PowerLine – The FBI Investigation of Hillary: Is the Fix In?

PowerLine – The FBI Investigation of Hillary: Is the Fix In?

PowerLine Daily digest - Old Guard Audio.com

PowerLine Daily digest – Old Guard Audio.com

Daily Digest

  • The FBI Investigation of Hillary: Is the Fix In?
  • The European Union: What Went Wrong
  • Chronicle of Higher Education Beclowns Itself
  • ISIS in the Twin Cities, &c.
  • New York Times still peddles narrative Ben Rhodes told the paper is false

The FBI Investigation of Hillary: Is the Fix In?

Posted: 29 Jun 2016 11:58 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

Now I know what you’re thinking based on this headline: Of course the fix is in, you idiot! What makes you think the Obama Administration will allow the First Woman President to be indicted for mere sloppiness about emails?

And then there’s this breaking story out of Arizona this morning:

Loretta Lynch, Bill Clinton meet privately in Phoenix

PHOENIX – Amid an ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of email and hours before the public release of the Benghazi report, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with former President Bill Clinton.

The private meeting took place on the west side of Sky Harbor International Airport on board a parked private plane.

Former President Clinton was visiting the Phoenix area and arrived to Sky Harbor Monday evening to depart.

Sources tell ABC15, Clinton was notified Lynch would be arriving at the airport soon and waited for her arrival.

Lynch was arriving in Phoenix for a planned visit as part of her national tour to promote community policing.

ABC15 asked Lynch about the meeting during her news conference at the Phoenix Police Department.

“I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as he was leaving and spoke to myself and my husband on the plane,” said Lynch.

The private meeting comes as Lynch’s office is in charge of the ongoing investigation and potential charges involving Clinton’s email server. . .

Whatever could they possibly have talked about?

Lynch said the private meeting on the tarmac did not involve these topics. “Our conversation was a great deal about grandchildren, it was primarily social about our travels and he mentioned golf he played in Phoenix,” said Lynch Tuesday afternoon while speaking at the Phoenix Police Department.

Sources say the private meeting at the airport lasted around 30 minutes.

Yeah, we can really trust all of these people to tell the truth.


The European Union: What Went Wrong

Posted: 29 Jun 2016 10:46 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

The migrant crisis is thought to be the chief precipitating event behind the shocking UK Brexit vote outcome, along with the general sense that the European Union and its ever expanding bureaucracy and high-handed intrusiveness is becoming intolerable. But remember that the decision to hold a referendum in Britain was made three years ago, after several years of agitation by EU critics, who are not limited to just the UK.

The original idea behind the three-level European integration—free trade, collective security, and freer movements of people—was and remains sound, but even EU sympathizers are grudgingly admitting that the EU lost its way and was tending toward a Leviathan super-state. But does immigration and burgeoning bureaucracy alone explain the heart of what’s wrong with the EU enterprise, or is there something deeper at work?

As it happens, I’m reading a lot of French thinkers old and new at the moment for one of my typical idiosyncratic projects that may or may not see the light of day. One of them is Pierre Manent, who is a protégé of the late and great Raymond Aron (whose fascinating memoirs I also recently just finished). Manent deserves to be much better known in the U.S. In his 2006 book Democracy Without Nations: The Fate of Self-Government in Europe, Manent points out that beyond the ambiguity of the nation-state in the evolving EU, the entire project of European integration rested upon the vague sense that politics itself could be abolished or superseded (very much the same point that the liberal writer Damon Linker was making in the column of his I linked to on Monday). In such a post-political world, the Nation State will certainly not wither away, but will be replaced by the SuperState, (or what Alexandre Kojeves called the “universal homogeneous state”). Between a European political class that wants to abolish politics (and culture along with it), and a wave of migrants with very determined political and cultural ideas and willing to trade on Europe’s “tolerance,” it is no wonder that more Europeans are having second thoughts.

Here’s one of Manent’s observations on the problem early in the book:

For a long time our nations and Europe developed together. But at some point, not easy to indicate exactly, but which is plausible to designate as the “Maastricht moment,” the European enterprise underwent a decisive change. At this point the European contrivance detached itself from the national political bodies. The artifice took on a life of its own. “Europe” crystalized as an Idea endowed with a legitimacy surpassing all others, and it was equipped and fortified with institutional mechanisms capable of reconstructing all aspects of European life. Europeans found themselves caught in an “endeavor without end,” one that no longer had any political meaning. Its sole prospect was an indefinite extension that no one knew where nor how to stop. That is where we are now.

Manent’s basic point is that you can’t have politics without nations and distinctive cultures, and that democracy requires both. Later in the book he returns to the theme of the EU’s creeping nihilistic cosmopolitanism in a more direct way:

After the Second World War the European idea and its accompanying institutions facilitated the reconstruction on solid foundations of the European nation-state, whole also making plausible, imaginable, and even desirable the withering away of this supposedly antiquated political form. But does “Europe” mean today the depoliticization of the life of peoples—that is, the increasingly methodical reduction of their collective existence to the activities of “civil society” and the mechanisms of “civilization”? Or does it instead entail the construction of a new political body, a great, enormous European nation? The construction of Europe, from the Common Market established in 1957 to the European Union today, has made progress only because of this ambiguity, and as a result of combining these two contradictory projects it has taken on its character as an imperious, indefinite, and opaque movement. Thus, this initially happy ambiguity has become paralyzing, and threatens soon to become fatal. The sleepwalker’s assurance with which “Europe” pursues its indefinite extension is the result of its obstinate refusal to think about itself comprehensively—that is, to define itself politically.

Manent, for what it’s worth, believes that restoring European vitality requires embracing its Christian heritage.

UPDATE: I emailed a friend who is close to Manent to see whether he know of Manent’s specific thoughts on Brexit. He sent back this:

He was for the Brexit and was quite delighted by the results of the referendum. He believes the vote breaks the claims of historical inexorability that allegedly made national loyalty and self-government outmoded in Europe.


Chronicle of Higher Education Beclowns Itself

Posted: 29 Jun 2016 08:45 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

A few days back I reported here on the Chronicle of Higher Education symposium to which I contributed on what a “Trump 101” course syllabus might look like, noting that some of the commenters complained that there was  “Not much diversity in the faculty or the authors of the readings,” and adding that “I’m not sure how much more diverse in ideology you can get than [Harvey] Mansfield and Alan Wolfe, or Michael Kazin and Bill McClay. But such is the hothouse of the academic left these days.”

Well, apparently, the Chronicle couldn’t take the heat, because if you look up the original “Trump Syllabus” article now, you will find a note added to the end:

Editor’s Note: We apologize for the absence of works by scholars of color and other marginalized groups. We recognize that these omissions are offensive. Responsibility rests solely with The Chronicle, not the scholars who offered suggestions for the syllabus. We have and will continue to cover issues of race, and we’d like to hear from you. Please write to us at [email protected] or leave a comment.

Where to begin. First, let’s note that Trump has caught on precisely because he speaks to “marginalized groups” that the fashionable, race-obsessed academic left (and much of the GOP establishment—ahem) disdains. So the identity politics set gets a failing grade here for low self-awareness. Second, it is embarrassing but necessary to point out that when inquiring about any subject, any serious list will want to include only the best work that bears on the subject. When Ta Nahesi Coates writes something sensible about Trump, someone will include it on a recommended reading list.

For the record, I usually start the first day of my course on the Constitution with Martin Luther King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” and often move on shortly to the thoughts of Frederick Douglass. This does not sit well with liberals when they come to perceive the conservative themes at the heart of King and Douglass’s thought on America and its principles. But it checks the right boxes. Maybe the Chronicle can satisfy its critics by asking Thomas Sowell next time? I didn’t think so.

The whole academic scene is coming to resemble the Monty Python apology riff that is only available on an album:

Try watching this video on www.youtube.com, or enable JavaScript if it is disabled in your browser.


ISIS in the Twin Cities, &c.

Posted: 29 Jun 2016 05:03 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

I found attending the trial of the three ISIS wannabes of the ten charged last year to be an incredibly rich experience. I’m still chewing it over. I take another look at the trial and at the national media’s pitiful coverage of it at City Journal in “ISIS in the Twin Cities.” I also touch on the related immigration issue implicit in the case. In light of the massacre in Istanbul, the piece is timely in its own way. I’m grateful to editors Brian Anderson and Paul Beston at City Journal for letting me take up the subject with their readers. Please check it out and take a look around the newly redesigned City Journal site.

In the spirit–and copying the format–of Jay Nordlinger’s blowouts in his Impromptus columns at National Review, I want to add these thoughts on the trial and note a few loose ends.

• I started my research on these cases in earnest when I attended a presentation by FBI Minneapolis Division Chief Counsel/Media Coordinator Kyle Loven. Loven spoke to the National Security Society in early November 2015. Loven decried the evolution of encrypted communication applications that put terrorist networks beyond the ability of the fBI to penetrate. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Loven was referring in part to the case of the Minnesota 10. They communicated among themselves and with their friends who had joined ISIS in Syria through the use of widely available secure applications.

• I refer to the case of the Minnesota 10. By the time of trial, six of the ten had pleaded guilty. One had made it to Syria and is presumably dead. The FBI investigation of the case lasted more than a year and spanned the United States “from California to the New York island” (that’s Woody Guthrie in “This Land Is Your Land”).

• The FBI has been criticized for letting Omar Mateen fall out of its sight in Orlando. The FBI’s performance in this case was outstanding. Numerous FBI agents testified at trial. They were uniformly impressive. Next to the covert recordings of defendants that I have written about in each of my pieces on the trial, the FBI agents constituted the prosecution’s most formidable asset at trial.

• In late 2014 or early 2015, after he had been called to testify to the grand jury investigating the case by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Winter, co-conspirator Abdirahman Bashir agreed to become an informant. Bashir was part of the group seeking to leave Minnesota to join ISIS but he has never been charged. His work undercover was critical to the successful prosecution of the case.

• Among other things, Bashir worked for a time at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport deicing planes. MSP authorities have so far failed to respond to my inquiry regarding the dates of his employment at the airport. I find the local media’s failure to follow up on this point mind-boggling. Bashir worked on the tarmac at the airport with co-conspirator Abdirizak Warsame. The first question Bashir asked the FBI when he agreed to cooperate with law enforcement: “Can you help me get my job at the airport back?”

• The federal courthouse in downtown Minneapolis is a twenty-first century fortress. The courtroom was packed every day with the defendants’ family and supporters, mostly dressed in their native Somali garb. We have imported the members of an alien and hostile Third World culture and plopped them down in the heart of the Twin Cities. It is weird.

• As I say in the City Journal piece, the Minnesota ten and their friends strike me as ordinary Somali young men. There is nothing special about them. So far as I could tell, all it took to recruit them to the ISIS cause was a diet of ISIS videos.

• Somali immigrants are high volume consumers of welfare benefits–see Kelly Riddell’s Washington Times article on this point–and a huge concern to law enforcement. Is it possible that they have made a net contribution to Minnesota or the United States? That’s one question you won’t see asked any time soon in the Star Tribune.

• Another question that we can’t answer: what is the Somali population in Minnesota? The Census Bureau does not track Somalis per se. The official estimate of the Somali population is a joke. My guess is that it numbers well over 100,000 and that they would make up Minnesota’s third largest city, after Minneapolis and St. Paul, if located in one place.

• I write about the national media’s (non)coverage of the trial in the City Journal piece. Reporters from the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times dropped into town and wrote pieces mostly focused on the reaction of the Somali community to the case. They have turned the community reaction piece into an excruciating cliché. They never think to ask those of us who have welcomed and supported Somali immigrants over the past 25 years how we feel about the case.

• The local media did a good job covering the case. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t have understood the trial from their coverage. One of the three defendants (Guled Omar) testified at trial, I believe against the advice of his attorney. He made a decent impression on direct examination, but my judgment is that he fell apart on the mediocre cross examination that followed. It ended with his saying something like, “I’m confused in my head.” Omar had an explanation for everything except some of the things he said on the covert recordings. They “confused” him. I tried to an element of judgment based on my professional experience to coverage of the case, and I think something like that is necessary to understand what was happening.

• The Minnesota 10 et al. wanted to live under the caliphate declared by ISIS and to wage jihad in Syria. They also wanted to help ISIS bring the jihad back to the United States. The FBI thus deserves our gratitude for its work in shutting down this cell of wannabes.

• The evidence at trial was chilling, but in one respect the case was refreshing. It lacked the mind-numbing euphemisms imposed by the Obama administration on such matters. At trial there was no doubt about what was at issue: Islam, jihad, “martyrdom” and murder.

In addition to my daily coverage of the trial on Power Line, I have previously written about the case in three articles for the Weekly Standard–here (December 7, 2015), here (March 21) and here (June 20)–and in one Star Tribune column (June 14). If you have read this far, thank you for joining me to revisit the trial one more time. However, I need to add this reservation. I continue to think about what I saw and am afraid I may have more to say next week!


New York Times still peddles narrative Ben Rhodes told the paper is false

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 09:21 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

Now that Ben Rhodes has confessed that the Obama administration’s narrative about an Iran in which “moderates” wield significant influence was “largely manufactured” for the purpose of selling the nuclear, you might think that the mainstream media media would stop peddling this narrative. You might think that at least the New York Times, which broke the story of Rhodes confession, would stop doing so.

You would be wrong. Cliff Smith of PJ Media describes how the Times “continues to insist on the centrality of this fictional ‘moderates/hard-liners’ dynamic in understanding Iran’s behavior.”

For example, following the re-election of Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, the Times reported that his landslide victory was a “mild surprise” since “reformists” had done so well in February elections. This development might be surprising if one swallows the moderate/hard-liner narrative.

But if you recognize that the narrative is, as Rhodes told the Times, “largely manufactured” it makes perfect sense that the so-called reformists elected earlier in the year would overwhelmingly elect the “hard-liner” Larijani. As Smith says when “moderates” win in Iran, they either aren’t actually moderates or are not allowed to hold power.

Smith concludes:

The point is not that there are no moderate voices or genuine would-be reformers in Iran. The Iranian people’s spontaneous organization during the “green revolution” and the ongoing saga of the frequently imprisoned but irrepressible filmmaker Jafar Panahi are just two examples that demonstrate moderate, reformist sentiments do exist there. But the idea that a moderate/hardliner conflict affects how the current Iranian regime behaves toward the U.S. is false.

Further, the Times knows it is false based on its own reporting.

However, it just keeps reporting it as fact. . . .

Shocking, but not surprising.

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