Tuesday Reads: Comey Strikes Again

Good Morning!!

I woke up around 3AM and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I turned on my computer and opened Twitter. I wasn’t expecting breaking news, but I found it anyway. You’ve probably heard by now that James Comey was caught lying to Congress about Hillary’s emails.

ProPublica: Comey’s Testimony on Huma Abedin Forwarding Emails Was Inaccurate.

FBI director James Comey generated national headlines last week with his dramatic testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, explaining his “incredibly painful” decision to go public about the Hillary Clinton emails found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

Perhaps Comey’s most surprising revelation was that Huma Abedin — Weiner’s wife and a top Clinton deputy — had made “a regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of Clinton messages to her husband, “some of which contain classified information.” Comey testified that Abedin had done this so that the disgraced former congressman could print them out for her boss….

Much of what Comey said about this was inaccurate. Now the FBI is trying to figure out what to do about it.

FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found. On Monday, the FBI was said to be preparing to correct the record by sending a letter to Congress later this week. But that plan now appears on hold, with the bureau undecided about what to do.

So how much did Comey exaggerate?

According to two sources familiar with the matter — including one in law enforcement — Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the “hundreds and thousands” cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made “a regular practice” of doing so. Other officials said it was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.

It was not clear how many, if any, of the forwarded emails were among the 12 “classified” emails Comey said had been found on Weiner’s laptop. None of the messages carried classified markings at the time they were sent.

WTF?! Has everyone in the federal government gone insane? How can we rely on Comey to properly investigate Trump and Russia after this? And why are we just learning about this?

More insanity, this time emanating from tRump.

Bloomberg: Washington Loves General McMaster, But Trump Doesn’t.

For the Washington establishment, President Donald Trump’s decision to make General H.R. McMaster his national security adviser in February was a masterstroke. Here is a well-respected defense intellectual, praised by both parties, lending a steady hand to a chaotic White House. The grown-ups are back.

But inside the White House, the McMaster pick has not gone over well with the one man who matters most. White House officials tell me Trump himself has clashed with McMaster in front of his staff….

…White House officials…tell me this is not the sentiment the president has expressed recently in private. Trump was livid, according to three White House officials, after reading in the Wall Street Journal that McMaster had called his South Korean counterpart to assure him that the president’s threat to make that country pay for a new missile defense system was not official policy. These officials say Trump screamed at McMaster on a phone call, accusing him of undercutting efforts to get South Korea to pay its fair share.

This was not an isolated incident. Trump has complained in front of McMaster in intelligence briefings about “the general undermining my policy,” according to two White House officials. The president has given McMaster less face time. McMaster’s requests to brief the president before some press interviews have been declined. Over the weekend, McMaster did not accompany Trump to meet with Australia’s prime minister; the outgoing deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland, attended instead.

I have no doubt that tRump would like to have Russian spy Mike Flynn back as National Security Adviser.

National Post: White House advisors called Ottawa to urge Trudeau to help talk Trump down from scrapping NAFTA.

White House staff called the Prime Minister’s Office last month to urge Justin Trudeau to persuade President Donald Trump not to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to multiple Canadian government sources.

The unconventional diplomatic manoeuvre — approaching the head of a foreign government to influence your own boss — proved decisive, as Trump thereafter abandoned his threat to pull out of NAFTA unilaterally, citing the arguments made by Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto as pivotal.

But the incident highlights the difficulties faced by governments all over the world when it comes to dealing with a president as volatile as Trump.

tRump is an embarrassment to the once-great United States of America. Read the whole pathetic story at the link.

Huffington Post: Trump Administration Cites Segregation-Era Ruling To Defend Its Travel Ban.

In a brief defending its ban on citizens from six Muslim-majority countries, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department approvingly cited a segregation-era Supreme Court decision that allowed Jackson, Mississippi, to close public pools rather than integrate them.

In the early 1960s, courts ordered Jackson to desegregate its public parks, which included five swimming pools. Instead, the city decided to close the pools. Black residents of Jackson sued. But in 1971, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, decided that closing the pools rather than integrating them was just fine.

The dissents, even at the time, were furious. “May a State in order to avoid integration of the races abolish all of its public schools?” Justice William O. Douglas asked in his dissent.

“I had thought official policies forbidding or discouraging joint use of public facilities by Negroes and whites were at war with the Equal Protection Clause” of the Fourteenth Amendment, Justice Byron White wrote in another dissent.

 

How did the tRump lawyers use this case? The ruling argued that courts should not consider the motives for a government decision.

It is difficult or impossible for any court to determine the ‘sole’ or ‘dominant’ motivation behind the choices of a group of legislators,” the majority opinion said. “Furthermore, there is an element of futility in a judicial attempt to invalidate a law because of the bad motives of its supporters.”

The Trump administration emphasizes this in its citation of the case, arguing that looking into “governmental purpose outside the operative terms of governmental action and official pronouncements” is “fraught with practical ‘pitfalls’ and ‘hazards’ that would make courts’ task ‘extremely difficult.’”

The tRump Justice Department is now an embarrassment too.

Other Insane News

I’m still not sure if this is a joke or not, but knowing the New York Times, it could very well be for real.

The suggestion was made in a column by Michael Kinsley, who used to be relatively sane: The Upside to the Presidential Twitter Feed.

Surely, if there is a “party line” among the establishment media in the United States, it is anti-Trump, not pro. That doesn’t make it wrong. In fact, it’s largely right. But the venom, the obsession, the knife-twisting are hard to understand.

It must be partly a matter of bad timing. Mr. Trump came along just as the mainstream media, especially newspapers, were trying to come to terms with the internet. Hoary concepts like “objectivity” and “balance” were giving way. This was a good thing, believe it or not. Reporters no longer had to pretend that after spending weeks or months on a story, they had emerged with no opinion about it. The word “I” could now be used to refer to oneself, rather than “a reporter.” Mr. Trump, already dislikable, became the first test case of the new mind-set.

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, though, and even Donald Trump can’t be wrong all the time.

With that in mind, we’re looking for a few positive words about the president, and we’re asking for your help. This is not about Trump the family man. It’s not another forum for debating the issues. It is a place to point out positive things Mr. Trump has said or done from the viewpoint of The New York Times and its readers. (And don’t tell me Times readers are too diverse to classify. You know who you are.)

I’m pretty sure this is meant to be humorous, but it’s really not funny. I like this NYT column by David Leonhardt a little better: A French Lesson for the American Media.

The hacked emails from Emmanuel Macron’s French campaign appear to be spectacularly mundane, according to people who have read them. They include briefings on issues, personal exchanges and discussions of the weather. No doubt they also include some embarrassing thoughts, but so far they are notably lacking in scandal.

Does this description remind you of anything?

Ah, yes. Last year, Russian agents stole thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and published them via WikiLeaks. The dominant feature of the emails was their ordinariness.

They contained no evidence of lawbreaking, major hypocrisy or tawdry scandal. Even the worst revelation — a Democratic official and CNN contributor fed a town hall question to the campaign in advance — qualified as small beer. Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign engaged in much more consequential debate skulduggery. The Clinton emails were instead full of staff members jockeying for position, agonizing over strategy, complaining about their bosses and offering advice to those same bosses….

The overhyped coverage of the hacked emails was the media’s worst mistake in 2016 — one sure to be repeated if not properly understood. Television was the biggest offender, but print media was hardly blameless. The sensationalism exacerbated a second problem with the coverage: the obsession with Clinton’s private email server.

Apparently, there are sane people in the French media.

Late Friday, two days before the election, hackers released the Macron campaign emails. French media laws are stricter than American laws, and government officials argued against publication of the hacked information. But only the campaigns themselves were legally barred from making statements during the final weekend. Publications could have reported on the substance of the emails.

They largely did not. “It was a manipulation attempt — people trying to manipulate our voting process,” Gilles van Kote, deputy chief editor of Le Monde, told me.

French journalists rightly did not focus on what seemed like big news, because the emails surely did. They evaluated what truly was major news. Material released by a hostile foreign government, with the aim of confusing voters and evidently without significant new information, failed to qualify. Van Kote said reporters are continuing to read the emails to see if they warrant future stories.

NBC News has a story on how Bernie Sanders, who is not a Democrat, has thrown the Democratic Party into chaos: Democrats Stumble Into Abortion Rift. I’ll let you read that at the link if you’re interested. Here’s one more Sanders story, because Karma is so satisfying. Jane’s problems are now national news.

The Hill: FBI investigating Jane Sanders for alleged bank fraud: report.

Federal investigators are looking into allegations that Sen. Bernie Sanders‘s (I-Vt.) wife, Jane Sanders, falsified loan documents while she served as the president of Burlington College, according to multiple reports.

The small Vermont liberal arts school closed down in May 2016, after going bankrupt and failing to meet accreditation standards.

The college began to face financial difficulties during Sanders’s tenure from 2004 to 2011, falling $10 million into debt when the school purchased a new campus in 2010.

Sanders has been accused of falsifying the information on the loan documents in order to expand the college grounds.

Full Article reported that some of the donors Sanders appealed to for help with loans are now in contact with the FBI and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), as what was reported in the original site.

Sanders left her leadership role in 2011 for undisclosed reasons.

She claimed the college could count on $2.6 million in donations to pay for the purchased land, according to a 2010 loan application. But she ultimately raised only a fourth of that, making $676,000 in donations over the next four years, putting the college into bankruptcy in May 2016.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!


Lazy Saturday Reads: James Comey Must Resign

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Good Morning!!

FBI Director James Comey, in the words of Lawrence Tribe, has “throw[n] a huge bomb at the election.” Hillary will still win, but Comey, with pressure from House Republicans and Donald Trump, may have negatively affected downticket races for Democrats.

As we all know, yesterday Comey sent a letter to GOP chairmen in Congress announcing that FBI investigators had found emails that could be “pertinent” to the Clinton server investigation. Here’s the full text of the letter:

Dear Messrs Chairmen:

In previous congressional testimony, l referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s personal email server. Due to recent developments, I am writing to supplement my previous testimony.

In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.
Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.

Sincerely yours,
James B. Comey
Director

Naturally, Rep. Jason Chaffetz immediately released the letter to the press, and hundreds of political reporters and cable talking heads went wild in a disgusting feeding frenzy, falsely reporting that the investigation into Clinton’s serve had been “reopened” even though Comey’s letter didn’t say any such thing.

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Later in the day, Comey tried to cover his ass by sending a second letter to FBI employees. That letter was also obtained by The Washington Post. Here’s the text:

To all:

This morning I sent a letter to Congress in connection with the Secretary Clinton email investigation.  Yesterday, the investigative team briefed me on their recommendation with respect to seeking access to emails that have recently been found in an unrelated case.  Because those emails appear to be pertinent to our investigation, I agreed that we should take appropriate steps to obtain and review them.

Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.  At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.  In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.

Jim Comey

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No kidding. The Justice Department, which is in charge of the FBI, has historically tried to avoid politicizing investigation, especially within at least 60 days of an election. But Comey already chose to politicize the Clinton investigation with his highly inappropriate press conference in July.  Following that clusterfuck, former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller strongly criticized Comney’s actions.

“It’s not just unusual, it’s unprecedented,” said Matthew Miller, who was director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder and now works at strategic advisory firm Vianovo. “He’s put himself into the middle of a political campaign in a way that will call into question the legitimacy of the office.”

“You’ll now have people in the middle of a campaign able to say, ‘Well, the FBI director said Hillary Clinton was careless,'” Miller added. “That’s not the FBI director’s job to do, and the rules are set up to prohibit that kind of behavior.”

As we all know, Comey was then pressured by Republicans to testify before Congress about his decision not to charge Clinton. After that he took the unprecedented step of publicly releasing the FBI’s notes of Clinton’s private interview about the server. Comey is apparently hoping to become J. Edgar Hoover 2.0 with his blatant abuse of power.

We now know that the emails were found on a laptop that Huma Abedin shared with her estranged husband and social media pervert Anthony Weiner. They were not sent or received by Clinton and very likely are simply copies of emails that the FBI has already examined.

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This morning, Jane Mayer revealed that in his letter yesterday Comey went against the recommendation of Attorney General Lorretta Lynich–his boss: James Comey Broke with Loretta Lynch and Justice Department Tradition.

Coming less than two weeks before the Presidential election, Comey’s decision to make public new evidence that may raise additional legal questions about Clinton was contrary to the views of the Attorney General, according to a well-informed Administration official. Lynch expressed her preference that Comey follow the department’s longstanding practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations, and not taking any action that could influence the outcome of an election, but he said that he felt compelled to do otherwise.

Comey’s decision is a striking break with the policies of the Department of Justice, according to current and former federal legal officials. Comey, who is a Republican appointee of President Obama, has a reputation for integrity and independence, but his latest action is stirring an extraordinary level of concern among legal authorities, who see it as potentially affecting the outcome of the Presidential and congressional elections.

“You don’t do this,” one former senior Justice Department official exclaimed. “It’s aberrational. It violates decades of practice.” The reason, according to the former official, who asked not to be identified because of ongoing cases involving the department, “is because it impugns the integrity and reputation of the candidate, even though there’s no finding by a court, or in this instance even an indictment.”

Traditionally, the Justice Department has advised prosecutors and law enforcement to avoid any appearance of meddling in the outcome of elections, even if it means holding off on pressing cases. One former senior official recalled that Janet Reno, the Attorney General under Bill Clinton, “completely shut down” the prosecution of a politically sensitive criminal target prior to an election. “She was adamant—anything that could influence the election had to go dark,” the former official said.

Four years ago, then Attorney General Eric Holder formalized this practice in a memo to all Justice Department employees.

Not only that, but Comey’s announced resulted in a dramatic drop in the stock market. Once masssive FBI leaks clarified that Hillary Clinton likely didn’t send or receive any of the emails in question, the market began to rise again.

To top it all off, we have now learned that the FBI had the emails in question at least a month ago!

According to Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald, many in the FBI are angry at Comey.

And there’s this from Josh Marshall.

I don’t see how Comey recovers from this. He needs to resign, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. CNN legal analyst Paul Callan: Time for FBI director Comey to go.

Donald Trump’s oft-repeated claim that the FBI’s investigation of “Crooked Hillary” and the presidential election itself were and are “rigged,” seems to have thrown FBI Director James Comey into a state of panic. In foolishly making a public announcement that the bureau is reviewing newly discovered emails related to Hillary Clinton’s personal server, he has inserted himself yet again into the presidential campaign.

The FBI virtually never announces the commencement or termination of ongoing criminal investigations or the discovery of new evidence. Such inquiries are often conducted in relative secrecy, enabling a more efficient investigation….

The old, sensible FBI rule book apparently has been thrown on the trash heap this year. While undoubtedly attempting to be open and “transparent,” to protect the reputation of the FBI, the FBI director has tossed a Molotov cocktail into the presidential race.

Voters must now be subjected to endless speculation in the press and explicit accusations from the Trump campaign and other Republican candidates that Hillary Clinton is a “criminal” aided and abetted by a rigged FBI and Justice Department. Comey’s “openness and transparency” will blow up in his face and further tarnish the FBI’s reputation. He has reinserted the Bureau into the political process.

More interesting reads on the Comey mess:

Politico: Comey’s disclosure shocks former prosecutors.

Greg Sargent: James Comey needs to clean up his mess. Here’s what we need to know.

LA Times: FBI says emails found in Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal may have links to Clinton probe.

Benjamin Wittes at the Lawfare blog: Memo to the Press: What Comey’s Letter Does and Doesn’t Mean.

Jamie Bouie: Why the “October Surprise” Is Dead

Kurt Eichenwald: Hillary Clinton’s Emails: The Real Reason the FBI is Reviewing More of Them.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think? What stories are you following today?

 


Tuesday Reads: Hillary in 2016?

The face of a President?

The face of a President?

Good Morning!!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been suffering from a bad case of what JJ calls “PAD” or “Political Affective Disorder.” I’ve been finding myself escaping into a haze of detective stories, Criminal Minds reruns, and video games. I’ve still kept up with the news–barely–but I haven’t felt much like writing about it. I feel discouraged about the fate of our nation and I’m paralyzed about my own personal future too.

Beginning in 1993, I focused most of my attention of getting the education I missed out on as a young woman after I left college after only two years. From 1993 to 2010, I lived the life of a full-time student–and I loved it! After I finally achieved my goal–a doctorate in psychology–I had no idea what to do next. I was near retirement age, and faced the reality that the best “job” I might be able to get in the current economic climate was as an adjunct professor with low pay and no benefits.

I had learned after 12 years of teaching that the kinds of teaching jobs I might be able to get wouldn’t allow me to experience the aspects of teaching that I truly enjoyed–working directly with students and leading class discussions–wouldn’t be available to me. Instead I’d be lecturing to classes of 150-200 students with little opportunity for class discussion or personal interaction. In addition, I had serious problems with grade inflation and the “customers are always right” attitude of the universities I had taught at.

I had fantasies of focusing on writing and research, and I thought that might be a realistic goal, but then my mentor died suddenly and shockingly, and I no longer had anyone in academia to turn to for advice or to help me negotiate the publishing process. I was already so exhausted by the effort to complete my dissertation and my father’s death in March of 2010, that I really felt the need to just do nothing for awhile.

I threw myself into blogging, because it gave me opportunities to write and express myself on a daily basis. I’ve always loved following politics and it has been great to connect with so many other people who have the same interests and obsessions. But lately the world of politics seems as paralyzed as I am in my own life. The Republican Party has managed to largely control the agenda despite the fact that they only control the House.

Right now, I have the ability to live on a very low income and still have a decent lifestyle. But the day is eventually going to come when I won’t have a free place to live. I’m also finding myself less satisfied with just recovering from the effort to finish my Ph.D. and the major losses of my father and my academic father figure–my mentor. What will my future look like? I seems wrong not to use the skills and knowledge I’ve gained over the years to give back in some way, no matter how small.

Well, I can’t solve all those problems today. But I can keep on keepin’ on and imagine ways things might change. You might call it, “The Audacity of Hope.” And that’s where Hillary comes in. More and more I see her as a model for survival, for achievement late in life, for looking at problems in new and productive ways. Could she really become the first woman president at approximately the same age I am? Could she be a better, more innovative leader than Barrack Obama has been? I want to take that leap of faith and believe in her ability to win the nomination and general election and succeed as president. I also want to believe that she and we can survive the Clinton hate that we’ll all have to go through to make it happen.

Suddenly Hillary is all over the news! Yesterday Dakinikat posted a link to the first major interview (at New York Magazine) Hillary has done since leaving the State Department. Yesterday I was feeling so apathetic that I didn’t even manage to read the whole thing. But I’ve promised myself I’m  going to do that today. In the meantime, here are some crib sheets and reactions to the New York article:

From NBC News’ First Thoughts:

*** Clinton news — everywhere! If you wanted an idea of what the media landscape would look like the moment we get a clear indication if Hillary Clinton is running for president, we got a taste of it over the past 48 hours. Hillary Clinton gave her first private-citizen interview to a news organization; Bill Clinton is making news ahead of his Clinton Global Initiative meeting; and the New Republic runs a tough piece on Bill Clinton aide Doug Band. It’s a reminder of what comes with the Clintons — excitement, news and attention, and baggage. Now on to these individual stories…

*** “She’s running,” Hillary confidante tells New York magazine: In her first interview with a news organization since leaving her secretary of state post, Hillary Clinton certainly didn’t seem like someone who was shutting the door to a 2016 presidential bid. In fact, it was the opposite. When New York magazineasked if she wrestles with running, Clinton responded, “‘I do,’ she says, ‘but I’m both pragmatic and realistic. I think I have a pretty good idea of the political and governmental challenges that are facing our leaders, and I’ll do whatever I can from whatever position I find myself in to advocate for the values and the policies I think are right for the country. I will just continue to weigh what the factors are that would influence me making a decision one way or the other.’” It’s a significant step that she’s decided to acknowledge publicly that she’s thinking about it. We may all think we know this and treat it as a given inside the Acela Corridor, but it’s still significant to read her SAYING it. But the article adds, “Some of her close confidants, including many people with whom her own staff put me in touch, are far less circumspect than she is. ‘She’s running, but she doesn’t know it yet,’ one such person put it to me. ‘It’s just like a force of history. It’s inexorable, it’s gravitational. I think she actually believes she has more say in it than she actually does.’” Other than sending signals that she’s running, the other unmistakable take away from the Hillary interview: She won’t be surrounding herself with a lot of the Bill alum, a la 2008. More Team Hillary, less Team Bill in 2016. Translation to nervous donors/supporters about a repeat of 2008: Mark Penn and other Bill veterans aren’t running this thing.

From The Daily Beast: Seven Juiciest Bits from Hillary Clinton’s New York Profile. Go read the whole thing, but I’ll excerpt the part I found most intriguing:

7. The future of Clintonworld now lies with Chelsea.

Of course, there’s a third person in the Clinton family: Chelsea, whose name has been added to the name of the foundation, making it the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Chelsea had tried out a number of careers before turning to the family business, first as a consultant at McKinsey & Co., then a hedge fund and a stint NBC. But not everyone at the foundation was happy about Chelsea’s sudden appearance and her decision to bring in an old McKinsey associate as CEO—and Bill eventually stepped out and defended his comrades, a move that hinted there might have been conflict between the three Clintons. “This is an operation that runs on its proximity to people,” one staffer said. “Now it’s three people. How does that work?”

But Hillary says Chelsea’s entrance is simply in her daughter’s DNA (a move that seemed especially true after Chelsea’s Daily Show appearance on Thursday night). Hillary said Chelsea, the family’s now-gatekeeper, “comes by it” at the foundation “naturally.” Ever the proud parents, Hillary said Chelsea is “an incredibly able—obviously I’m biased—but extremely well-organized, results-oriented person, so rather than joining a lot of other groups, on which she could pursue her interests, she thought, I want to be part of continuing to build something I have worked on off and on over the years, and I really believe in it. I was thrilled to hear that.”

A negative note from The Atlantic: Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign Is Already Haunted

Clinton-watchers have an abundance of bedtime reading options this Sunday with not one, but two long profiles aimed at a possible 2016 run for Hillary Clinton. In New York magazine, Clinton herself breaks a mini “press hiatus” to spend some time with Joe Hagan, who then digs into the extensive support system for the family dynasty. But it’s The New Republic’s profile of Doug Band, longtime advisor to Bill Clinton, that hints at one of the challenges Hillary will face in a 2016 campaign: the ghosts waiting in the wings from the Clintons’ long public life.

Band, writer Alec MacGillis explains, is “rarely written about, almost never quoted, and many Clinton associates are loath to discuss him on the record.” But lately, he’s emerged from under the Clinton umbrella to strike out on his own, leaving him more vulnerable to scrutiny. In the past few months, his name has popped up as something of an antagonist in stories of troubles at the family foundation. Even though Band declined to speak to MacGillis for his expansive profile, the piece connects some dots that could be unwelcome for Team Clinton: “the unease with Band reflects an unease with the phenomenon of post-presidential Clintonism itself,” he writes. That Clintonism angst, TNR’s piece posits, could extend to Hillary, albeit with few to no direct ties. Band’s role in the Clinton administration was as the body man, a presidential version of a personal assistant.

Taylor Marsh points out that Hillary is not Bill just because she’s married to himBill Clinton, Hillary, and a Bone Picking Exposé on Doug Band.

The fact is Hillary Clinton doesn’t have a trail to give us an idea what she’d do, let alone if she thinks similarly to her husband on economics. What we know about Hillary in matters commander in chief is that unlike where Bill started, she’s respected at the Pentagon, which is one reason a contingent of progressives will oppose her candidacy. People tried to hook NAFTA to her back during the 2008 season, which I debunked, because not even Carl Bernstein, someone who wrote a fairly tough book on Hillary, would allow that to go unremarked upon, throwing ice cold water on any notion she supported NAFTA, a free trade agreement that exemplifies neoliberalism.

Just because she’s Bill Clinton’s wife doesn’t mean her views are identical to him. You’d think Democratic activists and progressives would understand the insult of assuming Hillary would be just like Bill. Opposing NAFTA also doesn’t mean she won’t approve of other free trade deals. Of course, for many Iraq, then her role in Libya, now Syria, is enough to make her unsupportable.

The other issue is that to people inside the power structure who want to be in charge, pretending corporations aren’t part of politics is to lose your foothold on the ladder taking you upward. You can choose not to participate as a voter and activist, but anyone in the political food chain who wants to rise cannot. This is one of the immovable, unsolvable, implacable truths that create the catch-22 of American politics.

Anyone who wants to change the system can’t get access to power without using the system and by the time they rise within the system they’ve lost credibility with the voters who put them in office to fight the system. Once in the political stream that gives you access to the power as a politician, the corporations who run the world also control the political apparatus you need to get anything done. Thus instead of Barack Obama changing Washington it changed him, as it will anyone governing in the era of international globalization. It gets to the question of whether a person is strong enough to also exact their own pound of economic flesh so that the stacked deck for the wealthy against the middle class at some points starts evening out.

So we don’t talk about neoliberalism when it comes to Democrats, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, and a scorching investigation of Doug Band won’t change that fact, or that Hillary being married to Bill doesn’t tell us anything definitive about what she’d do if she ran for president and won.

John Dickerson at Slate via CBS News: Hillary Clinton: The long game.

Hillary Clinton, in her first interview after leaving the State Department, offered a wise metaphor about the current state of presidential election madness. “This election is more than three years away, and I just don’t think it’s good for the country,” she told New York magazine, referring to the fevered speculation about her possible candidacy. “It’s like when you meet somebody at a party and they look over your shoulder to see who else is there, and you want to talk to them about something that’s really important; in fact, maybe you came to the party to talk to that particular person, and they just want to know what’s next,” she says. “I feel like that’s our political process right now. I just don’t think it is good.”

Clinton knows what it’s like to be on both ends of that exchange. She was a political spouse; the shortsighted looked over her shoulder for many years, seeing her as merely an adjunct to her accomplished husband. Now, she is the person who draws every eye in the room–away from even her husband. (When someone says “Clinton”, it may not be long before a majority of people think of the former secretary of state and not the former president).

Read more at the link.

And finally articles on two important members of the Clinton orbit:

NY Daily News: Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016, friends say — and Huma Abedin will have tough choice

WaPo: McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli in Virginia governor’s race

Soooooo . . . what’s your take on Hillary’s chances? How can we handle the CDS and the rampant misogyny we know she’ll face? 

Of course this is an open thread, so feel free to post your links on any topic in the comments. I promise to click on every one!


Friday Reads: Morning Granola Mix of Fruits, Nuts & Flakes

Good Morning!

Okay, let’s just say it’s been an interesting summer and get on with the links.

Dana Milbank at WAPO writes about “Modern-day McCarthyism regarding Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin”.

There are frequent bouts of McCarthyism in the capital, but the latest version has the special touch of being delivered by a guy named McCarthy.This McCarthy isn’t your average Joe: Andrew McCarthy’s work is providing the intellectual underpinnings — such as they are — for Rep. Michele Bachmann’s outrageous suggestion that Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

McCarthy gave a 90-minute talk at the National Press Club on Wednesday morning sponsored by the conservative Center for Security Policy, which was the source cited by Bachmann (R-Minn.) in her letter challenging Abedin’s loyalty. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and other top Republicans justifiably blasted Bachmann, but McCarthy defended the congresswoman and went her allegation one further — drawing a twisted line from Abedin all the way to al-Qaeda.

“I don’t understand why more people in Washington from both parties have not rallied in support of Congresswoman Bachmann” and her fellow signatories on the letter, McCarthy lamented, “at a time when government policy is being radically harmonized with the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, meaning policy has shifted in the direction of avowed enemies of the United States.”

In fact, the accuser went on, Bachmann “actually understated the case” against the Clinton aide. “Ms. Abedin had a very lengthy affiliation with an institute founded by a top figure at the nexus between Saudi terror funding, Brotherhood ideology and al-Qaeda’s jihad against the United States.”

If Abedin is in fact a Muslim Brotherhood plant spreading sharia law in the United States, she’s using unorthodox methods: posing provocatively for a Vogue spread, then marrying and having the child of a Jewish congressman who sent out a photo of his genitals on Twitter. As Clinton’s personal aide, helping her boss with suits and handbags and logistics, she has not been in an ideal position to advance the alleged cause. Even McCarthy admits that she’s “not a policymaker.”

This is just plain disgusting.Well,here’s some one that sounds like they had my experience way back in the day when I could find sane people in the Republican party. I probably could’ve written this book. But, I didn’t. Alternet has printed an excerpt from ” The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless and the Middle Class Got Shafted ,” by Mike Lofgren.

Having observed politics up close and personal for most of my adult lifetime, I have come to the conclusion that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes—at least in the minds of its followers—all three of the GOP’s main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war.

Religious cranks ceased to be a minor public nuisance in this country beginning in the 1970s and grew into a major element of the Republican rank and file. Pat Robertson’s strong showing in the 1988 Iowa presidential caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. Unfortunately, at the time I mostly underestimated the implications of what I was seeing. It did strike me as oddly humorous that a fundamentalist staff member in my congressional office was going to take time off to convert the heathen in Greece, a country that had been overwhelmingly Christian for almost two thousand years. I recall another point, in the early 1990s, when a different fundamentalist GOP staffer said that dinosaur fossils were a hoax. As a mere legislative mechanic toiling away in what I held to be a civil rather than ecclesiastical calling, I did not yet see that ideological impulses far different from mine were poised to capture the party of Lincoln.

The results of this takeover are all around us: If the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution, scriptural inerrancy, the presence of angels and demons, and so forth, it is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party, and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary beliefs. All around us now is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science. Politicized religion is the sheet anchor of the dreary forty-year-old culture wars.

Clearly, we have to be able to talk about the rising tide of right-wing, racist organizing. The ginned-up controversy over the Department of Homeland Security’s 2009 report on the rise of hate groups looks particularly stupid now, given that Page seems straight out of the pages of the report.  “Rightwing Extremism” predicted that a troubled economy plus the election of a black president could inspire a rise in racist hate groups and actions.  The report was particularly concerned with “lone wolves.” As Jonathan Capehart has already noted, it found that “lone wolves … embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.”

It went on to say that “white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy — separate from any formalized group — which hampers warning efforts.” The report also noted that military experience could make such lone wolves particularly dangerous. Page was a veteran (I’m not implying veterans are violence prone). Wells Fargo foreclosed on his North Carolina home in January. His girlfriend reportedly dumped him in June. He was a lone wolf who lost his home and was already deep into white supremacist insanity. We don’t know when, or why, he moved to violence. But “Rightwing Extremism” seems prescient now.

Instead of being hailed, or simply ignored (as government reports tend to be), it inspired a clamorous right-wing backlash against even the possibility that extremist right-wing rhetoric married to ideas of racial superiority might result in violence. Matt Drudge, who regularly trumpets supposedly under-covered stories about crime by African-Americans (particularly stories that feature white victims), was one of the loudest voices of opposition to the release of the DHS report, which had been commissioned by George W. Bush. One Drudge banner headline shrieked “SHE IS WATCHING YOU,” she being Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. So racial profiling and stereotyping is fine when it comes to crime by African-Americans, but not by whites. We’re used to that kind of double standard from Drudge, whose site some days resembles Stormfront in its hysterical hyping of black-on-white crime.

Some conservatives even object to the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizing Page, along with his racist musical colleagues, as white supremacists. Silly contrarian Ann Althouse objected to the SPLC terming the bands Page has belonged to “racist white power” bands, adding, “I’m not sure how they know that.” Oh, I don’t know, Ann, maybe because an album cover of one of Page’s bands, Definite Hate, featured an illustration of a white arm punching a black man’s face? Reuters found a YouTube video for Definite Hate that referred to lyrics including: “Wake Up, White man, For Your Race, And your land,” and “Wake Up People Or Your (sic) Gonna Die!” Page himself talked about going to Georgia’s white-power music festival Hammerfest. Is that evidence enough for you? Althouse and her dittohead commenters accused the SPLC of stigmatizing and demonizing “punk rock” generally, which of course they absolutely didn’t do.

I have no problem with the SPLC tracking white power bands. I was appalled when Napolitano withdrew the “Rightwing Extremism” report after the faux-controversy. Al-Qaida expert Peter Bergen notes that there have been twice as many right-wing terror attacks as Muslim terror attacks in the U.S. since 9/11, and suggests the government isn’t taking it as seriously. I don’t believe in racial profiling, of any group, but I think we should take the terror potential in right-wing extremist organizing as seriously as we take the potential in any violence-committed group. (Although at the end of an otherwise insightful piece, Bergen warns about “left wing extremist groups,” even though he fails to give any examples of them.)

 Speaking of gun-toting nutters, here’s one on George Zimmerman from The Orlando Sentinel: “Can Zimmerman win ‘stand your ground’ hearing?”

Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, on Thursday formally announced that he would defend Zimmerman using Florida’s now much-debated “stand your ground” law.

That means he’ll schedule a trial-like hearing, put on evidence and try to show that Zimmerman was afraid — and that it was a reasonable fear — that Trayvon was on the verge of killing or severely injuring him.

If he’s successful, a judge will throw out the second-degree-murder charge.

“There is clear support for a strong claim of self-defense,” O’Mara wrote in a blog post Thursday.

Central Florida lawyers predicted that, based on the evidence released so far by prosecutors, Zimmerman has a strong chance of winning.

“He’s assaulted, and he claims he’s on the ground, fighting for his life. I don’t see how a judge does not grant that motion,” said Robert Buonauro, an Orlando defense lawyer who has been through three “stand your ground” hearings, one that cleared his client.

“He was in a place where he had a right to be. He wasn’t violating any laws. He was attacked. There’s no other witness to contradict his testimony,” Buonauro said.

That last point — that no other witness saw the entire encounter — is key, according to experts. An Orlando Sentinel review of Central Florida “stand your ground” cases found that suspects were far more likely to be exonerated if they were the lone surviving witness.

Prosecution Investigator Dale Gilbreath testified at a bond hearing April 20 that prosecutors had no evidence — other than Zimmerman’s statement — about who struck the first blow Feb. 26, the night Zimmerman and Trayvon got into a fight and wound up in a wrestling match on the ground that ended with the teenager shotin the heart.

“I think we all understand that you don’t win without putting your client on the stand,” said Orlandodefense attorney Diana Tennis. “It all looks pretty darned good for him, but he is going to make or break that hearing.”

What Zimmerman must make clear is that he was afraid of Trayvon, she said.

And to qualify for immunity under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, his fear must be reasonable and he must have believed that unless heacted immediately, he would have died or been severely injured.

Zimmerman’s account to authorities, on its face, appears to comport with the law, Tennis said, but there is one major drawback: “[He] doesn’t do so well on the stand,” she said. “That’s a huge worry.”

Grab your popcorn for that one!  Okay, away from gun nutterz and back to religious nutterz.

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has sunk to a new, disturbing low with his anti-gay statements. In two separatetweets last night, he called for an “Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households.” In one tweet  he was referring to the sad story of Lisa Miller, who, after declaring herself ex-gay, kidnapped her daughter away to Central America to prevent her former partner from having any custody. (She is still being tracked by federal agents as a fugitive of the law.)

In the other tweet, Fischer referred to the testimony of a individual named Robert Oscar Lopez, who blames all of his social problems on being raised by his mom and her lesbian partner.

Okay, well that’s a few nuts, flakes, and fruits to keep you wondering what’s happened to sanity in this country. There’s a whole lot unpopped kernels at the bottom of our bowl these days.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Saturday Reads

It’s Saturday morning and our country is once again saddened by a horrible, violent crime. The shootings in Colorado yesterday were tragic. Even more tragic is the fact that mass shootings have become almost commonplace in our country, but none of our so-called leaders respond by actually taking action to prevent more such massacres in the future.

I feel heartsick not only for all of the victims and their families but also for the family of the perpetrator. I can’t begin to imagine how horrible it would be to lose a family member so senselessly or to have a family member commit such a horrific crime. If only this time politicians would stand up to the bloodthirsty NRA, but I know it’s not going to happen.

I’m not going to link to any more articles about yesterday’s murders. I just can’t stand to read about it right now. So let’s see what else is happening.

Chris Cilizza asks “Who had the worst week in Washington? Rep. Michele Bachmann.”

Anytime you are compared to former senator Joseph McCarthy — he of “red scare” infamy — it’s probably not very good for your political career.

That’s the situation Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) found herself in this past week after it came to light that she and four other House Republicans had sent letters to the inspectors general of the departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice, asking them to look into whether the Muslim Brotherhood has tentacles within the U.S. government.

Bachmann focused her attack on Human Abedin, long-time friend and aide to Hillary Clinton and wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner. She also slimed fellow Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison.

In an interview with radio host Glenn Beck on Thursday, Bachmann asserted that Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, has a long record of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis, said in a subsequent interview Thursday night with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he has no ties to the Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic movement that recently came to power in Egypt and that some say maintains ties to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

Bachmann offered no evidence of ties between Ellison and the Muslim Brotherhood during the Beck interview. Bachmann’s spokesman, Dan Kotman, cited a 2009 Fox News report that Ellison had a trip paid for by the Muslim American Society, a group described by an expert quoted in that report as “the de facto arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S.”

It’s simply beyond me why anyone would support this woman or vote for her, yet she is one of the top fund-raisers in the House of Representatives.

I watched some of the British Open today. Please don’t get mad at me. I can’t help rooting for Tiger Woods. I find it so hard to resist a comeback story, and Woods has slowly been recovering his pre-scandal form.

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — From the time he arrived in northwest England on Sunday, it was clear Tiger Woods had a game plan for Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

He had fond memories of the place, having been low amateur here in 1996 and calling it one of his favorite courses on the Open Championship rota. He enjoyed the challenge of avoiding the numerous pitfalls of the old links. Without saying so, he appeared determined to put an end to his four-year major championship victory drought.

Part of the plan was to stay out of the numerous bunkers that give Royal Lytham its teeth. The wind was down and the course was soft, but getting into those hazards is, well, hazardous.

It obviously wasn’t part of the plan when Woods’ approach to the par-4 18th found a greenside bunker. His caddie, Joe LaCava, said the shot was one of his best of the day. But the wind played a factor, the ball drifted into the sand and … uh-oh.

Then Woods holed the shot for a birdie.

A thunderous roar echoed around the 18th green as Woods gave a fist pump. He had made his statement at the Open Championship.

The tournament continues through the weekend, and I’ll probably watch a little more of it. The scenery relaxes me if nothing else.

I’ll just give you two Mitt Romney links this morning. First, this column by conservative political handicapper Charlie Cook from early in the week: Red Alert.

The strategic decision by the Romney campaign not to define him personally—not to inoculate him from inevitable attacks—seems a perverse one. Given his campaign’s ample financial resources, the decision not to run biographical or testimonial ads, in effect to do nothing to establish him as a three-dimensional person, has left him open to the inevitable attacks for his work at Bain Capital, on outsourcing, and on his investments. It’s all rather inexplicable. Aside from a single spot aired in the spring by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, not one personal positive ad has been aired on Romney’s behalf. The view that any day or dollar spent on talking about anything other than the economy is a waste has been taken to such an extreme that Romney has no positive definition other than that of being a rich, successful, and presumably smart businessman. People see and feel the reasons for firing Obama every day in the economic statistics and the struggle that so many Americans face daily. The Romney campaign seems focused on reinforcing a message that hardly needs reinforcing, while ignoring a clear and immediate danger to its own candidate’s electability.

The attacks on Bain, outsourcing, and his investments are sticking to Romney like Velcro, and it’s hard to see how that will change until he picks his running mate. Romney has lost control of the debate and the dialogue. Instead of voters focusing on the economy, they are now hearing about investments and accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, as well as about outsourcing and layoffs….if I were a Republican, I would be very concerned about the events of the past two weeks, questioning both strategy and tactics as well as the underlying assumptions that have led to the campaign decisions made so far.

Second, check out this slideshow of photos of “Sad Mitt Romney” at Mother Jones. In number 8, he looks like he’s about to cry–maybe because of mean bully Obama’s attacks on his “success.”

Sorry–I threw in another link there, but you don’t have to click on it.

Here’s a knee-slapper from Raw Story: Top tea partier demands Obama prove he doesn’t smoke crack and have gay sex

The president of Tea Party Nation declared on Thursday that if Mitt Romney is to release his tax returns, President Barack Obama should release medical records to prove he’s not a drug addict who smoked crack and had gay sex with a lifelong con-man.

Judson Phillips, whose for-profit group is better known to Tennessee as the “Tea Party Nation Corporation,” explained in an essay that also went out in a mass email to his followers that the American people must know whether the president had secret financial support in college due to his status as a “foreign student” — and dredged up a long-disproved story of Obama’s alleged encounter smoking crack and having sex with a gay prostitute.

At The Nation, Ari Melber reports:

A new campaign calling for “a woman moderator” for the presidential debates has drawn over 115,000 supporters online, through the social action website Change.org, and the Commission on Presidential Debates is taking notice. Janet Brown, the commission’s executive director, told The Nation she knew of the petition’s popularity and her colleagues “welcome” the input “regarding moderator selection.”

The petition, which was started by three high school students in New Jersey, Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegeland and Elena Tsemberis, casts the paucity of female moderators as an issue of equality. “We were shocked to find out that it has been twenty years since a woman last moderated a presidential debate,” the petition notes, in reference to the 1992 debate led by ABC News’s Carole Simpson. The students started the effort in conjunction with their civics class, and it is now “the largest elections-related petition” on Change.org, according to Michael Jones, the site’s deputy campaign director. A related effort on UltraViolet.org, a new organizing platform for women’s rights, has drawn another 50,000 supporters.

Now that is something I’d like to see–as long as the moderator isn’t Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer.

I’m sure you’ve heard that George Zimmerman has “gone rogue” again. He has again set up his on website talking to the media and generally appears to be ignoring his attorney’s advice. You’ll recall that he did that with his previous attorneys and they resigned from his case in a nationally televised news conference. On JJ’s Thursday night post, Northwestrain linked to an interesting wordpress blog called the Frederick Leatherman Law Blog. It’s run by an attorney who has been commenting on the Trayvon Martin case. I found his latest post fascinating. He thinks Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, should resign.

GZ is the quintessential difficult client. He is paranoid, secretive, fearful, angry, stubborn, doesn’t trust anyone, controlling, believes he’s smarter than anyone else, manipulative, and probably delusional. It’s absolutely clear that he does not feel any emotional distress or regret for having killed TM.

His claim that TM died as part of “God’s Plan” exhibits a frightening dissociation from reality and a willingness to kill without any sense of responsibility or regret, if he deems it necessary to do so. In other words, if he should find himself in another situation where he believes he is cornered and needs to kill someone to save face or save his ass, I believe he’s likely to do so and excuse what he did as just carrying out God’s will.

I think he is a danger to himself or others and he belongs in a secure mental health facility or a jail. He needs a thorough mental health evaluation.

I fear that Mark O’Mara is a potential victim and I am concerned about his safety. He’s clearly lost control of GZ despite his protestations to the contrary. GZ clearly sees O’Mara in the way and O’Mara has to be very careful how he handles the “uncharted waters” (his words) in which he finds himself.

If he pushes too hard in an effort to regain control, assuming he ever had control, things could get ugly.

I couldn’t agree more. I think O’Mara is destroying his reputation because he craves the media attention that goes along with this case. But Zimmerman is obviously a very sick man with almost no ability to control his impulses. O’Mara should cut and run.

Finally, have you heard that Elizabeth Warren may be asked to give the keynote speech at the Democratic Convention? Steve Kornacki writes:

Early in the week, NBC News and the New York Post reported that Chris Christie would be the Republicans’ featured speaker at their Tampa convention. Mitt Romney’s campaign has refused to confirm the report, though, and Christie himself was mum on the subject when questioned on Thursday. Also on Thursday, the Boston Globe reported that an Obama campaign official had confirmed that Elizabeth Warren was a candidate to deliver the Democratic keynote speech in Charlotte.

There’s no guarantee they’ll be chosen, but Christie and Warren are unusually obvious and logical candidates for the slots. Both have exploded onto the national scene during the Obama presidency by articulating their parties’ basic message and values with more charisma and precision than anyone else – including, arguably, their parties’ nominees.

That would be quite a contrast!

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Breaking… Anthony Weiner to Resign Today

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY)

From The New York Times:

Representative Anthony D. Weiner has told friends that he plans to resign his seat after coming under growing pressure from his Democratic colleagues to leave the House, said a person told of Mr. Weiner’s plans….

The news comes as Democratic leaders prepared to hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss whether to strip the 46-year-old Congressman of his committee assignments, a blow which would severely damage his effectiveness.

Mr. Weiner, a Democrat, came to the conclusion that he could no longer serve after having long discussions with his wife, Huma Abedin, when she returned home on Tuesday after traveling abroad with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I still don’t understand why he should resign if David Vitter, Larry Craig, and Charlie Rangel weren’t forced to quit. The only way I can explain it is that Democrats are wimps and they are afraid of anyone who is willing to stand up to President Barack Obama (R-Wall Street).