The media just pretended they didn’t exist.
Mark Hemingway writes: As achievements go, this would be one in which a modern president could take pride. But in making the claim for himself, Obama proves he cannot even accurately describe the events of his presidency. His tenure saw an astounding number of scandals: Benghazi, Fast and Furious gunrunning, Solyndra and green energy subsidies for campaign donors, cash for Iranian hostages, IRS targeting of conservative groups, spying on journalists, Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the Veterans Administration disaster, trading deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders held in Guantánamo, droning American citizens without due process, and firing inspector general Gerald Walpin for investigating an Obama crony who was abusing federal programs. And that list isn’t exhaustive.
The media have certainly tried their best to buttress Obama’s claim to have presided over a scandal-free administration—starting long before he even made it. In 2014, New Yorker editor and Obama biographer David Remnick told the (skeptical) host of PBS’s Charlie Rose that the president had already racked up “huge” achievements. On his list: “The fact that there’s been no scandal, major scandal, in this administration, which is a rare thing in an administration.”
Remnick was hardly alone. Veteran journalist Jonathan Alter wrote a column for Bloomberg back in 2011 headlined “The Obama Miracle, a White House Free of Scandal.” More recently, Glenn Thrush, then a Politico reporter, tweeted, “As Obama talks up legacy on campaign trail important to note he’s had best/least scandal-scarred 2nd term since FDR.” Even conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks last year declared the Obama administration “remarkably scandal-free.”
Remnick’s remark is particularly notable for how it presaged White House talking points. Obama’s chief campaign strategist David Axelrod was asked at the University of Chicago in 2015 about the administration’s broken promise to bar lobbyists from working for it. Axelrod admitted things hadn’t been “pristine” but said, “I’m proud of the fact that, basically, you’ve had an administration that’s been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal.”
As Noah Rothman observed in Commentary, “The qualifier ‘major’ lays the burden on shoulders of the press to define what constitutes a serious scandal, and political media had thus far reliably covered the administration’s ethical lapses as merely the peculiar obsessions of addlebrained conservatives.”
So what would constitute a “major” scandal? Would it involve, say, dead bodies? The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gave thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels; they used some of them to kill dozens of people, including American border patrol agent Brian Terry. When Congress tried to investigate why the ATF gave away so many guns and failed to track them, the Department of Justice engaged in unprecedented stonewalling.
The department withheld 92 percent of the documents requested and forbade 48 relevant employees from speaking to congressional investigators. Attorney General Eric Holder was ultimately held in contempt of Congress, with 17 Democrats supporting the measure. An explanation for why the ATF gave thousands of guns to violent criminals has yet to emerge—but we are to understand that this is not a “major” scandal. Read the rest of this entry »
“This is just one more example of why the entire world needs to unite against these terrorists,” said Obama.
“The notion that any political agenda would justify the killing of innocent people like this is something that’s beyond the pale,” said Obama….(read more)
Source: The Weekly Standard
This election season there’s a lot of talk about corruption, about politicians being “bought and sold”, and about “crony capitalism”. What do those terms mean? Why should we care? Is there a way to reduce corruption and restore our trust in government? Author Jay Cost, staff writer at The Weekly Standard, answers these questions and proposes a solution that every society could benefit from.
Members of an audience waiting to hear from Hillary Clinton in Oklahoma Friday audibly groaned when it was revealed the Democratic presidential candidate would be late for the event…(read more)
Source: The Weekly Standard
This is a scandal. And those involved believe that it reaches into the White House.
Stephen F. Hayes writes: Barack Obama says he wants the truth. On November 21, the New York Times reported allegations that military intelligence officials provided the president with skewed assessments that minimized the threat from ISIS and overstated the success of U.S. efforts against the group. The Times story was an update of reporting from the Daily Beast earlier this fall. “More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials,” the Beast reported in September. These analysts say their superiors regularly massaged pessimistic assessments to make them more upbeat before sending them up the chain of command. The analysts registered their grievances with the inspector general at the Pentagon, who is investigating their claims.
Obama was asked about this investigation at a press conference on November 22. The president said he doesn’t know the details of the allegations. But he added: “What I do know is my expectation, which is the highest fidelity to facts, data—the truth.”
“We were certainly blocked from seeing all the documents, and we were given limited time and resources to exploit the ones we had.”
— Michael Pregent, a DIA analyst on the CENTCOM team
The allegations are serious. We’re told by sources with knowledge of the investigation that the analysts who made them knew well in advance they’d be filing an official complaint. So they were ready when they did, providing the IG with extensive documentation—going back more than a year—to support their claims.
Why were they so well prepared?
Among other reasons: They’d seen such pressures before, up close. And they understood that by formalizing their complaints they would be challenging not their immediate superiors alone but in some important respects an entire system that had encouraged analysts and other national security officials to downplay the jihadist threat.
“The obvious question: Why would the president’s National Security Council intervene to block access to the bin Laden documents for analysts from the DIA and CENTCOM—analysts who are providing intelligence to those on the frontlines of America’s battle with jihadists?”
The current storm over ISIS intelligence is not a new controversy, though most of the media are treating it as such. It’s better understood as an installment in a long-running scandal that extends beyond CENTCOM in Tampa, into the upper reaches of the U.S. intelligence community and perhaps into the White House.
“After a bitter interagency dispute, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, allowed analysts from CENTCOM and the Defense Intelligence Agency to have time-limited, read-only access to the documents. What they found was fascinating and alarming.”
Readers of this magazine are familiar with the story of the documents obtained in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The Sensitive Site Exploitation team on the raid collected more than a million documents—papers, computer hard drives, audio and video recordings. Top Obama administration officials at first touted the cache as the greatest collection of terrorist materials ever captured in a single raid and boasted that the contents would fill a “small college library.”
An interagency intelligence team, led by the CIA, conducted the initial triage—including keyword searches of the collection for actionable intelligence. And then, according to senior U.S. intelligence officials with firsthand knowledge of the controversy, the documents sat largely untouched for as long as a year. The CIA retained “executive authority” over the documents, and when analysts from other agencies requested access to them, the CIA denied it—repeatedly.
“What they found was fascinating and alarming. Much of what these analysts were seeing—directly from Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders—contradicted what the president and top administration officials were saying publicly.”
After a bitter interagency dispute, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, allowed analysts from CENTCOM and the Defense Intelligence Agency to have time-limited, read-only access to the documents. What they found was fascinating and alarming. Much of what these analysts were seeing—directly from Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders—contradicted what the president and top administration officials were saying publicly. While drone strikes had killed some senior al Qaeda leaders, the organization had anticipated the U.S. decapitation strategy and was flourishing in spite of it; bin Laden remained intimately involved in al Qaeda decision-making and operational planning; the relationship between al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban remained strong despite the Obama administration’s attempts to weaken it by negotiating with Taliban leaders; al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran, while uneven and fraught with mutual distrust, was far deeper and more significant than U.S. intelligence assessments had suggested.
Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] THE PANTSUIT REPORT: The Weekly Standard‘s Hillary Clinton Fake Southern Accent Intensity RankingPosted: August 5, 2015
The Weekly Standard made a mashup of some of the most painfully pandering moments, and ranked the intensity of her accent with cowboy boots (1 = lowest, 5 = strongest).
Daniel Halper writes: Secretary of State John Kerry testified on Capitol Hill today the U.S. government will not be revealing the contents of secret side deals with Iran to the American people. Senator Tom Cotton wanted to know why it can’t be made public.
“Why can’t we confirm or deny the content of these agreements in public? Why is this classified? It’s not a sensitive U.S. government document.”
— Senator Tom Cotton
“We don’t have their authorization to reveal what is a confidential agreement…”
— Secretary of State, recreational windsurfer, John Kerry
Watch the exchange:
“So the ayatollahs will know what they agreed to but not the American people?”
— Senator Tom Cotton
THE PANTSUIT REPORT: State Dept: ‘We have reviewed Secretary Clinton’s official personnel file and administrative files and do not have any record of her signing…’Posted: March 17, 2015
This agonizing pretense finally ended on Tuesday, as State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki finally admitted there seems to be no record of Clinton following the OF-109 requirements
John Hayward reports: Another piece of the puzzle fell into place in Hillary Clinton’s ever-deepening email scandal, as the State Department – following days of absolutely absurd foot-dragging – finally admitted it can’t seem to find any record of her signed Form OF-109.
“It’s not clear that this form is used as a part of a standard part of checkout across the federal government or even at the State Department…”
This is a crucial document signed by departing State Department employees, testifying that all official records have been turned over, including – but not limited to – classified materials and emails. Since it is manifestly obvious that Hillary Clinton didn’t turn over all such materials, her signature on the OF-109 would have constituted perjury.
:…We’re looking into how standard this is across the federal government and certainly at the State Department… I don’t want to characterize how common practice it is.”
Ever since lawyers familiar with this document began describing it, the State Department has been asked to produce the exit paperwork for Clinton (and her top aides Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Philippe Reines, who also had accounts on Clinton’s secret email server.) The Republican National Committee filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents. Even Clinton-friendly reporters have been asking about it.
Somehow our titanic $3.5 trillion mega government – the same government that just took over the Internet, the brilliant bureaucratic machine that understands health care better than any doctor and investment better than any capitalist – couldn’t seem to find that important piece of paper. Excuses that the government wouldn’t accept from the smallest private enterprise in America were proffered for State’s golly-gee-whiz-aw-shucks inability to produce a crucial form. The same people who love to bury citizens beneath towering piles of paperwork, demanding requests in triplicate for permission to do virtually anything, claimed they had no idea what happened to the Secretary of State’s termination papers. Read the rest of this entry »
- Weekly Standard says State Dept. has evidence Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s top two aides at State, used ‘clintonemail.com’ addresses
- Gawker claims Abedin had one along with Phillippe Reines, Clinton’s top communications strategist while she was in Washington
- Public records on Nexis show Abedin used her clintonemail.com address but the other two haven’t been confirmed
- Clinton is still embroiled in controversy over admissions that she exclusively used a private, non-government email server while in office
At least three top Hillary Clinton aides used email addresses hosted on the former secretary of state’s private server while she was in office, according to reports from two different news outlets.
‘Two of Hillary Clinton’s top aides used personal email while they were employed at the State Department,’ Weekly Standard senior writer Stephen Hayes said in a Fox News Channel interview, naming ‘Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff.’
‘The State Department has evidence of this,’ Hayes claimed.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO
Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had an email address on the former secretary of state’s private server, judging from records maintained by Lexis-Nexis
The Weekly Standard‘s Stephen Hayes claimed on Fox News that the State Department has evidence Abedin and Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s two top aides, both used private email addresses for government work
Clinton has come under fire for exclusively using her own ‘clintonemail.com’ address while she was America’s top diplomat.
She admitted Tuesday during a news conference at the United Nations that she deleted more than 30,000 emails she decided were personal in nature and unrelated to her job.
Separately from claims by The Weekly Standard, the gossip website Gawker reported this month that Abedin and Phillippe Reines, Clinton’s top communications strategist, had the private addresses. Abedin married into a separate scandal when she wed former congressman Anthony Weiner, whose sexting exploits landed him on front pages and hastened his departure from Congress.
Daily Mail Online was able to confirm Abedin’s email address through Lexis-Nexis, a commercial service that compiles public records.
‘Huma@clintonemail.com’ was one of several of Abedin’s email addresses Nexis collected in conjunction with other public records.
Email addresses typically land in the Nexis database when people list them on credit applications, mortgage paperwork or other legal documents.
Searches for similar email addresses belonging to Reines and Mills were unsuccessful, as were searches for email addresses belonging to current and former State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, Jen Psaki and Marie Harf, along with current Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill.
Merrill told Gawker this month that Reines ‘has never had’ an email address on the private Clinton server, ‘not for communicating with anyone about anything.’
But Merrill wouldn’t say whether Reines used a separate private account to conduct government business with Clinton. Read the rest of this entry »
Surrounded by fans and protected from criticism, it’s no wonder Brian Williams became a serial fabulist
Jonah Goldberg writes: By now everyone knows about his transgressions. If even only some of the reports are true, Brian Williams is a serial embellisher, a self-aggrandizing fabulist.
No doubt everyone knows somebody like this, and if you don’t it’s probably because you’re that guy. But Williams’ case is special. This isn’t some sad Willy Loman at the end of the bar who needs to invent impressive stories about himself. If anything, he needed to not tell such stories, given that he reportedly makes more than $10 million a year to be a trusted name in news.
Yet he couldn’t stop himself.
“To walk down a street with an anchor is to be stunned both by how many people recognize them and how many viewers call out to them about specific stories. There’s a respectful familiarity different from the awe displayed to Hollywood celebrities. The anchor is treated as the citizen’s trusted guide to the news. As a result, they can feel expected to dominate discussions, to tell war stories, to play God.”
— Ken Auletta, The New Yorker’s media critic
If Kathy Griffin is the quintessential D-list celebrity, then I’m probably somewhere south of Z. But I do get recognized at airports and restaurants from time to time, mostly because of my stints on Fox News. A couple dozen times a year, someone will come up and compliment me. (Or, they’ll compliment The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes, thinking I’m him.)
But you know what virtually never happens? Someone coming up to me to tell me how much they hated my column, my comments, my book, my face, or my existence. Read the rest of this entry »
I think most observers would agree that over the past 20 years or so, we’ve been witnessing a paradox when it comes to free speech. On the one hand, it’s easier than ever before to express oneself, especially in a public way (thank you, internet).
[Read the full text at Reason.com]
On the other hand there is a huge attack on all sorts of speech that can in any way, shape, or form be deemed offensive. From trigger warnings to microaggressions and everything in between, all speech is suspect these days.
In popular culture, there are outliers such as South Park, Family Guy, and Tosh.O, where the envelope of taste and propriety is not so much pushed as shredded completely. Just in terms of comedy, does anyone think Inside Amy Schumer or Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s “Beloved Aunt” episode would have seen the light of day when Janet Reno, the Clinton administration, and all of Congress was voting overwhelmingly for the Communications Decency Act?
That terrible law would have regulated the emergent web like a broadcast network in the name of protecting kids from sexual material. It only was gutted after the Supreme Court struck it down in 1997. Christ, back in the 1990s, Bill Bennett and Joe Lieberman were giving our “Silver Sewer Awards” to Rupert Murdoch and the Fox Network for airing Married…With Childrenand The Simpsons, and The Weekly Standard was making “The Case for Censorship“!
Which makes it more important not simply to show solidarity with the dead and wounded in France but to rehearse the arguments for unfettered trade in ideas and speech. A good place to start is the reissue of Jonathan Rauch’s more-important-than-ever book Kindly Inquisitors. Originally released in 1994, the Cato Institute republished as 20th anniversary edition and Reason.com published a new foreword by Rauch.
And yet for all our expressive freedom, there’s a huge pushback against speaking freely, especially on college campuses and in many news platforms. Chris Rock doesn’t play colleges anymore because audiences are buzzkills:
I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative…. Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.
You.GovAs unimpeachable a progressive satirist as Stephen Colbert was targeted with a #CancelColbert campaign while mocking Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s devotion to his team’s nickname and mascot image. Lefty comic and actor Patton Oswalt no longer reads Salon because
…they write articles “Did The Onion Go Too Far?” or “ Is Patton Oswalt Supporting Rape? ” They already know the answer, but they know by feigning ignorance they can create all this debate about it. It upsets me because I used to really, and still do sometimes, love the articles Salon writes. They used to have Heather Havrilesky and Glenn Greenwald, and now they have become Fox News with all this look-y look-y shit. It hurts progressives. It’s very personal but the fact is that that they want comedians to think twice, three times, four times about any kind of comedy.
A YouGov poll taken just last fall found that equal amounts of Americans support and oppose “hate speech laws,” defined as laws that would “make it a crime for people to make comments that advocate genocide or hatred against an identifiable group based on such things as their race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.”
[Order Jonathan Rauch‘s more-important-than-ever book “Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought“, Expanded Edition]
Thirty-six percent said sure and 38 percent said no way. That’s disturbing enough on its own, but here’s something even more unsettling: Fully 51 percent of self-identified Democrats supported hate-speech laws.
That’s not good. Read the rest of this entry »
The United States Constitution says the legislative power is held by Congress, not by the president.
“…what you are not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law.”
The White House has argued that President Obama’s executive amnesty order last week was made well within the existing law. But in remarks in Chicago tonight, President Obama went off script and admitted that in fact he unilaterally made changes to the law.
President Obama made the admission after getting heckled for several minutes by immigration protesters…. (read more)
“Listen, you know — here. Can I just say this, all right? I’ve listened to you. I heard you. I heard you. I heard you. All right? Now I have been respectful, I let you holler. All right? So let me just — nobody is removing you. I have heard you… (read more)
“Now, you’re absolutely right that there have been significant numbers of deportations. That’s true. But what you are not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law.”
Evidently the harder path was just too hard
Michael Gerson writes: There are any number of marvelous things one might do as president, if Congress were not such a checked and balanced mess. But future presidents now have a new method at their disposal: Declare a long-running debate to be a national emergency. Challenge Congress, under threat of unilateral executive action, to legislate on the topic before your term runs out. And when lawmakers refuse, act with the most expansive definition of presidential power.
The supporting arguments for this approach come down to the claim that the American political system is broken — incapable of action on urgent matters because of obstructionism, bad faith and the abuse of legislative procedure. It is the political philosophy of “something must be done.”
“By crossing this particular Rubicon, Obama has given up on politics, which is, from one perspective, understandable. He doesn’t do it well.”
The arguments against this approach often come down to institutionalism. Major policy shifts, in this view, deserve legislative hearings and an open amendment process. The White House should make its views known and issue veto threats. There should be a negotiation between the House and Senate to reconcile a bill. There should be a presidential signature, or a veto and an override debate. The machinery is admittedly creaky, but it manufactures democratic legitimacy. Read the rest of this entry »
“I am very optimistic about — about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration.”
“You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government.”
“I spent — I’ve been there 17 times now. I go about every two months — three months. I know every one of the major players in all of the segments of that society. It’s impressed me. I’ve been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences.”
NBC’s Lisa Myers reported this morning that the IRS deliberately chose not to reveal that it had wrongly targeted conservative groups until after the 2012 presidential election:
The IRS commissioner “has known for at least a year that this was going on,” said Myers, “and that this had happened. And did he share any of that information with the White House? But even more importantly, Congress is going to ask him, why did you mislead us for an entire year? Members of Congress were saying conservatives are being targeted. What’s going on here? The IRS denied it. Then when — after these officials are briefed by the IG that this is going on, they don’t disclose it. In fact, the commissioner sent a letter to Congress in September on this subject and did not reveal this. Imagine if we — if you can — what would have happened if this fact came out in September 2012, in the middle of a presidential election? The terrain would have looked very different.”