Commandant Lynch – What Went Down on the Tarmac?
- Can Reagan Save Another Clinton Presidency?
- What Went Down on the Tarmac?
- Lynch says she’ll accept recommendation on Clinton prosecution, but won’t recuse herself
- Finally, a WaPo op-ed that backs Trump
- Annals of mewling idiocy
Posted: 01 Jul 2016 02:30 PM PDT
First of all, I’ll pause for a moment to let you get over the shudder at the thought of “another Clinton presidency” in this headline. Take a shot or two of whiskey if necessary. Or deep cleansing breaths. Whatever it takes.
Now, to the main topic. I’ve been thinking for a while that there’s not much wrong with this country that a sustained period of 4 percent economic growth wouldn’t cure. Even without the Great Recession of 08-09, the pace of growth over the last 15 years has been inadequate for our social and fiscal needs. The last time we had robust growth was in the 1990s under Bill Clinton—a fact that Hillary was hoping you’d recall when she mentioned offhand a few weeks ago that she’d put Bill in charge of the economy if she’s elected in November. Never mind that Hillary and liberals are running away from so many of Bill Clinton’s pro-growth policies of the 1990s. (Never mind also the rumor that the White House Council of Economic Advisers office in a Hillary Administration will be next to the White House Interns office.)
There’s a whole lot of confused and inaccurate revisionism going on here. This is the point that Allan Ryskind, the long-time editor of Human Events, wants to remind us about in a recent column that deserves to be clipped and kept handy by people who think we should move fully to a post-Reagan era (which may include Donald Trump in some crucial ways). Writing in the Washington Times, Ryskind notes:
Mr. Clinton’s first two years in office ended in an electoral disaster for the Democrats. Determined to go on a high-tax, big-spending binge after winning the presidency in 1992, Mr. Clinton narrowly won a major income tax increase, but the Republicans blocked his other important initiatives, including a big-spending “stimulus” program, a major energy tax and Hillary’s nationalized health care plan. When 1994 rolled around and with Newt Gingrich leading the Republican charge with his Reaganite “Contract With America,” the GOP swept both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years.
The consequence: Mr. Clinton executed a policy somersault worthy of the Flying Wallendas. He became, well, Reaganized. He permanently ditched his wife’s health care plan, informing us that “the era of big government is over.” He now favored balanced budgets and apologized for having “raised [taxes] too much.” With the Republicans calling the shots, he enacted significant tax breaks for business and the middle class, including a 30 percent cut in the capital gains tax, and he signed a welfare reform law based on the highly effective plan enacted in California by then-Gov. Reagan. The measure proved stunningly successful, reducing caseloads nationwide by 50 percent and cutting child poverty in half.
In other words, Clinton owed his success and popularity chiefly to Reagan and Reaganism. (Paul Krugman’s cat hardest hit.) As liberal columnist Richard Reeves remarked at the end of Clinton’s presidency, “Clinton essentially threw in the towel and joined the Reagan revolution.” And it was the robust growth that came in Clinton’s later years that saved him when all of his pants zippers suffered simultaneous failure in the presence of White House interns.
One takeaway here is that Hillary Clinton won’t be as accommodating as her husband when it comes to economic policy. She’s fully on board with the renewed liberal emphasis on redistribution over growth. Bill Clinton at least had the perception to realize after his mid-term drubbing that liberalism was still on probation with American voters. Reaganism won’t save a second Clinton presidency because the next one—if there is one—will follow Obama in acting on the premise that the probation of liberalism is over. And so get ready for four more years of mediocre economic growth.
Posted: 01 Jul 2016 12:39 PM PDT
What the hell was Bill Clinton thinking in springing a “spontaneous” visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Phoenix airport? He’s way too smart to know that the visit wouldn’t be explosive if revealed. There is reporting out this afternoon from The Observer that Clinton delayed his departure from Phoenix so that he could meet Lynch, and that he caught Lynch by surprise. The first part of this is entirely believable; the second part is more difficult to believe, but not impossible. More difficult to believe is Clinton’s cover story that he was in Phoenix to play golf, as it was nearly 110 degrees there that day. As The Observer story makes clear, he would easily have gained advance word of Lynch’s itinerary from his own security detail, which is plugged into the security plans for other senior government officials as a matter of standard operating procedure. From there it was a simple matter of reserving a tee time to arrange a “coincidental” meeting.
Clinton may have thought the meeting could have been kept secret (it was apparently exposed by a local TV crew that just happened to be at the airport, but this sounds incomplete to me), but he’s too smart not to have known that news would likely leak out somehow. You have to surmise that it was sufficiently important for Clinton to get a few minutes with Lynch to take the risk. What could have been that important?
There are more theories than the number of Bill’s girlfriends. Maybe he was offering her the blandishment of a Supreme Court appointment in a Hillary Administration, or a nice well-paying position with the Clinton Foundation. I’ve thought for a while that the FBI might recommend indicting several of Hillary’s underlings, who can be easily pardoned after the election, while making Hillary a Nixonian “un-indicted co-conspirator.” Perhaps Lynch wanted to tell this or something else directly to the Clintons, but couldn’t risk a logged phone call or even personal email. Maybe Bill was offering a deal whereby Hillary drops out for “health reasons”(which may well be genuine) if she quashes an indictment. I hear Joe Biden is out on the “campaign trail” today, whatever that means.
Another possible theory is that Bill wanted Lynch to be compromised such that she had to announce today that she’ll follow the FBI recommendation, as an indirect way of putting more pressure on FBI director Comey. Comey is reputed to be a straight shooter, but surely even he can’t be immune to the political ramifications of recommending an indictment of the First Woman Nominee. Now it’s all on him; he can’t pass the buck on to Lynch and the Justice Department.
Whatever the truth of the matter, it can’t be good. This is standard operating procedure for the Clintons.
Incidentally, apparently, Lynch does not have any grandchildren. So thirty minutes to talk about Bill’s solitary grandkid?
Posted: 01 Jul 2016 11:05 AM PDT
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said today that she “fully expect[s]” to accept the recommendations of the “career agents and investigators” who are considering whether Hillary Clinton should be criminally charged in connection with her scandalous use of a private email server. In response to a follow-up question, she said “I will accept their recommendations,” and added that “the case will be resolved by the same team that has been working on it from the beginning.” You can view Lynch making these making these statement here.
Clearly, there’s a difference between expecting to accept recommendations and agreeing to accept them. But even the latter assurance, which Lynch switched to when pressed, wouldn’t be entirely reassuring.
If Lynch is absolutely committed to letting subordinates make the final decision about whether to prosecute Clinton, without being influenced by her in any way, she should recuse herself. Republicans have called on her to do just that, but she has not.
Lynch explained her decision not to recuse herself this way:
A recusal would mean that I wouldn’t even be briefed on what the findings were, or what the actions going forward would be. While I don’t have a role in those findings and coming up with those findings or making those recommendations as to how to go forward, I’ll be briefed on it and I will be accepting their recommendations.
Does this explanation make sense? I don’t think so. Recusal doesn’t mean Lynch won’t be informed what decision her subordinates make and why. It just means they will make the decision without the possibility of Lynch influencing it.
But Lynch is unwilling to go that far. Why not?
It may be that Lynch, who almost surely isn’t oblivious to how the investigation is going, thinks the “career agents and investigators” will recommend no prosecution of Clinton, but isn’t certain. In that event, it would make perfect sense for her to commit, more or less, to going along with the final recommendation, but to reserve the right to be involved just in case the recommendation surprises her.
Or it may be that Lynch doesn’t know how things are going to turn out. In that case, it might make sense, given the outrage over her meeting with Bill Clinton, for her to provide semi-assurances that she won’t decide the matter while reserving the right to have her say.
The third possibility is that Lynch expects the “career agents and investigators” to recommend prosecution. To me, Lynch’s assurances suggest that she does not expect this. Only if Lynch is truly neutral on the matter would it make sense for her even to semi-commit to accepting her subordinate’s recommendation.
I doubt that Lynch is truly neutral. I don’t see her being willing to throw the presidential race into turmoil and increase the likelihood of a Donald Trump victory.
Indeed, if Lynch were truly neutral, I doubt she would have talked, even socially, for half an hour with Bill Clinton.
Finally, how should we view Lynch’s insistence that “career agents and investigators” will make the recommendation she plans to accept. Wouldn’t the recommendation normally come from FBI director James Comey?
Lynch appears to be relegating Comey to the role of reviewing and then accepting the recommendation of career employees — the same role she’s purporting to assign herself.
Lynch stressed the career people aren’t politically beholden. What she didn’t say is that in Washington, DC, career government employees almost invariably are liberal Democrats.
Lynch may know that the key career people — the people who have “been working on it from the beginning” — don’t want to indict. She may be staying in the case to make sure that Comey (an Obama appointee and therefore clearly not beholden to anti-Clinton forces) can’t overrule them.
Posted: 01 Jul 2016 09:37 AM PDT
Charles Kesler, writing in the Washington Post, takes on the Never Trump movement. Without wanting to shortchange Kesler’s worthwhile piece, the most remarkable thing about it may be its appearance in the Post.
To my knowledge, not a single conservative or right of center columnist in the Post’s stable has expressed anything other than contempt for Donald Trump. From Charles Krauthammer to Jennifer Rubin, they all seem to despise the tycoon.
Michael Gerson slams Trump at every opportunity. If he’s written a negative column about Hillary Clinton recently, I missed it.
The most positive thing I recall reading about Trump in the Post’s op-ed section is Krauthammer’s statement that although he can’t support Trump, it’s not unreasonable for Paul Ryan to do so. I can’t stand Trump either, but it’s a sad commentary on the Post that this is best anyone in its stable can say about the (presumptive) Republican nominee for president.
Absent an in-house supporter, the Post should at least enlist a guest writer to defend Trump. Instead, the Post featured an over-the-top column by Robert Kagan accusing Trump of bringing fascism to the American body politic.
Kesler’s column, then, is welcome and overdue.
It is also, of necessity given the context, defensive. Kesler’s thesis is that conservatives who want to override the judgment of GOP voters and delegates regarding Trump have a high burden of proof, which they haven’t met. To my knowledge, the Post has yet to run an op-ed that makes a full-throated affirmative case for Donald Trump.
As for the case Kesler makes, it is less than fully persuasive, in my view.
He addresses two arguments lodged by Never Trump critics: (1) that Trump is clownish and (2) that he’s racist and a pro-fascist, if not a full-fledged one.
Kesler sees a tension between these two views. I’m not sure there’s much of one, and I doubt there is any if we soften the second claim to the assertion that Trump exhibits an authoritarian streak.
There’s a third conservative argument against Trump that Kesler doesn’t address — the view that Trump isn’t a conservative. One might well support a clownish conservative in a race against Hillary Clinton. One might even overlook an authoritarian streak given the obvious authoritarian tendencies of the left and the blatant lawlessness of Clinton.
To overlook these deficiencies in order to support a candidate who appears to have been a lifelong liberal may be asking too much.
Posted: 01 Jul 2016 06:56 AM PDT
In the annals of mewling idiocy emanating from Foggy Bottom, Secretary of State John Kerry must be given pride of place. Speaking to his friends at the Aspen Ideas Festival earlier this week, he contributed in a major way to man-made global warming. It was in his remarks at the festival that Kerry declared ISIS’s Istanbul massacre a sign of our success:
Now, yes, you can bomb an airport. You can blow yourself up. That’s the tragedy. Daesh and others like it know that we have to get it right 24/7/365. They have to get it right for 10 minutes or one hour. So it’s a very different scale. And if you’re desperate and if you know you’re losing and you know you want to give up your life, then obviously you can do some harm.
Kerry also declared our deal with Iran a great success: “Because of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran’s path to actually building a bomb has been closed off…” It’s painful. Does he believe his own bluster?
He went on to praise the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal as “a game-changer” (for the better). I bet you haven’t heard about that, probably because it conflicts with the current position of the presumptive Democratic nominee, who said the same thing when she served as Secretary of State.
This was embedded in much more of the wit and wisdom driving Obama administration foreign policy and national security strategy. Here is an excerpt:
Now, this is an ideas festival, and I want to talk to you about what I see after years of being involved in public life and about the problems we face, because I am convinced there are three particular challenges, each of which requires that we show that singularity of purpose and focus that our parents and grandparents did in the course of the last century. And that is to have an intense shared focus.
The first is violent extremism and the emergence of radical non-state actors, as opposed to state actors, which defined the last century for the most part.
I might just comment – I want to make sure publicly that I comment that just today, a bomb went off at the airport in Istanbul. Ten people we know are – according to the press reports, at least – are dead and some 40 wounded, and we are still collecting information and trying to ascertain what happened and who did it. And I won’t comment further on it, except to say that this is daily fare. And that’s why I say the first challenge we need to face is countering non-state violent actors, for a host of reasons.
The second is the need, more urgent than ever and more urgent, certainly, than some national politicians seem willing to admit, to preserve the health of our planet in the face of imminent climate change – happening climate change – and other environmental dangers.
And the third is connected to the other two, and it’s part and parcel of how we’re going to solve the whole problem. It is a global crisis of governance that will require leaders everywhere to cooperate, fight corruption, earn public confidence, inspire unity, and actually make decisions about issues that are relevant to the people who populate our countries.
May I just say whole thing here (video below, introduced by Walter Isaacson)?