October 2016 Archives

Glenn Reynolds writes that our poor presidential candidates and the press that covers them are intentionally distracting America from our real problems. Kinda like a reality TV show writ large. He talks about the five wars we're fighting simultaneously, the implosion of Obamacare, and the national dept, but the most concerning topic to me is the despicable corruption that has infested our national institutions.

The FBI ultimately decided not to recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton over her email scandal. That created a lot of criticism. But now it turns out that the FBI official in charge of the investigation was awfully close to the Clintons. The FBI official is deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, whose wife, Dr. Jill McCabe, was running for state senate in Virginia. Her campaign received a donation of nearly a half million dollars from the political organization of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has been close to the Clintons for decades (and has his own brushes with the law). Then, a bit later, Andrew McCabe was put in charge of the investigation into Clinton's emails, an investigation that -- to the dismay of many longtime Bureau insiders -- recommended no charges. Now McCabe is facing calls for his resignation.

As Stephen Green points out, McAuliffe encouraged Jill McCabe to run just days after the Clinton email scandal broke. I'm sure he knew who her husband was when he did so. The FBI claims there's no connection, but this is very bad for the already-tarnished image of the FBI.

How can we have a fair and just civil service when 95% of their support goes to one party? It's hard to see how we can ever root out this corruption no matter who we elect, and that's dispiriting.

People can support whatever candidate they want, but it seems like an obvious problem when the civil service is so divergent from the rest of the population. If the civil service -- or a large corporation or university -- gave 95% of its support to a Republican you can bet there would be all sorts of discrimination lawsuits. Seems like we need some affirmative action in government hiring.

Of the roughly $2 million that federal workers from 14 agencies spent on presidential politics by the end of September, about $1.9 million, or 95 percent, went to the Democratic nominee's campaign, according to an analysis by The Hill.

Employees at all the agencies analyzed, without exception, are sending their campaign contributions overwhelmingly to Clinton over her Republican counterpart. Several agencies, such as the State Department, which Clinton once led, saw more than 99 percent of contributions going to Clinton.

Employees of the Department of Justice, which investigated Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of State, gave Clinton 97 percent of their donations. Trump received $8,756 from DOJ employees compared with $286,797 for Clinton. From IRS employees, Clinton received 94 percent of donations.

Furthermore, does it seem plausible that the DOJ performed a fair and just investigation of Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information? The conflict of interest here is hard to ignore.

Two links today about Hillary the bully. First, her treatment of her protective detail is abhorrent.

"I'm not voting for Clinton," Air Force Staff Sergeant Eric Bonner posted on Facebook in July.

"It's because she actually talked to me once. Almost a sentence," wrote the Air Force K-9 handler. "I got to do a few details involving Distinguished Visitors."

"One of my last details was for Hillary when she was Secretary of State," Bonner continued. "I helped with sweeps of her DV quarters and staff vehicles. Her words to me?" According to Bonner, Clinton told him, "Get that f***ing dog away from me."

"Then she turns to her security detail and berates them up and down about why that animal was in her quarters," Bonner added. "For the next 20 minutes, while I sit there waiting to be released, she lays into her detail, slamming the door in their faces when she's done. The Detail lead walks over, apologizes, and releases me. I apologize to him for getting him in trouble. His words, 'Happens every day, Brother.'"

Second, Scott Adams looks more broadly and indicts the whole Democrat Party as the bully party.

I've been trying to figure out what common trait binds Clinton supporters together. As far as I can tell, the most unifying characteristic is a willingness to bully in all its forms.

If you have a Trump sign in your lawn, they will steal it.

If you have a Trump bumper sticker, they will deface your car.

if you speak of Trump at work you could get fired.

On social media, almost every message I get from a Clinton supporter is a bullying type of message. They insult. They try to shame. They label. And obviously they threaten my livelihood.

We know from Project Veritas that Clinton supporters tried to incite violence at Trump rallies. The media downplays it.

Part of the reason that Leftists work so hard to cast conservatives as racist sexist Hitlers is to justify Leftist bullying. Who can object to bullying Hitler?

Michael Buble pulls a 15-year-old boy up on stage to sing with him. It feels staged to me; maybe I'm cynical. Either way, Buble's reaction when Sam first sings is fantastic.

We don't owe the system anything, it owes us. Read the rest for an up-to-date list of how the Democrats, the media, and the bureaucrats are pulling out all the stops to ensure Hillary's victory.

I'm not fond of Trump (ugh), but Hillary and her enablers are literal criminals who care about nothing except power and wealth for themselves.

We owe the system nothing. Nada. Zip. Instead, the system owes us fairness and honesty, and without them it has no right to our default acceptance of its results. That acceptance must be earned. This means that the system must aggressively police its own integrity, and this year it has utterly failed to do so.

The most important thing in a democratic republic, the keystone that holds it together and ensures the peaceful transition of power, is the ability for a loser to accept a loss. We used to be able to fight out our political differences and, if we came up short, shrug and say, "Well, next time we'll convince a majority." We could move on, confident that the playing field had been level, that we had been heard, and that we had lost fair and square.

Not anymore. Trump's wrong about a lot, but he's not wrong about this. He may very well lose, but it won't be fair and square. And Trump is not the problem for saying so.

Even the New York Times has been forced to address the Democrat dirty tricks revealed by Project Veritas. The NYT goes to great lengths to downplay the seriousness of the revelations and impugn Project Veritas, but they do link to the videos.

Hillary Clinton's campaign and the party committee moved to distance themselves from the behavior described in the videos, and the committee said the two men were no longer assisting it. The party also cast doubt on the veracity of the released videos, which were produced by Project Veritas, a conservative group led by the activist James O'Keefe that has been heavily criticized as using deceptive editing.

No mention that Hillary herself "has been heavily criticized" for deception. I love the use of the passive voice there... the NYT gets to undermine the credibility of Project Veritas without naming or quoting any sources. "Has been heavily criticized" by whom? Let us know the source of the criticism so we can judge the source's motives and credibility for ourselves.

At least they don't bury the lede:

A Democratic operative, wearing a checkered blue shirt and a tie, spoke calmly, explaining exactly how agents could infiltrate the rallies of Donald J. Trump and cause mayhem among the Republican's nominee team, his security staff and supporters.

Creating an explosive reaction, said the operative, Scott Foval, was "the whole point of it."

Mr. Foval and Robert Creamer, another operative working for the Democratic National Committee, were the unwitting stars of undercover videos released this week in which they and others were captured discussing unseemly tactics like instigating violence at Mr. Trump's rallies and arranging for fraudulent voting.

The Democrats paid people to instigate violence at Trump's rallies, and then publically hammered Trump for the violence at his rallies.

Of course now no one in the Democrat National Committee knows anything about it. Is Brazile the source for the "heavy criticism"? She's devoted to electing Hillary.

"We do not believe, or have any evidence to suggest, that the activities articulated in the video actually occurred," said Donna Brazile, the interim Democratic chairwoman. The Clinton campaign similarly denounced the tactics, while chiding Project Veritas, saying it has "been known to offering misleading video out of context."

The evidence that the "activities" occurred is that there was violence at some of Trump's rallies! Trump's rally in Chicago was cancelled because of a riot! People were injured!

For hours, the Chicago police, along with university officers, the federal authorities and others, were out here in force. A Chicago police spokesman said that city law enforcement authorities were not consulted and had no role in canceling the event. The spokesman said there had been five arrests, two by the Chicago police, two by the university's police and one by the Illinois State Police. The fire department said three people, including a police officer, were injured. ...

Arguments and small skirmishes broke out along the streets. At one point, the police rushed in, separating people.

At least one man was hit on the head with a police baton, witnesses said, and blood could be seen coming from a gash on his face. A woman, also bloodied, was led away by police.

Chris Wallace did a good job -- the best of any of the moderators this year. He asked both candidates tough questions.

Hillary evaded many tough questions, which is par for the course.

Trump should learn how to evade better... instead he tends to topics that are damaging to him. There's a reason politicians evade.

I don't have the energy to write much more than that. I doubt this debate did much to convince anyone of anything. If there's a real October surprise bombshell it will probably come soon, now that the candidates don't have another opportunity to respond to the public broadly.

Trump is right that our political system is rigged, and not just in one simple way -- as if someone were surreptitiously manipulating ballots after they've been cast. Trump's point is bigger, though he doesn't explain it very eloquently. This "rigging", the unified elite wielding power against the broader population, is why people are angry enough to consider voting for Trump.

GEORGE WILL: When Mr. Trump talks about it being rigged, he sweeps all his grievances into one big puddle. He talked about the media. He talked about the primaries. He talked about the polls. Talked about the Republican National Committee. I think when most persons hear that an election is rigged, they think of government action to rig the election. And there Mr. Trump has a point if he would just make it more clearly.

It is hard to think of an innocent reason why Democrats spend so much time, energy and money, scarce resources all, resisting attempts to purge the voter rolls, that is to remove people who are dead or otherwise have left the jurisdiction. It's hard to think of an innocent reason why they fight so tremendously against Voter I.D. laws. They say, well that burdens the exercise of a fundamental right. The Supreme Court has said that travel is a fundamental right and no one thinks that showing an I.D. at the airport burdens that fundamental right.

We know -- we don't surmise -- we know that the 2010, '12 and '14 elections were rigged by the most intrusive and potentially punitive institution of the federal government, the IRS. You can read all about it in Kim Strassel's book Intimidation Game. She's familiar to all Wall Street Journal readers and FOX viewers. This is not a surmise. I have talked to lawyers in a position to know they say it's still going on. The IRS is still intolerantly delaying the granting of tax exempt to conservative advocacy groups to skew the persuasion of this campaign.

Former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman General James E. Cartwright has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, a felony, during its investigation of a leak of classified information. I'm not expert enough to say anything with certainty, but Josh Rogen makes a strong case that Cartwright is being made an example of after Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus were let off entirely or lightly for similar crimes.

Under his plea deal, Cartwright could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Last year, Petraeus cut a deal with the Justice Department after admitting he had lied to the FBI and passed hundreds of highly classified documents to his biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell. He pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor of mishandling classified information and was sentenced to two years probation and a $100,000 fine.

Clinton was not charged at all for what FBI Director James B. Comey called "extremely careless" handling of "very sensitive, highly classified information." Comey said that although there was "evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information," the FBI's judgment was that no reasonable prosecutor would have filed charges against Clinton or her associates.

"There is a lack of proportion just based on the facts that one figure, Cartwright, is getting severely punished and others so far have escaped the process," said Steven Aftergood, director of the project on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. "He is being singled out for prosecution and public humiliation. It's an implicit rebuttal to those who argued that other senior officials such as Clinton or Petraeus got off scott free or got too light of a sentence."

It's also very strange to me that he, or anyone, would lie to the FBI instead of keeping silent. Maybe given recent history Cartwright figured that his position would protect him.

It pains me to say it after having defended the FBI and Director Comey in July, but with each new revelation it becomes more obvious that the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information was a sham. As the FBI dribbles out its interview notes week by week it's clear even to a non-lawyer that there was more than enough evidence for a grand jury to indict Hillary Clinton, and the fact that no grand jury was even convened means that there was never any intent to seek a prosecution.

Remember: we're just learning about this stuff now, but the FBI and the DOJ have known all this for months. They knew this when they decided not to convene a grand jury, which would have certainly issued an indictment given this mountain of evidence. They decided to let Hillary walk. "Too big to fail" indeed.

On Monday, however, the various issues associated with Clinton's email setup came roaring back. According to emails released by the FBI, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy asked the FBI to ease up on classification decisions in exchange for allowing more FBI agents in countries where they were not permitted to go. The words "quid pro quo" were used to describe the proposed exchange by the FBI official. ...

The Clinton campaign will, as it has done every time there is any news about whether she sent or received classified material on her private server, chalk this up to an interagency dispute over classification. Typical bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, they will say. This sort of stuff happens all the time!

Except, not really. First of all, we already know from FBI Director James B. Comey that Clinton sent and received emails and information that was classified at the time. ("110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received," Comey said in his remarkable press conference on the FBI investigation.) Clinton's explanation has now evolved to this: She didn't know documents marked with a "c" meant they were confidential (and therefore classified) and, therefore, she never knowingly sent or received classified material -- with the emphasis on "knowingly."

That's a tough position to hold in light of Kennedy's attempted quid pro quo, which suggests that at least some people at State were actively trying to fiddle with classification determinations made by the FBI.

It's hard to square the idea of Kennedy offering a quid pro quo to the FBI regarding a classification decision and Clinton not even knowing that "c" on documents stands for "classified." One suggests deep understanding of how the classification process works. The other, um, doesn't.

Directory Comey did everything possible to avoid finding evidence against Clinton.

The agent was also surprised that the bureau did not bother to search Clinton's house during the investigation.

"We didn't search their house. We always search the house. The search should not just have been for private electronics, which contained classified material, but even for printouts of such material," he said.

"There should have been a complete search of their residence," the agent pointed out. "That the FBI did not seize devices is unbelievable. The FBI even seizes devices that have been set on fire."

And when the FBI did find evidence, they agreed to destroy it to prevent Congressional investigators from seeing it.

Immunity deals for two top Hillary Clinton aides included a side arrangement obliging the FBI to destroy their laptops after reviewing the devices, House Judiciary Committee sources told Fox News on Monday.

Sources said the arrangement with former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills and ex-campaign staffer Heather Samuelson also limited the search to no later than Jan. 31, 2015. This meant investigators could not review documents for the period after the email server became public -- in turn preventing the bureau from discovering if there was any evidence of obstruction of justice, sources said.

Instead of writing letters, Congress should be writing articles of impeachment against Loretta Lynch and James Comey. Nothing prevents Congress from immediately impeaching Hillary Clinton if she wins the election. (Of course, none of this will happen because Congress is full of cowards. It's a collective action problem: all Congresscritters know that the Senate won't convict, so no one does anything except write sternly worded letters.)

Andrew C. McCarthy writes that the worst thing about the 2016 election isn't the two awful candidates.

So we have one faction in the country that is willing to use the Constitution's powers; but that faction also happily undermines the Constitution whenever it proves an obstacle. That faction's vision is post-constitutional.

That is why the 2016 election is so harrowing. It is not just that the candidates are awful yet one of them will become president. It is that our political class has eviscerated the constitutional weapons that protect us from an awful president. Thus, what the Framers most feared is coming to pass.

As McCarthy says, the Constitution gives Congress plenty of power to rein in the President, but the Republicans were too cowardly to use it.

Nate Silver looks at the gender gap in 2016 presidential polls. Cue up all the suggestions to disenfranchise one gender or the other.

2016 gender gap.jpg

Here's a quick way to estimate it. In the polls I cited above, Clinton is doing 10 points better among women than among the electorate overall. So we'll add 10 points to her current polls-only margin in every state to forecast her performance if women were the only ones who could vote. In addition to the states where Clinton is already leading Trump, that would put her ahead in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and the 2nd congressional districts in Maine and Nebraska. Clinton would win 458 electoral votes to just 80 for Trump.

If men were the only voters, conversely, we'd have to subtract 10 points from Clinton's current margin in every state -- which would yield an awfully red map. Trump would win everything that could plausibly be called a swing state, with Clinton hanging on only to the West Coast, parts of the Northeast, Illinois and New Mexico. That would yield 350 electoral votes for Trump to 188 for Clinton.

Donald Trump is responsible for his own vulgarity, but it's obvious that the media (including NBC, his former employer) is conspiring to maximize the damage to Trump's campaign. The tape is certainly newsworthy, but the decision to delay its release demonstrates why Americans don't trust the media.

NBC execs had a plan to time the release of the Donald Trump audio to have maximum impact on both the 2nd presidential debate and the general election ... sources connected with the network tell TMZ.

Multiple sources connected with NBC tell us ... top network execs knew about the video long before they publicly said they did, but wanted to hold it because it was too early in the election. The sources say many NBC execs have open disdain for Trump and their plan was to roll out the tape 48 hours before the debate so it would dominate the news cycle leading up to the face-off.

As we reported, Billy Bush was bragging about the tape -- in front of NBC execs at the Rio Olympics -- in early August. NBC says it's only known about the tape for a little more than a week.

Loyalton, California, can't afford the $1.6 million cost of its four-person pension promise. Math always catches up to you eventually.

The problem for Loyalton, in other words, is just a more acute version of the problem besetting municipalities across the country: Namely, that state pension authorities have been assuming unrealistic discount rates and rates of return on their investments for decades. The purpose of this phony accounting is to conceal the massive shortfall in public pension funds that are often underfunded and consistently fail to meet overly optimistic investment targets. As long as the real numbers aren't released, politicians, investors and public union bosses can look the other way. But the real value of obligations racked up over the years is finally becoming clear, and it stands to ruin fading municipalities that were roped into the system on false pretenses.

Walsh notes that "some see a test case taking shape for Loyalton and other cities with dwindling means." There is simply no way for many small government entities in California to afford what the state pension fund says they owe. If Calpers follows through on its threat to cut off Loyalton's retirees, then the fiction of "bulletproof" public pensions will be permanently undermined.

Pensions are basically Ponzi schemes.

A simple numerical example may illustrate how important growth rates are to an aging economy. Let's say we have 99 workers and one retiree, and we want all of them to enjoy the same standard of living. Now say each worker can produce $100 worth of stuff. If each of our workers donates $1 apiece to the retiree, everyone gets $99 dollars.

But now let's say nine more people retire over the next nine years. Now we have 90 workers, generating total output of $9,000 a year. Split 100 ways, everyone gets $90 instead of $99. As more people retire, the math gets worse and worse. Eventually, the workers may well say "You non-workers are on your own."

Productivity growth could save us... if only we could regulate growth into existence.

BREAKING NEWS: Donald Trump is vulgar and offensive! Go listen to the secret recording of him joking about how women let him grope them because he's a celebrity. Gross! I completely disavow Trump and this behavior.

If Trump's crudity is actually news to you then you haven't been paying attention. Do you think that Hillary, the Democrats, the Republicans, the media, or basically anyone is actually "shocked"?

No. They're all pretending to be shocked and appalled because they want to stay in power. They're pretending to be offended because they think other people will play along at being offended. They think this latest revelation will finally knock out Trump.

Think back on your own life... are there any moments you're glad were not secretly taped? Of course. And you're a way better person than any of our elites, I'm sure of it.

Maybe Trump's a dead man walking. I don't know. I'm terrible at predicting elections... I never thought Obama would get re-elected in 2012. Maybe this disgusting soundbite will do what the last 100 examples of his offensiveness didn't.

But anyway, Trump sure destroyed Hillary in the debate last night. Will it make a difference? You got me. Polls show Hillary with a big lead now. If I had to make a prediction, I'd say that Trump will win -- but mostly because that's the prediction that will make me look the smartest if I'm right.

Many people care a lot about Donald Trump's taxes, but I don't... nor have I ever really cared about any other candidate's tax returns. It's hard to imagine Trump getting away with illegal tax avoidance for decades, so I just assume that there's nothing interesting to see in his returns. Similarly, I doubt that the Clintons are illegally avoiding taxes -- the Clinton Global Initiative is basically a huge scam, but it doesn't break any tax laws. The big to-do about Trump's use of net operating losses to offset future earnings is a complete non-story.

"If someone has a $20 million gain in one year and a $10 million loss in the second year, that person should be treated the same as someone who had $5 million in each of the two years," says Alan Viard, a tax specialist at the American Enterprise Institute, who like all the other experts, seemed somewhat surprised that this was not obvious.

"There are definitely tax provisions narrowly targeted to various industries that you could take issue with," says Ron Kovacev, a tax partner at Steptoe and Johnson. "The NOL is not one of them."

I mean, the Times story is true as far as it goes: Losing $900 million dollars may save you $315 million or so on future or past taxes. But astute readers will have noticed that it is not actually smart financial strategy to lose $900 million in order to get out of paying $315 million to the IRS. Most of us would rather have the other $585 million than a tax bill of $0. ...

If Trump managed to pay no taxes for years, the most likely way he did this was by losing sums much vaster than the unpaid taxes. This is fair, it is right, it is good tax policy.

The most frustrating thing about Trump for those of us who want to bid farewell to the Clintons forever is his seeming inability to resist obvious traps. Conrad Black finds the perfect metaphor:

Yet Mr. Trump seems to have no concept of how to press the strategic advantage and stay clear of back alleys and side issues in which he can only dissipate his advantages. Like a not overly smart fighting bull, he allows the Democrats to cause him to charge diagonally past his real targets and squander political capital in nonsense. The presentation of Mr. Khan at the Democratic convention, father of a winner of a decorated war hero killed in action, was squalid and outrageous, as was the subsequent fawning of the press and the bunk about Mr. Khan's just "happening to have a copy of the Constitution in [his] pocket."

But Trump charged and dove into a trap in which he could not win. He should have said something like "All Americans share in Mr. Khan and his family's sorrow and in their pride, and in the circumstances it is not appropriate for me to comment on his partisan reflections on me." He should have said, when Mrs. Clinton threw "Miss Piggy" at him, that "that was a regrettable choice of words about someone who had violated her undertakings on entering the Miss Universe contest." He could have neutralized, or even won on, both issues but failed to see them as the baited traps they obviously were.

Americans are eager for a leader who sees citizens as more than irritants to be bought off, and Trump appeals to the widespread frustration many feel at being ignored by the elites for decades. But, to switch metaphors, every bad cop needs a good cop -- the bad cop alone isn't enough. Trump has shown mastery of bad-cop, but I sure wish he would demonstrate some proficiency with good-cop.

After repeated humiliations by the Russians and Syrians, the Obama administration is again "discussing" strikes directly against the Assad regime.

U.S. military strikes against the Assad regime will be back on the table Wednesday at the White House, when top national security officials in the Obama administration are set to discuss options for the way forward in Syria. But there's little prospect President Obama will ultimately approve them. ...

The options under consideration, which remain classified, include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships, an administration official who is part of the discussions told me. One proposed way to get around the White House's long-standing objection to striking the Assad regime without a U.N. Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said.

Above all, President Obama wants to protect his own ego by avoiding any Bush-like behavior -- better to strike covertly and deny responsibility than to admit that his predecessor wasn't as evil as portrayed. Better for hundreds of thousands to die than for Obama to admit a mistake.

Obama and Hillary's bungling of the Middle East will go down in history as one of this century's greatest failures. There may have been no great options, but Obama and Hillary's cowardice and pride led them to erratic passivity that was perhaps the worst possible course.

Would Trump be better? I certainly don't know, but at least there's a chance. Unlike Obama, Trump's ego seems to push him towards action rather than inaction. An active America constrains the options of our foes -- as long as we are doing something they have to watch their toes. When we do nothing, they have freedom of action.

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