Outgoing President Obama has accused Russia of hacking Democratic Party emails during the presidential campaign, and leaking them with the intention of interfering in America’s election process.
What the emails revealed should be the subject of scandal, but that is lost in the noise about Russia’s interference.
By accusing Russia, Obama casts a shadow of illegitimacy over Donald Trump’s election to the presidency; an implication that he only won because a foreign power intervened to help him. (Which is nonsense, of course.)
But did Russians hack and leak those scandalous emails?
From Ars Technica, by Dan Goodin
Talk about disappointments. The US government’s much-anticipated analysis of Russian-sponsored hacking operations provides almost none of the promised evidence linking them to breaches that the Obama administration claims were orchestrated in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
The 13-page report, which was jointly published Thursday [December 29, 2016] by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, billed itself as an indictment of sorts that would finally lay out the intelligence community’s case that Russian government operatives carried out hacks on the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Clinton Campaign Chief John Podesta and leaked much of the resulting material. While security companies in the private sector have said for months the hacking campaign was the work of people working for the Russian government, anonymous people tied to the leaks have claimed they are lone wolves. Many independent security experts said there was little way to know the true origins of the attacks.
Sadly, the JAR, as the Joint Analysis Report is called, does little to end the debate. Instead of providing smoking guns that the Russian government was behind specific hacks, it largely restates previous private-sector claims without providing any support for their validity. Even worse, it provides an effective bait and switch by promising newly declassified intelligence into Russian hackers’ “tradecraft and techniques” and instead delivering generic methods carried out by just about all state-sponsored hacking groups.
“This ultimately seems like a very rushed report put together by multiple teams working different data sets and motivations,” Robert M. Lee, CEO and Founder of the security company Dragos, wrote in a critique published Friday. “It is my opinion and speculation that there were some really good [US] government analysts and operators contributing to this data and then report reviews, leadership approval processes, and sanitation processes stripped out most of the value and left behind a very confusing report trying to cover too much while saying too little.”
The sloppiness, Lee noted, included the report’s conflation of Russian hacking groups APT28 and APT29 — also known as CozyBear, Sandworm, Sednit, and Sofacy, among others — with malware names such as BlackEnergy and Havex, and even hacking capabilities such as “Powershell Backdoor”. The mix up of such basic classifications does little to inspire confidence that the report was carefully or methodically prepared. And that only sows more reasons for President elect Donald Trump and his supporters to cast doubt on the intelligence community’s analysis on a matter that, if true, poses a major national security threat.
The writers showed a similar lack of rigor when publishing so-called indicators of compromise, which security practitioners use to detect if a network has been breached by a specific group or piece of malware. As Errata Security CEO Rob Graham pointed out in a blog post, one of the signatures detects the presence of “PAS TOOL WEB KIT”, a tool that’s widely used by literally hundreds, and possibly thousands, of hackers in Russia and Ukraine, most of whom are otherwise unaffiliated and have no connection to the Russian government.
“In other words, these rules can be a reflection of the fact the government has excellent information for attribution,” Graham wrote. “Or, it could be a reflection that they’ve got only weak bits and pieces. It’s impossible for us outsiders to tell.”
Security consultant Jeffrey Carr also cast doubt on claims that attacks that hit the Democratic National Committee could only have originated from Russian-sponsored hackers because they relied on the same malware that also breached Germany’s Bundestag and French TV network TV5Monde. Proponents of this theory, including the CrowdStrike researchers who analyzed the Democratic National Committee’s hacked network, argue that the pattern strongly implicates Russia because no other actor would have the combined motivation and resources to hack the same targets. But as Carr pointed out, the full source code for the X-Agent implant that has long been associated with APT28 was independently obtained by researchers from antivirus provider Eset.
“If ESET could do it, so can others,” Carr wrote. “It is both foolish and baseless to claim, as CrowdStrike does, that X-Agent is used solely by the Russian government when the source code is there for anyone to find and use at will.” …
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Thursday’s Joint Analysis Report provides almost no new evidence to support the Obama Administration’s claims Russia attempted to interfere with the US electoral process.
And this is from PowerLine by John Hinderaker:
Evidence for Russian involvement in DNC hack is nonexistent.
The Obama administration insists that Russia’s government was behind the penetration of the Democratic National Committee’s email system (even though it admits that the intrusion was not carried out by the government itself). The administration released a report that purportedly provided evidence in support of this claim, but even an amateur like me could see that the report was surprisingly weak.
Then the experts started to weigh in. Their verdict was that the operation termed “Grizzly Steppe” by the Obama administration could possibly have been carried out by Putin’s regime, but the administration’s report contained no evidence at all that pointed toward Russia, let alone the Russian government.
Now, the internet security experts who are proprietors of Wordfence re-state their conclusions and explain the research they did to support them.
On Friday we published an analysis of the FBI and DHS Grizzly Steppe report. The report was widely seen as proof that Russian intelligence operatives hacked the US 2016 election. We showed that the PHP malware in the report is old, freely available from a Ukrainian hacker group and is an administrative tool for hackers.
We also performed an analysis on the IP addresses included in the report and showed that they originate from 61 countries and 389 different organizations with no clear attribution to Russia. …
If I find something in the DHS/FBI report on my website or network, does it mean that Russia hacked me?
No it does not.
This has caused serious confusion already among press and US policy makers. A Vermont electrical utility found a sample of what is in the DHS/FBI Grizzly Steppe report on a single laptop. That laptop was not connected to the Electric Grid network. It was reported as Russia hacking the US electrical grid. …
The data in the DHS/FBI Grizzly Steppe report contains “indicators of compromise” (IOCs) which you can think of as footprints that hackers left behind. The IOC’s in the report are tools that are freely available and IP addresses that are used by hackers around the world. There is very little Russia-specific data in the Grizzly Steppe report.
If you find an IOC that is in the report on your network or server, it is unlikely that you have been targeted by Russian Intelligence.
The PHP malware the report provided, for example, is freely available for anyone who wants it.
The article then provides a technical explanation of “how the Wordfence proprietors got to the bottom of what appears to have been an attempt at obfuscation by the Obama administration”.
The Wordfence experts conclude:
[That] is how we determined that the FBI/DHS report contains an old malware sample that is publicly available and the hacker group that distributes it appears to be Ukrainian.
Other experts have weighed in, pointing out that the administration’s report contains little or no evidence that Russia had anything to do with the DNC hack, e.g. Ars Technica and others … If any technical experts have endorsed the claims in the administration’s report, I am not aware of it.
Nevertheless, the Democratic Party operatives who masquerade as reporters in the U.S. have uncritically swallowed the administration’s line, and are hectoring Donald Trump and his aides to admit that Vladimir Putin was responsible for “hacking the election”.
President-elect Donald Trump does not strike us as a man easily hectored. And he is very unlikely to “admit” to something he had nothing to do with – and that apparently didn’t happen.
If Obama and the Democrats are hoping he will accuse himself and defend Vladimir Putin, they are doomed to yet another disappointment.
Will a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, under a Republican leader in the White House, be determined and energetic enough to start the painfully needed destruction of that iniquitous institution, the United Nations?
Congressional Republicans are moving quickly to denounce the United Nations for its recent Security Council resolution deeming all Israeli settlements “flagrant violation[s] of international law.”
More than 100 members of Congress have formally condemned the resolution, the Times of Israel reported.
GOP lawmakers in both chambers have decided to introduce resolutions targeted at the UN once Congress reconvenes. Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran and Florida Rep. Dennis Ross are both slated to introduce disapproval resolutions against the international body.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated that he did not know whether the chamber would vote on Moran’s resolution or a similar one. …
Several aides have said anti-UN action will receive bipartisan support.
But only the denouncing of the recent Security Council resolution against Israel is expected to “receive bipartisan support”. Not defunding it – which would mean the beginning of the UN’s end, since the US provides nearly a quarter of its funds. The Democrats want to keep the UN alive. Democrats, in line with the whole of the international Left, see it as the bud of a World Government which History, on whose side they are, will bring to full flowering.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also announced his intention to advance an initiative aimed at defunding the United Nations, but it would be unlikely to earn bipartisan support in the Senate, the report said.
We quote from World Government – the Ultimate Nightmare, of May 11, 2016 (to be found in full under Pages in our margin):
The United Nations, that ghastly powerhouse of corruption, hypocrisy, and injustice, is envisaged as the nascent institution of world government.
Liberal left opinion tends to be against the nation state. It is the opinion of approximately half the voters in the Western world. Half the people of the free West apparently want to destroy their nations, and are literally doing so. They may explain their hatred of the nation state by reference to “colonialism”, as if in many cases colonies were not more prosperous, just, and free than the independent tyrannies they have become. Or they may say that the wars and massacres in the last century resulted from “nationalism” so the nation must go; but their thinking would not be right, because the wars and massacres were the work of dictators, not democratic states of which the strongest opposed and defeated the aggressors.
Whatever their explanations, they have launched a movement for the suicide of Western nations.
All over the Western world men and women in national and international assemblies, ministries, academies, councils and committees devote themselves to the business of putting an end to their national identities. Patriotism to them is utterly absurd. Any manifestation of pride in their nation’s history, culture, traditions, institutions, even law, embarrasses if it doesn’t outrage them. In all the countries of Europe, and now under Obama’s leadership in the United States, they work towards their goal.
The very idea of the nation state they consider to be an anachronism; a nasty thing of the past much to be regretted. The more powerful and glorious the past, the more regretful they are. Filled with remorse for what their forefathers achieved, they will apologize to any foreigner who’ll listen to them. However hard their independence as a nation was won, their system of government developed, their individual freedom wrested from the fist of tyranny, they count it all worth nothing. Obama, whose ignorance of history should but doesn’t embarrass him, routinely apologizes for America to appalling little despotisms, and to countries that have survived as comparatively free nations only because America saved them from conquest by tyrannical powers.
Now (phew!) Obama’s ruinous reign is over. The ruling elites are being consciously and actively defied by vast numbers of the people they have betrayed. An awakened America has elected a president who wants to “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”. He has said he will reinforce his country’s borders. He holds the United Nations in contempt. He has declared that, whatever its purported ideals, the way it actually works is “a waste of time and money”.
So for the first time since it began in 1945, the UN is under serious threat of extinction. If it gets no money from the US and is evicted from its New York premises (as Charles Krauthammer hopes it will be), it is unlikely to last much longer. The appalling little despotisms, mostly Islamic, and of them mostly Arab, can set up their talking shop and spout their hypocritical pieties about “human rights” and “peace” and “justice” and “tolerance” in one of their own hellholes.
Meanwhile, a new Secretary General of the UN has optimistically just been appointed: Antonio Guterres, a former Prime Minister of Portugal.
May his tenure be short!
John Hinderaker writes of him at PowerLine:
Guterres said the values enshrined in the U.N. Charter that should define the world that today’s children inherit — peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance and solidarity — are threatened, “most often by fear”.
This is mind-bendingly stupid. Peace, justice and human rights are threatened by tyrants like Fidel Castro, Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin. They are threatened by terrorists associated with al Qaeda, ISIS and similar organizations. They are not threatened by “fear”; fear is an entirely appropriate response to tyrants and terrorists. It is a symptom of threats to human rights, peace and justice, not the cause of those threats.
The UN must be destroyed!
John Hinderaker writes at PowerLine:
Wikileaks has released transcripts of three speeches that Hillary Clinton gave for Goldman Sachs in 2013. These were events hosted by Goldman, presumably for clients – e.g., the “Builders and Innovators Summit”. You can download the transcripts here. Hillary reportedly was paid $225,000 apiece. …
The first thing that struck him about the Goldman speeches was –
How utterly pedestrian they are. By 2013, Mrs. Clinton had served eight years in the Senate and four as Secretary of State, yet she never has an original observation or an insight worth paying for.Everything in them, you have heard 50 times before. They could have been delivered by anyone who has never held public office, but who spends Sunday mornings studying the New York Times. … I think her speeches reflect her limited ability.
Oh, yes! They are utterly pedestrian, they do reflect her limited ability – and her dull mind.
Trump is not eloquent. He distinctly lacks the gift of oratory. But what he is saying is worth listening to:
We quote from Breitbart:
“Our Independence Day is at hand, and it arrives finally on November 8,” Trump told voters.
Our great civilization, here in America and across the civilized world, has come upon a moment of reckoning. We’ve seen it in the United Kingdom, where they voted to liberate themselves from global government and global trade deal, and global immigration deals that have destroyed their sovereignty and have destroyed many of those nations.
But, the central base of world political power is right here in America, and it is our corrupt political establishment that is the greatest power behind the efforts at radical globalization and the disenfranchisement of working people. Their financial resources are virtually unlimited, their political resources are unlimited, their media resources are unmatched, and most importantly, the depth of their immorality is absolutely unlimited.
Trump highlighted the now well-documented collusion between the global special interests, corporate media, and Hillary Clinton who champions policies to cede “U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends. and her donors”.
Trump slammed what he described as our “illusion of democracy”– explaining how our political process is controlled “by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system”.
Trump explained that the “Clinton machine”, working through its arm in the corporate media, has declared “war” not just against him, but against the American people, who want to reclaim their government to represent their needs and interests, rather than simply representing the desires of corporate donors and transnational elites. Trump said:
Let’s be clear on one thing. The corporate media in our country is no longer involved in journalism. They’re a political special interest no different than any lobbyist or other financial entity with a total political agenda, and the agenda is not for you, it’s for themselves.
And their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy. For them it’s a war, and for them nothing at all is out of bounds. This is a struggle for the survival of our nation, believe me. And this will be our last chance to save it on November 8, remember that.
The only thing Hillary Clinton has going for herself is the press. Without the press, she is absolutely zero.
The political establishment that is trying to stop us is the same group responsible for our disastrous trade deals, massive illegal immigration, and economic and foreign policies that have bled our country dry … The Clinton machine is at the center of this power structure.
We’ve seen this first hand in the WikiLeaks documents, in which Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends, and her donors …
With their control over our government at stake, with trillions of dollars on the line, the Clinton machine is determined to achieve the destruction of our campaign… They knew they would throw every lie they could at me and my family and my loved ones. They knew they would stop at nothing to try to stop me. But I never knew how bad it would be. I never knew it would be this vile, that it would be this bad, that it would be this vicious …
I will not lie to you. These false attacks are absolutely hurtful. To be lied about, to be slandered, to be smeared so publicly, and before your family that you love, is very painful. What is going on is egregious beyond any words … It’s reprehensible beyond description, it’s totally corrupt.
But, I also know that it’s not about me. It’s about all of you and it’s about our country. I know that. I fully understand that. That’s why I got involved. It’s about all of us together as a country. It’s a movement the likes of which we have never in history in this country seen before. Never in history.
I take all of these slings and arrows gladly for you. I take them for our movement so that we can have our country back. …
The corrupt political establishment is a machine … I knew these false attacks would come. I knew this day would arrive; it was only a question of when. And I knew the American people would rise above it and vote for the future they deserve.
The only thing that can stop this corrupt machine is you. The only force strong enough to save our country is us. The only people brave enough to vote out this corrupt establishment is you, the American people.
This election will determine whether we are a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy, but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system, and our system is rigged. This is reality, you know it, they know it, I know it, and pretty much the whole world knows it.
The establishment and their media enablers will control this nation through means that are very well known. Anyone who challenges their control is deemed a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe, and morally deformed.
They will attack you, they will slander you, they will seek to destroy your career and your family, they will seek to destroy everything about you, including your reputation. They will lie, lie, lie, and then again they will do worse than that, they will do whatever is necessary …
This is our moment of reckoning as a society and as a civilization itself. I didn’t need to do this, folks, believe me — believe me. I built a great company and I had a wonderful life. I could have enjoyed the fruits and benefits of years of successful business deals and businesses for myself and my family. Instead of going through this absolute horror show of lies, deceptions, malicious attacks — who would have thought? I’m doing it because this country has given me so much, and I feel so strongly that it’s my turn to give back to the country that I love …
This election is about every man, woman and child in our country who deserves to live in safety, prosperity, and peace … We will rise above the lies, the smears, the ludicrous slanders from ludicrous and very, very dishonest reporters.
We will vote for the country we want. We will vote for the future we want. We will vote for the politics we want, and we will vote to put this corrupt government cartel out of business and out of business immediately. …
They’ve betrayed our workers, they’ve betrayed our borders and, most of all, they’ve betrayed our freedoms. We will save our sovereign rights as a nation. …
Our Independence Day is at hand, and it arrives finally on November 8.
This is a picture of people living under Democratic Socialism in Venezuela lining up for a ration of price-controlled toilet paper:
Under the heading For Venezuela, The End Is Near. Someone Tell Bernie!, John Hinderaker writes at PowerLine:
Venezuela’s disastrous experiment with socialism is nearing its inevitable end. The Financial Times has the numbers:
The year 2015 was an annus horribilis in Venezuela with a 10 per cent decline in gross domestic product, following a 4 per cent fall in 2014. Inflation reached over 200 per cent. The fiscal deficit ballooned to 20 per cent of GDP, funded mainly by the printing press.
In the free market, the bolivar has lost 92 per cent of its value in the past 24 months, with the dollar costing 150 times the official rate: the largest exchange rate differential ever registered. Shortages and long queues in the shops have made daily life very difficult.
That’s putting it mildly. Imagine there’s no toilet paper, as John Lennon once sang. Or should have, anyway.
As bad as these numbers are, 2016 looks dramatically worse. Imports, which had already been compressed by 20 per cent in 2015 to $37bn, would have to fall by over 40 per cent, even if the country stopped servicing its debt.
President Maduro’s socialist government apparently has no strategy to deal with the impending catastrophe. It shapes up as one of the most appalling economic and fiscal collapses in world history.
With a dying economy come disorder and violence. Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, now has the highest murder rate in the world. Obviously they need stricter gun control! No, wait…
So Chavez’s and Maduro’s blaming of “wreckers” and “saboteurs”, even as they themselves destroyed their country’s economy, did no good whatsoever. Bernie Sanders’s railing against Wall Street would be equally effective. Could someone please mention to Bernie that socialism has been tried? Many times? Maybe one of those “reporter” people I’ve heard of could ask him about it.
It seems possible that Bernie Sanders could actually be the Democratic Party’s nominee for the presidency if Hillary Clinton were to be indicted for the obvious felonies she has committed.
He calls himself a “democratic socialist”. From all that we can discover about him, we’d say that “Communist” would fit him perfectly.
But okay, “democratic socialist” will do for now.
“Democratic”? Leftist dictatorships like to call themselves “democratic”. It means nothing there. Sanders points to Scandinavian examples of “democratic socialism”. Denmark, Sweden, Norway are welfare states which hold democratic elections. They’re often held up – rightly or wrongly – as proof that socialism can be a workable system, even though it has failed everywhere else.
So how well can socialism work?
John Hinderaker writes at PowerLine:
Over the last 200 years, free enterprise has led to an unprecedented explosion of wealth, individual liberty and creativity. Nothing in human history … has enriched the human race to anything like the same degree. If human history has conclusively established any fact, it is that free enterprise is fantastically successful, while socialism is a pitiful failure. Think of North Korea, the USSR, Maoist China, Albania, East Germany, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, India until it wised up. The list goes on and on.
And yet…the siren song of socialism still lures suckers. Currently, Venezuela is learning the age-old lesson the hard way. But we can’t laugh at Venezuelans, when Bernie Sanders is a serious contender for our presidency and is far and away the campus favorite. How is it that socialism (or the urge toward socialism, anyway) can survive? It is the cockroach of ideologies, seemingly impervious to all efforts to kill it.
It may be helpful to think of socialism as a species of fraud. There are many types of fraud, but nothing new under the Sun. … The same con games that flourished hundreds of years ago still work. Charles Ponzi’s financial empire collapsed in 1920, and he was arrested and sent to prison. Yet hardly a month goes by without another Ponzi scheme being revealed. There is only one way in which a Ponzi scheme can end: in disaster. This is a mathematical fact. Yet people fall for them, over and over. …
Socialism is fraud writ large. …
Only under socialism could Fidel Castro become the richest warlord, relative to his subjects’ wealth, in recorded history. (And that was the least of his sins.) Only under socialism could Maria Gabriela Chavez, daughter of socialist tribune of the people Hugo Chavez, beloved by the American left, waltz off with a $4 billion fortune. But then, she was a piker: Chavez’s Minister of the Treasury stashed $11 billion in Swiss bank accounts.
Charles Ponzi’s mistake was that he should have gone into politics. He could have gone far as a socialist politician, and could have avoided prison. … A fraudster like Bernie Madoff will only take your money. A socialist will take your money, but that is just the beginning. When you give power to the power-mad, your freedom and human dignity, and perhaps your life, are soon forfeit.
Bernie Sanders’s economic theory is very simple, superficial and childish. He thinks there is a fixed amount of wealth (he calls it “the wealth” as if it exists in nature independent of human activity) and it is unfairly distributed. Too much over here, too little over there. Government must come along and spread it nice and evenly.
We doubt that Hillary Clinton has a better understanding. She insists that businesses do not create jobs. Obama is also unaffected by economic realities.
Perhaps what America needs is a successful businessman to take charge. In which case voters might cast a considering eye on Donald Trump.
As, in fact, they are.
The Democratic Party has a list of candidates for the presidency that looks more like a waiting list for a retirement home. One of them ought to be taking her retirement in prison.
The most ludicrous, and it would seem the most popular to judge by the crowds who flock to hear him, is an old commie from way back.
John Hinderaker critically examines his fusty notions at PowerLine:
Bernie Sanders, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, spoke at Liberty University today. You can read his speech here. It is useful, in that it exposes the extent of Sanders’s ignorance and radicalism. Any deconstruction of a speech this bad must be selective.
I am far, far from being a perfect human being, but I am motivated by a vision, which exists in all of the great religions, in Christianity, in Judaism, in Islam and Buddhism, and other religions. And that vision is so beautifully and clearly stated in Matthew 7:12, and it states, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them to do to you, for this sums up the war and the prophets.
Bullshit. Islam does not teach that Muslims should do unto infidels as they would have infidels do unto them. …
It would be hard for anyone in this room today to make the case that the United States of America, our great country, a country which all of us love, it would be hard to make the case that we are a just society, or anything resembling a just society today. In the United States of America today, there is massive injustice in terms of income and wealth inequality. Injustice is rampant.
Bullshit. Inequality does not equal injustice. In fact, a society without unequal incomes and wealth would scarcely be worth living in. One wonders: what society, contemporary or ancient, does Sanders consider more just than ours? Soviet Russia? Maoist China? Communist Cuba? He doesn’t say, of course.
In my view, there is no justice, when here, in Virginia and Vermont and all over this country, millions of people are working long hours for abysmally low wages of $7.25 an hour, of $8 an hour, of $9 an hour, working hard, but unable to bring in enough money to adequately feed their kids.
Bullshit. There is a market for labor, whether Sanders likes it or not. Someone who wants to earn more than $7.25 an hour should gain skills and experience that are worth more than $7.25 an hour. Actually, hardly anyone works for that low wage, and 64% of those who do are working part-time. Half are aged 16 to 24, doing precisely what I said–gaining skills and experience so that they can advance and make more. Sanders wants to make it illegal for teenagers and part-timers to work for the wages they can command, even though they want to do so. He thereby dooms them to unemployment. Thanks, Bernie!
In the last two years, 15 people saw $170 billion increase in their wealth, 45 million Americans live in poverty. That in my view is not justice. That is a rigged economy, designed by the wealthiest people in this country to benefit the wealthiest people in this country at the expense of everybody else.
Bullshit. What does Sanders want to do about the fact that the people who founded Facebook have made a lot of money? Prohibit innovation? Limit the number of people who can access popular web sites? Make it illegal to sell advertising if the owners of the web site are already rich? The only “remedy” he can come up with is higher taxes, but America already has the most progressive income tax regime of any developed country–more progressive than Sweden, Denmark, you name it. And yet Democrats like Sanders keep telling us how awful things are for most Americans. Maybe we should try lower taxes on the “rich,” since the world’s highest taxes evidently haven’t worked. By the way, when Democrats talk about rich people, they always use Mark Zuckerberg–a Democrat, no doubt–as an exemplar, but when I read the fine print, I always find that they mean me.
People should not be dying in the United States of America when they are sick.What that is, is an indication that we are the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people as a right, and I think we should change that.
Bullshit. Sorry to break it to you, Bernie, but some sick people do die, even in socialist countries. Actually, for better or worse, the U.S. does guarantee health care to all people. Hospitals can’t turn anyone away, and poor people are on Medicaid. People who live in countries with socialized medicine come here for treatment if they are really sick, and if they can afford it. Let me know when residents of Rochester, Minnesota are booking flights to London so they can participate in Great Britain’s wonderful National Health Service.
In my view there is no justice in our country when youth unemployment exists at tragically high levels. I requested a study last month from a group of economists. And what they told me is that 51 percent of African American high school graduates between the ages of 17 and 20 are unemployed or underemployed — 51 percent.
Bullshit. This one is really galling. Why are black youths unemployed? Because the Obama economy is lousy. Because inner-city schools run by teachers’ unions suck. Because minimum wage laws, in some states, make it impossible for them to get jobs they realistically could perform. Because welfare, for many, is an attractive alternative. Because selling drugs is a good gig, now that police forces everywhere are on the defensive. In short, because of the policies that Bernie Sanders endorses. …
During the Q&A portion of the program, Sanders was asked how he would bring healing and resolution to the issue of racism as president.
I would hope and I believe that every person in this room today understands that it is unacceptable to judge people, to discriminate against people based on the color of their skin.
Bullshit. Liberals enthusiastically endorse discrimination based on the color of people’s skin. It is called affirmative action.
And I would also say that as a nation – the truth is, that a nation which in many ways was created, and I’m sorry to have to say this, from way back on racist principles. That’s a fact. We have come a long way as a nation.
Bullshit. The United States was founded on egalitarian principles which took a while to fully effectuate because the country was born in a world where slavery was common. (It still is, in many places where Anglo-American rule does not govern.) We fought a great civil war to validate the principles of our Constitution, whose promises of freedom had nothing to do with race, as Lincoln insisted. Granted, the Democratic Party fought a spirited rear-guard action on behalf of racism that lasted for more than a century. Bernie is an inheritor of that disgraceful history. …
But the point is that in 2008 this country took a huge step forward in voting for a candidate based on his ideas and not the color of his skin.
Bullshit. No one would have imagined voting for Obama in 2008, but for the color of his skin. It was his only purported qualification for the office, and we have seen where that obsession with race has led us.
Next year, let’s have a genuinely color-blind election. On a level playing field, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be disqualified by the color of his skin, but rather by the fact that his socialist ideas are idiotic.
Even if Congress were to nix the doomsday deal Obama made with the evil rulers of Iran, Obama could ignore the people’s representatives and continue to help the mullahs become a nuclear armed power hostile to America.
The Associated Press reports:
The September vote on the Iran nuclear deal is billed as a titanic standoff between President Barack Obama and Congress. Yet even if U.S. lawmakers reject the agreement, it’s not game-over for the White House.
A congressional vote of disapproval would not prevent Obama from acting on his own to start putting the accord in place. While he probably would take some heavy criticism, this course would let him add the foreign policy breakthrough to his second-term list of accomplishments.
Obama doesn’t need a congressional OK to give Iran most of the billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions that it would get under the agreement, as long as Tehran honors its commitments to curb its nuclear program. …
What commitments would those be? Are there any?
With Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, the House and Senate are expected to turn down the deal.
Obama has pledged to veto such a resolution of disapproval, so the question has turned to whether Congress could muster the votes to override him. And Obama would forfeit the authority he now enjoys to waive sanctions that Congress has imposed.
But Democrats and Republicans have predicted that his expected veto will be sustained — that opponents lack the votes to one-up Obama. More than half of the Senate Democrats and Independents of the 34 needed to sustain a veto are backing the deal. There is one notable defection so far — New York’s Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate and the party leader-in-waiting.
In the House, more than 45 Democrats have expressed support and 10 their opposition.
The president could suspend some U.S. sanctions. He could issue new orders to permit financial transactions that otherwise are banned now. On the financial sector, Obama could use executive orders to remove certain Iranians and entities, including nearly two dozen Iranian banks, from U.S. lists, meaning they no longer would be subject to economic penalties.
Only Congress can terminate legislative sanctions, and they’re some of the toughest, aimed at Iran’s energy sector, its central bank and essential parts of its economy. Still, experts say Obama, on his own, can neutralize some of those sanctions and work with the Europeans on softening others.
The September votes won’t be the final word.
One looming question is whether Congress should try to reauthorize the Iran Sanctions Act, which authorizes many of the congressional sanctions. Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, have introduced legislation to renew it.
Iran could interpret a U.S. move to reauthorize the law as a breach of the nuclear agreement. Administration officials won’t say whether it is or isn’t, only that it’s premature to address it.
Should Congress push for a different deal? The administration says renegotiating the agreement is a nonstarter. …
[But] Schumer and other opponents think the Obama administration should go back to the bargaining table. In the past, Congress has rejected outright or demanded changes to more than 200 treaties and international agreements.
The only way America can save itself is by electing a president who will tear up the deal. But by then a lot of harm will have been done.
Referring to the Associated Press report, John Hinderaker at PowerLine comments:
That is correct. The president has the constitutional authority to enter into an executive agreement. Which is where debate over the Iran deal began, with an open letter to Iran’s leaders that was signed by 47 Republican senators and posted on Senator Tom Cotton’s web site. The letter explained that the Iran agreement was not being submitted to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. Therefore, as a mere executive agreement, it could be canceled with a stroke of the pen by America’s next president:
First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement. …
What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.
Tom Cotton’s letter was viciously attacked by liberals, but what it said was obviously correct. Now, with majorities in both houses of Congress opposed to the deal, the Associated Press tells us it can still proceed as an executive agreement. Of course it can. And the next president, who will probably be a Republican, can revoke it; and this Congress, or a subsequent one, can pass legislation inconsistent with it. That’s what happens when you don’t have the votes to ratify a treaty.
Even with the best scenario – a future president tearing up the treaty – the Iranians will have got even closer to building their nuclear arsenal.
If they haven’t started building it already. Which they probably have.
If Obama wants this deal to be a big part of his “legacy”, why can’t he understand that to a very great number of people – most of the Western world very possibly – it will be an abominable legacy? That he will be classed among the most destructive and evil leaders in history? Has that thought even occurred to him? And if it has, has he dismissed it as impossible? Is his arrogance that extreme?
Probably, yes. Hatred of America and love of Islam seem to be ruling passions of his life.
At last! The comment on the shooting of black men by police officers in America that the world needs to hear.
It is from PowerLine, by John Hinderaker, who supports his case with an important quotation from Heather Mac Donald:
One of this morning’s big news stories is the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Antonio Martin by a policeman in Berkeley, Missouri – a place that, the Associated Press tells us helpfully, is “just a few miles from Ferguson.” The Antonio Martin shooting is currently the top story on Google News, and it is being headlined on pretty much every newspaper’s website.
But why? What makes this a major news story? The Michael Brown and Eric Garner stories that preceded it, obviously. But what made them worldwide news? Or, to go back in time, what made the Trayvon Martin case a cause célèbre, commented on by the President of the United States and followed breathlessly by millions?
The Antonio Martin case won’t be as big a story as Brown’s and Garner’s deaths. Rather than being your typical “unarmed” 300-pounder, Martin apparently pulled a 9 mm. pistol on the policeman who responded by shooting him. But every shooting of a civilian by a police officer is now deemed an important news story – with the critical qualification that the civilian, but not the officer, be black.
Are these shootings worldwide news because of an epidemic of racist murders being carried out by American policemen? That is what Eric Holder, Bill DeBlasio and Al Sharpton would have us believe. But it obviously isn’t true.
Heather Mac Donald writes:
Police killings of blacks are an extremely rare feature of black life and are a minute fraction of black homicide deaths. The police could end all killings of civilians tomorrow and it would have no effect on the black homicide risk, which comes overwhelmingly from other blacks. In 2013, there were 6,261 black homicide victims in the U.S. — almost all killed by black civilians — resulting in a death risk in inner cities that is ten times higher for blacks than for whites. None of those killings triggered mass protests; they are deemed normal and beneath notice. The police, by contrast, according to published reports, kill roughly 200 blacks a year, most of them armed and dangerous, out of about 40 million police-civilian contacts a year. Blacks are in fact killed by police at a lower rate than their threat to officers would predict. In 2013, blacks made up 42 percent of all cop killers whose race was known, even though blacks are only 13 percent of the nation’s population. The percentage of black suspects killed by the police nationally is 29 percent lower than the percentage of blacks mortally threatening them.
These stories about the killings of African-American men by police officers (or by a “neighborhood watch captain,” in Trayvon Martin’s case) are … plucked from a nearly endless supply of sad events that occur daily in a nation of 315 million, and are promoted because they further a political narrative.
An unholy alliance of activists and newspaper reporters and editors tries to distort our perception of reality by giving undue emphasis to them. Then, of course, reality begins to catch up with perception, and we have riots, murders of police officers, and so on. But understand that the decision to promote these stories, in preference to others that are equally or more newsworthy, is a choice that is consciously made by people with a political agenda.
“This is what we call Smart Power, using every possible tool … leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect even for one’s enemies, trying to understand, and insofar as is psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view, helping to define the problems [and] determine a solution, that is what we believe in the 21st century will change the prospect for peace.”
That, John Hinderaker of PowerLine reports, is what an “audience of diplomats and other officials from all over the world” heard Hillary Clinton say at Georgetown University. The title of her speech was Smart Power: Security Through Inclusive Leadership.
She would respect, for instance, the ISIS decapitators? The Taliban oppressors of women? She can empathize with their “perspective and point of view”? She hopes to “define the problems” in warm chats with them and so “change the prospect for peace”?
John Hinderaker comments:
The hall was at least half empty. Which may not mean anything. … I am not sure whether the public was even invited.
What does deserve ridicule, however, is the content of Hillary’s remarks, which remind us how vapid her thinking is. …
So that’s what they call Smart Power? No wonder it didn’t work: diplomacy as envisioned by a naive but well-intentioned elementary school teacher.
She went on to deplore the scarcity of women in high-level international diplomacy.
Considering the paucity of success in her own career as Secretary of State, and its resounding failures – most notably a failed “re-set” with Russia, and the horrors of Benghazi – she may not be the best representative of the fair sex to advocate for this cause.
One of the problems with the liberals’ approach to national security is that wherever they look, they see opportunities for affirmative action. If it isn’t women in combat, it’s women in the foreign ministry:
Of the hundreds of peace treaties signed since the early 1990s, between or within nations, she said fewer than 10 percent had any female negotiators and fewer than 3 percent had women as signatories.
“Is it any wonder that many of these agreements fail between [sic] a few years?”
Upon which John Hinderaker justly exclaims –
It’s enough to give non sequiturs a bad name!
He goes on:
But beyond the easy ridicule, there is a serious point: liberalism of the Clinton variety is utterly out of ammo.
Hillary has no ideas of any intellectual or strategic significance. All she can do is utter platitudes and pander to 1970s-style feminism.
And for this she gets $300,000 a pop?
But affirmative action requires the US to have a female president next time.
No matter if she cannot think. No matter if she was bad at the only important government job she tried to do. No matter if she, like the affirmative action president now in office, comes out of the Saul Alinsky stable of hate-America communist wreckers.
To the Left, to the foolish voter (I am being redundant here), it is enough that she is a woman. And married to Bill Clinton (ironically, the hound of women!).
Will the American electorate again make a disastrous choice of president in 2016 and elect Hillary Clinton?
Surely not – if a plausible candidate is at last found by the Republican Party.
There’s the rub.
From time to time visitors to this website or our Facebook page query the idea – even the possibility – of there being such a thing as atheist conservatism. They are – almost always, as far as we can make out – Americans whose understanding is that the word “conservative” denotes Christian conservatism. To them, therefore, to speak of “atheist conservatism” is to commit a contradiction in terms. Some have called it an oxymoron.
In Europe too, conservatism has a Christian coloration. Conservative political parties usually declare themselves to be Christian – for example, the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) of Germany. But their support does not come only from Christians. And in Britain the established Church of England has been called “the Conservative Party at prayer”, but the party does not exclude members of other Christian denominations or other religions, or the non-religious.
Yet it is an American conservatism that we embrace. It is faithfulness to the Constitution, to the essential idea that the United States was intended to embody as a nation: the idea of individual liberty protected by the rule of law.
The shortest answer we give to those who accuse us of being self-contradictory is to tell them what our prime principles are:
- individual freedom
- a free market economy
- small government
- low taxes
- strong defense
And we point out that those are core principles of American conservatism. The Constitution – southern state critics please be reminded – does not require citizens to be Christian, or religious at all.
Just as often, perhaps even more often, we are told that we cannot be both conservative and libertarian: that the two traditions are separate and even inimical to each other, to the point of being mutually exclusive. Even if that were true (and we don’t think it is), we consider it unnecessary to take tradition into account. The issue needs to be looked at philosophically, not historically. Our conservatism, holding the firmly conservative principles we have listed, is manifestly a conservatism of liberty.
And we think it is now, more than ever before, that the libertarian view should direct the political agenda of conservatism. A heavy counterweight is needed to bring America back from its tipping over into collectivism by the Left. Individual freedom urgently needs to be saved.
What is stopping conservatives from accepting libertarianism as its future? The libertarians themselves. Frequently, their public statements reveal them to be inexcusably ignorant of world affairs. They often advocate naive isolationism. They seem to lack a sense of what matters. The legalization of drugs could be wise and necessary, but it is not worth making a hullabaloo about when jihad is being waged against us. A person should arguably be able to marry any other person or persons – or things – that they choose, but it is much more important that America should remain the world’s sole superpower.
John Hinderaker also thinks that this should be “the libertarian moment”. And he too reproaches libertarians with an underdeveloped sense of what matters to the existence, liberty, safety, and prosperity of the nation.
He writes at PowerLine:
Every major strand of American conservatism includes a strong libertarian streak, because the value of liberty is fundamental to just about all conservative thought. But today, especially, is said to be the libertarians’ moment. What once was a fringe movement, politically speaking, has moved front and center in our political life.
And yet, in my view, libertarians of both the capital L and small l varieties punch below their weight. They have not contributed as much as they should to the conservative movement. This is partly because libertarians tend to founder on foreign policy, where many are merely modern-day isolationists. But it is also because they have tended to focus on secondary, or tertiary, issues of domestic policy.
A couple of years ago I was invited to a gathering on behalf of Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who then was a libertarian candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. I was well disposed toward him, but when he started talking, his first subject was legalization of drugs. Now he is the CEO of a marijuana company. Rand Paul is probably the leading libertarian at the moment; he purports to take seriously the threat that someone drinking coffee in an American cafe will be struck by a drone-fired missile.
American liberty is indeed under attack, and a libertarian movement is needed more than ever. But the threat to freedom is not drug laws or drone attacks.
The principal threat is the administrative state, which increasingly hems in everything we do and depends hardly at all on the will of voters. …
Calvin Coolidge, who knew the Progressives well and understood how antithetical their vision of government is to America’s founding principles [said]:
It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great charter [the Constitution]. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.
Today we labor under an administrative state that has metastasized far beyond anything Coolidge could have imagined. It constrains our freedoms, it lays waste to our economy, it has largely rendered Congress irrelevant, and it threatens to make just about anyone a criminal, since no one can possibly keep track of all of the myriad regulations with which we are encumbered. And let’s not forget that the administrative state is run by liberals, for liberals.
Despite the fact that it is antithetical to the Constitution and to American traditions, there is little opposition to the administrative state as such. Conventional politicians suggest that regulations can be made less irrational and less burdensome – a good idea, certainly – but hardly anyone questions the fundamental concept of Congress delegating its powers to unelected and mostly unaccountable agencies that are charged with managing just about every aspect of our lives. Nearly everyone considers the administrative state, as such, to be inevitable. …
Why don’t libertarians stake out a “radical” position on domestic policy? Why not argue, not just for a moderation in the inevitable drift toward a more and more powerful administrative state, but for a return to the Constitution’s central principle – the very first words of Article I – that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States…”, a Congress that is accountable to the people.
A battle is being fought for the liberties of the American people and, frankly, it isn’t going well. The fight has little or nothing to do with drugs and drones. If libertarians are serious about preserving and expanding liberty, they should join the fight that matters. A libertarian movement that focuses on a rollback of the administrative state would be “radical,” but it also would put libertarians in the vanguard, not on the fringe, of American conservatism.