Weekly Musing 3-8-15
Unifying Theory Of Media Scandal Coverage: It’s Always The Republicans’ Fault
Hillary Clinton used a personal email address housed on her own server to conduct her business while Secretary of State, a practice that may have been illegal, was definitely shady, and probably an enormous national security risk. We don’t know if the State Department signed off or if the White House was ever aware of what she was up to.
One imagines these things would concern those who claim to care about transparent government. But, though intrepid reporters in the mainstream media deserve much of the credit for bringing the story to our attention, many other journalists seem to have far more urgent questions on their mind.
Will the GOP Go Too Far?
If there is a scandal involving a Democrat brewing, we must immediately contemplate how the GOP will fare. Will those zealots overplay their hand once again? Will they make a mountain out of a BENGHAZI? Because, really, what’s more important (or easy) than finding some accommodating Republican to say something idiotic? We’re now on “overreach” watch. Remember the, “Will Democrats overplay their hand as the GOP is plunged into scandal?” story? I don’t either.
What is going “too far”? Asking too many questions? Asking Hillary personally — what some reporters might call stalking?
As Politico reported, there’s an “awkward” silence among GOP politicians regarding Hillary’s troubles, which probably means GOP politicians are guilty of unseemly business themselves. So if Republicans attack Hillary, they risk going too far and engaging in partisan rancor. If they don’t say enough, it’s because they must be hiding misconduct. Evidentially, the only thing Republicans can do is pack it in and quit—a move that would only solve half of America’s problems.
Among the Hillary email-gate stories out there, and there are many, we are going to find many headlines informing us that the “GOP is giddy” about the scandal or, that “Hillary Clinton’s stumbles fuel Democratic critics” as CNN recently explained. Who among us doesn’t stumble occasionally in life, right? Soon enough, coverage will begin to nurture the perception that it’s all just another partisan skirmish and half the public will forget that we’re talking about a high-ranking government official who created a shadow communication department within the State Department immune from any transparency. A story that had nothing, at its heart, to do with Republicans—other than the fact that Trey Gowdy’s ferreting it out.
Oh, Look, Squirrel!
Obamanomics: 62.8%: Labor Force Participation Has Hovered Near 37-Year-Low for 11 Months
The labor force participation rate hovered between 62.9 percent and 62.7 percent in the eleven months from April 2014 through February, and has been 62.9 percent or lower in 13 of the 17 months since October 2013. Prior to that, the last time the rate was below 63 percent was 37 years ago, in March 1978 when it was 62.8 percent, the same rate it was in February.
“The civilian labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, changed little in February and has remained within the narrow range of 62.7 to 62.9 percent since April 2014,” the BLS said in its release on the February employment data.
92,898,000 Americans were not in the labor force in February, according to data released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday.
…In February, 92,898,000 people did not participate in the labor force. These Americans did not have a job and were not actively trying to find one. When President Obama took office in January 2009, there were 80,529,000 Americans who were not participating in the office, which means that since then, 12,369,000 Americans have left the workforce. Of the 157,002,000 who did participate in the labor force, 148,297,000 had a job, and 8,705,000 did not have a job but were actively seeking one -– making them the nation’s unemployed. The 8,705,000 job seekers were 5.5 percent of the 157,002,000 Americans actively participating in the labor force during the month of February. Thus, the unemployment rate for that money was 5.5 percent.
Progressives, It’s Time to Start Panicking about Hillary There is no Plan B for 2016. I’ll say it, happily: Democrats should be worried about Hillary Clinton, and moderately panicked about the immediate future of both their party and their cause. This is not, of course, because Hillary’s latest scandale du jour is in any practical way going to “disqualify” her; and nor is it because leftward-leaning voters are likely to recall anything more from this rather awkward period in time than that the Clintons are as perennially sleazy as they ever were. Rather, it is because the last few days have underscored just how tenuous the Left’s grip on power and influence truly is in the waning days of the once-buoyant Obama era. At present, Republicans control the House of Representatives, they lead the Senate, and they enjoy pole position within a vast majority of the states. The Democratic party, by contrast, has been all but wiped out, its great historical hope having relegated himself by his obstinacy to the role of MVP on a team of just a few. For the next couple of years, Obama will dig in where he can, blocking here, usurping there, and seeking to provide for the Left a source of energy and of authority. But then . . . what?
Stuck in Scandal Land – As long as she is in public life, Hillary will protect and serve herself.
Doesn’t the latest Hillary Clinton scandal make you want to throw up your hands and say: Do we really have to do this again? Do we have to go back there? People assume she is our next president. We are defining political deviancy down.
The scandal this week is that we have belatedly found out, more than two years after she left the office of secretary of state, that throughout Mrs. Clinton’s four-year tenure she did not conduct official business through the State Department email system. She had her own private email addresses and her own private Internet domain, on her own private server at one of her own private homes, in Chappaqua, N.Y. Which means she had, and has, complete control of the emails. If a journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking to see emails of the secretary of state, the State Department had nothing to show. If Congress asked to see them, State could say there was nothing to see. (Two months ago, on the request of State, Mrs. Clinton turned over a reported 55,000 pages of her emails. She and her private aides apparently got to pick which ones.)
Is it too much to imagine that Mrs. Clinton wanted to conceal the record of her communications as America’s top diplomat because she might have been doing a great deal of interesting work in those emails, not only with respect to immediate and unfolding international events but with respect to those who would like to make a positive impression on the American secretary of state by making contributions to the Clinton Foundation, which not only funds many noble causes but is the seat of operations of Clinton Inc. and its numerous offices, operatives, hangers-on and campaign-in-waiting?
What a low and embarrassing question. It is prompted by last week’s scandal—that the Clinton Foundation accepted foreign contributions during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. It is uncomfortable to ask such questions, but that’s the thing with the Clintons, they always make you go there.
The mainstream press is all over the story now that it has blown. It’s odd that it took so long. Everyone at State, the White House, and the rest of the government who received an email from the secretary of state would have seen where it was coming from—a nongovernmental address. You’d think someone would have noticed.
With the exception of the moment Wednesday when a hardy reporter from TMZ actually went to an airport and shouted a query at Mrs. Clinton—it was just like the old days of journalism, with a stakeout and shouted queries—Mrs. Clinton hasn’t been subjected to any questions from the press. She’s slide, she’ll glide, she’ll skate. (With TMZ she just walked on, smiling.)
Why would she ignore regulations to opt out of the State email system? We probably see the answer in a video clip posted this week on Buzzfeed. Mrs. Clinton, chatting with a supporter at a fundraiser for her 2000 Senate campaign, said: “As much as I’ve been investigated and all of that, you know, why would I . . . ever want to do email?”
Rebels with a cause – A new group of far-right House Republicans tries to show they’re not just a band of demagogues.
Salmon and other members of the Freedom Caucus made clear that their purpose isn’t simply endless debate. For years, the nucleus of conservative thought in the House has been the Republican Study Committee, which holds meetings that are large and ideologically diverse. The group has been risk-averse, hardly ever unifying behind a legislative strategy.
The Freedom Caucus was a response to that, and in the midst of their first legislative battle over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, they showed just how different they’d be. Since Republicans took the majority in 2011, the far right wing of the House Republican Conference has been a disparate bunch, unable to clearly articulate a unified set of demands to the leadership.
That all seems to have changed this week.
Although they clearly lost the fight over DHS funding, the Freedom Caucus is beginning to show that it is a force that requires leadership’s attention. They are showing legislative sophistication, defying the perception of a ragtag collection of demagogues many in the Capitol had them pegged as.
Members of the group, including Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), were able to slow consideration of the Senate’s DHS bill using rarely employed floor tactics — a strategy born of consultations with parliamentary advisers that lasted more than a week, sources said. They successfully worked to whip up opposition to Republican leadership’s plans, dealing Boehner and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) an embarrassing defeat on the House floor.
With the backing of popular conservatives, they have changed the definition of what legislation meets conservative muster. Those new standards have grown the group’s reach beyond its approximately two dozen members. In the DHS fight, Republican leadership saw reliable allies siding with a different Ohioan than Boehner: Rep. Jim Jordan, who runs the Freedom Caucus.
The Fascist in the Kremlin
Vladimir Putin is fighting a war on two fronts. At home, opposition activists no longer risk jail, but death. The assassination of Boris Nemtsov at the Kremlin walls–one of the most policed places on the planet–turned a new page in the regime’s offensive against its opponents. Abroad, Putin’s tanks continue to roll into Ukraine and Moscow’s other neighbors feel threatened.
But just as he’s apparently managed to winnow out his political enemies at home, the Russian dictator is still making friends on the Western front. Only last month, Putin demonstrated that it is possible–despite Western sanctions and ongoing aggression in Ukraine–to build a partnership with a European Union state. In his first visit to a European Union country in nine months, Putin visited Hungary and cuddled up to his emerging new ally, Prime Minister Viktor Orban. From Budapest, he sent a clear message: We are ready to support any European country that has grievances with Brussels or Washington.
A year after the annexation of Crimea, Putin’s Russia is looking ever more like an expansionist fascist state. “Putin has brought Nazism into politics,” Nemtsov told a reporter hours before he was shot. As the regime aims to destroy critical thinking, years of round-the-clock propaganda–hugely intensified by the Ukraine campaign–has taken its toll on Russian society. Many Russians are ready for war: this can be seen in the numbers of men who left their homes to fight in Ukraine as volunteers (alongside regular Russian troops).
Life has become dangerous for those Russians who–despite daily brainwashing and state control–preserve a clear mind. In Moscow, 50,000 of them took to the streets in an anti-Putin march in memory of Nemtsov. Labeled the country’s “fifth column,” these Russians are so vilified on federal television that they could become victims of hate crimes committed by the people–or by the state. Many of them are openly asked to leave: Riga is fast becoming a hub for an escaping Russian middle class.
Asked by a BBC presenter if Nemtsov will join the long list of unexplained murders in Russia, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov chillingly replied: “The list is not that long.”. On his weekly TV show Vesti Nedeli, Russia’s most famous propagandist Dmitry Kisilev told viewers that, for the West, Nemtsov was “more useful dead than alive.” The pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia reported that investigators are focusing on the Ukrainian intelligence agencies and Chechen militants as the main suspects in the murder.
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