But I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the media are banking a good deal of credibility reporting on Hillary now, because they intend to spend it later. For one thing, nearly all of the reporting is piggybacking on Peter Schweizer's investigative work, who the media never fail to remind us worked for Sarah Palin briefly, without disclosing their own conflict of interest. For another, the media are letting Hillary Clinton stonewall even as various Clintonistas make laughable excuses. Lanny Davis must have carpal tunnel syndrome from furiously banging out disingenuous op-eds, and it almost goes without saying that David Brock and the rest of the flying monkeys at Media Matters are bad at what they do and should feel bad about themselves for doing it. Even those elements of the overtly liberal press that don't have direct ties to the Clintons (that we know of, anyway) are already falling back on whatever flavor of "vast right-wing conspiracy" they think sounds discrediting.
Further, while the media are expressing some mild frustration that Hillary Clinton is refusing to answer any questions, they are for the most part letting her get away with it. If a Republican candidate were dogged by this much scandal and trying to avoid the press, their silence would lead every nightly newscast for weeks until the candidate agreed to be locked in a room with Andrea Mitchell and a cattle prod for a three hour network special called "50 Shades of Jeb."
Late last week, hundreds of dedicated WEEKLY STANDARD readers flocked to Colorado Springs to attend the magazine's yearly summit at the Broadmoor resort.
There, the boss conducted a straw poll for the event's attendees. Here's a summary of the results from today's Kristol Clear newsletter (which you can sign up for here):
As you know, Scott Walker led in the three polls we've done through this newsletter over the past few months. But it was Marco Rubio who prevailed among the 400 or so Broadmoor attendees, with Scott Walker second, and no one else really close to either of them.
Here are the results. The first number is the percentage of first place choices, the secondis the percentage of ballots on which the candidate took first, second, or third place.
No one else showed up in the first three positions on more than 5% of the ballots.
So it was Rubio's moment at the Broadmoor. We'll see where you all stand on the race when we do another poll of readers in a couple of weeks.
In a speech today in South Korea, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Internet "needs rules to be able to flourish and work properly." This, according to Kerry, is necessary even for "a technology founded on freedom."
Speaking on behalf of the Obama administration, Kerry said that Internet policy is "a key component of our foreign policy."
Kerry made his remarks in the context of talking about how international law is applicable to the Internet. "As I’ve mentioned, the basic rules of international law apply in cyberspace. Acts of aggression are not permissible. And countries that are hurt by an attack have a right to respond in ways that are appropriate, proportional, and that minimize harm to innocent parties. We also support a set of additional principles that, if observed, can contribute substantially to conflict prevention and stability in time of peace. We view these as universal concepts that should be appealing to all responsible states, and they are already gaining traction," said Kerry.
"First, no country should conduct or knowingly support online activity that intentionally damages or impedes the use of another country’s critical infrastructure. Second, no country should seek either to prevent emergency teams from responding to a cybersecurity incident, or allow its own teams to cause harm. Third, no country should conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets, or other confidential business information for commercial gain. Fourth, every country should mitigate malicious cyber activity emanating from its soil, and they should do so in a transparent, accountable and cooperative way. And fifth, every country should do what it can to help states that are victimized by a cyberattack.
"I guarantee you if those five principles were genuinely and fully adopted and implemented by countries, we would be living in a far safer and far more confident cyberworld.
"But even with these principles, ensuring international cyber stability will remain a work in progress. We still have a lot of work to do to develop a truly reliable framework – based on international law – that will effectively deter violations and minimize the danger of conflict.
"To build trust, the UN Group of Governmental Experts has stressed the importance of high-level communication, transparency about national policies, dispute settlement mechanisms, and the timely sharing of information – all of them, very sound and important thoughts. The bottom line is that we who seek stability and peace in cyberspace should be clear about what we expect and intend, and those who may be tempted to cause trouble should be forewarned: they will be held accountable for their actions. The United States reserves the right to use all necessary means, including economic, trade and diplomatic tools, as appropriate in order to defend our nation and our partners, our friends, our allies. The sanctions against North Korean officials earlier this year are one example of the use of such a tool in response to DPRK's provocative, destabilizing and repressive actions, including the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures. Now, as the international community moves towards consensus about what exactly constitutes unacceptable behavior in cyberspace, more and more responsible nations need to join together to act against disruptors and rogue actors.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on the TWS Summit at the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and who fared well (Rubio, Walker) and who didn't (Kasich, Cruz) in the summit's straw poll.
Bobby Jindal is forming a 2016 presidential exploratory committee. The Louisiana governor made the announcement in a press release from advisor Timmy Teepell.
"Today, Governor Bobby Jindal formed an exploratory committee to assist him in deciding whether to seek the Republican Party nomination for President," reads the press release.
The announcement comes with a statement from Jindal himself. "For some time now, my wife Supriya and I have been thinking and praying about whether to run for the Presidency of our great nation. We'll make a final decision in June, after the legislative session in Louisiana ends," says Jindal.
"If I run, my candidacy will be based on the idea that the American people are ready to try a dramatically different direction. Not a course correction, but a dramatically different path.
"President Obama has started to redefine the American Dream, turning it into the European Nightmare. Because of this, I believe our country is in serious trouble and that the hour is late for America. Economic collapse is much closer to the door than people realize, our culture is decaying at a rapid rate, and our standing in a dangerous world is at an all-time low.
"However, the problems caused by 7 years of weak leadership and mistakes in the Obama administration can be corrected. But they won’t be fixed by just sending Republicans to Congress. It will only be fixed by a President who is willing to make hard decisions and who has the ideas to change our country's future.
"While other Republican leaders are talking about change, I've published detailed plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, rebuild America's Defenses, make America energy independent, and reform Education for our nation's children.
"So today I’m announcing the launch of an exploratory committee, which will help me to decide whether to seek our party's nomination."
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker said America should focus on the current challenges and problems faced in Iraq. Speaking on CBS's Face the Nation, Walker responded to a question from Bob Schieffer about potential 2016 rival Jeb Bush's difficult time answering questions about the 2003 invasion of Iraq that his brother, George W. Bush, argued for as president. Another Republican candidate, Marco Rubio, has also said apparently conflicting things about the wisdom of the invasion.
Walker said given the information we know now, it's "safe to say" he would not have invaded Iraq as president.
"I tend to agree with Secretary [Robert] Gates. We should be talking about the challenges we face going forward," said Walker. "But I did stand up and defend the president, President Bush that is, saying, I think any president, regardless of party, probably would have made a similar decision President Bush did at the time with the information he had available." Walker went on to say that the problem with the invasion in 2003 was a "failure" in the intelligence given the the president and commended Bush for "recognizing those challenges in Iraq" and implementing the 2007 surge of forces there after "listening to those in Congress who were pushing for that."
"And I also think it’s important to learn from the fact that this president and the advisors he had like Secretary Clinton I think made a mistake by urging the country to pull back from the state of Iraq," Walker added. "And we have a place that is largely destabilized now because of their quick move the last few years to get out of Iraq. That's something we need to learn from going forward. We have a very destabilized region and we need to have strong presence there."
Since announcing his candidacy for the president last month, Florida senator Marco Rubio has surged in the polls for the Republican nomination. He's now tied with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and trails former Florida governor Jeb Bush by two points in the Real Clear Politics average of polls. National Democrats are taking note in a new fundraising campaign that takes on the Miami Republican.
"Meet Florida senator Marco Rubio," says a new email from the Democratic National Committee. "He now opposes comprehensive immigration reform. He's against women's rights and called passing they Paycheck Fairness Act 'wasting time.' He refuses to believe that climate change science is real even though his hometown of Miami is one of the areas most affected by it." Check out an image of the graphic below:
"This is who Republicans want to be our next president," the email concludes. "Do you? No!" At the bottom of the email is a link to a fundraising campaign called "Stop the GOP."
John Kerry is hoping to offer North Korea "a more legitimate entry road to the global community and to the norms of international behavior." The example the secretary of state has for the rogue regime? Iran.
"The United States has said many times, and I repeat today, we are not seeking conflict; we are seeking a peaceful resolution of the differences that still exist after so many years on the peninsula. We have offered humanitarian assistance. We offer the possibilities of a normal relationship with normal economic assistance and other kinds of engagement with the rest of the world if he will simply make the decision to come to the table and deal on the issue of his nuclear program," Kerry told the press in response to a question about whether U.S. policy toward North Korea would change.
"There is a stark comparison between the direction in which he is moving and the direction in which Iran has chosen to move, at least to this moment. And our hopes are that if we can, at the end of June, succeed in achieving an agreement with Iran, perhaps that can serve as an example to North Korea about a better way to move, a better way to try to behave, a more legitimate entry road to the global community and to the norms of international behavior."
Kerry made the comments at a press conference Seoul, South Korea.
A DoD News story, published on Defense.gov, claims that the "Strategy to Defeat ISIL is Working, Military Official Says."
The report reads, "The coalition and Iraqi security forces strategy to defeat and dismantle the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant extremist group is clear and on track, the chief of staff of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said today."
Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley briefed reporters via teleconference from Southwest Asia on Iraq’s battle against ISIL forces.
Beiji and its oil refinery remain contested in a dynamic and fluid battle between Iraqi security forces and ISIL, Weidley said. Since ISIL extremists recently breached the refinery's perimeter, they have maintained “episodic control of some refinery facilities to continue attacking Iraqi security forces,” he said.
Though ISIL has placed continuous and sometimes significant amounts of pressure at the refinery, he added, Iraqi forces are working continually to improve their position at the refinery and on the route leading to it.
New York City police chief Bill Bratton is worried about ISIS. So worried, in fact, that he's going to assign 450 New York Police Department cops to fight terrororism that may come from the Islamic State.
“We need to be very concerned about terrorism … The significantly increased threat from ISIS using social media to recruit people not only to go to Syria to fight, but encouraging people … to attack police, to attack government officials, to basically brainwash them under their screwed-up ideology. That threat has expanded significantly in the now 16 months I’ve been police commissioner,” Bratton said on the John Catsimatidis radio show.
“We’re treating that threat so seriously, I’m going to put another 450 police officers – if we get the approval to increase the size of the police force – and I need to do it very very quickly – into our counterterrorism operations to increase the ability of our officers to protect critical sites around the city. Or, if we were to have an incident, so I’d have a lot more officers in the streets with the appropriate equipment to deal with active shooters or hostage situations.
“We are entering a new era where we cannot live in fear, but we have to live increasingly aware of our surroundings … This crazy hijacking of the Muslim religion by these fanatics, twisting it into an ideology that’s all about hate and murder and killing.”
Bratton said he'd work with the New York City mayor on getting the cops he needs to do the job. “I’m making a case for a very specific number of officers to support the initiatives that the mayor has indicated he wants us to focus on: counter-terrorism, improved training, improved responsiveness and trust to the various minority communities, in particular, in the city. So, we have presented to him numbers that, I think, will deliver what he is indicating he is looking for,” he said.
“Politics is the art of negotiation. I think there’s going to be common ground that we’ll hopefully get most of what we’re looking for to implement the mayor’s plans.”
If anyone needs further evidence of why the news agencies often can’t be trusted to report accurately on Israel and the Palestinians, and why major news outlets such as the New York Times and the BBC should stop repeating agency copy without verifying it, here is an important example from this weekend.
According to Italian and Spanish news outlets and according to the Vatican’s own website, Pope Francis told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he could be an angel of peace. “May you be an angel of peace,” he urged Abbas, effectively saying that if Abbas would take the decision to accept one of the peace offers that various Israeli prime ministers have made to him, or at least make a serious counter-offer, he could be an angel of peace. The pope did not say that Abbas – infamous for ordering the Munich Olympic massacre, among many other atrocities – was “an angel of peace.”
And yet the BBC and New York Times were among dozens of prominent news outlets that claimed he did.
The New York Times reports today (Page A11 under the headline: “At Vatican, Abbas Is Praised as ‘Angel of Peace’”):
“Mr. Abbas’s meeting with the pope ended with an exchange of gifts. Presenting Mr. Abbas with a medallion, the pope said it depicted an angel of peace ‘destroying the bad spirit of war.’ It was an appropriate gift, the pope added, since “you are an angel of peace.”
And here is NBC, Fox, and, the BBC saying the same thing.
Contrast the headlines in the New York Times with those in the Italian press. For example, the headline in the “Vatican Insider” section of Le Stampa is:
Pope embraces Abu Mazen and bids him to be an angel of peace
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that President Obama "has done an excellent job" on the trade bill. "We'll pass it later this week," McConnell assured Stephanopoulos .
"Mitch McConnell he joins us live right now," said Stephanopoulos. "Mr. Leader, thank you for joining us this morning. This is president's top legislative priority right now, this trade promotion authority. You appear to be his point man in the Senate. What is it going to take to get it passed? And are you confident that it will?"
"We'll pass it," said McConnell. "We'll pass it later this week. The president has done an excellent job on this. I point out to my members who are somewhat squeamish as you can imagine by giving the president a power on any issue, given his expansive view of his powers on so many other issues, that is a trade promotion authority not just for President Obama but for the next president as well. This is a six-year trade promotion authority bill that will give the next president an opportunity to enter into additional trade agreements with other countries around the world. We know America is a big winner when we lower barriers to our products abroad."
President Obama's former top political adviser, David Axelrod, says that "It would be a terrible mistake" for Hillary Clinton not to take questions from the press. Axelrod also once worked for the Clintons.
"I'm starting with a retort that's become familiar with Republicans, David Axelrod, which is: when is Hillary Clinton going to answer questions from the media? We did our own little math. And what's been amazing, since Hillary Clinton became a official candidate for president, there has been a Clinton that has taken quite a few meda questions on camera. Bill Clinton has taken 39 questions on camera, that includes Letterman, Cynthia McFadden, our colleague, also, a CNN interview. Hillary Clinton has done nine," said NBC's Chuck Todd.
"Part of that is because a lot of the questions were about the Clinton Foundation," said Axelrod. "And they made a decision to let him handle those. But look, I think she has to get out there, she has to answer questions. She has to do it routinely so it's not a major news event when she takes a few questions from the news media."
"It makes the press conference thing relevant."
"She has to start getting into the rhythm of a campaign where she's out there, she's answering questions, she making speeches. It would be a terrible mistake to not do that," said Axelrod.
Hillary Clinton has not conducted an interview or held a press conference since announcing her run for president of the United States over one month ago.
The U.S. killed an ISIS leader, Abu Sayyaf, last night in Syria. And, U.S. forces, now have his wife, Umm Sayyaf, in custody. The news was released today by the White House's National Security Council.
"Last night, at the President’s direction, U.S. personnel based out of Iraq conducted an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria to capture an ISIL senior leader known as Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf. During the course of the operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed when he engaged U.S. forces," says NSC spokesman Bernadette Meehan in a statement.
"Umm Sayyaf was captured and is currently in U.S. military detention in Iraq. The operation also led to the freeing of a young Yezidi woman who appears to have been held as a slave by the couple. We intend to reunite her with her family as soon as feasible.
"No U.S. personnel were killed or injured during this operation.
"Abu Sayyaf was a senior ISIL leader who, among other things, had a senior role in overseeing ISIL’s illicit oil and gas operations – a key source of revenue that enables the terrorist organization to carry out their brutal tactics and oppress thousands of innocent civilians. He was also involved with the group’s military operations. We suspect that Umm Sayyaf is a member of ISIL, played an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities, and may have been complicit in the enslavement of the young woman rescued last night.
"The President authorized this operation upon the unanimous recommendation of his national security team and as soon as we had developed sufficient intelligence and were confident the mission could be carried out successfully and consistent with the requirements for undertaking such operations. This operation was conducted with the full consent of Iraqi authorities and, like our existing airstrikes against ISIL in Syria, consistent with domestic and international law.
"We are working to determine an ultimate disposition for the detainee that best supports the national security of the United States and of our allies and partners, consistent with domestic and international law. We will follow our usual practice with respect to giving the ICRC notification and access to the detainee.
"As Commander-in-Chief, the President is grateful to the brave U.S. personnel who carried out this complex mission as well as the Iraqi authorities for their support of the operation and for the use of their facilities, which contributed to its success. The United States will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Iraqi partners in our effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL."