Sunday, May 29, 2016

How to read the IG report | Power Line

How to read the IG report | Power Line

Andrew McCarthy is the former Assistant United States Attorney who had substantial professional experience dealing with serious issues of national security. At NR’s Corner he contributes some valuable advice on how to read the report.
Andy notes that Clinton and her deputies declined requests to be interviewed as part of the IG’s investigation. “When a government official or former government official refuses to answer questions in a formal government investigation into potential wrongdoing, this in effect is the assertion of a legal privilege not to speak — otherwise, there is no valid reason not to cooperate.”
He asks: “So what conceivable legal privilege do Clinton, Mills, Sullivan, and Abedin have that would allow them to refuse to answer investigators’ questions? Only one: the Fifth Amendment privilege — i.e., the refusal to answer on the grounds that truthful responses might be incriminating.”


-------------------

The report is devastating, although it transparently strains to soften the blow. For example, it concludes that State’s “longstanding systemic weaknesses” in recordkeeping “go well beyond the tenure of any one Secretary of State.” Yet, it cannot avoid finding that Clinton’s misconduct is singular in that she, unlike her predecessors, systematically used private e-mail for the purpose of evading recordkeeping requirements.

“Secretary Clinton should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary,” the report states. By failing to do so, and compounding that dereliction with a failure to “surrender[] all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service,” Clinton, the IG finds, “did not comply with the Department’s policies.” 

This articulation of Mrs. Clinton’s offense is also sugar-coated. By saying Clinton violated “policies,” the IG avoids concluding that she violated the law. But the IG adds enough that we can connect the dots ourselves. The “policies,” he elaborates, “were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.” To violate the policies — as Shannen Coffin has explained here at National Review — is to violate the law.

The IG report elucidates that Clinton and her aides knew this to be the case. Politico notes:

The report states that its findings are based on interviews with current Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessors — Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, but that Clinton and her deputies declined the IG’s requests for interviews.  

Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Huma Abedin are among those who did not cooperate with the investigation. 

The importance of this goes unstated but we can connect the dots. When a government official or former government official refuses to answer questions in a formal government investigation into potential wrongdoing, this in effect is the assertion of a legal privilege not to speak — otherwise, there is no valid reason not to cooperate.


Hillary Clinton | email scandal |Project X

Hillary Clinton | email scandal |Project X

As first lady, Hillary was embroiled in another scheme to bury sensitive White House e-mails, known internally as “Project X.”
In 1999, as investigators looked into Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate and other scandals involving the then-first lady, it was discovered that more than 1 million subpoenaed e-mails were mysteriously “lost” due to a “glitch” in a West Wing computer server.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Freddie Gray and Jihad: Narrative v. Fact | PJ Media

Freddie Gray and Jihad: Narrative v. Fact | PJ Media


I’ve been fortunate to have had two professional careers, the first one in the courtroom as a trial lawyer and the second in journalism. I did not need the latter experience, though, to notice the stark difference between these two worlds.

When I prosecuted the “Blind Sheikh” (Omar Abdel Rahman) and the jihadist cell that bombed the World Trade Center and then plotted a simultaneous attack on several New York City landmarks, the organs of government that speak to the public through the media were making like irresponsible journalists. That is, they were eschewing facts and evidence, obsessively peddling a counterfactual narrative, to wit:
There is only one “true” Islam, and it is resolutely peaceful (indeed, being a “religion of peace” is apparently its only identifiable attribute). Therefore, the terrorist acts plotted and committed by a cabal of men who just happened to be Muslim had utterly nothing to do with Islam, notwithstanding the jihadists’ proclamations to the contrary.
By contrast, in the courtroom, criminal allegations cannot be proved absent convincing factual evidence -- beyond a reasonable doubt -- that unanimously persuades jurors of the suspects’ guilt.

Thus, though we prosecutors were formally part of the government, it was as if we were inhabiting a cocoon insulated from the fictional government narrative. Indeed, the judge repeatedly reminded the jurors of their oath to decide the case solely based on the facts proved and the controlling law, not bias, fear or favor -- which was a 1990s way of saying “not narrative.”

The upshot of all this? No matter what “religion of peace” blather was coming out of Main Justice in Washington or the White House press apparatus, in our New York City federal courtroom a short distance from the Twin Towers, we were not only permitted but obliged as government attorneys to prove the truth:
  1. There are mainstream interpretations of Islam that endorse war against non-Muslims to establish Allah’s law (sharia);
  2. these are literalist interpretations that draw directly on Islamic scripture;
  3. the interpretations (Salafism, Wahhabism, Islamic supremacism -- collectively, what we hopefully refer to as “radical” Islam) are urged on young Muslims (mostly men) by influential sharia scholars like the Blind Sheikh, whose powerful influence owes solely and only to their mastery of the doctrine;
  4. based on those incitements, these young men are radicalized into jihadism, plotting and committing acts of terrorism.
Those were the facts. Our evidence proved them incontestably. That is the only way we were able to convict jihadists -- not only in my prosecution, but in case after terrorism case.

While the government’s skewed media narrative continued undeterred, those prosecutions, based on real facts, became the national-security part of government’s best source of intelligence on how jihadist organizations actually function.

I recall all this today because it explains what we are now seeing in the travesty that is Baltimore’s prosecution of six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray.

In Baltimore, the municipal government -- working hand in glove with Obama’s federal government -- has its narrative: the “Black Lives Matter” storyline which holds that Gray’s death in police custody was a cold-blooded murder caused by pervasive racism.

As was the case in the 1990s terrorism cases, the official government media narrative had nothing to do with the actual facts of the case. Gray’s death was an accident. Baltimore’s criminal justice system is among the most thoroughly integrated in the country.

The critical difference between then and now, though, is that in the absence of evidence, the prosecutors are trying to sell their propaganda as proof.

Not surprisingly, it is a rout so far. Prosecutors have been unable to convict the first two police officers, most recently officer Edward Nero, who was acquitted on all charges Monday.

Not surprisingly, the only way the prosecution stands any chance of winning is to incite an atmosphere of intimidation.

Jurors must be made to fear that unless they convict -- regardless of the dearth of evidence -- there may well be rioting and blood in the streets.

If I may try to offer some common sense that distinguishes actual justice from “social justice,” let’s consider both the case of Mr. Gray and the purpose of the criminal justice system.

Gray’s death is a tragedy. It was clearly an accident, one with a catastrophic outcome. But think for a moment: What is it that makes a tragedy a tragedy?

It is that something disproportionately horrific occurs absent any intent to cause it -- a terrible accident, an earthquake, etc.

Now consider: What is the criminal justice system for? It is our society’s means of addressing situations in which people have cause intentional harm -- often, lethal harm -- to other people.

It is not about tragedy; it is about willful wrongdoing. Yes, crimes have tragic fallout for victims and their families; but a crime is not a tragedy, just like an act of war is not a tragedy -- it is quite intentional egregious behavior, not mistake or accident.

This is not to say that the absence of criminal intent equates to the absence of impeachable behavior. It is simply to point out that the criminal justice system is not the fitting way to address all behavior that results in bad outcomes.

When there is no criminal intent, there is no crime, but that does not mean there was no wrong done. That is why police can and should be subjected to internal disciplinary measures when their performance is shoddy. It is why the civil courts are available to address damages caused by negligence.

In sum, the criminal justice system is no place for narrative. It is the place for adjudicating intentional wrongs that cause specific, usually premeditated harm. If a prosecutor tries to prove a case based on an emotionally driven narrative rather than evidence-based fact, the prosecution is sure to fail miserably unless the prosecutor succeeds in corrupting the system.

By contrast, when the justice system is working properly, it is the place where we acquaint ourselves with reality. It is the place that puts the lie to a narrative.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Something Stinks: The “Fishy” Vince Foster Case

Something Stinks: The “Fishy” Vince Foster Case
But as AIM founder and late chairman Reed Irvine and I reported on the case, there were so many anomalies that the Special Division of the Court of Appeals ordered an appendix added to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s report on the death of Vincent Foster. The appendix exposed serious flaws in the report that cast strong doubt on the suicide finding. These anomaliesincluded:
  • No bullet was ever found in Fort Marcy Park, even though Foster supposedly shot himself there.
  • The gun that was found in his hand has never been positively identified as his.
  • Foster’s fingerprints were not found on the gun.
Many people in the media claim that numerous investigations confirmed it was a suicide. Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post says there were “five official investigations into Foster’s death, conducted by professional investigators, forensic experts, psychologists, doctors and independent prosecutors with unlimited resources.” CNN’s Jake Tapper says it is “shameful” for Trump to question these findings.

But the official government investigations, including the one run by ardent “Republican” Kenneth Starr, were flawed. Nobody knew this better than Miguel Rodriguez, the lead investigator of Foster’s death for Independent Counsel Starr. He uncovered evidence that Foster had not committed suicide. However, Rodriguez, the prosecutor in charge of the grand jury investigation of Foster’s death, resigned because of interference with his investigation. As Irvine noted, “If he had been permitted to complete the grand jury investigation, he would have exposed the many lies that were told to cover up Foster’s murder.” Irvine exposed many of these lies in a 2001 edition of the AIM Report.

Hugh Turley, a researcher, recently wrote an article about the case for AIM. It was titled, “Hillary Clinton’s Continuing Lack of Interest in Cover-up of Vince Foster’s Murder.”

He confirms that:

“Associate Independent Counsel Rodriguez, an experienced prosecutor, thought he ‘was scoring big points’ for Ken Starr investigating the death of Vince Foster, President Bill Clinton’s deputy White House counsel. Rodriguez’s assistant Lucia Rambusch thought they ‘would be getting pats on the back’ for uncovering evidence Foster had been murdered. Instead, according to Deputy Independent Counsel Hickman Ewing’s notes, Rodriguez said that Deputy Independent Counsel Mark Tuohey ‘cancelled everything [he] was doing’ and ‘undermined everything [he] had done.’”

The case is an old one, a “cold case” as they say. But if there’s an ongoing cover-up of a murder, Trump, if elected president, could order a new investigation. Such a probe might show media complicity in the cover-up that is documented in the appendix.

Some other critical facts:
  • Foster’s car, a 1989 gray Honda, was not at Ft. Marcy Park when he died.
  • The .38 revolver found in his hand was not the gun that killed him. It was not his gun. The caliber of the gun was too large to be consistent with the small hole in the side of Foster’s neck. A memo by Rodriguez found at the National Archives stated that “the corpse was staged with the revolver brought by” investigators.
  • Foster’s so-called suicide note was a forgery. It said nothing about suicide. Handwriting experts say the note, which had no fingerprints on it, wasn’t even written by Foster. The note was found in a briefcase that had previously been searched.
Yes, something was, and is, very fishy in the case of the death of Vincent Foster. Media attacks on Trump are a diversion from the media’s documented unwillingness to thoroughly investigate the case. Irvine said at the time, “The cover-up is so transparent to those familiar with the facts that it is maddening to see those responsible make America look like a nation of dolts. Not that we haven’t tried to make the truth known, but the brilliant men and women who decide what’s fit to print and to air in the traditional media need to have their closed minds pried open.”

Irvine’s comments are even more appropriate now.

*Special thanks to researcher Hugh Turley for assisting with this article. For more information on the Foster cover-up, please go to the website www.FBIcover-up.com

Thursday, May 26, 2016

FBI Director Questions Hillary Clinton's Description of FBI Email Investigation - ABC News



Even though Hillary Clinton has repeatedly described the FBIprobe over her use of a private email server as a "security inquiry," FBI Director James Comey today questioned the use of that phrase.
“I don’t know what that means," Comey told reporters today in Washington, D.C. "We’re conducting an investigation. That’s the bureau’s business. That’s what we do."
One reporter noted that former Secretary of State Clinton often refers to it as a "security inquiry."
The word "investigation" -- "it’s in our name,” Comey responded. “And I’m not familiar with the term ‘security inquiry.’”
In the past several months, Comey has repeatedly referred to this probe as an "investigation," including in a legal document filed in a freedom of information lawsuit related to her email case, related to Clinton's use of a private email server for official communication during her tenure as secretary of state.
....
Sources have told ABC News that so far the investigation has found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Clinton has long maintained that she never mishandled, sent or received any email “marked” classified on her private server. But government reviews of the 55,000 emails she turned over to the State Department determined over a thousand of them contained information that later had to be upgraded to classified and withheld from public view, including 22 emails that had to be deemed "top secret."
Also this week, it was revealed that almost all the email from Secretary Clinton’s top IT staffer during her tenure at the State Department appears to be missing. That staffer, Bryan Pagliano, has become a key witness in the FBI investigation and has been granted immunity by the Justice Department in exchange for his cooperation.
....

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How a FOIA Request into Hillary Clinton's Emails Revealed a Criminal Investigation - Reason.com

How a FOIA Request into Hillary Clinton's Emails Revealed a Criminal Investigation - Reason.com

The essence of her husband's defense is that the secrets were not secrets when she saw them and the investigation of her is all "a game."
We know that the FBI is getting closer to Hillary Clinton, because Bill Clinton had not addressed her email issues publicly before last weekend. The defense he offered belies the facts and the law.
He argued that prosecuting his wife over her emails is akin to prosecuting someone for driving a car in a 50 mile-per-hour zone at 40 mph because the police have arbitrarily and without notice changed the speed limit to 35 mph.
The implication in his argument is that Mrs. Clinton's emails were retroactively classified as confidential, secret or top-secret after she received or sent them and therefore she had no notice of their sensitivity.
His argument is unavailing for two reasons. The first is that it is untrue. Emails are confidential, secret or top-secret at the time they are created, whether marked or not.
The second reason is that Mrs. Clinton signed an oath on her first full day as secretary of state — after she received a two-hour tutorial from two FBI agents on the proper care and lawful handling of state secrets. In that oath, she acknowledged that she had an obligation to recognize and protect state secrets on the basis of the sensitive nature of the information contained in them — whether they bore classified warnings or markings or not.
State secrets are materials that, if revealed, could harm the national security of the United States.



One of the 39 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits brought in connection with Mrs. Clinton's email scandal was filed recently by Jason Leopold, a reporter for Vice News. He seeks copies of the emails Clinton tried unsuccessfully to wipe clean from her server, as well as copies of communications between the DOJ and Mrs. Clinton.
The DOJ moved to dismiss his lawsuit, and in support of its motion, it filed a secret affidavit with the court, signed by an FBI agent familiar with the bureau's investigation of Mrs. Clinton. In its brief filed the day before Mr. Clinton made his silly speeding prosecution analogy, the DOJ — which also once worked for him — characterized the secret affidavit as a summary of the investigation of Mrs. Clinton. The DOJ argued that compliance with Leopold's FOIA request would jeopardize that investigation by exposing parts of it prematurely.
In the same brief, the DOJ referred to the investigation of Mrs. Clinton as a law enforcement proceeding.
That was the first public acknowledgment by the DOJ that it is investigating criminal behavior — a law enforcement proceeding — and it directly contradicts Mrs. Clinton's oft-repeated assertions that the FBI investigation is merely a routine review of the State Department's classification procedures.
Many in the legal and intelligence communities have discounted her assertions because reviewing classification procedures of the State Department is not a function of the FBI, but now we have the government's own words that its investigation of Mrs. Clinton's email handling is one implicating law enforcement. Since that late Friday filing, Mrs. Clinton has ceased referring publicly to the FBI probe as an evaluation of the State Department's security procedures.

The XX Committee Hillary EmailGate Reader | The XX Committee

The XX Committee Hillary EmailGate Reader | The XX Committee

Since Hillary’s strange travails with IT and mishandling official secrets appear to be far from over, this is a living document: I’ll add new links as they appear.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Patterico's Pontifications » Liberal Bias in the Wording of a News Article

Patterico's Pontifications » Liberal Bias in the Wording of a News Article
Kerry Put On Defensive About Iraq

Over the past week, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have thrown Sen. John F. Kerry on the defensive with a daily assault designed to tarnish his credentials as a possible commander in chief. But the orchestrated attacks also revealed the president’s vulnerabilities on the issue that continues to shape the presidential campaign as much as any other.

The volleys over terrorism came after Kerry and his advisers believed they had put behind them most questions about his capacity to lead the country in a war on terrorism. Instead, Kerry and his advisers allowed themselves to be drawn into a new debate about Iraq and terrorism and were forced to rebut daily charges that Kerry has equivocated and sent conflicting signals on national security.

Kerry advisers see the criticisms as both wrong and distorted. But the exchanges are a reminder of how the issue of Iraq has bedeviled Kerry’s candidacy first in the Democratic primaries and now the general election as he has navigated between the demands of the antiwar faction in his party and a desire to project strong leadership to a general-election audience.

The attacks also underscore the urgency within Bush’s campaign to deny Kerry a sustained post-convention bounce. With some polls showing that Kerry made clear gains against Bush on terrorism and national security, the president’s weakness on the issues that once were his great strengths is on clear display.

More than half the country disapproves of how the president has handled Iraq, and reservations about the situation there have spilled over into attitudes toward Bush on terrorism. The fighting there this week is a reminder that Iraq is far from stabilized, regardless of how much Bush talks about the progress that has been made. Given that reality, Bush has gone on the offensive against Kerry.

Kerry designed his convention in Boston around a single goal, to establish the Democratic nominee as capable of being commander in chief. He assembled his former Swift boat crewmates and retired military brass to offer testimonials to his courage, experience and judgment. Bolstered by some polls, Kerry advisers argued that the four-day convention did exactly what they had hoped.

But Kerry left himself susceptible to criticism with his effort to draw clear distinctions with Bush on how he would have dealt with Iraq before the war and how he would differ with Bush on the future course in Iraq and the war on terrorism. Bush and Cheney have seized on Kerry’s comment that he would vote again to give Bush authority to go to war, his claim that he would try to reduce troop strength significantly during his first six months in office and his comment about waging a more sensitive war on terrorism.

The GOP attacks followed a familiar pattern. Bush struck first, elevating the issue and drawing more attention to the criticism than any of his surrogates could have attracted. Then Cheney moved in with tougher language designed to raise questions about Kerry’s reliability. Bush and Cheney also selectively interpreted Kerry’s words to cast them in the worst possible light.

At the beginning of the week, Kerry said that, even if he had known then what is known now about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, he still would have voted to give Bush the authority to go to war. But he qualified that by criticizing Bush for going to war without more international support and for rushing to war without a plan to win the peace. “I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has,” he said. Bush chose to ignore that qualifier.

Cheney seized on a comment Kerry had made to the Unity convention of minority journalists about how he would differ from Bush on terrorism. “I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history,” he said.

Cheney fired back that sensitivity never won a war. “America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive,” he said. “A ‘sensitive war’ will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek the chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more.”

Kerry allies accuse the vice president of taking the comment out of context. Bush allies say it is Kerry who has sown confusion with his own words.

Bush has also put Kerry on the defensive over a comment the Democrat made about troop levels in Iraq. In an interview with National Public Radio, Kerry said, “I believe that within a year from now, we could significantly reduce American forces in Iraq, and that’s my plan.”

Bush responded that establishing artificial timetables for troop withdrawals will embolden insurgents in Iraq to wait out the United States and will make Iraqi citizens more timid in taking responsibility to defeat the insurgents themselves. Kerry advisers said Kerry was only setting a goal, not setting out a timetable. Troop reductions, they said, will depend on bringing more stability to Iraq and training more Iraqis as a security force.

But the Kerry advisers said the other key is to bring in troops from other countries to share the burden. They contended that Bush has so poisoned relationships that only a new president can succeed on that front. Some European diplomats and politicians have privately cast doubt on whether Kerry could easily do what Bush has not.

On the campaign trail, Bush devotes a significant portion of his stump speech to a vigorous defense of his actions in Iraq, which reflects his weakened position politically. But in defending himself as someone who has had no doubts about his decision to dislodge Saddam Hussein, he has contrasted himself with Kerry and has tried to cast doubt on his rival as an equivocator under whose leadership Hussein would still be in power.

In Phoenix on Tuesday night, Bush explained his decision to invade Iraq this way: “I had a choice to make. My choice was do I forget the lessons of September the 11th and hope for the best and trust the word and deeds of a madman, or do I take action to defend America. I will defend America every time.”

Bush’s goal appears aimed at shifting the focus of the debate from what has happened in Iraq to who can best be trusted to keep the country safe in the future, and he casts the choice as one between a president who knows the difference between good and evil and a challenger who finds shades of gray wherever he looks.

Kerry is equally determined to fight back on his own terms and to try to hold the president responsible for what has happened to the image of the United States around the world. It is a debate that will go a long way in determining the outcome of the election in November.

Kerry On Defensive About Iraq

Over the past week, Sen. John F. Kerry has been on the defensive, confronted with mounting concerns about his credentials as a possible commander in chief. In attempting to respond, Kerry and his allies have mounted an orchestrated attack on the president’s handling of the Iraq war. The dispute over Iraq continues to influence the presidential campaign.

Kerry has tried to avoid any further questions about his capacity to lead the country in a war on terrorism. However, his campaign has been dogged by growing criticism that Kerry has equivocated and sent conflicting signals on national security. As a result of these mounting questions, the Kerry campaign has been thrown back on its heels, with Kerry and his advisers forced into a defensive mode.

The apparent strategy of the Kerry campaign is to try to paint the growing criticism as both wrong and distorted. But critics say that the issue of Iraq has bedeviled Kerry’s candidacy throughout his campaign, as he has tried to appease the antiwar faction in his party, while at the same time attempting to project strong leadership to a general-election audience.

Polls have failed to show a sustained post-convention bounce for Kerry. Bush allies note that, though recent polls may appear to show Kerry gaining on Bush on national security issues, Bush still leads Kerry on these issues. Moreover, they say, the polls do not take account of recent questions raised about Kerry.

Almost half of the country approves of how the president has handled Iraq, though reservations about the situation there — fueled by attacks by Kerry and rabid opponents of the war, such as Howard Dean — have spilled over into attitudes toward Bush on terrorism. Although Iraq is far from stabilized, sources close to Bush point out that much progress has been made.

Kerry hoped that the Democratic convention would establish him as capable of being commander in chief. Kerry advisers have tried to argue that the goals of the convention were met. Some of Kerry’s former Swift boat crewmates claimed that Kerry has shown courage, experience and judgment. However, since the convention, hundreds of veterans, including many who served with Kerry, have argued to the contrary.

Bush campaign advisers point to recent controversial comments by Kerry, including his statement that he would wage a more “sensitive” war on terrorism. Bush advisers also dispute that Kerry would have done a better job on Iraq before the war, or that Kerry would do a better job in the future on Iraq or the war on terror. They note that Kerry has said that he would vote again to give Bush authority to go to war. Yet Kerry admits that he would try to reduce troop strength significantly during his first six months in office.

The Bush campaign believes that Kerry is so weak on national security issues that they have advised Bush to raise the issue personally, which has had the expected effect of drawing more attention to the criticism. Vice-President Cheney has echoed Bush’s concerns with comments that highlight the growing questions about Kerry’s reliability.

At the beginning of the week, Kerry said that, even if he had known then what is known now about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, he still would have voted to give Bush the authority to go to war. But he qualified that by criticizing Bush for going to war without more international support and for allegedly rushing to war without a plan to win the peace. Kerry did not explain how he would have convinced nations like France to go along with the decision to invade Iraq.

Cheney pointed to a comment Kerry had made to the Unity convention of minority journalists about how he would differ from Bush on terrorism. “I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history,” Kerry said.

Cheney noted that “sensitivity” never won a war. “America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive,” he said. “A ‘sensitive war’ will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek the chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more.”

Although Kerry allies try to argue that Cheney took Kerry’s comment out of context, Bush allies respond that Kerry has sown confusion with his own words.

Kerry also found himself on the defensive over a comment that he made about troop levels in Iraq. In an interview with National Public Radio, Kerry said, “I believe that within a year from now, we could significantly reduce American forces in Iraq, and that’s my plan.”

Bush explained that establishing artificial timetables for troop withdrawals will inevitably embolden insurgents in Iraq to wait out the United States and will make Iraqi citizens more timid in taking responsibility to defeat the insurgents themselves. Kerry advisers claimed Kerry was only setting a goal, not setting out a timetable. They argued that troop reductions will depend on bringing more stability to Iraq and training more Iraqis as a security force.

Although Bush has tried to convince other countries to share the burden by providing more troops, Kerry claims that he will have more success on this front. Kerry partisans claim that Bush has poisoned relationships with other countries, and that Kerry could convince these countries to provide troops. European diplomats and politicians privately dispute this claim.

Bush has argued that his actions in Iraq were necessary to defend the American people. Bush advisers dispute claims by the Kerry campaign that Bush’s emphasis on Iraq suggests weakness. They say that Bush has shown himself to be a strong leader who harbors no doubts about his decision to dislodge Saddam Hussein. In stark contrast, they say, Kerry is an equivocator under whose leadership Hussein would still be in power.

In Phoenix on Tuesday night, Bush explained his decision to invade Iraq this way: “I had a choice to make. My choice was do I forget the lessons of September the 11th and hope for the best and trust the word and deeds of a madman, or do I take action to defend America. I will defend America every time.”

Bush advisers explain that Bush wishes the country to focus on a single issue: who can best be trusted to keep the country safe in the future? Bush casts the choice as one between a president who knows the difference between good and evil and a challenger who finds shades of gray wherever he looks.

The apparent strategy of the Kerry campaign is to shift the focus to a different issue: the alleged negative image of the United States that Kerry claims Bush has created around the world. It is a debate that will go a long way in determining the outcome of the election in November.

Monday, May 09, 2016

The Rev 3.0: Reduxing Vox Day: PermaBanning Puppies

The Rev 3.0: Reduxing Vox Day: PermaBanning Puppies


Almost every other rule change proposal other than E Pluribus Hugo I've seen leads to a situation similar to EPH. The rule changes will not be enough to squeeze the Rabids out, leading to a Temporary Cease-Fire or Balkanization.

There is one exception, that being banning people from WorldCon based on their nominations. This is one that could actually work, and at less cost than you may think.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

“Malicious intent” is not required to break the law in Hillary Clinton’s case « Hot Air

“Malicious intent” is not required to break the law in Hillary Clinton’s case « Hot Air


New Book on Rape Culture Hysteria | PJ Media

New Book on Rape Culture Hysteria | PJ Media


Rape Culture Hysteria: Fixing the Damage Done to Men and Women offers a comprehensive overview and debunking of the "rape culture" myth that has devastated campuses and is spilling into Main Street America. An ideological madness is grotesquely distorting North America's view of sexuality. The book applies sanity to the claims that men are natural rapists and our culture encourages sexual violence.
Written by a libertarian feminist and rape survivor, Rape Culture Hysteria opens with a highly personal appeal to depoliticize rape and treat it instead as a crime. Victims need to heal. Politicizing their pain and rage is a callous political maneuver that harms victims, women and men.
Chapter One: The Fiction of the Rape Culture defines the "rape culture" and explains why it does not exist in North America. It glances back at how the fiction became embedded into society, especially in academia. Then it looks forward to an emerging rape culture trend that will deeply impact daily life: microaggressions.
Chapter Two: Intellectual Framework and Myth History of Rape Culture. The myth did not arise in an intellectual vacuum. In a straight-forward manner, Chapter Two explains the theories upon which the rape culture is based, including social construction, gender, patriarchy, post-Marxism, and social justice. It rejects three of the rape culture's founding beliefs: rape is facilitated by society; men have created a mass psychology of rape; and, rape is a part of normal life.
Chapter Three: Dynamics of the Hysteria and Psychology of Rape Culture True Believers. The dynamics of rape culture politics are exposed through the behavior of its social justice warriors. A recent travesty is used to showcase those dynamics. On November 19, 2014, Rolling Stone accused members of a University of Virginia fraternity of gang-raping a female student. The accusation was quickly revealed as untrue. The unraveling at U-Va. is a perfect vehicle to illustrate how rape culture dogma is maintained even when it is revealed to be untrue. The chapter discusses effective tactics with which to handle social justice warriors.
Chapter Four: Data, False and True. The rape culture myth is based on untrue and unfounded "facts," which have been repeatedly refuted. Yet they lumber on as zombie stats, kept alive by those to whom the lies are useful and so are repeated like a mantra that drowns out contradicting evidence. This chapter examines of some of the more prevalent zombie stats such as "one in every 4 or 5 women will be raped in their lifetimes." Where did the faux "facts" originate? What evidence, if any, supports them? Which stats better reflect reality?

Thursday, May 05, 2016

ID laws do not suppress voters: Opposing view

ID laws do not suppress voters: Opposing view


ID laws do not suppress voters: Opposing view

Hans A. von Spakovsky 7:08 p.m. EDT April 3, 2016

Opponents who say there is no voter fraud are wrong.

Polls consistently show that Americans — regardless of race or ethnicity — agree that requiring identification to vote is a common-sense way to ensure the integrity of our elections. The repeated narrative pushed by critics that this “suppresses” votes is a myth.

That claim has been disproven by the turnout results in states such as Georgia and Indiana, whose voter ID laws have been in place for years. In fact, these states experienced almost no problems despite apocalyptic predictions of opponents. The number of Americans who don’t already have an ID is minuscule — and every state with a voter ID law gives a free ID to anyone who can’t afford one.

Opponents who say there is no voter fraud are wrong. As the Supreme Court noted in 2008 when it upheld Indiana’s photo ID law, we have a long, documented history of voter fraud in this country — and it could make the difference in a close election. That is why states should also be requiring proof-of-citizenship to register to prevent non-citizens from illegally voting.

Critics also complain about reductions in early voting, claiming that reduces turnout. But studies show that early voting could actually reduce turnout. This might be because get-out-the-vote efforts by campaigns that get diffused over a much longer period of time are not as effective.

In the final weeks before an election, previously unknown information about a candidate could come out that might be important to a voter’s choice, but a voter who cast her ballot early cannot change it. Because Arizona has early voting, almost 100,000 Arizonans wasted their votes for candidates who were in the Republican presidential primary race when early voting started but had dropped out by Election Day on March 22.

The right to vote is one of our most cherished. Securing the integrity of the election process is a fundamental requirement of protecting that right.

Hans A. von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, is co-author of Who’s Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Vox Popoli: Because it's worked so well so far

Vox Popoli: Because it's worked so well so far

We can design a system that’s proof against accident and stupidity; but we can’t design one that’s proof against deliberate malice…

— 2001 A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Interview: The Rabid Puppies And Vox Day Bite the Hugo Awards

Interview: The Rabid Puppies And Vox Day Bite the Hugo Awards


By Louise Mensch|9:50 am, April 27, 2016Tell me about the Hugo Awards. Are the Sad Puppies still sad?The Sad Puppies are, to all intents and purposes, irrelevant. They have been replaced by the Rabid Puppies, mostly thanks to the egregiously obnoxious behavior of the SJWs in science fiction at the 2015 Hugo Awards ceremony. That converted most of the Sad Puppies to Rabid Puppies, which is why the Rabid Puppies accounted for 62 shortlist nominations of the 80 we recommended this year. The SF-SJWs said they were sending a message last year, and the message we heard was “bring more Puppies”. So we did.....
Gamergate was coined by Adam Baldwin to describe SJW oppression – now liberals are trying to use it as a term of abuse. What is your view?#GamerGate strikes fear into the heart of liberals and SJWs because it represents a turning point in 30 years of cultural war that has been nothing but one long retreat by the right in the face of continuous societal convergence. Ironically, it was not the US Marines, or the church leadership, or the NFL that was willing to stand up and fight back against SJW attacks, it was the gamers. I am proud of my fellow #GamerGaters, and as my co-host of #GGinParis, Milo Yiannopoulos, has said, the cultural right should be looking at #GamerGate, learning from it, and applying its lessons.Absolutely nothing that the left says about #GamerGate is true. Just today, some SJW journalist was trying to rhetorically tie #GamerGate to the suicide of a female firefighter. Not everyone who takes the time to look into the actual events leading up to #GamerGate ends up joining #GamerGate, but they do quickly learn that the mainstream media has been relentlessly lying about us. But the Left always lies relentlessly about its most effective opponents; that’s how they play divide-and-conquer.


The Media’s Hit Job on #Gamergate

By William Hicks|4:20 am, April 27, 2016If you learned about Gamergate supporters from outlets like the Washington Post, the Guardian, or even Wikipedia, you would think them nothing more than a group of woman-hating, foaming-at-the-mouth psychopaths who want nothing more than to restrict gaming to a male-only hobby and fill the inboxes of all women game developers with rape threats.
....
Here, instead, is a sampling of how various news outlets have described Gamergate:

1. Fortune’s “Gamergate Guide”Exacerbated by a Twitter hashtag and the safety of anonymity on the Internet, the movement escalated into a groundswell of hard-core gamers threatening and intimidating female video game developers and writers over fear that the increasing number of female players will change what it means to be a “gamer.”
First of all, the vast majority of Gamergaters don’t care how many female video game players exist in proportion to men. The “gamer” identity comment refers to a backlash against a series of articles saying gamers are dead. These articles (here’s a list of them all) published by gaming journalists at various outlets essentially accused gamers of being misogynistic young men who lacked social interactions and understanding of the outside world. So of course there was backlash after large parts of the gaming media showed just how much contempt they have for their own audience.
2. This Guardian article The most notorious recent example is Gamergate. Both Reddit and Twitter were epicenters of this phenomenon, where the ire of mostly male gamers was directed at a handful of female journalists whose only offense was to express their opinions in public.
Let’s look at the issues important to Gamergate. The big ones have nothing to do with female gaming journalists expressing their opinions. For instance when The Fine Young Capitalists’ initiative to sponsor women to make video games got shut down by feminist activists, the outcry had nothing to do with opinions and more to do with the hypocrisy of opposing a plan to support women because the organization is run by men.

3. The Washington Post’s “Only Guide to Gamergate You Ever Need to Read”Whatever Gamergate may have started as, it is now an Internet culture war. On one side are independent game-makers and critics, many of them women, who advocate for greater inclusion in gaming. On the other side of the equation are a motley alliance of vitriolic naysayers: misogynists, anti-feminists, trolls, people convinced they’re being manipulated by a left-leaning and/or corrupt press, and traditionalists who just don’t want their games to change.
Calling yourself “the only guide you ever need to read” seems to imply objectivity. Apparently this is the only guide you need to read if you’re already convinced everything is a misogynist conspiracy and love getting your opinions validated. In reality, Gamergate has always had women, minority members, and even political liberals involved. Early on, the #NotYourShield hashtag was created to highlight women and minorities who consider themselves “gamers” and generally sympathetic to Gamergate.

4. Gawker’s Explainer of Gamergate for Non-GeeksEven regarded generously, Gamergate isn’t much more than a tone-deaf rabble of angry obsessives with a misguided understanding of journalistic ethics. But there are a lot of reasons not to regard the movement generously.
This is a great explanation coming from a tone-deaf website most noted for its celebrity stalker feature and the fact that it’s about to go belly up for publishing a sex tape.
5. The Wikipedia Article on GamergateThe Gamergate controversy centers on the harassment campaign conducted primarily through the use of the Twitterhashtag #GamerGate, revolving around issues of sexism and progressivism in video game cultureGamergateis used as a blanket term for the controversy, the harassment campaign and actions of those participating in it, and the loosely organized movement that emerged from the hashtag.
The Wikipedia page on Gamergate has been a huge source of contention for the movement. Wikipedia actively banned some editors from editing the page and to this day it remains emphatically anti-Gamergate, in a departure from the site’s usual aim for neutrality.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What economic lessons can we learn about the $15 minimum wage law from an '$8 per pound minimum beef price law'? - AEI | Carpe Diem Blog » AEIdeas

What economic lessons can we learn about the $15 minimum wage law from an '$8 per pound minimum beef price law'? - AEI | Carpe Diem Blog » AEIdeas


meat1Here’s a quick economic quiz about the labor market, with important implications for the $15 an hour minimum wage hysteria that is sweeping the country:
True or False? Unskilled employees compete against employers in the labor market for higher wages.
Answer: False
Economic lesson: Despite what we hear from labor unions and the “Fight for $15” crowd, employees compete not against employers for higher wages, butagainst other employees. And it’s also the case that employers compete against other employers for the best employees. It’s like that in every market: buyers (employers) always compete against other buyers (employers), and sellers (employees) always compete against other sellers (employees).
For example, if you’re in the market to buy a home, you’re competing against other home buyers, not against home sellers, to get the best (lowest) price. And the home sellers are competing against other sellers to get the best (highest) price. As a result, the more buyers competing for a fixed number of available homes, the higher the home sales prices; and the more home sellers competing for a fixed number of buyers, the lower the home sales prices,ceteris paribus.
Economic implications of a $15 an hour minimum wage for the labor market: Unskilled workers compete against other workers – especially skilled workers — for a limited number of available jobs at a given point in time. If the minimum wage is increased from $7.25 or $10 to $15 an hour, that will give skilled workers an advantage over unskilled workers, and will take away from unskilled workers the one advantage they currently have to compete against skilled workers – the ability to offer to work for a significantly lower wage than what skilled workers can command. And to the extent that we remove the wage advantage for unskilled workers, we reduce their ability to compete against skilled workers, and reduce employment opportunities for those unskilled workers.
Here’s an example: Suppose that an employer can hire two unskilled workers at $7.25 an hour for a total cost of $14.50 an hour and provide them with on-the-job training, or hire one skilled worker for $20 an hour, provide no training, and get the same hourly output as two unskilled workers. Given that choice, the employer hires two unskilled workers and saves $5.50 an hour in labor costs. Now suppose that the minimum wage goes to $15 an hour, which would require the employer to pay $30 an hour for two unskilled workers. In that case, the employer would switch to hiring one skilled worker at $20 an hour over two unskilled workers, and save $10 an hour in labor costs. Result of a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour? Demand for skilled workers goes up, demand for unskilled workers goes down, and employment opportunities for unskilled workers are reduced.
Economist Walter E. Williams has used the following example to illustrate the competition described above between unskilled and skilled workers by looking at the market for different qualities of beef (see examples herehere, andhere). Suppose that hamburger sells for $4 per pound and sirloin steak sells for $8 per pound. Hamburger is a much lower quality variety of beef compared to sirloin steak, but can attract a significant number of buyers who choose hamburger over the higher quality option for the 50% savings in price. Likewise, many employers may choose lower quality, unskilled workers over higher skilled employees for the significant savings in labor costs.
But now suppose the government imposes a “$8 per pound minimum beef price law.” In that case, most shoppers who buy beef will then purchase more sirloin steak and less hamburger because the lower quality meat has lost it main weapon to successfully compete against higher quality sirloin steak – a significantly lower price that compensates for the lower quality. Result? Hamburger sales will suffer due to the “minimum beef price law” and sirloin steak sales will increase. Just like in the labor market, a $15 an hour minimum wage will remove the most effective weapon that unskilled workers currently have to compete against skilled workers – the ability to work for a lower wage. Result? Employment opportunities for unskilled and limited-experience workers will contract, while employment opportunities for skilled workers will increase.
Bottom Line: Much of the economic confusion about the $15 an hour minimum wage hysteria can be traced to the mistaken assumption that unskilled workers are competing against their employers to get higher and higher wages. That’s absolutely not the case. The economic reality is that unskilled workers compete against other workers to get higher wages, especially skilled workers, and ultimately against investments in labor-saving technologies and automation. If you understand and agree that a “minimum beef price law” would disadvantage hamburger sales and enhance sirloin steak sales, then you should also understand and agree that a $15 an hour minimum wage law would disadvantage unskilled workers and deny many of them the valuable opportunity to get an entry-level job and gain the skills, training, and experience that will put them on the path to a better and more prosperous economic future. At $15 an hour, many unskilled workers simply won’t be able to effectively compete against skilled workers and against automation, and we’ve therefore handicapped America’s most vulnerable workers by taking away from them the most effective strategy they have – the ability to offer to work for a competitive wage that is consistent with their lack of skills.
Update 3: From Walter Williams:
The steak example applies to any mandated minimum price. In the case of minimum wage laws, a mandated minimum lowers the cost of – hence encourages – the indulgence of racial preference in the labor market.
Some might object to the validity of my example by saying that people are not the same things as cuts of meat. That is true – just as steel balls are not the same as people. However, although steels balls and people are different, both obey the law of gravity. The independent influence of gravity on a steel ball’s acceleration is 32 feet per second and its influence on a person is exactly the same. Similarly, quantities demanded for cuts of meat are influenced by the law of demand, and so are quantities demanded of a person’s labor service.
Update 2: Related quote from Milton Friedman:
The minimum wage law is most properly described as a law saying that employers must discriminate against people who have low skills. That’s what the law says. The law says that here’s a man who has a skill that would justify a wage of $5 or $6 per hour (adjusted for today), but you may not employ him, it’s illegal, because if you employ him you must pay him $9 per hour. So what’s the result?  To employ him at $9 per hour is to engage in charity. There’s nothing wrong with charity. But most employers are not in the position to engage in that kind of charity. Thus, the consequences of minimum wage laws have been almost wholly bad. We have increased unemployment and increased poverty.
Update 1: In the related video below (“The Cruelty of the $15 Minimum Wage“), Don Boudreaux reminds us that “Taking away from workers an important bargaining chip, namely the ability to offer to work at a wage less than the minimum, is the cruelest thing you can do for a lot of these workers.

Teenage unemployment in cities



New research that examines New York’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) finds that participation in the program positively impacts student academic outcomes. As the authors state in the introduction, youth employment has many benefits:
“Prior research suggests that adolescent employment improves net worth and financial well-being as an adult. An emerging body of research indicates that summer employment programs also lead to decreases in violence and crime. Work experience may also benefit youth, and high school students specifically, by fostering various non-cognitive skills, such as positive work habits, time management, perseverance, and self-confidence.” (My bold)This is hardly surprising news to anyone who had a summer job when they were young. An additional benefit from youth employment not mentioned by the authors is that the low-skill, low-paying jobs held by young people also provide them with information about what they don’t want to do when they grow up. Working in a fast food restaurant or at the counter of a store in the local mall helps a young person appreciate how hard it is to earn a dollar and provides a tangible reason to gain more skills in order to increase one’s productivity and earn a higher wage.
Unfortunately, many young people today are not obtaining these benefits. The chart below depicts the national teenage unemployment rate and labor force participation rate (LFP) from 2005 to 2015 using year-over-year August data from the BLS.national teen unemp, LFP
During the Great Recession teenage employment fell drastically, as indicated by the simultaneous increase in the unemployment rate and decline in the LFP rate from 2007 to 2009. From its peak in 2010, the unemployment rate for 16 to 19 year olds declined slowly until 2012. This decline in the unemployment rate coincided with a decline in the LFP rate and thus the latter was partly responsible for the former’s decline. More recently, the labor force participation rate has flattened out while the unemployment rate has continued to decline, which means that more teenagers are finding jobs. But the teenagers who are employed are part of a much smaller labor pool than 10 years ago – nationally, only 33.7% of 16 to 19 year olds were in the labor force in August 2015, a sharp decline from 44% in 2005.
Full-time teenage employment is unique in that it has a relatively high opportunity cost – attending school full time. Out of the teenagers who work at least some portion of the year, most only work during the summer when school is not in session. Some teenagers also work during the school year, but this subset of teenage workers is smaller than the set who are employed during the summer months. Thus a decline in the LFP rate for teenagers may be a good thing if the teenagers who are exiting the labor force are doing so to concentrate on developing their human capital.
Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case. From 2005 to 2013 the enrollment rate of 16 and 17 year olds actually declined slightly from 95.1% to 93.7%.  The enrollment rate for 18 and 19 year olds stayed relatively constant – 67.6% in 2005 and 67.1% in 2013, with some mild fluctuations in between. These enrollment numbers coupled with the large decline in the teenage LFP rate do not support the story that a large number of working teenagers are exiting the labor force in order to attend school full time. Of course, they do not undermine the story that an increasing amount of teenagers who are both in the labor force and attending school at the same time are choosing to exit the labor force in order to focus on school. But if that is the primary reason, why is it happening now?
Examining national data is useful for identifying broad trends in teenage unemployment, but it conceals substantial intra-national differences. For this reason I examined teenage employment in 10 large U.S. cities (political cities, not MSAs) using employment status data from the 5-year American Community Survey (ACS Table S2301. 2012 was the latest data available for all ten cities).
The first figure below depicts the age 16 – 19 LFP rate for the period 2010 – 2012. As shown in the diagram there are substantial differences across cities.
City teenage LFP
For example, in New York (dark blue) only 23% of the 16 – 19 population was in the labor force in 2012 – down from 25% in 2010 – while in Denver 43.5% of the 16 – 19 population was in the labor force. Nearly every city experienced a decline over this time period, with only Atlanta (red line) experiencing a slight increase. Five cities were below the August 2012 national rate of 34% – Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Francisco, and New York.
Also, in contrast to the improving unemployment rate at the national level from 2010 – 12 shown in figure 1, the unemployment rate in each of these cities increased during that period. Figure 3 below depicts the unemployment rate for each of the 10 cities.
City teenage unemp rate
In August 2012 the national unemployment rate for 16 – 19 year olds was 24.3%, a rate that was exceeded by all 10 cities analyzed here. Atlanta had the highest unemployment rate in 2012 at 48%. Atlanta’s high unemployment rate and relatively low LFP rate reveals how few Atlanta teens were employed during this period and how difficult it was for those who wanted a job to find one.
The unemployment rate may increase because employment declines or more unemployed people enter the labor force, which would increase the labor force participation rate. Figures 2 and 3 together indicate that the unemployment rate increased in each of these cities due to a decline in employment, not increased labor force participation.
The preceding figures are evidence that the teenage employment situation in these major cities is getting worse both over time and relative to other areas in the country. To the extent that teenage employment benefits young people, fewer and fewer of them are receiving these benefits. From the linked article:
“The substantial drop in teen employment prospects has had a devastating effect on the nation’s youngest teens (16-17), males, blacks, low income youth, and inner city, minority males,” wrote Andrew Sum in a report on teen summer employment for the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. “Those youth who need work experience the most get it the least, another example of the upside down world of labor markets in the past decade.”
Unfortunately, in many cities the response to this situation will only exacerbate the problem. Seattle and Los Angeles have already approved local $15 minimum wages, and a similar law in the state of New York that applies only to fast food franchises was recently approved by the state’s wage board. While many people still question the effect of a minimum wage on overall employment, there is substantial empirical evidence that arelatively high minimum wage has a negative effect on employment for the least skilled workers, which includes inner-city teenagers who often attend mediocre schools. Thus it is hard to believe that any of the seemingly well-intentioned increases in the minimum wage that are occurring around the country will have a positive effect on the urban teenage employment situation presented here. A better response would be to eliminate the minimum wage so that in the short run low-skilled workers are able to offer their labor at a price that is commensurate to its value. In the long run worker productivity must be increased which involves K-12 school reform.