Monthly Archives: May 2016

Hillary bashing

Okay, I’m joining the Hillary bashing brigade. I’ve watched in amazement the lack of outcry by members of the Democratic party (which is an enemy to democratic process) at the seriousness of the findings and conclusions of the State Department’s IG regarding  Hillary’s use of the private email server.

Hillary has said on myriad occasions over the last year that her use of the server was “permitted” or “allowed.” While those terms have every day meanings, they also imply the legal conclusion that she had approval. The IG’s report says not only did she not have this approval, she never requested approval. Surprise, surprise. The queen of autocratic secrecy did not use any of the formal processes of the department with regard to her email set-up. When during the time she used the server issues arose, the rules of the Department required that she report such issues to the Department. On two occasions such issues arose, once when her tech shut down the server because of a series of attacks against it, and once when she believed her email had been breached when she received mail with suspect links in it. She reported neither.

We know from the released emails that she once instructed an aide to remove the security header from a document in order to be able to send it over unsecured lines. What we don’t know is whether the document was sent in that condition. If it was. that is a violation of the Espionage Act where intention is irrelevant. The mere act of doing is a crime.

What can we make of Hillary’s response to the IG’s report? First a statement from her campaign: “While political opponents of Hillary Clinton are sure to misrepresent this report for their own partisan purposes, in reality, the Inspector General documents [show] just how consistent her email practices were with those of other Secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal email. The report shows that problems with the State Department’s electronic record keeping systems were longstanding and that there was no precedent of someone in her position having a State Department email account until after the arrival of her successor. Contrary to the false theories advanced for some time now, the report notes that her use of personal email was known to officials within the Department during her tenure, and that there is no evidence of any successful breach of the Secretary’s server. We agree that steps ought to be taken to ensure the government can better maintain official records, and if she were still at the State Department, Secretary Clinton would embrace and implement any recommendations, including those in this report, to help do that. But as this report makes clear, Hillary’s use of personal email was not unique, and she took steps that went much further than others to appropriately preserve and release her record.”

First she claims that her practices were consistent with prior secretaries’ practices. No, no prior secretary ever had a private server, according to the IG, and even Colin Powell tried to segregate his personal email from his official email. More than that, Powell was the first SoS to use email, and he was the one setting up the program in the State Department. As such, he was unlikely to be running afoul of any regulations and security procedures because there weren’t any. In early 2009, various changes were made in security procedures as a new, more tech savvy president made changes in the security systems government wide. But Hillary already had her server and ignored anything that came along.

Notice how her report says “there was no precedent of someone in her position having a State Department email account until after the arrival of her successor.” That’s certainly an odd way to say that she was the last person not to use a State Department account. I don’t know what this is meant to convey, but she is claiming that, even with advances in in technology and rules, she should be viewed the same as earlier secretaries who did not face the same rules and regulations.

The statement concludes with the disingenuous statement, “But as this report makes clear, Hillary’s use of personal email was not unique, and she took steps that went much further than others to appropriately preserve and release her record.” The first statement is irrelevant, but the second is laughable. The Federal Records Act requires that persons leaving the government must give the government all records created during the person’s work for the government. This law was in effect at the time that Hillary left her position. Two years later, after the email controversy was in full stride, she finally gave some of her emails to the State Department, and later begrudgingly handed over the server. Neither transfer was made to comply with the Federal Records Act, but rather in response to the FBI investigation and the IG’s plan to investigate. Her “steps to preserve” were the server, and her “release” was the handing over of the server to investigators. Real impressive.

Hillary has said from the beginning that this was a permitted way to handle her email. It was not. She lied, folks, and she continues to do it. Now she says that “her use of personal email was known to officials within the Department” but it was not known to either the security people in the Department or the techs, other than the one who set it up. The IG found that lower level workers were advised by higher ups to not discuss the Clinton email subject any more after one began to question whether it was safe. That sounds suspiciously like an effort to keep the whole set-up under wraps. And that’s the point.

At least one commentator has said that this would be blowing up the Democratic party if it weren’t for Trump. In fact, the existence of evidence that the presumptive nominee is currently lying about a matter under FBI investigation would be enough to derail any candidate in any year other than this. But not this year, and we should ask why.

Does the Democratic party care? If it does, why doesn’t it do something? And if it doesn’t, why should we vote for a nominee who lies about something currently under investigation?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have the mighty fallen? And if so, which ones?

 

The once great and currently sanctimonious Washington Post had to eat a little crow today. After cheerfully endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, not surprising at all given its performance until now, it today has produced an editorial castigating its chosen one for the wrongs found by the IG at the State Department in his report on security and the private email server. WaPo called its editorial “Clinton’s inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules.”

What can I say? Haven’t the Bernie supporters been saying something similar about Clinton and her shadow, DWS, for almost a year now? If she disregards rules in one setting, it’s plausible to assume that it is part of her regular functioning and not a strange aberration that occurred only when she became SoS.

Remember, Clinton was the one who continued to participate in the 2008 Florida and Michigan primaries, even after they’d been penalized by the then DNC chair, Howard Dean, for failing to set their primaries at a date and time consistent with the rules of the Democratic Party. Dean had announced that any delegates picked as a result of these untimely primaries would not be seated at the convention. Even now you will hear Hillary-bots claiming that Obama only won because two states were not allowed to participate fully in the convention (they were ultimately allowed to seat one half of their delegations).

That’s right. Hillary broke the rules in 2008, and now her supporters are saying that she was cheated because she wasn’t allowed the delegates she won in uncontested, illegal primaries. Wow. The funny thing is that the same folks are now arguing that “there’s no there there” with regard to the emails. When even WaPo is disappointed in the chosen one, what makes these Hillary-bots tick? Why is Hillary given such a clean pass by these fans?

They are clearly the heirs to the PUMAs of 2008, a group I didn’t understand then and understand less now. They have anointed her as the first woman president without doubt, but why? Are they holdovers from those who thought Bill Clinton was blameless in his affairs of the ’90s and earlier?

I was told by an acquaintance last week that Hillary was the “most impressive, educated and experienced person” to be running this or any recent year.He touted her excellence as a senator and a Secretary of State, obviously expecting me to agree. When I did not, he told me that I was going to be responsible for the election of Donald Trump. This is the way most online conversations go with Hillary-bots. There is an assertion that she is wonderfully qualified, and not to vote for her is as crazy and ill-informed as it can be. Not one of these supporters can reveal her great deeds as a senator or SoS.

Her years as a senator boil down to one major point. She voted for the Iraq war and continued to support the arguments about WMD after virtually every democrat had moved away from the war. Why is this significant?  As even the New York Times has reported, her hawkishness  is ” bred in the bone — grounded in cold realism about human nature and what one aide calls ‘a textbook view of American exceptionalism.'” The article from April of this year is entitled “How Hillary Became a Hawk.” She was already showing these chops while she was a senator.

Her term as SoS had some good moments and some very bad moments. She was responsible for all of them. She and Obama tag-teamed the climate meeting in Copenhagen. That’s the good. The bad was her continually taking the hardest hard-line on every military issue that came up, finding herself agreeing with Gates, the Secretary of Defense, and opposed generally by the president and the vice president. But really her “bad stuff” was more about the funny goings-on with the Clinton Foundation and the large donations given to it by gulf countries who received substantial arms shipments from US producers under the auspices of the State Department.

Or even more interesting, and more devastating in the long run, is her sale of fracking and its technology all over the world as the bridge to a cleaner environment as we switch to renewable resources. With the benefit of evidence gained over the years, we can now say that fracking is the source of the greatest release of greenhouse gases currently occurring throughout the world. Fracking produces methane, a clear, odorless gas, The seals on the fracking wells are designed for a liquid, rather than gaseous, production. They cannot be sealed against accidental release of methane. Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 because it is better at holding heat. Because of fracking, all the efforts of the last ten years to reduce CO2 emissions has been more than offset by the release of methane by this new industry. I’m not even talking about the earthquakes and the burning water from the tap. This is what Hillary sold to the rest of the world.

So now even WaPo and NYT are finding fault with the presumptive nominee. The IG’s report is the best we have until the FBI announces its results. All these massive holes are appearing in the shell of Hillary Clinton. How long with the superdelegates take to realize that a vote for Hillary is a vote for someone too flawed to win the presidency? Will even they balk at the thought that Chris Stevens’ itinerary and general movements were stored on that unsecured server?

 

UPDATE: The Oregon Primary Strikes Back!

I went to college in Portland a raccoon’s age ago and was surprised at the numbers. And then John did what I have been calling due diligence, and guess what? The MSM is once again not telling the truth. Oregon is indeed Vermont’s cousin in the West!

The Writing of John Laurits

OREGON PRIMARIES STRIKE BACKGreetings, my beloved friends! I have a special treat for you, today — and it has to do with the real numbers of the Oregon Primary that took place on Tuesday, the 17th.

First, a Bit About
How This Article Happened

I know that many of us (me included) felt somewhat disappointed by the Oregon results — we had hoped to win a bit bigger there. Indeed, I expected us to! Alas –! On the night of the 17th, around 60% of the vote was reported very quickly (those were the earlier mailed-in ballots) — then, we watched as the percent of the reported votes crawled slowly up to around 92%, at which point I collapsed from exhaustion around 4:30am. The next day, our numbers continued to rise (but at a snails pace!) until the Associated Press was reporting that we had won Oregon with about 56% of the…

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Lac-Megantic and “Bomb” Trains

Today, I was in Albany, NY, for the Break Free From Fossil Fuels action against the Port of Albany and Global Partners, LLC, among others for the routing of oil and gas trains through New York’s capitol. The action was also in memory of the 47 people who died in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when a train similar to those that come to the Port of Albany, exploded and destroyed the Quebecois city three years ago. The fossil fuels come to Albany in tanker cars from the Bakken oil reserves in North Dakota. These trains are “bomb” trains.

A study discussed by Bloomberg news revealed that “crude oil produced in North America’s booming Bakken region may be more flammable and therefore more dangerous to ship by rail than crude from other areas, a U.S. regulator said after studying the question for four months.” Why is this excessively flammable oil being shipped through a state’s capitol very close to a housing project and playground utilized by people of color?

We learned some of these answers the hard way today, hearing from local legislators and council members of the costs in asthma and related childhood illnesses in the neighborhood of the Port. We saw the effects of these “bomb trains” in cities like Lac-Megantic, and the dangers posed to similar cities throughout the world.

We spent most of the day hanging around the area where we intended to block the tracks. At some point during the afternoon, we learned that the primary action of the day was held at another spot where the train we were expecting had been diverted to avoid our action. Five intrepid members of Break Free Northeast had discovered the ploy and two of them had rappelled down to the track from a bridge and laid down on the tracks. They were successful in delaying the train in an inaccessible place until they were finally arrested. When their activity was reported to the larger group back in Albany, there were great supporting cheers from the remaining protesters.

A DJ arrived and set up shop, and the protest turned into a dance party. The Albany police and the railroad police looked on in some bemusement as the dancing continued for over an hour. I confess I watched with some glee and regret that I was no longer able to join the younger activists in their energetic work.

With the threatening rain coming in, an industrious group began to set up a tarp to cover the food area and give some protection from the rain. Several people had expressed the desire to set up an encampment on the tracks. As our bus arrived to return us to Burlington, the hardy group of about fifty were standing their ground against the police who were beginning to lose their patience. They were still standing strong after the police removed the tarps and we got our last report to that effect as we exited our bus hours later in Burlington.

Were we successful? In some sense we were. We slowed the train and occupied the tracks into the Port of Albany. We joined groups throughout the world on six continents who were protesting the continued use of fossil fuels in the face of incontrovertible evidence of climate change. We engaged the local community to get involved in the discussion, and we put the railroads, local officials and producers of these fuels on notice that the potential damage from this means of transportation far outweighed in human cost any profits they might make from their disregard of human safety. Will the world join us in saying “No?” We’ll see.

Do I Really Need to Worry About Hillary’s Emails? Yes. She Will Be Indicted. (Full Form)

This is a very long post, but it was created by a 22 year old student who has done his research. He comes from an interesting perspective, that of one who worked at Sandia Labs where he had to click an extra button for every email he sent, insuring that it did not contain classified information, which is what Hillary would have had to do if she had used the State Department email address she was supposed to use. This isn’t rocket science.

Informed Vote


A shorter version of this work has been published by the Georgia Political Review here. It directly responds to the arguments made by ABC legal analyst Dan Abrams, Emeritus Professor of Law Richard Lempert and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus.

Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is one of the most important, yet undiscussed issues of the 2016 election. Despite how long the media has been covering it, I don’t think most people really understand what’s going on. Almost everyone I know is genuinely unsure of what exactly she did wrong and as a result are more willing to accept the scandal as nothing more than a partisanor sexist, effort to bring her down (me 3 days ago). The disinterest in the scandal seems to be cemented on the left as a result of Bernie Sanders refusing to attack her on the issue thus far in the campaign; something the Republican nominee will certainly do. So why are so…

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Bill Clinton, criminal law, and political machinations

Although much is made of the 1994 crime bill, superpredators et al., in today’s election, a more damning demonstration of Slick Willy’s attempt to out-Republican the Republicans can be found in The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) passed in 1996 after the Oklahoma City bombing. The Republicans had won the 1994 midterm election with Newt Gingrich’s notorious “Contract with America” (known in liberal circles as the Contract on America) and the Oklahoma City bombing seemed tailor-made for the law-and-order Republicans to play havoc with justice issues, including the 1994 crime bill.

Hoping to head off any tampering with his crime bill, Clinton and his administration hoped to kill two birds with one stone with AEDPA. Not only did it target the sorts of terrorism involved in Oklahoma, but also the “endless” appeals in death penalty cases which meant that inmates could wait years for an execution that might never happen. The mechanism by which this delay occurred was the time-honored and constitutionally guaranteed Writ of Habeas Corpus.

Habeas corpus is one of those often misunderstood and frequently disregarded rights that our forefathers were rightfully strongly in favor of. The writ allows judicial review of incarcerations as a result of actions in state courts  that may have violated constitutional guarantees and national standards of due process. It was one of the areas where our noble revolutionaries of the 18th century saw the autocratic hand of the monarchy as a cudgel against fairness and constitutional guarantees. Habeas corpus was a cornerstone of our revolutionary past.

Clinton’s aim was to restrict habeas corpus to one attempt started within one year of the end of state appeals. On its face, there’s nothing wrong with such a limitation. In fact, however, the problems with a prosecution may not be found for many years, and such a limitation cuts off advances in science or forensics that may establish a defendant’s innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. A case in point is DNA evidence. While new cases have shown some of the problems with relying on DNA evidence to prove a case, its use in disproving a case has never been stronger. The Innocence Project has won the release of many prisoners when DNA evidence has excluded the defendant from the pool of possible committers of the crime. Because of AEDPA, habeas corpus can no longer be used in the case of evidence of the defendant’s innocence, and nothing more strongly shows how warped and unconstitutional AEDPA is than the fact that habeas corpus cannot be used for its original purpose so important to our legacy.

And what, you might ask, did this violation of such an important constitutional principle have to do with the Oklahoma City bombing, the trigger for this heinous act? The Clinton White House hosted a meeting with survivors and family members of the victims of the bombing. One of their alleged complaints was the incessant appeals that would allow the terrorists the ability to tie up the courts with appeals for years. Clinton, facing re-election and determined to beat the Republicans at their own game, created this draconian truncation of the habeas corpus writ to prove he was “tough on crime,” a racial dog whistle at the time as shown by the 1994 crime bill.

The AEDPA was passed, without the support of Bernie Sanders, and is in use today under the most bizarre and surreal circumstances. The conviction of two farmers in Oregon under a provision of the AEDPA led to the standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and to the horror that they were convicted under a terrorist statute.  How so? The AEDPA made it a 25 year felony with a mandatory 5 year sentence to those who willfully and maliciously burned federal property, including grazing land.

While we may laugh at the irony to which the statute was used in Oregon, we cannot laugh at the the number of prisoners who must stay in prison because the unfairness of their convictions was not raised within the new time limits enacted in the AEDPA, whether they could know of the unfairness then or not. We have an evolving law with regard to rights and due process, and a whole class of criminals are barred now from challenging their convictions because Bill Clinton wanted to out-Republican the Republicans to insure his re-election in 1996.