“We face a possible future where people not only ignore scientific evidence, but seek to eliminate it entirely,” warns the march’s mission statement. “Staying silent is a luxury that we can no longer afford. We must stand together and support science.”
From whom do the marchers hope to defend science? Certainly not the American public: Most Americans are fairly strong supporters of the scientific enterprise. An October 2016 Pew Research Center poll reported, “Three-quarters of Americans (76%) have either a great deal (21%) or a fair amount of confidence (55%) in scientists, generally, to act in the public interest.” The General Social Survey notes that public confidence in scientists stands out among the most stable of about 13 institutions rated in the GSS survey since the mid-1970s. (For what it’s worth, the GSS reports only 8 percent of the public say that they have a great deal of confidence in the press, but at least that’s higher than the 6 percent who say the same about Congress.)
The mission statement also declares, “The application of science to policy is not a partisan issue. Anti-science agendas and policies have been advanced by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and they harm everyone—without exception.”
I thoroughly endorse that sentiment. But why didn’t the scientific community march when the Obama administration blocked over-the-counter access to emergency contraception to women under age 17? Or dawdled for years over the approval of genetically enhanced salmon? Or tried to kill off the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility? Or halted the development of direct-to-consumer genetic testing? Read the rest of this entry »
Fox News’ handling of the renewed harassment allegations is a reflection of greater company conflicts and a generational shift as Rupert hangs on to a bygone era and James and Lachlan plot a risky new course.
Michael Wolff reports: Last July, after Gretchen Carlson sued the Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox and Roger Ailes, the then-head of Fox News Channel, for sexual harassment, Rupert Murdoch told his sons, both Ailes enemies, that paying off Carlson without a fight would mean more lawsuits. Easy-money settlements always bring more claims. James and Lachlan Murdoch, however, were eager to get rid of their nemesis, and the most direct way to do that was to accept Carlson’s claims after a quickie investigation and then use a big payoff — $20 million — to end the dispute and calm the storm.
Nine months later, the chickens coming home to roost, Fox has continued to collect a string of look-alike claims against Ailes and against ratings giant Bill O’Reilly, with a firestorm of recent press attention on what The New York Times is calling the “O’Reilly revelations.” What has been revealed is not evidence nor an admission of guilt but details of payments settling complaints against O’Reilly — not a small distinction. You can assume maximal guilt, which the Times and other Fox haters do, or you can assume, as many lawyers do, that when there is money to be had, plaintiffs come out of the woodwork. (“Coming out of the woodwork” is a virtual term of art in big settlement tort cases).
Murdoch Senior is said to be saying, “I told you so.” James, CEO of 21st Century Fox, is blaming it on the Fox News culture and has hired Paul Weiss, the same law firm that performed a two-week investigation of Ailes, to probe O’Reilly (there is, too, a Department of Justice investigation of how settlement payments were made, which Rupert dismisses as DOJ liberal politics and which his sons see as indicating more Fox News dark arts). This is a reflection of greater family and company interests and conflicts. Read the rest of this entry »
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said earlier that he had briefed Trump on new information, unrelated to an investigation into Russian activities, that suggested that several members of Trump’s transition team and perhaps Trump himself had their identities “unmasked” after their communications were intercepted by U.S. intelligence officials.
The revelation is notable because identities of Americans are generally supposed to remain “masked” if American communications are swept up during surveillance of foreign individuals.
During an interview on Fox News, Woodward said that if that information about the unmasking is true, “it is a gross violation.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 8, 2017
Wiretapped Data Used In Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates
Andrew C. McCarthy writes: Now that the media-Democrat complex has been caught in its own web, there is some serious skullduggery underway. It’s revisionist history, Soviet style. You know, the kind where the bad stuff gets “disappeared.” The New York Times is disappearing its claim that Obama investigated Trump.
For four months, the mainstream press was very content to have Americans believe — indeed, they encouraged Americans to believe — that a vigorous national-security investigation of the Trump presidential campaign was ongoing. “A counterintelligence investigation,” the New York Times called it.
— Chris Farrell (@cjtfarrell) March 8, 2017
… As I contended in a column this weekend, it was essential for the media and Democrats to promote the perception of an investigation because the scandalous narrative they were peddling — namely, that Trump-campaign operatives conspired with the Putin regime to “hack the election” — required it.
Russia obviously did not hack the election. Russian intelligence services may have hacked e-mail accounts of prominent Democrats, although even that has not been proved. And there is even less evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign in that effort — as one would expect, in light of the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the Russians sought to hack accounts of both major parties.
So, for this fatally flawed storyline to pass the laugh test, the Left needed the FBI. Even if the election-hacking conspiracy story sounded far-fetched, the public might be induced to believe there must be something to it if the Bureau was investigating it.
But when the election-hacking narrative went on too long without proof, the risk the Democrats were running became clear. If the FBI had been investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded in purported “Russian hacking of the election,” that meant the incumbent Obama administration must have been investigating the campaign of the opposition party’s presidential candidate.
Moreover, if such an investigation had involved national-security wiretaps under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), that would suggest that the Obama Justice Department had alleged, in court, that Trump associates had acted as “agents of a foreign power” — in this case, Russia. Read the rest of this entry »
“People think the world is in chaos. People think that the world is on fire right now for all the wrong reasons,” says author and Cato Institute senior fellow Johan Norberg. “There is a segment of politicians who try to scare us to death, because then we clamber for safety we need the strong man in a way.”
But despite the political situation in Europe and America, Norberg remains optimistic. His new book, Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future, shows what humans are capable of when given freedom and the ability to exchange new ideas. “In the 25 years that have been considered neo-liberalism and capitalism run amok what has happened? Well, we’ve reduced chronic undernourishment around the world by 40 percent, child mortality and illiteracy by half, and extreme poverty from 37 to 10 percent,” explains Norberg. Read the rest of this entry »
Two videos: 1, the New York Time’s “Truth” ad, which itself stands as mockery against the Times, then 2, the NRA’s rebuttal to the NYT ad.
‘The Same NYT that Just Ran a Self-Congratulatory Ad About How Devoted to ‘Truth’ They Are Stealth-Deletes an Inconvenient Lie from an Article, Then Refuses to Explain Themselves’
Victor Davis Hanson writes: After the election, Democrats could not explain the inexplicable defeat of Hillary Clinton, who would be, they thought, the shoo-in winner in November. Over the next three months until Inauguration Day, progressives floated a variety of explanations for the Trump win—none of them, though, mentioned that the Clinton campaign had proven uninspired, tactically inept, and never voiced a message designed to appeal to the working classes.
When a particular exegesis of defeat failed to catch on, it was mostly dropped—and then replaced by a new narrative. We were told that the Electoral College wrongly nullified the popular vote—and that electors had a duty to renege on their obligations to vote for their respective state’s presidential winner.
“Fake news is something quite different. It is not merely a public figure’s spinning of half-truths. It is largely a media-driven, and deliberate attempt to spread a false narrative to advance a political agenda that otherwise would be rejected by a common-sense public.”
Then followed the narrative of Trump’s racist dog-whistle appeals to the white working classes. When it was reported that Barack Obama had received a greater percentage of the white votes than did either John Kerry in 2004 or Hillary Clinton in 2016, the complaint of white chauvinism too faded.
“The methodology is to manufacture a narrative attractive to a herd-like progressive media that will then devour and brand it as fact—and even lobby for government redress.”
Then came the allegation that FBI Director James Comey had given the election to Trump by reopening the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails just days before Election Day. That fable too evaporated when it was acknowledged that Comey had earlier intervened to declare Clinton without culpability and would so again before November 8.
Then came the trope that Vladimir Putin’s hackers stole the election—on the theory that the Wikileaks revelations had turned off the electorate in a way the Clinton candidacy otherwise would not have. That storyline then evolved into the idea of Russian propagandists and Trump supporters variously peddling “fake news” to websites to promulgate myths and distortions—as a grand plan to Hillary Clinton and give Trump the election.
More specifically, it was alleged that Trump’s exaggerations and fabrications—from his allegations about Barack Obama’s birth certificate to rumor-mongering about Ted Cruz’s father—had so imperiled journalism that the media in general was forced to pronounce there was no longer a need to adhere to disinterested reporting in the traditional sense.
“No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes.”
The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour confessed that they could not be fair in reporting the news in the era of Donald Trump. Apparently, being fair had become tantamount to being a co-conspirator in Trump falsity. The New York Times in a post-election op-ed explained why it had missed the Trump phenomenon, admitting, but not necessarily lamenting, that its own coverage of the election had not been fair and balanced.
“Ben Rhodes cynically bragged about how the Obama administration had sold the dubious Iran deal through misinformation picked up by an adolescent but sympathetic media (for which Rhodes had only contempt).
Yet all politicians fib and distort the truth—and they’ve been doing so since the freewheeling days of the Athenian ekklesia. Trump’s various bombastic allegations and claims fall into the same realm of truthfulness as Obama’s statement “if you like your health plan, you can keep it”—and were thus similarly cross-examined by the media.
“As Rhodes put it, ‘The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.’”
Yet fake news is something quite different. It is not merely a public figure’s spinning of half-truths. It is largely a media-driven, and deliberate attempt to spread a false narrative to advance a political agenda that otherwise would be rejected by a common-sense public. The methodology is to manufacture a narrative attractive to a herd-like progressive media that will then devour and brand it as fact—and even lobby for government redress.
Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen has never been to Prague to negotiate quid pro quo deals with the Russians. Trump did not watch Russian strippers perform pornographic acts in the bedroom that Barack Obama once stayed in during a visit to Moscow. Yet political operatives, journalists, and even intelligence officers, in their respective shared antipathy to Trump, managed to lodge these narratives into the public consciousness and thereby establish the “truth” that a degenerate Trump was also a Russian patsy.
No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes. Read the rest of this entry »
Japan is warily welcoming Donald Trump as the US president, wondering what his administration will mean for their security alliance and already seeing what it means for their trade relationship.
But there are no such mixed feelings about Trump’s eldest daughter: Ivanka Trump is widely revered as the perfect woman here.
“This is the woman I like now. Ivanka Trump. I love it that she’s not only beautiful but also clever and has a graceful air. I think women should be kind and gentle.”
— Sachiko W. on a portrait that Trump had posted on Instagram
Among some Japanese women, Ivanka Trump is seen as an aspirational figure who has combined motherhood and career while managing to look perfectly put-together all the time (although her glamorous Instagram photos never show the retinues of nannies and assistants and hairdressers that answer the question of “how does she do it all?”).
Japan remains a highly patriarchal society, where men spend long hours at the office and women are often expected to give up their jobs after getting married or having babies.
“She is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting men too much.”
— Shinzato, 32, a freelance writer and mother of a 6-year-old daughter.
But Trump offers an example of how to be strong but not scary, said Yuriko Shinzato, 32, a freelance writer and mother of a 6-year-old daughter.
“She is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting men too much,” Shinzato, who blogs about Ivanka Trump’s fashion and lifestyle, told the Japan Times.
“That is something that Japanese women want but have a hard time doing in a still male-dominated society.”
As a result, the Trump daughter has quite a following here. The Japanese internet was abuzz after the election at a tabloid report that Trump might be the next American ambassador to Japan, and she won Japanese fans when she posted a video of her daughter, Arabella Rose, performing the song “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” by the Japanese comedian known as Pikotaro.
Japanese women gush about her on social media.
“This is the woman I like now. Ivanka Trump. I love it that she’s not only beautiful but also clever and has a graceful air. I think women should be kind and gentle,” wrote Sachiko W. on a portrait that Trump had posted on Instagram.
“Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka-san, who made it into the administration transfer team. She waved at me when I called out to her at the Trump Tower.”
— Mari Maeda, on Twitter
On Twitter, news announcer Mari Maeda posted a photo of Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.
“Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka-san, who made it into the administration transfer team. She waved at me when I called out to her at the Trump Tower,” Maeda wrote.
“What a figure she has even after having three children. So frank and cute! Her jewelry brand is popular but some fans say they want her to become the president because of her intelligence and beauty.” Read the rest of this entry »
‘Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists…’
“The emerging details suggest that Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists are not only at odds with Mr. Obama’s; they trample on American values and international law.”
The Times’ editors worried that Trump’s approach to fighting radical Islamic terrorism — which they referred to with scare quotes — is “more likely to further inflame anti-American sentiment around the world than to make the United States safer.”
“The emerging details suggest that Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists are not only at odds with Mr. Obama’s; they trample on American values and international law,” they wrote. Read the rest of this entry »
John Fund & Hans von Spakovsky: Why Trump’s Probe of Voter Fraud Long Overdue: Obama Has Hid the Data for 8 YearsPosted: January 25, 2017
‘I know, I know. But I’m begging you to read this till the end, and not take me out of context.’
Ashu Garg is a general partner at Foundation Capital, where he invests in B2B software across the stack. He currently serves on the boards of TubeMogul, Localytics, Conviva, ZeroStack and Yozio, among others. Reach him @ashugarg.
Ashu Garg writes: Well, it happened. I thought it was a joke when he started campaigning, and I was aghast when he was elected, but that’s all history at this point: Donald Trump is president. Rather than spend time on sour grapes, I think it’s more productive to make a clear-eyed appraisal of what his administration might mean for my industry. I know that what I say next risks being taken out of context, but from my vantage as a longtime tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I believe that there’s a real chance Trump will be — I’m begging you to read till the end and not take me out of context — good for startups.
“The most significant reason Trump might be good for early-stage companies is that he is very anti-regulation.”
First off, change in general is good for entrepreneurs, because it creates new circumstances for them to exploit or gaps for them to fill. Regulatory change, more specifically, is ripe with opportunity. Moreover, Trump has historically made a lot of pro-small-business noises, and has signaled that he will shake up the Small Business Administration.
Professional-wrestling magnate Linda McMahon is potentially taking over, and may be receptive to the type of changes that would allow emerging enterprises — in tech and outside it — to grow, including making it easier for first-time entrepreneurs to access startup grant funding.
“Trump has promised to make huge investments in infrastructure, largely to be funded by debt — for entrepreneurs, this will create enormous possibility.”
The most significant reason Trump might be good for early-stage companies is that he is very anti-regulation. The White House has already issued a freeze on new or pending regulations to all executive departments and agencies, for example. One can argue whether less regulation is good or bad for society. But it’s only good news for startups, which are always in a hurry to ship their ideas into the real world. Read the rest of this entry »
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a notice on its website on Sunday that it is launching a nationwide clean-up campaign aimed at internet service provider (ISP), internet data centrer (IDC), and content delivery network (CDN) companies.
It ordered checks for companies operating without government licenses or beyond the scope of licenses.
The ministry said it was forbidden to create or rent communication channels, including VPNs, without governmental approval, to run cross-border operations.
VPNs can be used to gain access to blocked websites.
China has the world’s largest population of internet users – now at 731 million people – and is home to some of the biggest internet firms such as Tencent Holdings, Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding. Read the rest of this entry »
Sara Gonzales reports: The Washington Post marked the end of the Obama administration with a list Thursday that likely didn’t please the outgoing president’s supporters.
For the last five years, the Post has made its political Fact Checker a staple of the publication. Ranked by “Pinocchios,” contenders receive one Pinocchio for a little lie and can earn up to four Pinocchios for the most outrageous of fibs.
Though the Post ran its trademark Fact Checker during President Barack Obama’s first campaign, it wasn’t until 2011 that it became a fixture there, so admittedly the publication missed some blatant dishonesty.
But the newspaper has fact-checked more than 250 statements made by the current president. On his last full day in office, the Post published a catalogue of Obama’s 10 biggest lies.
Included on the list, unsurprisingly, was Obama’s statement to the American public while rallying for Congress to pass his signature health-care legislation, Obamacare: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”
“If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it”
This memorable promise by Obama backfired on him in 2013 when the Affordable Care Act went into effect and at least 2 million Americans started receiving cancellation notices. As we explained, part of the reason for so many cancellations is because of an unusually early (March 23, 2010) cutoff date for grandfathering plans — and because of tight regulations written by the administration. So the uproar could be pinned directly on the administration’s own actions.
Another whopper was Obama’s claim that all but 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to former President George W. Bush’s policies. Pushing back against criticisms of running up the deficit at an unparalleled rate with stimulus packages and bailouts, Obama made this claim during his 2012 campaign.
“90 percent of the budget deficit is due to George W. Bush’s policies”
During the 2012 campaign, Obama repeatedly reminded voters that he became president during a grim economic crisis. But he went too far when he claimed that only 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to his own policies. About half of the deficit stemmed from the recession and forecasting errors, but a large chunk (44 percent in 2011) were the result of Obama’s actions. At another point, Obama also falsely suggested that the Bush tax cuts led to the Great Recession.
And throughout Obama’s two terms in office, he has been quick to dismiss clear acts of terrorism — using phrases like “workplace violence” or blaming a YouTube video for an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The Post also included his categorization of the Benghazi attack as “an act of terror” and his reference to ISIS as a “JV team.”
“The day after Benghazi happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism”
Obama did refer to an “act of terror” in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, but in vague terms, wrapped in a patriotic fervor. He never affirmatively stated that the American ambassador died because of an “act of terror.” Then, over a period of two weeks, given three opportunities in interviews to affirmatively agree that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack, the president obfuscated or ducked the question. So this was a case of taking revisionist history too far for political reasons. Read the rest of this entry »
Even a prominent Trump adviser accepts the false premise that there has been no ‘ethical shadiness.’
Even Trump adviser Peter Thiel seems to agree. When the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd observed during an interview that Mr. Obama’s administration was “without any ethical shadiness,” Mr. Thiel accepted the premise, saying: “But there’s a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring.”
In reality, Mr. Obama has presided over some of the worst scandals of any president in recent decades. Here’s a partial list:
• State Department email. In an effort to evade federal open-records laws, Mr. Obama’s first secretary of state set up a private server, which she used exclusively to conduct official business, including communications with the president and the transmission of classified material. A federal criminal investigation produced no charges, but FBI Director James Comey reported that the secretary and her colleagues “were extremely careless” in handling national secrets.
• Operation Fast and Furious. The Obama Justice Department lost track of thousands of guns it had allowed to pass into the hands of suspected smugglers, in the hope of tracing them to Mexican drug cartels. One of the guns was used in the fatal 2010 shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Congress held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt when he refused to turn over documents about the operation.
• IRS abuses. Mr. Obama’s Internal Revenue Service did something Richard Nixononly dreamed of doing: It successfully targeted political opponents. The Justice Department then refused to enforce Congress’s contempt citation against the IRS’s Lois Lerner, who refused to answer questions about her agency’s misconduct. Read the rest of this entry »
After Donald Trump Kills CNN Reporter with Death-Ray, Media Debates Use of Top-Secret Military Weapons Against CiviliansPosted: January 12, 2017
The dogs of the Democratic media were absolutely howling yesterday over sordid, unverified allegations involving Russia, but the president-elect and his team put on a master class in self-defense. They hit back forcefully, with press secretary Sean Spicer calling publication of the allegations “disgraceful” and Vice President-elect Mike Pence calling it a case of “fake news” that aims to “delegitimize the president-elect.”
It was a strong warm-up, and Trump then took the stage to completely deny the charges, and repeated the denials in response to numerous questions. By the end of the press conference, he had managed to turn the spotlight away from himself and on to the lack of integrity in both the media and government intelligence agencies — where it also belongs.
That was no mean feat, and his performance was a reminder that Trump is not and never will be a pushover. He fights fire with fire and is getting increasingly more disciplined in making his case.
Pulling it off was not as easy as he made it look. The run-up to his first press conference since winning the election had the air of crisis that was routine in the long campaign. Then, every week or two, many geniuses predicted that something Trump had said or done would be the final straw and he would have to drop out.
Similarly, the salacious allegations he faced yesterday packed a potential to seriously wound him before he takes office. Anything less than complete denial would have created a firestorm, but after his no-wiggle-room statements, the allegations withered, at least for now. That had to disappoint the dead-enders who hoped they had finally found the kill shot.
Instead, Trump emerged intact and even stronger as he made news on two other fronts: He released extensive plans on how he is severing himself from his company and nominated a new secretary of the troubled Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] ‘You Guys Are Feeling the Heat!’: Anderson Cooper, Kellyanne Conway Battle Over CNN Intel ReportPosted: January 11, 2017
Josh Feldman reports: Kellyanne Conway and Anderson Cooper got into a massive heated back-and-forth tonight over CNN’s report last night on Trump being briefed about supposed “compromising” information against him.
Cooper expressed his frustration that Sean Spicer appeared to be conflating CNN’s report with BuzzFeed’s, which included a dossier on that alleged Russian disinformation, and he confronted Conway about that. Conway repeatedly insisted to Cooper that CNN’s “screaming headline” was wrong and that they linked to the BuzzFeed report online.
While the interview was going on, Jim Sciutto tweeted this:
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) January 12, 2017
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) January 12, 2017
Cooper seemed utterly bewildered at Conway scolding CNN for its report, and when she said “I know CNN is feeling the heat today,” Cooper shot back, “I think you guys are feeling the heat.”
Cooper defended CNN’s reporting and asked Conway how she can dismiss it as inaccurate when she doesn’t know for certain that it’s false. He said, “CNN is not BuzzFeed, I just wish you guys would acknowledge [it].” Read the rest of this entry »
Nick Gillespie: Thanks, Liberals! You Applauded Obama’s Imperial Presidency, and Now We’ve Got Trump RexPosted: January 9, 2017
If Trump makes good on his promise to ‘bomb the shit out’ of ISIS without even token approval from Congress, we’ll know where he got the idea.
Nick Gillespie writes: On Jan. 20, Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. Along with the nation’s nuclear codes, he will be gifted presidential powers that have been vastly increased by Barack Obama.
Thanks a lot, liberals. It’s all well and good that Joe Biden is now lecturing us that “the worst sin of all is the abuse of power,” but where the hell was he—and where were you—for the past eight years, when the president was starting wars without Congressional authorization, passing major legislation with zero votes from the opposing party, and ruling almost exclusively through executive orders and actions?
“Hell, in the early months of Obama’s presidency, The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman held up China’s ‘one-party autocracy’ as the model to emulate.”
Mostly exhorting Obama to act “unilaterally” and “without Congress” on terrorism, immigration, guns, and whatever because you couldn’t dream of a day when an unrestrained billionaire reality-TV celebrity would wield those same powers toward very different ends. Hell, in the early months of Obama’s presidency, The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman held up China’s “one-party autocracy” as the model to emulate.
“Faced with recalcitrant Republicans and flagging public support, champions of Obama’s policy agenda voiced few qualms about a power grab that created an imperial presidency on steroids.”
There’s an old libertarian saw that holds “any government powerful enough to give you everything is also powerful enough to take everything away.” The same is even more true for the president, the single most-powerful actor in the government. Faced with recalcitrant Republicans and flagging public support, champions of Obama’s policy agenda voiced few qualms about a power grab that created an imperial presidency on steroids. “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation,” Obama crowed in 2014, proclaiming a “year of action.” “I’ve got a pen… and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions.”
Consider his willingness to wage war. As The Cato Institute’s Gene Healy writes in the latest issue of Reason, Obama didn’t just commit the U.S. military to action in Libya without any sort of Congressional authorization, he did so after campaigning on the statement that “the president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” But when it came time under the War Powers Act to either seek retroactive buy-in from Congress or pull out, Obama simply asked around the executive branch until he found a State Department lawyer who, unlike his attorney general and others, said dropping bombs on Libya didn’t require authorization.
If and when Donald Trump makes good on his promise to “bomb the shit out” of ISIS—and god knows who else—without even getting token approval from Congress, we’ll know where he got the idea. Ditto for “secret kill lists” and drone strikes in countries with whom we’re not at war.
And still, Obama has the temerity to counsel the president-elect not to overdo it with executive orders and actions, telling NPR recently that “going through the legislative process is always better in part because it’s harder to undo.” Unless, of course, actually working to build consensus keeps you from getting what you want. In fact, it is vastly easier to undo unilateral action, as Obama himself could tell you. Read the rest of this entry »
Peter Hasson reports: WikiLeaks’ publication of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta revealed the close ties between prominent journalists and the Clinton campaign. Many of those same journalists will now be covering the Trump White House.
Harwood told Podesta to “watch out” for Dr. Ben Carson during the Republican primary. “Ben Carson could give you real trouble in a general,” Harwood warned, including video clips of Carson’s political positions.
In a December 2015 email to Podesta, Harwood claimed the Republican Party was “veering off the rails” and bragged about provoking Trump during a Republican presidential debate, where he asked Trump if he was running “a comic book version of a presidential campaign.”
“I imagine…” Harwood titled the email, continuing in the body: “…that Obama feels some (sad) vindication at this demonstration of his years-long point about the opposition party veering off the rails.”
“I certainly am feeling that way with respect to how I questioned Trump at our debate.”
As CNBC’s chief political correspondent, Harwood will play a central role in the network’s coverage of the Trump administration. Harwood has yet to respond to repeated requests from TheDC regarding his email exchanges with the Clinton campaign. Read the rest of this entry »
A newly unsealed search-warrant application confirms the Federal Bureau of Investigation found thousands of emails potentially linked to Hillary Clinton on a laptop used by former congressman Anthony Weiner, who was then married to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
“Mr. Weiner has been under investigation into whether he sent sexually explicit material to an underage girl. The investigation into Mr. Weiner continues, and he hasn’t been charged with any crimes.”
The search warrant application doesn’t offer any new revelations or insight—if anything, it repeats and reaffirms past assertions by officials about the case regarding how and why they decided to search the laptop in the final days of a heated presidential campaign.
The search-warrant paperwork was unsealed Tuesday—with some redactions—after a California lawyer convinced a New York judge to make public the court document used in an email search that upended the final days of the 2016 race for the White House.
The search warrant was executed in late October on a laptop computer that agents believed was used by both Mr. Weiner and his now-estranged wife, Ms. Abedin. Ms. Abedin is a longtime aide to Mrs. Clinton, including when Mrs. Clinton served as secretary of state.
That probe was unrelated to the politically charged investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state. In July, FBI Director James Comey announced the end of the email probe, saying no reasonable prosecutor would file charges, though he criticized “extremely careless’’ behavior at the State Department in handling Mrs. Clinton’s emails, some of which included classified information.
Then, 11 days before the election, Mr. Comey made a surprise announcement, in the form of a letter to Congress, saying federal agents were examining newly discovered emails that might shed new light on the email case. Since the election, Mrs. Clinton and many Democrats have blamed Mr. Comey’s announcement, along with alleged Russian hacking of her campaign’s internal discussions, for her defeat. Read the rest of this entry »
TRUMPAGEDDON 2.0: For all of the hype about electors switching their vote from reports, the majority of those electors who cast protest votes were supposed to vote for Hillary Clinton.
For all of the hype about electors switching their vote from reports: Trump to anyone but Trump, the majority of those electors who cast protest votes were supposed to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Four electors in Washington state who were supposed to vote for Clinton instead voted otherwise: three for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and one for a Native American leader. In contrast, just two electors in Texas voted against Trump.
— The Hill (@thehill) December 19, 2016
The rules vary by state. In 29 states, electors are legally bound to vote for the winner of their state. The rest are not.
Voters who fail to vote the will of their state are known as faithless electors. “That occurrence is nothing new,” said Paul Sracic, a Youngstown State University political scientist and expert in the electoral college. “There have been approximately 157 electors have done just that in the past 200 plus years.” Read the rest of this entry »
“Journalists from outlets including the Huffington Post, MSNBC, and CNN took to Twitter to sound off their frustration with the president’s last speech of the year.”
The president, who was delivering his final 2016 news conference, implied the media’s “obsession” with Clinton’s leaked emails did more damage to the former secretary of state than the Russian cyber attacks against Democratic political networks.
“This was an obsession that dominated the news coverage,” Obama said. “So I do think it is worth us reflecting how it is that a presidential election of such importance, of such moment, with so many big issues at stake and such a contrast between the candidates came to be dominated by a bunch of these leaks.”
Obama also spent much of the press conference defending his foreign policy legacy. He spoke at length about the decaying situation in Syria, conceding that while he felt personally responsible for some of the bloodshed, he still believes he did all that he could. Read the rest of this entry »
Lower quality, but they get the job done.
Ryan Pickrell reports: Chinese drones are taking flight in skies beyond China’s borders in great numbers, filling a massive void in a multibillion-dollar industry left by the U.S.
“I believe this is the largest campaign we’ve seen that has been focused on drone technology. It seems to align pretty well with the focus of the Chinese government to build up their own drone technology capabilities.”
— Darien Kindlund, manager of Fireeye’s Threat Intelligence division
While the U.S. is recognized as a leader in the development and deployment of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), it keeps its drone technology close and its armed drones even closer, creating new opportunities for China, which is eager to play a role in the global arms trade.
The U.S. only exports armed drones to a few select allies, such as the U.K., as part of a Department of State decision made early last year. Jordan, for example, requested permission to purchase U.S. drones in 2014 but was rejected.
The U.S. limits its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) exports, especially its armed drones, for two main reasons.
One, the U.S. is a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a multilateral partnership that prohibits the export of missile and UAV technology capable of delivering a 1,100 lb payload at a range greater than 185 miles. Two, some U.S. officials are concerned that regular U.S. drone exports would lead to an increase in drone warfare abroad, creating a less secure international environment.
Unhindered by international agreements and export restrictions, China is moving into the drone export business, creating cheap, yet effective alternatives for countries interested in purchasing drone technology.
China has been actively developing its drone technology, making great strides in recent years.
Early last month, China showed off its CH-5 Rainbow drone, which it claims can rival America’s MQ-9 Reaper, at an air show in Zhuhai.
The CH-5 “can perform whatever operations the MQ-9 Reaper can and is even better than the US vehicle when it comes to flight duration and operational efficiency,” Shi Wen, a chief designer of the CH series drones at the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, explained to the China Daily a little over a month ago.
“Several foreign nations have expressed intentions to purchase the CH-5, and we are in talks with them,” he added, signaling China’s interest in selling the new CH-5.
‘While this book is about Appalachia, it’s a story of class warfare’
Brad King writes: I’m writing a book about Appalachia. More specially, I’m writing a memoir of my family, which helped settled what is now the poorest county in the country: Clay County, which The New York Times dubbed “The Hardest Place to Live in America.” The book, called So Far Appalachia, is almost done. You can sign up for the newsletter if you’re interested in more discussions about what I guess we’re now calling the “poor, white, rural voters.”
That’s the context for why we’re here.
I’m writing this post because since the Presidential election, in which our country choose Donald J. Trump as our next leader, so many of my liberal friends have been struggling to understand why — WHY? — so many working class white folks voted against Sec. Hillary Clinton.
More specifically, on Friday, December 2 I posted this NPR piece “In Depressed Rural Kentucky, Worries Mount Over Medicaid Cutbacks” on my Facebook page. Predictably, the new code phrases that signal disdain for Appalachians appeared. You know them: “low information voters” and “voting against their self interest.”
Instead of fighting on the Internet— which nobody enjoys— I promised that I’d dig into the book’s draft, pull out a few bits and pieces that explain why those white, rural, poor folks didn’t vote against their self interest, and wrap it up with this little introduction.
There are two things to note:
- I’ve left all the social science out of this post. This is the exposition from the book that explains all the social science. I’ll follow up with another one giving my science-minded friends — the evidence-based crowd — the opportunity to stop spinning conspiracy stories, and instead read up on all the social science that’s been done on the region; and
- I’ve written an entire book on the subject. This problem is complex and complicated. This post is really a distillation of some of the larger themes in the book. But really there’s so much more.
Before We Move Forward: A Note
I need to frame this discussion — and the book. What I’m doing is very simple: explaining, not excusing. Great writing and storytelling help us see and understand worlds that are different than ours.
Great stories do not whitewash away the rough edges. I can’t write a book about Appalachian culture without dealing with this important idea.
I love Appalachia, but we’ve got to recognize that racism and misogyny are deeply — deeply — embedded within the culture. Blacks and African-Americans have been nearly wiped away from the history of the region, and so too were women from all backgrounds. This isn’t a book meant to prop up the noble Appalachian working class. Nobility isn’t bestowed on any class. Not Appalachians. Not the working class. Not anyone. Nobility, where it exists, does so within individuals, in tiny moments in their lives. My family — and Appalachians — aren’t noble. My family owned slaves. There is no way around that. We did, and that’s a shame that we must bear and own.
But there’s two points that we need to clear up right now. The first is that neither of those issues is inherent only to Appalachia. The second is addressing issues of race and gender are deeply important to the future of our country. But neither will be part of this book.
While this book is about Appalachia, it’s a story of class warfare.
A Hypothetical Conundrum to Begin
Let’s begin with a hypothetical. Read the rest of this entry »
There is irony in the convergence of two story lines this month.
That critic suggests, “To remove the appeal of fake news, people need to value debate and discussion with those who hold opposing views.” Sadly, as the presidential campaign demonstrated, the public leaves its education to the Internet and not debate.
“During a triumphant 1959 visit to New York City, Castro claimed his ‘greatest ploy’ was fooling Matthews. Castro said he only had twenty men left at the time but convinced Matthews he had control of a huge army.”
But such fake news stories are not an evolutionary evil of the Internet. The rise of fake news stories to manipulate public sentiment existed long before the Internet became a gleam in Al Gore’s eye. Late 19thcentury America bore witness to “yellow journalism”—the practice of sensationalizing stories to stir up public sentiment and newspaper sales.
“When questions surfaced in early 1957 regarding whether Castro was even alive, Fidel agreed to a NYT interview, at his mountain hideout, with reporter Herbert Matthews. Matthews’ article gleefully reported Castro was still alive and the Cuban government was fighting a ‘losing battle’ against him. Matthews described an abundance of activity and troop movements in and out of Castro’s hideout.”
The second storyline this month involved the death of Cuba’s nonagenarian former president and dictator, Fidel Castro, 90, who unabashedly took credit for having long ago fed the New York Times (NYT) fake news.
In 1952, a coup by General Fulgencio Batista overthrew the democratically elected Cuban government. The following year, Castro and a small group of followers formed “the Movement.” The group undertook sporadic guerrilla operations against Batista.
“Despite the NYT’s post-U.S. presidential election demands for more responsibility monitoring fake news, in writing about Castro, its reporting staff failed to get the word. The newspaper pays tribute to the brutal dictator as ‘the fiery apostle of revolution’ who ‘bedeviled 11 American presidents…’ Only buried deep therein is any reference made Castro wielded power ‘like a tyrant.’”
When questions surfaced in early 1957 regarding whether Castro was even alive, Fidel agreed to a NYT interview, at his mountain hideout, with reporter Herbert Matthews. Matthews’ article gleefully reported Castro was still alive and the Cuban government was fighting a “losing battle” against him. Matthews described an abundance of activity and troop movements in and out of Castro’s hideout.
“This salute stands in stark contrast to a book written by the ‘Cuban Solzhenitsyn,’ as Armando Valladares is known, who spent 22 years in the country’s dungeons. Titled ‘Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro’s Gulag’, his book is credited with revealing Cuba’s communist tyranny to the same extent Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago revealed Soviet despotism.”
The articles elevated Castro’s profile, giving him credibility both at home and abroad and helping propel his rise to power. In January 1959, the Batista government fell—and Fidel, the avowed democratic leader, established a revolutionary socialist state. In 1965, the Movement revealed its true colors, becoming the Communist Party.
“His legacy in Cuba and elsewhere has been a mixed record of social progress and abject poverty, of racial equality and political persecution, of medical advances and a degree of misery comparable to the conditions that existed in Cuba when he entered Havana as a victorious guerrilla commander in 1959.”
— The New York Times’ final Castro salute to Fidel Castro
During a triumphant 1959 visit to New York City, Castro claimed his “greatest ploy” was fooling Matthews. Castro said he only had twenty men left at the time but convinced Matthews he had control of a huge army. Matthews’ observations supported this as he wrote, “From the look of things, General Batista cannot possibly hope to suppress the Castro revolt.”
Castro accomplished this ploy by marching “the same group past Matthews several times and also stag(ing) the arrival of ‘messengers’ reporting the movement of other (nonexistent) units.” Read the rest of this entry »
Castro and his ilk showed us that under socialism, the powerful grow rich — and everyone else grows poor.
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.em
This is known as “bad luck.”
Glenn Reynolds writes: I thought about this statement this weekend, reading two news stories. The first was about the tide of Venezuelans taking to boats to escape Venezuela’s economic collapse. As The New York Times reported, “Venezuela was once one of Latin America’s richest countries, flush with oil wealth that attracted immigrants from places as varied as Europe and the Middle East.”
“Although many among Western political and entertainment elites still think of Fidel Castro fondly, such people are, at best, what Lenin called ‘useful idiots.'”
“But after President Hugo Chávez vowed to break the country’s economic elite and redistribute wealth to the poor, the rich and middle class fled to more welcoming countries in droves, creating what demographers describe as Venezuela’s first diaspora.”
Now, in their absence, things have gotten worse, and it’s poorer Venezuelans — the very ones that Chavez’s revolution was allegedly intended to help — who are starving. Many are even taking to boats, echoing, as the Times notes, “an image so symbolic of the perilous journeys to escape Cuba or Haiti — but not oil-rich Venezuela.”
Well, Venezuela was once rich. But mismanagement and kleptocracy can make any country poor and Venezuela — as is typical with countries whose leaders promise to soak the rich for the benefit of the poor — has had plenty of both. Read the rest of this entry »
Downgrading Washington’s importance is one of the few good ideas Trump has had.
Kevin D. Williamson writes: I do not agree with Donald Trump about much of anything. Early in the primary season, I wrote a little book titled “The Case against Trump.” I believe him to be morally unfit and intellectually unprepared for the office to which he has been elected. Which is why one of the most annoying of my tasks for the next four (one assumes!) years is going to be pointing out that while Trump may not be right about very much, his critics often are wrong.
“Politics should not be the central activity in our lives, or even in our shared public life, and consequently the political capital should be subordinate to the financial and cultural capitals.”
There is no particular reason for Trump to live full-time in Washington. Washington is a dump, one of the least attractive and least inspiring American cities. Trump Tower is a dump, too, a big vertical void in the middle of one of the least interesting parts of Manhattan, but Trump apparently likes it, and he has gone to the trouble of gold-plating his toilets, which you do not do unless you are really planning to plant yourself in place.
Trump’s hesitation to set up housekeeping in our nation’s hideous capital is not causing klaxons of alarum because people are concerned about good government.
A nation genuinely concerned about good government would not have entrusted its chief administrative post to Donald J. Trump, a frequently bankrupt casino operator and game-show host. Read the rest of this entry »
New York Times wages noble fight against fake, bias-confirming news.
Bill McMorris writes: The New York Times exposed the threat of fake news following the election of Donald Trump two weeks ago, arguing that spreading faulty information is a threat to the Republic.
The paper highlighted alt-right conspiracy websites publishing outrageous lies masquerading as news in a piece headlined “Journalism’s Next Challenge: Overcoming the Threat of Fake News.” The Times interviewed journalists and “longtime critic of fake news” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) about how credulous Americans often fall for narratives that confirm their pre-existing biases without proper vetting from objective reporters.
“If you have a society where people can’t agree on basic facts, how do you have a functioning democracy?” asked one D.C. editor.
“The cure for fake journalism is an overwhelming dose of good journalism. And how well the news media gets through its postelection hangover will have a lot to do with how the next chapter in the American political story is told.”
— Times writer noted shortly before Trump’s massive victory
The answer could be found on social media. “‘Folks, subscribe to a paper. Democracy demands it,” one Times reporter wrote. Another added, “Or don’t. You’ll get what you pay for.”
- On Oct. 2, the Times reported that the stock market would nosedive following a Trump win, making “a Trump victory … a bit worse than 9/11.”
- Following Trump’s victory, the stock market enjoyed its best week since 2011.
- The fake journalism that helped elect Donald Trump is now enemy number one for the fourth estate.
Times readers had the inside scoop that the nation was watching “Hispanics Surge to Polls,” which would serve as the mortar in Hillary Clinton’s blue wall. The surge would not have been possible without the Clinton campaign, which was “Looking to Expand Lead With Hispanics” with Spanish-language ads and get-out-the-vote operations as the Times reported on Oct. 2.
The New York Times‘ report on “dangerously fake news” news ran alongside a report that “Hispanic America has been mobilized like never before in the 2016 election, and is emerging as a formidable force with the power to elect a president.” Read the rest of this entry »
John Phillips writes: A lot of people were shocked by the results of last Tuesday’s presidential election, but I think it’s safe to say the only people more stunned than Hillary Clinton and her supporters were the news media; and by the media, I mean all of them.
“Never before has there been an election where the news media so overtly picked a side. This was true across all platforms — broadcast, entertainment and print — almost everybody in my profession wanted Hillary to win.”
It didn’t matter which network you were watching, as each anchor called the election for Trump they all had the same expression of complete and total bewilderment on their faces. The only thing I can compare it to is the look that attorney Robert Kardashian had on his kisser when the jury foreman read the OJ Simpson verdict.
“Trump has forced journalists to revisit rules of objectivity and fairness. Just providing both points of view is not enough in the current presidential campaign. If a candidate is making racist and sexist remarks, we cannot hide in the principle of neutrality. That’s a false equivalence.”
— Univision and Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos, in Time magazine
The conventional wisdom was that since Trump was hit with the kitchen sink on a daily basis, there was no way he could cobble together the necessary 270 electoral votes to win the election.
But he did.
And I actually think the media’s palpable disdain for the Manhattan billionaire ended up helping him with the American people.
Never before has there been an election where the news media so overtly picked a side. This was true across all platforms — broadcast, entertainment and print — almost everybody in my profession wanted Hillary to win.
“I actually think the media’s palpable disdain for the Manhattan billionaire ended up helping him with the American people.”
Writing in Time magazine, Univision and Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos insisted, “It doesn’t matter who you are — a journalist, a politician or a voter — we’ll all be judged by how we responded to Donald Trump. Like it or not, this election is a plebiscite on the most divisive, polarizing and disrupting figure in American politics in decades. And neutrality is not an option.”
And then Ramos went even further, saying, “Trump has forced journalists to revisit rules of objectivity and fairness. Just providing both points of view is not enough in the current presidential campaign. If a candidate is making racist and sexist remarks, we cannot hide in the principle of neutrality. That’s a false equivalence.”
Ramos’ remarks were celebrated by his peers. Read the rest of this entry »