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Top Spy: ‘Single Analyst’ Cannot ‘Eavesdrop on Domestic Communications Without Proper Legal Authorization’
Lt. Gen. James Clapper
In a Sunday evening statement, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Public Affairs Office released this statement, meant to clear up information on the National Security Agency’s data program.
There is a certain irony in the fact that statists are trying to get people riled up about global warming. History’s warm eras–Roman times, the Medieval Warm Period, and the current warm cycle that follows the Little Ice Age–have been good times for humans and for the vast majority of animals. It is cold periods that we should dread, which is why the statists’ first choice, back in the 1970s, was to claim that human civilization is bringing about another Ice Age.
Now that’s something to worry about! Anthony Watts reminds us of the real climate threat, bearing in mind that, geologically speaking, we are still living in the Ice Age. This graphic compares the depth of the ice during the last Ice Age with the height of current skyscrapers in several northern cities:
Where I am sitting right now, in suburban Minneapolis, the ice was a half mile thick, if I remember correctly. That would put us somewhere between Chicago and Boston–in other words, way higher than my house. A return of colder weather would be an utter disaster for the human race and for most animals. An increase of a half a degree in average global temperature? Seriously? Bring it on!
In a recent post about the prospects of passing amnesty legislation in the House, I referred to the Majority Leader as Eric “Wall Street” Cantor. Some readers probably wondered where I was coming from.
This article in Politico may help explain. Politico reports that Diana Cantor, the wife of the Majority Leader, has joined the board of Revlon, the cosmetic giant.
You may recall Revlon’s role in the Monica Lewinsky matter. After the end of Lewinsky’s affair with Bill Clinton, Vernon Jordan, Clinton’s fixer, helped arrange for Lewinsky to interview with Revlon. When Lewinsky told Jordan that the interview hadn’t gone well, he called Revlon’s CEO, Ronald Perelman. The company then offered Lewinsky a job. Clinton thanked Jordan for making this happen.
Perelman is still in charge of Revlon and he also still runs the holding company, MacAndrews & Forbes, that owns a large chunk of the Revlon. According to Politico, Perelman is now a close friend of Eric Cantor and his wife. He dines with them in New York, and the majority leader reportedly has slept in Perelman’s home.
Perelman is a major donor to Cantor’s political campaigns – he has donated $47,300 to Cantor’s various political committees. Employees of MacAndrews & Forbes have also made significant donations to Cantor.
According to Politico, Diana Cantor sits on the boards of three other major corporations: Universal Corporation, a tobacco company; Media General, which formerly owned newspapers including the Richmond Times-Dispatch; and Domino’s Pizza. She recently left the board of The Edelman Financial Group.
I have nothing against Ms. Cantor sitting on corporate boards. And Eric Cantor is, of course, free to pick both his friends and his financial backers.
But conservatives can’t realistically expect Eric Cantor to buck the interests of big business, including its interest in seeing amnesty legislation passed as part of a deal in which business — big and small — gets what it wants on the immigration front.
Last Thursday evening, I had the privilege, for the eighth consecutive year, of acting as master of ceremonies for the Annual Dinner of the Center of the American Experiment. This year’s dinner featured Dr. Benjamin Carson, one of the most eminent physicians in the United States, whose speech at the National Prayer Breakfast made him a household name. There was a lot of excitement about Dr. Carson’s appearance, and 1,000 people, a sellout crowd, attended the dinner.
I had the opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Carson before the event began. He is, as you would expect, extremely impressive in person. Carson is about to wrap up a brilliant career as a neurosurgeon–among other things, he is head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital–in which, he said, he has performed between 15,000 and 17,000 surgeries. Carson is notably soft-spoken, but has the commanding presence of someone who is really, really good at what he does.
He said that since his prayer breakfast appearance, in which he criticized Obamacare, many have urged him to run for president. Carson says that he does not want to be president, but he does want to increase his engagement in public policy, especially with regard to health care. He said that in his view, Obamacare cannot be implemented, and is destined to crash on takeoff (my phrase, not his). Carson thinks that the key imperative, when Obamacare collapses, is to be ready with an alternative. Toward that end, he has been collaborating with other experts to assemble a market-based, consumer-oriented alternative that starts with expanded health savings accounts. Carson points out that 80% of an individual’s encounters with the health care system need not, and should not, involve insurance. That would be the realm of HSAs. Then, with respect to insurance, better information and the simplest forms of incentives can easily bring down costs. The truth is–this is me speaking–it wouldn’t be difficult to improve the health care system, if health care was your real concern, and you weren’t motivated mostly by a desire to increase government power.
Is Dr. Carson a conservative? He told me that he started out as a liberal Democrat, but became a Republican as a result of experience. However, he was turned off by what he saw as the hypocrisy of Republicans in attacking President Clinton over the Lewinsky affair, and became an independent, which he is today. However, he said that he generally finds Republicans more sensible than Democrats. In one sense, Carson is a radical: he is a religious person; not only that, he believes that God has taken an active role in his life. That puts him beyond the pale as far as liberals are concerned.
So how was his speech? One of my daughters took this photo as he paced back and forth on the stage:
We did something a little different this year. Thinking that Dr. Carson might be of special interest to young people, we had two of our daughters (22 and 16) at our table, along with several of their friends–five “kids” in total, along with some parents. So the next day, I asked my youngest daughter and one of her friends what they thought of Dr. Carson.
Not surprisingly, they admired him a lot. Their first comments were about how funny he was. They also found his history inspirational. Carson’s mother had lots of children, starting very young, but refused to accept welfare. When he was young, Carson says, he was generally regarded as stupid and was ridiculed by other children. He described how he eventually learned to get even with those kids, discovered books, and became ambitious. His history is interesting, to say the least, but I asked the girls whether they thought it was political in any way. They said No: they hadn’t perceived any political content in his speech. That’s a good thing; the implications of his story, not to mention his comments on Obamacare, among other things, are obviously conservative (although he describes them as representing mere common sense). But Carson’s story transcends politics, and he doesn’t come across as a political figure.
Which is also consistent with conservatism: to be a leader, you don’t have to be a politician. In fact, it sometimes helps not to be one.
Judith Levy of Ricochet takes a look at the newly elected Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani. Here are my takeaways from her analysis of the man I call “Sh*t Squared” (so as to distinguish him from his election rivals, Sh*t to the third and fourth power):
1. Rouhani is a disciple of Ayatollah Khomeini. He stayed close to Khomeini while in exile and then moved up the political system once Khomeini seized power in Iran.
2. More recently, Rouhani has been aligned with former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani believes at least somewhat in a free market economy, and he prefers not to antagonize America and the West unnecessarily. Rouhani apparently shares these views.
3. This distinguishes Rouhani from President Ahmadinejad and makes him a better choice for Iranians. But it doesn’t make Iran appreciably less dangerous to America’s underlying interests in the Middle East or to Israel.
4. In this regard, Rouhani has not wavered in his support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Why the staunch backing? According to Levy, it’s because “Rouhani admires Assad’s absolute rejection of any kind of rapprochement with Israel, ever.”
5. Perhaps the biggest tip-off to Rouhani is the fact that Iran’s Guardian Council culled the original list of presidential candidates from about 680 names down to eight. Rafsanjani was among those disqualified. The fact that Rouhani remained standing strongly suggests that he is on board with the regime’s core policy objectives.
6. Perhaps the most central of these core objectives is the development of nuclear weapons. Rouhani backs Iran’s nuclear program.
7. Rouhani’s image as a moderate, and his tendency to avoid inflammatory language, will help take heat off Iran as it continues with its nuclear program. It also diminishes even further the likelihood that the U.S. under President Obama would back a decision by Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear capability.
8. At the end of the day, Supreme Leader Mohammad Khameini will retain the last word on anything of consequence. Naturally, this includes nuclear policy. He has already warned Rouhani not to make concessions to the West on that (or any) score.
**Written by Doug Powers
Any oil operation that Al Gore can’t capitalize on is inherently eeeevil.
From The Hill:
Gore made the case for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations for new and currently operating plants in an interview with the Guardian newspaper on Friday.
The former vice president also encouraged Obama to veto the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.
“This whole project [Keystone XL] is an atrocity but it is even more important for him to regulate carbon dioxide emissions,” Gore told the British paper.
“Atrocity”? Witnesses to atrocities in history would likely beg to differ.
If the Keystone people were to start a media outlet that did “extensive climate coverage” and offered Gore a piece of the action I’ll bet the project would go from “atrocity” to “necessity” in record time.
**Written by Doug Powers
“China is pushing ahead with a sweeping plan to move 250 million rural residents into newly constructed towns and cities over the next dozen years…”
Across China, bulldozers are leveling villages that date to long-ago dynasties. Towers now sprout skyward from dusty plains and verdant hillsides….
Instead of creating wealth, urbanization could result in a permanent underclass in big Chinese cities and the destruction of a rural culture and religion….
“For old people like us, there’s nothing to do anymore,” said He Shifang, 45, a farmer from the city of Ankang in Shaanxi Province who was relocated from her family’s farm in the mountains. “Up in the mountains we worked all the time. We had pigs and chickens. Here we just sit around and people play mah-jongg.”
Let’s review the climate diplomacy story so far. The elephant in the room at the UN negotiations has always been China, India, and other developing nations who have steadfastly refused to agree to future limits on their use of affordable hydrocarbon energy, which they rightly see as the path to becoming fully middle class nations as we and Europe did. The Chinese told Al Gore in Kyoto in 1997 when Gore was begging them to agree to future limits at some point: “We don’t understand you Americans; do you expect us to be poor forever?” The Indians were equally direct, telling Gore: “You people in the West got rich on fossil fuels, and now it is our turn. When we are as rich as you, then we’ll talk about emissions limits.” (I heard these accounts off the record from career State Department people who were present in Kyoto, and who were harshly critical of Gore’s role there.)
Here in this country it has always been obvious that an asymmetrical treaty that imposed higher costs on the U.S. than our trading partners would be economically disastrous. Bill Clinton’s economists told him this in 1998, which is why Clinton never lifted a finger to promote the Kyoto Protocol, and also why ratification of Kyoto was quietly dropped from the Democratic National Platform starting in 2004.
I’ve always thought the cynical play for China would be to come out with an offer to agree to bilateral emissions limits with the United States, which would remove the “China won’t go along” objection to emissions limits here. The Chinese would surely treat it as the Soviet Union treated arms control treaties—as a massive opportunity to cheat and gain further advantage over the U.S. Think we’d be any more effective with Chinese emissions violations that we are with their intellectual property theft and currency manipulation? (Brief aside: At the various UN climate negotiations, China has from time to time playfully suggested they might agree to some kind of emissions limits provided they were given tradable emission reduction credits for the results of the population control programs going back several decades. This always causes discomfort for the diplomats, most of whom privately approve of China’s one-child policy, but know that, as a matter of human rights, they can’t admit this publicly, though in these days of moral relativism and multiculturalism they would be hard pressed to give a coherent reason why.)
This is why my eyes perked up last weekend when I awoke to blazing headlines that Obama had reached a climate deal with the Chinese at his snap summit out in California. “First of Its Kind Climate Deal Reached by US and China,” said the headline in the Japan Times. “US-China Climate Deal Was Long in the Works, Reflects Shifting Incentive for Developing Nation,” the AP proclaimed. Had the Chinese finally gotten clever and decided to pick Obama’s pockets clean?
Turns out it is a very modest agreement, totally incommensurate with the headlines, that won’t touch energy use at all: The U.S. and China merely agreed to lower the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which ironically are the replacement chemicals for the CFCs that were phased out in the Montreal Protocol of 1987. HFCs are a potent greenhouse gas, but relatively easy pickings as these things go. In other words, this agreement hardly ranks as a “major” breakthrough from any point of view. But so desperate is the climate campaign and its media cheerleaders that any agreement, no matter how small, is heralded as a breakthrough.
Much more significant but contrarian, and hence naturally drawing no media attention at all, was the announcement from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (their version of our NAS) that it has translated into Chinese the Climate Change Reconsidered and Climate Change Reconsidered: 2011 Interim Report, products of the Heartland Institute’s Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC—heh). These reports comprise over 1,200 pages of material that takes a sharply different view of the matter than the U.S. scientific establishment. Sounds like the Chinese scientific establishment has decided to sign up with the climate skeptics, or at least give their point of view a fair hearing instead of just resorting to name-calling. It’s enough to give any self-respecting member of the NAS here an embolism.
If you want to understand quickly and simply why China is never going to agree to any serious impediments on its energy use, check out this 24-second video I made a couple of years back of comparing coal use history and IEA projections for the United States and China through the year 2035.
“National Security Agency discloses in secret Capitol Hill briefing that thousands of analysts can listen to domestic phone calls.”
ADDED: Just because they can doesn’t mean they do. You only have to trust thousands of analysts. Janet Napolitano says:
“I think people have gotten the idea that there’s an Orwellian state out there that somehow we’re operating in. That’s far from the case”….So it’s not simply going willy-nilly and using any kind of data and it’s far from Orwellian. That is, it’s something less than the ultimate extreme. That’s not reassuring at all. Even if I take Napolitano at her word: She’s not saying much. It’s just not utter and complete abuse.
“[T]here are lots of protections built into the system,” Ms. Napolitano said, pointing to a privacy office embedded in her own department that is “constantly reviewing our policies and procedures.” She further stressed the court review system.
“No one should believe that we are simply going willy-nilly and using any kind of data that we can gather,” she said…
And what are the protections? There’s a “privacy office.” You know, in “1984,” if there were something called the “Privacy Office,” its job would be to invade our privacy. (Recall “The Ministry of Truth.”)
Who could possibly feel protected by Napolitano’s own privacy office “constantly reviewing our policies and procedures”? That sounds — even as she puts it — like it’s about seeing what they can get away with. She brings up judicial review, but we know that those courts have no power/inclination to stop anything the government says it needs to do.
ADDED: They can see you naked.
**Written by Doug Powers
While it’s true that Chris Christie is the Republican with the highest favorability rating in the party, I should mention that the party I’m talking about is the Democratic Party. Watch out, Hillary:
(CNSNews.com) – According to a newly released Gallup poll, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the most-favored Republican and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the least-favored–among Democratic respondents.
The poll sought to measure the favorable/unfavorable sentiments toward five Republicans Gallup believes may run for president in 2016.
Conducted June 1-4. the survey asked: [P]lease say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people–or if you have never heard of them.” It then listed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Among Democrats, Christie had the most favorable responses. Fifty-four percent of Democrats said they had a favorable view of Christie, compared to 21 percent who had a favorable view of Rubio, 17 percent who had a favorable view of Ryan, 16 percent who had a favorable view of Paul, and 11 percent who had a favorable view of Cruz.
How can you generate headlines like this and not be liked among Dems?
That might have earned Christie an angry and jealous “step off” email from Chris Matthews, but otherwise Christie’s stock among Democrats keeps going up.
**Written by Doug Powers
Not only is President Obama leading from behind, now he’s leading from behind Bill Clinton.If you want to talk about what’s actually going on in Syria and what the United States ought to do about it, please go to the earlier post on the subject. This new post is for talking about those 4 Maureen Dowd sentences. I’ll start off the conversation with a list of 10 things.
After dithering for two years over what to do about the slaughter in Syria, the president was finally shoved into action by the past and perhaps future occupant of his bedroom….
The less Obama leads, the more likely it is that history will see him as a pallid interregnum between two chaotic Clinton eras.
Nature abhors a vacuum. And so does Bill Clinton.
1. The phrase “leading from behind” has always seemed funny to people. If you’re behind, you’re not in front, so how is that leading? Those who like Obama think it’s clever/intriguing. Those who are literal-minded — and notice imagery — focus on the word “behind.”
2. To take “leading from behind” and then put Barack behind Bill is to demand that we picture the 2 men in a physical position and — particularly with the amusing phrasing and because we’re talking about Bill Clinton — to experience the sexual innuendo.
3. Said innuendo is violently intensified by the phrase: “shoved into action by the past and perhaps future occupant of his bedroom.”
4. If Barack is behind Bill, then how did Bill shove Barack? Maureen is not fully in control of her imagery.
5. Got to give Maureen points for the poetic proximity of the verbs “dither” and “slaughter.”
6. The dithering is Barack’s. The (unlinkable) OED says “dither” originally meant, in dialect, “to tremble, quake, quiver, thrill.”
7. “Pallid” means ” Lacking depth or intensity of colour; faint or feeble in colour; spec. (of the face) wan, pale….” That’s quite something, saying that history will remember The First Black President, Barack Obama, as pale-faced!
8. Barack is pallid compared to Bill. Maureen is taunting Boyfriend Barack: He’s not as manly as Boyfriend Bill, who might just get to be her boyfriend again.
9. Pallid interregnum. “Pallid” is a poetic word, and Maureen is doing various poetic turns. I know what “interregnum” means, but I also hear near-puns, and we’ve got leading from behind and shoving in the bedroom and 2 boyfriends, one of whom is portrayed as subordinate.
10. And that brings us to “vacuum,” an empty space. One might say a hole, which you know Bill Clinton feels compelled to fill.
“Believe me, I’ll tell you what, I’ve been through a spin dryer here in the last 48 hours, and I wish I hadn’t assisted them so much to that end…”
Said Rep. Trent Franks’s (R-Ariz.), whose “bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks nationwide now includes an exception for rape and incest after his remarks about rape and pregnancy created an uproar.”
I was going to slam Franks for saying “spin dryer,” when the spin cycle is something that happens in the washing machine, not the dryer. Something about Franks never doing laundry, maybe. But it turns out there is something called a “spin dryer.” Maybe Franks is this guy.
My father was a thoughtful man. In the last years of his life he listed the things he was most grateful for and in retrospect I can see he thought about gratitude a lot. He itemized the three things he was most grateful for in this order: 1) that his grandfather didn’t miss the boat from Russia to the United States, 2) that when his grandfather arrived in New York he kept traveling until he reached Minnesota (this although my father loved New York), and 3) that his father was born before he was. The last was his way of acknowledging his debt to his father. I join him today in all three thoughts.
I started thinking about my father and this Father’s Day when I heard the old Winstons’ single “Color Him Father” on the radio last week. I learn from the Allmusic Guide entry on them that the Winstons were a Washington, D.C.-based soul act led by Richard Spencer. Spencer was born in North Carolina, where he received some formal training on the piano.
In 1969 the Winstons hit it big with “Color Him Father.” The single was a top ten R&B and pop hit. Spencer wrote the song and won a Grammy for it.
The father depicted in the song sets a good example for his seven kids. He works hard to support his family. He emphasizes the importance of education. He also has a big heart for the kids. As if that is not enough, Spencer loads an O. Henry twist into the last verse; the man is the kids’ stepfather. Their father was killed in the war.
I wonder if the father in Spencer’s life resembled the man in the song. Spencer followed one of the that man’s precepts, taking time out from show business to pursue his education in 1979. (First posted in 2010.)