Tiger Beasley Tweets of yesterday's SteynPosts:
You know it's been a bad day when @MarkSteynOnline's digest doesn't even include Boehner's indigestible betrayal.
You mean the cave-in on DHS? Gee, I suppose I could have mentioned it, but honestly, why bother? It's hardly news that Republicans can't play this game. From my column of October 18th 2013:
By Wednesday, however, it was business as usual. Which is to say the usual last-minute deal just ahead of the usual make-or-break deadline to resume spending as usual. There was nothing surprising about this. Everyone knew the Republicans were going to fold. Folding is what Republicans do. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are so good at folding Obama should hire them as White House valets.
I think he did. But don't worry. We're now being told: hey, relax, this whole illegal-executive-action amnesty thing can be left to the courts - just like Obamacare.
Hmm. The impressively rubber-jointed contortions of a constitutional court are one of the differences between America and most of the rest of the west, and they are not without their entertainment value. But they seem less and less relevant as the ruling party's contempt for law grows ever more open. At the dawn of the Obama era, Americans used to be warned that, if they weren't careful, they'd wind up like Europe. But, whatever one feels about it ideologically, the Swedes come by their Big Government more or less honestly. America seems to have bypassed Continental social democracy and gone full-blown Latin-American banana republic.
In a banana republic, El Presidente and his cronies matter, and nobody else does. The laws are there for the nobodies, but don't apply to the handful of somebodies. For example, three years ago, a fellow called J Scott Gration was obliged to resign as US Ambassador to Kenya:
The audit by the State Department Office of Inspector General found that Gration repeatedly violated diplomatic security protocols at the embassy by using unsecured Internet connections despite warnings, according to a former State Department Africa Bureau official who has seen a draft of the report.
Oh, my. That sounds like a damning report:
It also portrayed him as a bit of a freelancer who did not read classified front channel messages, used commercial e-mail systems instead of secure government ones for official business (including work that included the use of sensitive materials) and ignored U.S. government policy.
I wonder: Did the "State Department of Inspector General" forward that report to the Secretary of State at [email protected]?
When we first heard that Hillary Clinton had not used government email through her entire tenure at Foggy Bottom, the implication was that she'd "kept" her old personal email - [email protected], or whatever. Then we were peddled the line, well, she's really the pre-computer generation, not that tech-savvy, not a big emailer. Finally it emerged that on the first day of her Senate confirmation hearings in 2009 she had set up her own secret email domain on a private server housed in Chappaqua. And that everyone else who mattered at Hillary's State Department - Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills - also had secret e-mail addresses.
In J Scott Gration terms, Hillary wasn't merely "a bit of a freelancer"; she ran a freelance State Department. At some point in the chain of command, low-level State Department schlubs with the loser state.gov email accounts - like the fellows at the Office of Inspector General - must have known this, but stayed silent.
If you're in the official, public, Potemkin State Department, how do you communicate with the shadowy off-the-books Secretary of State? Oddly enough, that was an issue only two years ago. From my column of January 25th 2013:
In the very same self-serving testimony, the secretary of state denied that she'd ever seen the late Ambassador Stevens's cables about the deteriorating security situation in Libya on the grounds that "1.43 million cables come to my office"– and she can't be expected to see all of them, or any. She is as out of it as President Jefferson, who complained to his secretary of state James Madison, "We have not heard from our ambassador in Spain for two years. If we have not heard from him this year, let us write him a letter."
Today, things are even worse. Hillary has apparently not heard from any of our 1.43 million ambassadors for four years. When a foreign head of state receives the credentials of the senior emissary of the United States, he might carelessly assume that the chap surely has a line of communication back to the government he represents. For six centuries or so, this has been the minimal requirement for functioning inter-state relations. But Secretary Clinton has just testified that, in the government of the most powerful nation on earth, there is no reliable means by which a serving ambassador can report to the cabinet minister responsible for foreign policy. And nobody cares: What difference does it make?
"Cable" is something of a term of art in the second decade of the 21st century. It means little more than, in effect, a classified email. But how do you forward a classified email to someone with a non-classified email account? Like when you need to get hold of her in a hurry:
Nor was the late Christopher Stevens any old ambassador, but rather Secretary Clinton's close personal friend "Chris." It was all "Chris" this, "Chris" that when Secretary Clinton and President Obama delivered their maudlin eulogies over the flag-draped coffin of their "friend." Gosh, you'd think if they were on such intimate terms, "Chris" might have had Hillary's e-mail address, but apparently not. He was just one of 1.43 million close personal friends cabling the State Department every hour of the day.
Congressman Salmon of Arizona sought to press Mrs Clinton:
Now, you've said that the numerous cables requesting and begging for additional security resources sent by Ambassador Chris Stevens were never seen by State officials above Assistant Secretary Eric Boswell or Deputy Assistant Secretary Charlene Lamb.
I know you care very deeply about the people that work with you in the department. So, given the fact that your testimony is that you never saw any of these multiple requests and nobody above assistant secretary level saw these requests, doesn't that give you some concerns about the flow of information within the department and maybe some of your underlings' ability to prioritize and get to your attention serious issues?
This might have been a good time for Secretary of State Clinton to explain that, in fact, she had set up a parallel, freelance State Department one of whose purposes was specifically to keep all those "underlings" away from her. How many US ambassadors - not in Libya, but in Moscow, London, Beijing, Paris - knew that, if you wanted to get hold of Hillary, you had to email [email protected]? As John Hinderaker observes:
The point that [Marie] Harf finally brings out is that State Department employees have two separate email systems, one classified and one unclassified. But Hillary didn't use either of them, which means that either 1) in four years, the Secretary of State never sent or received any emails that were or should have been classified, which is preposterous, or 2) Hillary has (or had) an unknown number of classified emails on her personal home server, which presumably violates various laws and regulations.
There's a famous story from George Shultz's days at the State Department: Upon the appointment of a new ambassador to, say, Fiji or Finland, the fellow would be invited into Shultz's office and asked to point out his country on the globe, and he'd run his finger over to the South Pacific or Scandinavia. And Shultz would say, "No, this is your country" - and point to the United States.
It was the other way round on Hillary's watch. Asked to point out her country, she'd spin the globe and put her finger down on Clinton Global Enterprises, Inc corporate HQ in Chappaqua, and around a burning planet US ambassadors would be frantically waving and pointing at Foggy Bottom: "No, no, that's your country."
Can she get away with not just law-breaking but something so deliberate and audacious it would kill any other presidential candidacy stone dead? Well, as I wrote two years ago:
Stalin famously scoffed, "How many divisions has the Pope?" Secretary Clinton was more audacious: How many divisions has reality? Not enough.
That's the bet she's made:
It fell to the 45th-President-in-Waiting to encapsulate the ethos of the age in one deft sound bite: What difference does it make? Hillary Clinton's instantly famous riposte at the Benghazi hearings is such a perfect distillation that it surely deserves to be the national motto of the United States. They should put it on Paul Krugman's trillion-dollar coin, and in the presidential oath:
"Do you solemnly swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States?"
"Sure. What difference, at this point, does it make..?"
~Today, Thursday, I'll be keeping my weekly date with Hugh Hewitt, live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific. Don't forget, by the way, that Climate Change: The Facts - the big new book with me, Willie Soon, Nigel Lawson, Richard Lindzen and a bunch of other climate dissidents - can now be ordered in paperback (complete with a cheery autograph from yours truly) direct from the SteynOnline bookstore.