Thursday, June 30, 2016

Drip, drip, drip

So why would Bill Clinton dragoon Attorney General Loretta Lynch into a private meeting? Well, maybe this is why:
 Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin said in a legal proceeding that Clinton did not want the private emails that she mixed in with State Department emails on her private computer server to be accessible to "anybody," according to transcripts released Wednesday.

Abedin's comments provided new insight into the highly unusual decision by the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate to operate a private email server in her basement to conduct government business when she served as secretary of state.

Abedin also said under oath that she was not aware whether Clinton personally deleted any emails during her tenure as secretary.
I'm sure Clinton didn't personally delete any emails -- she has staff for that sort of thing. More:
Clinton's private server contained tens of thousands of work-related emails as well as private messages, and her decision to conduct both private and government business on her system meant that she kept control of both types of correspondence, effectively preventing her State Department correspondence from being archived by the agency and made available for public records requests. It was not until late 2014 - more than a year after Clinton left office - that the State Department learned that she held all of her email and requested that she turn over all work-related records.

Clinton turned over nearly 33,000 business-related messages while disposing of about the same number of personal messages. But Clinton failed to turn over at least three dozen work-related emails, according to the agency. Among those emails was a November 2010 email exchange with Abedin discussing her concerns about the risk of the "personal being accessible."
You might remember the first story about all those deleted emails -- they were about Hillary's yoga schedule and planning Chelsea Clinton's wedding. Do you believe that story? A "personal" email about a yoga class schedule wouldn't be embarrassing at all. Maybe emails about off-the-book meetings for the Clinton Foundation?
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the State Department to produce the e-mail records of Hillary Clinton’s scheduler during her tenure as secretary of state, expanding an investigation being pursued by conservative nonprofit Citizens United into the overlap between Clinton’s official travel and her meetings with foreign Clinton Foundation donors.  
Citizens United is slated to receive all e-mails sent to and from Lona Valmoro, Clinton’s State Department scheduler, in the two-week periods before each of 14 international trips Clinton took during her four years in office. David Bossie, president of Citizens United, hopes to confirm suspicions that Clinton maintained an off-the-books schedule, meeting with Clinton Foundation donors on the taxpayer’s dime. “Citizens United wants to know how many overseas dinners Secretary Clinton attended with Clinton Foundation donors that didn’t make it on her schedule,” he says.
What types of meetings would those be?
Judge Rosemary Collyer, the federal judge presiding over a public-records case brought by Citizens United, was initially hesitant to allow the release of Valmoro’s e-mails, and asked the group to provide one example of an off-the-books meeting with Clinton Foundation donors. As part of a joint filing with the State Department on Monday, Citizens United presented the judge with several pieces of evidence suggesting Valmoro deliberately struck from the official schedule a December 6, 2012, dinner in Dublin, Ireland, with several Clinton Foundation and Clinton campaign donors, organized by Teneo co-founder Declan Kelly. Though Valmoro was made aware of the Dublin meeting through an earlier e-mail chain, neither Clinton’s archived daily calendar nor her detailed official schedule make any note of it.
I blame Rose Mary Woods.

By the time I get to Phoenix

Seriously, how in the world can this particular interaction be acceptable?
Amid an ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of email and hours before the public release of the Benghazi report, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with former President Bill Clinton. 
The private meeting took place on the west side of Sky Harbor International Airport on board a parked private plane. 
Former President Clinton was visiting the Phoenix area and arrived to Sky Harbor Monday evening to depart.

Sources tell ABC15 Clinton was notified Lynch would be arriving at the airport soon and waited for her arrival.
 As you can imagine, Lynch tried to pretend it was just a "how's your family" meeting, but if that were true, it could have taken place in a public venue and it wouldn't have required a half hour. There is simply no way in hell that Mrs. Clinton's conduct in office wasn't a point of discussion. Everyone knows it, but we're not going to hear a word about this beyond the local reporting. The stench will linger, but we'll be told it's Chanel No. 5.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Convicted Rapists for Trump

Res ipsa loquitur:
Donald Trump’s campaign aides are lining up a slate of iconic sports figures to appear at the convention in Cleveland next month—including former undisputed world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, legendary Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight, and NASCAR chief Brian France, people familiar with the planning told Bloomberg Politics.
Mike Tyson, you say:
Trump has boasted in the past about his endorsement by Tyson, who has re-emerged in popular culture in recent years with roles in popular movies like “Hangover” and the publishing of a well-received memoir.

“Mike Tyson endorsed me, I love it,” Trump said in April in Indiana. “You know, all the tough guys endorse me. I like that.”

Following the Indiana rally, Trump was criticized for touting the endorsement of the former boxer, who had served three years in prison after being convicted in the state for raping a beauty pageant contestant.
Maybe he can get the coveted Darren Sharper endorsement, too.

Why did Constantinople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks

Here we go again:
A suicide attack at Istanbul's busy Ataturk Airport Tuesday killed dozens and wounded more than 140 as Turkish officials blamed the carnage at the international terminal on three suspected Islamic State group militants.

Hundreds of frightened passengers streamed out of the airport, fleeing the latest of several bombings to strike Turkey in recent months. The attacks have increased in scale and frequency, scaring off tourists and hurting the Turkish economy, which relies heavily on tourism.
Yeah, I suppose it won't help the tourism much.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said 41 were dead as well as the three suicide bombers. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said 147 were wounded. Another senior government official told The Associated Press the death toll could climb much higher.

Yildirim said three suicide bombers were responsible for the attack and all initial indications suggest the Islamic State group was behind it.

"The findings of our security forces point at the Daesh organization as the perpetrators of this terror attack," Yildirim told reporters at the airport, using the Arabic name for IS. "Even though the indications suggest Daesh, our investigations are continuing." 
Turkey's problems go beyond terrorist attacks -- just the basic geography of the place puts it between the Europe and the Middle East and there's more historical baggage in Istanbul than just about anywhere else. And because of that history, and the dangers involved, officials there can't try to invent alternative meanings to events, as our governmental officials are wont to do. You can't say this attack is a hate crime against gays, or the result of a video no one has seen. Somehow, I suspect we'll continue to enjoy our illusions here, until we can't.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


I don't agree with Glenn Greenwald about much of anything, but this piece is spot-on. So many pull quotes, so little time. Let's start here (NSFW, but with merit):
Corrupt elites always try to persuade people to continue to submit to their dominance in exchange for protection from forces that are even worse. That’s their game. But at some point, they themselves, and their prevailing order, become so destructive, so deceitful, so toxic, that their victims are willing to gamble that the alternatives will not be worse, or at least, they decide to embrace the satisfaction of spitting in the faces of those who have displayed nothing but contempt and condescension for them.

There is no single, unifying explanation for Brexit, Trumpism, or the growing extremism of various stripes throughout the West, but this sense of angry impotence — an inability to see any option other than smashing those responsible for their plight — is undoubtedly a major factor. As Bevins put it, supporters of Trump, Brexit, and other anti-establishment movements “are motivated not so much by whether they think the projects will actually work, but more by their desire to say FUCK YOU” to those they believe (with very good reason) have failed them.
The discontent in the land is real and it's understandable. If your manufacturing job is being replaced by a robot, or your IT gig by an H1-B visa holder, or your construction job by someone who may or may not be here legally, you're gonna be angry. And you won't be alone. I had my roof replaced two years ago; every member of the work crew was from Mexico, or Central America. On the days I stop for coffee on my way into work, I see similar work crews getting their coffee and sports drinks on their way to whatever worksite they have. I wasn't checking to see if the work crew on my roofing job had their paperwork in order; I do know that labor is a large component of the cost of the job and it was less expensive precisely because these guys were doing the work. That's why they are here.

My office has a major IT project going on right now. We now have a dozen or so contractors in the building who are working on the project and most of them are from the Indian subcontinent. I'm not asking them for their papers, either. They are here to do a job and, I assume, to do it for a lower price. Are there U.S. citizens who could do this work? Most likely. But they aren't in my office.

But won't this upcoming election clarify matters? Back to Greenwald:
But that is exactly the choice presented not only by Brexit but also Western elections generally, including the 2016 Clinton v. Trump general election (just look at the powerful array of Wall Street tycoons and war-loving neocons that — long before Trump — viewed the former Democratic New York senator and secretary of state as their best hope for having their agenda and interests served). When democracy is preserved only in form, structured to change little to nothing about power distribution, people naturally seek alternatives for the redress of their grievances, particularly when they suffer.

More importantly still — and directly contrary to what establishment liberals love to claim in order to demonize all who reject their authority — economic suffering and xenophobia/racism are not mutually exclusive. The opposite is true: The former fuels the latter, as sustained economic misery makes people more receptive to tribalistic scapegoating. That’s precisely why plutocratic policies that deprive huge portions of the population of basic opportunity and hope are so dangerous. Claiming that supporters of Brexit or Trump or Corbyn or Sanders or anti-establishment European parties on the left and right are motivated only by hatred but not genuine economic suffering and political oppression is a transparent tactic for exonerating status quo institutions and evading responsibility for doing anything about their core corruption.
I've never been part of the elite, but some of my college classmates have found their way into the elite over the years. I know a guy who became a millionaire bond trader and another guy who is a huge player in the entertainment industry. Both of these guys are now fabulously wealthy and powerful. Had I gone back to my alma mater over reunion weekend earlier this month, I could have visited with both of them and it would have been a pleasant conversation. I don't want to take away what they have; it wouldn't change the basic calculus. Along the line, both of them recognized opportunities and were able to take advantage. I begrudge them nothing.

And yet, and yet. . . it simply won't do to pretend that a lot of other people of my generation have been left behind. And while class distinctions in America are significantly more fluid than they are in the United Kingdom, class is a factor. And distance. Back to Greenwald:
There are many factors explaining why establishment journalists now have almost no ability to stem the tide of anti-establishment rage, even when it’s irrational and driven by ignoble impulses. Part of it is that the internet and social media have rendered them irrelevant, unnecessary to disseminate ideas. Part of it is that they have nothing to say to people who are suffering and angry — due to their distance from them — other than to scorn them as hateful losers. Part of it is that journalists — like anyone else — tend to react with bitterness and rage, not self-assessment, as they lose influence and stature.

But a major factor is that many people recognize that establishment journalists are an integral part of the very institutions and corrupted elite circles that are authors of their plight. Rather than mediating or informing these political conflicts, journalists are agents of the forces that are oppressing people. And when journalists react to their anger and suffering by telling them that it’s invalid and merely the byproduct of their stupidity and primitive resentments, that only reinforces the perception that journalists are their enemy, thus rendering journalistic opinion increasingly irrelevant.
It explains why my local newscast continues to insist that an online poll saying people want to revote on Brexit has meaning, even though there's substantial evidence that many of the votes are the result of a 4Chan prank. Change is hard and there's a good chance things will get worse. Is there any reason to assume that maintaining the status quo will help things get better? The Brexit vote suggests people are coming to their own conclusions about that.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Make 'em laugh part two

Because we could use some laughs, here are more older comedy bits. First, Mike Nichols and Elaine May at the 1959 Emmy Awards, with a little help from a politician you might remember:

Then, a classic bit from Bob Newhart, imagining a conversation with Sir Walter Raleigh and his latest shipment:

Good stuff.

State of play

How I see things in the presidential race:

  • I'm not convinced the current polling tells us much about the race. When one poll tells you it's pretty much a dead heat and another tells you that Hillary is up 10 points, you can surmise that Hillary's winning, but she's having a difficult time making the sale.
  • If Trump were even the slightest bit disciplined, he'd be winning easily, but he's not disciplined and he's not winning. I have many reasons for falling in the #NeverTrump camp, but the primary one is he doesn't believe in anything other than himself. 
  • It's blindingly obvious that the media want to protect Mrs. Clinton, but there's only so much they can do about it. The email scandal is now beginning to morph into a national security scandal and her primary argument, competence, is going away.
  • We are now almost certain to have a horrible person in the Oval Office in 2017. I suppose we're used to that now.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Yezhov Calendar

If you're a student of history, you may know the story of Nikolai Yezhov, who fell out of favor with the Soviets and was executed, then was subsequently airbrushed out of a picture with Stalin as they walked along a canal in Moscow. The original photo shows him, but somehow he disappeared:

That's odd -- he was just here
You can buy a lot of calendars -- desk calendars, wall calendars, 3-month-at-a-time calendars. But you can only get a Yezhov calendar if you reach a certain state. Or if you run the show at State:

An Associated Press review of the official calendar Hillary Clinton kept as secretary of state identified at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors and corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded or omitted the names of those she met.

The fuller details of those meetings were included in files the State Department turned over to the AP after it sued the government in federal court.

The missing entries raise new questions about how Clinton and her inner circle handled government records documenting her State Department tenure — in this case, why the official chronology of her four-year term does not closely mirror the other, more detailed records of her daily meetings.

At a time when Clinton's private email system is under scrutiny by an FBI criminal investigation, the calendar omissions reinforce concerns that she sought to eliminate the "risk of the personal being accessible" — as she wrote in an email exchange that she failed to turn over to the government but was subsequently uncovered in a top aide's inbox.
So who was she meeting with? One example:
In one key omission, Clinton's State Department calendar dropped the identities of a dozen major Wall Street and business leaders who met with her during a private breakfast discussion at the New York Stock Exchange in September 2009, The meeting occurred minutes before Clinton appeared in public at the exchange to ring the market's ceremonial opening bell.

Despite the omission, Clinton's State Department planning schedules from the same day listed the names of all Clinton's breakfast guests — most of whose firms had lobbied the government and donated to her family's global charity. The event was closed to the press and merited only a brief mention in her calendar, which omitted all her guests' names — among them Blackstone Group Chairman Steven Schwarzman, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and then-New York Bank of Mellon CEO Robert Kelly.
The AP report that I'm quoting here bends over backwards to say these discrepancies aren't, in and of themselves, prima facie evidence of wrongdoing. But the AP isn't done looking:
The AP first sought Clinton's calendar and schedules from the State Department in August 2013, but the agency would not acknowledge even that it had the material. After nearly two years of delay, the AP sued the State Department in March 2015. The department agreed in a court filing last August to turn over Clinton's calendar, and provided the documents in November. After noticing discrepancies between Clinton's calendar and some schedules, the AP pressed in court for all of Clinton's planning material. The U.S. has released about one-third of those planners to the AP, so far.
We might get the rest of the information in, say, the middle of November. There's more, a whole lot more, at the link. You really should read it.

Friday, June 24, 2016


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


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.


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.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Kangaroo Court at the New Brighton City Council

I've been meaning to write about what's going on in New Brighton for a while now. The Star Tribune has picked up on the banana republic shenanigans and has filed this report:
Tensions have boiled over on the New Brighton City Council after a council member was accused of using city resources for her own benefit.

After an animated session six weeks ago, the council voted to censure Council Member Gina Bauman and relieve her from her appointed positions representing the city. Bauman believes her punishment was personal — and the situation’s fallout threatens to affect the council’s cohesion and productivity.

“As you can imagine, this is a highly sensitive situation,” said Dean Lotter, city manager.

Lotter described censure as “a public shaming” and said Bauman’s temporary removal from two committees, including the North Suburban Cable Commission, “is punishment for going out and representing the city poorly.”

Censure — essentially creating a public record that an official erred — is rare, and the state provides little guidance on it, said Lotter.
So how did Bauman represent New Brighton poorly? She asked the city attorney a question:
The censure came after Bauman consulted the city attorney in a private conversation about a petition she created to challenge a council decision. That phone call, which goes against council policy forbidding council members to use the city attorney for personal matters, resulted in City Attorney Troy Gilchrist resigning.
The question concerned a petition to put a change to the election schedule to the people of New Brighton. The council, on a 3-2 vote, decided to change the election schedule, which had been on odd-number years, to an even numbered year schedule. By doing so, the change shortened Bauman's 4-year term to three, and increased Mayor Val Johnson's 2-year term to three.
The boisterous dialogue at the April 26 work session between Johnson and Bauman — who squared off in the mayoral election last fall — extended to the regular meeting afterward.

Johnson said Bauman’s concern should have been brought to a council meeting, where the attorney could have commented publicly.

Bauman said there is no rule against her conferring with the attorney on what she believes is a city issue — a November council decision to hold future city elections during even years instead of odd — and that it’s been done before.
It has. There's more
Changing the city’s election years from odd to even was wrong, because the city had just had an election, Bauman said, and residents could have voted on the decision then. The switch means Johnson will be mayor another year while council members’ terms will be shortened a year, something voters didn’t authorize. 
That's right. The voters didn't authorize it. Even now, I would wager most voters remain unaware of the change. Back to the Star Tribune:
“What they did was they negated an election,” Bauman said. 
Bauman was absent from the first meeting and work session in May. On May 13, she dropped off a petition saying the election-year change should have been a ballot question. Bauman had the required signatures — 10 percent of city voters — but the petition was deemed invalid because she didn’t meet a statutory requirement to include a synopsis of the question on each page.

Some people didn’t know what they were signing, said Lotter.
As opposed to most people, who still don't know what the city council did in November.

I have lived in New Brighton for 19 years. I was at the original meeting in November, when the change was made. Although the current mayor is involved now, she wasn't in office when the original proposal was jammed down, a week after the election last year. There was no public discussion of this change beforehand, although it was pretty evident that the other three members of the city council had discussed it. I'm guessing that sort of discussion is just fine; it certainly doesn't seem to bother City Manager Lotter nearly as much as Bauman's pursuit of a legitimate question that affects the entire city, not just Bauman. One might also ask about the propriety of a city manager publicly disparaging a member of the council that employs him, but apparently that's okay, too.

The bottom line here is that Gina Bauman has been elected three times in New Brighton and the other members of the council don't like her because she challenges their decisions, generally on fiscal grounds. The other members of the city council like to spend money and Bauman is standing in the way of their wishes. The other council members don't much like transparency, either; if they did, they would have made this election schedule change a ballot question in the first place, instead of jamming it through when they hoped that no one would pay attention. The censure of Bauman is a show trial move and frankly it's embarrassing. I'd expect this sort of behavior from the student council at Highview Middle School, although that's an unfair comparison, because Highview adheres to higher ethical standards.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Not exactly a BCS matchup

I'm guessing you've heard some things about Trump University, the scam that The Donald was running out of hotel conference rooms. Do you know about this story? Take it away, Jonathan Turley:
While largely ignored by the media, the Clintons have their own university scandal. Donald Trump has been rightfully criticized and sued over his defunct Trump University. There is ample support for claiming that the Trump University was fraudulent in its advertisements and operations. However, the national media has been accused of again sidestepping a scandal involving the Clintons that involves the same type of fraud allegations. The scandal involves a dubious Laureate Education for-profit online college (Walden) and entails many of the common elements with other Clinton scandals: huge sums given to the Clintons and questions of conflicts with Hillary Clinton during her time as Secretary of State. There are distinctions to draw between the two stories, but the virtual radio silence on the Clinton/Laureate story is surprising.
I don't find the radio silence particularly surprising, but let's get to the nub of it:
Laureate Education was sued over its Walden University Online offering, which some alleged worked like a scam designed to bilk students of tens of thousands of dollars for degrees. Students alleged that they were repeatedly delayed and given added costs as they tried to secure degrees, leaving them deeply in debt.  Laureate itself has been criticized for “turbocharging” admissions while allowing standards to fall and shortchanging education.

The respected Inside Higher Education reported that Laureate Education paid Bill Clinton an obscene $16.5 million between 2010 and 2014 to serve as an honorary chancellor for Laureate International Universities.  Various news outlets said that neither Clinton nor Laureate were forthcoming on how much he was paid for the controversial association.

Bill Clinton worked as the “honorary chancellor” which sounds a bit like the group’s pitchman. He gave speeches in various countries and was heavily touted by the for-profit company to attract students.  The size of this payment (which has been widely reported) raises obvious concerns as to what the company was seeking to achieve and whether Laureate received any benefit from the association with the State Department given its massive international operations.
One could argue that, ah, it's just the ol' grifter being a grifter and that Hillary Clinton isn't implicated. Well, perhaps she is:

Indeed, Laureate has come up in the Clinton email scandal.  In her first year as Secretary of State, Clinton is quoted as directly asking that Laureate be included in a high-profile policy dinner — just months before the lucrative contract was given to Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton later references “Laureate Universities, started by Doug Becker who Bill likes a lot.”
And there's this part:
Various sites have reported that the State Department funneled $55 million in grants during Hillary Clinton’s tenure to groups associated with Laureate’s founder.  That would seem a pretty major story but virtually no mainstream media outlet has reported it while running hundreds of stories on the Trump University scandal.  The stories on the grants do not name Laureate directly.  Accordingly, the company might have not received direct grants (my first column did not make that clear and, in fairness to Laureate, there is no evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement or even direct grants).  However, there are references to the International Youth Federation (connected to Laureate chairman Douglas Becker) as receiving USAID funding. 
If you give Bill Clinton $16.5M and you get $55M in grants, that's a pretty good return in investment. Maybe it's not a quid pro quo -- as Turley suggests, the evidence isn't there. Yet. One thing is certain, though -- it would be quite interesting to investigate some of the 30,000+ "personal" emails Hillary Clinton deleted from her server.

The fix is in

You'd be hard pressed to find out anywhere else but the starboard side of the blogosphere, but yes, the FBI investigation around Hillary Clinton's emails is a criminal investigation:
White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday referred to the probe into Hillary Clinton's private email system as a possible "criminal investigation," which Republicans quickly seized on as a critical slip just moments after President Obama endorsed Clinton for president.

Earnest was asked whether the FBI might be pressured to go easy on Clinton in the investigation in light of Obama's endorsement, and used the term "criminal investigation" in his answer.

"That's why the president, when discussing this issue in each stage, has reiterated his commitment to this principle that any criminal investigation should be conducted independent of any sort of political interference and that people should be treated the same way before the law regardless of their political influence, regardless of their political party, regardless of their political stature and regardless of what political figure has endorsed them," he said.
Do you believe that last part?

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Watch carefully

My opinion might not matter much and perhaps yours doesn't, either. But this guy's opinion matters quite a lot:
After a long hiatus, George Soros has returned to trading, lured by opportunities to profit from what he sees as coming economic troubles.

Worried about the outlook for the global economy and concerned that large market shifts may be at hand, the billionaire hedge-fund founder and philanthropist recently directed a series of big, bearish investments, according to people close to the matter.

Soros Fund Management LLC, which manages $30 billion for Mr. Soros and his family, sold stocks and bought gold and shares of gold miners, anticipating weakness in various markets. Investors often view gold as a haven during times of turmoil.
Most of us on the Right are not fans of Soros because of his work in aiding the Left, but no one disputes his financial acumen. I've been seeing big warning signs elsewhere. It could get interesting soon.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Game time

Richard Fernandez on the news media:
The argument, stripped of its self-congratulatory paragraphs, suggests they've reached the point when they're going to tell the "truth" about Trump -- in a departure from their usual practice.
But what's really going on?
The greatest fear of the liberal left is reaching the end of the road, waking up from the dream, and realizing that pounding on the door is the 300 lb. landlord looking for his rent. As Tyler O'Neil puts it, 2016 is really a referendum on eight years of Hope and Change. Obama has spent nearly a decade prepping the top hat upon the stage and now they want him to pull the rabbit out of it, like he said he would.

A lot of people, including Sally Fields, are waiting, waiting, waiting ...

Thus, every criticism starts to gnaw at the Left. Trump is offensive to them not because he is a clown, but because he is the clown they deserve. They now have to share the stage with him.
There's reason to believe the next recession has begun. It's the great fortune of our friends on the Left that the Republican primary electorate has elevated a clown to be its standard bearer. But if things turn, and they could turn quickly, it may not matter.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Hillary wins!

I think the sky writer misspelled Bernie
So the AP calls it for Hillary, the day before the California primary? Gee, I wonder what that's all about.

The guys in the back

While it's hardly the only reason I am #NeverTrump, a big part of the problem The Donald presents is the lurking "alt-right" movement that is part of of his constituency. Walter Hudson explains:
When called racist, the alt-right deflects by pointing to social justice warriors. Look at all these groups openly antagonistic to white people, they exhort. Look at the attacks on so-called "white privilege" and white men and white culture. How is it racist to push back against that?

They have a point, to an extent. Logically, it cannot be racist to oppose racism. To the extent social justice warriors are racist, and they are, they should be vehemently opposed. The problem with the alt-right is that they do not fundamentally oppose racial identity politics. They merely substitute one brand of it for another.

It matters not whether the beneficiaries -- or victims -- of your collectivist authoritarianism are white. What matters is whether you are a collectivist authoritarian and therefore categorically evil. That is why #NeverTrump conservatives remain indignant toward the Republican presumptive nominee for president, because he personifies a fundamentally un-American and immoral paradigm that is in essence no different than the regressive left.
Just so. There's more at the link.

Monday, June 06, 2016


A bout I remember
I didn't understand Muhammad Ali when I was young. I remember that, for the most part, I rooted against him in most of his fights. I don't remember any specific reasons for my feelings on the matter, but whether it was Frazier, or Foreman, or the now largely forgotten Ken Norton, I preferred the other guy.

I didn't figure out what made Ali great until later on. He was tough and talkative, but what separated him from everyone else was simple -- he was the most intelligent athlete of his era, and one of the most intelligent athletes of all time. He understood what boxing needed when he came on the scene -- Sonny Liston was a sullen, angry man and the rumors about organized crime connections were rampant. Ali seemed apart from all that, at least initially. Yes, he was a follower of Elijah Muhammad and yes, Don King was around, too. In the end, Ali transcended them, too.

Ali's fight against Parkinson's Disease defines Ali even more than his career in the ring. One by one, he had his talents taken away from him, yet he remained a revered figure and a dignified presence. Even when we was no longer able to speak, you could hear him.

The figures of our past have been disappearing in a hurry this year, especially in the popular culture. We don't know what's coming next, but it doesn't look like a particularly promising future awaits. I'm thinking it's going to be better than we can now imagine. We have a lot of Sonny Listons in our midst, but we have Alis as well. They will emerge.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

A polite suggestion to Tom Horner

This will be brief.

In 2010, Tom Horner, who packaged himself as a sensible Republican, ran against the Republican Party as a third-party candidate in the gubernatorial election. Horner took about 12% of the vote. One can argue that Horner's candidacy may have hurt both parties, but he certainly hurt the campaign of Tom Emmer, who was the Republican running for governor. As you might remember, Mark Dayton became governor.

As such, Tom Horner lost any credibility as an expert on the Republican Party. Today, he's in the Star Tribune explaining why the Republicans ought to tank the election this time to save the party.

I am #NeverTrump and as such I consider myself to be estranged from the Republican Party. I am not going to offer any advice to the party or its leaders concerning Trump. It's a matter of conscience to me that I am currently estranged. Those who remain in the party will have to sort all that out themselves.

Tom Horner took up arms against the party and was instrumental in helping to put a blithering idiot into the governor's office. He has long since forfeited any right to be seen as a credible arbiter on any matter involving the Republican Party.

My polite suggestion to Tom Horner? Have the decency to stop pretending you have any credibility in this, or any other matter. You made your choice six years ago. Your advice means nothing. Sit down and shut up.

Friday, June 03, 2016

No flow

I'm low on time today and I continue to fight the ol' writers block. Points worth making? We still have two horrible candidates for president, we have a petulant child in the governor's mansion in St. Paul, and the local politicians are going all Lord of the Flies on my friend Gina Bauman. It's easy to lose heart. We can't, though. The government, at any level, isn't going to save any of us. Plan accordingly.

Meanwhile, what's on your mind?

Thursday, June 02, 2016

The Wrong Messenger

If you think bashing the Fourth Estate is dangerous for our country, you might want a better spokesman for the notion than this guy:

Dan Rather took to Facebook on Wednesday to condemn Donald Trump's “tirade” against the media earlier in the week and defend the necessity of a free and critical press.

“I felt a shudder down my spine yesterday watching Donald Trump's fusilade against the press. This is not a moment to be trifled with. It wasn't his first tirade and it won't be his last,” the former CBS Evening News anchor said in a seven-paragraph post, which has already been shared more than 12,000 times.
CBS News apologized Monday for a “mistake in judgment” in its story questioning President Bush’s National Guard service, claiming it was misled by the source of documents that several experts have dismissed as fakes.

The network said it would appoint an independent panel to look at its reporting about the memos. The story has mushroomed into a major media scandal, threatening the reputations of CBS News and chief anchor Dan Rather.

It also has become an issue in the presidential campaign. The White House said the affair raises questions about the connections between CBS’s source, retired Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett, and Democrat John Kerry’s campaign.

Rather joined CBS News President Andrew Heyward in issuing an apology Monday.

“We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry,” Rather said. “It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.”
That was twelve years ago and Rather ultimately left CBS because of his conduct. The "good faith" part? Well, that was crap. It wasn't. There's been no good faith in American journalism in a long time. And CBS wasn't misled. They were attempting to mislead.

Trump is a danger -- I remain convinced of it. But you can't defend an empire of crap and Dan Rather and his ilk are a big part of the reason why Trump is able to make headway. And the shoddy practices continue, as we have learned recently:
Katie Couric has reversed course and taken responsibility for an edit that misrepresents the response of gun rights activists to a question she poses in a new documentary.

The segment in "Under the Gun" shows nearly 10 seconds of silence after Couric asks the activists how felons or terrorists could be prevented from purchasing a gun without background checks.

Audio of the exchange leaked last week reveals an almost immediate response to the question.
If you have a bunch of liars attempting to call out Trump on his lies, it's just not gonna work.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Getting back into it

I've been on the road the last few days and I'm hoping to get back into a more normal blogging mode in the coming days. I've driven about 3,000 miles on various out-of-town trips over the past few weeks, so it's been difficult to get into a groove.

Your thought for the day is from Victor Davis Hanson:
Turn on an evening cable show and ask which interviewer is married to which anchor on another channel, or which of the pundits are former politicos, or how many in the White House worked for Big News or are married or related to someone who does. How many pundits were advisers to political candidates or related to someone who was? How does Ben Rhodes do an interview on CBS News or George Stephanopoulos interview Hillary Clinton or a writer expound on the primaries when he is also an adviser to a particular campaign? The problem is not just that all this is incestuous or unethical, but that it blinds a tiny elite to what millions of quite different Americans value and experience.
And even more to the point:
[Charles] Murray has a point that Trump’s crudity and buffoonery should be taken seriously, but when he says establishmentarians have “high IQs,” what exactly does he mean? Did a high IQ prevent an infatuated David Brooks (whom he quotes approvingly) from fathoming presidential success as if he were a sartorial seancer, from the crease of Senator Obama pants leg? What was the IQ of the presidential historian who declared Obama the smartest man ever to be elevated to the White House? Or the Newsweek editor who envisioned an apotheosized Obama? Or the MSNBC host who motor-mouthed about the tingle in his leg at the sound of an Obama speech? Or, yes, the conservative policy analyst (and self-confessed “Starry-eyed Obama groupie”) who wrote approvingly (“flat-out plain brilliant”) of the Obama race speech in March 2008, in which Obama revealed to the world that his own grandmother — the sole steady working breadwinner of Obama’s extended family, whose labors sent him to prep school — was a supposedly “typical white person” in her prejudices, while he further contextualized the abject racism and anti-Semitism of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright — a speech renounced by Obama himself when Wright later felt empowered to double down on his racism. Or perhaps the conservative wit who once wrote that Obama has a “first-class temperament and a first-class intellect,” and that he is the rare politician who “writes his own books,” which were “first rate”?

Establishmentarian high IQs? The point is not to castigate past poor judgment, but to offer New Testament reminders about hubris and the casting of first stones — and why hoi polloi are skeptical of their supposed intellectual betters.
We're too close to this era to understand it, but I've been convinced for years that we are living in a mendacious time. I also suspect it's why so many people don't give a shit about Donald Trump's mendacity. To pretend his lies are any more outrageous than the lies of those who act like Katie Couric, to use just one recent example, is itself a lie.