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Friday, March 06, 2015

Cruising the Web

Daniel Henninger wonders why anyone should trust Obama when he assures us that he is doing the right thing with Iran.
Now comes the Iran nuclear deal, whose details the administration will not make known for public debate, and should the deal happen March 24, the White House says it will not submit the agreement to Congress for a vote. As to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ’s detailed critique of the deal before Congress, Mr. Obama flicked it away as “nothing new.”

With public discussion, congressional oversight and criticism from Iran’s neighbors all dismissed as irrelevant, the administration has systematically reduced the reasons for supporting the agreement to one: because Barack Obama is doing it....

In six years, from Washington to capitals around the world, Mr. Obama has eroded the trust that the political world normally concedes to the U.S. presidency.

A principal reason domestic policy is at a standstill in the U.S. is that congressional Republicans no longer believe Mr. Obama will keep his word on any legislative commitment. The ObamaCare legal rewrites came with a political price. It is a reality that sits on Washington like a heavy stone.

So now Secretary of State Kerry is attempting to reassure our partners against ISIS in the region that the U.S. will not "take our eye off Iran's destabilizing actions" in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula, and Yemen. So he admits how Iran has been working to destabilize the entire region, but we're supposed to trust them on a nuclear deal even when the IAEA announces publicly that they can't verify what Iran is doing with its nuclear efforts.

Charles Krauthammer writes on the same theme of how unrealistic it is to trust Iran.
For six years, Obama has offered the mullahs an extended hand. He has imagined that with Kissingerian brilliance he would turn the Khamenei regime into a de facto U.S. ally in pacifying the Middle East. For his pains, Obama has been rewarded with an Iran that has ramped up its aggressiveness in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen, and brazenly defied the world on uranium enrichment.

He did the same with Russia. He offered Vladimir Putin a new detente. “Reset,” he called it. Putin responded by decimating his domestic opposition, unleashing a vicious anti-American propaganda campaign, ravaging Ukraine and shaking the post-Cold War European order to its foundations.

Like the Bourbons, however, Obama learns nothing. He persists in believing that Iran’s radical Islamist regime can be turned by sweet reason and fine parchment into a force for stability. It’s akin to his refusal to face the true nature of the Islamic State, Iran’s Sunni counterpart. He simply can’t believe that such people actually believe what they say.

That’s what made Netanyahu’s critique of the U.S.-Iran deal so powerful. Especially his dissection of the sunset clause. In about 10 years, the deal expires. Sanctions are lifted and Iran is permitted unlimited uranium enrichment with an unlimited number of centrifuges of unlimited sophistication. As the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens points out, we don’t even allow that for democratic South Korea.

The prime minister offered a concrete alternative. Sunset? Yes, but only after Iran changes its behavior, giving up its regional aggression and worldwide support for terror.

Netanyahu’s veiled suggestion was that such a modification — plus a significant reduction in Iran’s current nuclear infrastructure, which the Obama deal leaves intact — could produce a deal that “Israel and its [Arab] neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally.”

Obama’s petulant response was: “The prime minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.” But he just did: conditional sunset, smaller infrastructure. And if the Iranians walk away, then you ratchet up sanctions, as Congress is urging, which, with collapsed oil prices, would render the regime extremely vulnerable.

And if that doesn’t work? Hence Netanyahu’s final point: Israel is prepared to stand alone, a declaration that was met with enthusiastic applause reflecting widespread popular support.

It was an important moment, especially because of the libel being perpetrated by some that Netanyahu is trying to get America to go to war with Iran. This is as malicious a calumny as Charles Lindbergh’s charge on Sept. 11, 1941, that “the three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration.”

In its near-70 year history, Israel has never once asked America to fight for it. Not in 1948 when 650,000 Jews faced 40 million Arabs. Not in 1967 when Israel was being encircled and strangled by three Arab armies. Not in 1973 when Israel was on the brink of destruction. Not in the three Gaza wars or the two Lebanon wars.

Compare that to a very partial list of nations for which America has fought and for which so many Americans have fallen: Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Vietnam, Korea, and every West European country beginning with France (twice).

Oh, the irony.
An internal 2011 State Department cable, obtained by Fox News, shows that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's office told employees not to use personal email for security reasons -- while at the same time, Clinton conducted all government business on a private account.

Sent to diplomatic and consular staff in June 2011, the unclassified cable, bearing Clinton's electronic signature, made clear to employees they were expected to "avoid conducting official Department business from your personal e-mail accounts." The message also said employees should not "auto-forward Department email to personal email accounts which is prohibited by Department policy.”

And Hillary's State Department forced the ambassador to Kenya to resign and one of the reasons was that he used his private email account for official business.

And now a hacker has again broken into her private account.
Hillary Clinton appears to have established multiple email addresses for her private use, and possibly the use of her aides, under the domain of “,” according to a prominent member of the hacking community who supplied independent research data, conducted with high-tech tools, to Fox News.

The hacker used an open-source tool, publicly available, called “The Harvester” to search a variety of data sources – including well-known platforms such as Google, Bing, LinkedIn, Twitter and others – for any stored references to email addresses seen using a particular domain, in this case Hackers working under contract for private firms, also known as “White Hat hackers,” routinely use The Harvester during so-called “penetration testing,” or “pen testing,” on behalf of clients trying to ensure that their internal systems are secure.

The application of The Harvester to revealed additional email addresses besides the one that Clinton aides have insisted publicly that she used, and have said was the only one that she used, when she served as Secretary of State: namely,

A screen grab of The Harvester’s findings provided to Fox News by the source in the hacker community – whose professional resume also boasts extensive experience in the U.S. intelligence community – lists rather similar, but nonetheless different, email addresses, including,,,, and
How soon before other hackers go deeper into her account? Would you feel confident arguing that Chinese and Russian hackers hadn't already broken in?

And as Chris Cillizza writes, Hillary's tweet that she wants the public to see her emails isn't going to make the scandal go away.
Remember that the State Department doesn't HAVE all of Clinton's e-mails. They are held on her own private e-mail server. That's the problem. The 55,000 pages of e-mails she has turned over to State were selected by either Clinton or someone on her team.

Given that, a better tweet might have been: "I am going to turn over all of my e-mails -- as soon as I can." Putting the burden on State is sort of a red herring; this isn't really the State Department's fault. Clinton chose to exclusively use a private e-mail account against guidance from the Obama administration. Why she did so remains to be seen -- she hasn't said -- but because of that choice, it's incumbent upon her to make more e-mails available.

The way Clinton's tweet is phrased -- and, yes, I am parsing words here but the totality of what she has said on the matter amounts to 26 words -- suggests that she has asked State to release the contents of the 55,000 pages of e-mails she has turned over. Which is fine -- and better than nothing. But, again, those are the e-mails that Clintonworld decided should be turned over. That's not exactly the classic definition of transparency.

Democrats are getting really worried about how Hillary might implode as a candidate. And then there is basically no one on the bench to replace her. Right now, such Democratic leaders are whistling past the graveyard.
“Find me one persuadable voter who agrees with HRC on the issues but will vote against her because she has a non-archival-compliant email system and I’ll kiss your ass in Macy’s window and say it smells like roses,” he said.

Other Democrats were more measured, insisting that the news was worrisome and that the party should field more presidential contenders in case Clinton struggles in a serious way. But most kept their criticisms to a minimum, and just one early-state figure reported hearing from any of the other potential candidates since the news broke on Monday night.

Some of Clinton’s financial backers are scratching their heads as the story has spiraled into a major point of conversation on cable news and radio, questioning the turbulent home-stretch of Clinton’s pre-campaign phase.

One Democratic donor told POLITICO on Wednesday that Clinton’s last few days have caused concern in New York’s influential donor community. But most of her high-level donors have stood staunchly by her side, and Clinton had a chance to speak with many of her backers on Wednesday night as she headlined the Clinton Foundation’s annual gala — which cost between $2,500 and $100,000 to attend — in Manhattan’s financial district.
Well, she might not lose those who agree with her on the issues, but what about independents?

Gawker investigates how secure Hillary's server was.
When Hillary Clinton ditched government email in favor of a secret, personal address, it wasn't just an affront to Obama's vaunted transparency agenda—security experts consulted by Gawker have laid out a litany of potential threats that may have exposed her email conversations to potential interception by hackers and foreign intelligence agencies.

"It is almost certain that at least some of the emails hosted at were intercepted," independent security expert and developer Nic Cubrilovic told Gawker.
And Gawker reminds us that they had reported two years ago about her use of a private email address when they reported on how Sidney Blumenthal's emails to Hillary had been hacked by a Romanian hacker.

The fictional president Frank Underwood on "House of Cards" is more responsible than the real presidents that we have had as he gave a TV speech to tell the American people the truth about entitlement spending.
The American Dream has failed you. Work hard. Play by the rules. You aren’t guaranteed success. Your children will not have a better life than you did…. We’ve been crippled by Social Security. By Medicare. Medicaid. Welfare. And entitlements. And that is the root of the problem. Entitlements. Let me be clear: You are entitled to nothing. You. Are entitled. To nothing.
One day we will have to have a president who tell us these truths, but today any politician would be killed by attacks as how he or she is trying to take away senior citizens' benefits.

Peggy Noonan explains why Hillary figured it was perfectly fine for her to use her own email account despite breaking her own department's regulations and federal law.
The press is painting all this as a story about how Mrs. Clinton, in her love for secrecy and control, has given ammunition to her enemies. But that’s not the story. The story is that this is what she does, and always has. The rules apply to others, not her. She’s special, entitled, exempt from the rules—the rules under which, as the Federalist reports, the State Department in 2012 forced the resignation of a U.S. ambassador, “in part for setting up an unsanctioned private e-mail system.”

Why doesn’t the legacy press swarm her on this? Because she is political royalty. They are used to seeing her as a regal, queenly figure. They’ve been habituated to understand that Mrs. Clinton is not to be harried, not to be subjected to gotcha questions or impertinent grilling. She is a Democrat, a star, not some grubby Republican governor from nowhere. And they don’t want to be muscled by her spokesmen. The wildly belligerent Philippe Reines sends reporters insulting, demeaning emails if they get out of line. He did it again this week. It is effective in two ways. One is that it diverts attention from his boss, makes Mr. Reines the story, and in the process makes her look comparatively sane. The other is that reporters don’t want a hissing match with someone who implies he will damage them. They can’t afford to be frozen out. She’s probably the next president: Their careers depend on access.

But how will such smash-mouth tactics play the next four, five years?

....An aspect of the story goes beyond criticism of Mrs. Clinton and gets to criticism of us. A generation or two ago, a person so encrusted in a reputation for scandal would not be considered a possible presidential contender. She would be ineligible. Now she is inevitable.

What happened? Why is her party so in her thrall?

She’s famous? The run itself makes you famous. America didn’t know who Jack Kennedy was in 1959; in 1961 he was king of the world. The same for Obama in ’08.

Money? Sure she’s the superblitz shock-and-awe queen of fundraising, but pretty much any Democrat in a 50/50 country would be able to raise what needs to be raised.

She’s a woman? There are other women in the Democratic Party.

She’s inevitable? She was inevitable in 2008. Then, suddenly, she was evitable.

Her talent is for survival. This on its own terms is admirable and takes grit. But others have grit. As for leadership, she has a sharp tactical sense but no vision, no overall strategic sense of where we are and where we must go.

What is freezing the Democrats is her mystique. But mystique can be broken. A nobody called Obama broke hers in 2008.

Do we really have to return to Scandal Land? It’s what she brings wherever she goes. And it’s not going to stop.
This is, as Kimberley Strassel reminds us, all typical behavior from Hillary.
There are few politicians alive today who have a better understanding than the Clintons of the perils of paper trails—and the benefits of not having them. It really wasn’t all that long ago that Mrs. Clinton was failing to answer questions about how her Rose Law firm billing records vanished. Or using executive privilege to sit on documents that showed her involvement in the Travel Office firings. Or grappling with testimony from a Secret Service agent who said Mrs. Clinton’s top aide had removed files from Vince Foster ’s office. Or explaining her connection to Sandy Berger, who was prosecuted for stealing Clinton-related National Archives records.

If you don’t think all this wasn’t informing Mrs. Clinton’s decision—on the day of her first confirmation hearing—to register, you aren’t thinking.

The opportunities for racism continue to abound. Just in case you hadn't realized it, eating three meals a day and using good grammar are now racist.

Charles C. W. Cooke examines what the loss of Hillary might do to the demographic projections of Democratic strength.
nce we take Hillary out of the equation, the game looks rather different. As potent as it might be on paper, the Democratic party’s present edge within the Electoral College is by no means infinite, and it does not obtain in a personality vacuum. Such as they are, the current predictive models tend to presume less that the Democrats are bulletproof per se, and more that the party will field a strong and popular candidate in the mold of a Barack Obama or a John F. Kennedy or a William Jefferson Clinton and that this good candidate will start from a position of structural strength. Does the party have such a figure, other than Hillary? I cannot see that it does, no. Certainly, it is amusing for us to sing “Run, Liz, Run,” to tease Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, and even to pretend that Andrew Cuomo or Martin O’Malley could ever be elected president of the United States. But, idle levity to one side, there is ultimately no hiding from the recognition that Clinton is the only viable game in town. Historically, running for a third term is extraordinarily tough. Are Americans expected to return a nobody to the highest office in the land purely because the on-paper estimates favor his party?

In the last few days, we have seen a host of progressive commentators begin to call for an alternative. And yet for all the thrilling “Challenge!” headlines that this dissent has inevitably provoked, it remains the case that pretty much every single person who has called for a contested Democratic primary has chosen to rest his argument on the presumption that a nomination fight would help Hillary to improve, not that it would help her party to select a more appropriate candidate.

What are the worst colleges for free speech?

Finally. Now that Harry Reid is no longer Senate Majority Leader, we may finally be able to open the Yucca Mountain nuclear dump.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Cruising the Web

Jay Cost looks at how the Clintons are running a modern political machine.
Much of this is reminiscent of the Clintons -- the initial fall from grace, the careful management of political contacts, the accumulation of wealth via political channels, the carefully run political shop, and especially the nepotism. And also, the cheesy scandals that embarrassed Simon Cameron but never brought him down. Cameron was caught up in a scandal trying to defraud the Winnebago tribe, and later on the House censured him for bilking the War Department -- but it barely ever slowed him down. Sound familiar?

So, ultimately the question is: how is a machine liked this stopped? Unfortunately, the only thing that brought down Cameron, Inc. was the Great Depression. It survived the outlawing of the spoils system, the direct election of senators, and even the entirety of the progressive movement against the machines. It even survived the Camerons themselves. That is how powerful it was.

At a minimum, the GOP needs to nominate somebody whose hands are clean -- impeccably, impossibly, squeaky clean -- to press the case for honest and open governance. Only a candidate with a clear conscience, and a vacant closet can train a critical eye on this kind of bad behavior. And even then it may not be enough. For better or worse, money moves American politics -- and the Clintons have shown in the 14 years since they’ve left office that they are very, very good at moving money.

How convenient and typical of Harry Reid:
Corporate donors to a green energy nonprofit operated by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D., Nev.) former staffers and a current campaign operative have received billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees and grant money as a result of Reid’s advocacy.

Fulcrum Bioenergy began contributing to the Clean Energy Project (CEP) in 2013. One year later, the Nevada Democrat steered tens of millions of dollars in federal grant money to the California biofuel company.

Fulcrum is one of at least nine corporate donors to the Clean Energy Project (CEP) that have secured federal financing for themselves or a client due in part to Reid’s behind-the-scenes advocacy—activity that watchdogs warn could be construed as unethical.

The recent scandals concerning Hillary Clinton's emails and the donations to her foundation by foreign governments demonstrate how little control Obama had over Hillary even though that was an important reason for having her in his cabinet in the first place.
Sometimes the Clintons’ parallel government works in Obama’s favor, such as Clinton’s Benghazi disaster. Her independent email server and private addresses enabled her to hide her correspondence on the attack, which also shielded the rest of the administration from that scrutiny. Obama is infamously secretive about his own records and his administration’s unprecedented lack of transparency was a good match for the Clintons.

But it also meant a certain degree of this went beyond his control. Hillary’s family foundation, which essentially became a super-PAC for foreign governments, was supposed to have donations vetted. They didn’t. They were supposed to have Bill Clinton’s paid events cleared. And they did–they were cleared by Hillary’s State Department. They weren’t supposed to accept foreign-government money while Hillary was secretary of state. They did.

Clintonworld operated as a distinct, independent entity for its own purposes while also running American foreign policy. The phrase “conflict of interest” does not even begin to approach the disturbing ethical calculations here. But it can’t be argued that Obama didn’t know what he was getting the country into. He just thought he could control it. He was wrong, and he was wrong to try. And we’re only beginning to see the consequences.

But will these scandals end the chances of Hillary Clinton being elected president? S.E. Cupp answers that Hillary has become too big to fail.
In short, much like the banks she has cozied up to, she has become too big to fail, and the political apparatus around her will do anything to prop her up so that she doesn’t.

That’s dangerous. The office of the presidency usually creates this larger-than-lifeness, imbuing previously puny personalities of minor achievement with all-but-god-like status. But Clinton already has it, which will make it incredibly difficult for her to surround herself with honest advisers who will tell her the hard truths in the Oval Office — truths like “That, Madame President, is illegal” or “But what about the Constitution?”

Even if she does find such advisers, she may be under the impression that there are no repercussions to playing by her own rules.

The presidency isn’t a monarchy or a dictatorship. It’s a powerful post to be sure, but ultimately one that’s still answerable to the Constitution, the laws of the land and the citizens of the United States. Checks and balances to the President’s power shouldn’t just come from Congress but from within the White House as well.

But with Hillary’s stature, can there realistically be any?

But, just for fun, let's contemplate what might happen if Hillary were to decide not to run. Democrat blogger Bill Sher takes a look.
Last June, conservative columnist Ross Douthat suggested that Obama presides over an “Austro-Hungarian empire of presidential majorities: a sprawling, ramshackle and heterogeneous arrangement, one major crisis away from dissolution.” Hillary Clinton is the party’s “Franz Josef,” the dual monarchist who kept the empire together until his death and the Great War. “Without her,” warned Douthat, “the deluge.”

If true, Democrats would face a debacle after a Hillary bow-out, no matter whom the Republicans nominate. With only a single unifying figure, without a united philosophy, strategy and agenda, it’s very difficult to govern, much less get elected.

If Douthat is right, and Hillary’s rock-star status is masking deep divisions within her party, then who would donors flock to? As of now, says Lapetina, “there really isn’t any enthusiasm” for the non-Hillary Democrats already flirting with a run—Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb—meaning no one would instantly lay claim to the Clintons’ vast network of donors.

Still, the Democratic bench is hardly shallow. Among other possible candidates who might suddenly find a fire in their belly: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Gov. Deval Patrick, former Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Sens. Sanders, Mark Warner and Kirsten Gillibrand. Lapetina believes pressure would build for a few really big names to enter, such as Al Gore.
And then there’s Elizabeth.

If the Democratic establishment doesn’t have a contingency plan drawn up, progressive activists certainly do, and it amounts to the drafting of the reluctant Elizabeth Warren. Would a Warren candidacy spark a pitched battle between the populists and centrists in the party? Not necessarily. Executive Director Ilya Sheyman, one of the leaders of the Draft Warren movement, believes that rather than “all-out war,” the party would see just a “vigorous, contested primary,” with Warren in the catbird seat. And many big Democratic donors are ideological true believers who would give to Warren in a heartbeat.

But neither Republicans nor progressives should start celebrating yet. As Jazz Shaw writes,
Like many of you who track politics and government either professionally or avocationally, I’ve spent a fair share of the last 24 hours watching multiple news outlets covering this latest Clinton scandal. Of course, if you’re watching the same networks and reading the same papers that I am you will have noted that I just used a word which hasn’t passed the lips or pens of most of those media figures… scandal. Nothing with Clinton is ever a scandal. Oh, it’s “questionable” for some of them. For others, it’s a failure to follow best practices. (I’m not kidding. I actually heard that one on CNN just after 2 pm today.) We’re already seeing them offering air time to people from Media Matters and Ready for Hillary who are quick to explain that the laws in question regarding her email accounts were, you know… more of guidelines than actual laws in 2009. In short, as I mentioned earlier, it seems as if the media is already well on their way to yada yadaing this story out of the news cycle.

I agree with Allahpundit, at least in as far as saying that the Clintons don’t *think* they are above the law. They know it. And as long as the public is willing to look the other way and conclude that anything bad said about Hillary is a media mountain created out of a molehill, they’re not going to change their vote. In order to make this stick in a meaningful way which might result in Hillary either dropping out or losing the election, she would need to be personally brought up on charges. And really… who can be bothered to do that?

Sadly, this isn’t the sort of scandal that will stick to a Democrat. (As opposed to a Republican, where a hint of pretty much anything will do.) Violating some obscure rule about where your email server is located is too wonky. It lacks that punch and sex appeal you need. If Hillary was found with some boy toy on a yacht named Monkey Business, then maybe … just maybe you’d have a story. But her email domain won’t sway the media or the liberals, moderates and feminists who love her.

Dylan Gwinn, author of Bias in the Booth: An Insider Exposes How the Sports Media Distort the News, examines what he calls the "new racism" in sports by looking at Stephen A. Smith's rant that sports media pay so much more attention to Ray Rice's and Adrian Peterson's personal scandals than Kurt Busch's suspension for domestic violence. Gwinn reminds us that there is a difference between scandals for which there is a video such as Ray Rice than other stories of abuse. But he also reminds us of how sports media covered the Duke Lacrosse story and the accusations against Ben Roethlisberger.
If there were video of Busch choke-slamming his girlfriend, the reaction would absolutely be stronger.

Was there no public outcry when white NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was accused of rape? A 2010 ABC News article detailed the fan backlash against him in light of the accusations: “The Facebook page ‘Not being raped by Ben Roethlisberger’ is ‘liked’ by nearly 52,000 users,” which far exceeded “the nearly 41,400 users who ‘like’ his athlete page.”

In that same 2010 article, we learned that Roethlisberger lost local sponsorships in Pittsburgh due to fan anger toward him. National sports talk radio was filled with fan vitriol toward Roethlisberger on shows like mine and many others for weeks after the incident became public.

All this public outcry directed at a white NFL football player. A quarterback no less. So … white privilege?

Stephen A. knows all this. So why does he stoke the racial flames using completely bogus apples and oranges comparisons? Because race has become a business in sports media, used as both ratings-getter and battering-ram to advance the agenda of the leftists who currently run “Big Sports.”

The absence of 20th-century-style institutionalized racism has forced the new racism of the 21st century into the alphabet soup of network studios that bring you your daily sports news. Box scores and highlight reels, with a side of racial strife and division. Except these people aren’t consumed with making racism go away, as were the activists of the past. These activists are here to make sure it stays.

How Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are really the Yankees vs. Moneyball.

Charles C. W. Cooke reminds us that Hillary's latest scandal is just typical of who she has always been.
When we combine this revelation with the week’s other disclosures, we begin to detect a public official who is out of control. Just last week, the Washington Post shocked the public with the news that the Clinton Foundation had “accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments” during Hillary’s “tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration.” In and of themselves, these gifts were highly abnormal. “Rarely, if ever,” the Post noted drily, “has a potential commander in chief been so closely associated with an organization that has solicited financial support from foreign governments.” But the infringement is made even worse when one acknowledges that these donations were never so much as reviewed for eligibility by the powers that be within the State Department. There really is no other way of putting it than to record bluntly that, while she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was making private deals with foreign governments via private e-mail, and then declining to request the requisite approval from the U.S. government. Who, one wonders, does she think she is?

The answer to that question is as it ever was: She is Hillary Clinton, and she believes, with some justification, that she will get away with anything and everything she tries. “Why,” supporters grumble, “knowing full well how effective the charge of elitism can be during a presidential campaign, does she continue to take $300,000 per speech?” Answer: Because she’s Hillary Clinton. “Why,” others inquire, “when tempers are still hot and nerves are still frayed, does she continue to take money from the outfits that are widely blamed for the financial crisis of 2008?” Answer: Because she’s Hillary Clinton. “How could she possibly believe that her ex-president husband’s temporary inability to buy a multi-million-dollar house rendered her ‘dead broke’”? Because she’s Hillary Clinton, and she has a sense of entitlement that would make Imelda Marcos blush.

And so, having been championed and overpraised for years, lionized more for her immutable characteristics than for any concrete achievements, and allowed to pretend that her few successes have been the product of her own ability and not her husband’s uncommon political talent, Clinton has of late fallen disastrously deep into the professional celebrity’s most pernicious trap: She has begun to believe her own hype.

Ashe Snow notices that Hillary avoids taking questions from the press. Republicans have had to answer questions and have recently gotten tripped up by some of their answers. Hillary floats above such mundane political moments.
For now, Clinton's strategy of avoiding the press is paying off. She can give carefully crafted speeches to sympathetic audiences with minimal pushback from the mainstream media and avoid articles and news cycles about something she said. It's a good strategy for her, but one the rest of the media should be more frustrated over.

But at some point she's going to have to start taking questions, and if she doesn't figure out now what the press might ding her on, she'll figure it out later — when the election is much closer. Meanwhile, her Republican and Democratic opponents will (presumably) have many of their worst gaffes out of the way, having been able to prepare for what's to come.

The Washington Examiner reminds us of Obama's hostility toward Israel from the very beginning of his presidency.

The administration's arguments in King v. Burwell yesterday were Orwellian. In fact, so much of Obamacare is based on calling aspects of a law named the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act words opposite to the actual reality.

Rahm Emanuel could win the election for "most unlikeable man in Chicago."

Larry Sabato examines the possibilities for the Democrats retaking the Senate in 2016.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Cruising the Web

Interestingly, perhaps the tea leaves from Monday's hearing on whether the word "Legislature" in the Constitution to signify which level of government should control time, place, and manner of actually means the actual legislature. In that case which concerns whether a voter initiative establishing a redistricting commission could usurp the role of Arizona's legislature in drawing district maps. The three women justices clearly were not troubled with reading the word "Legislature" in the Constitution to mean something other than a state "legislature." But the conservative justices and Anthony Kennedy did seem to realize that legislature has always meant the actual legislature.
More ominously for Waxman, although Justice Anthony Kennedy had earlier expressed to Clement some concern about how broadly a ruling for the legislature might apply, he appeared even more dubious about the commission’s position. At one point, he told Waxman that “history works very much against you” because until the Constitution was amended to allow voters to elect senators directly, it also provided that senators from each state “shall be chosen by the Legislature thereof” – a phrase that was consistently understood to refer only to the institution. And Kennedy later questioned how the commission could therefore read “Legislature” to mean one thing in that provision of the Constitution but something very different in the Elections Clause.
In today's case, King v. Burwell, the matter involves not Constitutional interpretation, but statutory interpretation, but it's a similar question. Does the word "State" mean a state or does it mean the federal government. I can well imagine that the liberal justices will be quite willing to ignore the actual meaning of the word in the face of what they consider the greater good. But perhaps Anthony Kennedy might bring the same common sense to this question as he seemed to bring to deciding what the word "Legislature" means.

John Podhoretz analyzes how Obama made Netanyahu's speech much more significant than it might have been.
On Tuesday, Bibi Netanyahu gave the speech of his life before a joint session of Congress — and he has Barack Obama to thank for it.

Yes, the very same Barack Obama who hates Bibi, the same Obama who was furious the speech was being given at all, walked the bases full for Netanyahu and served up the sucker pitch he hit for a grand slam.

For six weeks, the president and his team have been letting it be known just how angry they are that the leader of the House of Representatives invited the Israeli prime minister to speak about the threat from Iran.

The enraged leaks and overt hostility toward the head of state of an ally have been unprecedented.

The White House even tried to engineer a mass Democratic boycott of the speech, an effort that either (take your pick) met with success because 50 members of his party agreed to it, or was a failure because 75 percent of elected Democrats on Capitol Hill defied him and chose to attend.
What did all of this do? It made the Netanyahu speech the most important political event of 2015 by far.

It elevated Netanyahu’s powerful case against a nuclear deal with Iran to the highest level possible — so that the leader of a country of 8 million people roughly the size of New Jersey now possesses as much authority to discuss the issue as the leader of the Free World.
Obama’s own national-security mouthpiece, Ben Rhodes, has said the White House views a deal with Iran as “biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy.”
Obama’s fit of pique against Netanyahu has led to a man-to-man showdown that will likely complicate that “biggest thing” immensely.

Netanyahu yesterday laid out calmly and comprehensively the reasons the deal is likely to be a bad one — and he had not only an audience of Americans vastly larger than he would’ve had if the president hadn’t had his hissy fit, but also the ear of the audience that matters most in this regard.

That audience is the United States Senate.

And his audience heard him.
President Obama can continue to argue for a deal that depends on Iran following the provisions of that agreement when the IAEA has announced that they don't have the capability to determine if Iran is complying with the provisions they're supposed to following now. Do we really want to trust their word? The main state sponsor of terrorism? The idea is laughable.

As James Oliphant points out
In that context, Netanyahu argued that any deal struck by Obama and Kerry would fail to significantly slow Iran's nuclear program and instead would "guarantee" that Tehran would obtain nuclear weapons. He profoundly disagreed with administration assessments on how soon Iran could build a bomb if it chose to break the compact with the United States and its allies. He was dismissive of Obama's belief that it isn't realistic to expect Iran to completely dismantle its program.

The potential deal, Netanyahu said, "does not block Iran's path to the bomb. It paves Iran's path to the bomb."

He called on the West to keep sanctions in place until Iran shifts in tone and behavior. "If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country," he said. "This is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal. We're better off without it." That prompted an ovation.

In short, Netanyahu accomplished everything Republicans wanted and the White House feared. Polls show that the American public is skeptical of Iran's motives in striking a deal, and the Israeli prime minister stoked those suspicions. Obama has taken a large—and likely a legacy-defining—risk in advocating for the talks. And Netanyahu reminded the world of just how large a risk it is.

The president's challenge in that regard just got tougher. And it doesn't help that he didn't bother to engage with Netanyahu at all. In the interview with Reuters, Obama clung to the notion that he didn't want to affect the outcome of Israeli elections in two weeks, even as he suggested that Netanyahu's judgment with regard to Iran couldn't be trusted.

Yes, the speech to Congress was, at heart, a propaganda piece, one carefully orchestrated by Obama's adversaries. But that didn't make it any less effective. And it was one whose aftereffects this White House could be feeling for a long time.

Peter Wehner observes one notable contrast between how President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu frame their arguments.
As someone who is a lifelong lover of words and the power of words to persuade and reveal the truth of things, it was a relief to finally have a leader of a nation speak to a joint session of Congress and demonstrate intellectual integrity. Unlike President Obama, who never engages the argument of his critics in an honest manner, Prime Minister Netanyahu fairly (if briefly) stated the arguments of those with whom he disagrees. And he proceeded to deal with them in a methodical, empirical, logical way, which of course explains why Mr. Obama fought so hard to prevent Mr. Netanyahu from speaking in the first place. The president knew his position would wither when exposed to reality. There was a maturity and seriousness of purpose in the Israeli prime minister that is missing from our president.

It’s a shame we Americans have to wait for a foreign leader to speak to us in a manner characterized by intellectual excellence and moral seriousness. But such are the times in which we live.

The two lawyers arguing King v. Burwell today before the Supreme Court have very different styles.

Chris Cillizza reminds us of how Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail address as Secretary of State encapsulates what people dislike about her and her husband:
1. They don't think the rules apply to them
2. They are surrounded by enablers.
3. They're always hiding something.
4. They only think about politics.
5. They never own up to anything.
And besides the breaking of the law regarding using private email accounts for government business, there are the security concerns. She was using a domain that had already been hacked once before. The Daily Mail has the details of that previous hacking.
Clinton never had an official '' email address. Her aides reached her at '' for the four years she was America's top diplomat.

The first hint of a secret Clinton email address came from the infamous Romanian hacker who used the nom-de-hack 'Guccifer.' He was later sentenced to four years in prison for his illegal exploits.

Marcel Lazar Lehel – Guccifer's real name – breached the email account of Sidney Blumenthal, a former Bill Clinton aide who later joined Mrs. Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. Blumenthal had sent emails to her at the '' address, according to The Smoking Gun.

Some of the messages Guccifer leaked online consisted of intelligence reports, sent in late 2012 to Clinton's back-channel address, and covered matters in Libya – including the aftermath of the September 11, 2012 terror attack in Benghazi.
The only defense the State Department has been able to put forward is that her emails would be archived because she was communicating with State Department employees who were actually obeying the law and using the government system. Really? That is all the defense they come up with? They have no answer to the obvious question about any other communications she might have had with people outside the Department.
National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs expressed concern over Clinton's 'extensive' use of a private account, deeming it 'insecure'.
Jason Baron, the agency's former director of litigation, told the Times thatthe ided was practically 'inconceivable,' especially regarding a cabinet-level official.
'It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario – short of nuclear winter – where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level-head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,' he said.

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Jennifer Rubin summarizes recent controversies swirling around Hillary Clinton from her establishing a private email domain the day of her nomination hearings in the Senate, her family's foundation accepting money from foreign governments, her silence on Iran. And those are just the stories from the past couple of weeks.
I would argue, however, that it is the third that is really the worst if Hillary Clinton intends, as everyone is certain she does, to run for president. This is, of course, the most important national security issue of our time, and if she has neither the courage nor conviction to tell us what she thinks, she arguably shouldn’t be running for the job as commander in chief.

Needless to say, the political media are focused on the e-mails and not the nukes, but then foreign policy is only superficially considered and dimly understood. Whatever the emphasis, however, it is hard to escape the flashing red lights in front of party regulars and activists: Do you really need Clinton so badly that you would crown her now as the nominee? Wouldn’t it be better to have someone with no responsibility for the most egregious foreign policy disaster of our time (i.e. allowing Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability)?

It is unfathomable why Democrats feel as though they have no choice. Surely, there are fans of Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others who would recognize that the Democratic Party badly needs not merely a sparring partner in the primaries but an alternative to Clinton who is not perceived as personally corrupt or secretive and is not burdened by an increasingly problematic Obama foreign policy record. Surely, even a candidate who will have to work harder to raise money and create name identification but who is capable and not burdened by scandal would be preferable to a 67-year old woman of immense wealth, low ethical standards and nonexistent candor. Or perhaps the Democratic Party is so devoid of talent that it simply has no choice but to take Clinton with all her obvious and serious defects.

As Mollie Hemingway writes, "1996 called, wants its Clinton fundraising and documents scandals back."
I know that some of you were too young to remember the 1990s, but this was basically what happened with the Clintons all the time. That revelation of a discovery of law firm billing documents that had been subpoenaed by federal investigators two years prior (the Clintons claimed they didn’t have them) came not 24 hours after another revelation of a missing document.

That document was a 2-year-old memo that admitted Hillary Clinton had, according to the Times, “played a far greater role in the dismissal of employees of the White House travel office than the Administration has acknowledged.”

....Seriously, the original investigation into the Clintons dealt with alleged corruption in a land deal years earlier. Close business partners were sent to prison on fraud, conspiracy, federal mail fraud and tax evasion charges. Then it somehow involved the firing of White House travel agents, the improper use of FBI files and a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee of Clinton’s. And, as you may have heard, it involved President Clinton’s lies regarding his sexual relationship with a young intern named Monica Lewinsky. He was impeached not for the sex but, as it happened, for obstructing justice and committing perjury in that case. (Though I have even read the footnotes of the Starr report, and you would not believe how detailed they are. We’ll leave that for another time.)

This administration also had a fundraising scandal that involved China trying to influence American politics by giving money to the Clintons. Stop me if you’ve heard this before....

The bottom line, though, is that this story couldn’t be more vintage Clinton if it tried. Some people have fond memories of the Clintons but that’s mostly because they’ve repressed all the memories of the constant idiotic scandals they dragged the country through — all while protesting that a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy was to blame.
Memories in politics can be so very short, but the Clintons can't seem to help reminding us of their sleaziness.

The exaggerations of Bill O'Reilly are piling up. Conservatives shouldn't rally around him just because they like him. We would have criticized liberals who rallied around Dan Rather or Brian Williams based on ideology and shouldn't fall into that same trap.

This gives you confidence, doesn't it?
An Egyptian-born imam who in 2007 said that Somali-born activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali should receive the death penalty for her criticism of Islam is now a Department of Justice contractor hired to teach classes to Muslims who are in federal prison.

According to federal spending records, Fouad ElBayly, the imam at Islamic Center of Johnstown in Pennsylvania, was contracted by the DOJ’s Bureau of Prisons beginning last year to teach the classes to Muslim inmates at Cumberland Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md.

John Hinderaker has a good recommendation for Ben Carson. He should run for the seat that Barbara Mikulski has just announced she will not run for. Carson has been making all sorts of noises about running for president, but there is absolutely no chance that the Republicans will choose someone with zero political experience. He is no Dwight Eisenhower. But he has much to contribute and he could do that from the Senate. He would have a tough time winning in Maryland, one of the most Democratic states in the nation, but one that just elected a Republican governor. He could be an appealing candidate, but not for the top job. If he truly wanted to contribute, he would abandon his hubristic ambitions that his first job in politics should be the top job and aim a bit lower.

More behavior from a federal agency acting as if it is above the law. And people still think that federal bureaucrats are somehow more noble than people in the private sector.
An inspector general’s report last fall, which somehow escaped publicity, found that political appointees at the Department of Labor violated contracting rules on one project and spent what many would consider an absurd amount of money on another. An earlier IG letter indicated the same officials were involved in misusing department resources on yet a third project.

Of course, when the administration is itself determined to evade the law, more lawbreaking will occur. And this administration definitely is that determined.
The administration processed about 100,000 applications for amnesty for so-called Dreamers under some of the expanded rules President Obama announced last year, lawyers told a Texas judge late Tuesday, in a move that could complicate their claim that they have halted all action under the amnesty.

The New Yorker pays tribute to Greg Gutfeld's Red Eye show.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Cruising the Web

The NYT reports that Hillary Clinton exclusively used a personal email account while Secretary of State in violation of federal regulations.
Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act....

Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.

“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Nick Merrill, defended her use of the personal email account and said she has been complying with the “letter and spirit of the rules.”

Under federal law, however, letters and emails written and received by federal officials, such as the secretary of state, are considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them. There are exceptions to the law for certain classified and sensitive materials.

Mrs. Clinton is not the first government official — or first secretary of state — to use a personal email account on which to conduct official business. But her exclusive use of her private email, for all of her work, appears unusual, Mr. Baron said. The use of private email accounts is supposed to be limited to emergencies, experts said, such as when an agency’s computer server is not working.
Typically, she behaved as the rules that bind others didn't bind her. Does anyone think it is a coincidence that she would have chosen to violate regulations in order to keep her emails private? As the author of the NYT story, Michael Schmidt, writes,
The revelation about the private email account echoes longstanding criticisms directed at both the former secretary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for a lack of transparency and inclination toward secrecy.

And others who, like Mrs. Clinton, are eyeing a candidacy for the White House are stressing a very different approach. Jeb Bush, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, released a trove of emails in December from his eight years as governor of Florida.
How many of these stories about the Clintons skirting the line of corruption and dishonesty will there be before the Democrats reject the second coming of this family?

And, as Mary Katharine Ham points out, what is Hillary's position on Democrats boycotting Netanyahu's speech?
When a Democrat says something or takes a position that’s potentially problematic, rarely are other leading Democratic candidates asked about the outrage du jour incessantly. Republicans, on the other hand, must answer for every potentially problematic thing said by every member of the party who ever existed.
Why isn't Clinton being inundated with questions on Netanyahu and the negotiations with Iran? After all, her calling card for the nomination is supposedly her expertise in foreign policy. Yet she is totally silent on these questions.

As Howard Kurtz writes, the liberal media are getting a bit fed up with Hillary. Kurtz points out that the story of how the Clinton Foundation was taking money from foreign powers as well as domestic lobbyists first emerged in the liberal press. Of course, the story has already disappeared in the MSM. This is what happens with stories of corruption concerning Democrats. There will be a flurry of stories and condemnations and then the story disappears. For Republicans, the stories stay around forever while the media go dumpster diving to see if the candidate did anything condemnable in high school.

Sean Davis reminds us that what the Clinton Foundation has done in accepting money from foreign governments while she was Secretary of State is actually banned by the U.S. Constitution.
The constitutional ban on foreign cash payments to U.S. officials is known as the Emoluments Clause and originated from Article VI of the Articles of Confederation. The purpose of the clause was to prevent foreign governments from buying influence in the U.S. by paying off U.S. government officials. Here’s the text of the clause:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Various statutes and rules have been promulgated to effect the constitutional ban on foreign cash. The U.S. House of Representatives bans cash payments from foreign governments. The U.S. Senate, of which Hillary was a member from 2001 to 2009, bans cash payments from foreign governments. And the U.S. State Department bans cash payments from foreign governments.
The Foundation accepted money from governments such as Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and Algeria that had issues with the U.S. while she was head of the Department of State. And don't buy the dodge that this money was all going for charitable purposes.
If only that were true. When anyone contributes to the Clinton Foundation, it actually goes toward fat salaries, administrative bloat, and lavish travel.

Between 2009 and 2012, the Clinton Foundation raised over $500 million dollars according to a review of IRS documents by The Federalist (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008). A measly 15 percent of that, or $75 million, went towards programmatic grants. More than $25 million went to fund travel expenses. Nearly $110 million went toward employee salaries and benefits. And a whopping $290 million during that period — nearly 60 percent of all money raised — was classified merely as “other expenses.” Official IRS forms do not list cigar or dry-cleaning expenses as a specific line item. The Clinton Foundation may well be saving lives, but it seems odd that the costs of so many life-saving activities would be classified by the organization itself as just random, miscellaneous expenses.

Now, because the Clintons are Clintons (“It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is…”), their fallback defense will likely be that they didn’t technically run afoul of the law. After all, Hillary didn’t officially take control of the foundation until after she left the State Dept. And the Constitution doesn’t ever say that foreign governments can’t bribe the impeached and disbarred spouses of government officials. Sure, the Constitution says current officials can’t accept dirty cash from foreign government, but it never says that jetset spouses who fly to sex slave islands with convicted sex offenders aren’t allowed to collect under-the-table foreign cash.

That defense makes sense if you think the Founders opposed the practice of foreign governments directly bribing U.S. officials, but wholeheartedly supported the practice of foreign governments indirectly bribing U.S. officials by paying off their spouses. Are we to believe that Hillary was so divorced from the goings-on of the foundation that she was just randomly given official control of it (including having her first name added to the tax-exempt organization’s official name) immediately after leaving the State Department? Are we to believe that poor Hillary just had no clue what was going on at her family’s tax-exempt slush fund?

Please. “I did not have fiscal relations with that government” isn’t going to fly this time. There is most definitely a controlling legal authority here, and it’s the U.S. Constitution.

The latest foreign payola scandal is just the latest chapter in the Clinton corruption novel. They played games with dirty cash in Arkansas. They played games with dirty cash literally in the White House. And now we know they were playing games with foreign cash while Hillary Clinton was serving as Secretary of State. The Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution knew what could happen if U.S. officials put cash before their own country, so they banned the practice.

In other words, the Founders were Ready for Hillary.

It seems that there is a lot of blocking of the legal requirements transparency going around this administration.
A U.S. District Court judge on Monday condemned the Environmental Protection Agency's destruction of emails sought by the conservative Landmark Legal Foundation in a 2012 Freedom Of Information Request.

Though Judge Royce C. Lamberth denied the request for sanctions against the EPA by Landmark, which is run by conservative talk show host and former Reagan staffer Mark Levin, she [sic] lambasted the agency over its actions in response to Landmark's 2012 FOIA request.

"Either EPA intentionally sought to evade Landmark's lawful FOIA request so the agency could destroy responsive documents," Lamberth wrote in his decision. "Or EPA demonstrated apathy and carelessness toward Landmark's request."

"Either way," Lamberth added, it "reflects poorly upon EPA and surely serves to diminish the public's trust in the agency."

Neal Dewing has some good advice for Republicans. Deny Donald Trump any place on a Republican stage. Why should anyone be listening to him?
As I write, Donald Trump has concluded his latest Conservative Political Action Conference speech to somewhat muted cheers, and the odd scattering of boos. The speech itself does not merit critical study, as it contains no new ideas and no particularly eloquent defense of any old ones. It was boilerplate, full of applause lines with little thought behind them.

Between a call to “take our country back” and the shocking claim that “Washington is broken,” it became painfully obvious that Trump was not going to offer any interesting policy prescriptions. So the speech is mainly important for the question Trump did not answer: What the hell is he doing here?

The simplest answer—pimping his TV show—has in times past been the surest explanation for why Trump uses a bit of his valuable time to bray like an ass at CPAC. True to form, earlier in the week he reappeared in the news, a human canker sore issuing a vague threat to run for the presidency.
Stop granting him a place on the stage. All he does is diminish more serious candidates.

The WSJ explains how ludicrous the administration's claims in King v. Burwell are. It is quite clear from the history of the law and the law's text that it was never planned for the federal government to fund subsidies for states that did not create their own exchanges. The Democrats didn't think that governors would act in such a way to deny their citizens those subsidies.
To take one example, the Secretary of Health and Human Services was empowered to grant unlimited sums of money to states to establish exchanges. But the law appropriated not a penny for the federal exchanges, and HHS raided internal slush funds to build them. If there is no legal difference between the federal and state exchanges, why did HHS need this budget ruse?

The Administration also suggests no textual basis for the IRS rule. Instead, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli claims “established by the State” is a “term of art” that must be read in an ambiguous context and that the Administration’s reading is owed judicial deference. The SG is laboring to create confusion where none exists—but what is not ambiguous, he argues, is that Congress’s purpose was to create national health care and that overturning the subsidies would disrupt this policy result. Most liberals have dumped even this legal subtlety, dismissing King as a drafting error.

In fact, ObamaCare’s history shows Democrats made a deliberate choice. As they tried to assemble 60 votes in the Senate, holdouts like then Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson intensely desired state partners. Because the federal government couldn’t commandeer the sovereign states by mandating participation, the subsidy bait was Congress’s constitutional option to encourage buy-in.

As the Mountain States Legal Foundation and other amici briefs point out, previous versions of the Affordable Care Act extended subsidies to the federal exchanges too. But that language was deleted in the secret negotiations to combine various Senate bills. After Scott Brown ’s Massachusetts special election ended the Democratic supermajority, Democrats accepted and President Obama signed the final Senate bill as the last helicopter out of Saigon.

The President cannot now unilaterally revise those details because they are politically inconvenient. Blessing this lawless behavior sets a dangerous precedent, handing the bureaucracy a license to reshape statutes without the consent of Congress. King is an opportunity for the Court to rebuke this growing merger of legislative and executive power.

“It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices,” Chief Justice John Roberts famously observed in the 2012 ObamaCare case. It is also not the Court’s job to protect Democrats from the consequences of their political choices: The underlying statute worked as designed, albeit not as they preferred. State by state, duly elected representatives of the people debated the law’s instructions and made an informed choice not to involve themselves, in part to repudiate ObamaCare’s coercion.

Byron York writes about how the GOP battle for the 2016 nomination is a fight between the old and the new in the Republican Party. While Scott Walker is the hot new guy at this point, he's still facing questions from the GOP establishment who are seeing him as not quite ready for prime time.
At the same time, Walker could be headed for trouble with the establishment, Washington-based wing of his party. Look for GOP insiders to begin whispering, and then saying out loud, that Walker needs to raise his game if he is going to play on the national stage. On the one hand, they'll have a point — Walker needs to come up with clear, crisply-expressed positions on a variety of national and international issues. On the other hand, Walker's way-outside-the-Beltway method of expressing himself might resonate with voters in primary and caucus states more than Washington thinks.

For example, in our conversation Saturday, I asked Walker what Republicans in Washington should do in the standoff over funding the Department of Homeland Security. "Not just Republicans, I think the Congress as a whole needs to find a way to fund homeland security going forward," Walker answered. He explained that he recognized the concerns lawmakers have about giving up their ability "to push back on the president's questionable, if not illegal, actions." Walker noted that he was part of the states' lawsuit against Obama's action. "I think they're right that the president is wrong," Walker told me, "but I also think we've got to make sure that homeland security isn't compromised."

After a little more along those lines, I said I was still a little unclear on where Walker stood.
Clearly, there are many public issues that a state's governor hasn't concerned himself with, but that is why candidates have to think long and hard before throwing their hats into the ring. And when they do, they better be prepared.

David Harsanyi explains how the objections to Netanyahu's speech aren't about protocol, but about substance.
So the question is: What does the United States gain from entering a deal like this?

Netanyahu may mention some of these apprehensions. Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice says the visit is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship.” It seems unlikely that Rice would ever use the word destructive to describe Iran’s obsession with obtaining nuclear weapons … but “partisanship,” now, that’s really corrosive. The fact is that the alliance with Israel has never been much of a partisan issue in the United States. Not until now. And even today only a handful of reliably anti-Israel politicians and a few Obama loyalists are skipping the speech so far. According to Gallup, 70 percent of Americans still have a favorable view of Israel.

What’s truly unprecedented isn’t only the partisanship or the speech, it’s what Abraham Miller perfectly articulated in the New York Observer:
Barack Obama will go down in history as the American president who enabled the Shi’ite theocracy to become the region’s hegemonic power and looked the other way while Iran developed the bomb.
So while there is plenty of criticism aimed at the aggressive methods of Netanyahu in Israel, there will also be widespread agreement among nearly all political denominations in the Jewish State regarding the substance of his speech and the warnings about a nuclear Iran. Surely, hearing out the case of an ally that is persistently threatened by Holocaust-denying Iranian officials doesn’t need to come with this much angst from Democrats. But if it does, it’s worth asking why.

Here's a very depressing story of overt anti-Semitism at my alma mater, UCLA. A Jewish student, Rachel Beyda, was applying for a position on the school's Judicial Board. Powerline has the video of how certain members of the board explicitly questioned whether she could be unbiased in her deliberations on the board given that she is a member of Jewish organizations and is active in the Jewish community. As the school newspaper, the Daily Bruin, editorialized, it is very disgusting that a student would be objected to joining the Judicial Board solely due to her religion.
The main objection to her appointment was Beyda’s affiliation with Jewish organizations at UCLA and how they might affect her ability to rule fairly on cases in which the Jewish community has a vested interest in the outcome, such as cases related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

That objection is confounding both for its vast shortsightedness and for its flat-out discriminatory nature.

Barring the dubious legality of not appointing someone based on his or her religious identity, the controversy over Beyda’s appointment makes little logical sense. The extent of Beyda’s involvement in Jewish community groups is irrelevant to her ability to execute her job on the Judicial Board. Suggesting otherwise implies that any person with any kind of community identity cannot make objective decisions on the board.

If Beyda cannot make decisions about issues that affect her community, can a Muslim student in the Muslim Students Association or a black student in the Afrikan Student Union do so? A Latino student in MEChA?

For a council seemingly obsessed with celebrating diversity in student positions and advocating against discrimination, the proceedings of Tuesday’s meeting were particularly hypocritical.

Several councilmembers asserted that while Beyda was more than qualified for the role, they were uncomfortable appointing her to the position specifically because cases related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can come before the board, and they felt that Beyda would not be able to judge such cases fairly.

And yet, in recent years, the only case related to the topic that went before the board had to do with the issue of councilmembers’ Israel trips, which is unrelated to the conflict itself. Not to mention that it is not the purpose of the Judicial Board to rule on cases related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, only on cases related to “cases of actions taken among the officers, commissioners and funding bodies to ensure compliance with the (USAC constitution) and bylaws.”

It is obvious that the objections to Beyda’s appointment are not only political, but also discriminatory. To hold an applicant to a standard higher than others simply because of his or her ethnic or religious identity instead of his or her ability to rule fairly in accordance with USAC regulations is illogical and immoral.
Remember that this took place on a Board that is supposed to be the highest decision-making body for the student organization. Can anyone imagine someone being questioned because he or she was a member of any other minority? Yet these students were willing to speak out publicly about their discomfort with having a Jew on their board. It is yet more evidence of the anti-Semitism that exists on our nation's campuses.