Monday, September 05, 2016

Cruising the Web

You know that the politics in this country have gotten bad when the FBI is resorting to a Friday afternoon bad-news document dump right before a three-day weekend. Sure, politicians do that sort of thing, but the FBI? Come on, they're supposed to be the good guys. Well not so much anymore. Comey chose to dump their information from their Hillary Clinton investigation on Friday afternoon. And there was a lot of really damaging information in that data dump that they must be hoping will seem like old news by the time people tune back into the news on Tuesday. Perhaps it will work and details about Hillary Clinton's lame defense and the nuggets of even more damaging facts will get lost in the general miasma of corruption and dishonest surrounding her. But it really shouldn't because there was some very dicey information released. It's hard to absorb all the awfulness that the FBI uncovered, but Sarah Westwood does a nice job listing "21 things we learned from the FBI notes on Clinton's emails." Here is a brief summary. No one knows how many emails that Clinton had destroyed. There was one laptop that supposedly had the archive of all of Clinton's emails. And it was a Clinton Foundation laptop because that is where the Secretary of States emails should be located, of course. An aide deleted the laptop, but didn't wipe it and then the laptop got lost. I guess, if Hillary is elected, it will mysteriously show up one day somewhere in the White House like the Rose Law Firm billing records. Remember that little "mystery"?

But that isn't all that this bunch of incompetents lost. Clinton and her aides had 13 different devices that logged into her private server. But her staff lost them. Dang! They must have been really upset about that. Maybe the devices are in the mystery location of that one laptop.

It's all so very convenient because now the FBI will not be able to determined in those 13 devices were hacked.

By the way, there were at least 17,448 work-related emails that Clinton didn't turn over to the Inspector General.
There goes her claim that she turned over all her work-related emails.

Hillary testified that she had never received classification training even though she had signed off on a form stating that she had received that training. She blamed that lack of training for why she didn't realize that a "C" that indicated that emails were "confidential" and thought it was a way to alphabetize paragraphs. Yes, because we always alphabetize paragraphs with just a "C" and no "A" or "B."

In fact, there were chains of emails that were classified when they were written.
Contrary to her claim that nothing on her server was classified at the time it was put there, Hillary Clinton transmitted 81 classified email chains on her network.

Her staff withheld 12 of those classified chains from the State Department and the FBI. The others were included in the original batch of 30,000 emails.

Eight of the email chains were classified at the "top secret" level when they were written.

In total, 2,093 emails from the "" network have been either retroactively classified or were considered classified from the start.

Her staff seemed to have been sending classified emails here, there, and everywhere. Huma forwarded emails to Bill Clinton's staff to print out. And they sent emails during foreign trips despite having been warned about the dangers of transmitting information while abroad. One aide even admitted knowing that classified information was being sent on an unsecured network, but did it anyway.
That witness admitted that information discussed over the email system "was technically probably classified" but told the FBI that "you can't do business that way," if they were to confine conversations to classified channels.

Aides cited the need to coordinate quickly on sensitive matters when stories were developing in the media, especially when senior-level officials like Hillary Clinton could not get to a SCIF — an area designed for the viewing of classified intelligence — in time to handle the issue.

A separate witness told the FBI he had read news articles suggesting the information in Clinton's emails had been over-classified but stated upon reading the emails during his interview that he "now understood why people were concerned about this matter."
Ya think?

And once the scandal broke in the New York Times in March 2015 about her private email, only then did they decide to use BleachBit to erase old emails. And this was done while those emails were under subpoena from the House Select Committee on Benghazi. The aide described his realization that he hadn't deleted as many emails as Cheryl Mills told him to delete as his "oh shit" moment.So it was absolutely no coincidence that, after that story appeared, that they went ahead to make sure that they used BleachBit. By the way, that product is the only thing that comes out looking good from this whole mess. I wonder if they've seen purchases go way up since her use of the product to wipe out her files.

During her interview with the FBI, she seemed eager to cast blame on others. There was the claim that Colin Powell had recommended that she use a private email account. And she also threw the career staff who worked for her under the bus.
Hillary Clinton spent most of her interview with the FBI blaming the presence of classified materials in her inbox on the foreign service officers and other government staffers who sent her the emails, claiming she simply relied on the judgement of other officials.

But the FBI discovered she had personally emailed top secret-level intelligence in four separate chains with other State Department officials.

In three additional chains, she discussed "secret"-level information, and emailed confidential information in four more chains.
And it was clear that her server was hacked.
An unknown individual using the encrypted privacy tool Tor to hide their tracks accessed an email account on a Clinton family server, the FBI revealed Friday.

The incident appears to be the first confirmed intrusion into a piece of hardware associated with Hillary Clinton’s private email system, which originated with a server established for her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
She discussed on her server an American undercover asset after his death thus putting his family "at grave risk."

One classified email that was sent should have been obvious to anyone that it was classified information.
Clinton said an email that was central to the investigation, one that involved conversations about a planned drone strike in Pakistan, didn't raise any red flags when she transmitted the highly classified information over her unsecured server.

"Clinton stated deliberation over a future drone strike did not give her cause for concern regarding classification," the notes said.
Come on! It seems that her excuses are always that it was someone else's fault or just plain incompetence. How could anyone in a position that is fourth in line to the presidency not know that discussion of future military attacks would not be classified?

There now is the very real question that Hillary illegally destroyed evidence under subpoena. Just imagine that all this had come out while she was still in office. Wouldn't all this together have been grounds for impeachment? And now she's on the verge of being elected president and the Democrats just don't seem to care. They figure that they dodged a bullet when Comey declined to recommend an indictment so they want to push all this under a rug and pretend it's all old and irrelevant news. No Democrats are willing to come out and condemn her behavior in strong terms. Even Bernie Sanders declined to do so. All they care about is getting her elected and just hoping the American people will forget about it.

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Well, this will be a comfort to anyone criticizing Hillary's refusal to hold press conferences.
It’s been 272 days since Hillary Clinton’s last press conference. But Clinton’s lead press secretary, Brian Fallon, vowed that if elected, “Hillary Clinton will hold press conferences.”

“But the frequency of them is something that would just play out as time went on,” he added.
It sounds like Wimpy promising "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today".

Nicholas Eberstadt writes
about the situation in America of young men who have left the workforce and how this contradicts the rosy picture of a country just about at full employment.
During the past half-century, work rates for U.S. males spiraled relentlessly downward. America is now home to a vast army of jobless men who are no longer even looking for work—roughly seven million of them age 25 to 54, the traditional prime of working life.

This is arguably a crisis, but it is hardly ever discussed in the public square. Received wisdom holds that the U.S. is at or near “full employment.”

....Near-full employment? In 2015 the work rate (the ratio of employment to population) for American males age 25 to 54 was 84.4%. That’s slightly lower than it had been in 1940, 86.4%, at the tail end of the Great Depression. Benchmarked against 1965, when American men were at genuine full employment, the “male jobs deficit” in 2015 would be nearly 10 million, even after taking into account an older population and more adults in college.

Or look at the fraction of American men age 20 and older without paid work. In the past 50 years it rose to 32% from 19%, and not mainly because of population aging. For prime working-age men, the jobless rate jumped to 15% from 6%. Most of the postwar surge involved voluntary departure from the labor force.
Read the rest. This is a serious problem with major sociological impact on many sectors of our country.
Regardless of its cause, this new normal is inimical to America’s national interests. Declining labor-force participation and falling work rates have contributed to slower economic growth and widening gaps in income and wealth. Slower growth in turn reduces tax revenue and increases budgetary pressures, producing higher deficits and national debt. Unworking men have increased poverty in the U.S., not least among the great many children whose fathers are without jobs.

There are the social effects, too. The male retreat from the labor force has exacerbated family breakdown, promoted welfare dependence and recast “disability” into a viable alternative lifestyle. Among these men the death of work seems to mean also the death of civic engagement, community participation and voluntary association.

In short, the American male’s postwar flight from work is a grave social ill. Strangely, nearly everyone—the news media, major political parties, intellectuals, business leaders, policy makers—has managed to overlook it. The urgency of the moment is to bring this invisible crisis out of the shadows.

Kimberley Strassel has some advice for Republicans running for Congress this year. Make them own Obamacare and all its disasters. Quite a few of the Democrats running for the Senate voted for the plan and, since it passed by exactly 60 votes, each one of them can be blamed for being the vote that passed the thing.
ObamaCare is roaring back as a political liability to Democrats in a way not seen since that 2010 wave election. Right in time for this fall’s presidential contest, insurers are bailing out of the government system, leaving millions of voters with dwindling options and skyrocketing premiums. ObamaCare was always destined to crack up, but there is something notable that it comes precisely as so much control of Washington is up for grabs.

Especially since the health law is playing an outsize role in the states that will matter most for which party controls the Senate. At least three crucial elections feature Democrats who provided the final Senate votes to make ObamaCare the law of the land. Several other high-profile races are playing out in states where the health law has wreaked particular damage.
It should be a key argument in the Wisconsin race where Russ Feingold is running against Ron JOhnson to regain his seat. The same thing should be true in Indiana where Evan Bayh is running to return to the Senate. Republicans can tailor the anti-Obamacare message to each state's situation as insurance companies offering Obamacare policies are getting out of the business with greater and greater rapidity.
The tricky part for many of these Republicans is tailoring their ObamaCare message. In any other election, with a more widely loved GOP presidential nominee, they would be openly tying themselves to the top of the ticket and promising ObamaCare repeal. But given the risks Donald Trump holds for Republicans in more moderate states, many candidates are instead having to adopt a check-and-balance argument, calling for Republican control of the Senate to stop Hillary Clinton from further harming the health-care system.

This argument is easier now that Mrs. Clinton and other Democrats are claiming that the fix to ObamaCare is a new, costly “public option” (government-run care). Florida’s Democratic Senate candidate, Rep. Patrick Murphy, embraced that position on the eve of this week’s primary (which he won), inspiring a pile-on from Sen. Marco Rubio and conservative grass-roots groups like Americans for Prosperity. Only Mr. Murphy “could read the latest devastating headlines about the failure of ObamaCare and declare it a success that should be expanded,” railed a Rubio spokesman.

In what is otherwise a confused election, the failure of ObamaCare is a clear story line for the GOP. The Russ Feingolds of the world own this mess. Republicans have a chance to remind the nation of the perils of putting them back in charge.
It should be a powerful message in some of these races where the Senate race seems close. Do voters really want to vote in a Democratic Senate to give Hillary a blank check to double down on everything that has gone wrong with Obamacare?

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Politico's profile of Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's newest campaign manager, is of an abrasive man whose employees fear and who has been behind the swing of Breitbart into a digital cheering section for Trump.
For months, pundits and political operatives have complained that Breitbart has become Trump’s homepage – Shapiro, who resigned earlier this year when, in his view, the site sided with Trump’s campaign over its own reporter, has called it Trump’s “Pravda.” Critics accused Breitbart of colluding with the Trump campaign, and Bannon made it clear, Bardella said, that he was in constant contact with the candidate himself. So when Trump hired Bannon amid his latest campaign shakeup this August, many Breitbart-watchers saw it as the natural progression of their relationship -- an effort by Trump to surround himself with like-minded operatives in sync with his populist-nationalist message.
He just sounds like a thoroughly unpleasant fellow.
“He is someone who is prone to a lot of tirades and acts as a bully. If anyone thought [former Trump campaign manager] Corey Lewandowski was challenging that way, wait ‘til someone gets a curse-laden phone call from Steve at any hour,” Bardella told POLITICO on the day Bannon was hired.

Former staffers also said they witnessed or were told by colleagues of slurs being flung at employees who angered the boss (Bannon’s alleged use of the word c--nt to describe former reporter Michelle Fields has already been reported). Two recounted Bannon’s use of nicknames for his staff -- cruel pejoratives that implied they were “expendable, low-life creatures,” as one former employee characterized it. “Grundoon," the gibberish-speaking diapered groundhog from the comic strip Pogo, was a favorite, one former staffer said: “It refers to a low-life, a low-intelligence worker.

"It would not pass for any normal work atmosphere -- the type of language they use, how they spoke to people or about people in the news or who we were fighting with,” the former employee said. “It was all very salty, to put it mildly.”
And then there is his personal life.
According to Bannon’s ex-wife, Mary Louise Piccard, similar tactics were used with his own family. She alleged in court documents related to their child-support arrangement and obtained by POLITICO that in 2000, Bannon vowed to threaten “every school” to which she wished to send their twin girls for their elementary education.

After she got the children accepted to one private elementary school in Malibu, Piccard said in the documents, Bannon told the head of the school that the “children would not be attending the school and if he tried to enroll them, he and the school would be sued and ultimately would be shut down.”

Then, Piccard said, after she got the girls into a public school in a neighboring district, Bannon told the public-school principal that “he should not let the girls get settled there since he would be coming to the school the next day with a Court order and would be taking them to their local public school.”

According to the documents, Bannon never followed through with the threat and the girls attended the school through the fifth grade.

Years later, Piccard alleged, Bannon complained that the Archer School for Girls, a private secondary school where the twins had been accepted in 2007, had too many Jewish students.
“He said that he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls to go to school with Jews,” the ex-wife wrote in court documents, as first reported by the New York Daily News and BuzzFeed.
Gee, he makes Corey Lewandowski seem like a real charmer, doesn't he?

But what does that matter? At least Trump is getting an experienced campaign operative with many successful election campaigns under his belt....Oh, wait.

Jay Cost examines
the possibility that the third-party candidates this year, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, might actually combine to gain a non-insignificant proportion of the vote. Traditionally, third-party candidates's support wanes the closer we get to the election as voters come to realize that they have no chance of winning. Right now, combined, they're polling in the 11 to 13% range, but that may well drop. On the other hand, Clinton and Trump are so very unpopular that people might go for a third-party candidate just to send a message of disgust. It just so happens that I'm going to be covering third parties in my AP Government and Politics class tomorrow and explaining why our system is geared to prevent the success of any such effort. But when we talk about the ways that third parties can benefit the political system despite losing, one item on the list is that they can act as a steam valve to let people vent their disgust and anger at the system. It's better than taking to the streets and probably better than not voting at all. So maybe Johnson and Stein can serve that purpose this year.

Oh, this is lovely. The Clintons used tax-payer money to pay for Hillary's private server and the salaries of employees at the Clinton Foundation.
Bill Clinton's staff used a decades-old federal government program, originally created to keep former presidents out of the poorhouse, to subsidize his family’s foundation and an associated business, and to support his wife’s private email server, a POLITICO investigation has found.

Taxpayer cash was used to buy IT equipment — including servers — housed at the Clinton Foundation, and also to supplement the pay and benefits of several aides now at the center of the email and cash-for-access scandals dogging Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

This investigation, which is based on records obtained from the General Services Administration through the Freedom of Information Act, does not reveal anything illegal. But it does offer fresh evidence of how the Clintons blurred the line between their non-profit foundation, Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the business dealings of Bill Clinton and the couple’s aides.
Isn't that just quintessential Clinton behavior. They preemptively decided to set up the private server to hide the connections between the Foundation and her position at State and then they get the taxpayers to pay for their corruption.

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