A buried lede in the Associated Press story about Hillary Clinton's use of a private, home email server:
“Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton's home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.”
A GOP source emails, "Granted taxpayers pay for government servers too… but we literally are paying to protect hillary from public records. That’s insane."
More from the Associated Press report:
The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails - on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state - traced back to an Internet service registered to her family's home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.
The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton's secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.
Most Internet users rely on professional outside companies, such as Google Inc. or their own employers, for the behind-the-scenes complexities of managing their email communications. Government employees generally use servers run by federal agencies where they work.
In most cases, individuals who operate their own email servers are technical experts or users so concerned about issues of privacy and surveillance they take matters into their own hands. It was not immediately clear exactly where Clinton ran that computer system.
Retiring Democratic senator Barbara Mikulski spoke Tuesday evening at an event sponsored by EMILY's List, an organization dedicated to electing Democratic female candidates who oppose restrictions on abortion, about how much the group meant to her.
"It was the EMILY's List that created this whole new social framework on how women could send money to other Democratic women who were pro-choice, who were for the E.R.A.," Mikulski said. "Those checks came, and it was so helpful, I remember what they meant for me when everybody said I couldn't do it."
"The great day would come everyday when those little bundles of EMILYs would arrive, those little bundles of joy," Mikulski recalled of her first campaign. "And what meant so much to me was what often was in those messages. Now in my early days, they came by snail mail, now they come from from email. But you can feel the sentiment, the notes, the vibes behind it."
EMILY's List is well known for taking a hardline position on abortion. The group supports a right to abortion throughout pregnancy, at taxpayer expense if necessary. EMILY's List purged pro-choice senator Blanche Lincoln after the Arkansas Democrat voted for the partial-birth abortion ban.
Tuesday's gala in Washington, D.C. was held to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of EMILY's List's founding. Hillary Clinton was in attendance to accept the organization's "We Are EMILY Award."
A U.S. military officer's media briefing about plans for an Iraqi-led ground offensive in Mosul, including its expected timing, amounted to a mistaken disclosure of "military secrets," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday.
The briefing was authorized – making for one of those rare Washington headlines the genesis of which was not a leak – and it went into what many thought was surprising and indiscreet detail. To include the fact that:
… the U.S. wanted the Iraqis to launch the offensive in Mosul in April or May, although ... it might go later
The episode struck many as curious, at best, since:
It was unusual for the U.S. military to disclose in advance the expected timing of an offensive as well as details about the makeup of the Iraqi force that would undertake it. And it was curious that a secretary of defense would wait nearly two weeks after such a briefing to denounce it publicly for having spilled military secrets.
Meanwhile, it has become clear that there will most likely be no spring offensive to retake Mosul because the Iraqi army is not yet ready to undertake one. So, with the support of Iranian back Shia militias, it is now launching a offensive to retake Tikrit.
Tensions between Iraq and the United States over how to battle the Islamic State broke into the open on Tuesday, as Iraqi officials declared that they would fight on their own timetable with or without American help, and as United States warplanes conspicuously sat out the biggest Iraqi counteroffensive yet amid concerns over Iran’s prominent role.
On Monday, Iraq launched a politically sensitive operation to oust Islamic State militants from Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein, without seeking American approval, officials said. Even as Iraq was taking a first step into a bigger battle to oust the Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul, it was also signaling that its alliance with the United States might be more fraught than officials had let on.
Five years ago this month — on the night the Democrats passed Obamacare through the House without a single Republican vote — Paul Ryan proclaimed on the House floor, “This moment may mark a temporary conclusion of the health-care debate, but its place in history has not yet been decided. If this passes, the quest to reclaim the American idea is not over. The fight to reapply our founding principles is not finished. It is just a steeper hill to climb, and it is a climb that we will make!”
Americans’ opposition to Obamacare cost Democrats 63 House seats that fall (the most they had lost while also losing control of the chamber since the 19th century) and put Ryan’s party in the majority. Now chairman of Ways and Means, he and his fellow committee chairmen Fred Upton (Energy and Commerce) and John Kline (Workforce) have just penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that will help America continue its climb back from that dark night in March 2010.
“On Wednesday the Supreme Court will take on yet another legal challenge to the president’s health-care law, when the justices hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell. If the court rules against the administration, as any fair reading of the law would demand, millions of individuals and families will hit a major roadblock: They’ll be stuck with health insurance designed by Washington, D.C., that they can’t afford. Americans should have an off-ramp from ObamaCare — a legislative alternative that leads them away from an expensive health-care wreck and toward a patient-centered system.”
At least 36 states stand to be affected if the Court rules that the Obama administration has been lawlessly paying out subsidies. Ryan, Upton, and Kline propose to allow each of those states, in response to such a ruling, to choose whether to switch to a conservative alternative that would effectively repeal and replace Obamacare in that state. (Any of the other 14 states could choose to switch as well.)
The chairmen’s proposal would restore liberty and reduce costs by letting states opt out of Obamacare’s costly insurance coverage mandates, its job-thwarting employer mandate, and its unprecedented individual mandate. And it would address the longstanding inequality in the tax code — whereby those with employer-based insurance get a tax break while millions who buy insurance on their own do not — by offering a tax credit to those who buy insurance through the individual market.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on his take on Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech, Iran policy, and Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email account while serving as Secretary of State.
In Clinton, Inc., Daniel Halper exposes how Bill and Hillary Clinton went about systematically rebuilding their brand in pursuit of a Hillary Clinton presidency. “Clinton, Inc.” is a great metaphor, but it is perhaps the subtitle of the book that is more resonant today: The Audacious Rebranding of a Political Machine.
But, I would argue, the Clinton operation counts as a machine -- not just as a metaphor or allegory, but as a bona fide, contemporary update of the old 19th-century operation.
What is a political machine, boiled down to its essence? In a nutshell, it is a tightly-run, extra-governmental organization that conducts business on behalf of governmental agents. At first glance, political parties may be thought of as machines, but parties are basically open to any and all participants who more or less agree with the platform. Machines are closed off, premised on loyalty, and usually operated on behalf of a close-knit group of leaders, who control entry to and exit from the operation.
That the Clintons are an actual machine was given further evidence with the news that the Clinton Foundation has been accepting contributions from foreign governments, and that Hillary Clinton used a private email address when conducting her business as secretary of state. They clearly are operating a vast shadow organization -- a machine -- designed to clear a path for her to the Democratic nomination, and eventually the presidency.
From a purely political perspective, it is ingenious. We have not had a secretary of state become president since James Buchanan, and his tenure in that job had ended nearly a decade before he became president. John Quincy Adams, who served from 1825-1829, was the last president who, in his immediately preceding job, was secretary of state.
Why the long drought? After all, the job at State is an excellent training and proving ground for the presidency. The president has widest discretion in foreign affairs, so it stands to reason we’d sample heavily from our foreign service when selecting the next commander in chief. It seems like we the people are missing out on a great talent pool.
Republican senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah have returned to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to tout their latest tax reform proposal. The Republicans call their plan both "pro-growth" and "pro-family," and say it addresses inequities in the tax code for businesses and middle-class families.
Here's an excerpt:
We seek to simplify the code and lower rates for families and individuals, by consolidating the seven existing tax brackets into two simple groups—15% and 35%—and by making remaining deductions available to all filers.
Our plan will also put an end to the unfair treatment of our ultimate investor class: America’s moms and dads.
In addition to eliminating the well-known marriage penalty—which taxes married couples at a higher rate than if they had filed individually—our plan will reform another, less-familiar inequity in the code: the parent tax penalty.
The current tax system charges parents twice for federal senior entitlement programs. Parents pay payroll taxes like everyone else, but they also shoulder the financial burden of raising the next generation of taxpayers, who will grow up to fund the Social Security and Medicare benefits of all future seniors. Parents, in effect, pay twice for the same Social Security and Medicare benefits as everyone else.
Therefore, to equalize the tax code’s treatment of working parents, our plan would create a new, $2,500 per-child tax credit. This credit—like the correction of the marriage penalty—eliminates an unfair distortion in the code and helps level the playing field for working families.
The family-focused elements of the plan are pure Mike Lee, who has said he wants to influence the party's presidential candidates—a group which could very well include Marco Rubio—on tax reform and other domestic issues. From a recent WEEKLY STANDARD profile of the Utah Republican:
Lee knows he isn’t the presidential candidate conservatives are looking for, but he’s got his eyes on that “positive, innovative, and unapologetically conservative agenda.” He’s not shy about the role he’d like to play. “I do want to influence that debate,” Lee says. His slate of policy proposals isn’t light fare. Since 2013, Lee has introduced bills to make the tax code more family friendly, take on cronyism in Washington, reform the college accreditation system, and change the way the federal government funds transportation infrastructure. But what Lee really wants is to change the way conservatives think about domestic policy, reorienting the Republican party toward a family-focused, constitutional populism to help the GOP win back the White House. If Lee succeeds, it will make him one of the most consequential conservatives of his generation.
In a strong new web ad, the Republican National Committee whacks Hillary Clinton for the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation accepting foreign donations while she held the job of secretary of state. The ad is titled "A Very Serious Matter" and is meant to coincide with the Clinton Foundation gala being held tonight in New York City.
Watch the 85 second spot here:
The ad opens with President Bill Clinton on video saying, "Obviously it would be a very serious matter for the United States if any country were to attempt to funnel funds to one of our political parties for any reason whatever." Clinton made the remarks in February 1997.
Then, the video shows a clip of Barack Obama decrying foreign money. "To regularly [take]-in money from foreign sources … that's a threat to our democracy." The clip is from October 2010.
The video follows up the condemnations of accepting foreign cash with a slew of recent reports that indeed the Clinton Foundation accepted such money when Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of state. "Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state," Charlie Rose can be heard saying. Others are more scathing.
"That's not how our Democracy operates," a clip of Obama toward the end of video the says.
Finally, the Republican ad ends with this phrase, "Clinton's Ethics Violations Can't Be Ignored." It's a phrase we'll surely see time again.
Of course, the other big political news story this week is that Hillary Clinton may have broken the law by using a private email account while conducting official business in the State Department. Some are connecting the foreign money scandal to the email news.
In an emailed statement, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus says, "Hillary Clinton needs to release the rest of her emails and explain to the American people why she exclusively used a private email while serving as Secretary of State at the same time the Clinton Foundation accepted donations from foreign governments who were lobbying the State Department."
The ad will be released by the RNC later this morning.
The assassination of Boris Nemtsov just steps away from the Kremlin was shocking but, sadly, not entirely surprising. Mr. Nemtsov, 55, a former deputy prime minister and member of the Duma, had become a leader of the democratic opposition to the authoritarian rule of Vladimir Putin. Now he is the most recent and most prominent of Putin’s murdered critics.
Nemtsov was killed two days before he planned to take part in a march against the war in Ukraine and for democracy in Russia. He and his fellow democrats have been clear that the two are connected. Putin, they argue, is not motivated by an innate drive to restore Russian greatness or respond to NATO’s expansion in the 1990s. Rather, he seeks to distract attention from his authoritarian rule, corruption, and dismal economic record by mobilizing the Russian people against an external enemy, in this case Ukraine, lest it become a model for Russians of a successful, Europe-oriented democracy right next door.
Regrettably, the Obama administration refuses to accept this reality. To do so would require a fundamental change in its policy toward Russia, which ignores the relationship between the nature of the Putin regime and its behavior abroad. Instead, the White House and its European partners prefer to treat Putin’s aggression in Ukraine as a discrete matter, just one of many issues about which the West seeks to engage with Putin. This stubborn belief has persisted even after Putin has flagrantly violated yet another ceasefire in Ukraine.
Not even Nemtsov’s murder seems to have shaken the flawed assumptions about Putin’s Russia that guide U.S. policy. President Obama must know that the “prompt, impartial, and transparent” investigation he called for is impossible. Nemtsov and fellow opposition leaders, journalists, and others are vilified by Putin as a fifth column and enemies of the state. Putin has placed himself in charge of the investigation and delegated it to the state body that leads the persecution of his critics.
Monday night, it was revealed that Hillary Clinton used a personal email account the entire time she served as secretary of state. Not only does conducting official business with a private account violate federal law, it raises a host of concerns ranging from whether or not her communications were secure from foreign intelligence services, to whether we'll be able to piece together an accurate historical record. Given Hillary Clinton's legal troubles in the 1990s relating to keeping track of documents, it seems implausible she was not aware of the illegality of what was going on.
But one aspect of this story that deserves special focus is what this revelation about the former secretary of state's peculiar email habits tell us about how thorough the investigations of Benghazi have been to date. Indeed, the notion that investigators did not have access to Hillary Clinton's email would suggest that investigators lacked crucial information. And yet, the media largely bought the spin from Clinton's camp and the White House that GOP investigations into Benghazi had crossed into overreach. Journalists even propagated a cutesy social media gimmick to make this point.
However, the media's obvious desire to attack the credibility of the GOP Benghazi inquiries has always been far from justified. When the House Intelligence Comittee released a report last November the media eagerly spun the report as the GOP "debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies." Granted, there are a fair number of questions regarding the competence of the congressional Republicans' investigations into Benghazi. But it's also true that the media misread the report badly, and did not dwell on the fact that report completely discredited the New York Times' faulty claim that "no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault." Unsurprisingly, the media did not dwell on their own failures and continued to cover Benghazi as domestic partisan debate rather than take responsibility for ascertaining how four Americans, including an ambassador, died in a terror attack and whether or not there was any political cover-up.
In an open letter released on Tuesday, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker said he would sign legislation banning most abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy, the point after which infants can feel pain and survive if born prematurely.
"As the Wisconsin legislature moves forward in the coming session, further protections for mother and child are likely to come to my desk in the form of a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. I will sign that bill when it gets to my desk and support similar legislation on the federal level," Walker wrote. "I was raised to believe in the sanctity of life and I will always fight to protect it."
Walker's letter was released the same day that Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, was in Washington, D.C. to speak at an event hosted by EMILY's List, an organization that that opposes bans on partial-birth or late-term abortion and supports taxpayer-funded abortion. EMILY's List is well known for its absolutist position on the issue; the organization withdrew its support of pro-choice Democratic senator Blanche Lincoln as retribution for Lincoln's vote in favor of a ban on partial-birth abortion.
Walker's letter was obtained in response to a request from the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization that has been asking potential presidential candidates to pledge support for legislation banning abortions that occur later than 20 weeks after conception. When Walker was asked in an October 2014 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about signing such legislation, he declined to directly answer the question, saying, "Those are things that we’ll have to talk about in the next legislative session if it comes up."
According to the SBA List, the list of potential Republican presidential candidates who have pledged support for the late-term abortion ban now includes Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Mike Pence, and Carly Fiorina.
Polling shows that a strong majority of Americans support the legislation, which the House of Representatives passed in 2013. An identical version of the bill was scheduled for a vote in January of this year, but the bill was pulled from the floor after some Republicans objected to a provision they previously voted for. Members of Congress say they still expect a vote on the bill this year.
A prominent Democrat probing outside funding for seven university professors who stake out skeptical or controversial positions on climate change said his request for their correspondence with funders and others was an "overreach."
But Rep. Raul Grijalva is also strongly defending his search for ties between fossil-fuel interests and climate research against charges that it's a "witch hunt," arguing that the thrust of the inquiry is aimed at providing important disclosures. The Arizona Democrat sent letters last week to seven universities seeking information on the sources and amounts of external funding for research, consulting, travel, and more.
The letters also broadly asked for "communication" regarding the funding, and communication related to testimony to Congress and other bodies prepared by the professors.
"The communications back-and-forth is honestly secondary, and I would even on my own say that that was an overreach in that letter," Grijalva, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, told National Journal on Monday. "I want the disclosure [of funding sources]. Then people can draw their own conclusions."
This is a positive development, but Grijalva insistence that this is not a witch hunt doesn't begin to pass the smell test. As one of the targeted climate scientists, the University of Colorado's Roger Pielke Jr., noted last week:
Before continuing, let me make one point abundantly clear: I have no funding, declared or undeclared, with any fossil fuel company or interest. I never have. Representative Grijalva knows this too, because when I have testified before the US Congress, I have disclosed my funding and possible conflicts of interest. So I know with complete certainty that this investigation is a politically-motivated “witch hunt” designed to intimidate me (and others) and to smear my name.
Further, the Natural Resources Committee's Democratic spokesman has said that the seven scientists being investigated were chosen because "to have the most impact on policy in the scientific community." In other words, Democrats were openly admitting that they were trying to silence the debate over climate science. This whole episode is shameful, and Grijalva's attempt to save face here is unconvincing -- to put it mildly.
President Obama has repeatedly denied that terrorists have anything to do with the real Islam. But what would Obama say about the fatwa that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s leading political and religious authority from 1979 to 1989, issued condemning author Salman Rushdie to death for writing a book deemed blasphemous to Islam? Khomeini was about as “real Islam” as it gets.
The parallels to contemporary terrorism are very clear. Terrorists murdered the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists for what the killers considered the cartoonists’ blasphemy in mocking Muhammad, and the same motivation seems to have inspired the attack by terrorist Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein at the free speech event in Copenhagen. Rushdie’s 1988 book The Satanic Verses had sparked protest demonstrations by Muslims, particularly in Pakistan, because it was considered blasphemous, and shortly thereafter Ayatollah Khomeini issued his 1989 fatwa ordering ordinary Muslims to try to murder Rushdie and all those who were knowingly involved in the publication of the book. How can Obama deny that Khomeini’s fatwa was state-sanctioned and Islam-sanctioned terrorism?
The fatwa Khomeini issued makes chilling reading even today. Here’s a translation:
I would like to inform all the intrepid Muslims in the world that the author of the book entitled ‘Satanic Verses’. . . as well as those publishers who were aware of its contents, are hereby sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Moslems to execute them quickly, wherever they find them, so that no one will dare to insult Islamic sanctity. Whoever is killed doing this will be regarded as a martyr and will go directly to heaven.
Nothing to do with Islam? I would remind Obama, as he ponders that question, that at the time of the Rushdie fatwa Khomeini had not only been “Supreme Leader” of Iran -- a country that has the seventh-largest Muslim population in the world -- for almost a decade, but he also had long been considered an expert in Islamic law and had written many books on the subject.
Then in 1991, when Rushdie’s book’s Japanese translator was stabbed to death in Tokyo, and when in 1993 his Italian translator was attacked in Milan but survived, and when the same thing happened to his Norwegian publisher in Oslo, did those murders and attempted murders have nothing to do with Islam?
Nancy Pelosi reacts to Benjamin Netanyahu's speech by saying, "I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech."
Here's her full statement:
“The unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel are rooted in our shared values, our common ideals and mutual interests. Ours is a deep and abiding friendship that will always reach beyond party. Americans stand shoulder to shoulder with the Israeli people. The state of Israel stands as the greatest political achievement of the 20th century, and the United States will always have an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.
“That is why, as one who values the U.S. – Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.
“Today, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated something we all agree upon: a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable to both our countries. We have all said that a bad deal is worse than no deal, and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons is the bedrock of our foreign policy and national security. As President Obama has said consistently, all options are on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.”