Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cruising thee Web

It seems like every week we are presented with a new outrage involving the Trump team and Russia. It's gotten to the point that it's hard to work up to a new sense of outrage. I usually feel that I have to wait a couple of days to see what parts of the story gets walked back or for examples of what other politicians have done in the past. That's partly how I feel about this new story that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign because she promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton. What makes it especially fishy that Trump Jr. first claimed that the meeting was about Russia's adoption policy.
When he was first asked about the meeting on Saturday, Donald Trump Jr. said that it was primarily about adoptions and mentioned nothing about Mrs. Clinton.

President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also attended the meeting last year at Trump Tower. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
But on Sunday, presented with The Times’s findings, he offered a new account. In a statement, he said he had met with the Russian lawyer at the request of an acquaintance from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, which his father took to Moscow. “After pleasantries were exchanged,” he said, “the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”

He said she then turned the conversation to adoption of Russian children and the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The 2012 law so enraged President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that he halted American adoptions of Russian children.
So why are the son and son-in-law of the candidate as well as the campaign chairman meeting with some woman with such a shady and indeterminate information during the heat of the campaign? Why would American political operatives meet with a foreigner during the campaign? It seems particularly stupid. It doesn't seem that they did any research on this woman and then sent in key members of the campaign to meet with her. Whether this meeting is evidence of collusion or not, and as the story is now there doesn't seem to be any collusion involved, it was evidence of deep stupidity.

The Weekly Standard responds to defenders
of the Trump campaign by saying it was no worse than what Loretta Lynch was doing when she met with Bill Clinton while responsible for investigating Hillary Clinton.
There’s more than an appearance of meddling in an election here. What Lynch did was interference, and it was wrong, improper, and bad for democracy. You can be outraged by the Lynch affair and concerned about Russian election meddling, too.

As Philip Bump points out in the Washington Post
, this is not the first time that Trump allies have had to correct the record about their original statements about meeting with Russians. It's amazing how forgettable all those meetings with Russians were.

Prime Day 2017 - 30 Hours of Deals

Shop Amazon Devices- Get up to $35 off Trade in your Kindle off a new one

20% back on select items on Prime Day with an Amazon Prime credit card

Donald Trump does seem inclined to have a totally unsupported trust in Russia as he tweets out the bizarre idea that the U.S. and Russia should combine for a "cyber security unit." This idea has met with an appropriate amount of derision from Republican senators such as Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio, and John McCain. Why Trump would think to ally with the fox to guard the henhouse is beyond understanding.
'While reality & pragmatism requires that we engage Vladimir Putin, he will never be a trusted ally or a reliable constructive partner,' Rubio wrote. 'Partnering with Putin on a "Cyber Security Unit" is akin to partnering with Assad on a "Chemical Weapons Unit,"' the senator added.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaking to John Dickerson on CBS News' Face the Nation, also gave an eyeroll of a response.
'I am sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort since he's doing the hacking,' McCain said.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., another frequent critic of the GOP president, also thought the idea wasn't too bright.

'This obviously should not happen--& obviously will not happen. Why the President of the United States would tweet it is inexplicably bizarre,' Sasse wrote on Twitter.
Trump seems to have some advisers such as Rex Tillerson who are willing to grant Russia all kinds of benefits of the doubt while others have a much more reasoned suspicion of everything Putin does. He should listen to the latter advisers.
Mr. Trump’s actions toward Russia so far, such as bombing an Assad airfield and unleashing U.S. oil and gas production, have been far tougher than anything Barack Obama dared. But the U.S. President clearly wants a better relationship with Mr. Putin, and the comments by both Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Trump after their Friday meeting aren’t exactly hardheaded. Next time they should invite national security adviser H.R. McMaster or U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley into the meeting. Those two seem less impressed by the Kremlin conniver.

Congress can play a fortifying role here by moving ahead with the bill toughening sanctions against Russia for its election meddling. The Senate passed the bill 98-2, and Republicans can move it quickly in the House with some fixes for oil investments. The White House objects that the bill takes away discretion from Mr. Trump to reduce sanctions unilaterally. But that discretion shouldn’t be granted until Messrs. Trump and Tillerson show that they understand that Mr. Putin is not America’s friend.

Jay Cost has some wise statements to make about the mixed-up demands that we are making of our government.
ut our government still has very little to say over what constitutes good or bad words, and right or wrong thoughts — which is mostly what our bitter culture war is about.

This seems an especially important point to keep in mind, given that we have so many problems that actually fall under the ambit of federal power. Our debt has reached a staggering sum. Our economy has not been growing at a robust rate in nearly a generation. Young people are saddled with student debt. Our entitlement system is outdated, expensive and inefficient. Our tax system encourages consumption over saving and investment.

These are the problems the government needs to tackle, yet we do not talk about them nearly enough. Instead, we are obsessed with what is and isn’t “fake news,” the proper relationship between science and religion, the right way to be politically correct, etc. These debates will not, cannot, be resolved by Washington. Yet, because we spend but a trivial amount of time on the problems that do fall under the aegis of the federal government, we have not come close to a consensus on the actionable challenges that face us. As a result, we fail to give clear directions to our representatives in Washington, who thus take no clear action.

If we want to improve how our government functions, then we have to remember what it can’t do and focus our attention on what it can — and should — do.

Join SHOWTIME Free Trial

Shop Amazon - Hot New Releases - Updated Every Hour

Shop Amazon Warehouse Deals - Deep Discounts on Open-box and Used PCs

Oopsies for James Comey.


More than half of the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation have been determined to contain classified information, according to interviews with officials familiar with the documents.

This revelation raises the possibility that Comey broke his own agency’s rules and ignored the same security protocol that he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton over in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.
Comey claims that his own memos that he wrote up after discussions with President Obama were his personal possessions.


More than half of the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation have been determined to contain classified information, according to interviews with officials familiar with the documents.

This revelation raises the possibility that Comey broke his own agency’s rules and ignored the same security protocol that he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton over in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.

Comey testified last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he considered the memos to be personal documents and that he shared at least one of them with a friend. He asked that friend, a law professor at Columbia University, to leak information from one memo to the news media in hopes of increasing pressure to get a special prosecutor named in the Russia case after Comey was fired as FBI director.

“So you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document?” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) asked Comey on June 8. “You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share to the media as you wanted through a friend?”
“Correct,” Comey answered. “I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.”

Comey insisted in his testimony he believed his personal memos were unclassified, though he hinted one or two documents he created might have been contained classified information.

“I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership,” he testified about the one memo he later leaked about former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

He added, “My view was that the content of those unclassified memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded.”

But when the seven memos Comey wrote regarding his nine conversations with Trump about Russia earlier this year were shown to Congress in recent days, the FBI claimed all were, in fact, deemed to be government documents.

While the Comey memos have been previously reported, this is the first time there has been a number connected to the amount of memos the ex-FBI chief wrote.

Four of the memos had markings making clear they contained information classified at the secret or confidential level, according to officials directly familiar with the matter.

A spokesman for the FBI on Sunday declined to comment.

FBI policy forbids any agent from releasing classified information or any information from ongoing investigations or sensitive operations without prior written permission, and it mandates that all records created during official duties are considered to be government property.
Ah, the irony.
That was the same issue for which the FBI investigated Clinton, a former secretary of State in the Obama administration, in 2015 and 2016 under Comey. Clinton used a private email server during her tenure that at times contained classified material.

Comey ultimately concluded in July 2016 that Clinton’s email practices were reckless, but that he could not recommend prosecution because FBI agents had failed to find enough evidence that she intended to violate felony statutes prohibiting the transmission of classified information through insecure practices. Clinton at the time was the Democratic nominee for president.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information," he said in a decision panned by Republicans and embraced by Democrats.

Now, congressional investigators are likely to turn their attention to the same issues to determine if Comey mishandled any classified information in his personal memos.
I guess he'll argue that he didn't have any intent to do anything illegal so he should get off with a bit of criticism just as he let Hillary off. But, as was made clear by many experts at the time of his statement last summer on Hillary, intent does not matter in the wording of the law.

Bre Payton highlights
another way in which Comey might have violated his FBI employment agreement.
Paragraph 2 states that all materials acquired in connection with an employee’s official duties are property of the U.S. government and that such materials must be surrendered to the FBI upon an employee’s separation from the agency. Paragraph 3 states that employees are prohibited from releasing “any information acquired by virtue of my official employment” to “unauthorized individual[s] without prior official written authorization by the FBI.” Paragraph 4 of the agreement requires FBI employees, prior to disclosing or publishing information acquired during their employment, to submit the information to FBI authorities for review to determine whether it is authorized for public release.

So if Comey followed protocol and surrendered all government property, including the memos he produced in his capacity as an FBI employee, it would have been impossible for him to provide the memos to his friend. The fact that he was able to provide hard copies of the memos to both his friend and special counsel Robert Mueller suggests that Comey did not surrender them to authorities as required by the FBI employment agreement....

Paragraph 2 states that all materials acquired in connection with an employee’s official duties are property of the U.S. government and that such materials must be surrendered to the FBI upon an employee’s separation from the agency. Paragraph 3 states that employees are prohibited from releasing “any information acquired by virtue of my official employment” to “unauthorized individual[s] without prior official written authorization by the FBI.” Paragraph 4 of the agreement requires FBI employees, prior to disclosing or publishing information acquired during their employment, to submit the information to FBI authorities for review to determine whether it is authorized for public release.

So if Comey followed protocol and surrendered all government property, including the memos he produced in his capacity as an FBI employee, it would have been impossible for him to provide the memos to his friend. The fact that he was able to provide hard copies of the memos to both his friend and special counsel Robert Mueller suggests that Comey did not surrender them to authorities as required by the FBI employment agreement.

Shop Amazon Warehouse Deals - Deep Discounts on Open-box and Used Sports Equipment

Shop Amazon Warehouse Deals - Deep Discounts on Open-box and Used Kitchen Gadgets

Shop Amazon - Top Rated Products

Ira Stoll at Reason ridicules the efforts by billionaires to get the government to go after Google and Facebook for because the can't compete with their online ads.
It's the sort of brazen move that might ordinarily trigger a front-page news story or an outraged editorial—a bunch of very rich individuals asking Congress to write them a law that would give them better negotiating power against other rich individuals.

Yet in this case, the rich individuals wanting special treatment are the newspaper owners themselves. The Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos (worth $83.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire's Index), The New York Times largest shareholder Carlos Slim (worth $61.1 billion), and Buffalo News owner Warren Buffett ($76.9 billion), publicly pleading poverty, are asking Congress for a helping hand in their negotiations with Google, controlled by Sergey Brin ($45.6 billion) and Larry Page ($46.8 billion).

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, the Bezos-Slim-Buffett front man, David Chavern, president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, complained about what he called "an economically squeezed news industry." The Times, in a column sympathetic to the effort, likened the news providers to "serfs." Maybe Serf Bezos should have considered the economics of the news industry when he bought the Post, or Serf Slim when he bought his stake in the Times. The idea that Congress needs to roll to the rescue to bail "serfs" like Messrs. Bezos, Buffett, and Slim out of bad investments just doesn't pass the laugh test.

In respect of the Times, it's particularly comical, because, as an editorial matter, the paper generally favors stricter antitrust enforcement. The newspaper that less than two years ago was editorializing that Congress "should also study whether there are ways to strengthen the antitrust laws," now is backing the move for what its own columnist describes as "an anticompetitive safe haven," "a limited antitrust exemption."
As Stoll argues, there is no reason for the federal government to get in the middle of this battle. The entire industry is changing and who knows how it will end up; certainly government doesn't have a clue.
Even if you buy the questionable idea that more expensive news automatically equals better news, it's a further, and even more tenuous, logical leap from that idea to the notion that Congress ought to interpose itself on one side of a set of business negotiations to make it easier for the publishers to make their news more expensive to consumers, or their ads more expensive to advertisers.

If publishers want to permit competing suppliers to negotiate prices and terms on a cooperative basis, then let them support changing the law to allow it in every industry, without special treatment for journalistic enterprises.

The Google-Facebook world has taken advertising and subscription revenue dollars out of publisher pockets. But it's been a huge boon to marketers and to readers. Advertisers can now reach targets more efficiently at a fraction of what they used to pay for print ads, and readers can now get news from a variety of sites and editors and journalists, from Matt Drudge to Mike Allen to Glenn Reynolds, rather than having to rely on the judgment of their one hometown newspaper editor. Not even Congress has the power to turn back that clock to the old days. Nor would anyone with any sense want it to, other than someone lucky (or unlucky) enough to have inherited a newspaper, or foolish enough to have overpaid for one.

Speaking of the media, Sean Trende had a very interesting thread on Twitter arguing that there is a feedback loop between the media and conservatives. Conservatives criticize the bias they sense in the MSM and then the MSM do something extreme that seems to justify the right's criticisms. In response the media get defensive and end up moving further to the left which sparks more criticism and then the loop continues. The end result is deteriorating trust on both sides as their own confirmation bias seizes on each episode to argue their sides.

Salenaz Zito has some more comments on how far the members of the MSM have gotten from the American people.
Beginning in the 1980s, Washington and New York City newsrooms began to be dominated by people who had the same backgrounds; for the most part they went to the same Ivy League journalism schools, where they made the right contacts and connections to get their jobs....

In short, after a while you adopt the culture you exist in either out of survival or acceptance or a little of both. Or you really just wanted to shed your working-class roots for a variety of reasons: shame, aspiration, ascension, etc.

That does not make them bad people – aspiration is the heart of the American Dream — but it did begin the decline of connection between elite journalism institutions such as the New York Times and the Washington Post and the rest of the country.

So when fewer and fewer reporters shared the same values and habits of many of their consumers, inferences in their stories about people of faith and their struggles squaring gay marriage or abortion with their belief systems were picked up by the readers.

Pro-tip, don't think people can't pick up an inference, even the most subtle, in the written word. It is as evident as a news anchor rolling his eyes at someone on his panel he doesn't agree with.

Same goes for job losses, particularly in coal mines or manufacturing. News reports filled with how those job losses help the environment are not going to sit well with the person losing their job. Also: Just because they have a job that faces an environmental challenge does not mean they hate the environment.
As the internet has developed and people found ways to get news from sources other than the MSM.
It took 17 years for that pressure to build not just among conservatives but also Democrats who came from a family of New Deal ideals who became weary of the constant misrepresentation and belittling of the traditions they held dear: church, family, guns and life.

The result was a populist explosion against all things big: big companies, big banks, big institutions and big media. The movement went undetected by the D.C. and New York centralized press not because they are bad people, not because they had an ax to grind against the center of the country. They just didn't know them. They did not know anyone like them, or if they did it reminded them of all the things they despised about their upbringing, and they wanted to correct those impulses.

And so they missed it. They were a little shocked by the support for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, and they were really shocked by the support candidate Donald J. Trump received in the primaries

And they were really, really shocked by his win.

The problem journalists face right now is that they have never really acknowledged his win appropriately, at least not in the eyes of the people who voted for him.

Since the day he won, the inference that his win was illegitimate has been everywhere. It set the tone in the relationship between the voters and the press that has only soured since November of last year.
She recommends that journalists get out of their coastal homes and start visiting flyover country and talking to people about what concerns them. And the American public needs to be more discerning about the news that they're reading and need also to reach outside their own ideological bubbles.






4 comments:

mardony said...

SAY WHAT!

“We do not get our opposition research from spies, we do not collaborate with Russian spies, unless we want to be accused of treason.”
(Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer for Bush 43)

mardony said...

She tried to warn us, but no.......

"It should concern every American that Russia is willing to engage in such hostile acts in order to help Donald Trump become president."
(Hillary Clinton, Oct. 7, 2016)

mardony said...

Betsy relies on "wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin' " that we"ll wake up from the Trump walking nightmare or we can explain it all away with historical analogy theater. Good luck.

Betsy sez: "I usually feel that I have to wait a couple of days to see what parts of the story gets walked back or for examples of what other politicians have done in the past."

Marshall said...

"So why are the son and son-in-law of the candidate as well as the campaign chairman meeting with some woman with such a shady and indeterminate information during the heat of the campaign?"

Oh Please, Betsy! (Your attitude) is like that of Secretary of State Henry Stimson who defunded the Cipher Bureau in 1929 stating, ""Gentlemen do not read each others' mail."

Name one candidate you've favored for office who woundn't take a meeting with this premise.