Sunday, July 5, 2015

Last Call For Hillary The Hawk

In the wake of several high-profile hacks of government databases by China in the last several months, Hillary Clinton went after Beijing over the weekend with some pretty hard words.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton accused China on Saturday of stealing commercial secrets and “huge amounts of government information,” and of trying to “hack into everything that doesn’t move in America.”

Clinton’s language on China appeared to be far stronger than that usually used by President Barack Obama’s Democratic administration.

Speaking at a campaign event in New Hampshire, Clinton said she wanted to see China’s peaceful rise.

“But we also have to be fully vigilant, China’s military is growing very quickly, they’re establishing military installations that again threaten countries we have treaties with, like the Philippines because they are building on contested property,” said Clinton, who was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

“They’re also trying to hack into everything that doesn’t move in America. Stealing commercial secrets … from defense contractors, stealing huge amounts of government information, all looking for an advantage,” she said.

It's not like Clinton lacks details of, experience with, or access to US foreign policy information on China or anything, but this seems very belligerent even for Clinton's normal rhetoric.

On the other hand, China hacking US government databases isn't exactly fluffy rainbow kitten unicorn time, either.  I'm just not sure how much we can (literally) afford to piss of China and its huge market of consumers.

In the same speech, Clinton had some pretty hawkish words about President Obama's Iran deal as well.

Clinton also addressed the current talks over Iran’s nuclear program and had strong words for Tehran.

She said that even if a deal is reached with Iran, Tehran’s “aggressiveness will not end” and it will remain a principal state sponsor of terrorism.

Clinton said she hoped that “a strong verifiable deal” would be reached at talks in Vienna between world powers and Iran.

But she added that even with an agreement, “They will continue to be the principal state sponsor of terrorism. They will continue to destabilize governments in the region and beyond. They will continue to use their proxies like Hezbollah. And they will continue to be an existential threat to Israel.”

OK, if she considers Iran an existential threat to Israel, then 1) I can see why nothing happened via Iran/America while she was at State and 2) I have to ask if Clinton, as President, would even both to honor anything President Obama came up with as a deal.

This is the kind of talk I expect to hear from Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush, and it was talk like this on Iraq that assured I didn't vote for her in the primary here in Kentucky in 2008 (not that it made much difference).

You would think the last seven years would have tempered her inner hawk.  If she's still on this hard line, then there will be problems.

Sunday Long Read: On The Trail Of A Fugitive

This week's Sunday Long Read is the story of James T. Hammes, a fugitive from the law who was captured in May after evading the FBI for over six years. Hammes was wanted on charges of embezzling millions from a Pepsi distributor where he worked, and evaded police by living as a hiker on the Appalachian Trail since 2009.  It was Hammes's double life as a hiker named Bismarck that shocked trail aficionados, because it turns out in those six years, he became something of a legend.

Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, those who walk the entire 2,100-mile trail in a single season, beginning in Georgia in spring, knew Bismarck as a smiling Catholic with a Jerry Garcia beard, baker’s belly and fondness for hammocks. They liked him. There is something hikers call “trail magic” that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy defines as “an unexpected act of kindness.” In nearly every story about Bismarck on the Appalachian Trail, or AT as it is commonly called, trail magic appears. He took to people. People took to him. Up and down the length of the trail, he was well known for his gentle, good nature. Beginning in 2010 the name Bismarck began appearing regularly on blogs written by hikers recounting their trips. His picture pops up in their snapshots.

Millions of people step somewhere onto the AT each year. That anyone stands out to the degree he did is astonishing. Yet Bismarck did. Veteran hikers, encountering newbies, sometimes asked, “Have you met Bismarck?” It was a way of gauging just how experienced a hiker was, how long they had been on the trail and how well they fit in with others. If you knew Bismarck, your boots had many worthy miles already worn on their soles. A man who hiked with him last September said the general consensus along the AT was that he was “on his way to becoming a trail legend” - someone whose story hikers share amongst themselves, one with inspirational overtones. Like that of the late Earl Shaffer, who in 1948 became the first person to hike the entire AT in a single season. Like Matt Kirk, who two years ago hiked the trail in 58 days. Such was Bismarck’s reputation that this past spring, David Miller, the author of AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, a popular book about hiking the AT, was on his phone talking with the owner of a North Carolina hostel along the state’s western edge, near Nantahala Lake. In an offhand way, the proprietor mentioned Bismarck was there, similar to the way Grateful Dead followers once mentioned an encounter with Jerry, a measure of his own familiarity of trail culture, a touchstone showing he, too, knew the ways of the wandering tribe.

When the other hikers learned that Bismarck had been taken into custody at Trail Days, shock bloomed through the AT community. Word spread along every step of the trail - hushed tones spoken at campfires from Georgia to Maine - in a matter of days.

“So many people liked him,” Susan Montgomery said. “I feel sorry for him, if he did what they say he did, because he loved the outdoors. He really did. He loved the outdoors so much.”

All I can say is this is going to make a hell of a movie some day.

Think I Found Your Trump Problem

If Donald Trump is curious as to why he manged to lose money on a casino and made a boatload of other bad business decisions, the fact he's shocked by the reaction of single-handedly destroying the Trump brand with his massive racism is everything you need to know as to how terrible it is.

Republican presidential candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump on Saturday stood by statements he made recently that too many illegal immigrants from Mexico are criminals but said he was surprised by the backlash and that his comments are causing financial concerns.

The crime is raging and it’s violent. And if you talk about it, it’s racist,” Trump told Fox News, three days after a purported illegal Mexican immigrant deported five previous times allegedly killed a woman in San Francisco.

Trump first made his inflammatory remarks during his non-scripted, June 16 presidential announcement speech.

“When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best,” he said during the announcement. “They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they're telling us what we're getting."

Since then, a list of businesses have announced plans to cut ties with Trump’s vast business empire, while fellow Republican candidates and others have questioned Trump’s remarks.

NBC and Univision, for example, have decided not to air the Trump-owned Miss Universe Pageant, Macy’s is dropping his signature clothing line, New York Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered a review of Trump's city contracts and NASCAR is moving an annual banquet from the Trump National Doral resort in Miami.

I didn’t know it was going to be this severe,” Trump said Saturday, adding that he was surprised by the NASCAR decision, considering he has a good relationship with the group. “I am a whipping post.”

Surprise!  Smart businesses and business leaders don't want to wreck their brand by pissing off the fastest-growing demographic in the US.  Imagine that. No corporation wants to associate with somebody who calls all Mexicans criminals in 2015 America.

And Trump is "surprised" by this.

Here's the kicker though.  Ted Cruz agrees with him.

Sen. Ted Cruz defended Donald Trump on immigration and called out “the Washington cartel” he says is ignoring the issue, in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration,” Cruz said of his rival for the 2016 GOP nomination, adding that it “seems the favorite sport of the Washington media is to encourage some Republicans to attack other Republicans.”

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“I’m not interested in Republican on Republican violence,” he told host Chuck Todd, adding that “bold … brash” Trump “has a colorful way of speaking.”

The Texas senator’s comments were similar to his defense of Trump during Fox & Friends on Tuesday.

“When it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump,” Cruz said on the show. “I think he’s terrific.”

It's almost like Trump is running for Cruz's veep.
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