FOIA requests) about Clinton’s communications.

That is to say, Mills was an actor in the facts that were under criminal investigation by the FBI. Put aside that she was not Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer while working for the State Department; as I explained in the May column, Mills, after leaving the State Department, was barred by ethical rules from acting as Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer “in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public officer or employee.”

There is no way Mills should have been permitted to participate as a lawyer in the process of producing Clinton’s emails to the State Department nearly two years after they’d both left. I thought it was astonishing that the Justice Department indulged her attorney-client privilege claim, which frustrated the FBI’s ability to question her on a key aspect of the investigation. But it is simply unbelievable to find her turning up at Mrs. Clinton’s interview – participating in the capacity of a lawyer under circumstances where Clinton was being investigated over matters in which Mills participated as a non-lawyer government official.

According to the FBI’s report, Mrs. Clinton had four other attorneys (one whose name is deleted from the report for some reason) representing her at the interview. She clearly did not need another lawyer. And it is Criminal Investigations 101 that law enforcement never interviews witnesses together – the point is to learn the truth, not provide witnesses/suspects with an opportunity to keep their story straight, which undermines the search for truth.

Why on earth was Cheryl Mills permitted to sit in on Hillary Clinton’s FBI interview?
Good question. And one no one other than Clinton critics seem to care about.

Not the sort of headline one expects to see in the NYT, but there it is: "Where Has Hillary Clinton Been? Ask the Ultrarich"
At a private fund-raiser Tuesday night at a waterfront Hamptons estate, Hillary Clinton danced alongside Jimmy Buffett, Jon Bon Jovi and Paul McCartney, and joined in a singalong finale to “Hey Jude.”

“I stand between you and the apocalypse,” a confident Mrs. Clinton declared to laughs, exhibiting a flash of self-awareness and humor to a crowd that included Calvin Klein and Harvey Weinstein and for whom the prospect of a Donald J. Trump presidency is dire.

Mr. Trump has pointed to Mrs. Clinton’s noticeably scant schedule of campaign events this summer to suggest she has been hiding from the public. But Mrs. Clinton has been more than accessible to those who reside in some of the country’s most moneyed enclaves and are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to see her. In the last two weeks of August, Mrs. Clinton raked in roughly $50 million at 22 fund-raising events, averaging around $150,000 an hour, according to a New York Times tally.

And while Mrs. Clinton has faced criticism for her failure to hold a news conference for months, she has fielded hundreds of questions from the ultrarich in places like the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, Beverly Hills and Silicon Valley.
Does anyone think that a Clinton presidency would be any different? She'd start raising money for 2020 immediately upon entering the White House. We'll get similar stories about what fun she is behind the scenes as she hangs with Justin Timberlake and Democratic big wig donors or parties it up in the Hamptons. But the media will be held off at arm's length. And it sounds like the NYT is a mite bit aggravated with her behavior. Did they expect her to be different?

And, of course, when they do get a chance to ask her questions, this is the sort of tough journalism the media come up with.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greeted the press who are traveling on her new airplane on Monday morning and took a few questions.

Clinton, under pressure for not holding a press conference for nearly 280 days, was peppered with questions like, "How was your Labor Day weekend?" Another question: "Are you ready?"

"Do you have a Labor Day message?" one reporter asked.

"I do, you'll hear it," Clinton answered. "I definitely, I definitely do. If you want more happy Labor Days, you know who to vote for."

"Thanks, I'll come back later," Clinton said as she exited the cabin that holds the press.
Then she did come back and answer a few questions on the plane. Pretty clever to hold her first press question and answer gaggle on the plane so that the audio would be bad. But she was still lying. She told the reporters that she understood classification and took it seriously. But, of course, there were no follow-ups as to why, if that were so, she didn't know what the letter "C" meant on a classified document and thought that it was the lettering of paragraphs that somehow were missing an "A," "B," or "D." Or why she instructed aides to strip the classification markings off information being sent.

Karen Tumulty writes in the Washington Post about the decision early in Bill Clinton's presidency to stonewall the requests from documents on Whitewater which was the beginning of the Clintons' battles with transparency.
There was an urgent meeting that day to discuss a request by The Washington Post for documents relating to the Whitewater Development Corp., a failed Arkansas real estate investment in which the Clintons had been involved.

Whitewater had been an issue in the 1992 presidential campaign. More recently, questions had arisen about whether the land deal and the Clintons might be linked to the collapse of a savings and loan.

Stephanopoulos and David Gergen, another senior adviser, were internal rivals at the time who agreed on almost nothing. But both argued for full disclosure of the records. After a few days of rough coverage, they confidently predicted, the story would go away as the press corps discovered there was nothing sinister to the land deal and turned its attention elsewhere.

The president would not budge — and both of them knew why.

“Hillary Clinton is a woman of many strengths and virtues, but like all of us, she also has some blind spots,” Gergen said in a recent interview. “She does not see the world in the same way that others do, when it comes to transparency and accountability.”

She was not in the room, but the aides felt her presence.

“You could usually tell when Clinton was making Hillary’s argument: Even if he was yelling, his voice had a flat quality, as if he were a high school debater speeding through a series of memorized facts,” Stephanopoulos wrote. “Gergen and I didn’t know what was in the Whitewater documents, but whatever it was, Hillary didn’t want it out — and she had a veto.”

The fallout from that decision to stonewall would be enormous. Pressure built for the appointment of a prosecutor, first Robert B. Fiske Jr., then Kenneth W. Starr, who had been solicitor general under President George H.W. Bush.

Starr’s far-ranging investigation ultimately uncovered Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, which led to his impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, would have the dark distinction of becoming the only first lady ever called before a federal grand jury. In 1996, she testified for four hours, mostly to answer ­questions about subpoenaed ­Whitewater-related documents that had vanished and then suddenly reappeared in the White House living quarters.

Gergen, Stephanopoulos and other top Clinton aides from that era — some of whom ended up with huge legal bills of their own — contend that none of this might have happened had Hillary Clinton been more open in the first place.

“I believe that decision against disclosure was the decisive turning point. If they had turned over the Whitewater documents to The Washington Post in December 1993, their seven-year-old land deal would have soon disappeared as an issue and the story of the next seven years would have been entirely different,” Gergen wrote in “Eyewitness to Power,” his book about his time working for four presidents, from Nixon to Clinton.
The lesson that Hillary drew from those days was that she should have kept more secrets. Tumulty argues that the Clintons' antipathy to transparency has fed the market for Clinton conspiracy theories. And ultimately it led to her decision to set up her private server to use for her emails.
When the existence of her private email account became public last year, Hillary Clinton initially claimed that she had set it up for convenience. It later became clear that she did it in part because she wanted to have the power to keep her records outside the realm of public discovery — just as she had hoped to do with the Whitewater documents.

A State Department inspector general’s report noted that when the agency’s deputy chief of staff for operations suggested in 2010 that she set up a government account, the secretary responded, “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.” She would delete more than 30,000 emails from her personal server before turning over the remainder in response to a State Department demand.

Similarly, the current questions of whether donors to the Clinton Foundation received special State Department access are an echo of the campaign-finance scandals that erupted during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
And they're using the same dang defense that they used in the face of those campaign-finance scandals - that no one can find evidence of a quid pro quo. As if corruption can happen only with someone saying or writing on the record a request for help in exchange for money. For those who have forgotten the campaign-finance scandals, Tumulty provides a brief reminder.
Six-figure contributors to the Democratic National Committee were offered sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom and invited to coffees in the White House Map Room, where regulators with oversight of their industries were present.

Sometimes, the fundraising touched the tripwire between the unseemly and the illegal. Bundler Johnny Chung made at least 49 visits to the Clinton White House, including one when he dropped off a $50,000 check at the first lady’s office. Two days after that, he was allowed to bring a group of Chinese business executives to watch the president’s radio address, where they had their pictures taken with Bill Clinton.

Chung later told federal investigators that $35,000 of the $366,000 he donated to the Democratic Party in 1996 came from the Chinese government. He pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy.
So the Clintons and their friends in the media resort to the defense that so many of the conspiracies swirling around the Clintons are so bizarre and that there are so very many of them that the public just doesn't care.

Joel Kotkin argues
that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump represent the worst of the Baby Boomer generation.
On one side, there are aging boomers embracing Trump, an icon of materialistic obsession and a lack of concern for “losers.” On the other is a control-freak determination to tell everyone how to live, with instructions coming from entitled boomer politicians and bureaucrats.

Boomers benefited from the strongest economy in American history — they account for 44 percent of the population but 70 percent of the wealth, and have enjoyed far better income growth than later generations. Yet, despite their good fortune, many seem determined to pull ever more out of the economy as they age, while those stuck with the bills for their profligacy and indebtedness — the next generation — will have to do with less.

Trumpian boomerism is easily evidenced in my own neighborhood of Villa Park in Orange County. Our lovely, well-maintained and aging little enclave is friendly, civic-minded and civil. But it also is the center of opposition to such things as school bonds that would improve local schools now in a shocking state of disrepair. Villa Park residents helped defeat the last school bond, and it’s a former (thank heaven) City Council member who seeks to lead the effort to overturn the one on the ballot this year.

The arguments of the anti-bond advocates, like those backing Trump, base their pitch on accusations of public incompetence but rest on a culture of selfishness. Many opposing the bonds, which would cost them a few hundred dollars a year on their property tax bill, think nothing of spending lavishly on luxury vacations or home upgrades. The fact that better schools might increase their own property values seems to sail against their mind-set, which apparently renders them oblivious to the penury imposed on the next generation.

This phenomenon can be seen in many communities across the country, notably, in boomer retirement havens like Missoula, Mont. Some of it seems plainly racial: The majority of children in our local schools, which my youngest daughter attends, are Latino and Asian. In other words, many don’t want to help “their” children, even though here in Southern California they are our future.

Then let’s look at Hillary Clinton’s progressive boomerism. Clinton has long talked about her concern for children. Who could forget her immortal “It takes a village” slogan? But the policies she advocates, particularly on energy, urban planning and economics, will prolong the slow growth that makes upward mobility problematic for future generations.

Even worse are the influential green progressives, increasingly dominant in Democratic politics, especially here in California. Led by our illustrious and aged governor, our environmental zealots advocate reducing the living standards of the next generation, but many are from the older generation of property owners who reap the benefits of an increasingly scarce, and valuable, asset like houses.

Lately, green activists have taken their generational attitudes a step further. In a recent National Public Radio program, leading lights of the climate change establishment suggested that perhaps we shouldn’t be creating a new generation at all. The best way to keep the planet safe from rapid toasting, they suggest, is getting people in high-income countries — where birth rates are already low — to stop having babies. It’s OK for those who nobly live in poverty in the developing countries to keep having kids, just as long as they stay poor.

Isn't this mighty convenient?
A non-profit group that has received favors from the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), including a free membership that entitled its officials to rub elbows with world leaders, issued its top rating Thursday for the Clinton Foundation.

Charity Navigator awarded the Clinton Foundation four-stars based on an rating algorithm that scored the controversial non-profit with a 97.5 on financial issues and 93 on accountability and transparency. The new rating represented a boost for the foundation, as Charity Navigator had previously put it on its watch list due to concerns about its finances and transparency.

But the four-star rating had hardly been announced before the Associated Press reported that Charity Navigator was a member of the CGI from 2012 to 2014. The CGI is one of the Clinton Foundation’s best-known programs, as it regularly convenes glittering gatherings of celebrities, government officials and philanthropic stars.

The $20,000 CGI membership fee was waived for Charity Navigator, which reported it as an in-kind contribution, according to the AP. The news organization said Charity Navigator chairman Michael Thatcher claimed his group joined CGI “to mingle with world leaders and promote its ratings.”

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Good to know for those thinking, like I am, about writing in someone's name on the November ballot.
If you’re thinking of writing in a name for president this year, don’t bother in Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and South Dakota. Write-in candidates are not permitted in those states, according to Ballotpedia. If you’re thinking about it and you live in Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon Pennsylvania, Rhode Island or Vermont, your vote will count, whether or not your preferred candidate has filed paperwork. In the remaining states, a write-in candidate must file some paperwork with the state elections officials for the write-in votes to be valid.
Of course, in writing in a name on the ballot, I wouldn't be doing it because I expected that person to win. But if it's not even going to be counted, I might have to rethink this. Perhaps, I'll just have to leave that line blank.

Remember that story from back in January about three Americans working in Iraq training the Iraqi army who were kidnapped in Baghdad. It turns out that a lot of what we were told about that event was false.
After weeks of shackles and beatings, the Americans were released Feb. 16, only to find that Iraqi officials had stained their reputations by saying that they’d been detained from a brothel. There was more dismay when El-Maadawy and Mohamed, Egyptian-American cousins, learned that some U.S. officials initially suspected that they’d been radicalized and perhaps were complicit in the incident....

The three men, who work for a subcontractor of the defense behemoth General Dynamics, were the first Americans kidnapped in Iraq since 2011. Their capture, on a Friday afternoon and far from Islamic State territory, was a reminder of the weakness of the Iraqi government when it comes to powerful Shiite Muslim militias backed by Iran. Known collectively as popular mobilization units, the militias have filled the void since the collapse of the Iraqi military two years ago, becoming de facto partners for the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State.

El-Maadawy and Frost say Iraqi officials spread the false story that they were grabbed while visiting a brothel to cloud the fact that it took a month for the Baghdad government to win the release of foreign allies from gunmen who are critical to the Iraqi government but operate outside of Prime Minister Haider Abadi’s control.

Barack Obama doesn't even seem to know
when he's been insulted by a foreign country and why it matters.
Well, China, as host of the current G-20 summit, rolled out the red carpet -- or at least the red-carpeted airplane stairs -- for the arriving leaders of such countries as Britain, Australia, Germany and Russia.

For President Obama, arriving yesterday on Air Force One, there was no such dignified reception. Instead, there was a shoving match with the press and a confrontation with National Security Adviser Susan Rice, in which a Chinese official shouted "This is our country. This is our airport." For lack of any portable stairs rolled to the front door of the presidential plane, Obama was left to jog down the aircraft's own stairs at the back.

Obama downplayed the insult, telling reporters "not to over-crank the significance."

Maybe that makes sense in the bubble-world of the Ben-Rhodes-foreign-policy narrative, where the tide of war is forever receding, the arc of history bends toward justice, the oceans rise and fall at the command of Obama's pen and phone, and the echo chamber, on cue, applauds.

But China's reception was an insult, pure and simple. No one need study the tea leaves to understand that this was a gesture of gross disrespect, seen around the world, putting the American president in his place -- especially as compared with the warm reception for Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

While the missing red-carpeted staircase is mainly symbolic, the realities behind it are increasingly dangerous. Among them are China's territorial grabs at sea, provocations toward the U.S. Navy, cyber attacks, military exercises with Russia and evident tolerance -- despite United Nations sanctions -- of illicit traffic that enables North Korea's continuing nuclear missile program.

David Post writes at The Volokh Conspiracy about the contract that volunteers to the Trump campaign must sign before they can volunteer.
It’s a very peculiar document. I understand the campaign’s desire to have some agreement in place prior to allowing people to work on a campaign, and to require volunteers or others to assent to the terms before allowing people to join up. I’ve read a lot of documents like this in my day, the world of computer and Internet law being awash in “adhesion contracts” (shrinkwraps, browsewraps, clickwraps …) of this kind, and there are certainly some pretty silly and outrageous terms in many of them.

This one, while it isn’t the silliest or most outrageous one I’ve ever read, is on the shortlist.

In addition to some reasonable and customary provisions – a promise not to disclose any confidential information imparted in connection with the engagement, for instance – it also contains these, helpfully annotated by yours truly:
“No Disparagement. During the term of your service and at all times thereafter you hereby promise and agree not to demean or disparage publicly the Company, Mr. Trump, any Trump Company, any Family Member, or any Family Member Company or any asset any of the foregoing own, or product or service any of the foregoing offer, in each case by or in any of the Restricted Means and Contexts and to prevent your employees from doing so.”
Seeking a promise from volunteers not to “demean or disparage” the candidate himself while working ostensibly on his behalf seems reasonable. But not to disparage any member of Trump’s family? Or any asset belonging to any Trump company and family member (“Man, that Trump Tower sure is an ugly monstrosity.”)? I seriously doubt those would or could be enforced in a court of law.*** And the obligation to prevent your employees from demeaning or disparaging a Trump asset??! That is surely not only absurd and unenforceable, it may well constitute abetting a violation of US labor law.
Post goes on to explain all the laws and Supreme Court decisions which make many provisions of this contract unenforceable.
It’s the product, in my opinion, of some pretty lousy lawyering. I don’t want to make too much of it or get too worked up about it; there’s a lot of lousy lawyering out there, and surely it doesn’t reflect anything on Trump himself (who undoubtedly had nothing whatsoever to do with what the document says). He is grossly unqualified to be president for many reasons – ignorance of constitutional principles and world affairs, for starters – but not, surely, because his campaign hired some lawyers who drafted a lousy agreement.

But still. For a guy who cultivates an aura of being surrounded by sharp, can-do types who can get things done, it’s a little disheartening

Deroy Murdock is having trouble
keeping up with the Clinton scandals from just the past week.

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Ah, news you can use. What can science teach us about not spilling your mug of coffee? It seems it would just be a lot easier to have a mug with a top on it.

Jim Geraghty has a plea to sports figures and sports broadcasters. Please just let us enjoy the game and keep politics and social issues out of it.
There are 168 hours in a week, and a lot of those hours can be spent discussing the world’s problems — police brutality, lack of accountability among public officials, tense racial relations, crime and threats and dangers and troubles near and far. But for three hours on a Sunday afternoon, or a Sunday night, or a Monday night, or a Thursday night, you know what I want to do?

I just want to enjoy watching the game.

Nobody watches sports because they want to raise their level of “social awareness.” Nobody tunes in to Monday Night Consciousness-Raising. Most sports fans are perfectly aware of the world’s problems. They are much more likely to encounter those problems in their daily lives than any of the well-paid, famous players on the field. I can’t speak for all of them, but I think their mentality isn’t too far from mine.

I just want to enjoy watching the game.

There is no sin in this. Wanting to enjoy a sport as entertainment is not a sign of stupidity, selfishness, laziness, or lack of empathy for others. Enjoyment is what sports exist to provide. Yes, they’ve turned into a multi-billion dollar business and cultural touchstone, but that business is still the entertainment business. It runs on viewers. And do you know what attracts viewers?

They just want to enjoy watching the game.

....There was a time when the reason you yelled at the sports-talk station on your car radio was completely different from the reason you yelled at the news-talk station on your car radio. If I must listen to Keith Olbermann, give me the Keith Olbermann who had snappy interactions with Dan Patrick, instead of the one convinced he’s the new Edward R. Murrow.

Sports are supposed to be fun. They’re supposed to be entertaining. People speculate whether sports fans will drift away from certain games, particularly football, because of concussions, player strikes, exorbitant salaries, franchises moving cities, too much or too little parity among teams. Yet the game has managed to endure most of those controversies and problems. You know what really will kill it? When it stops being fun. When Inside the NFL becomes indistinguishable from Inside Politics, the people who either don’t like politics at all or who get enough elsewhere will walk away.
David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel expresses the same thought. He points out that when John Carlos and Tommie Smith made the Black Power salute at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 during the national anthem, that was their only opportunity they had to get their message out to such a big audience.
Now we have Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. There is the Internet, ESPN and sports-talk radio to discuss, dissect and magnify every utterance.

Before or after a game, jocks can promote gun control, animal rights, Greenpeace, Black Lives Matter, the NRA, the ASPCA or the WWE to their hearts' content. For all I care, they can become vegans and go on a hunger strike until the concession stands serve only tofu burgers. But once the uniform goes on, I wish they'd give the audience what it really wants.

Namely, a break.
Hear, hear. It used to be entertainment could be a politics-free zone. But now we have to get political messages and cracks about politicians on a whole variety of supposedly cultural show. I'm so sick of it. I don't care whom my favorite rock stars support in the presidency. I don't want to be urged to vote by the Lena Dunhams of the world. I don't want to see selfies of Justin Timberlake and Hillary Clinton or Bill hanging with Beyoncé and Jay-Z. I don't want to tune in to the Tonys or the Grammys or Oscars and see one of the Obamas. I want some escapist entertainment that is free of politics. I thought that sports could be that sort of refuge, but now all sorts of athletes feel that we would all benefit by their commentary on political issues that they clearly don't really understand themselves. If Colin Kaepernick was someone like Bono who had spent a long time learning about his chosen subject and had devoted years to trying to help people while working with politicians of both parties, I would be less turned off by his posturing. Or if he were someone like Jalen Rose who had put his money into supporting a charter school to help the young people he professes to care about, I would be more willing to listen to his views. Hey, if he just had the sense to not wear a Fidel Castro T shirt while decrying how minorities are treated in the U.S., I might have a modicum of more respect for him. As it is, I just don't care what he does or says.

And let me get something out there that, as a civics teacher has really been bugging me. What Kaepernick is doing has nothing at all to do with freedom of speech or the First Amendment. Even President Obama, who went to Harvard Law School and taught Constitutional law, doesn't seem to understand the difference. Kaepernick works for a private organization and the First Amendment is about government depriving someone of the freedom of speech. Private organizations like the NFL would be perfectly within their rights to have a requirement, like the NBA does, mandating that players stand for the National Anthem and fining them if they did not. The NFL has not made that choice, though they do seem to have regulations about putting any commemoration on uniforms for police shot down in Dallas. That is their right. So let's stop saying that Kaepernick is exercising his freedom of speech. That is a right that only rises when we're talking about government regulations. Unless the NFL enacts a new rule, there are no limitations on what he does during the anthem except perhaps not causing a disturbance.

Allahpundit rightly derides Obama's praise for Kaepernick for being "engaged."
“At least he’s engaged” has to be the single most vacuous thing you can say about any political activist. By that logic, Obama should prefer Trump’s friends in the alt-right to the average twentysomething who’s worried more about finding a promising job than politics. They’re “engaged in the argument” too.

Here's an example of the Clintons' own virtue-signaling that I'd forgotten.
It’s hard to overstate the symbolic power of sitting down. Today, a football player’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem has garnered headline upon headline. Twenty-two years ago, a seated couple protested one of the world’s most beloved figures.

In a truly iconic American scene that still captures the attention—and confusion—of the Washington elite, then-President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, sat in stunned silence amid a standing ovation that followed Mother Teresa’s address at the National Prayer Breakfast.

The applause lasted a solid five minutes after Mother Teresa’s address. Long before the days of “virtue-signaling,” however, the Clintons were sending a message of dissent loud and clear to the woman now officially canonized a saint in the Catholic Church for her “heroic virtue.”

The Clintons’ seated dissent had everything to do with Mother Teresa’s courageous stand for the sanctity of life, which echoed her earlier comments in her 1979 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want,” she said. “This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
Well, they clearly weren't going to stand up for that message or that messenger.

It helps to be an authoritarian dictatorship
to do this sort of thing. I wonder if this is the sort of ability that China's government has that its fans here in the U.S. like Thomas Friedman admire.
The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has wrapped up his country’s first G20 summit by urging the thousands of foreign journalists who flocked to east China for the event to carve out a special place in their hearts for the host city.

And visiting correspondents are unlikely to forget Hangzhou any time soon.

In recent days, foreign journalists have been astonished and bewildered at how China’s authoritarian rulers have managed to transform a usually bustling metropolis of 6 million inhabitants into a virtual ghost town to guarantee a trouble-free summit.

More than a third of Hangzhou’s population were reportedly “convinced” to leave town as part of what Chinese state media called a massive exodus that saw cars forced off the roads and a seven-day public holiday declared.

Thousands of residents were ordered to vacate the towering apartment blocks that surround the conference centre where world leaders had gathered, to prevent an assault from above.

Dissidents were placed under house arrest or forced to leave the city by security agents.

And entire neighbourhoods were left deserted after migrant workers were pushed out of the city when factories and building sites where they work were ordered to shut down in a bid to cut pollution.

Foreign journalists have spent days trudging through Hangzhou’s eerie and empty backstreets – anxious Communist party security agents trailing their every step – in a luckless quest to find interviewees.

1 comment:

Locomotive Breath said...

If you think the Trump agreement is bad, you should see what the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google ask you to sign.