Drip, Drip, Drip

With the drip, drip, drip of the many conflicts of interest which enrich the Clinton family and bedevil Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, one refrain remains constant among the liberal punditry: “These stories are not hurting Hillary’s support among Democrats.”

Even if the claim were true — which appears increasingly dubious — what does persistently strong support for Mrs. Clinton in the face of endless stories of the Clinton Foundation accepting money from foreign countries that had important business before Hillary’s State Department say about Democratic voters?

A Washington Post poll released this week shows 52 percent of Americans saying Hillary is not “honest and trustworthy”; only 41 percent think she is.

A Fox News poll taken at the same time finds 61 percent of registered voters believing it is likely that “the Clintons were selling influence to foreign contributors who made donations to the Clinton Foundation.” Yet only 31 percent of Democrats say they are “concerned about allegations of Hillary Clinton’s dishonesty and unethical behavior.”

(Interestingly, black voters are much more concerned than white voters, and younger voters — perhaps not yet jaded by years of exposure to politicians — are more concerned than older voters. Given the importance to Hillary’s election prospects of turning out blacks and millennials in swing states, this internal data is worth noting.)

In any case, a substantial number of Democrats are, for now, willing to support a candidate whom they believe to be dishonest. A few possible explanations come to mind:

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

Nebraska Repeals Its Death Penalty

Nebraska State Senator Colby Coash (R-Lincoln), a conservative Republican (although Nebraska’s unicameral legislature is nominally non-partisan), tells an interesting story about his evolution on the death penalty:

Many years ago, just before an execution in Nebraska and before he got involved in politics, he went to the prison to see what was happening outside before the criminal was put to death inside. While there were some anti-death penalty protesters, most of the scene resembled a big tailgate party. Coash, then in favor of the death penalty, partied right along with his fellow Cornhuskers. When he got home that evening, the experience didn’t sit right with him and he realized that he couldn’t celebrate the death of a person, particularly at the hand of government, even while knowing that that person probably deserved to die. Coash’s view on the death penalty was changed for good.

And so on Wednesday afternoon, Senator Coash, along with 29 other members of the Unicameral — mostly Republicans — joined the body’s handful of Democrats to cobble together the 30 votes necessary to override the veto of Republican Governor Pete Ricketts and repeal the death penalty in the state of Nebraska.

The vote on the original bill had 32 senators voting to end the death penalty. The governor did all he could to flip three votes and keep the law as it stood but he could only change two minds despite arguing that repeal “sends the message to criminals that Nebraska will be soft on crime.”

Coash doesn’t buy the argument, noting that Nebraska hasn’t executed a criminal in nearly 20 years. As if to emphasize the point, a murderer who was on death row for 30 years while his appeals ran their interminable course died of cancer on Sunday.

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

People Missed the Biggest Problem with Jeb's Iraq Answer

Much has been made of Jeb Bush’s bumblin’ fumblin’ stumblin’ answers and semi-answers to the question of whether, “knowing what we know now,” he would still have invaded Iraq.

Critics suggest we should have known Jeb’s position on this issue long ago, that “hypothetical” questions of this import can’t be ignored, and that he was over-prepared and thus locked into anticipation of a slightly different question—with a very different answer.

I believe—as I think most people do—Jeb was telling the truth when he said he “misheard” Megyn Kelly’s question heard round the political world. Which is why something else he said during that same fateful minute bothers me much more, even more than a week after he said it.

Please read the entirety of my article for The Federalist here:

Pot Lessons from Colorado

Often the first thing I’m asked when traveling outside of Colorado is a half-question half-joke about how many people in the state I now call home are stoned. Although I’m pro-legalization, I’ve never touched marijuana and it seems as if I’m not alone: even though the state passed — by a 10-percent margin — a constitutional amendment in 2012 legalizing “recreational” (but still highly regulated) marijuana sale and use, sales tax receipts have underperformed expectations.

I have more context than the average American on this issue: I used to live in Amsterdam. In that wonderful city — where, I repeat, I never touched the stuff — you drink coffee at cafés but at “coffee shops” you ingest marijuana, whether by smoking or eating cookies or brownies or by who knows whatever clever delivery system the 21st century has on offer. What I noticed the few times I was in a coffee shop with friends or even just walking by The Bulldog was that the majority of the patrons were not Dutch.

I suspect the same is happening here, with marijuana tourism fueling a substantial fraction of the recreational pot sales in the state. One company in Colorado’s fledgling pot tourism industry offers four-hour tours during which participants visit dispensaries and “grow” operations, “enjoy free sampling on the cannabis friendly luxury party bus” and “end our day with a smoke out…with delicious munchies, ganja and drinks.”

It sounds like a bad ’70s movie but this is serious business which other states are watching closely, wondering whether the potential public revenue and private employment benefits are worth the cost and effort of regulation, of reforming state banking laws and pushing for parallel federal reforms, of how to deal with “edibles” (one of the biggest post-legalization issues in Colorado) and the impact of legalization on children — including everything from accidental ingestion to the prescription of high-CBD strains such as “Charlotte’s Web” to treat seizure disorders. (CBDs are pharmacologically active ingredients in marijuana but do not get you “high,” a feeling created by another chemical called THC. Many high-CBD strains are specifically engineered to be low in THC.)

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

My interviews of former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell

It's not just because I put many many hours of work into this that I want you to read and share. It's also very interesting and you'll learn (or at least begin to think about) some very important issues:

Hillary's Holdout is Halted

On Monday, the State Department said it might take until January 2016 for the agency to release to the public Hillary Clinton’s official secretary of state emails. Yesterday, a federal judge slapped down that plan and gave State a week to provide a plan for the ongoing “rolling” release of those emails — which Hillary’s staff gave to the government on paper, not in electronic form, in a dozen large boxes, creating a long, boring job for a handful of workers at Foggy Bottom.

Later on Tuesday, amidst the latest news of the simmering email scandal, Fox News reporter Ed Henry shouted his frustration at Mrs. Clinton not having taken a question from a reporter for nearly a month. Mr. Henry later explained that “We had been through one of these campaign events after another, getting monotonous, one city after another. Roundtables. All candidates, Democrats and Republicans, are able to do their talking points, but we’ve gone 27, 28 days without a question. That’s why I just jumped in.”

It worked; Hillary deigned to answer a few questions from justifiably eager reporters.

She took questions about the Clinton Foundation, the Iraq War, her own personal wealth, and two separate questions about two separate email-related issues. For each she was ready with a scripted response.

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

Senate Flushes Fast-Track

As if either President Obama or Hillary Clinton needed a reminder that the most powerful person in the Democratic Party is now Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth “I’m a Cherokee” Warren, on Tuesday Senate Democrats followed the lead of the scourge of capitalism by filibustering “fast-track” trade promotion authority (“TPA”) legislation designed to allow the Obama administration to negotiate and more easily enact international trade agreements, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) which would liberalize trade between the United States and eleven Asia-Pacific region nations.

Both the policy and the politics are complex.

Left-wing groups including labor unions and environmentalists oppose most free trade treaties, particularly with developing nations, the former arguing that it leads to moving American jobs overseas and the latter demanding more protections for air and water along with provisions aimed at combatting so-called climate change.  (They seem not to recognize that the best way to minimize a nation’s likelihood to pollute – not that carbon dioxide is pollution – is by that nation becoming wealthier, something that free trade helps them do.)

A few conservative groups oppose TPA as unconstitutional, perhaps also looking for an excuse to deny President Obama a victory of any sort – a laudable sentiment if the cost were not so high.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) – historically a supporter of free trade – offered a list of critiques of fast-track including its circumventing the Senate’s constitutional authority over treaty ratification.

Sessions has other concerns, including perhaps the most important criticism of the TPP (which TPA would be used to enact): the administration, in true “pass it to find out what’s in it” style, has not made the agreement public.

In what sounds like a Douglas Adams-based parody of government (make sure you watch!), The Hill reports that in March, the US Trade Representative’s Office “put a copy of the TPP agreement in a security office in the Capitol where lawmakers can view the developing pact along with a member of their staff as long as they meet a certain security requirement.” Senator Rand Paul has said that the requirement includes not being able to take notes about the agreement, though a USTR spokesman disagrees with that assertion. Perhaps Senator Paul will take a walk, read the treaty, and report back on its benefits and pitfalls.

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

The Brains of the Operation

Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America's Founding Document
by Senator Mike Lee
(Sentinel, 256 pages, $27.95 list; $17.94 at Amazon.com)

In recent years there has been a welcome infusion of young Constitution-minded Republican members into the U.S. Senate. A few of these first-term senators have already announced that they’re running for president. So Ted Cruz (TX), Rand Paul (KY), and Marco Rubio (FL) tend to get the airtime and the ink — not a bad thing since they represent an interesting cross section of the GOP.

But the brains of the operation — the guy behind the guy — is another freshman senator, a man who seeks less publicity than most politicians but who provides the philosophical foundation, the intellectual ammunition, and — and this is more important than you might think — the moral support for constitutional conservatism among politicians and ordinary citizens alike.

That man is Utah’s junior senator, Mike Lee, who is the author of a new and important book, Our Lost Constitution, which should — along with the Constitution itself — be required reading. Not just for anybody seeking elected office in the United States but for any American who cares about good government, freedom, and leaving a worthwhile country for our children.

The book’s subtitle more explicitly diagnoses the disease for which Sen. Lee offers a treatment (if not a guaranteed cure): “The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document.”

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

Downright Dull Democrats

When ordinary voters think about Hillary Clinton — which I hope they do very little since life is short — some may think “secretary of state,” some may think “scandals” or “Benghazi,” and some may think of the double-edged sword that is her famous husband.

But for me, and I suspect for an increasing number of Americans, the gut reaction to Hillary is boredom.

Just as you can imagine a teenager writing down random combinations of “Chevy,” “road,” “union,” “girl,” “town,” and “engine,” interspersed with assorted first person pronouns and single-syllable verbs to create a convincing Bruce Springsteen song, it wouldn’t be hard to teach your eighth grader to write a plausible Clinton response to any question she’ll be asked or to draft believable Clinton talking points on any issue of policy or politics.

Her words would include “everyday,” “ordinary,” “living wage,” “equality,” “Republicans,” “tax breaks,” and “regardless of who you love.”


Since the official start of her presidential campaign, has Mrs. Clinton said a single thing about a pressing national issue or even about the simmering (real) scandal over the Clinton Foundation’s finances that surprised you or that you would find more interesting (or more comprehensible) than a rerun of Deal or No Deal? Even her “the dog ate my server” excuse for bad judgment bordering on criminality was boringly Clintonesque.

Indeed, of all of the likely Democratic presidential candidates, Mrs. Clinton is the most sententious, predictable, and soporific — which is saying something in a field that includes Martin O’Malley. At least Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee have a few instincts outside of boilerplate liberal dogma. And at least Bernie Sanders is briefly amusing in his economic idiocy and with hair as crazy and unruly as his thought process. (Interestingly, the exact same sentence could be used to describe possible candidate and current vice president Joe Biden.)

Which is not to say that those gentlemen are actually interesting; they’re just slightly less sleep-inducing than the presumptive nominee.

The current and likely Republican field may be many things. But “dull” applies to few of them individually and not at all to the group as a whole.

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

A Brief History of Hillary’s Hypocrisy

Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign mantra of “hope and change” was meaningless, thus leaving him free to act without fear of being accused of violating his principles, because he stated so few.

In comparison, at this early stage in her campaign, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is a ball of contradictions and hypocrisy that Republican candidates will pick at for the next 18 months until one of them defeats her in the 2016 presidential election.

On a Monday evening in March in a “room full of political reporters,” Mrs. Clinton said: “I am all about new beginnings.… So here goes, no more secrecy, no more zone of privacy.” Just four days later, Clinton’s attorney informed Congress that she had deleted all emails on a private server that she used for both personal and official State Department communications while serving as secretary of state, having delivered to the State Department only those that she deemed sufficiently work-related to turn over.

In 2007, then-Senator Clinton excoriated the Bush administration for “secret White House e-mail accounts,” saying that they represented “a stunning record of secrecy and corruption, of cronyism run amok.” Mrs. Clinton’s own secrecy and obvious conflicts of interest show that she has added hypocrisy to her (and her husband’s) history of above-the-law self-dealing.

Two weeks ago, Hillary announced that “we need to get unaccountable money out of the political system.” Yet just a few days earlier, her team made the shocking pronouncement that Hillary’s campaign intends to raise $2.5 billion, more than Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent combined in 2014.

Just how “accountable” is $2.5 billion of spending, and just what would those donors think they’re buying?

Please read the rest of my my article for the American Spectator here:

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