PowerLine -> Virginia post-mortem, Part Two + The Blabbermouth angle

Powerline John Hinderaker at HoaxAndChange

PowerLine -> Virginia post-mortem, Part Two + The Blabbermouth angle

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Daily Digest

  • Sabotage at USA Today?
  • Virginia post-mortem, Part Two
  • Today in Liberal Sexual Harassment
  • What’s Going on in Saudi Arabia? (3)
  • The Blabbermouth angle
Sabotage at USA Today?

Posted: 08 Nov 2017 04:37 PM PST

(John Hinderaker)

About six hours ago, USA Today put out one of the dumbest tweets of all time. It is provoking considerable hilarity online, which you can catch up on at Twitchy. First, a word of explanation.

The inability of liberal media outlets to write intelligently about guns is notorious. Liberal reporters and editors have strong opinions about firearms, but few if any of them know anything about either guns or firearms laws. Observers have generally assumed that this USA Today tweet is an extreme example of that media ignorance. The tweet purports to explain what Devin Kelley’s AR-15 looked like, and how it might hypothetically be modified:

A look at the gun used in the Texas church shooting. https://t.co/xdxIf5fR77 pic.twitter.com/sUY1mCCLZC

— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 8, 2017

In case you missed it, here is a screenshot of the suggested modification that has caused so much amusement:

No doubt, that is pretty funny. But here is the thing: I don’t believe that there is a single person in the world dumb enough to seriously believe that anyone could, or would want to, attach a chainsaw to the underside of a rifle and use it as a bayonet. Certainly, no one who researched modifications to AR-15s–a subject on which a great deal has been written–would come up with a chainsaw bayonet.

I think that some millennial employed (until now) by USA Today thought it would be funny to pimp his employer by including that laughable “aftermarket option” in the tweet. I suspect that whoever did it will be out of a job as of tomorrow.

This is perhaps similar to the incident a few days ago, where a Twitter employee on his last day before leaving the company deleted President Trump’s account. The common denominator: a millennial with modest technical skills, a sense of humor, and little concern about future employment. These are tiny data points, but I take them, together, as an instance of how our world is spinning out of control.


Virginia post-mortem, Part Two

Posted: 08 Nov 2017 12:23 PM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)

If the only information we had heading into yesterday’s election in Virginia was (1) that Hillary Clinton carried the state by five points and (2) that President Trump’s approval rating in Virginia was 40 percent (compared to 57 percent disapproval), it would have been fairly easy to predict that Republican Ed Gillespie would lose by around 9 points.

If in addition, we recalled that four presidents in a row had seen their party lose the Virginia governor’s race in their first year in office, this would have firmed up the prediction.

But we had other information that caused many of us to expect a close race. The polls suggested one, as, perhaps, did certain stumbles by Democratic candidate Ralph Northam.

We should have kept our eyes on the fundamentals.

Is there any comfort for Republicans that Gillespie’s defeat shouldn’t have surprised us? Not much. Trump’s national approval rating is about the same as his rating in Virginia. And considering the narrowness of Trump’s 2016 win, Republicans can’t afford for their candidates to run an average of four points worse than Trump did that year.

It is also sobering to remember that in two of the last three instances in which the first-term president saw his party lose in Virginia the year he became president, his party lost big the following year. Had it not been for 9/11, this might have happened in three instances.

Is there any comfort for Republicans if we look beyond the numbers in last night’s race? Again, not much.

This was a high turnout election. I’m told by a good source that turnout was up by about 11 percent from the 2013 governor’s race.

The problem was that the spike in turnout was mainly attributable to what happened in left-wing precincts. In Bernie Sanders’ best areas, turnout was up from 2013 by as much as 30 percent. In pro-Trump areas, it was up from 2013, but only by a little.

The voting surge in pro-Sanders areas had much to be with young voters. The Dems were extremely effective in identifying, registering, and turning out college students in Virginia (I’m told, but have not verified, that they used a FOIA request to obtain directories that assisted this effort).

There is no reason to doubt that the Democrats will be able to replicate their turnout feat in 2018. There’s nothing much the Republicans can do to prevent this. Trump will continue to motivate leftists just as Obama motivated conservatives.

Republicans must, therefore, find a way to dramatically increase turnout. Trumpians say this can be achieved by candidates who wholeheartedly embrace the president. But wholeheartedly embracing a president whose approval numbers are in the toilet doesn’t seem like a winning strategy, generally speaking.

What needs to happen, I think, is for Trump to get his numbers out of the toilet.

There are steps Trump can take towards this end, but he can’t accomplish it by himself. He needs help from congressional Republicans.

And since it is congressional Republicans, not Trump, who will face the voters in 2018, they need to provide that help to a greater degree than they have so far.


Today in Liberal Sexual Harassment

Posted: 08 Nov 2017 09:59 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)

I suppose it was inevitable that the Great Liberal Sexual Harassment Purge would snare the Very Rev. Jesse Jackson:

After Jackson’s riveting and inspiring speech about the responsibility of black journalists, we all lined up to take a photo with him. One by one, we stepped up, shared a few words and thank-yous with Jackson, snapped photos and went back to our desks. Simple enough, right?

I walked toward Jackson, smiling, and he smiled back at me. His eyes scanned my entire body. All of a sudden, I felt naked in my sweater and jeans. As I walked within arm’s reach of him, Jackson reached out a hand and grabbed my thigh, saying, “I like all of that right there!” and gave my thigh a tight squeeze.

Meanwhile, the blast radius of the Harvey Weinstein explosion has blown over super-lawyer David Boies, who was implicated in some dodgy dealings in Ronan Farrow’s latest follow up story in the New Yorker. The New York Times, for whom Boies worked concurrently, is not pleased:

[Boies] denied there was any conflict of interest with his work for the paper.

But late in the day, the paper said it was ending its relationship with his firm.

“We never contemplated that the law firm would contract with an intelligence firm to conduct a secret spying operation aimed at our reporting and our reporters,” The Times said in a statement. “Such an operation is reprehensible.”

That’s going to leave a mark.

PAUL ADDS: Jesse Jackson! My goodness! Say it ain’t so!


What’s Going on in Saudi Arabia? (3)

Posted: 08 Nov 2017 07:48 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)

The notion that what is going on in Saudi Arabia is an “anti-corruption” drive is fooling no one. The most important aspects are the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s consolidation of power and the stiffening of resolve against Iran that it represents. Austin Bay has a good column about the matter up this morning:

Since fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979, Iran and Saudi Arabia have confronted each other across the waters of the Persian Gulf. The presence of the U.S. naval forces in the region still deter overt Iranian military action in the Gulf. Iran’s Shia regime, however, is expansionist. The ayatollahs seek to control or influence Shia Muslim communities globally, but particularly in the Middle East. . .

The Saudis conduct air strikes on Houthi targets [in Yemen], which is why the Houthis portray the SRBM attacks as retaliatory. The Saudis, however, are certain that the November 4 missile was fired by members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and Lebanese Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia that Iran trains and finances. Hezbollah also provides proxy fighters for Iran elsewhere in the region (Syria).

One interesting question here is the extent to which the Saudis may be actively collaborating or cooperating with Israel, which has to eye Hezbollah constantly in next door Lebanon and Syria.

On the social revolution front in Saudi Arabia, it is worth taking in this report from The Guardian:

“The message is that everything that used to be Saudi Arabia is no longer the case,” said a senior minister, who like all other officials refused to put his name to his views. “This is a revolution,” he explained. “Everything is so sensitive. We must be patient until it all settles down.”

Underpinning the cultural reforms is Prince Mohammed’s pledge last month to “return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam”, in effect a commitment to break the founding alliance between clerics who adhere to the rigid teachings of 17th century preacher Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab and the kingdom’s modern rulers.

The crown prince said a hardline interpretation of Islam had taken root in Saudi Arabia after the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. “We didn’t know how to deal with it,” Prince Mohammed told the Guardian. “And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it.”

No Saudi leader has previously come close to confronting the accommodation between clerics and rulers.

If this is true it is yuuuge, as someone notable might Tweet. Curious this all comes on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses on the church door, setting off the Reformation. I’ve always said the problem with Islam in one sentence is that it had its Enlightenment before it had its Reformation.

Meanwhile, as the American stock market takes the turmoil in Saudi Arabia in stride (with only energy shares spiking a bit on potential oil price instability), Middle Eastern markets are reflecting the nervousness about what will happen.  The Daily Shot people send along these charts:

 Curious, by the way, to note when the Kuwaiti stock market index took off: shortly after Trump’s election.

P.S. That Guardian article linked above also has this interesting detail near the end:

In the same hotel as the arrested royals, highly paid consultants from Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey and Deloitte have been drafting plans to overhaul an economy that has been anchored by patronage networks, which have often required foreign companies to partner with a royal to start any venture. A sclerotic public sector has made the going tough for investors and locals alike, and the economic reforms are seen as essential to winning the backing of a sceptical – and conservative – base, many of whom are unsettled by such change.


The Blabbermouth angle

Posted: 08 Nov 2017 06:29 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)

We have heard incessantly since the last election that the Russians waged war on us with their interference. No one has proclaimed this theme more vociferously than Democratic officials and officeholders. Perhaps the most notable attack in the conventional narrative is the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s email. It figures prominently in the intelligence community report on Russian interference, which itself reads like hack work to support a narrative.

Yet American authorities themselves do not appear to have examined the DNC servers. The DNC kept the investigation of the intrusion under its own carefully managed control. In his testimony on the cyber attacks before the Senate Intelligence Committee this past January, then FBI Director James Comey acknowledged the bureau never got access to the servers. Rather, the FBI obtained access to “the forensics” through the kindness of strangers, i.e., from a review performed by CrowdStrike, the third-party cybersecurity firm retained by the DNC.

It was not for lack of asking politely that the FBI failed to get direct access to the DNC servers. The bureau made “multiple requests at different levels,” Comey testified. It ultimately struck an agreement with the DNC that a “highly respected private company” would get access and share its findings with investigators.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified to the House Intelligence Committee this past June that the DNC declined from the FBI after it was hacked. “What are we doing? Are we in there?” Johnson said he asked when he became aware of the intrusion. He said the response he received was that the FBI had spoken to the committee but “they don’t want our help.”

Wasserman Shultz disputes Johnson’s testimony. “He’s wrong in every respect,” she said. She claimed she had never been informed of the FBI’s offer and said the FBI was the one who did not loop in high-level officials, saying it did not “do anything other than lob a phone call into our tech support through our main switchboard.”

“How is it that the FBI or DHS or any federal agency that was concerned about a foreign enemy state intruding on the networks of one of the two major political parties did not think it important enough to go higher than a tech support staffer?” she asked. “It is astounding and outrageous.”

Whoever has it right, it doesn’t sound like anyone treated the issue as a critical matter of national security.

Now Donna Brazile — Wasserman Schultz’s interim successor as head of the DNC — adds a footnote. Drawing on the excerpt of Brazile’s just published memoir posted by Politico this past Thursday, the Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak reports:

Schultz, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, did not tell the DNC’s own officers about a breach on its servers for more than a month after learning about it, according to then-DNC officer Donna Brazile.

Wasserman Schultz alerted the officers of the breach only when The Washington Post was about to make the revelations public, Brazile writes in an excerpt of the book Politico ran [this past] Thursday. The DNC instead enlisted the law firm of Perkins Coie to make major decisions, including how to handle the breach of its servers that led to an embarrassing email dump.

The timing suggests the DNC’s unusual and significant choice to have the private law firm CrowdStrike [sic] conduct the investigation into the breach, rather than turn the evidence over to law enforcement, was made without consulting DNC officers.

“She told [officers] about the hacking only minutes before the Washington Post broke the news,” Brazile wrote.

There is more than a little here that does not compute.

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