|1:35 PM, Sep 2, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The Washington Post has a poll out this today that finds Hillary Clinton's numbers are down in the wake of her email scandal. The poll undercuts one of the main arguments for her candidacy -- electing the first woman president would excite female voters. While Hillary Clinton has a negative approval rating among 53 percent of voters, the poll doesn't show a huge gender gap on that figure. In fact, 51 percent of women have an unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton at the moment:
12:24 PM, Sep 2, 2015 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
You've probably now heard of Ashley Madison, a dating website set up explicitly for married people looking to have affairs. Their entire system got hacked--not just member accounts and credit-card info, but internal company data, too. And the most interesting stuff to come out of it isn't about Ashley Madison's clientele: It's about the company itself.
Ashley Madison had always sounded like a scam to me. The site claimed 37 million users, which, if true, would be an enormous percentage of America's married population. (That would be roughly half of all married people between the ages of 25 and 55.) (Which sounded incredibly implausible.)
And now we know that Ashley Madison's claims were implausible. An investigation of the site's user database found that there were 31 million profiles for men. However, only 20 million male "users" ever bothered to check their Ashley Madison message box even once, and only 11 million male users ever engaged the website's chat function, even once. A lot of people clearly just signed up out of curiosity.
The database also shows that there were 5.5 million women on Ashley Madison-but when reporter Annalee Newitz drilled down into their user profiles, an astonishing number of these women appear to be fakes-that is, dummy accounts created by the Ashley Madison staff to make it look like there was a pool of women looking for action. And by "astonishing," I mean that it looks like the number of real, live women using the site was somewhere between 1,500 and 10,000.
Which suggests that Ashley Madison might have been the greatest internet scam, ever. They suckered a couple million guys into paying a boatload of money to have affairs with women who were nothing more than sockpuppets of Ashley Madison employees.
The men did this even though the company basically warned them that this was going to happen in the terms of service agreement. Here's Newitz: "[T]here is a clause in the Ashley Madison terms of service that notes that 'some' people are using the site purely 'for entertainment' and that they are 'not seeking in person meetings with anyone they meet on the Service, but consider their communications with users and Members to be for their amusement.' The site stops short of saying these are fake people, but does admit that many profiles are for 'amusement only.'"
But the true genius of the scam is that, as a friend of mine pointed out, once the men got wise to what Ashley Madison was doing, they had no recourse. These were married men looking to have affairs. They were never going to risk public exposure by trying to go after the site for scamming them. It's the online dating equivalent of robbing a drug dealer.
Shortly after the first news of the hack broke, another friend quipped, "Well, the guys using Ashley Madison were looking to get screwed." They had no idea.
11:09 AM, Sep 2, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Hillary Clinton will be going to Puerto Rico later this week to discuss the "health care crisis." The Clinton campaign announced the visit in a press release this morning.
"On Friday, September 4th Hillary Clinton will travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a health care roundtable to hear directly from Puerto Ricans about the health care challenges facing the community; to see first hand the impact of the unequal treatment that Puerto Rico patients, doctors and hospitals suffer in federal health care reimbursement policies; and to highlight the need for the United States to provide real support and tools to help Puerto Rico reverse its economic decline and overcome the health care crisis. During the event, Clinton will hear from health care industry and patient representatives from Puerto Rico," the press release reads.
Hillary Clinton will speak at Caribbean Cardiovascular Center healthcare roundtable
WHEN: Friday, September 4th 2015 at 4:15 PM EDT
DOORS OPEN: 3:30 PM EDT
WHERE: Cardiovascular Center of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Avenue Américo Miranda
Conference Room B/C
Esq. Centro Médico
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00936
"It should require two-thirds vote of the Senate to go in force."10:04 AM, Sep 2, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Former vice president Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz Cheney appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe Wednesday morning to promote their new book, Exceptional. The Cheneys spoke about national security, foreign policy issues like the Iran deal, and 2016 politics.
The vice president called on Congress to hold a vote on the Iran deal and to treat it as a treaty. "What we need to do is have Congress reject the deal," Cheney said. "It ought to be treated as a treaty, for one thing. I'm offended by the fact that it's not treated as a treaty. It should require two-thirds vote of the Senate to go in force."
Cheney also defended the decision to invade Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein from power. "Wasn't the world more stable with Saddam Hussein in power?" asked host Joe Scarborough.
"No," Cheney responded. "When we took down Saddam, [Libyan dictator Muammar] Qaddafi gave up his nuclear program."
Cheney added: "The most important thing was he get rid of the nuclear materials. Imagine what would have happened if he hadn't done that and ISIS moved in and took over in Libya."
Watch the videos below:
Not a parody.8:40 AM, Sep 2, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The latest stash of emails from Hillary Clinton's private server released by the State Department has (once again!) revealed Washington to be a particularly unbearable place, employing particularly insufferable people. From Clinton's email correspondence with her senior staff we can observe how those with proximity to power engage in rare forms of backstabbing, obsequiousness, pettiness, bad humor, and self-obsession.
There was the revelation that Huma Abedin, Clinton's aide-de-camp who held down multiple six-figure salaries at outside consulting firms while making $135,000 at State, apparently complains about not getting "paid enough." Another top Clinton aide, Philippe Reines, was seen tattling on a colleague directly to the secretary. "I for one loved that you finally called out the ogrish males on your staff who roll their eyes at womens [sic] issues and events," Reines wrote to Clinton before calling out one such male staffer by name.
The Reines email might be the second most cringe-inducing document in Washington ever. The top (so far!) prize, however, certainly goes to Clinton lawyer, advocate, and all-around flunky Lanny Davis. In September 2010 Davis sent his "dear friend Hillary" an email with the subject line "Personal - a personal favor." What follows are two pages of over-the-top praise for the former first lady, more than a healthy dose of self-promotion on Davis's part, several hand-wringing apologies for even bothering the great and powerful Hillary Clinton with such a terrible request, and four groveling "pleases."
The email has to be seen to be believed:
The Wall Street Journal has developed an easy-to-use database to search the Clinton emails if any WEEKLY STANDARD readers have the stomach to find an even better (worse?) example of how Washington works.
7:47 AM, Sep 2, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finds herself under growing scrutiny over the classified contents of dozens of emails (perhaps hundreds once the State Department finishes releasing them all) she sent and received as head of the State Department. As it turns out, Mrs. Clinton could have avoided this pitfall by following her own guidance while she was still in office.
In January 2012, then-Secretary Clinton was questioned at a town hall meeting about workplace flexibility options for women thinking of applying for senior positions at the State Department [emphasis added]:
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I’m on the board of Executive Women at State. Fewer women are applying for senior positions in the Department and women at every level are having difficulty with maternity, childcare, and eldercare issues, and some are resigning. Workplace flexibility options are inconsistent from office to office. How can Executive Women at State and other concerned affinity groups work with you to help address these problems before you leave? Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is matter of great concern to me, because obviously balancing family and work responsibilities is challenging, and the challenge falls disproportionately on women in the workplace. And it’s no longer just a question of one’s children. It’s also one’s aging relatives who are often part of the care giving responsibilities that are assumed. And I really want to do more on this this year.
I think we’ve got a variety of policies in place that are trying to make the Department a more family-friendly work environment. I know some of you have raised on the Sounding Board and through your chains, here, the question about more telework. Pat and I have talked about this. We have to determine which positions are eligible and which aren’t. A lot of the classified and confidential work can’t be outsourced, so to speak, to telework. So we are looking at that, we will continue to look at it, and we will try to support as much expansion of it as is possible. But I don't want to overpromise, because there are inherent challenges.
Although Mrs. Clinton said in 2012 that she and the State Department needed "to determine which positions are eligible and which aren’t," the secretary had apparently unilaterally determined her own position was eligible for such an arrangement despite the "classified and confidential work" which she herself had been engaged in since assuming office in 2009. Due to her travel schedule, Mrs. Clinton spent many days in various locations around the world, but at times worked from home, as well. Despite her assertion that she used a separate secure system for classified communications, it is increasingly clear that often classified materials found a way into her personal email, passing through and being stored on her private email server in her home in Chappaqua, New York.
6:16 PM, Sep 1, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A prevailing media narrative is that while Republicans have pitched a fit over Barack Obama’s negotiated deal with Iran over that country’s nuclear program, the seeds of such a deal were sown by the previous administration.
“Nine years ago, President George W. Bush agreed to join Europeans at the negotiating table with Iran,” wrote the New York Times's Alan Rappeport in July. Rappeport also quoted former Bush State Department official Philip Zelikow: “It’s conceptually a deep irony because this diplomatic outreach was originally designed and engineered by President Bush.” Zack Beauchamp at Vox.com said the same thing in a headline reading, “The Iran deal began with George W. Bush."
But that’s not true, says Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney. In an interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Cheney dismissed the idea that what the Bush administration pursued led to the current deal. “I can’t believe we would ever have agreed to what Obama has agreed to,” he said.
“Our objective always was that the Iranians would have no nuclear weapons. That was the Obama objective when they started,” Cheney said. The problem, he explained, was that the Obama administration did not stick to this objective.
“One of the things that Obama has done with the agreement that he has reached is that it basically legitimizes Iran to go forward with enrichment capability. That’s a major break with what has been the traditional practice of the [non-proliferation treaty],” Cheney said. “And also, I think there’s some six UN Security Council resolutions dealing with the Iranian nuclear program that got wiped out by virtue of that provision with this agreement.”
In Exceptional, Cheney’s new book co-authored by his daughter Liz Cheney, the former vice president outlines how the Bush administration made efforts in its second term both to ramp up economic sanctions against Iran as well as to consider diplomatic talks to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.
The Cheneys give credit to Stuart Levey, an undersecretary of the Treasury, for reinvigorating the idea of economic sanctions in 2005 and 2006, when the widely held belief was that Iran had been “sanctioned out.” Levey, they write, devised new ways to block economic activity by meeting with CEOs of international banks and impressing on them the reality of what business with Iran meant: money flowing directly to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a regime that was the leading state sponsor of terror.
3:59 PM, Sep 1, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
More than 200 elected officials, Republican and conservative activists, and business leaders have signed a letter to CNN president Jeff Zucker requesting the cable network award Carly Fiorina a spot in the upcoming Republican presidential primary debate. Fiorina campaign staff posted the letter on Medium, with a note saying the campaign is "so grateful for their support."
Read the contents of the letter below:
Dear Jeff Zucker,
Carly Fiorina is a top tier candidate in this race. She won the last debate and has been in the top 10 in every poll released this month. To ensure a fair and representative process, your network should seat her alongside the other candidates polling in the top 10. A transparent effort by your network to benefit candidates from and of the political establishment will not be acceptable to conservative grassroots voters. We are the audience for this debate, and we will not tolerate a TV network inappropriately influencing our primary process.
We also call on the Republican National Committee (RNC) to encourage CNN to adjust its debate criteria. Make no mistake, the RNC — which decided how many GOP primary debates there would be and who would host them — holds considerable influence over this process. Its continued silence is tantamount to turning its back on Republican voters who overwhelmingly want to see Carly on the debate stage. Carly Fiorina has already proven that she deserves to be on the main debate stage. It’s time for CNN and the RNC to recognize it as well.
Fiorina has broken into the top 10 in several national and early state polls since her well-received performance in the August 6 Fox News "undercard" debate. But under CNN's current debate criteria, her lower rankings in polls from as far back as May are likely to keep her out of the main debate on September 16.
Update: CNN reports the network is changing its debate criteria:
CNN is amending the criteria for its Republican presidential debate on September 16, possibly opening the door for Carly Fiorina to join the other top-tier candidates on the stage.
The cause: a lack of national public polling following the August 6 debate has so far provided only three new polls to determine the lineup for the Reagan Presidential Debate, according to a CNN statement.
As a result, CNN reevaluated its criteria and decided to add a provision that better reflects the state of the race since the first Republican presidential debate in August, the network announced Tuesday.
3:24 PM, Sep 1, 2015 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
So far, the Republican presidential contest has been light on Obamacare, with Scott Walker — who has essentially championed the 2017 Project’s “Winning Alternative to Obamacare” — providing a noteworthy exception. Since Obamacare is the biggest issue of Barack Obama’s presidency, why are most GOP candidates shying away from talking about their plans to bring about its full repeal? The answer, in part, is that while almost all Tea Partiers and most grassroots Republicans are fully committed to repeal, two groups within the Republican party or the conservative (or libertarian) movement are either not fully dedicated to the cause or are actively working against it.
The first group is the Chamber-of-Commerce Republicans, of which congressional leadership is the most noteworthy example. This group isn’t losing any sleep over Obamacare and doesn’t wish to spend any political capital fighting it — except to “fix” it by repealing things like the medical-device tax, which the Chamber (and hence congressional leadership) is targeting. The second group is the libertarian-leaning wing that opposes essentially every Obamacare alternative. This group pretends that the American people are ready to repeal Obamacare and replace it with nothing. It refuses to recognize that conservatives’ refusal to offer real reforms has paved the way for liberals’ efforts to socialize American medicine.
In a piece at Forbes, John Goodman takes aim at this second group. He writes, “Michael Cannon, who directs health policy at the libertarian Cato Institute, calls…any plan that is based on a refundable tax credit…Obamacare lite.” (Refundable tax credits are tax credits that go both to people who pay taxes and those who don’t. Since nearly half of all Americans don’t pay income taxes, a non-refundable income-tax credit would be useless to the poor or near-poor who make up the vast majority of Obamacare’s newly insured — and hence would be useless politically to anyone who wants to get rid of Obamacare.)
“So where did the idea of a refundable tax credit come from? The Brookings Institution? A George Soros organization? Some other liberal think tank? No. None of those. The idea came from the Cato Institute!
“I know. I proposed the idea along with the idea of Health Savings Accounts in my book Patient Power, published by Cato in 1992.”
Goodman then lists five reasons why tax credits are “such a good idea”:
“They would (1) make tax relief for health insurance fair, (2) eliminate perverse incentives to over-consume health care, (3) minimize the role of government, (4) privatize a large part of the welfare state and (5) empower individuals rather than impersonal bureaucracies.”
2:49 PM, Sep 1, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
He was the hope and the future of the franchise, the toast of the city, just three years ago. The Redskins had themselves a rookie quarterback who would return them to glory. And he did actually get them into the playoffs in his rookie season.
But then things started to go bad, the way they do with the Redskins. He was injured, but that was only part of the story.
Robert Griffin III, the quarterback, became the friend and the project of Daniel Snyder, owner of the team. Inevitably, relations between Griffin and his coach, Mike Shanahan were strained. The playoff season deteriorated into a last place, three-win finish, last in the division, with Griffin sitting on the bench and Shanahan out of a job.
New coach, new season, more woes. And where in, say, Indianapolis or Pittsburgh or Bill Belichick land, team tensions and antagonisms are kept in house, in Washington, where everyone talks, the rumors and the insider gossip about the Redskins and their quarterback woes were traded as points of status. The Redskins air their dirty laundry and, in fact, seem to get it dirty just so they’ll have some they can air.
For the last several days, the rumors have swirled. Griffin to be benched in favor of Kirk Cousins. Griffin to be traded. Released outright. Coach to be fired.
Things reached a sort of comic low point when Griffin appeared to support an Instagram petition backing the “impeachment of Dan Snyder.” Only in Washington could people think it possible to “impeach” the owner of a sports franchise. Still, the petition was grimly serious, asserting that
As a Skins Fan I'm disappointed in the way my team used this mans talent and potential to do nothing but raise hopes and make a profit. I don't regret the skins grabbing RG, I do regret having a sorry ass team owner and sorry ass front office who couldn't put a winning coaching staff together who could actually compete for a super bowl. Griffin does not deserve the blame or bad rap, the man has gone above and beyond since day one to the point of injury, while at the same time being a role model of a person.
Griffin quickly stepped in and said that he didn’t do it. It was the work of an intern. Seriously.
In his statement, Griffin declared that
I just wanted to set the record straight on this one. I did not "like" that IG post ridiculing our team. I have not been social media active consistently for awhile now and am ultra-focused on working to get back on the field and trying to help this team. One of our interns who helps with Instagram liked the post. As soon as I was made aware of it, it was immediately unliked. That is not how I feel and I appreciate your understanding.
1:14 PM, Sep 1, 2015 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
For the last several weeks, Air Force Secretary Deborah James has been touting the deployment of F-22 Raptor fighters – the best plane America owns – to Germany as “the strong side of the coin” in an effort to reassure Eastern Europeans who have seen their air space increasingly violated by Russian jets. “Russia’s military activity in the Ukraine continues to be of great concern to us and our European allies,” she said.
Turns out that the strong side of the coin was just four aircraft, two of which yesterday took a day trip to Last Air Force Base in central Poland. That’ll show them Rooskies!
To his credit, Defense Secretary Ash Carter seems to remember that the United States is a global power and that “pivoting to the Pacific” does little to reassure the rest of the world. But his argument for a “strong and balanced” approach to Europe is severely undercut by the size of the force at his disposal and its declining state of readiness. Looked at realistically, the F-22 ballyhoo is a measure of weakness, not strength.
Now, the F-22 is a superb fighter, the best in the world. But four Raptors – whose home base is Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, a very long way from eastern Ukraine – is a very small number, a fraction of what would be needed to sustain combat air patrols over Europe’s contested skies. The total Raptor fleet is just 185 planes, and the demand for air superiority is global. No wonder the Air Force is thrilling to the Germany deployment; they don’t get to do stuff like this much any more. Service leaders have been cooking up a “Rapid Raptor” package, including airlift, flight crews and spare parts, that would enable these kinds of four-ship formations to move from their home bases in the U.S. to trouble spots on short notice.
Indeed, this two-week exercise is the first operational deployment of the F-22 to Europe, even though the Raptor has been in service for a decade; the Bush Administration pointedly refused to deploy F-22s during the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, lest it seem too provocative. So this exercise is also a measure of how Vladimir Putin’s belligerence has caught the Obama administration and the Pentagon off guard. The decision to terminate F-22 procurement was taken in 2009, in part because of defense budget cuts but also in because there seemed to be little need for such a super-fighter.
The Air Force needs anywhere from 375 to 450 F-22s to sustain the kinds of global patrolling required for a serious deterrent posture, with a permanent presence in the Pacific (including the South Pacific) and the Middle East as well as Europe. Raptors based at home should be reinforcements, not the front line of defense. It would cost a lot of money – maybe as much as $1 billion – to restart F-22 production, but it is one of the few things the next president could do to jump-start the rebuilding of America’s military.
Here's how Hillary solved that problem.12:35 PM, Sep 1, 2015 • By SHOSHANA WEISSMANN
In one of the newly release Hillary Clinton emails, a mostly redacted message from Philip Gordon to Huma Abedin and Jacob Sullivan ends with, "To quote Huma, I don't get paid enough." Abedin, Clinton’s closest aide, was able to change her fortunes with a little help from friends.
In 2012, Abedin transitioned to being a "special employee," meaning she could hold several jobs in addition to her role at the State Department. Presumably, that meant she got a raise.
As the Washington Post notes,
At the time, Abedin held four jobs with four different employers — an arrangement allowed by a special government designation she held permitting outside employment.
As for one of her four jobs, the New York Post reports that Abedin received a substantial salary increase:
She reportedly raked in $355,000 as a consultant to Teneo, while simultaneously pocketing $135,000 in government pay.
Teneo is a company closely tied with the Clintons. Bill Clinton formerly advised the company.
Abedin's two other jobs, according to CNN, included working for the Clinton Foundation and working for "Zain Endeavors," which "was registered 11 days before Abedin left her post as Clinton's deputy chief of staff."
11:01 AM, Sep 1, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The Center for Medical Progress is out with another horrifying video exposing Planned Parenthood's practice of harvesting the organs from aborted fetuses for money. One of the people that appears in this latest video is Cate Dyer, the CEO of StemExpress, whose sister was the health policy advisor for Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner until very recently. According to CMP's press release accompanying the video:
The video features undercover conversations with Dr. Katharine Sheehan, the long-time medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest until 2013; Perrin Larton, the Procurement Manager for ABR; and Cate Dyer, the CEO of rival fetal tissue procurement company StemExpress.
Sheehan tells actors posing as a new human biologics company that at Planned Parenthood Pacific Southwest, “We have already a relationship with ABR.” Sheehan explains, “We’ve been using them for over 10 years, really a long time, just kind of renegotiated the contract. They’re doing the big collections for government-level collections and things like that.” When one of the actors negotiates, “We return a portion of our fees to the clinics,” Sheehan responds eagerly, “Right, get a toe in and make it, make a pro–alright.” ...
Perrin Larton, the Procurement Manager at ABR, is shown describing ABR’s fetal tissue harvesting practice to a prospective buyer. “I literally have had women come in and they’ll go in the O.R. and they’re back out in 3 minutes, and I’m going, ‘What’s going on?’ Oh yeah, the fetus was already in the vaginal canal whenever we put her in the stirrups, it just fell out,” she explains of situations where there has been a great enough degree of cervical dilation to procure an intact fetus.
ABR, founded in 1989 by CEO Linda Tracy, charges $340 per second-trimester fetal tissue specimen, yet seems less concerned about tissue quality than other harvesting companies: “Whenever we have a smooth portion of liver, we think that’s good!” says Larton.
Watch the video below, though be warned: the contents are graphic and extremely disturbing. (And before Planned Parenthood complains that the videos are misleadingly edited, note that CMP, like it has done before, has also released the unedited video to avoid such spurious accusations):
10:02 AM, Sep 1, 2015 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
One of the most disturbing aspects of living through the Obama presidency is reading every week or two about some new decision that has been decreed by the executive branch rather than voted upon by the legislative branch. Time and again, things that — in a constitutional republic — should be decided by the people’s representatives are instead being decided by a man who never again has to face the people’s verdict, or by those serving underneath him and at his discretion. This is not the way America is supposed to work.
The latest example, of course, is President Obama’s decreeing, king-like, that the tallest mountain on the continent will henceforth have a new name — because he thinks it should. This comes on the heels of his administration’s declaration that Alexander Hamilton will be taken off the $10 bill in favor of a person to be named later (although her sex has been named now). The truly disturbing thing in both instances has not been the decision itself — unjust as that is at least in Hamilton’s case. Rather, it is the dangerous precedent that is being set of a citizenry being ruled by the branch whose very name conveys that its primary responsibility is to execute the decisions made by others — namely, by Congress.
Mount McKinley sits on federal territory, in Denali National Park. The Constitution reads, “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.” Similarly, it says, “The Congress shall have Power…To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States.”
As a matter of constitutional authority, therefore — and not merely of what this president thinks he can get away with politically — if Obama is justified in unilaterally renaming Mount McKinley, why wouldn’t he also be justified in unilaterally renaming Washington, D.C.? Surely Obama can think of people he’d rather honor than Washington and Columbus. Given his constantly widening conception of his own power, his magnanimous restraint in this regard seems to have nothing to do with his perceived limits to his authority and everything to do with the limits of how unpopular he is willing to be.
The rule of law requires the active engagement of the law-making branch. Our republic cannot long survive the repeated circumvention of that branch by presidents who seek to impose their own will and pursue their own glory.
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