Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit

It's happening. I have no idea how this will play out, but it's huge news. The Europe of Brussels has always been an artificial construct and it will be interesting to see if the EU can survive.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Reckless

It gets worse for Hillary Clinton:
State Department staffers wrestled for weeks in December 2010 over a serious technical problem that affected emails from then-Secretary Hillary Clinton's home email server, causing them to temporarily disable security features on the government's own systems, according to emails released Wednesday.

The emails were released under court order Wednesday to the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch, which has sued the State Department over access to public records related to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's service as the nation's top diplomat between 2009 and 2013.

The emails, reviewed by The Associated Press, show that State Department technical staff disabled software on their systems intended to block phishing emails that could deliver dangerous viruses. They were trying urgently to resolve delivery problems with emails sent from Clinton's private server.
Think about that -- to accommodate Clinton, the government disabled security software. And there's more:
Days after the technical crisis, on Jan. 9, 2011, an IT worker was forced to shut down Clinton's server because he believed "someone was trying to hack us." Later that day, he wrote, "We were attacked again so I shut (the server) down for a few min." It was one of several occasions when email access to Clinton's BlackBerry smartphone was disrupted because her private server was down, according to the documents.

The AP reported last year that in the early morning hours of Aug. 3, 2011, Clinton received infected emails, disguised as speeding tickets from New York. The emails instructed recipients to print the attached tickets. Opening an attachment would have allowed hackers to take over control of a victim's computer.

In a blistering audit released last month, the State Department's inspector general concluded that Clinton and her team ignored clear internal guidance that her email setup broke federal standards and could leave sensitive material vulnerable to hackers. Her aides twice brushed aside concerns, in one case telling technical staff "the matter was not to be discussed further," the report said.
Actually, I can think of an excellent work-related reason to remove the spam filters — as a diplomat, 
Mrs. Clinton needed unfettered access to the large number of Nigerian princes who are always eager to correspond with Americans of all stations. It was actually an egalitarian move on her part. Meanwhile, we had this particular spectacle:
The man believed to have set up and maintained the private server in the basement of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s New York home invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination more than 125 times during a deposition as part of a civil court case on Wednesday.

Fox News reported that Bryan Pagliano’s sworn testimony with conservative organization Judicial Watch lasted roughly 90 minutes, during which the IT expert repeatedly read a carefully worded statement off of an index card while refusing to answer questions.
I don't mind the guy pleading the Fifth, actually. It's a sign that at least some due process remains in Washington, even as the juice boxers on Capitol Hill stage their "historic" tantrum in the well of the House. Might as well enjoy the Bill of Rights while you can.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cognitive dissonance



You would think that John Lewis, who once was on the business end of Bull Connor's fire hoses, would understand why it's not such a good idea to let the government have a monopoly on force. I wonder what Laquon McDonald would think about it.

Update: Iowahawk cuts to the chase:

Hacking and grifting

If this is true, it's a big problem for the Clintons, and for all of us really:
The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation was among the organizations breached by suspected Russian hackers in a dragnet of the U.S. political apparatus ahead of the November election, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The attacks on the foundation’s network, as well as those of the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, compound concerns about her digital security even as the FBI continues to investigate her use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

Clinton Foundation officials said the organization hadn’t been notified of the breach and declined to comment further. The compromise of the foundation’s computers was first identified by government investigators as recently as last week, the people familiar with the matter said. Agents monitor servers used by hackers to communicate with their targets, giving them a back channel view of attacks, often even before the victims detect them.
The whole point of Hillary Clinton's efforts to maintain a homebrew server for her communications was to keep the prying eyes of inspectors general and others seeking to scrutinize her dealings. It's worth remembering that, around the time of the public disclosure of the homebrew server, Mrs. Clinton directed that up to 30,000 "personal" emails be removed from the server. The claims we heard at the time included the preposterous idea that the removed emails were about Mrs. Clinton's yoga schedule, or wedding planning for her daughter, and the like. It's far more likely that much of the email traffic that was deleted involved dealings between Mrs. Clinton and her family's foundation, which received many millions of dollars from nations who had business with Mrs. Clinton and the federal government. A handy chart:

Follow the money, as always
None of these numbers are in dispute. What we don't know is Hillary Clinton's personal involvement in these transactions, and if there is any impropriety involved. She knows the answer and, if the Foundation has been breached, you can safely assume the Russian government, among others, knows the answer. If she has something to hide, the Russians will have a huge amount of, ahem, leverage in dealing with Mrs. Clinton, should she manage to get into the Oval Office.

At bottom, the overarching issue with the Clintons has always been their penchant for grifting. We need honest leadership in Washington and returning the Clintons to power is hardly the way to bring that about.

il miglior fabbro

Once again, Victor Davis Hanson, on Trump:
So we always return to the central truth of 2016: Trump is a symptom, not a catalyst. He was created by the hyperpartisan unconstitutional overreach of Barack Obama, and by the appeasement of much of the Republican establishment, who wished to be liked and admired for their restraint and Beltway moderation rather than feared for their insistence on adherence to the Constitution and the protection of the individual from an always growing and encroaching government.
Yep. More, a lot more, at the link.



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Because they're a bunch of [omitted], that's why

Once again, we're all about the kabuki in Washington. We had a series of votes on gun control and all the proposals went down to defeat, because (a) no one seriously believes anything on offer would have made any difference and (b) the purpose of such exercises isn't crafting laws as much as soundbites and/or internet memes that in the end sway no one but give our betters the chance to feel all warm and fuzzy in their self-righteousness. I mean, who doesn't love this type of reasoned analysis, which greeted me on my social media feed this morning:

It would show "spine" to give the braying mob what it wants

Meanwhile, the Leader of the Free World sent his chief law enforcement officer out with orders to pretend as well. With much fanfare, Attorney General Loretta Lynch informed the citizenry that transcripts of the 911 call from the Orlando nightclub would be made public, but that all references to the shooter's motivation would be redacted. So we got this sort of thing:
Mateen: “I pledge of allegiance to [omitted]. “I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].”
It's possible he meant the flag and just got the words wrong, but I don't think so. Not much longer, the actual words were supplied:
I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.
So why go through the motions? Why fight so hard against calling a thing what it is? And why send your top law official out to peddle fiction? What does that accomplish?

I don't have much good to say about the Leader of the Free World, especially these days, but I will say this -- he's exceptional at getting his people to cooperate with his demands, no matter how asinine they are. No one is going to confuse Loretta Lynch with Elliot Richardson -- that much is certain.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Make 'em laugh

I'm in the middle of a book that came out back in 2003, Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, written by Gerald Nachman. It's a long book, nearly 700 pages, and it's useful as a guide to midcentury humor. While it's hardly exhaustive, it does include extensive interviews with many of the funny people of that era, who are now disappearing from the scene.

In the main, comedians are troubled people and a lot of them are better on stage than they are in real life. I'm too young to remember the heyday of, say, Mort Sahl, who is still alive and performing periodically, or Tom Lehrer, who left the business to return to academia. We do live in an era where you can see their performances easily. Here's Lehrer with a poisoned valentine to Wernher von Braun:


And here's Sid Caesar, in a classic bit from Your Show of Shows:


And Steve Allen, with some random silliness:


These days, we clap at comedians more than we laugh at them. I'm not sure it's progress.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Le mot juste (and it's NSFW)

You may have heard that a number of attorneys general are trying to go after energy companies and others for global warming and whatnot. Our own Lori Swanson is part of it. While I try to keep this feature family-friendly, sometimes the right response requires use of a few Anglo-Saxon terms:


Healey, like Swanson, is on a fishing expedition and "requested" years of emails and other records, especially communications with ExxonMobil, which is currently being fitted for the Enron/tobacco company treatment. And yes, Maura Healey is a fascist. I hope Lori Swanson isn't one, and I'm not a fan of guilt by association, but I would hope Swanson realizes what a dangerous game her contemporary is playing.

Logic, Part 2

A smarter approach to the Orlando nightclub attack:
Gun shops typically see a spike in customers after mass shootings. But this time, many are seeing shoppers they’ve never really seen before: More gays and lesbians.

George Horne, the owner of The Gun Room, Denver’s oldest firearms dealer, said Tuesday business is booming at his store.

"For this time of year I’d say its three to four times what we normally have," he said.

Background checks that once took minutes can now take hours. It's a sales surge similar to what happened after Sandy Hook and the Aurora theater shootings.

“We’re not surprised by it,” Horne said.
You don't have to love guns. I don't, particularly. But the minute you are told you can't have a gun is the minute you need one the most.

Logic

Glad someone else noticed this:

Maybe not in Ferguson
It's emotion uber alles. And what's disconcerting is that so many people I know, especially from my college days, can't figure this out.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A reminder

THERE was a child went forth every day;  
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became;  
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.

-- Walt Whitman


We're going to be at this for a very long time.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Absorbent is he

The invaluable John Hayward pulls the thread a little more on the events in Orlando:
Even as Obama Administration officials fall all over themselves in a mad dash to label Orlando jihadi Omar Mateen “self-radicalized,” more information about the people who helped him self-radicalize is coming to light.

Fox News reported that Mateen was enrolled in the online “Fundamental Islamic Knowledge Seminary,” recently renamed the Timbuktu Seminary, which is run by a fire-breathing cleric named Abu Taubah, a.k.a. Marcus Dwayne Robertson.

Robertson was just released from prison last year, despite “warnings from prosecutors that he would recruit people to carry out violent acts.” He was in prison for weapons and tax fraud charges. Part of his tax fraud scheme involved illegally obtaining a tax refund to finance sending one of his students abroad for terrorist training.
And what are the teachings of Abu Taubah? A sample:
In the first video, Robertson invokes the Quranic story of Lut (Lot), and Allah’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, before telling his audience (which consists of adult men and young boys) that the Muslim community has been “too weak and not ready” to address the issue of homosexuality “in a proper manner”. (Part 1, 8:16) Robertson criticizes the Muslim community for being “afraid” to deal with the issue, for fear of upsetting the American majority.

Robertson goes on to criticize American Muslims for providing their children with clothing and toys which he describes using the slur “f**got.” In particular, he denounces Nickelodeon cartoon character Spongebob Square Pants as “gay,” warning that it was “put into this society” to promote homosexuality. At one point Robertson puts the question to the audience: “Are you raising Muslims? Or are you raising f**gots?” (Part 2, 2:21)
He must have seen this image:

There's your proof
Don't let 'em find out about Snagglepuss.


Public service

Since we seem to have a lot of confusion about properly identifying firearms, I'd like to present this helpful guide that some highly useful person posted on the internet, so it's certainly true:

The more you know
Hope this clears things up.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lost in the funhouse

It's always about projection, as Victor Davis Hanson reminds us:
Take the worst examples of Donald Trump’s most recent embarrassing behavior. His Trump University, like many other such transient for-profit institutions, allegedly played fast and loose with the truth in search of lucre. And the media are certainly right to fixate on all those who may have been misled by and suffered from Trump’s selfish profiteering. But the media fail at their own standards of vetting presidential candidates about profiting off higher education when they have largely ignored the far bigger con of Hillary Clinton price-gouging cash-strapped public universities like UCLA for $300,000 for 30 minutes of chatting — a per-minute rate of profit no doubt greater than Trump’s personal returns. Even worse is the con of “Honorary Chancellor” Bill Clinton garnering a reported $16 million between 2010 and 2015 from the for-profit Laureate International Universities, whose U.S. campuses have been plagued by financial controversies. During that period, Bill Clinton was perhaps the highest-salaried university “president” or “chancellor” in the world (and likely in the history of higher education) — and perhaps the only disbarred college chancellor in America. But to the media, all that is a non-story.
And double standards, as Kurt Schlichter reminds us:
And the people who aren’t in Hillary’s trick bag are supposed to care that Trump’s a jerk?

They don’t, by and large. Sure, Trump makes what we conservatives all agree is a distasteful comment insinuating that a federal judge’s rulings would be governed by an inherited characteristic, in this case his ethnicity. The mainstream media goes nuts at how horrible Trump is for assuming that an inherited characteristic might govern someone’s actions in public office. Then a day later, the media experiences a collective climax over the fact that a woman has been nominated, and they think it’s great because that inherited characteristic will govern her actions in public office.
Glenn Reynolds with a tidy summation (emphasis in original):
When the “have you no decency?” crowd demonstrates an utter lack of decency every single day, its complaints lose their sting.
One of the reasons it's been difficult for me to blog lately is the sense we're so lost in the funhouse and we're in a constant state of gaslighting. I'm trying to sort all that out, but in the current environment it's taxing my feeble brain. We've always been at war with Eastasia, apparently.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Home Truth

Michael Goodwin, explaining the stakes:
Assuming [Hillary] Clinton never has to offer a defense to the e-mails and server beyond the tortured lies she’s told in public, Americans must decide whether she, like her husband, is too big and popular for ordinary standards of justice.

If she becomes president despite the high probability that she committed the same crimes that have sent others to prison or infamy, it will be certain that we have cut our roots to the Founders, and that John Adams was wrong.

“We are a nation of laws and not of men,” the second president said. Not anymore. We would now be a nation whose laws are void if your name is Clinton.

As before, there would be copycats in politics, business and society at large, but who would stop them and declare that the laws matter? There would be nobody left.

Once the people say integrity is optional, the nation is lost. An America that gives up on integrity would not be America anymore.
I would argue that ship has already sailed. I'd love to be wrong.

No point in it

Not going to talk about the shooting in Orlando on Sunday morning. Everyone has already made up their mind about the larger meaning of it. We all made our decisions a long time ago. My social media feed tells me that, hackneyed meme by hackneyed meme.

If you're inclined, and I think most of my readership is, say a prayer for those who died and the grieving families. Prayer is significantly more useful than all the memes on the internet.