Stipulating that nothing is certain, it’s always seemed rather plausible if not outright obvious that Vladimir Putin prefers Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton. There’s the mutual praise, the Manafort connections and the shared vision. The mere fact that a major party nominee is openly talking about undermining NATO and bad-mouthing the UN is itself a major coup for the Russians. When Trump’s one-man-brain Trust mused this week that NATO-ally Estonia wasn’t worth defending, there must have been cheers across the Kremlin. Putin has long sought to sow dissension and strife within both NATO and the EU. From the vantage point alone, Trump is a Godsend.
But there’s another theory with wide currency out there. It’s most articulate and forceful subscriber is Hugh Hewitt. Because Hillary’s private server was almost certainly hacked by the Russians, we should assume that they know literally everything Hillary has sent or received over it. Most intelligence and cyber security types seem to agree. Hence, Hugh argues, Hillary is “compromised.” They have leverage over her.
So far, I’m pretty much with Hugh. But here’s what I don’t get. If the Russians have so much leverage over Clinton, why don’t they want her to be president? This morning, Hugh dangled a theory that the Russians were yanking her leash by showing they have the goods on her. They saved the server emails for later (or for blackmail), but released the DNC emails to brush her back, or something.
Wouldn’t Occam’s razor suggest they released these emails on the eve of the Democratic Convention simply to hurt Clinton’s chances? That seems to be where a lot of intelligence types are heading. From the Daily Beast:
The FBI suspects that Russian government hackers breached the networks of the Democratic National Committee and stole emails that were posted to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks on Friday. It’s an operation that several U.S. officials now suspect was a deliberate attempt to influence the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, according to five individuals familiar with the investigation of the breach.
The story continues:
Current and former U.S. officials drew analogies to so-called “active measures campaigns,” or state-sponsored operations designed for political effects.
“The release of emails just as the Democratic National Convention is getting underway this week has the hallmarks of a Russian active measures campaign,” David Shedd, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told The Daily Beast. Shedd said that additional leaks were likely, echoing an opinion expressed by U.S. officials and experts who said that the release of emails on Friday may just be an opening salvo.
Officials also noted Trump’s own connections to the Russian government. Putin has publicly praised the nominee, who said he was “honored” by the compliment. Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was a consultant for Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine who was ousted for his pro-Moscow orientation (and now lives in Russia). One of Trump’s top national security advisers, retired Army Gen. Michael Flynn, sat with Putin at a dinnercelebrating the 10th anniversary of Kremlin-backed media network RT and was paid to give a speech at the event; Flynn later retweeted an anti-Semitic message that called into question any Kremlin-Trump link. Another Trump adviser, Carter Page, recently denounced America’s “often-hypocritical focus on democratization” while in Moscow. And last week, Trump said that he might not come to the aid of U.S. NATO allies in the face of Russian aggression unless they paid what he thinks they owe for Europe’s common defense.
Officials also thought it was telling that the emails were given to WikiLeaks, which is perceived as being hostile to the U.S. government. “This wasn’t surprising to us,” said one U.S. official familiar with the investigation.
Anyway, I’m against both Trump and Clinton. And, I’m totally with Hugh when he argues that Clinton’s negligence with classified material disqualifies her for the job of Commander-in-Chief. But I’m not sure his argument that we have to elect Putin’s preferred candidate in order to keep Putin from getting leverage over his less preferred candidate is quite as compelling as he makes it sound.
Over the weekend, lots of folks declared that Tim Kaine was a “safe” pick for vice president. He’s conventional, he’s comfortable, and despite his progressive voting record, he’s got a reputation as a bit of a centrist. Here we have all the elements of the completely conventional strategy of tacking left in the primary then moving right in the general election. Boring, right?
Not in 2016. With the progressive base as restive and angry as it is, I’d argue that the safer play would have been Elizabeth Warren or Tom Perez — someone who would help her lock down the Left and allow her to essentially defend Obama’s 2012 turf. After all, she’s starting with a considerable geographic and demographic advantage, why risk the support of the Left’s most engaged activists? If Elizabeth Warren or Tom Perez were on the ticket, she’d be better able to weather, for example, a Wikileaks storm that reinforces every Bernie supporter’s suspicion that the system was rigged — and Hillary helped rig it.
Instead of playing for a repeat of Obama’s 2012 win, Hillary’s going for Obama 2008 — casting herself as the adult in the race, secure and steady compared to Trump. But in 2008, even despite the bitter primary againt Hillary, Obama didn’t face the kind of progressive rebellion Hillary faces. It’s clear now that she’s tacking to the middle before she’s secured the Left, apparently confident that the specter of Donald Trump will be enough to motivate millions of progressives to pull the lever for a ticket that they may of them feel doesn’t contain a single true believer. Kaine’s not the guy who’s going to inspire Bernie voters – especially in a year where the Republican nominee is openly courting progressive support and interest in third-party candidates like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein is unusually high.
It’s still likely that progressives will rally behind Hillary. It’s not yet certain, however, and if they don’t, then the Kaine pick will demonstrate once again that 2016 was the year when conventional thinking proved to be unacceptably risky.
Tim Kaine is one of those politicians who is “personally opposed” to following premises to their conclusions.
Patrick Lee, a philosophy professor at Franciscan University, writes on Facebook:
The Democrat VP nominee Tim Kaine claims he is personally opposed to abortion but then says he “deeply” believes that the government should leave the decision for abortion up to individuals. This is supposed to make sense but it doesn’t. What abortion is–as a matter of fact, not opinion, and not religious belief–is the killing of an innocent human being. And so we as a community are bound in justice to provide them the equal protection of the law. To protect born human beings by homicide statutes but not unborn human beings is radically unjust. To relegate a whole class of human beings–unborn human beings–to the status of mere objects that can be shredded and then thrown into the trash can is radically unjust–and, by the way, not at all consistent with Catholic teaching.
Also on Facebook, Princeton professor of politics Robert P. George asks Kaine some good questions:
If the child in the womb–or, if you prefer, the “fetus” [=Latin for young (or small) one]–has no right not to be killed, why do you oppose abortion, even merely “personally”?
If the child (“fetus”) does have a right not to be killed, how is it not a grave injustice to license (and protect and facilitate and fund) the systematic violation of that right?
Kaine owes people on both sides–pro-choice as well as pro-life–an answer. Will anybody in the media with access to him confront him with the question and not let him get away with an evasive answer or changing the subject?
On Friday, the NCAA announced that cities interested in hosting NCAA championships must fill out a questionnaire on whether they have laws (state or local) that govern use of bathrooms and locker rooms. Questions include:
3. Does your city, county/parish and/or state regulate choice of bathrooms or locker rooms that may affect student-athletes, coaches, administrators, or game officials during the Event?
4. Does your city, county-parish and/or state regulate choice of bathrooms that may affect fans attending the Event?
6. If the Event is planned to be held on institutional/campus property, does your institution have provisions that interfere with any person’s choice of bathroom or locker room?
(It would seem that the only way to answer “no” on question 6 is to have a policy that allows any person to use any bathroom or locker room.)
The NCAA’s interest in making sure that men who identify as women may use women’s bathrooms and locker rooms at NCAA events would appear to be much stronger that its interest in ensuring that men who identify as women are able to play on women’s sports teams. Under the NCAA’s policies (p. 13):
A male athlete who identifies as female but “who is not taking hormone treatments related to gender transition may not compete on a women’s team.”
A male athlete who identifies as female and who is “being treated with testosterone suppression medication for Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism … may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.”
These NCAA policies, I’ll note, are also inconsistent with the Obama administration’s claim that Title IX requires that schools that receive federal funds allow students who identify as transgender to participate in sex-segregated activities “consistent with their gender identity.” These NCAA policies regarding male athletes who identify as female require colleges not to treat them “consistent with their gender identity” unless and until they’ve completed one year of testosterone suppression treatment. The NCAA, in other words, is requiring colleges not to comply with the Obama administration’s misreading of Title IX.
(On sports teams, the Obama administration has made a different, and muddled, departure from its misreading of Title IX. I’ve also spelled out more broadly how the Obama administration’s illogic dictates an end to women’s sports teams.)
At National Review, we’re in the tank — for the truth. And the truth this week is that the Democratic party is set to nominate for president a former Secretary of State who has a legacy that is chilling and dangerous.
For 25 years National Review has been calling out this Alinsky-trained diva and serial fibber. We’re able to do that, and so much more, because of your support. During this NeverHillary Webathon, some 700 of you have responded to our entreaties for support by making a donation. For that we are terribly thrilled, and hope more of you will do the same, maybe inspired by some of these fine donors:
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Several polls are showing a bounce for Trump and showing him in the lead. The RealClearPolitics average has him up 0.2 percent–but that average includes some pre-convention polls; exclude them and he’s probably up by 2. According to the latest CBS poll, which has Trump up 1, Trump has increased his support among Republicans–but at 81 percent, that’s still below Mitt Romney’s level after his convention. At the start of the Democratic convention in 2012, the candidates were also tied in the RCP average.
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