PowerLine – Clinton donor bought spot on national security board Posted: 10 Jun 2016 11:20 AM PDT

PowerLine – Clinton donor bought spot on national security board

PowerLine Daily digest - Old Guard Audio.com

PowerLine Daily digest – Old Guard Audio.com

Daily Digest

Report: Clinton donor bought spot on national security board

Posted: 10 Jun 2016 11:20 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)ABC News reports, based on State Department emails, that “a major Clinton Foundation donor was placed on a sensitive government intelligence advisory board even though he had no obvious experience in the field.” The decision “baffled” the department’s professional staff.

The emails further reveal that, after inquiries from ABC News, Clinton’s staff sought to “protect the name” of the Secretary, “stall” the ABC News reporter, and ultimately accept the resignation of the donor just two days later.

The Clinton Foundation donor in question is Rajiv Fernando. The agency is the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB). Fernando, a Chicago securities trader who specialized in electronic investing, possessed no known background related to the matters the ISAB deals with, such as nuclear disarmament and other arms control issues.

Fernando himself would not answer questions from ABC News in 2011 about what qualified him for a seat on the board or led to his appointment.

When ABC News finally caught up with Fernando at the 2012 Democratic convention, he became upset and said he was “not at liberty” to speak about it. Security threatened to have the ABC News reporter arrested.

It isn’t difficult, though, to see what “qualified” Fernando for his national security gig:

Fernando’s history of campaign giving dated back at least to 2003 and was prolific. He was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 bid for president, giving maximum contributions to her campaign, and to HillPAC, in 2007 and 2008.

He also served as a fundraising bundler for Clinton, gathering more than $100,000 from others for her White House bid. After Barack Obama bested Clinton for the 2008 nomination, Fernando became a major fundraiser for the Obama campaign.

Prior to his State Department appointment, Fernando had given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation, and another $30,000 to a political advocacy group, WomenCount, that indirectly helped Hillary Clinton retire her lingering 2008 campaign debts by renting her campaign email list.

It seems to have been Cheryl Mills, not surprisingly, who pushed through Fernando’s appointment. When the State Department searched for an explanation as to why he had been placed on the ISAB, it concluded that “the true answer is simply that S staff (Cheryl Mills) added him.”

Soon after Fernando’s appointment came under media scrutiny, the trader resigned. He said he needed to devote more time to his business.

Fernando continues to devote time to raising money for Hillary. According to ABC News, he emerged as one of the first “bundlers” to raise money for Clinton’s 2016 bid and in July 2015 hosted a fundraiser for Clinton at his Chicago home.

Fernando has also continued to donate to the Clinton Foundation. He now is listed on the charity’s website as having given between $1 million and $5 million.

The ISAB isn’t a normal, or suitable, landing place for a big donor. Fernando “served” alongside David A. Kay, the former head of the Iraq Survey Group and United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector; Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, a former National Security Advisor to two presidents; two former congressmen; and former Sen. Chuck Robb. William Perry, the former Secretary of Defense, chaired the panel.

Moreover, the emails confirm that the appointment qualified Fernando for one of the highest levels of top secret access.

It is scandalous that Fernando could buy himself a seat at that table. And it is a sign of things to come if corrupt Hillary becomes president.

Euro 2016 — a preview

Posted: 10 Jun 2016 10:07 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)Euro 2016 kicks off today. The host nation, France, will take on Romania.

The Euro tournament has long been my favorite soccer tourney because of its size. The World Cup nowadays includes 32 teams from all over the world, including continents where the play is inferior. Usually, only about half of the teams are worthy of attention, though the ratio was higher in 2014.

The Euros have been limited to 16 teams. The quality of European soccer is high enough that only one-quarter to one-third of the participants are inferior. In Euro 2012, only Ireland was hard to watch.

But now, inevitably, the field has been expanded to 24 teams. Ireland, not much better on paper than four years ago, looks strong in comparison to such minnows as Iceland, Albania, Hungary, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

One or two of the minnows will probably punch above punch above its weight. But we’ll be lucky if more half of the 24 participants produce quality soccer. And only partisans and junkies will be eager to view such matches as Albania-Switzerland, Wales-Slovakia, and Poland-Northern Ireland, to name three of the first seven Euro 2016 matches. Even I plan to pass on the first two.

The other problem with 24 teams is format. The field is divided into six groups of four teams. The top two teams in each group advance to the knock-out stage, but this yields only 12 teams. The remaining places go the four third place finishers with the best record. This drives me crazy.

I’ve been viewing so much NBA playoff action, Washington Nationals baseball, and Copa America (the Western Hemisphere’s version of the Euros) that I haven’t studied up on Euro 2016 as much as I would have liked. But that won’t stop me from previewing it.

The favorites, I’m pretty sure, are France (the host) and Germany (the defending World Cup champion). France has an outstanding goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, and its midfield-forward sextet is probably as good as any in the tourney — even in the absence of Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena, who apparently are banned because the former tried to blackmail the latter with a sex tape.

The question mark for Les Bleus is the back four. Among the eight candidates for playing time, only Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny inspires confidence.

Germany has played poorly in the run-up to the Euros, but I discount this. Looking at the squad, I see question marks at both fullback positions and at center forward. Maybe I should discount this too — these three positions were problematic during the last World Cup which Germany won.

Greatness in European football is established by following up a World Cup title with triumph at the Euros (or visa versa). This generation of German players may have the potential for greatness. Does it have the hunger?

Spain’s Golden Generation was hungry enough to win three straight big tournaments (Euro 2008 and 2012 plus a World Cup sandwiched in between). Spain looked jaded at the 2014 World Cup, and it’s an oldish team that comes to France this year.

There’s still plenty of quality though. The key, I think, will be finding a center forward who can score. There is no established one at the international level in the squad (unless one counts Chelsea’s Pedro; I don’t) and I doubt that Spain still has the overwhelming midfield talent to compensate.

Belgium under-performed at the last World Cup but still made the quarterfinals, losing by one goal to runners-up Argentina. This year’s squad looks better than the 2014 version, with the emergence of Radja Nainggolana and especially Kevin De Bruyne. If Chelsea’s Eden Hazard can regain top form, he and De Bruyne might form the best winger duo in the tournament.

Up front, the main options are a trio of strikers who play on Merseyside — Everton’s Romulu Lakaku and Liverpool’s Christian Benteke and Divok Origi. Michy Batshuayi of Marseille is another possibility.

Center back and captain Vincent Kompany is out due to injury. But Belgium should be fine with the Tottenham Hotspur duo of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen (both of whom were miscast as fullbacks at the last World Cup). Veteran Thomas Vermaelen, formerly of Arsenal and now a benchwarmer at Barcelona, is also in the center back mix. But will the fullback play be adequate?

With Italy, it’s often feast (a run to the finals) or famine (failure to make the knockout stage). Given the 24 team format, famine seems very unlikely. There might be a feast if the Azzurri can find a center forward who scores. However, the five on the roster have only 11 international goals among them.

England has a bright-looking young squad. Tottenham youngsters Harry Kane (age 22), Eric Dier (also 22), and Dele Alli (20) provide grounds for optimism. So does Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (only 18) who seems to score with his first touch on nearly every big occasion.

The extent to which manager Roy Hodgson will relay on these youngsters (and on Rahim Sterling who is 21) isn’t clear, except, I trust, for Kane. Fortunately, Hodgson has capable veterans like John Hart in goal, Gary Cahill at center back, and, above all, captain Wayne Rooney wherever Hodgson deploys him.

Rooney is probably the key. He burst onto the international scene at the age of 18 at Euro 2004. Since then, he has been a disappointment in every international tournament England has participated in (England missed out on Euro 2008 and, to be fair, injuries and a suspension have played a role in Rooney’s lack of impact).

Rooney is past his peak now. However, his ball distribution skills coupled with his all action play still make him a special player, as his man-of-the-match performance in the FA Cup final demonstrated. If Rooney can deliver on the international stage this time, England might make the semis of a major tournament for the first time since 1996 and the first time on foreign soil since 1990.

The two Everton players on the England squad — John ( “Money can’t buy you”) Stones and Ross Barkley — don’t figure to play much unless injuries strike.

Portugal can’t be counted out of a deep run as long as Christiano Ronaldo is available. However, Ronaldo has also been a disappointment in international tournaments, and might well be worn down by the grind of Real Madrid’s European championship season.

As for the rest of the field, Croatia’s attackers and midfielders are among the most impressive in the tournament. Perhaps this will be a breakout tournament for one of both of midfielders Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan) and Matteo Kovacic (Barcelona’s bench).

Switzerland played well at the last World Cup. I’ve heard positive things about Russia and even Austria, which hasn’t done anything internationally in decades. However, I haven’t seen either team in action.

I do know that Austrian players are now making a mark at European clubs — e.g., David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Christian Fuchs (Leicester City), Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City), Kevin Wimmer (Tottenham, where he ably deputized for Belgium’s Vertonghen). Fuchs and Arnautovic were among my 2015-16 EPL all-stars. Nearly every member of the Russian team plays in Russia, so I rarely get to see them.

Both countries I visited last month, Poland and the Czech Republic, seem to have respectable sides. The Czech are in a very tough looking group (with Spain, Croatia, and Turkey). Poland is with ancient enemies Germany and Ukraine (in a sense), along with Northern Ireland. In the new format, both could make the knockout round if Northern Ireland is as weak as they appear on paper.

Forgive the length of this preview. If nothing else, it has helped get me up for the tournament.

How to Say Nothing, With Style!

Posted: 10 Jun 2016 08:27 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)I’m pretty sure I have previously shared the splendid send-up of the overwrought TED talks by comedian Will Stephen (it’s the first one below), but two days ago someone named Pat Kelly, speaking at a conference in Canada, has added to the corpus with a talk on how to imitate a “thought leader.” Good stuff. And a reminder by contrast of why Trump’s seemingly crude rhetoric has worked. (For more on this last point, see our friends at the JAG Corps once again.)

George Will’s unfair attack on Paul Ryan [UPDATED]

Posted: 10 Jun 2016 07:28 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)George Will has lashed out at Speaker Paul Ryan for endorsing Donald Trump. Ryan says he endorsed Trump because he thinks a Trump presidency would be better for Ryan’s House policy agenda than would a Clinton presidency.

Ryan is almost certainly right about this. However, Will finds it insufficient reason for Ryan to support Trump. He dismisses Ryan’s thinking this way:

In Robert Bolt’s play “A Man for All Seasons,” Thomas More is betrayed by Richard Rich, who commits perjury to please the king, in exchange for being named attorney general for Wales. Says More: “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. . . . But for Wales?” Or for the House agenda?

It is said that some people seek office because to “be” something, while others seek it to “do” something. I suspect that most politicians desire both, at least initially. Ryan, though, is considered (correctly, I think) a politician for whom “doing” matters profoundly.

The House agenda is, in effect, Ryan’s life work. Dismissing it with an analogy to Richard Rich doesn’t work. Rich just wanted to be something.

For Ryan, the presumption is and should be to support the presidential candidate under whom his policy agenda is more likely to advance. Under Clinton, that agenda goes nowhere; under Trump, aspects of it stand a good chance of taking hold.

The presumption I have just described is rebuttable. One wouldn’t support a fascist, a warmonger, or a candidate bent on overthrowing the Constitution just to improve the prospects of a balanced budget.

I don’t believe Trump answers to any of these descriptions and I assume Ryan doesn’t think so either. But Ryan perceives Trump’s many serious flaws; otherwise, he would have endorsed him earlier.

Accordingly, Ryan’s task was to weigh Trump’s shortcomings against extent to which the policies he favors will fare better under Trump than under Clinton. If anyone has figured out how to do this with confidence, please let me know.

Conservatives should recognize that the calls on endorsing, supporting, and/or voting for Trump are difficult ones for many of us. They should recognize that reasonable conservatives can differ.

They should be slow to attack one another over where they come out. Otherwise, they risk adding to the damage Trump already has inflicted on conservatism.

UPDATE: Charles Krauthammer defends Ryan’s decision here. Krauthammer distinguishes between how individual voters and political leaders like Ryan might go about deciding whether to back Trump. It’s a useful distinction, I think.

What I saw at the trial

Posted: 10 Jun 2016 04:13 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)This past Friday afternoon the jury returned with guilty verdicts in the trial of the three “Minnesota men” charged with seeking to join ISIS in Syria. Having attended the trial and filed daily reports on Power Line, I spent the weekend working on a short article summarizing what I saw at the trial. The article is published as “‘Minnesota men’ on trial” in the new issue of the Weekly Standard that is out this morning. Please check it out.

This article is a companion to “The threat from ‘Minnesota men’” and “Judging the ‘Minnesota men.’” I am grateful to the Standard for letting me have my say in my own voice in these articles. This time around I am grateful in particular to deputy managing editor Kelly Jane Torrance for improving the draft I submitted and to assistant editor Priscilla Jensen for her care in fact-checking the article.

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