Rule Five Bribery Friday

2016_08_26_Rule Five Friday (1)This just in from Reason: The Clinton Foundation Was Clearly an Avenue of Access to Hillary. Well, no shit.  Excerpt:

This is what “wrong within normal parameters” looks like in Washington, D.C. The Associated Press reports today that more than half of the non-government folks who met with Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state gave donations to the Clinton Foundation.

The AP counts 85 out 154 people who either had meetings or phone conversations with Clinton as either donating themselves or through companies and groups. And this isn’t chump change either. The total to the foundation from these people: $156 million. Here’s what the AP found:

Donors who were granted time with Clinton included an internationally known economist who asked for her help as the Bangladesh government pressured him to 2016_08_26_Rule Five Friday (2)resign from a nonprofit bank he ran; a Wall Street executive who sought Clinton’s help with a visa problem and Estee Lauder executives who were listed as meeting with Clinton while her department worked with the firm’s corporate charity to counter gender-based violence in South Africa.

The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and emails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors.2016_08_26_Rule Five Friday (3)

The latest round of released emails prompted accusations of “pay to play” at the State Department. The response has been that providing “access” is not the same as actually providing “favors.” The problem with such an argument is that “access” is in itself a favor. It’s not like any of us proletarians could have gotten a meeting with Clinton.

Of course, this is nothing new for the Clintons; this kind of thing dates back to Bill’s tenure in the White House and his offering of the Lincoln Bedroom for donations.

What’s interesting is the resignation of Paul Manafort from The Donald’s campaign after it was revealed that he worked with (as in, lobbied for) Russian interests.  The legacy media made much of 2016_08_26_Rule Five Friday (4)Manafort’s peccadilloes and his acceptance of Russian money, but there is scarcely a peep about Her Imperial Highness’s signing over a significant portion of American uranium production to a Russian company, never mind what quid pro quo may have been offered.

What’s worse, there’s no reason to suspect she’ll do anything but ramp the sales up once she is ensconced in the Imperial Mansion.

We’ve known for a long time what Her Imperial Majesty Hillary  is.  Now we’re just getting a look at her price.

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Animal’s Daily News

Sleepy-bearThe Donald’s new campaign manager thinks the polls showing him losing badly to Her Imperial Majesty are all wrong.  Excerpt:

Kellyanne Conway, a pollster herself when she’s not running campaigns, told UK’s Channel 4 that Clinton’s lead is due to “cherry-picked polling numbers that are put out there by media outlets that are also bent on his destruction.” But — “Donald Trump performs consistently better in online polling where a human being is not talking to another human being about what he or she may do in the election.”

She added, “It’s because it’s become socially desirable, if you’re a college educated person in the United States of America, to say that you’re against Donald Trump.” That has led to what Conway calls the “undercover” or “hidden” Trump vote.  “The hidden Trump vote in this country is a very significant proposition,” she insisted.

“Have you been able to put a number on that?”  the interviewer asked.

“Yes,” Conway  confidently replied.

“What do you think that is?”

“I can’t discuss it,” she answered. “It’s a project we’re doing internally. I call it the undercover Trump voter, but it’s real.”

Color me skeptical.

The RCP poll averages today have The Donald trailing Her Highness by five and a half points.  The Dowager Empress is leading him in Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio – Trump has to win at minimum two of those states, or we’ll be seeing Her Highness walk into the Imperial Mansion in January.

Kellyanne Conway’s statement sounds suspiciously like whistling past the graveyard.

But what if she’s right?  Trump is a candidate unlike any other in recent history; he’s brash, he’s boorish, he’s outspoken, and he frequently wanders off script.  He’s also running a 1970’s style TV campaign in the age of the Internet, despite his obsessive use of Sad-BearTwitter, and Her Imperial Majesty is playing to her strengths – such as they are – and minimizing her weaknesses by avoiding any venue where she may be asked any questions.

Look for the polls to stay pretty close to current levels until the debates.  If The Donald can rip her up in the debates, he stands a chance of tipping things in his favor.  If not…

…Look for two, maybe three liberal Supreme Court appointments in the next few years.  That, True Believers, is most assuredly not a Good Thing.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

The Obamacare death spiral continues.  Excerpt:

The speed at which Obamacare is now collapsing has exceeded the pace at which its advocates are able to produce plausible excuses. For evidence of this, one need look no further than the latest conspiracy theory concocted by Andrew Slavitt, the paragon of public service who runs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Slavitt, best known to the public for lying to Congress about his agency’s efforts to recover taxpayer-funded PPACA start-up grants misappropriated by state officials, has instructed his minions to issue a public information request concerning the “inappropriate steering” of patients to Obamacare exchanges.

The ostensible impetus for the request involves “reports” allegedly received by CMS to the effect that numerous doctors and hospitals, “for the purpose of obtaining higher payment rates,” are steering uninsured patients toward the exchanges and discouraging them from applying for Medicare or Medicaid. For anyone familiar with how Obamacare plans actually pay, this will fail the laugh test. But Slavitt apparently expects us to take it seriously. In a press release, he made the following claim: “We are concerned about reports that some organizations may be engaging in enrollment activities that put their profit margins ahead of their patients’ needs.”

The real purpose of the information request is, of course, to create another set of villains to blame for Obamacare’s rapidly accelerating collapse. This is why neither the CMS information request nor Slavitt’s news release provides any information concerning how many reports the agency has received or from what source they emanated. The request does, however, provide a gruesome list of calamities that may result from this fictitious plot: “We believe this practice not only could raise overall health system costs, but could… result in higher out-of-pocket costs for enrollees, and have a negative impact on the individual market single risk pool.”

To quote my college-age daughters:  “Well, duuuh.”

Yes-YOU-bearBoth President Obama and Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I like to brag about Obamacare, which in fact has reversed a long term trend of decreased health care spending.  All over the country, premiums are increasing – the only reason Mrs. Animal and I have escaped the increase in premiums is because we are covered under the ChampVA program, and dealing with the VA healthcare system is a great example of what we can expect from government-run health care.

Supply and demand, True Believers, will not be denied.  Obamacare tried to mandate a massive increase in coverage – and that artificial increase in demand with no increase in supply inevitably raises costs.  Adam Smith knew about this 220 years ago.

Why can’t our Imperial government figure it out today?

Animal’s Daily News

BearLaughing1Whoops!  Her Imperial Majesty’s email troubles continue to worsen.  Excerpt:

The FBI’s year-long investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server uncovered 14,900 emails and documents from her time as secretary of state that had not been disclosed by her attorneys, and a federal judge on Monday pressed the State Department to begin releasing emails sooner than mid-October as it planned.

Justice Department lawyers said last week that the State Department would review and turn over Clinton’s work-related emails to a conservative legal group. The records are among “tens of thousands” of documents found by the FBI in its probe and turned over to the State Department, Justice Department attorney Lisa Ann Olson said Monday in court.

The 14,900 Clinton documents are nearly 50 percent more than the roughly 30,000 emails that Clinton’s lawyers deemed work-related and returned to the department in December 2014.

And:

Also on Monday, a GOP lawmaker issued subpoenas to three private companies that helped run or protect Clinton’s email server. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who chairs the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, is demanding documents by Sept. 9 after the firms declined earlier this year to produce them voluntarily.

Facepalm-bearAmazingly, while overall polling numbers are narrowing, Her Majesty is still faring well in the ever-so-key swing states.  It’s common knowledge that roughly 45% of the electorate is in Her Imperial Majesty’s corner no matter what; The Donald may have boasted that he could shoot someone in Times Square and not lose any of his base, but Her Imperial Majesty could probably set fire to a basket of kittens on live television and not lose much (if any) of that 45%.

The Donald, if he really wants to win this thing, needs to buckle down hard on Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.  It’s looking – beginning to, anyway – like he might be doing just that.  But time is running out, and if he doesn’t pick up the pace, we may well be facing the most fundamentally corrupt and dishonest President since… well, ever.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday
Goodbye, Blue Monday

Thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!  Be sure to check out the extensive totty compendium at the link.

With that said:  Being on the road again is not completely without benefit.

This past weekend was sunny and warm here in New England, so I went exploring.  On Saturday I went down to New Bedford and visited the New Bedford Whaling Museum (no whaling goes on there now – I guess people now have something against clean-burning lamp oil.)  Yesterday I wandered seemingly at random until I ended up in the environs of York, Maine.  Photos follow.

New Bedford:

Maine:

Pretty day, pretty places.   That makes for a good weekend.  I should still be around for the fall colors, which are supposed to be pretty striking – right now the sumac, always the first to turn, are just starting to spread traces of crimson across the countryside.  In October things should be brilliant.

Rule Five Perjury Friday

2016_08_19_Rule Five Friday (1)Well, well, well!  The House GOP is asking for perjury charges against Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I.  Excerpt:

A pair of leading House Republicans on Monday laid out detailed instructions for the Justice Department to file perjury charges against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

More than a month after first requesting the department open a criminal probe into Clinton for alleged misstatements she made under oath, the GOP heads of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees told a federal prosecutor specifically where they believed Clinton had lied to Congress about her email setup at the Department of State.

In at least four separate occasions during a marathon appearance before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, the lawmakers alleged, the former secretary’s claims were at odds with what the FBI has now discovered to be the truth about her private server.

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

“Although there may be other aspects of Secretary Clinton’s sworn testimony that are at odds with the FBI’s findings, her testimony in those four areas bears specific scrutiny in light of the facts and evidence” provided by FBI Director James Comey, Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Channing Phillips. Goodlatte leads the Judiciary Committee and Chaffetz runs the Oversight Committee.

Monday’s letter is a sign that Republicans are committed to pressuring the Justice Department to act against Clinton, even after it notably declined to prosecute her for mishandling classified information.

OK, now – who wants to be on whether or not this has any legs?

Well, it might – if the Congressmen refer the information to some authority not beholden to the Justice Department.  The Obama Justice Department has shown their true colors; the fix is in, True Believers, and the DoJ has Her Imperial Highness’s back.  That’s how it is, and there won’t be any indictment coming out of the DoJ.

2016_08_19_Rule Five Friday (4)An independent prosecutor, though?  Is there a chance that someone could convince an Imperial judge to convene a Grand Jury?  An indictment would – hopefully – end her plausibility as a Presidential candidate and keep this walking catastrophe out of the Imperial Mansion.

Mind you, probably 45% of the population will vote for her even if was to be inaugurated wearing leg irons.  And mind you as well, plenty of folks have tried to get anything to stick to the Clintons, but their Teflon coating remains intact.

Still.  This one bears watching.

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Animal’s Daily News

WTF ShatnerHave a read:  277,000: Fed Regulators Have More Than Quadrupled Since 1960.  It’s not good news.  Excerpt:

In 2015, the U.S. government employed more than 277,000 regulators. To put that number in perspective, it’s 50,000 more workers than General Motors Co. employs throughout the entire world.

We’ve all heard of the regulatory agencies that constitute the “fourth branch” of government. It has cost our economy over $100 billion during the Obama administration.

But it wasn’t always like this. We haven’t always lived in a world where unelected bureaucrats could fine a man $55,000 for taking photos of his friend’s art project.

Thankfully, Susan Dudley from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Melinda Warren from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, have tracked the growth of federal regulatory agencies, allowing us to see how we got into the predicament we’re in now.

Here’s the fun part; take a look at the Constitution (unlike the Federal Register, it’s a pretty quick read) and find any authorization in there for a Department of Education, or Commerce, or Energy, or any one of a host of other Imperial agencies.

Angry-BearOh, plenty of political candidates have sought and won election promising to rein in the Imperial monolith.  So how are we doing on that?

It is the nature of government to grow ever larger, ever more intrusive, ever more expensive, and ever more corrupt.  The Greeks and the Romans learned this the hard way.  One would like to think we could learn from their example, but there’s little encouragement to be had.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Getting in a quick one before heading to the airport in a few minutes!

On Monday, The Donald gave a major speech outlining his foreign policy ideas.  He was (of course) criticized for offering few specifics, but to be fair candidates generally don’t offer many specifics at this stage of the game.  It is after they win the election and begin putting a team together that specifics come along; Her Imperial Majesty is on the same page here, but, since she is the Dowager Empress, the legacy media isn’t calling her on it much.

Anyway.  My favorite bunch of libertarians over at Reason reviewed The Donald’s plan here.  Excerpt:

Today’s foreign policy and immigration speech by Donald Trump explains, in a nutshell, how utterly impossible it is to try to tease out a coherent idea of how a Trump presidency will behave. To wit:

  • Trump and vice president candidate Mike Pence were introduced by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a massive supporter and cheerleader of the Iraq War. Then during his speech, Trump spent a significant amount of time saying that did not support the Iraq War and was vocal about it as a citizen (evidence suggests that this is not actually true).
  • Having opposed the war, he nevertheless felt President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton were wrong to have failed to establish a new agreement to keep more troops in Iraq (an agreement Obama inherited as president), and said that pulling troops out is what caused the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS). (evidence shows that Trump also had called for pulling out of Iraq previously while George W. Bush was still president)

There’s a lot more at the link.

Bear and LincolnOne of the ways in which I differ from a lot of libertarians involves the use of military force.  Libertarians tend to ascribe to the least possible use of force, which I don’t necessarily agree with, and also to not use force except in response to an attack or aggression, which I generally do agree with.

But the Iraq situation, that’s a little different.

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, it’s easy to look back thirteen years and say, “you know, Saddam was an asshole, but he was a predictable asshole, and he was probably the only guy who was a big enough asshole to keep any kind of order in that shithole.”  That’s probably true, and in recent years I’ve come around to the idea that it was probably a strategic mistake to take him out.

But take him out we did, and then the old “you broke it, you bought it” principle applied.  So, with Iraq broke, what should we do?

Here’s the onion; Iraq isn’t the problem now.  ISIS is the problem.  Trump wants to squash them like insects.  Given their ongoing metastasis into Europe, that’s beginning to sound like a good idea to at least a plurality of Republicans and independents, especially since what we’re hearing from Her Imperial Majesty is “more of the same.”

We’ll see if this is enough to pull The Donald out of his ongoing death spiral.  I’m inclined to be skeptical, but we’ll see.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.