Category Archives: Democrat Party

Obama on Hillary’s Email Server

If you believe this….
WSJ 4/11/2016
President Obama chooses his words carefully, so it was startling on Sunday when he chose to opine on the Justice Department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. All the more so in the way that he phrased his defense of the Democrat he wants to succeed him as President in January.

On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace rolled a clip from October of Mr. Obama saying that “I can tell you this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.” Mr. Wallace then cited the 2,000 or so emails we have since learned contained classified information, including 22 that included “top secret” information, and he asked: “Can you still say flatly that she did not jeopardize America’s secrets?”

Mr. Obama replied: “I’ve got to be careful because, as you know, there have been investigations, there are hearings, Congress is looking at this. And I haven’t been sorting through each and every aspect of this. Here’s what I know: Hillary Clinton was an outstanding Secretary of State. She would never intentionally put America in any kind of jeopardy.”

Mr. Wallace pressed further on the jeopardy angle, and Mr. Obama responded again: “I continue to believe that she has not jeopardized America’s national security. Now what I’ve also said is that—and she has acknowledged— that there’s a carelessness, in terms of managing emails, that she has owned, and she recognizes.”

Hold on there, big fella. That is one loaded apologia. A more scrupulous President would have begged off the question by claiming that he can’t comment on an ongoing investigation in a department he supervises. So saying anything was bad enough.

But even more notable was Mr. Obama’s use of the word “intentionally” regarding Mrs. Clinton’s actions. As a lawyer, the President knows that intent is often crucial to determining criminal liability. And he went out of his way— twice—to suggest that what Mrs. Clinton did wasn’t intentional but was mere “carelessness, in terms of managing emails.” Why would Mr. Obama discuss the emails in those terms? He certainly isn’t helping Attorney General Loretta Lynch or FBI Director James Comey, who must decide how to assess Mrs. Clinton’s actions. If they now decide not to prosecute based on a judgment that Mrs. Clinton was merely careless, President Obama has opened them up to reasonable criticism that they were publicly steered by his comments.

Mr. Obama was at pains to “guarantee” to Fox’s Mr. Wallace that there will be “no political influence” from the White House over the email probe. But if you’re trying to send a message to the FBI or Justice, it’s probably shrewder to do it publicly by apologizing for Mrs. Clinton’s “carelessness” than it is to say something specific in a private meeting that could leak to the press. Mr. Obama can say he never said a word to either one, while those two take the heat if they give Mrs. Clinton a legal pass.

Our own view of the public email evidence is that Mrs. Clinton’s actions go far beyond mere “carelessness.” She knew she was setting up a private server in violation of State Department policy, she did it deliberately to prevent her emails from becoming public if she ran for President, and she knew classified information was bound to travel over that server.

As former Attorney General Michael Mukasey has written on these pages, “gross negligence” in handling classified information related to national defense is enough for criminal liability. That Mr. Obama would issue such a public defense, and use such legally potent words, suggests that there’s more culpability than he cares to admit.


Yale’s Tax Endowment

Well, well, well.
O ur guess is that most Yale University professors are proud to be progressives. Well, they are now getting the chance to live their convictions as Connecticut Democrats attempt to soak Yale’s rich endowment.

Facing a $220 million budget shortfall, Democrats in Hartford have proposed taxing the unspent earnings of university endowments with more than $10 billion in assets. Only Yale’s $25.6 billion endowment—the country’s second largest after Harvard—fits the tax bill. Yale’s tax-exempt investments earned $2.6 billion last year, eight times more than the University of Connecticut’s $384 million endowment. Oh, the inequality!

“It is our hope that these rich schools can use their wealth to create job opportunities, rather than simply to get richer,” says Yale tax proponent Martin Looney, or else “share a small percentage of their retained earnings with the state’s taxpayers, so that we could accomplish these same goals.” Translation: We’re going to take Yale’s money and redistribute it. State spending is projected to rise $1.2 billion over the next two years, and government-worker pensions that are less than 50% funded need a cash infusion.

Hartford is already taxing anything that moves. Last year Democrats raised the top individual tax rate to 6.99% and extended a 20% corporate surtax. The tax hikes precipitated General Electric’s decision in January to move its headquarters to Boston. Between 2010 and 2015, Connecticut lost 105,000 residents to other states. For the last five years, it has recorded zero real GDP growth. As Mr. Looney put it with a euphemism for the ages, “Connecticut’s economy is going through a transformation.”

Yale’s endowment funds about a third of the university’s $3.2 billion operating budget including $2 billion in worker wages and benefits. It also finances financial aid that allows students from families making less than $65,000— equal to the annual cost of attendance—to attend for free. The average need-based scholarship is $43,989. Yale also makes $8.2 million in “voluntary payments” to the city of New Haven, sponsors full scholarships for New Haven public school students to attend in-state universities, and provides housing subsidies for university employees.

The bill sets a terrible precedent for contract rights since Yale’s charter dating to 1818 shields the university from taxation. In Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a university charter is protected from impairment. No one is safe when progressives run out of other people’s money.


Obama Education Profit Seekers

Oh, my?! Say it ain’t so!
WSJ 3/26/2016
Even progressives need to make a living. And as the Obama Administration winds down, the great and good in government are looking for gainful private employment. Some of them are even smart enough to do it by exploiting the regulations they pushed while in government.

Take Jim Shelton, the deputy secretary of education in 2013 and 2014. Last summer he became “chief impact officer” at 2U, a publicly traded company that caters to public and nonprofit colleges and universities. The company provides software and services that allow schools to offer degree programs over the Internet, and its customers include the likes of Northwestern and Syracuse.

Higher education needs innovation and competition, and for all we know 2U’s courses are splendid. But it’s especially notable that Mr. Shelton has joined 2U because its for-profit online business model allows it to circumvent the onerous regulation that the Department of Education promoted to punish for-profit schools during Mr. Shelton’s tenure.

That’s the so-called gainful-employment rule that requires for-profit colleges to demonstrate a certain level of post-graduation student success to be eligible for student loans. This rule, which the Obama Administration pursued relentlessly despite legal setbacks, has forced even the best for-profit schools to shrink enrollments. Students who have suffered the most tend to be low-income and minorities who can’t afford to spend four years in college but can balance work and school at the likes of the University of Phoenix or DeVry University.

The rule has one giant loophole. It doesn’t apply to nonprofit or public universities, and it also largely exempts community colleges. Many of these have graduation rates or loan default rates that are as bad or worse than forprofits, but Mr. Obama’s regulators have a special animus toward for-profits. Which works out beautifully now for Mr. Shelton and 2U, which can work around the gainful-employment rule and still make a buck. 2U’s customers don’t have to meet the rule, so 2U doesn’t have to worry about it either. Never mind that 2U’s online services compete in many respects with those offered by for-profit schools that don’t have a nonprofit middle man.

Mr. Shelton tells us that in government he was focused on eliminating bad behavior, not punishing a whole industry. He also assures us that 2U is focused on high-quality outcomes for students, and this is “totally consistent” with his approach when he was in government. Mr. Shelton adds that the “policy and regulatory framework was not there” to aggressively regulate the nonprofits. That will be small consolation to his for-profit competition.

Mr. Shelton is the second former deputy education secretary who has been able to make good by exploiting government regulation of for-profit education. Recently we told you about Tony Miller, who is among those buying the parent company of the University of Phoenix after the Obama Administration took roughly 90% off its market capitalization. The bargain price should provide plenty of upside potential, especially if the next Administration doesn’t hate for-profit education as much as this one.

We’ll be watching Messrs. Shelton and Miller with great interest as they pursue their new careers as born-again capitalists.


Great Democrat Judicial Hits

Ah, how soon we forget.
WSJ 2/21/2015
Senate Democrats haven’t made much progress shaming Republicans into yielding on President Obama’s upcoming Supreme Court nominee, and no wonder. As much as they’re trying, they can’t erase their own abusive history of double and sometimes triple standards in confirmation politics.

Earlier this week we chronicled New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s faked alibi for his categorical 2007 demand that Democrats reject any George W. Bush nominee if a vacancy had emerged in his last 18 months in office. But there is so much more to recall:

• When Democrats ran the Senate from June 2001 to January 2003, they denied even a hearing before the Judiciary Committee to 32 of Mr. Bush’s nominees. When Republicans regained a 51-49 majority in the next Congress, Democrats broke the then-longstanding Senate norm of granting nominees an up-or-down vote. Before 2003, only one judicial nominee had been blocked with a filibuster, and that was the bipartisan 1968 rebellion against promoting the ethically challenged Justice Abe Fortas to Chief Justice.

Democrats applied the higher 60-vote standard to a rainbow coalition of Bush nominees, judging them not by traditional measures like experience or temperament or even “diversity.” They simply didn’t like their politics.

The targets included Priscilla Owen (a woman), Janice Rogers Brown (a black woman) and Miguel Estrada (a Hispanic). The 28-month Estrada filibuster was especially egregious because Democrats feared the smart young attorney’s ethnic background might make him formidable Supreme Court material if he served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

• When Mr. Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the High Court in 2005, Democrats attempted to give him the same treatment. Some 25 Senators voted to support a filibuster, including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, John Kerry, Pat Leahy and Mr. Schumer.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest this week described Mr. Obama’s filibuster as merely a “symbolic vote” to protest Mr. Bush. He added that Mr. Obama “regrets the vote” because Democrats “shouldn’t have looked for a way to just throw sand in the gears of the process. And, frankly, looking back on it, the President believes that he should have just followed his own advice and made a strong public case on the merits.” No doubt he does—now.

• After blockading Mr. Bush’s judicial slate, Mr. Reid as Senate Majority Leader changed the rules for Mr. Obama’s nominees on a partisan vote. Senate rules require a two-thirds vote to change its rules in mid-session, but in 2013 Mr. Reid forced through a change solely with a narrow Democratic majority.

This allowed him to trigger the “nuclear option” lowering the Senate threshold for appellate but not Supreme Court nominees to 51 from 60. The goal was to pack the D.C. Circuit with left-leaning judges who would bless Mr. Obama’s abuses of power, especially on health care and climate regulation. Mr. Obama was cheering him on all the way.

• Mr. Reid now argues that the Senate’s “constitutional duty” is to give nominees an up-ordown vote, but in a May 2005 speech on Mr. Bush’s judges, he offered a different interpretation: “The duties of the Senate are set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has a duty to give Presidential appointees a vote. It says appointments shall be made with the advice and consent of the Senate. That is very different than saying every nominee receives a vote.”

It’s impossible to know what Mr. Reid really believes, because whatever he claims to believe at any moment is whatever will maximize his own political power. Mr. Obama does have the power under the Constitution to nominate a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, but Senate Republicans also have the right to ignore it or vote to confirm or deny.

Republicans have no obligation to submit to Democratic judicial ultimatums, which change with the political seasons