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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cruising the Web

This is going to make it even more difficult for Hillary Clinton to shrug and joke about her server. The State Department's inspector general has issued a report chastising Clinton for using her personal email server and not complying with the department's policies and security concerns.
The report detailed how some employees who questioned the wisdom of the homegrown setup were told to stop asking questions, and the audit confirmed apparent hacking attempts on the private server.

It's the latest turn in the headache-inducing saga that has dogged Clinton's campaign. While the report concludes that the agency suffers from "longstanding, systemic weaknesses" with records that "go well beyond the tenure of any one Secretary of State,” it specifically dings Clinton for her exclusive use of private email during her four years at the agency.

“Secretary Clinton should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary,” the report states. “At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act."

The report also notes that she had an "obligation to discuss using her personal email account" but did not get permission from the people who would have needed to approve the technology, who said they would not have done so, if they had been asked.
Don't they realize that she is a Clinton and so the rules don't apply to her?

Thus disappears her claim that she didn't have any classified info on her server or that it wasn't vulnerable to hacking. The report notes that other secretaries of state also used personal email but never to the extent that she did and they never had their own personal server.

And it is clear once again that Clinton and her aides feel that they are above the law. This wasn't a Republican investigation, but one ordered by the Obama administration with an Obama-appointed inspector general. But still they tried to squelch all criticisms of how she was evading the law.
Clinton and her top staff did not cooperate with the investigation, which was requested by current Secretary of State John Kerry. She, her former chief of staff Cheryl Mills and top deputies Jake Sullivan and Huma Abedin are among those who declined interviews. Kerry and his predecessors Powell, Madeleine Albright, and Condoleezza Rice, however, did answer questions.

According to the report, some State Department technology staff said they were instructed to not talk of Clinton’s email set-up after they raised concerns about the unusual arrangement. One employee told investigators that he or she "raised concerns that information sent and received on Secretary Clinton’s account could contain Federal records that needed to be preserved in order to satisfy Federal recordkeeping requirements,” the document states.

But they were told to drop it: "According to the staff member, the Director stated that the Secretary’s personal system had been reviewed and approved by Department legal staff and that the matter was not to be discussed any further. As previously noted, OIG found no evidence that staff in the Office of the Legal Adviser reviewed or approved Secretary Clinton’s personal system.”
And it is now clear that Clinton and her tech aides knew that there had been attempts to hack into her server.
The report also undercuts many of her campaign’s explanations for her use of the system, dismisses comparisons to her predecessors’ email use, and points to repeated hacking attempts that she failed to report.

After one of the 2011 hack attempts Mrs. Clinton’s tech staffer shut the server down for a few minutes, hoping that would solve the situation, but quickly warned top aides not to send Mrs. Clinton “anything sensitive” after the attempted breach, according to the report, which was obtained by The Washington Times.

After another suspicious attempt Mrs. Clinton said she was scared to open email — but failed to report the matter.

“Notification is required when a user suspects compromise of, among other things, a personally owned device containing personally identifiable information,” the investigators said. “However, OIG found no evidence that the Secretary or her staff reported these incidents to computer security personnel or anyone else within the Department.”

At one point in 2010, Mrs. Clinton’s emails were ending up in subordinates’ spam filters because they were coming from a account. One of her top aides urged her to sign up for an official account or letting everyone in the department know of her address so she could be added as a verified account, but she refused, saying she didn’t “want any risk of the personal being accessible.”
So she was more concerned about trying to prevent the media and Congress from getting access to her records as they should have had if laws were followed than from keeping her information private from international hackers.

As Andrew McCarthy reports in his analysis of the IG report, there is one main reason why Hillary and her aides would have refused to cooperate with the inspector general.
When a government official or former government official refuses to answer questions in a formal government investigation into potential wrongdoing, this in effect is the assertion of a legal privilege not to speak — otherwise, there is no valid reason not to cooperate.

So what conceivable legal privilege do Clinton, Mills, Sullivan, and Abedin have that would allow them to refuse to answer investigators’ questions? Only one: the Fifth Amendment privilege — i.e., the refusal to answer on the grounds that truthful responses might be incriminating.

Just imagine all the laws that she could break if she were sitting in the Oval Office.

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This is the sort of information that the public can find out through the legal application of the Freedom of Information Act:
Judicial Watch announced today released Justice Department documents showing that weapons sent from the U.S. into Mexico as part of the Obama administration’s Operation Fast and Furious gunrunning program have been widely used by major Mexican drug cartels. According to the new records, over the past three years, a total of 94 Fast and Furious firearms have been recovered in Mexico City and 12 Mexican states, with the majority being seized in Sonora, Chihuahua and Sinaloa. Of the weapons recovered, 82 were rifles and 12 were pistols identified as having been part of the Fast and Furious program. Reports suggest the Fast and Furious guns are tied to at least 69 killings.

Fast and Furious was a Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “gunrunning” operation in which the Obama administration allowed guns to be sold to Mexican drug cartels in the hope the weapons would be recovered at crime scenes. Fast and Furious weapons have been implicated in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of other innocents in Mexico. Prior reports tie Fast and Furious weapons to at least 200 deaths in Mexico alone.
Of course, Attorney General Eric Holder fought for years to let this information becoming public so that he could leave office and hope that the public would lose interest.

It makes one wonder if this is the sort of release of documents that Hillary was trying to prevent by using her own server.

The IG report on Clinton's server just starts what Politico calls Hillary's "Summer of Scandal."
And as many Americans prepare for the traditional Memorial Day kickoff to the summer season, longtime Clinton aide Cheryl Mills is scheduled to sit for a sworn deposition Friday in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the conservative group Judicial Watch.

Mills’ testimony would be the first known time a member of Clinton’s inner circle has been questioned under oath in the email controversy. Another top Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, is set to testify next month. And Clinton herself is awaiting a judge's ruling on whether she should be required to give a deposition.

No matter how that comes out, Clinton also faces an ongoing FBI investigation into the email set up. Some of her aides have already been questioned. She's expressed a willingness to sit down with investigators — something they're expected to take her up on in the next few weeks. Unless it takes place in complete secrecy, such a session would be the highest-profile legal spectacle the former first lady has faced since she testified 20 years ago before a federal grand jury investigating the disappearance and reappearance of Whitewater billing records.

"I think the [Office of Inspector General] report is going to be of interest and the testimony is going to be out there," said Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton. "I think the courts will take action this summer....I don't see any of this going away."

On top of all that, there's an expected House report on Benghazi. And a slew of planned document releases from the State Department that a conservative group is planning to make into a movie.
So we're facing the possibility of one candidate who will be under continual legal investigation based on her actions skirting the law and having another candidate who will be subject to constant lawsuits based on his business decisions. All these investigations and lawsuits may well continue and follow the candidate into the White House. Both Trump and Clinton will have cause to curse Bill Clinton's actions which led to the Supreme Court confirming that a president could be the subject of a lawsuit while in office in Clinton v. Jones. If a president can be sued based on his behavior previous to taking office, I would guess that she could be investigated and prosecuted for breaking the law with her private server even as she serves as president.

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As Daniel Henninger writes, the VA Secretary's comparison of lines waiting for the VA to lines at Disney World is really a metaphor for lots of government services.
Maybe this is just a liberal thing. In New York City, you can see people standing in Disney-size lines to buy a cupcake.

But there was no partisan slant recently to the Disney-like lines at the nation’s airports, as the Transportation Security Administration’s processing of passengers so bogged down that people missed flights and slept on airport floors.

Or how about that wonderful Internal Revenue Service. The IRS Taxpayer Advocate’s 2015 report says that of all calls routed to the tax agency’s customer-service representatives, the IRS “answered only about 38 percent of its calls—meaning about 62 percent of calls simply didn’t get through.”
At the foundation of all these delays are the endless regulations imposed on any government service and then imposed on the rest of us. Henninger recommends the Competitive Enterprise Institute's report of the federal regulatory state, Ten Thousand Commandments. And if we elect Hillary Clinton, expect thousands more.
Mrs. Clinton’s idea of Wall Street reform is to add more detail to a regulatory form that already can take up to 300 hours to complete.

More interesting, though, was the justification for the Clinton approach, expressed by Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: “There’s some inevitable trade-off here between cost and simplicity. Put me down for, ‘Let’s spend our scarce resources more carefully, even if it means more complexity.’ ”

That statement is a succinct summary of the case for the administrative state and grand-scale planning as designed by Rexford Tugwell for Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

What’s notable about liberalism as represented by Hillary Clinton, much less the socialist Bernie Sanders, is that across nearly 85 years, they never looked back.

They seem never to have revisited the possibility that an argument made for bureaucratic planning in the depths of an economic recession might not be appropriate for the American economy when normal growth resumed. Instead, they stuck unto eternity with the idea that “scarce resources” will necessarily require “complexity.”

But the argument that scarcity mandates complexity is what led to the fiasco called ObamaCare. Even the non-complex funding mechanisms for earlier entitlements, such as Social Security, are grinding toward collapse. The Social Security Trust Fund’s depletion date is 2035.

Unnoticed by them is that their creations have grown into public agencies that have become too big to perform by any politically acceptable measure. (Or more likely the rents earned from being attached to this game mean results don’t matter much.)

The real analogy that the VA’s Mr. McDonald was groping for is France. One hears all the time that the medical care in the welfare states of France or Scandinavia is terrific and worth the long wait, even if some people die waiting for it.

Why should we be France? The problem with the administrative state as endlessly reinvented by Hillary Clinton and the “smart” people she’d bring into government is that it is out of sync with American life.
If Hillary wins, we might find ourselves wishing that we could be France.

Sean Trende explains what liberals seem to constantly forget. The gender gap can can flow both ways. It might mean that women are more likely to vote for the Democrat, but it can also mean that men are more likely to vote for the Republican. Ever since they glommed onto the polls for Ronald Reagan, Democrats have been running to appeal to women and expand the gender gap. But it flows both ways.
In every one of these elections, there has been a gender gap of varying sizes, and Democrats won the female vote in almost every election (2010 is the sole exception, when Republican narrowly won among women). Yet, if anything, a larger gender gap correlates with a worse Democratic performance in House elections (p<.001). Two of the three largest gender gaps on record – 11 points in 1994 and 10 points in 2012 and 2014 – occurred in two of the worst years for Democrats nationally. This happened because Democrats performed horribly among men, winning just 42 percent each time. In fact, if we look at the entire time series, the men’s vote is far more variable (standard deviation = 4.2) than the women’s vote (standard deviation = 2.4).

The numbers on Clinton and Trump seem to be indicating the same sort of gender disparity.

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So why was Trump, while campaigning in New Mexico, attacking the state's governor Susana Martinez? She is not a Democrat and she is a rising star among Republicans as a successful governor of Hispanic descent popular in her state with a large Hispanic population. She's the chair of the Republican Governors Association and would have been on many short lists for vice president. Yet she hasn't endorsed Trump and didn't go to his rally in New Mexico. So Donald Trump started attacking her. Caitlyn Huey-Burns writes about why Trump's attack is a concern for Republicans who have been trying to convince themselves that Trump can be successfully domesticated.
But his decision to go after Martinez, a figure who could help expand his support in the general election, not only threatens party unity, but also signals consequences for Republicans reluctant to board his train--and for candidates hoping to distance themselves from him.

“Trump was sending a message to her and to other Republican elected officials around America that this is what you come in for if you part ways,” says Joe Monahan, who writes a popular political blog in Albuquerque. “There has been a bevy of economic problems in this state that have not received a lot of attention, and Trump put it on her lap, front and center.”

....The idea that Trump would condemn Martinez so forcefully and publicly is perplexing to Republicans who believe she could be a key resource for Trump in helping to expand his reach beyond his core base of support. While strategists acknowledge Trump plays by a different rulebook in politics, they still maintain that he will need to court and retain various constituencies.

“It impacts every Republican, especially incumbents, running for re-election this year,” former House GOP Leader Tom DeLay told MSNBC about Trump’s hit on Martinez. “I have no other word for it: it's just stupid politics ... and it just blows my mind. Where is he going to get his coalition to win?”
For Trump, party unity is secondary to punishing those who don't leap to support him. If Republicans think that, once he got into office, Trump would compromise to work with others to address problems, they might want to notice that he puts loyalty to The Donald above any other quality in those whose help he needs. Those leaders pondering whether they would want to serve in a Trump administration need to take note.

Conor Friedersdorf addresses all those who are worried that Donald Trump would lead to some new fascist era in the United States. If they're truly worried about how he might use the powers of the presidency, they should have also been worried about how their guy, Barack Obama, has expanded those powers. They were willing to criticize George W. Bush expanded those powers, but Bush had nothing on Obama.
Three years ago, in “All the Infrastructure a Tyrant Would Need, Courtesy of Bush and Obama,” I warned that “more and more, we're counting on having angels in office and making ourselves vulnerable to devils,” and that come January, 2017, an unknown person would enter the Oval Office and inherit all of these precedents:

The president can order American citizens killed, in secret, without any judicial or legislative review, by declaring them terrorists posing an imminent threat.

-The president can detain prisoners indefinitely without charges or trial.
-The president can order drone strikes at will in countries against which no war has been declared, and drone kill people whose identities are not even known.
-The president can start a torture program with impunity.
-The president can conduct warrantless surveillance on tens of millions of Americans and tap a database that allows metadata archived in 2007 to be accessed in 2017.
-The federal government can collect and store DNA swabs of people who have been arrested even if they are released and never convicted of any crime.

Now, Donald Trump is coming. And many establishment centrists are professing alarm.
Think of all the examples of how Obama has used the power of the presidency to issue his own orders, regardless of Congress, on policies implementing Obamacare or on immigration. He has a pen so he doesn't need the legislative branch. And Democrats have cheered him on. Now suddenly they're discovering how having an all-powerful president ignoring checks and balances might not be such a good thing.
While writing or sharing articles that compare Trump to Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco, few if any have called on Obama or Congress to act now “to tyrant-proof the White House.” However much they fear Trump, however rhetorically maximalist they are in warning against his elevation, even the prospect of him controlling the entire apparatus of the national security state is not enough to cause them to rethink their reckless embrace of what Gene Healy calls “The Cult of the Presidency,” a centrist religion that persisted across the Bush administration’s torture chambers and the Obama administration’s unlawful War in Libya.

With a reality-TV bully is on the doorstep of the White House, still they hesitate to urge reform to a branch of government they’ve long regarded as more than co-equal.

They needn’t wait for the Nixon-era abuses to replay themselves as farce or worse to change course. Their inaction is irresponsible. Just as the conservative movement is duty bound to grapple with its role in a populist demagogue seizing control of the Republican Party, establishment centrists ought to grapple with the implicit blessing they’ve given to the extraordinary powers Trump would inherit, and that even the less-risky choice, Hillary Clinton, would likely abuse.

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