Recently in Politics, Government & Public Policy Category

Worth watching the whole thing. An amazing performance.

(HT: Scott Adams.)

Andrew McCarthy lays out the timeline of Hillary's Benghazi lies. This woman should probably be in jail.

A State Department memo documents that on the very next day after her duplicitous public statement, Clinton informed Egypt's prime minister: "We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. . . . It was a planned attack -- not a protest."

That was just two days before Clinton, in cold-blooded disgrace, looked Charles Woods in the eye and said, "We are going to have the filmmaker arrested who was responsible for the death of your son." That was at Andrews as they were receiving the body of Ty Woods, killed while saving American lives in the late hours of a terrorist siege during which his government made no effort to save American lives.

What's more, murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens didn't have Hillary's email address and couldn't request reinforcements while under attack. Maybe she would have known what was going on if she had been using the normal SecState methods of communication instead of a privately-run email server.

Clinton stammered a bit as she confessed this, realizing that she was contradicting her earlier characterization of Stevens as someone she knew and respected, the personal anecdotes that suggested a close relationship and her statement that she had personally asked him to take the job.

Clinton family retainers like Sidney Blumenthal, a notorious conspiracist who was barred from working in her State Department by the Obama administration, were able to reach her whenever they pleased -- but men and women on the front lines of dangerous places had to go through depressing, labyrinthine bureaucratic channels.

Stevens and his team requested more security for the doomed Benghazi compound 600 times. Clinton's response: Sorry, I didn't know. Nobody told me. Oops.

Why didn't anyone tell her? Because no one, outside a carefully handpicked circle of cronies and sycophants, could reach her. Her inner circle treated her the way courtiers treat a queen -- with comical levels of deference and jealous protection of their privilege. Nobody wants to bring Hillary bad news.

Megan McArdle notes that the present period of political chaos is the result of the removal of the various sticks and carrots that the party bosses used to wield to keep control. Americans highly favored the elimination of these tools -- rightly sensing that they were generally used to reinforce the existing power structures at the expense of the citizenry. Now that the tools are gone, the existing power structures are collapsing and things will look chaotic for a while.

Maybe we didn't anticipate the disruption when we removed the carrots and sticks, but this period of chaos will pass. Hopefully we'll end up with a more responsive government.

Meanwhile, we should also count the cost of some of those campaign reforms: They've helped sideline the political parties' establishment leadership, and helped create the current partisan gridlock that so many people lament. People keep asking why John Boehner can't control his caucus, even though the answer is obvious: He has neither carrots nor sticks with which to keep them in line. He can't use earmarks to give anything, and he can't take anything away, because parties no longer control either ballot access or fundraising the way they once did. What's left? Jawboning them about the good of the party, which he has tried, endlessly, with little success. At this point, both the Democratic and Republican parties look more like heritage brands than the powerful institutions they used to be.

One by one, we've stripped away the means that parties used to control their membership: replaced party bosses with primary elections, limited the ability of big donors to directly fund and influence campaigns, cracked down on earmarks and other pork-barrel policies, torn down the congressional institutional structures that used to let a few powerful politicians essentially control what bills made it to a vote. Each step was hailed as a progressive move toward a more flourishing democracy, and perhaps they were. But the more perfect our democracy gets, the more it seems to tend towards chaos. Witness the astonishing longevity of Trump as an electoral force.

Jim Webb dropped out of the Democrat primary a couple of days ago. As a conservative, it's easy to lament that the Other Party is so far out of whack that an honorable man like Webb can't attract much support.

However, don't forget that Senator Webb was the 60th vote required to break a filibuster and pass Obamacare. Webb's decision to run as a Democrat in 2006 was opportunistic, and his support for Obamacare was opportunistic. Now that his usefulness to the Democrats has passed, he shouldn't be surprised to be looking up at the underside of the bus.

Conceding that his "views on many issues are not compatible with the power structure and base of the Democratic Party," Webb, a U.S. senator from 2007 to 2013, left the race Tuesday.

Webb's differences with the party are not entirely about policy issues.

He's just too much of a traditional man to suit the tastes of today's Democrats.
Webb, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, served multiple tours in Vietnam where he took shrapnel, and was secretary of the Navy under President Reagan.

He was an honorable and decorated Marine who said during last week's Democratic debate that the enemy he was most proud of making was the "the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he's not around right now to talk to."

I learned a new term today that I like: sortition. My spellchecker doesn't recognize the word. Basically, instead of elections, you just randomly select a few hundred citizens to join the legislature every few years. I like it. It would make graft a lot harder.

In governance, sortition (also known as allotment) is the selection of officers as a random sample from a larger pool of candidates.

In ancient Athenian democracy, sortition was the primary method for appointing political officials and its use was regarded as a principal characteristic of democracy.

Sortition is commonly used to select prospective jurors in common law-based legal systems and is sometimes used today in forming citizen groups with political advisory power (citizens' juries or citizens' assemblies).

This interview about Robot Hillary is by far the funniest, most humanizing thing I've ever hear from her.

HILLARY CLINTON: You guys are the first to realize that I'm really not even a human being. I was constructed in a garage in Palo Alto a very long time ago. People think that, you know, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, they created it. Oh no. I mean, a man whose name shall remain nameless created me in his garage.

ANOTHER ROUND: Are there more of you?

HILLARY CLINTON: I thought he threw away the plans, at least that's what he told me when he programmed me -- that there would be no more. I've seen more people that kind of don't sweat, and other things, that make me think maybe they are part of the new race that he created: the robot race.

ANOTHER ROUND: So there's a cyborg army is what you're saying.

HILLARY CLINTON: But you have to cut this, you can't tell anybody this. I don't want anybody to know this. This has been a secret until here we are in Davenport, Iowa, and I'm just spillin' my electronic guts to you.

Scott Walker was my first choice for President out of the available candidates, so I'm sorry to read that he's withdrawn from the race. I agree with Byron York's assessment however -- Walker just didn't seem ready for the national stage. He's young, only 47, and I hope he regains his footing and has another opportunity to run for the presidency.

Walker was not a candidate prepared to deal with national policy in the context of a presidential campaign. In an interview, I asked him whether things had moved too quickly, whether the ground had shifted under his feet after the Iowa speech. His answer was instant: "Totally."

"We thought all along if we got in, it would be kind of this slow and steady, don't worry about the other guys, just keep focused on moving forward, and as candidates chose not to get in or fell off, we'd be in a position to make a compelling case to them," Walker explained. "We had no idea that after that Iowa summit there would be that kind of acceleration to the race. But we're here, and we're not going to complain about it."

Still, many Walker supporters thought the problems were fixable. So did Walker. He could get those experts together, dive into the briefing books, and find his footing.

It didn't work. As the campaign went on, Walker made error after error, all based in the fact that he wasn't well versed in national issues.

The Daily Beast reports some details on the investigation into dumbed-down intelligence reports on ISIS. The story accurately but incompletely attributes the alterations to the U.S. military. The "officials" mentioned are military officers, and high-ranking officers are not merely "military", they are also political. If, as alleged, senior military officials doctored intelligence reports to fit President Obama's desired message then the decision was a political one -- and the senior officers believed the alterations would aid their careers more than the truth would.

Senior intelligence officials at the U.S. military's Central Command demanded significant alterations to analysts' reports that questioned whether airstrikes against the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS were damaging the group's finances and its ability to launch attacks. But reports that showed the group being weakened by the U.S.-led air campaign received comparatively little scrutiny, The Daily Beast has learned.

Senior CENTCOM intelligence officials who reviewed the critical reports sent them back to the analysts and ordered them to write new versions that included more footnotes and details to support their assessments, according to two officials familiar with a complaint levied by more than 50 analysts about intelligence manipulation by CENTCOM higher-ups.

Ron Radosh has a few campaign predictions that I find eminently plausible. Read the whole thing; I'm going to excerpt the predictions.

No candidate for president can win without Ohio. Florida is crucial as well, and if Marco Rubio ran as Kasich's vice president, the Republicans likely would have a successful ticket.

Kasich/Rubio would be a very electable and respectable ticket. Kasich doesn't seem likely to win the nomination right now.

I believe Trump's support will erode and the people will choose a conservative candidate with actual political experience. [...] I pick Walker as the eventual winner because of his record and his proven ability to win elections in the blue state of Wisconsin.

Walker is still my top candidate, and I'm rooting for him to pull things together. I don't think Trump will end up with the nomination, but I do worry about him running as an independent.

I believe Hillary Clinton will be forced to pull out of the campaign -- for personal health reasons, of course -- and the Democratic field will be wide open.

I agree that Hillary is doomed, even if the axe hasn't fallen yet.

If Joe Biden enters, he will pass Clinton quickly in the polls even if she does not drop out.

A Joe Biden / Elizabeth Warner ticket seems very plausible.

I don't have to make a prediction, but I will anyway: Walker/Rubio vs. Biden/Warner in 2016.

Democrats are growing frustrated that Hillary Clinton isn't making the controversy around her private email server go away.

Rosalind Wyman, a veteran Democratic national committeewoman from California who is also a Clinton supporter, said Mrs. Clinton had not shown enough urgency in battling questions about her judgment, and complained that the campaign's responses to the controversy -- and the federal inquiries that have followed -- were becoming only more muddled.

"The only thing Hillary can do, I think, is get out there in front of reporters and take five hours of questions -- if that's what it takes -- until people understand her, at least, and hopefully believe her," Ms. Wyman said. "And we have to have people who are talented, independent experts on classified secrets defending her on television, rather than who we have now."

But Hillary can't just say "sorry" and answer a few questions when her apology will constitute an admission of guilt to a series of crimes. She has to dodge and weave to try to avoid prosecution.

In Kentucky, where a hard-fought governor's race will be decided in November, some Democrats are privately fretting that Mrs. Clinton's problems could damage the party's brand. The departing Democratic governor, Steven L. Beshear, said he believed that Republican attacks over Mrs. Clinton's email use would continue through the fall and beyond -- and that the Clinton campaign had to devise a strategy of more effective countermoves.

"Honestly, at this point there isn't any great way to handle it," Mr. Beshear said. "While Hillary Clinton has been straight up from the very beginning, the Republicans will not let the issue die, and they will conduct as many witch hunts as possible. She will really have to start addressing those attacks as the campaign becomes more active."

Beshear is delusional or lying. It's President Obama's DOJ and inspectors general who are investigating, and they're hardly Republican hatchet men. Hillary isn't being "straight up", and she can't be without going to jail.

Scott Adams (author of Dilbert) writes about Donald Trump, clown genius. Adams is now predicting that The Donald will be our next president.

Allow me to describe some of the hypnosis and persuasion methods Mr. Trump has employed on you. (Most of you know I am a trained hypnotist and this topic is a hobby of mine.)

For starters, Trump literally wrote the book on negotiating, called The Art of the Deal. So we know he is familiar with the finer points of persuasion. For our purposes today, persuasion, hypnosis, and negotiating all share a common set of tools, so I will conflate them. ...

For example, when Trump says he is worth $10 billion, which causes his critics to say he is worth far less (but still billions) he is making all of us "think past the sale." The sale he wants to make is "Remember that Donald Trump is a successful business person managing a vast empire mostly of his own making." The exact amount of his wealth is irrelevant.

When a car salesperson trained in persuasion asks if you prefer the red Honda Civic or the Blue one, that is a trick called making you "think past the sale" and the idea is to make you engage on the question of color as if you have already decided to buy the car. That is Persuasion 101 and I have seen no one in the media point it out when Trump does it.

Via an anonymous journalist who writes to Instapundit, thoughts on Hillary's vulnerability to blackmail:


Hillary will be totally blackmail-able if elected. Here's the logic:

1. It's safe to say that there were things on that server which could cause Hillary tremendous harm politically - which is why she destroyed the evidence that would have been exculpatory if you believed her explanation. In my mind, it's also why she used a private server to begin with.

2. She is lying about what was on that server, potentially to include while under oath in her upcoming congressional testimony.

3. If someone had all the copies of her emails and those of her staff, they could readily blackmail her because of the above. They'd have proof of her wrongdoing and her lying about it.

4. Hillary Clinton, as both a future Presidential candidate and a sitting Sec. of State would have been one of the Top 100 intelligence targets in the world and probably one of the top 10.

5. It's thus certain that the Chinese and Russians would each have had a team focused on accessing her communications.

6. Every security expert I know of has said it's a virtual certainty the Chinese and Russians both gained access to her server and all her emails. From what I know about their capabilities, I'd agree.

There are probably a bunch of folks in China and Russia who are praying (even if they're atheists) for Hillary to be elected. If she wins, they own the President of the United States. I can just imagine in a meeting with Putin, Hillary being told to back off supporting Ukraine or he'll release her emails (as he hands her a folder containing the most damaging ones for her to peruse). Put in that position, would Hillary fall on her sword or sacrifice a country like Ukraine? I don't know, but I wouldn't want to be living in Ukraine...

Someone with that kind of vulnerability to blackmail shouldn't be allowed to sweep the floors of the NSA, much less run our country.

The inspector general investigation into Hillary's use of a private email server for top secret communications has expanded to her top aides, and Hillary is no doubt looking among them for a scapegoat with enough importance to distract the public from her misdeeds. Who will be sacrificed so that Hillary can go free?

As pressure builds on Hillary Clinton to explain her official use of personal email while serving as secretary of state, she faced new complications Tuesday. It was disclosed her top aides are being drawn into a burgeoning federal inquiry and that two emails on her private account have been classified as "Top Secret." ...

At least four top aides have turned over records, including copies of work emails on personal accounts, to the State Department, which is collecting them in response to a subpoena from Capitol Hill, according to the department. Lawmakers have demanded records, including personal emails, from six other aides, but it's unknown whether they used personal email for work.

And now Hillary has decided she has no choice but to surrender her email server to investigators. A proper forensics investigation will help us understand the use, configuration, and breaches that occurred on the server over the past six years, but it will also be interesting to see what is discovered about about the cover-up that's been going on for the past few months.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign casts her decision to turn over her personal email server to the Justice Department as cooperating with investigators. Her Republican critics suggest that the move and new revelations about classified information points to her malfeasance as secretary of state. ...

Federal investigators have begun looking into the security of Clintons' email setup amid concerns from the inspector general for the intelligence community that classified information may have passed through the system. There is no evidence she used encryption to prevent prying eyes from accessing the emails or her personal server.

Will the three million gallons of toxic waste spilled by the Environmental Protection Agency at Gold King Mine slow down the Obama administration's pseudo-environmental agenda? Maybe we'd be comfortable with government regulation if the regulatory agencies were competent. Unfortunately, they're staffed by fallible humans (just like us!), which is why we shouldn't give them so much power.

The political fallout from last week's toxic spill at Colorado's Gold King Mine intensified Monday, with critics saying the incident has exposed clear hypocrisy within the Obama administration while threatening the credibility of the Environmental Protection Agency at a crucial moment.

Rather than express outrage as it has done in the wake of previous environmental disasters, the White House would not comment on the spill and instead directed all questions to the embattled EPA.

The agency, meanwhile, remains under intense fire after its contractors accidentally breached a dam at the mine last week and sent toxic sludge flowing into the Animas River. The contaminated water has spread to New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, and EPA officials were forced to concede that more than 3 million gallons were released into the river -- a much higher amount than the agency's initial estimate of 1 million gallons.

The fluid contains lead, arsenic and other heavy metals.

Why is Donald Trump running for president? Marc Hodak nails it. Trump is planning to auction the Presidency to the highest bidder.

Sure, he may be happy to win the presidency. He can go for it, and see how far he gets. But what happens when it becomes plain that he can't win, that he is only polling ten percent of the vote, or five percent of the vote? No matter; he still has what every dealmaker wants--huge negotiating power.

If his support would largely draw from a Republican candidate, he can go to, say, Jeb (or whoever wins the R slot), and propose to drop out if Jeb gives him X*. Or, he can got to his old pal Hillary (assuming she wins the D slot), and propose to stay in the race if he gets X.

The art of the deal is to have something that other people desperately want, and get them to bid on it. Imagine holding the keys to the White House, and the top candidates have to get them from you.

The IRS scandal marches on -- new Lois Lerner emails have been found three years after we were told they'd all be "accidentally" destroyed. At least one of the emails gives conclusive proof that the IRS intentionally harassed conservative groups and evaded Congressional and judicial scrutiny.

The email shows that the IRS sent out intrusive inquiry letters to at least one organization purely as a stall tactic.

As Glenn Reynolds says: Tar. Feathers.

In one Nov. 3, 2011, exchange between Ms. Lerner and Cindy Thomas, a program manager in the Cincinnati office that was handling the cases and was involved in a back-and-forth with Washington, the IRS admitted to having hundreds of cases stacked up and awaiting action.

Afraid of congressional pressure, Ms. Thomas ordered one of the inquiry letters to be sent, just to prevent one of the organizations being held up from complaining.

"Just today, I instructed one of my managers to get an additional information letter out to one of these organizations -- if nothing else to buy time so he didn't contact his Congressional Office," she wrote in the email released by Judicial Watch.

Ms. Thomas said she feared a judge would get involved soon and order the IRS to move the applications more quickly.

That email exchange did confirm that IRS employees in Washington were deeply involved in making decisions about the nonprofit groups' cases.

I've tried hard not to write about Donald Trump. He's a circus act, and the only thing he cares about is himself. He blathers on, talking "tough" and insulting everyone in sight, but it's all a show, and it's all about him. Despite all that, if he breaks from the Republicans and runs on a third-party ticket he will deliver the presidency to Hillary Clinton. Is it time for despair? I don't know. I've had high hopes for a while (years?) that we'd get a great, patriotic president in 2016, but maybe it's just a fantasy.

And while happy talk (some of which I've indulged in myself) may dismiss Trump as this year's flash-in-the-pan like the 2012 Republican also-rans, right now he's more likely a version of Ross Perot in 1992 -- the man who got Bill Clinton elected. Perot managed to convince people he was only in it to talk about the deficit and the national debt when it was probably more the case he was running out of a long-standing personal animus toward George H.W. Bush and a desire to deny him the presidency based on an imagined slight. Trump doesn't even have a real issue to bring in Democrats and Republicans dissatisfied with their choices. Trump is Trump's issue.

These are unhappy times in the United States, and unhappy times generate unhappy political outcomes. Last week I made the case for despair following the Iran deal. I know people always want commentary that offers a path forward, a way out of trouble, a hope for something better. Sometimes, though, you just have to sit back and despair at the condition of things, and maybe from the despair some new wisdom may emerge.

Forget the Presidency -- will Hillary Clinton even be the Democrat's nominee? Hang in there Hillary!

Earlier, D.C. Whispers reported on federal investigators' request to initiate a full on CRIMINAL investigation into the Hillary Clinton email scandal due, at least in part, to Mrs. Clinton's alleged and purposeful destruction of classified material she kept on a private email server. Apparently this development is but one of several now plaguing a Hillary Clinton campaign that has a candidate who often appears "lost, confused, tired, and angry." ...

This past week saw campaign operatives trying to figure out how to break the news to candidate Clinton regarding her sudden drop in several battleground states that show her losing by wide margins to potential rivals like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker. When that news was finally delivered, Hillary Clinton is said to have initially brushed it off.

Mere hours later she proceeded to lash out her handlers, and then went on to blame what she perceives to be "unfair media coverage."

The Inspector General of the Intelligence Community says that Hillary Clinton send classified emails through her personal email server. The IG only checked 40 out of 30,000 emails, and he found 4 classified emails.

An internal government review found that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent at least four emails from her personal account containing classified information during her time heading the State Department.

In a letter to members of Congress on Thursday, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community concluded that Mrs. Clinton's email contains material from the intelligence community that should have been considered "secret" at the time it was sent, the second-highest level of classification. A copy of the letter to Congress was provided to The Wall Street Journal by a spokeswoman for the Inspector General.

The four emails in question "were classified when they were sent and are classified now," said Andrea Williams, a spokeswoman for the inspector general. The inspector general reviewed just a small sample totaling about 40 emails in Mrs. Clinton's inbox--meaning that many more in the trove of more than 30,000 may contain potentially confidential, secret or top-secret information.

Argh! Being a conservative is maddening sometimes. Ok, frequently. Trump jumps to top of Republican candidate field, followed by Jeb Bush and Rand Paul. Really? Look... any of these people -- almost anyone at all -- would be better than Hillary Clinton ( ed. -- that's what you thought in 2008) but these guys are hardly my first choices. Trump would be an interesting President I guess, but he feels like a sideshow. Nominating another Bush would be intentionally throwing the race. Rand Paul is a smart guy, but some of his policy views are just wrong for America.

The more I read about the candidates, the more I like Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and Carly Fiorina.

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