Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Did You Make Clinton's List?

I think the pre$$ is a bit ticked that they did not:

"N.H. voters take lack of access to Clinton personally" by Annie Linskey Globe Staff  May 20, 2015

WASHINGTON — Those everyday Americans who want to quiz Hillary Rodham Clinton on trade, foreign policy, or even her favorite color have one option: They need to be on the right invite list to get in a room with her.

Clinton’s campaign hasn’t held a single event open to the general public since it launched five weeks ago, and there are no plans for an open forum in New Hampshire Friday when she makes her second trip to the Granite State.

I already remarked on how it is all stagecraft.

This arm’s-length distance between voters and candidates might be how politics works elsewhere, but not in the first-in-the-nation-primary state. New Hampshire residents hold dear a tradition of meeting would-be presidents face to face.

I'm wondering right off how she won in 2008 (answer: rigged machines).

Clinton’s events so far have included forums in which the organizers determined who would attend. She has occasionally met uninvited people outside events. She’s also attended house parties to interact with voters in an intimate setting — but to get in, you need to be on the list.

The approach is not limited to New Hampshire. Clinton held no public events during her two-day swing through Iowa this week. There weren’t any in Nevada when she stopped there. And to meet Clinton, the average Iowan had to be lucky to run into her or be selected to be part of a carefully controlled event on her first swing through that state last month.

The politics that fills my paper is all staged and scripted campaign propaganda.

She also hasn’t met with reporters for interviews.

Aaaaaaaaaah, that's why this piece is on the front page. Can't say as I really blame her on that one. 

Before Tuesday, she’d answered only about a dozen questions from journalists — prompting The New York Times to initiate a feature in which news organizations can publish questions their journalists would ask if they had the chance. Not to be outdone, the Washington Post created an online clock tracking the minutes that have passed since Clinton answered a question from the press.

Oh, they are ticked off! 

C'mon, guys, she's just preparing you for her White House years.

Under pressure from the news media and Republicans, Clinton departed from her pattern and entertained questions from the media Tuesday in Iowa. She answered six.

Ah, she entertained questions (it's all filler entertainment), and what the hell where they?

Donors contributing money to her campaign enjoy better access.

The Bo$ton Globe moved on to donors (with better ace$$, of cour$e).

Clinton has held fund-raisers in New York, near Los Angeles, and is set to have one Wednesday in Chicago.

How much do you have to pay to get on the list?

New Hampshire’s long tradition of holding the nation’s first primary gives it a unique status in American politics. A win there can make or break a campaign, so local activists are often courted for years by ambitious politicians. A county-level Democratic dinner can attract the next commander-in-chief.

Any New Hampshire politicos worth their salt will immediately rattle off the names of presidents and near-presidents whom they’ve met.

If Clinton has been slow to engage with voters, it’s not part of a long-term strategy, according to her campaign.

“The focus of our ramp-up period is to hear directly from New Hampshire voters about the issues they care about and have substantive and organic conversations,” said Tyrone Gayle, a Clinton campaign spokesman. He said Clinton has “long cherished” the New Hampshire primary process and noted there is “plenty of time left” before New Hampshire voters go to the polls.

Past the political double-talk I'm seeing an illusionary image being built beforehand.

Some Democratic insiders here said they’ve been told by the Clinton campaign not to panic — the campaign tactics will change and Clinton will eventually hold events where a curious New Hampshire voter can hear the candidate answer questions in an open forum.

“I’ve been assured by reliable sources that there will be other stuff,” said Larry Drake, the chairman of the Rockingham County, N.H., Democratic Committee. “They wanted to start with small groups.”

That's a relief.

Most of her events are covered by a single journalist who e-mails notes to other news outlets covering her.

The ma$$ media really is ticked off.

Even that’s a selective process: Only the news organizations committing to follow her on the campaign trail benefit from moment-to-moment updates, while the rest receive only a daily summary.

It's like a lottery!

It is a system set up by the media at the request of the campaign and has prompted outrage — particularly from foreign reporters.

They quote some French TV station, but the important thing to note is the domestic pre$$ doesn't mind getting stuck.


In stark contrast, the Republican field of candidates has been traveling like a herd from one “cattle call” to the next in New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina.

I've already done my shopping regarding that herd

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a leading Republican contemplating a run, will be in New Hampshire on Thursday and will have two open events: a breakfast with business leaders in Concord and a “meet and greet” in Salem. It’s not always been a positive for his campaign — in Nevada, an unscripted exchange with a young voters about the Islamic State launched unwelcome questions about whether he viewed the war in Iraq as a mistake.

He didn't make my list. Good kids.

So who is his VP going to be?

Clinton’s commanding lead in the polls among Democrats means she can avoid these authentic — and awkward — moments. She doesn’t need to boost her likability or name identification in any of the early states.

And no other Democratic candidate is viable enough to force her hand.

“You need a sense of competition in order to make it more pressing on Clinton to do more events,” said Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire.

Candidates run a “coronation” campaign in New Hampshire at their own risk, he said. George W. Bush saw his momentum sapped in New Hampshire in 2000 when Senator John McCain of Arizona out-organized him in the state and scored an upset victory. Al Gore had the same problem in 2000; former senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey performed surprisingly well to a strong second.

Clinton doesn’t have a viable challenger so far, and it’s not clear whether she will....


They talked to Arnie Arnesen, a liberal Democratic activist and local radio host.

RelatedJudge orders rolling release of Clinton’s State Department e-mail

Anything between Hillary and Her Hubby?

"House bill would cap expenses for ex-presidents; Bill would slice benefits for those with high income" by Matthew Daly Associated Press  May 20, 2015

WASHINGTON — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and other former presidents who earn lucrative speaking fees and draw other income would no longer be able to count on taxpayer dollars to pay for their post-White House office space and staff under a bill in the House.

On a voice vote, the House Oversight panel backed a measure Tuesday to limit taxpayer dollars for expenses, including travel, incurred by ex-presidents who earn more than $400,000 a year.

US taxpayers paid $3.5 million last year in pensions and benefits to the four living former presidents, including $1.3 million for Bush and $950,000 for Clinton, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. Most of that money was for sprawling office space in Dallas and New York, respectively.

They can't just reopen those contracts like they did with the teacher's unions?

Both Clinton and Bush, like other ex-presidents, have earned millions in speaking fees since leaving office.

The oversight committee acted just days after Hillary Rodham Clinton reported that she and her husband earned more than $30 million combined in speaking fees and book royalties since January 2014.

The House bill would set presidential pensions at $200,000 a year, nearly the same as the current amount, with an additional $200,000 set aside for office space and other expenses. The bill would reduce expense payments by $1 for every dollar above $400,000 earned by a former president.

Under the legislation, ex-presidents who earn more than $600,000 a year would not receive federal funds for office expenses or travel. Presidential pensions would not be affected by the amount of income earned.

Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, chairman of the House Oversight panel and a cosponsor of the bill, said it was not aimed at anyone but was a simple matter of fairness.

He will surface later in this post.

‘‘History shows that former presidents do very well financially after they leave office,’’ Chaffetz said in a statement before Tuesday’s vote. ‘‘In fact all former presidents are millionaires, making it unlikely that they depend upon their taxpayer-funded allowance to make ends meet.’’

Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the panel, cosponsored the latest measure with Chaffetz.

‘‘Taxpayers should not have to pay for a former president’s allowance if the former president is making a comfortable living earning more than $400,000 a year after leaving office,’’ Cummings said.

The report by the Congressional Research Service said taxpayers paid more than $420,000 last year for Bush’s 8,237-square-foot office in Dallas. Clinton’s 8,300-square-foot space in New York cost nearly $415,000.

This at a time when same said families are decrying some austerity measures, blah, blah, blah. Their altruistic selves couldn't just give the money back? 

Btw, whatever happened to all that Haitian rebuilding dough that disappeared under your guys' care?

Taxpayers also shelled out nearly $180,000 for office space in Houston for George H.W. Bush and $109,000 for space in Atlanta for Jimmy Carter.

Carter, who left office in 1981, received $470,000 in pensions and benefits last year, while George H.W. Bush received $837,000. He left office in 1989.

Carter is now sick, and H.W. is not being looked after.

The House bill would not affect Secret Service protection for former presidents and their families.

Is that some sort of $tunt?


You can follow the next guy on Tweets.

Some of those Secret Service guys got Chaffetzed (the drunken version of shit-faced):

"D.C. Secret Service agents probably drunk, inquiry finds" by Angela Greiling Keane Bloomberg News  May 15, 2015

NEW YORK — Two US Secret Service agents had been drinking and probably were impaired when they disrupted an investigation of an unattended package outside the White House as they drove back from a bar, government investigators said in a report released Thursday.

Anyone give them a breathalyzer, and why are they not paying attention the the PSAs?

The agents in the March 4 incident spent five hours at an Irish bar and restaurant less than a mile from the White House, celebrating a colleague’s retirement, before driving into the scene of an investigation where other agents were trying to determine whether a package was a bomb, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s report said.

Uh-oh. Irish bar.

The findings are the latest in a series of embarrassments for the Secret Service, whose main job is to protect the president. Lapses include security breaches at the White House and misconduct by agents.

The inspector general’s office is investigating two more Secret Service incidents in March alone. In one case, agents may have used agency computers to access the job application of Jason Chaffetz, now the House member who leads the committee with oversight responsibility for the service. 

If not criminal, it certainly seems against the checks and balances system of this government.

Now imagine what the NSA, or more importantly Israel (they get all the raw data), might do with such stuff and more? 

In the other, a senior manager — after another farewell bash that involved drinking — allegedly sexually assaulted a female subordinate. 

Didn't seem to merit as much concern.

Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, and Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the oversight panel, said in a joint statement Thursday that the report’s findings point to the need to change the Secret Service’s “dysfunctional environment.” They noted a line in the report that said the watch commander on duty the evening of the incident said it would be a “career killer’’ to conduct field sobriety tests on the two agents.

Cover up.

“Unfortunately this report makes clear that there’s still much work to be done to improve the culture of the Secret Service,” Cummings said at a hearing Thursday.

In the March 4 incident, Marc Connolly, the deputy special agent in charge of the president’s protective detail, and agent George Ogilvie were probably “impaired by alcohol,” the report concluded.

That's when the printed Globe left the bar.

“While during their interviews each denied drinking to excess that evening, we must assess those denials in light of the Uniformed Division officers’ observations of the agents’ behavior, the fact that they had just spent the last five hours in a restaurant/bar and that two highly experienced Secret Service supervisors drove into a crime scene inches from what the rest of the Secret Service was treating as a potential explosive device,” the report said.

Ogilvie bought 14 drinks in three hours at the bar, according to the report.

That's pounding them down!

He told investigators he consumed fewer than three drinks all night, and Connolly said he had just two beers. Two other Secret Service employees said they consumed three drinks that Ogilvie bought, and he told investigators he gave away the rest but couldn’t remember to whom.

After leaving the bar, Connolly asked Ogilvie for a ride back to the White House, where he had parked his car. Upon arriving, Ogilvie drove his government-issued SUV past barriers that other agents had erected around the package they were investigating. His car passed “within inches” of the package, the report said.

One officer on the scene, who has more than 25 years of experience, told investigators “he had never seen anything like this,” the report said. Ogilvie had his head back in his seat and “his eyes were wide open as if he was trying hard not to blink.” Notes that other agents took said both Ogilvie and Connolly had a “’deer in the headlights’ look,” according to the report.

“I am disappointed and disturbed at the apparent lack of judgment described in this report,” Joseph Clancy, the Secret Service’s director, said in a statement. “Behavior of the type described in the report is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Our mission is too important.”

Yeah, good thing he is covering, 'er, cleaning up the place, yup.

Connolly and Ogilvie have been placed on administrative leave, and the Secret Service’s Office of Integrity has requested “supporting information” behind the inspector general’s report, the agency said in the statement. Once that information is reviewed, the service will propose disciplinary actions that the two agents can contest.

I'm not going to hold my breath.


Government is just one long party, huh? 

Here is the hangover:

"Drone pilots under strain, GAO says" Washington Post   May 16, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s drone pilots are some of the best in the world. They have become a central part of US operations overseas, conducting aerial surveillance and supporting US soldiers. But a federal audit finds the pilots are overworked and undertrained, and it’s taking a toll.

The military’s two most important drone fleets are part of the Air Force and the Army.

Both services suffer from a chronic shortage of pilot training, according to a Government Accountability Office report, one that makes it hard for operators of unmanned aerial systems to keep their skills sharp and even to train new drone pilots.

With all the video game players out there?

Army pilots stated they had difficulty completing training because they spend a significant amount of time performing duties such as lawn care, janitorial services, and guard duty, the report said. Other constraints include a lack of equipment and a failure by higher-ups to recognize the kind of training required.


C'mon, quite your weining.


Longtime confidant Sidney Blumenthal made somebody's list, and.... 

".... there is little clarity about how many suspected "high-level" terrorists are actually being killed due to the secretive nature of the program and the "imperfect best guess" intelligence that strikes are based on (a 2012 Stanford/New York University report estimated that a full 2 percent of those killed by US drones in Pakistan were "high-level" targets).

There's also the high likelihood that the US drone war in Asia and Africa is actually increasing the number of terrorist groups and aiding their recruitment efforts, a view taken by an internal CIA analysis published by WikiLeaks. As for what everyday people think, Americans have been very supportive of the drone program in recent years, at least as measured by the faith-based questions asked by pollsters; the rest of the world is not a big fan.

Good Kill also challenges the questionable declaration made by US officials that drone operators are authorized to fire missiles only in circumstances where there is "near certainty" that no innocent civilians will be killed by the strike. In reality, true adherence to this principle is extremely unlikely, and we know that thousands of civilians - meaning members of families, including small children, who were simply minding their own business - have already been killed by US drones. In fact, the Obama administration's no-innocents-will-be-deliberately-harmed claim is the same public relations tactic used to gain support for all modern US wars. US officials have previously acknowledged using "a macabre kind of calculus" in order to answer moral and legal questions about the maximum number of innocent civilians who may be deliberately killed in any strike.

The Obama administration does not publicly acknowledge that it has killed thousands of civilians with drone strikes. With impressive contempt for the truth, it claims that all of the military-age males killed with drones were, by definition, enemy combatants unless posthumous evidence proves otherwise. At the same time, the administration keeps the official numbers of civilians it has killed with drones top secret. So for anyone paying attention, the White House has barely any credibility when discussing the facts of drone warfare. Good Kill may be fiction, but, ironically, it gives a better sense of the workings and effects of the actual US drone program than has been offered so far by government officials.

The US government reportedly intends to keep adding names to its kill lists for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the Air Force is now training more drone pilots than traditional fighter pilots. At the same time, many drone operators are not renewing their contracts and recruiters are having a hard time meeting demand, so they have started recruiting kids at gaming conferences. "Telewarfare" appears to be the new normal.


"Gyrocopter pilot who landed at Capitol faces multiyear prison sentence" Washington Post News Service  May 20, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Florida postal worker who landed a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the US Capitol last month was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on six felony and misdemeanor charges punishable by up to nine years in prison, prosecutors said.

Douglas Hughes, 61, was arrested immediately after the April 15 incident and charged with violating registration requirements involving an aircraft, a felony.

He must have been so surprised; after all, the Secret Service gave him a go and knew he was flying in!

The indictment includes that charge, another felony count of operating without an airman’s certificate, three misdemeanor counts of violating national defense airspace, and one misdemeanor count of operating a vehicle falsely labeled as a postal carrier, according to the US attorney’s office for the District of Columbia.

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of the gyrocopter.

To do what? Sell it?



"The pitching has ended and the votes are in. Team Raptor Maps, which proposes to use camera-carrying drones to survey farmland and pinpoint damage before pests and diseases can decimate crops, beat out 193 contestants to win the judges’ favor and a check for $100,000 at the 25th annual MIT 100K Entrepreneurship Competition Wednesday evening. MIT biochemist Robert Langer and Governor Charlie Baker were speakers at the event, and Baker named May 14 Entrepreneurship Day in honor of the contest’s anniversary. One of the founders, Nikhil Vadhavkar is a doctoral candidate in MIT’s Health Sciences and Technology division, [and] had previously led a team using drones to deliver emergency medical supplies in developing nations through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but history indicates that it isn’t just the winning teams who land success when they take their business ideas into the real world. Some of the biggest companies to come out of the contest barely made the finals, much less were winners."

Gates Foundation was far and away the bigge$t donor to the Clintons. 

Time to get buzzing along. 

UPDATE: Benghazi accounts changed quickly