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Friday, September 04, 2015

Cruising the Web

It was quite enjoyable yesterday to take a break for a bit from all the aggravating and depressing news and enjoy Judge Berman's ruling on Deflategate. I even spent my lunch reading the Judge's decision and he really smacked down the League and Goodell. After five straight reversals of NFL punishments of players, isn't it time that the League take a long, hard look at the legal staff. There seem quite a few fundamental errors that they made in the way they went about determining Brady's punishment. Don't they have lawyers who could have kept them from messing up so badly?

The best legal analysis of the decision and what might happen next comes from Michael McCann writing at Sports Illustrated. He even goes into a discussion of how the NFL could decide to punish Brady again. Gack! It's hard to believe they would overreach like that, but I wouldn't put any poor decision past Goodell.

As Sally Jenkins argues in the Washington Post, Deflategate has revealed how unfit Roger Goodell is for his job.
A decisive document stands out in the literature of DeflateGate, and it’s not the dog-eared Wells report, with which Goodell sought to suspend Brady four games over a vague unproven allegation he was “generally aware” of a ball-boy plot to suck the air out of footballs in the AFC championship game. The content of the Wells report wasn’t even questioned by Berman. Rather, the critical document that got Goodell overturned was his own incompetently written decision as an arbitrator, a sheaf of papers full of wrenching distortions and irrational legal leaps, which radiated Goodell’s supercilious high-dudgeon persona. Berman bought not a single word of it.

Berman’s ruling provides a devastating bookend to Goodell’s. It’s the difference between a professional athlete and a stone amateur who says, “I could have played this game if I just hadn’t blown out my knee.” The NFL’s counsel tried to argue that arbitration is meant to be binding and therefore Berman was obliged to show “deference” to Goodell’s judgment no matter how flawed. But Berman rejected the notion right off the top with a wealth of case law. Goodell, he ruled, “is not free to merely dispense his own brand of industrial justice.” Boom.

There were “several significant legal deficiencies” in the process Goodell oversaw, Berman continued. There was Goodell’s failure to notify Brady of what offense he was being charged with or disciplined for. There was his summary high-handed decision to “improperly” deprive Brady’s counsel of any background documents or notes on the investigation.

Goodell’s “inadequacy” on due process was such that Berman said he didn’t even need to decide other major claims made by Brady. Such as the claim that Goodell was “evidently partial,” that he totally departed from the factual conclusions of the Wells report in his reasoning for the draconian four-game penalty and that he so publicly wedded himself to the conclusions of the Wells report before hearing Brady’s appeal, he made it impossible for him to reach a contrary conclusion.

[Read Judge Richard Berman’s full decision]

All in all, it’s a portrait of total incompetence by Goodell, who nonetheless announced his intention to keep pursuing the case, saying, “We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game.” Now he’s truly rolling the dice out of desperation to recoup what he has lost. He’s hoping a Second Circuit appeals court will find for him on the narrowest possible procedural grounds: that arbitration shouldn’t be overturned even with idiotic errors committed by a tyrant.

The Brady case is a huge loss for the NFL. It has opened the league to legal challenges from every dog-fighter and wife-beater it seeks to discipline for workplace violations. It’s the biggest threat to control of its affairs since Al Davis won the right to relocate the Oakland Raiders. And it’s all the result of a terrible temperamental flaw in Goodell.

I hope the Patriots win the Super Bowl again and Brady wins another MVP award that Goodell will have to hand over to him. I've never been a big football fan - I'm one of those women who tunes in once a year to watch the Super Bowl ads. Basketball is the game that keeps me riveted. I only vaguely knew who Bill Belichick was a year ago even though my husband admired him because he was an economics major in college. But now I'm looking forward to watching the Patriots play all season. Thanks Roger for broadening my opportunities for procrastinating from my work.

Enjoy the memes.

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Timothy Sandefu has an excellent essay in the Claremont Review of Books about "The Politics of Star Trek." If you're a fan, as I am, of the original series, you'll enjoy his description of the underlying liberty-loving ideology that permeated the series. Then he contrasts that message with the quite different message of the later series and some of the movies which seem to worship at the concept of non-interventionism and moral relativism. I heartily recommend the essay.

Nate Silver has a useful post about why all us political poll watchers should just "keep calm and ignore the 2016 'game changers.'" He reminds us of all the elections when the big story in the fall before the election turned out to be nothingburgers by the end of the process.
First, there are far more opportunities to be “surprised” in the primaries. Let’s start with the most basic stuff. In a nomination race, there might be a dozen or more candidates, instead of just two. And states vote one at a time, instead of all at once.

Furthermore, in a nomination race, there is an abundance of metrics by which you might judge the campaigns: national polls, Iowa polls, New Hampshire polls, favorability ratings, endorsements, fundraising, staffing, even crowd sizes and yard signs. Eventually, we’ll also be able to look at delegates, which can be counted in many different ways. For any of these metrics, you can report on the level of support (“Hillary Clinton is polling at 48 percent”), the trend (“she’s lost 4 percentage points since last month”), or even the second derivative (“she’s losing ground, but not as quickly as before”). Multiply 23 candidates3 by 10 metrics by three ways of reporting on those metrics, and you have 690 opportunities to be “surprised” at any given time....

The other big difference between the general election and primaries is that polls are not very reliable in the primaries. They improve as you get closer to the election, although only up to a point. But they have little meaning now, five months before the first states vote.

It’s not only that the polls have a poor predictive track record — at this point in the past four competitive races, the leaders in national polls were Joe Lieberman, Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton and Rick Perry, none of whom won the nomination — but also that they don’t have a lot of intrinsic meaning. At this point, the polls you see reported on are surveying broad groups of Republican- or Democratic-leaning adults who are relatively unlikely to actually vote in the primaries and caucuses and who haven’t been paying all that much attention to the campaigns. The ones who eventually do vote will have been subjected to hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of advertising, had their door knocked on several times, and seen a half-dozen more debates. The ballots they see may not resemble the one the pollsters are testing since it’s likely that (at least on the GOP side) several of the candidates will have dropped out by the time their state votes.

My AP Government and Politics class is in the middle of the unit on political parties. Yesterday, we discussed why minor parties can not be successful in the U.S. As we went over all the reasons, I made a prediction that Donald Trump was smart enough to look at those realities and decide not to run. And now he's signed his pledge not to run as an independent. Of course, it's just a paper pledge, but his whole schtick is that he is a straight-shooter. If he goes back on his word now, how does he maintain that image?

Ah, this might explain Trump's special vitriol for Jeb Bush.
Donald Trump openly boasts that he donates to politicians so he can exact favors from them after they reach office.

He did so for Jeb Bush in 1998, holding a high-dollar fundraiser for the gubernatorial candidate in Trump Tower and shelling out $50,000 to the Florida Republican Party. But when Bush took office in 1999, Trump didn't get the political help he needed to make his casino dreams a reality in the Sunshine State.

Instead, Bush maintained his hardline stance against gambling in the state, delivering a death blow to Trump's hopes of building out a multi-million dollar casino endeavor with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and prompting him to abandon those plans.

"It certainly had a chilling effect," Doug Guetzloe, a Florida political consultant who worked for the gaming giant Bally Entertainment in the '90s, said of Bush's election. "Gov. Bush made it clear to everyone that he was not interested in having casinos in the state of Florida ... the word definitely went through."

Is there no repellent Democrat that Trump wasn't involved with?
[Al] Sharpton and Trump forged an unlikely friendship over Atlantic City boxing deals that has lasted for decades, through ups and downs. Even as the Tawana Brawley scandal unfolded and Sharpton faced a 67-count indictment involving how he used funding for his youth organization, Trump remained a prominent supporter of the agitator, numerous sources close to the two men tell National Review.

Jonah Goldberg wishes that the other GOP candidates would take some lessons from Donald Trump. He talks like a normal person (if normal is being an arrogant blowhard).
I wish more Republicans would take the hint. Every couple of years I write a column on the infuriating habit Republican politicians have of reading their own stage direction. I don’t revisit the topic for lack of other issues to write about; I keep coming back to it because Republicans just can’t help themselves.

The worst offender was George H.W. Bush, a thoroughly decent and committed public servant who was always uncomfortable with the demands of the TV age. He was better suited to the 19th-century style of politics, where you didn’t have to connect emotionally with millions of people in their living rooms. Out of frustration, he’d often cut to the chase and tell people how he wanted to be perceived.

When he ran against Bill Clinton — a man capable of crying on cue if you just told him which camera to look at — Bush was hopelessly outmatched. So he simply proclaimed, “Message: I care.”

#share#Bob Dole, another old-school politician, had the same problem. He once said at a meeting of the Republican National Committee, “If that’s what you want, I’ll be another Ronald Reagan.” His aides told the press that his strategy was to “act presidential.”

Jeb Bush has the same tendency. In 2014, he told people he would only run for president if he could do so “joyfully.” The problem is that he’s good at telling but pretty bad at showing. To date, he’s displayed all the joy of a man waiting to get called for his colonoscopy.

But all of the professional politicians have this problem to one extent or another. Chris Christie talks about how he “tells it like it is” as often as he actually tells it like it is.

Christie recently told Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon about his plans for the next GOP debate: “Stay tuned on September 16th. We may be changing tactics.” If the moderators ask 15 questions in a row without asking Christie any, the New Jersey governor explained, “you’re going to go, ‘Uh oh, he’s going to go nuclear now.’”

If you have to tell people that “going nuclear” is just a tactic, it makes going nuclear seem a hell of a lot less authentic.

John Kasich has a policy of not attacking Hillary Clinton. That’s weird enough. But he also feels compelled to explain that his refusal is a tactic. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker et al. can’t resist telling audiences about the importance of being optimistic. Why not just try being optimistic? Voters will notice. I promise.

There are many reasons the non-politicians — Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina — are doing so well, but near the top is the fact that they haven’t internalized the language of political consultants and pundits. They understand something the politicians have forgotten: Politics is about sales. Good salesmen don’t say, “I need to sell you this car today because I need to make my quota.” They also don’t say, “I need to convince you that you need this car even though it’s more than you think you can afford.” That may be their motivation, but they concentrate on the actual convincing.
I don't know if Trump really exemplifies what Goldberg is talking about. He is constantly telling us how he doesn't owe anything to anybody and that he is just telling it like it is. Goldberg would advise him to show us, not tell us.

James Antle III analyzes three strategies that Trump's GOP rivals are taking. None of them seem to be working for anyone.

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Those peaceful Iranians!
A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander (IRGC) stated Wednesday that Iran will not stop building up its military until Israel is annihilated.

Here's a summary of 12 things we could learn from Hillary Clinton's emails. Basically, nothing that she has told us about her server and emails is true. Charles Krauthammer writes on this theme as he argues that, despite all her lying, she will still be the Democratic nominee. Unless she is indicted - unlikely from the Obama administration or Biden partners up with Elizabeth Warren to run together with Biden promising to serve only one term.
Clinton is now hostage to the various investigations — the FBI, Congress, the courts — of her e-mails. The issue has already damaged her seriously by highlighting once again her congenital inability to speak truthfully. When the scandal broke in March, she said unequivocally that she “did not e-mail any classified material to anyone.” That’s now been shown to be unequivocally false. After all, the inspector general of the intelligence community referred her e-mails to the Justice Department precisely because they contain classified material.

The fallback — every Clinton defense has a fallback — is that she did not mishandle any material “marked” classified. But that’s absurd. Who could even have been in a position to mark classified something she composed and sent on her own private e-mail system?

Moreover, what’s prohibited is mishandling classified information , not just documents . For example, any information learned from confidential conversations with foreign leaders is automatically classified. Everyone in national security knows that. Reuters has already found 17 e-mails sent by Clinton containing such “born classified” information. And the State Department has already identified 188 e-mails on her server that contain classified information.

The truth-shaving never stops. Take a minor matter: her communications with Sidney Blumenthal. She originally insisted that these were just “unsolicited” e-mails from an old friend. Monday’s document release showed that they were very much solicited (“Keep ’em coming when you can”) and in large volume — 306 e-mails, according to the New York Times’ Peter Baker, more than with any other person, apparently, outside the State Department.

The parallel scandal looming over Clinton is possible corruption involving contributions to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state. There are relatively few references to the foundation in the e-mails she has released. Remember, she erased 32,000 e-mails she deemed not “work-related.” Clinton needs to be asked a straightforward question: “In sorting your private from public e-mails, were those related to the Clinton Foundation considered work-related or were they considered private and thus deleted?”

Stanley Kurtz analyzes the dangers to national security resulting from Hillary's decision to have her own server.
“There’s a widely held belief among American counterspies that foreign intelligence agencies had to be reading the e-mails on Hillary’s private server, particularly since it was wholly unencrypted for months….senior counterintelligence officials are assuming the worst about what the Russians and Chinese know.”

So America’s intelligence agencies are assuming that every communication of America’s Secretary of State for months or more was read by our adversaries. Isn’t that likely to amount to one of the worst intelligence breaches in American history? And here’s the kicker. Even if we got lucky and the Russians and Chinese didn’t actually intercept some or all of Hillary’s e-mails, our intelligence agencies now have to behave as if they did.

Doesn’t that mean that we are now making massive changes to the sources and methods of our intelligence? Are we now withdrawing valuable agents? Are we trying to replace methods that cannot be easily replicated? Are we now forced to rebuild a good deal of our intelligence capabilities from the ground up? Are we not suffering tremendous intelligence damage right now, regardless of what foreign intelligence services did or did not manage to snatch from Hillary’s server—simply because we are forced to assume that they got it all?

I’m sure that analysts with more knowledge of our intelligence systems could explain better than I the damage that would flow from simply being forced to assume that nearly all of the Secretary of State’s communications had been compromised. No doubt even explaining that could do additional damage.

At any rate, the mere fact that our intelligence services are now assuming maximum damage and acting accordingly may ultimately be one of the most important and least fully appreciated aspects of this story.
Kurtz links to a Daily Beast story regarding suspicions that the Clinton scandal will also involve the White House.
EmailGate has barely touched the White House directly, although it’s clear that some senior administration officials beyond the State Department were aware of Hillary’s unorthodox email and server habits, given how widely some of the emails from Clinton and her staff were forwarded around the Beltway. Obama’s inner circle may not be off-limits to the FBI for long, however, particularly since the slipshod security practices of certain senior White House officials have been a topic of discussion in the Intelligence Community for years.

Hillary Clinton was far from the only senior Obama appointee to play fast and loose with classified materials, according to Intelligence Community insiders. While most counterspies agree that Hillary’s practices—especially using her own server and having her staffers place classified information into unclassified emails, in violation of federal law—were especially egregious, any broad-brush investigation into security matters are likely to turn up other suspects, they maintain.

William McGurn points out that the real issue about Hillary's server - why she set it up to begin with.
Only one explanation makes any sense: Mrs. Clinton entered the Obama administration determined to put in place a system to help her avoid accountability. Democratic operative James Carville admitted as much on ABC’s “The Week” in March when he said: “I suspect she didn’t want Louie Gohmert”—a Republican congressman from Texas—“rifling through her emails.”

Remember, a private server has nothing to do with the convenience of having all your email accounts on one smartphone, Mrs. Clinton’s original excuse for mixing personal and official emails. It has nothing to do with whether classified information is marked. And it has nothing to do with whether her emails were about yoga or Chelsea’s wedding—or Benghazi or some looming Clinton Foundation conflict of interest.

Mrs. Clinton’s private server was about one thing: control. She used it to ensure she would be in a position to thwart effective oversight and accountability.

Rich Lowry toots Ben Carson's horn, especially in contrast to Trump.
Few politicians have ever wielded soft-spokeness to such rhetorical effect. Carson aced the Fox debate when in his closing statement he didn't puff himself up and attempt to soar like candidates always do, but gently said a few nice things about his background as a surgeon, with a touch of humor. It was a hit.

If Carson's surge continues, one wonders if other contenders now doing all they can to kowtow to and copy the bombastic real-estate mogul will instead decide to kowtow to and copy the mild-mannered retired neurosurgeon.
Carson is a more natural fit for conservatives than Trump. If you like your outsider not to favor higher taxes, not to have once opposed the ban of partial birth abortion, not to speak favorably of socialized medicine, not to have been an erstwhile booster of Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, and not to have experience buying off politicians, Ben Carson (or Carly Fiorina) is a much better bet than Donald Trump.

And Carson is altogether a more sympathetic figure. He rose from nothing; Trump took over the family real-estate business. Carson's mom was one of 24 kids, had a third-grade education and worked as a domestic; Trump's father built tens of thousands of apartments in Brooklyn and Queens and amassed a fortune of $300 million.

Carson is a serious Christian who has a powerful testimonial about getting down on his knees as a young man unable to control his temper and saying, "Lord, unless you help me, I'm not going to make it."

Carson tells of how he prayed to God to give him the right woman and how he has been married to his wife, Candy, for 40 years; Trump brags about the beautiful women he has bedded.
Kevin Williamson knows what it means when The Donald pledges his word.
The great thing about that pledge, Jim, is that if there is anything for which Donald Trump is famous, it is the steadfastness with which he keeps vows. Ask Mrs. Trump.

Or Mrs. Trump.

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Scientists sometimes seem to have trouble making grandiose analyses of the world environment.
Researchers have found that Earth has trillions, not billions, of trees. Good news, right? Not for those in the scientific community who are always looking for a way to cast man and human activity as scourges of the planet.

As reported Tuesday in the Washington Post, "A team of 38 scientists finds that the planet is home to 3.04 trillion trees, blowing away the previously estimate of 400 billion. That means, the researchers say, that there are 422 trees for every person on Earth."

That's a healthy ratio. No one can hug that many trees, at least not all at once. So there should be delirious joy that there are so many more trees than previously thought. But rather than joy, there's defeat.
"In no way do the researchers consider this good news," writes Post reporter Chris Mooney. "The study also finds that there are 46% fewer trees on Earth than there were before humans started the lengthy, but recently accelerating, process of deforestation.

Looked at another way, we were doing OK when we thought there were only 400 billion trees, but now that we know there are 3 trillion, things are miserable.

And here's another thought: Isn't 46% fewer than 3 trillion better than 46% fewer than 400 billion? Just asking.
And why should we trust their estimates of how many trees there were earlier?

Just what we feared about the VA.
The Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Inspector General on Wednesday confirmed that more than one-third of the people thought to be seeking eligibility for VA benefits are deceased, and said many of them have been dead for more than four years.

The OIG report confirms the worst fears of members of Congress, who said in July that they would investigate unsubstantiated claims that thousands of veterans died before they ever became eligible for VA benefits.

In July, reports surfaced that an estimated 239,000 veterans died before they became eligible for benefits, or 28 percent of the nearly 850,000 veterans thought to be seeking these benefits.

The OIG's report said the situation is even worse — it said 307,000 names on the VA's list of pending enrollees were deceased. That's 35 percent of the 867,000 people on the list as of last year.

Here's a final joke on users of the Ashley Madison site. Apparently, almost all the women on the site were fake entries, many written by workers at Ashley Madison.
Shortly after the first news of the hack broke, another friend quipped, "Well, the guys using Ashley Madison were looking to get screwed." They had no idea.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Cruising the Web

Josh Kraushaar has a perceptive column arguing that Jeb Bush is making a mistake by making the campaign about him versus Trump when his real opponents are Kasich and Rubio.
A slow-and-steady dis­cip­lined strategy from Bush­world has morph­ed in­to anxi­ety over Trump’s stay­ing power. And it’s all be­ing done in the name of a stra­tegic mis­take: Bush’s biggest mis­cal­cu­la­tion is that Trump is his biggest rival; the as­sump­tion that he’s best-po­si­tioned to be the fi­nal Re­pub­lic­an stand­ing against the busi­ness­man. The real­ity is that the es­tab­lish­ment lane that Bush wanted to claim for him­self is get­ting aw­fully crowded, and the former Flor­ida gov­ernor is hardly as­sured of a spot in the GOP fi­nals. And by get­ting dis­trac­ted by the ele­phant in the room—against his own cam­paign’s ori­gin­al con­sid­er­a­tions—Bush risks be­com­ing an early cas­u­alty to a Trump cam­paign that, like a good real­ity show, needs en­emies for its polit­ic­al oxy­gen.
What’s iron­ic is that Bush’s “lose the primary to win the gen­er­al” strategy has been co-op­ted by his es­tab­lish­ment-ori­ented Re­pub­lic­an rivals, while Bush has been re­luct­antly drawn in­to the fray with Trump. Trump has mostly ig­nored Sen. Marco Ru­bio of Flor­ida, whose cam­paign is con­tent to stay on the side­lines un­scathed, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is quickly gain­ing mo­mentum in New Hamp­shire and is rack­ing up the type of es­tab­lish­ment en­dorse­ments that once seemed like good bets to be in Bush’s corner....

Most cam­paigns have cal­cu­lated that go­ing after Trump at this stage is a no-win pro­pos­i­tion. As the George Bern­ard Shaw aph­or­ism goes, “Nev­er wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.” The can­did­ates that have taken on Trump—from Rick Perry to Lind­sey Gra­ham to Rand Paul—have seen their stand­ing col­lapse. But someone has to fire the first shot. The fear from GOP strategists is that the first ser­i­ous can­did­ate to blast Trump will be like a kami­kaze pi­lot, tak­ing out the en­emy but crash­ing his cam­paign while do­ing it. That’s why Bush’s at­tacks against Trump have been so tame and are un­likely to be ac­com­pan­ied by any ag­gress­ive ad blitz against the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man. But in its place, he hardly has a bet­ter situ­ation—wimpy re­sponses to Trump’s taunts, while get­ting dis­trac­ted from the main task at hand. It would’ve been smarter for Bush to ig­nore Trump, and start throw­ing red meat at Hil­lary Clin­ton to prove his ag­gress­ive­ness.
Other candidates might be quite happy for Bush to take Trump on. It distracts Trump from attacking them and they can just continue doing their thing and hope that Bush will either damage Trump or vice versa or that they'll both injure the other. Any outcome would benefit the other candidates. That's why, as a general rule, it doesn't pay off to aim attacks at another candidate in such a crowded field. Even if your shots hit their target, the beneficiaries will be those people standing on the sidelines.

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So now the Democratic senators have done what we all knew they would do - back Obama's awful cave-in to Iran. As the WSJ writes, they now own whatever the ayatollahs do in the future.
So the deal will proceed, and Democrats had better hope it succeeds because they are taking responsibility for Iran’s compliance and imperial ambitions. Politically speaking, they now own the Ayatollahs.

The Democratic co-owners include Vice President Joe Biden, presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and nearly every member of the Congressional leadership. While New York Senator Chuck Schumer came out early against the deal, he has done nothing publicly to rally opponents. His silence suggests he has long known Mr. Obama would have enough votes to prevail.

Democrats will reinforce their ownership if they now use a Senate filibuster to block a vote on the motion of disapproval. More than 50 Senators are expected to oppose the deal, and a large bipartisan majority will oppose it in the House. Yet the White House is pushing for 41 Senate Democrats to enforce a filibuster, so that a bipartisan motion of disapproval dies in the Senate and Mr. Obama wouldn’t have to veto.

But what a spectacle that would be—the President’s party using a procedural dodge to avoid voting on the merits of so consequential a deal. Previous arms-control pacts of this magnitude were submitted as treaties requiring two-thirds approval by the Senate. Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats maneuvered the Iran deal as an “executive agreement,” so he is able to commit America to trusting the Ayatollahs with the support of a mere partisan minority. At least ObamaCare had a partisan majority.

As with ObamaCare, the polls now show more than half of the public is opposed to the Iran deal—despite Mr. Obama’s vigorous promotion and a cheerleading media. Also like ObamaCare, the President is assuring Democrats that public support will improve once the pact goes into effect.

But this makes Democrats hostage to Iran’s behavior. This means hostage to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who recently said that “even after this deal our policy toward the arrogant U.S. will not change.”

It means hostage to Mohammad Yazdi, head of Iran’s powerful Assembly of Experts, who declared this week that “we should not change our foreign policy of opposition to America, our number one enemy, whose crimes are uncountable.” Ayatollah Yazdi will play a large role in selecting Ayatollah Khamenei’s successor.

And it means hostage to Qasem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which will receive billions of dollars in cash once sanctions are lifted. Mr. Soleimani is likely to deploy that cash to fund terrorism and proxies fighting in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Gaza. Democrats will have essentially voted to finance Iran’s combination of Persian imperialism and Shiite messianism....

Meantime, Democrats will also have to worry how Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt respond to Iran becoming a nuclear-threshold state. Democrats are accountable if a nuclear arms race breaks out in the Middle East.

The Iran deal is one of those watershed foreign-policy moments when history will remember where politicians stood. Mr. Obama has said as much by conceding that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, “it’s my name on this.” By forming a partisan phalanx to let Mr. Obama overcome bipartisan opposition, Democrats have also put their names on it.
What a legacy Obama has forced on his party - a failed $800 billion stimulus, Obamacare, and now Iran.

David French gives his explanation of why Carly Fiorina is rising in the polls. She can talk about policy and show she's tough at the same time.
If there is an outsider capable of bringing her “A game” to every debate, it’s Fiorina.

It’s also critical to note that Fiorina has separated herself from the political pack not so much by trashing fellow Republicans (although she has attacked Trump) but by proving to be most effective both at attacking Hillary Clinton and countering the television Left. Fiorina’s interviews are making the rounds in conservative circles. There’s Fiorina vs. Matthews on Hillary and Benghazi, Fiorina vs. Couric on climate change, and Fiorina vs. Whoopi Goldberg on life. In each instance, Fiorina went into the liberal lion’s den and triumphed, convincingly.

Conservatives long for a fighter. We also long for a communicator, a person who can articulate conservative views and values in the same way that we see them — as uplifting our nation, our fellow citizens, and ourselves. Over time, Fiorina could well combine Trump’s core virtue — defiance in the face of the Left and of the Republican establishment — with the persuasive skills of the best political communicators. And she should be able to do so over the long haul of a campaign — speech after speech, debate after debate.

By no means is she a favorite yet for the nomination, but she’s now part of the conversation. Her unique skills will probably mean that when the dust settles, the secretary-turned-CEO will have won the outsider battle. She can topple Trump and Carson. The question is: Can she topple the political pros?
I've noticed before that she has the ability to wrap her discussion of policy in an explanation that includes conservative principles. It always surprises me how many so-called conservatives can't enunciate the foundation for conservative principles and then connect them to the policies. Instead they often sound like they're reciting slogans that they've been fed, but don't really understand or believe. Mitt Romney had that problem. We need someone who can communicate why conservative ideas are better. Marco Rubio does this and Carly can also. We'll see how well the other guys can measure up.

It is so unusual for someone not to be sycophantic to Hillary that Politico actually makes a story about the one person who says no to Hillary.
The thousands of now-public emails from Hillary Clinton’s years as secretary of state reveal dozens of staffers and supporters eager to please and praise her, and one person who’s willing to say no.

Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s 50-year-old former chief of staff at the State Department and a family attorney dating back to the early '90s, stands out for her uniquely unvarnished communications with the boss.
She can be brusque, sometimes responding to Clinton’s questions with a simple “y,” as if she is too busy to finish typing the three-letter word.

She’s not always available, often unable to immediately take a call or email from Clinton on the weekend because she is at physical therapy, or getting home from the pool, or participating in an Easter egg hunt with her family.
And she can be irreverent, joking to Clinton in a 2009 email about Clinton's dancing skills, “you shake your tail feathers, girl.”

When kudos are traded between Clinton and Mills, it’s more often Clinton who is complimenting her aide than the other way around. What is most striking about Mills’ correspondence compared with anything else found in Clinton’s inbox is that she appears to treat Clinton like an equal — which appears to be a rarity in Clinton's world. That posture stands in great contrast to the sycophantic praise, or deferential pose, that many of her staff and outside allies used when communicating with Clinton.
It might actually be an interesting exercise if we could get similar emails from all the candidates just to see how their staff addresses them. I'd like to see the person who is most welcoming of criticism and counter-arguments from his/her staff. And whenever there is a taint of sycophancy, we should take another more critical look at that candidate's leadership style. Of course, the other candidates haven't skirted the law to such a degree that their emails become public.

If you want a sense of how the kissing up the Clinton looked, check out this email from her pal Sid the Squid as he tells her that his first thought was that Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for "Hurt Locker" over "Avatar" as a replay of the 2008 election but this time the "tough woman" got to win. Gag. Anyone who has such a flunky brown-nosing her like that should automatically be disqualified.

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Oh, by the way. Just in case you were buying any particle of Hillary's defense that she wasn't aware of anything in her correspondence that was classified, here is the proof of how ridiculous that is.
Tony Blair knew about Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail account before the American people did — and his off-the-grid e-mail exchanges with Clinton are another sledgehammer to the already crumbling edifice of excuses offered in defense of her homebrew server.

Among the thousands of Clinton e-mails released by the State Department last night were direct exchanges with foreign dignitaries such as former prime minister (and then special envoy for the Middle East Quartet) Blair and internal exchanges between State Department officials about those conversations. The conversations cover a wide range of world hot spots, including the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iran, Sudan, and Haiti. Many of them — nearly 200 in total to date — have now been classified by the State Department as “foreign government information” and redacted or withheld from release. The very nature of the communications in those e-mails established that they contained classified information from their inception. Mrs. Clinton’s defense that she did not know of the existence of such information on her server at the time is laughable....

Blair e-mailed Clinton again the next day, copying Sullivan, Clinton’s aide, apparently on a private e-mail account of his own. The entirety of that e-mail has been redacted from public disclosure as part of the FOIA release. Why? Because it has now been acknowledged as classified information and formally marked “Confidential” by State Department reviewers. The markings that accompany the redactions (which took place just this week as part of the release) explain that the redacted portion is classified under parts 1.4(B) and 1.4(D) of President Obama’s Executive Order 13526. Thus, it falls within the categories of information classified as “foreign government information” — 1.4(B) — and information relating to “foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources” — 1.4(D).

Those markings are relevant because they blow up the Clinton campaign’s insistence that Mrs. Clinton and her colleagues did not know that the information at issue was classified at the time. Clinton is, of course, correct that the e-mails were not formally marked classified at the time they were exchanged, but that is only the result of a failure by Mrs. Clinton and her staff to mark them and handle them through the proper channels used for such foreign communications. The information contained in the e-mails was plainly classified at the time they were sent and received — by order of the president.

Executive Order 13526, issued by President Obama at the beginning of his term, addresses the classification and handling of national-security information. It provides that “foreign government information” — which includes “information provided to the United States Government by a foreign government or governments, an international organization of governments, or any element thereof, with the expectation that the information, the source of the information, or both, are to be held in confidence” — must be treated as classified. The president made a determination in the Executive Order that disclosure of these confidential foreign communications “is presumed to cause damage to the national security.”

Apparently, Hillary paid to try to make sure that her identity as owning the server would remain private. And there were other problems that made the server susceptible to problems.
That Hillary Clinton shared a server with the Clinton Foundation and the offices of her husband and daughter raises further concerns about the illegality of her private email use, since other Clinton-World employees not affiliated with the State Department certainly had physical access to her server and the classified information on it.

Hillary’s private server also used the McAfee-owned MXLogic spam-filtering software, which is susceptible to a security breach and which made the information on her server accessible to McAfee employees during the numerous intervals in which her emails were passed through the MXLogic system.

The server was prone to crashes.

Hillary Clinton’s private email server went down in February 2010, and the State Department IT team didn’t even know that she was using a private email address, indicating that Clinton Foundation staff was working on her server as opposed to the agency’s IT professionals.

This is scary. How many are not getting caught?
Five men have been arrested as they attempted to cross the Bulgarian-Macedonian border with decapitation videos and Islamic State propaganda on their phones. The terrorist suspects had been posing as refugees.

Bulgarian authorities near the Gyueshevo border checkpoint detained the five men, aged between 20 and 24, late on Wednesday, Bulgarian broadcaster NOVA TV reported.

The men were stopped by a border guard, who they attempted to bribe with a “wad of dollars.” However, they were searched and Islamic State propaganda, specific Jihadists prayers and decapitation videos were found on their phones.

If the public doesn't care about the tens of thousands of people killed by ISIS and other conflicts in the Middle East, will they care about historic sites?
Satellite imagery released by the United Nations on Monday has confirmed that the Islamic State destroyed one of the most important ruins in the ancient city of Palmyra over the weekend.

The destruction of the 1st-century Temple of Bel appears to be part of a broader campaign by the group against not just Palmyra but a variety of ancient sites -- a campaign that appears to be motivated by both ideology and greed. Worse still, the Islamic State is only one part of a wider situation in Syria and Iraq where a number of important historical areas are considered at risk.

The situation is stark. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) lists 10 world heritage sites in Syria and Iraq. Of those 10, it says nine are currently in danger – and not just because of Islamic State vandalism.

The left is still making unreasoning attacks on Clarence Thomas. He really flips them out.
Black lives matter — unless, apparently, you’re Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The left is renewing its venomous, racist attacks on Thomas in the aftermath of his dissent in the Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling in favor of gay marriage.
Actor George Takei smeared Thomas as a “clown in blackface.” The Huffington Post called his dissent “beyond ridiculous” and tarred him as a hypocrite for opposing a court-created “right” to gay marriage:
“Clarence Thomas is married to a white woman — something that would be illegal today, if it weren’t for the Supreme Court’s historic Loving v. Virginia ruling.” As if his personal life is fair game.
Last Friday, in another low blow, New York Times reporter Adam Liptak portrayed Thomas as a lightweight whose opinions are cut-and-paste jobs from briefs submitted to the court.
But in truth, all the justices refer liberally to briefs. Thomas borrows about 11.3 percent of his judicial prose from briefs, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor lifts 11 percent and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 10.5 percent. It’s not “cribbing” or plagiarism, as Liptak’s hatchet job implies, but simply the way decisions are written.
In fact, Thomas appears to be the most productive justice, having written 37 opinions this past term, more than any other justice. That fact’s enough to dispense with New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin’s bogus claim that Thomas has “checked out” and “is simply not doing his job.”

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Hillary and Joe Biden apparently bonded when she was in the Cabinet. So the question is if Biden can overcome his innate reluctance to bash her. He would be jumping in the race solely because he doesn't think she should be president. Otherwise, he would have decided to run earlier. So he would have to attack her. Is he up for that on top of all the difficulties he would face gearing up to run?
The golden era of the Hillary Clinton-Joe Biden relationship lasted four years — as long as they had Barack Obama to gossip, kibbitz and complain about.
During his first term, the two developed a kinship — cultivated during weekly breakfast meetings in Biden’s cozy parlor — that hadn’t existed before (and hasn't since). For both, the experience kindled an abiding sense of affection, and not a little ambivalence.
Clinton got an up-close earful of the maddening duality of Biden — the motor-mouth powered by a high-octane brain. Biden was charmed by Clinton’s candor out of the spotlight, but he felt she viewed running for president as a “burden,” according to people briefed on their interactions.
Those perceptions, especially on the Biden side, will weigh on the 72-year-old vice president’s decision whether to run in 2016 or retire.
“He really likes her personally, but there’s been always an undercurrent of resentment,” a former top adviser to Obama, who worked closely with both, told POLITICO. “I think there’s always been an element of — and Biden is by no means the only one who has felt this — ‘why does she feel entitled to [run] and I can’t?’ I imagine that’s playing a big part in his deliberations right now.”

There isn’t really a word in the political lexicon that captures the multilayered, 25-year relationship. Clinton and Biden aren’t enemies, but they’re not quite close friends. They aren’t back-stabbing frenemies, or even proper rivals — yet. “Frivals” seems closest to the mark.
It's an interesting article about their relationship and it seems to be coming from the Biden camp much more so than from the Clinton camp. Maybe they've all received the world to shut up about him in case anything they said would sway him one way or another about running.

Frank Bruni thinks that the idea that Joe Biden could be a winning candidate is a delusion.
Some Democratic leaders and operatives would desperately like an alternative — an alternative, that is, with better general-election prospects than a 73-year-old socialist with little support from minorities. Martin O’Malley hasn’t come through: He might as well be an apparition for all the impact he’s made. Someone else is needed. Cue the Biden talk.

We journalists eagerly amplify it, because nothing improves a narrative like the addition of an especially colorful character. We disingenuously pretend that his favorability ratings and other flattering poll results have the same meaning as corresponding numbers for Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

They don’t, because he’s a hypothetical candidate and they’re actual ones, and it’s the difference between a courtship in its dawn and a marriage in its dusk. Once someone has really moved into the house and is leaving dirty dishes in the sink, the electricity dims and everything droops.

Even while drooping, Clinton holds onto a great deal of support, and she stands on the very territory that Biden, to get the nomination, would need.

“He’s neither to the left of her, where the energy of the party is, nor is he newer than her,” one Democratic strategist said. “He personifies neither progressivity nor change. And you need to have one of the two — preferably, both — to win.”

Clinton’s familiarity is mitigated by the possibility that she’d make history: the first woman in the White House. Biden has nothing like that going for him.

He’s a profoundly awkward fit for this strange political moment, this season of outsiders and insurgents.

Voters are sour on career politicians, and Biden’s career in politics spans about 45 uninterrupted years.

Voters are anti-Washington in particular, and more than 42 of those years have been spent in the national’s capital, as a senator from Delaware and then as the vice president.

Aspects of his legislative record are more troubling for him now than ever before. As Nicholas Fandos noted in a recent story in The Times, Biden pushed for, and later crowed about, tough-on-crime legislation in the 1980s and 1990s that preceded the mass incarceration of today. That would be a wedge between him and the Democratic Party’s black voters especially.

And as Steve Eder noted in another recent story in The Times, Biden was, of necessity, an ambassador for the financial services industry in Delaware. That hardly positions him to win the favor of liberal Democrats who yearn for a crackdown on Wall Street.

Researchers at the Heritage Foundation find that having right-to-work laws does not mean that employees have lower wages contrary to what a liberal think tank found.
Private sector wages are not reduced in right-to-work states as union advocates have argued, according to a new report released Tuesday by The Heritage Foundation.

James Sherk, a research fellow in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation and the author of the study, cited an Economic Policy Institute paper that claimed right-to-work laws reduce wages by 3 percent.

Sherk found the conclusions “fundamentally flawed” because the study only partially accounted for the cost of living differences across states. He said this is a problem because companies in states with higher costs of living pay their employees higher wages to account for steeper expenses.

Every state with compelled union membership and Virginia, a right-to-work state, has living costs above the national average, which is how EPI arrived to its finding that right-to-work states have lower wages.

Once cost of living was accounted for in the Heritage study, Sherk said EPI’s results “disappeared” and right-to-work laws had no effect on private sector wages.

Sherk’s study did find government employees make about 5 percent less in right-to-work states, but he attributed this to government unions’ ability to affect wages by electing “political allies” who will give them “favorable contracts.”

“All of these arguments of right-to-work wages really evaporate when you look under the hood of all these studies,” Sherk said.
Including cost of living in assessing wages is such an elementary requirement for a serious study that it is quite remarkable that a study would not fully account for it in their study. A cynical person would suspect that it was done deliberately to skew results.

Kevin Williamson has a great column looking at what happens after certain feel-good policies are enacted. Good intentions are not enough to counteract the laws of economics.
News item: There is a new cholesterol-control drug on the market, Repatha, which is enormously beneficial to people who suffer serious side effects from the statins commonly used to control cholesterol or who derive no benefit from statins. Some 17 million Britons are potential beneficiaries of the drug, but they will not be able to use it, because the United Kingdom’s version of Sarah Palin’s death panel — which bears the pleasingly Orwellian name NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence — says it is too expensive. The United Kingdom’s single-payer health-care system is effectively a monopoly, and not an especially effective one: Cardiovascular-disease mortality rates in the United Kingdom are nearly 40 percent higher than in the United States. That’s not nice. And it isn’t what was supposed to happen.

News item: Between raising its in-house minimum wage to $9 an hour and increasing its spending on training, Walmart took on an extra $1 billion in expenses and subsequently failed to meet its earnings expectations. As the back-to-school rush gives way to the buildup to Christmas, Walmart employees around the country are seeing their hours trimmed as the company tries to recoup some of the losses it imposed on itself. Employees say they are being sent home early from their shifts or told to take extra-long unpaid lunch breaks, and they say that individual stores have been ordered to cuts hundreds or even thousands of man-hours. That’s not what was supposed to happen.
The examples could go on for pages. But do such lessons in reality alter what liberals will advocate for? No. For them good intentions are enough. Results are not necessary. So the policy's opponents are reduced to arguing about what a proposed policy will result in and its proponents just argue back that anyone who would oppose such an idea hates the poor, women, minorities, or the environment.
Politicians tell us what a policy is supposed to do, what it is intended to do, and they ask to be judged by their intentions. The so-called Affordable Care Act, we were assured, was intended to make health insurance a better value and to make health-care institutions give their customers better service at better prices. Never mind the unspoken premise that is the law’s foundation — “We can radically increase demand for health-care services while reducing costs and improving quality because politicians are magic!” — and its inescapable contradictions. “We meant well,” they say, and that is supposed to be enough.

It isn’t.

#share#It falls largely to persnickety, unpleasant eat-your-spinach types, and to certain happy souls blessedly liberated from the romance of politics by events and experience, to document that what is supposed to happen and what happens are not the same thing. Britons and Canadians and Americans can go on all they like about their “right” to health care, but calling something a right does not make it any less scarce (indeed, it is absolutely meaningless to proclaim a “right” to any scarce good), and whether you choose an anything-goes free market or an Anglo-Soviet single-payer monopoly model, there is going to be rationing, normally through the instrument of price. The only question is whether you get to make that decision for yourself or whether an Orwellian NICE guy makes it for you. You can raise wages at Walmart in the naïve expectation that there will be no consequences — in much the same way that all manner of bad decisions begin with the exhortation, “Here, hold my beer.” But there will be consequences. You can loot California until the only people comfortable living there are too rich to care or too poor to care, but the people between those limits have cars, and they know where the local U-Haul office is.

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Matt Lewis takes a look at what is making Ben Carson so successful.
Ben Carson is the rarest of political candidates: One who actually learns from his mistakes.

Most candidates don’t just fail to improve on the trail — many actually regress. Upon declaring for political office, laments conservative leader Morton Blackwell, “Every candidate promptly loses about 30 I.Q points.”

Not so with Carson, who has only upped his game....

Most people are susceptible to the temptation of eschewing the hard work of improving — especially when hurling red meat garners results and ink.

If politicians are known to have egos, then one might expect a world-class surgeon (a profession that lends itself to developing a “god complex”!) to have a huge one. But a willingness to learn is a sign of humility, and Dr. Carson is showing signs he is introspective and self-critical.

Rather than blame the “lamestream” media for hyping his gaffes (and reveling in the attention and praise his controversial comments garnered on the Right), he has set about minimizing his mistakes. “I’ve learned how to phrase things in a way that people can actually hear what I’m saying,” Carson recently told Howard Kurtz. “If you use certain words, it can be the most wonderful thing, they won’t hear it.”

Howard Kurtz is also writing about Carson's rise and theorizes that Carson has been able to fly beneath the media's radar because they just didn't take him seriously as a candidate. So that has given him an opportunity to make his mistakes and learn from them.
Carson has gotten 1/1000th of the attention lavished on Donald Trump, but here he is in a Des Moines Register poll, tied with him for first in Iowa, 23 percent each. He’s also second to The Donald in South Carolina.

The retired neurosurgeon is quietly riding the wave of anger at professional politicians, and he is temperamentally Trump’s opposite, soft-spoken and self-effacing. Carson has a quiet charisma, and while he is not miles deep on some issues, that seems to matter less this year.

But let me venture a prediction. Since journalists haven’t viewed the doctor as a serious threat for the Republican nomination, Carson hasn’t gotten much tough media scrutiny. That is about to change.

Take the recent disclosure that Carson was engaged in fetal tissue research in 1992. He has an explanation as to why that is different than what Planned Parenthood does in helping harvest organs for sale, which he has criticized. The story was a bit of a blip, quickly vanishing from the radar. Had Carson been treated as a front-runner, it would have been chewed over for days.

At the same time, Carson has greatly improved as a candidate. In his early months on the trail, he kept making rookie media mistakes, which made me initially think he was not ready for prime time.

There was the time he likened ObamaCare to slavery. There was the time he told Chris Cuomo that being gay was a choice because some men go to prison and come out gay—comments for which Carson later apologized. But those gaffes have faded.
Of course, if he did become the candidate, we can expect to see those remarks resurrected and played ad nauseam.

Mediate ponders what Donald Trump will do if Carson continues to rise and match or surpass Trump in polls. Will he attack him? That's been Trump's style to this point. So how would he bash someone who seems so decent and gentlemanly?
Technically, Trump already has attacked Carson, and in a way that serves as a guideline for future attacks. In November, Trump tweeted “Sadly, because president Obama has done such a poor job as president, you won’t see another black president for generations!”

A few weeks ago, Trump was asked about that tweet, and he did not back down....

The idea there is that a black candidate’s appeal is too narrow to secure a win in a general election, and in Trump’s case, certainly not after the feel-good “disaster” that was the Obama presidency. Clinton took a lot of guff over this, but if delivered properly, Donald Trump doesn’t have to worry about Republican voters seeing through the ruse. Trump can frame it as “real talk” about the need for a nominee with broad appeal, appeal that Trump has demonstrated a knack for attracting among Republicans.

“Ben Carson is a wonderful guy,” Trump can say, “and it’s a shame, but thanks to President Obama, there won’t be another black president for generations.”

There are also ample substantive grounds on which Trump can attack Carson without ever having to get to his left on the social issues that make Carson so appealing to evangelicals. Like the many liberals who are afraid to attack Ben Carson, Trump can begin by complimenting Carson’s “inspirational” story and medical brilliance, but then pivot to his lack of leadership experience. “He’s a wonderful guy, but we’re not fixing brains here, we’re getting killed by China. We’re not separating Siamese twins, we’re separating Mexico from Texas with a beautiful wall!”

A less likely but characteristically bold strategy would be for Trump to chalk Carson’s success up to political correctness. “With all due respect, because he’s a wonderful guy, people who support Ben Carson are doing it so PC liberals can’t call them racist,” that tweet will read.

However he does it, Trump will need to go after Ben Carson in fairly short order...
Actually, Trump has already chosen his line of attack.
But despite the rising threat of Carson in Iowa, Trump has not yet attacked the world-renowned neurosurgeon. Asked by TheDC whether being a doctor provides the necessary experience to be president, Trump said while Carson is “a wonderful guy,” he thinks it would be “very tough” for someone who spent his life as a surgeon to handle the job.

“I think it’s a very difficult situation that he’d be placed in,” Trump elaborated. “He’s really a friend of mine, I just think it’s a very difficult situation that he puts himself into, to have a doctor who wasn’t creating jobs and would have a nurse or maybe two nurses. It’s such a different world. I’ve created tens of thousands of jobs over the years.”
Paul Mirengoff ridicules this line of criticism.
This criticism is inane. Donald Trump created jobs by running businesses that hired people. This is not something that a sitting U.S. president is permitted to do. Moreover, conservatives hope that the next president will eliminate jobs in the bureaucracy he controls, not create new ones.

To the extent that the U.S. president creates jobs, he does so through pro-growth economic policies. That’s how Ronald Reagan did it.

Speaking of Reagan, how many jobs did he create before he became president? Few, if any, as an actor. Not many, I suspect (Steve can correct me if I’m wrong), as governor of California. Shortly after taking office, Reagan froze hiring by the state government.

Carson is at least as capable as Trump of identifying and pushing for economic policies that will spur job growth. But neither has experience in this realm.

Given the way Trump touts his business success as his overriding qualification for the presidency, it was only a matter of time until someone asked him whether billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is more qualified. This is the reductio ad absurdum of Trump’s calling card.

But when the Daily Caller put this question to Trump, he didn’t take it that way. Instead, he argued that he’s more prosperous than Zuckerberg:
“That’s different,” Trump replied. “Honestly, I don’t think I’d swap assets, to be honest with you. I’ve seen that stuff go up and down. I have very, very solid stuff. To me, I love real estate because you can feel it. A lot of people, they’ll make five hundred million dollars by doing some new computer game, but I don’t consider that — I consider that sort of different. I consider that paper.”

“I did it in real estate,” he explained, “and as real estate goes, this is about as high as you go.”
I don't know the statistics, but wouldn't Mitt Romney have created more jobs than Trump? Or at least in the ballpark. Would that make Romney a better candidate than Trump?

Bernard Goldberg warns of the danger to Republicans of purists who vow that they will stay home if one of the candidates they dislike - take your pick from Bush, Kasich, Graham, Christie, Rubio - gets the nomination. That's just what many conservatives said in 2008 and 2012. How's that working out for them?
These purists have told me that there’s little or no difference between a moderate Republican and a liberal Democrat. They’re delusional, of course, blinded by their hard-right ideology, but that’s what they believe nonetheless. And depending on who the GOP nominee is, they could represent big trouble for the party.

Finally, consider this: In the last six presidential elections, 18 states have voted for the Democratic candidate every time, totaling 242 electoral votes — just 28 short of victory. That means Democrats are about 90 percent of the way to winning the White House even before the actual voting begins.

Of course, anything can happen. Technically, history tells us only about the past. But it’s often a good indicator of what lies ahead.

So if Republicans hope to win in 2016, they will have to unite and support the GOP candidate whoever he or she is. Republicans, who today are vowing to never support Donald Trump, will have to reconsider, should he win the nomination. And the conservative purists, who swear they will never vote for a moderate, will have to abandon their ideological purity — or abandon all hope of a GOP victory.

This won’t be easy. But it’s the only thing certain in this summer of uncertainty.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Cruising the Web

Now that some more of Hillary Clinton's emails have been released, dedicated researchers poring over them have found a couple of examples where she knowingly allowed and sent classified information over her unsecured private server. Sean Davis reports on how she sent classified information to Sidney Blumenthal, an outsider who was not part of the administration. Emails were redacted when they were published explicitly because they contained classified material.
That is because under federal law, information is classified by nature, not by marking. As a result, federal classification authorities deemed that the information was classified the very second it originated, even if it was not marked as such until August 27, 2015. Also worthy of note is the fact that Hillary’s message is the only content in the entire document that is redacted and marked as classified. This means that she was not merely a helpless, passive recipient of classified national security information; she was the originator. And not only did she intentionally originate the classified information, she intentionally disseminated it via an unsecured, unsanctioned private e-mail server.

The e-mail was classified as “confidential.” According to the 2009 Obama executive order, the “confidential” classification level “shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign team has repeatedly tried to dodge responsibility for her distribution of classified information by claiming the information was not marked at the time. However, the nature of Hillary’s secret, off-books private e-mail scheme made it impossible for government authorities to mark as classified any information that originated on Hillary’s private server, since they had no access to it. In fact, one of the newly released e-mails shows that the agency’s IT department had no knowledge of her private e-mail address and server scheme.
And there are definite reasons to worry about her sending classified info to Sidney Blumenthal, because we know that his account was actually hacked.

And Republican operative Rory Cooper notes that Hillary sent an email to George Mitchell, the Middle East envoy at the time, to use her private email to reply about discussions he was having with the Italian foreign minister.
On July 25, 2010, Clinton sent an email to Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell. The subject line read “Here’s my personal email,” and only had a short message: “[Please] use this for reply– HRC.”

Mitchell emailed her back two hours later. “I talked with [Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini] again and went over the point again. He said he understands and agrees,” he began. The rest of the email is blanked out, indicating that the State Department team releasing Clinton’s emails recognized that the information it contained was classified.

The reasons listed for the email’s classification indicates that the blanked out paragraph contained sensitive information about foreign governments or the United States’ relationship with foreign government.(Link via Ed Morrissey)
But I'm sure that pointing all this out is just Republican nitpicking and no one should care about any of this, right?

And this is no surprise at this point, but it is still amazingly corrupt.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails reveal how prominently the Clinton Foundation factored into her thinking as America’s top diplomat, raising questions about where she drew the line between official business and aiding the family charity run by her husband and daughter.

In one instance, Mrs. Clinton appeared to try to steer a Haiti earthquake recovery project to the foundation, according to new emails released this week as the State Department belatedly complies with open records requests for her communications during her four years in office.

Another email shows Mrs. Clinton directing a State Department employee to handle solicitation of money from Norway for a program she was about to announce in a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2010, and which was being run by the United Nations Foundation, another nonprofit created by Ted Turner that has close ties to her family’s operation.
Because the State Department was just an expanded opportunity to build up her family's personal money-making operation. Just imagine what she could do with the entire federal government at her disposal.

And the sleaze just keeps coming.
At least four classified Hillary Clinton emails had their markings changed to a category that shields the content from Congress and the public, Fox News has learned, in what State Department whistleblowers believed to be an effort to hide the true extent of classified information on the former secretary of state’s server.

The changes, which came to light after the first tranche of 296 Benghazi emails was released in May, was confirmed by two sources -- one congressional, the other intelligence. The four emails originally were marked classified after a review by career officials at the State Department. But after a second review by the department's legal office, the designation was switched to "B5" -- also known as "deliberative process," which refers to internal deliberations by the Executive Branch. Such discussions are exempt from public release.

The B5 coding has the effect, according to a congressional source, of dropping the email content "down a deep black hole."

The revelations of how Hillary broke the law keep piling up.
In transferring her emails to private thumb drives, Clinton violated a slew of federal regulations, including those of her own State Department.

The State Department’s Foreign Affairs manual prohibits the storage of classified material on any external drive, stating, “the flash drive may only be used for the transfer of unclassified files.” Flash and thumb drives are treated inter-changeably by the rules.

Further, unclassified material must be on a “department owned” drive, not a personal or private sector drive.

If the information on the drive is unclassified, but still sensitive, it “must be encrypted to current standards” for transportation, according to the manual.

State Department rules also required that Clinton’s email transfer had to be approved and closely supervised by a department computer security official.

Finally, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, which sets minimum government-wide standards for IT security, ordered that thumb drive restrictions be imposed if the contents were “high value,” a lower standard than classified information.

What a treasure trove of Clinton's corruption and casual disregard for national security these emails are.
One of the most serious potential breaches of national security identified so far by the intelligence community inside Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private emails involves the relaying of classified information concerning the movement of North Korean nuclear assets, which was obtained from spy satellites.

Multiple intelligence sources who spoke to The Washington Times, solely on the condition of anonymity, said concerns about the movement of the North Korean information through Mrs. Clinton’s unsecured server are twofold.

First, spy satellite information is frequently classified at the top-secret level and handled within a special compartment called Talent-Keyhole. This means it is one of the most sensitive forms of intelligence gathered by the U.S.

Second, the North Koreans have assembled a massive cyberhacking army under an elite military spy program known as Bureau 121, which is increasingly aggressive in targeting systems for hacking, especially vulnerable private systems. The North Koreans, for instance, have been blamed by the U.S. for the hack of Sony movie studios.

Allowing sensitive U.S. intelligence about North Korea to seep into a more insecure private email server has upset the intelligence community because it threatens to expose its methods and assets for gathering intelligence on the secretive communist nation.

“While everyone talks about the U.S. being aware of the high threat of hacking and foreign spying, there was a certain nonchalance at Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in protecting sensitive data that alarms the intel community,” one source familiar with the email review told The Times. “We’re supposed to be making it harder, not easier, for our enemies to intercept us.”

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Iran's Rouhani is already rejecting the UN Security Council resolution. Unbelievable that Obama and the UN are pushing forward while Iran is quite public about how it will still do what they want to do regardless of any agreement.
Now Rouhani — the supposed moderate in whom Obama has placed his trust—has says he looks at the commitments laid out in the Security Council resolution in an à la carte manner. It’s not just a matter of Iran deciding unilaterally that it will not abide by international commitments with regard to missiles. It is not too late for Congressmen affirming the deal to gaze into the crystal ball of what weak inspection and verification mechanisms as well as a lackluster Iranian commitment to abide mean. Tehran is gambling on American partisanship and Congressional venality. Alas, for Iran, it’s a winning bet.

This is scary stuff.
Foreign spy services, especially in China and Russia, are aggressively aggregating and cross-indexing hacked U.S. computer databases — including security clearance applications, airline records and medical insurance forms — to identify U.S. intelligence officers and agents, U.S. officials said.

At least one clandestine network of U.S. engineers and scientists who provide technical assistance to U.S. undercover operatives and agents overseas has been compromised as a result, according to two U.S. officials.

The Obama administration has scrambled to boost cyberdefenses for federal agencies and crucial infrastructure as foreign-based attacks have penetrated government websites and e-mail systems, social media accounts and, most important, vast data troves containing Social Security numbers, financial information, medical records and other personal data on ­millions of Americans.

Counterintelligence officials say their adversaries combine those immense data files and then employ sophisticated software to try to isolate disparate clues that can be used to identify and track — or worse, blackmail and recruit — U.S. intelligence operatives.

Digital analysis can reveal “who is an intelligence officer, who travels where, when, who’s got financial difficulties, who’s got medical issues, [to] put together a common picture,” William Evanina, a top U.S. counterintelligence official, said in an interview.

Peter Wehner advises us to not "forget the non-Trump GOP field." There are several very worthwhile candidates in the race.
I say all this to remind readers that while Donald Trump is a political phenomenon right now – he’s certainly doing better and showed more staying power than I anticipated — the rest of the field is extremely impressive, the best since 1980, and I am among those in the public policy/“reform conservative” world who will do what I can to assist their efforts. I persist in my belief that a modernizing agenda, built around the conservative reform of our public institutions, is right for this moment, and an antidote to Trumpism.

Whoever emerges out of the non-Trump field is impossible to know just now – but here’s what we do know: Whoever emerges will be vastly better, less erratic, more responsible, more conservative and more electable than the man leading the polls right now. I only hope that starting five months from now, Republican primary voters see that as well.
These are acts of war. I'd like to think we were responding appropriately.

Ross Douthat has a typically perceptive column about anti-tax sentiment among Republican voters. There are different groups within the party who have different opinions about taxes and why they want tax cuts and what types of cuts they want.
Then the average Republican voter has a different perspective still: He or she may have imbibed a little Robert Bartley or bought into the alleged “47 percenter” problem, but those kind of ideological speculations are less important than the immediate tax sensitivity that comes with life in the modern American middle class. This prototypical Republican voter, who might be pulling in $45,000 working a trade or $95,000 running a small business (or vice versa), isn’t necessarily being soaked by the federal income tax, but he or she remains an anti-tax voter because even small tax fluctuations year to year feel like an immediate threats to the ability to save, to plan, to expand or preserve a business, to buy a home and put money away for college and think about retirement and generally preserve their peace of mind. And in some cases — perhaps 45 percent of the G.O.P. electorate, depending on the polling — the supply-side element in Republican thinking is irrelevant to this voter’s perspective; instead, he may think of himself as being squeezed from both sides, by the tax-evading rich and the work-avoiding poor alike.

From the point of view of a Republican primary strategy, the (still-inchoate) Trump message is aimed squarely at this 45 percent, and then more broadly at weakening the effective alliance between middle class anti-tax sentiment and donor self-interest/supply-side orthodoxy.

But from the point of view of the Republican Party’s positioning vis-a-vis the wider electorate, the mere possibility that the party could be riven from within on taxes ought to be a signal — the latest of many — that too much of the G.O.P.’s tax agenda is being set by factions at the commanding heights of the party who are out of touch with what’s going on below them, let alone in the electorate as a whole.
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You know who else didn't know about Clinton's private email address? The State Department IT staff.

John Hinderaker provides a case story about how the Obama administration stonewalls a FOIA request for three years.

Ed Rogers is enjoying seeing Debbie Wassermann Schultz grovel as she evades Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders' protests that it is wrong for the DNC to limit the number of debates and they're rigging the process for Hillary.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the current chair of the Democratic National Committee, unilaterally decided that the Democratic presidential candidates will only have four primary debates, and now some of the Democratic candidates are pushing back. Last week, Martin O’Malley sharply criticized the decision, calling it a “rigged process.” And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he thinks the idea of limiting the debates “is dead wrong” and that he had “let the leadership of the Democrats know that.” So why is Rep. Wasserman Schultz refusing to budge, even as she is being publicly taken to task? If there was ever a year where “rigging” the process could backfire, 2016 could be it.

This is Washington machine politics at its best — or maybe its worst. In a year when others are struggling to distance themselves from Washington and politics as usual, Team Clinton is doing what they do best and engaging in blatant, self-serving manipulation. Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s desire to hang onto some semblance of power is well-known, and it’s almost embarrassing. She was mostly disowned by the Obama White House a long time ago. She was never a Clinton favorite either, but her desperation to continue her vanity project as DNC chair has given the Clinton Empire the opening to manipulate her by having fewer debates....

In Washington, watching the doomed grovel is a spectator sport. Even a confirmed cynic might feel a pang of pity. But what choice does Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz have? If she has any chance of being thrown a bone by the Clinton Empire, she has to do its bidding. And for Hillary Clinton, rigging the deal — explicitly or otherwise — is certainly more appealing than going through a competitive process and taking the risks associated with unscripted events. Heaven forbid.

As I’ve written before, the Clinton campaign is one that has to avoid crowds and the media, and the latter obviously includes live debates with opponents. Letting Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz prove her loyalty as a fixer is consistent with the predictable Clintonian modus operandi, even if it is misguided.

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Michael Isikoff looks at several lawsuits against Trump or his businesses that could be problematic for him as the campaign continues.
Kathleen Meese, an upstate New York schoolteacher, plunked down $25,000 five years ago for “Gold Elite” courses at Trump University — a for-profit educational outfit owned by Donald Trump that promised prospective students it would teach them how to “make a killing” in the real estate market.

But Meese later complained to New York state regulators she was conned. Her Trump University instructor — supposedly an “expert” who was “handpicked” by Trump — turned out to be a failed businessman who had filed for bankruptcy and was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, according to court records.

Her Trump University “mentors,” who she was told would counsel her about real estate deals, were unreachable; their phone numbers disconnected, she asserted. Even a promised photo session with Trump never materialized. What she got instead: a photo of herself with “a cardboard cutout” of Trump, she says.

“Donald Trump received $25,000 of my money,” Meese wrote in a sworn affidavit filed with the New York attorney general’s office, reviewed by Yahoo News. “For $25,000, I have a lifetime membership to nothing!”

Meese is one of more than 150 former Trump University students whose complaints are the basis for a $40 million lawsuit against Trump brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The number of complainants — all potential witnesses against Trump — has more than tripled since Schneiderman first brought the case two years ago, according to state officials. The suit, still active in the New York courts, accuses Trump of pocketing $5 million in profits while running “an unlicensed, illegal educational institution” that “intentionally” misled students and engaged in a “pattern of deceptions” that included false advertisements, “bait and switch tactics” and other “misrepresentations and fraudulent practices.”
That's not quite the straight-shooting reputation that Trump is putting forth.

Trump's comparisons of his flip-flops and support for Democrats to Ronald Reagan's conversion from being a Democrat to a Republican is truly offensive.

Finally, CNN yields to common sense and amended their rules for their debate which might have kept Carly Fiorina out of the debate.

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Frank Bruni writes that the biggest threat to Hillary is John Kasich. I'm always suspicious when liberals tell us who they think would be the biggest challenge for their side. There are things I like about Kasich and I liked him a lot when he was in the House. But other aspects of his record give me pause. I don't like the sanctimonious way he talks about why he took the Obamacare Medicaid money. But I can imagine Democrats really getting worried about a Kasich-Rubio or Rubio-Kasich ticket.

Well, that's a relief. Washington State University has decided not to ban words like "male," "illegal alien," and "people of color." Students will not, as originally planned, students won't be punished for using the disfavored words.
One professor, Selena Lester Breikss, a women's studies professor, had said she would punish students for using male/female pronouns, including "but not limited to removal from the class without attendance or participation points, failure of the assignment and — in extreme cases — failure for the semester."

The other two professors, Rebecca Fowler and John Streamas, had said they would knock points off student's grades for using terms they find oppressive.

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Michael Barone explains why Warren Harding wasn't as bad a president as he's often portrayed. Barone links to a NYT piece by Ronald Radosh and Allis Radosh. I read Amity Shlaes excellent biography of Calvin Coolidge this summer and learned a lot about Harding's presidency that I hadn't known and came to think much better of him, particularly his efforts to cut the size of the federal budget after the budgetary explosion of Wilson's presidency. I highly recommend Shlaes' book about Coolidge which gave a well-rounded of that president about whom little was known except that he didn't talk much in public. There was a lot more to him.

Cheers to Jonathan Alter for his article about "Why liberals should learn to love charter schools." Hear, hear.

Joy Pullmann notes that there are some "border hoppers" that liberals don't love. Not ones who cross the country's borders, but those who don't live in Washington, D.C. and register in D.C. public schools.
Washington DC’s attorney general recently sued a married couple, alleging they had illegally enrolled their three children in well-regarded local public schools despite living outside the District, and demanding more than $224,000 in back tuition. Reached by the Washington Post at home, Alan Hill, the father named in the lawsuit, sounded bewildered: “We are in the middle of this process and still trying to understand it.”

“The issue of nonresidents enrolling in D.C. public schools is often heated, particularly as students compete for a limited number of seats in highly sought-after schools,” the Post reports. “Parents often talk of sitting on wait lists for schools while they see drivers with license plates from neighboring states lining up to drop off their children.”

Clear across the country in Berkeley, California, the local school district also combats illegal enrollees at the behest of annoyed residents. Framed by poorer-performing school districts—most notably Oakland, a high-violence locale—Berkeley Unified School District has proven to be irresistible to parents desperately seeking a better life for their kids despite their inability to pay district housing prices.
It's also happening in Philadelphia but, as Pullman points out, these aren't communities that care about other people jumping their borders.
Here’s the irony: Berkeley, Philadelphia, and Washington DC are “sanctuary cities,” where local law enforcement or other government bodies have openly declared they won’t enforce illegal immigration laws—at least, not against foreign citizens. The University of California-Berkeley is a national leader in openly enrolling and providing tax-sponsored tuition writeoffs and other supports to illegal immigrants. So while these city governments welcome illegal foreign immigrants to, among other things, enroll their kids in local schools (the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that public schools must educate illegal immigrants), those same local schools are prosecuting U.S. citizens for doing the same thing.
They could fix some of these problems with school choice, but that would mean going against teacher unions so don't hold your breath.
Several studies by Randall Reback, an economics professor at Barnard College and fellow at Columbia University, have found that opportunities such as open enrollment across district lines and charter schools increase home prices in poorer areas. This is because home prices are tied to school-district quality, even for people who don’t have children. This is a less-obvious way wealthy people ensure that their kids attend decent schools without having to appear so snobbish and exclusive as to enroll the kids in private school.

In other words, it’s more accurate to think of local public schools not as “free” schools that are or can be substantially the same, but as “local clubs” that are as expensive and exclusive as the people paying for them, Reback said. Take away some of the exclusivity, he said, and you equalize the price.

“We find that choice increases the population density and the income of the types of people moving into the less popular, poorer districts, because they know they now have the option of transferring to the next district over,” Reback said.

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