The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Emailgate’ Category

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As I have written many times, often writing posts in the Trump-age feels like an exercise in futility because by the time they are posted they are already out of date. I fear this post will be the same… so we must stay on top of latest news via the comments!

What we know: FBI Director James Comey has been fired by Donald Trump, his Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, with Rosenstein writing the explanation. (Rosenstein had previously been viewed as an honest man. He was confirmed just a few weeks ago to the Justice Deparment with a 94-6 vote in the Senate. But as Philippe Reines pointed out, if Rosenstein was an honest man he would have answered Trump and Sessions’ demand that Comey be fired with: “No, I refuse.” Instead, he wrote his own epitaph as a coward.) The administrations explanation for firing Comey is: it’s Hillary’s fault. Also, her e-mails.

I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.

It is not the function of the director to make such an announcement. At most, the director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. The director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed Attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict. But the FBI director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department.

This is, of course, laughable on its face and no one can take this explanation seriously except maybe Fox News, which suddenly shows great concern for how Comey treated poor Hillary Clinton. Even Roger Stone (!) expressed regret: “What Comey did to Hillary was disgraceful. I’m glad Trump fired him over it,” he said to Alex Pfeiffer. We know, of course, the firing had nothing to do with Clinton. It is about the FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 Presidential election.

Comey

James Comey has been an enigma for a long time. His press conference announcing that his agency would not recommend charges against Clinton over use of a private e-mail server, while blasting her in such a public manner, seemed inexplicable. Some stories later suggested Comey wanted to reveal information about Russian interference in our election in the summer of 2016, but was stopped by Obama. Then Comey refused to sign on to other agencies’ announcement of this info in the Fall of 2016 because it was too close to the election and he didn’t wish to interfere. But his Letter just days before the election, announcing discovery of new e-mails on the computer of Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin’s husband, did precisely what he claimed earlier he didn’t wish to do: he changed the outcome of an election. What a bizarre story arc for a man who once rushed to the hospital bed of Attorney General John Ashcroft to stop the Bush/Cheney administration from spying on Americans. None of it made sense. Until last week when Comey testified before the Senate. Finally the fog lifted.

I could see two doors and they were both actions. One was labeled speak, the other was labeled conceal. Because here’s how I thought about it, I’m not trying to talk you into this, but I want you to know my thinking. Having repeatedly told this Congress, we are done and there’s nothing there, there’s no case there, there’s no case there, to restart in a hugely significant way, potentially finding the emails that would reflect on her intent from the beginning and not speak about it would require an active concealment, in my view.

And so I stared at speak and conceal. Speak would be really bad. There’s an election in 11 days, Lordy, that would be really bad. Concealing in my view would be catastrophic, not just to the FBI, but well beyond. And honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, I said to my team we got to walk into the world of really bad.

In the end, this long term public servant fell for the oldest tragic flaw, the one Greeks wrote plays about: Hubris. Comey just thinks of himself as the last honest man in America. Our own Prolix has written a few times that Comey isn’t corrupt, he is Righteous and his own belief in his Righteousness is where things can get murky. It’s true that his Righteousness is why I think ultimately he could have been trusted with the FBI investigation into Trump/Russia. But his zealotry came with unintended – even by him – consequences: the election of Donald Trump as President. In an honest desire to be seen as non-partisan Comey managed to ruin the reputation of his favorite agency. With his fear of being taken to task by Republicans, who would smear him and the FBI if he did not tell them about the Abedin e-mails, Comey compromised himself as an honest broker of truth. He misassigned the concepts of “bad” and “catastrophic.” He thought not telling Congress about the e-mails would be catastrophic. In fact, not telling Republicans and becoming the target of their wrath would have been bad. Affecting the outcome of a Presidential election was catastrophic.

-Joy Reid Sally Yates comment

(There were also the grave issues that in his testimony to the Senate Comey gave inaccurate information about Abedin’s e-mails, falsely claiming “tens and thousands” of messages had been sent by her to her husband’s computer. It took 6 days, and prodding from ProPublica and Washington Post, for the FBI to issue a correction. The same day Comey was fired. Trump had his bodyguard Keith Schiller deliver the firing letter to the FBI headquarters, but they didn’t realize Comey was not in the office. Comey was delivering a speech and learned he was fired when the news popped up on the screen behind him.)

-COmey fired Petri

This brings us to the present. What does Comey’s firing mean in the larger scheme of things? Many Clinton aides have expressed concern, not joy, at the developments. That Clinton aides, who dislike Comey as much as anyone, are concerned about the firing speaks volumes about the Clinton candidacy and the people who supported her. We are more concerned about the Republic than petty revenge. Because what does Comey’s firing mean for the Russia/Trump investigation and the future of the Republic? It is impossible to know just yet. Some high profile Republicans, like Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins, have lined up behind Trump. Collins told Judy Woodruff: “Well, the president didn’t fire the entire FBI.” Graham said: “I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well.” This is worrisome because it shows a continued support for the insupportable Trump, his administration and his policies. The good news is that some others Republicans have expressed concerns. (And not just the Nixon Library tweeting an objection to people calling Trump’s behavior “Nixonian.”)

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John McCain tweeted that “Removal of Director Comey only confirms need for select cmte to investigate #Russia’s interference in 2016 election.” Tea Partier Justin Amash tweeted: “My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre.” Republican Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, who heads the Senate investigation into Trump/Russia, wrote:

I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination. I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee. In my interactions with the Director and with the Bureau under his leadership, he and the FBI have always been straightforward with our Committee.  Director Comey has been more forthcoming with information than any FBI Director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intelligence committees. His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation.

Other notable Republicans who have expressed concern about Comey’s firing are James Lankford of Oklahoma, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, and Senate Judiciary Committee member Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

I think we are at a cross-roads. What happens next is what history books will say about all of us. Will the firing of Comey bring about Trump’s downfall? Or will Republicans close ranks and save him, kill the investigation… and damn us all to a banana republic?

-History joke

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Complicit

Posted on: April 12, 2017

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“The lowest form of popular culture – lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives – has overrun real journalism. Today, ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage.” – Carl Bernstein

“When I entered politics, I took the only downward turn you could take from journalism.” – Jim Hightower

When the Pulitzers announced that David Fahrenthold of Washington Post was receiving an award for National Reporting “For persistent reporting that created a model for transparent journalism in political campaign coverage while casting doubt on Donald Trump’s assertions of generosity toward charities,” no one was surprised. He was the highly favored candidate. Fahrenthold was one of the very few mainstream reporters who did not spend the 2016 election cycle sifting through Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. One of the very few. (Because of his reporting on Trump’s charity donations, Fahrenthold was also the one to receive the Access Hollywood tape when NBC spent days trying to decide how and when to release it.) Fahrenthold began his investigation into Trump’s supposed (and non-existent) charitable donations on something of a hunch. He remembered Trump once saying on TV that he would donate $6 million to veterans groups and Fahrenthold wondered if Trump followed through on the promise. So he started researching and found a Pulitzer.

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Do you know who didn’t find a Pulitzer? Anybody who was sifting through Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. The vast majority of the news media spent 18 months questioning Clinton on her use of a private e-mail server and then combing through tens Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 8.09.37 PMof thousands of stolen e-mails from the DNC and Clinton’s campaign. All they found was a risotto recipe and that one time Clinton and Huma Abedin split a crème brûlée. There
was also gossip. But nothing that a sane person could interpret as in any way significant to a Presidential campaign. And yet, according to statistics, E-MAILS was the topic of more conversation on the news than anything else. Though we might think the NY Times was the most egregious in their anti-Hillary coverage, it was – in fact, the Washington Post that by far led Hillary-hate; second only to Fox News.

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When CNN’s Jake Tapper was told by Robby Mook that there are allegations about stolen DNC e-mails and Russian interference via WikiLeaks, Tapper’s incredulous eye-rolling response should shame him for the rest of his life. (It won’t.) Not because he didn’t just take Mook’s word for it in the moment. But because Tapper never called any of his sources, whether in Congress or in the Intelligence Community, and ask: “Hey, what is he talking about? Anything to this?” Because he might have gotten an affirmative response and landed the biggest story of his life. By that time the FBI was alredy investigating Trump’s possible collusion with Russia. And the Gang of 8 in Congress was about to be briefed. Harry Reid would fire off multiple public letters to FBI Director James Comey, imploring additional information to be disclosed on Trump and Russia. To no avail. Comey was silent and the media treated Reid like a deranged lunatic. Very few reporters looked into these stories. Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek was one, and was widely derided by the Left and the Right. When David Corn of Mother Jones published an article about the Steele dossier in October, he was laughed at too. When Franklin Foer of Slate published an article claiming that a Trump server was communicating with a Russian Alfa Bank he was laughed at as well. His allegations were infamously dismissed by the NY Times as “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. sees no clear link to Russia” in an article by Eric Lichtblau. It is a headline that should be tattooed on Lichtblau’s forehead. (Lichtblau recently left the Times to be CNN’s lead investigative reporter…) The NY Times was flat out wrong. And they conducted an interview with Harry Reid for the story, and then threw it out unused. The story remains up, un-retracted. We, of course, now know for a fact that the Times was wrong. The F.B.I. was investigating Trump and they saw links to Russia. And Alfa Bank’s communications with Trump servers is one of the lynchpins of the investigation.

So what happens when journalism is wrong? Journalists love themselves because they say their job is to hold the powerful accountable for wrong-doing. But what happens when journalists are wrong? What happens when entire media empires fail to see the biggest story of their lifetimes and chase a red herring, plunging a nation into a crises? Where, to paraphrase, does a person the media ruined go to get their good name back? How do we collectively crawl our way out of the hole the media threw us all in?

The answer, I fear is…nothing happens. They pay no price. When the NY Times and Judith Miller published Dick Cheney’s fake stories about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs, then watched Cheney go on television and cite the Times as proof that Hussein had WMDs, and the country went to a catastrophic war in Iraq…nothing happened to the NY Times. They threw Miller out, as if her reports were not approved by editors above her and as if lawyers and standards/practices didn’t sign off on her reports. The Times paid no price. And they will pay no price for Clinton’s e-mails either.

Society of Professional Journalists writes: “Report the story, don’t become part of it.”  I wonder how they feel about NY Times’ Maggie Haberman receiveing an adoring write-up from CNN, as the reporter Trump hates the mostest. NBC/MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell sees Maggie and raises her by being the most hated reporter of all the Presidents in Politico. And CNN’s Brian Stelter is the Young Messiah of Washington Post’s ode. Each of these articles was reposted on social media by the author, the subject, every other reporters both sides work with. It’s a veritable journalistic circle jerk of love and adoration. There are no consequences for their failures – to them. The only consequences belong to us. The only ones to pay will be the public, which now clings to the same reporters who brought us to hell to help dig us out. “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” Washington Post says. Except they broke all of the lights.

 

Comey

James Comey is the strangest, most mysterious man in the known universe. And boy, does he have a poker face. What is his deal? What is his game? Officially people in the world of politics still vouch for his integrity. But the rest of us mortals can probably say: “Comey, I hate you. I love you. I hate you. I love you. I hate you. I like you. I’m not sure. I hate you. Huh?”

Most citizens probably never gave Comey much thought until his press conference announcing FBI would not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for using a private e-mail server, although Clinton was very very naughty. The bizarre “She broke rules but we won’t prosecute” announcement brought out angry responses from Republicans and grudging gratitude from Democrats. When Comey was called to explain his actions before Congress, Democrats shielded him. Then the tables flipped when 12 days before the election Comey sent The Letter, making Republicans dance with joyful glee and sending Democrats into apoplectic fits of rage. There is no doubt that The Letter swung the election to Trump. Through all this Comey was investigating Trump’s connections to Russia. FBI started their investigation at the end of July. (July 27th is when Trump called on Russia to hack Clinton’s e-mails, but rumors of Trump’s relationship to Putin were already swirling. See Robby Mook/Jake Tapper clip below.) How in the world does the head of the FBI throw one candidate’s candidacy into chaos while knowing that the other candidate may be colluding with a foreign power to manipulate the election? These actions are inexplicable. And through it all Comey’s Mona Lisa smile is infuriating.

Now again Comey, with Trump installed in the White House, has unleashed the wrath of the Republicans and weary excitement from Democrats in Congress. Democrats need him. Republicans and Trump need him to shut up. If you’re keeping score, Comey has pissed off Republicans more often than Democrats. But he also handed Republicans the ultimate gift: The Presidency of the United States. What is his deal? What is his game? Will we ever actually know? Or will his motives and actions forever be the source of speculation? What will history books say about James Comey?

Of the people within Trump’s administration who seem likely to go down hard are Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone. (Davis Nunes says he’s never heard of Page and Stone… make of that what you will… )  CNN put together a handy guide to Stone’s public comments regarding his connections to Assange, WikiHacks and Guccifer 2.0. These are great for when Stone says he didn’t know anything about anything. The timeline spans from August 10, 2016 (“Stone tells a local Republican Party group in Florida “I’ve actually communicated with Julian Assange”) to March 20, 2017 (“It’s only fair that I have a chance to respond 2 any smears or half truths about alleged “Collusion with Russians” from 2day’s Intel Hearing.”) I hope Stone starts prepping himself for a stone cold cot.

Alfa Bank

One of the sources of concern to Trump and Co. is Alfa Bank. The second largest private bank in Russia it came to some people’s attention when it was caught trying to communicate with a Trump server. The original story on the bank’s strange behavior came to light before the election, but the story was dismissed by almost the entire media. NY Times infamously dismissed it on October 31, 2016 with the following headline: “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia.” And with that, the media’s interest in the Trump/Putin connection died. The only person who followed up on it was a Republican writer Louise Mensch. She reported days later (late evening of November 7, to be exact) that the FBI had a FISA warrant to examine communications between Trump’s campaign and a Russian bank. Mensch claims the NY Times (Erich Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers wrote the article) knew about the FISA warrant. And that they even interviewed then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid about it. But threw out the entire Reid interview and buried the FBI/FISA detail. She continues to question Lichtblau on twitter about why he did these things and he largely ignores her. Meanwhile Alfa Bank is now claiming they have been hacked and are suing one of the analysts who examined their suspicious communications with Trump organization.

The information on Trump’s connections to Russia were discussed in public as early as July 24, 2016 by Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager. On CNN’s State of the Union, on the first day of Democratic convention, Mook told Jake Tapper there were great concerns regarding potential Trump campaign collusion with Russia, stolen DNC e-mails published via WikiLeaks, and RNC’s watering down of Republican platform on Russia/Ukraine. These are now all vital parts of FBI’s investigation that could sink Trump and will most certainly sink many of the key players of his campaign. The media did not investigate this story until it was too late. (Notice also the chyrons on the Mook/Tapper video. An intellectually dishonest representation of the e-mails being published by WikiLeaks.) The media dedicated all of their resources to the Clinton e-mails. They dedicated no resources to potential collusion between Trump and Russia. This will always be one of the great journalistic disasters of all time. Perhaps greater than their failure to vet the Iraq War (NY Times again.)

Trump

Which brings me to Donald Trump himself. I won’t use any of the big words like sociopathic or narcissistic. I think he’s just a man who has never in his entire life had to deal with consequences for any bad behavior. Rich white man. If he did anything wrong, he got a gold star from daddy and lawyers took care of the fallout. He said and did as he pleased. No blowback on anything his entire life. 70 years of this. Imagine what this complete lack of accountability and self-awareness can do to a human brain. He goes bankrupt 7 times? Meh, someone will take care of the fallout and get him more loans. Wife isn’t pleasing anymore? Meh, someone will take care of the divorce and settlement. Being sued for racial discrimination? Meh, someone will take care of the settlement. This is a man who has thrown money at his problems and the problems went away for 70 years. He behaved during his campaign the way he has behaved his entire 70 years on Earth. Badly. Rude, arrogant, mean, vicious, malicious. Said everything that came into his head. And the crowds adored him. Think about what a crowd of 10,000 people chanting “Lock her up!” can do to your brain. Adoration. Say and do anything you like – and TV gives you hours of non-critical coverage. The crowds go crazy. Your approval ratings go through the roof. Your opponents, seasoned politicians all, go down in flames. And you don’t even have to do anything different! It just happens. For a man who has spent his entire life with zero accountability runs his campaign the same way – and he is rewarded with the Presidency of the USA. Think what that does to your brain. Everything he has ever done and said has been vindicated. He does not recognize that things are different now. His brain can’t process this information. Incapable of self-awareness or awareness of others. For 70 years he has done as he pleased, said as he pleased. And an army of Yes-Men have enabled and encouraged his delusions for 70 years. But it is different now. He is stunned that his inauguration crowd isn’t as big as his predecessor’s! (A Black Man!)

“No, it’s just not possible. Fake news! The Black Man wire-tapped me! Obviously. Why do I have to retract this? I don’t have to do anything I don’t want. I want to golf. Why can’t I golf? I said I want to golf! This is my resort! This is my home away from gilded home in NYC! I’ll do what I want! I’m President! I won! I did everything the way I always do! And I won! People love me! They all voted for me! All voted for me! Because I’m President! Those who didn’t vote for me have no right to exist! Deep state is out to get me! How else to explain that these things I said are being held against me? I always say what I want! Why are you ganging up on me?! I’m not a puppet! Tillerson will go to Russia! Because I said so! Because I won! This is a conspiracy to destroy me! You can’t tell me what I can and can’t say about Putin! You don’t like Putin? Too bad! I love Putin! I’ll say what I want! I won! I’m President! And you are nothing.”

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I will finish on a completely different note. It is a story of love, regret and perseverance.

Through all the madness music has been a great source of solace to me. (Classical music and opera generally, but then…) Here is my favorite performer Madonna, in a “pirate” recording of her classic song “True Blue” at Barclay Center in Brooklyn on September 19, 2015, as part of her “Rebel Heart Tour.” Two nights earlier Madonna celebrated 30 years since her Madison Square Garden debut with a concert at MSG. (Amy Schumer was Madonna’s opening act at the NY shows in 2015, that’s why Madonna gives Schumer a shout-out in the clip below. At that tour way back in 1985, “The Like A Virgin Tour,” her opening act were the Beastie Boys.)

“True Blue” was written in thL. Cohene mid 1980’s by Madonna as a declaration of love for her then-husband Sean Penn. He was in the audience at MSG two nights earlier and there is private video of him watching Madonna singing the song. At Barclay’s (one of the two times I watched this show), Madonna told the story that after the MSG anniversary concert she received a letter from Penn. In it he wrote that watching her perform that night, after so many years and everything they’d each been through, he really appreciated everything she had accomplished and he acknowledged he was a fool to not have recognized her talents when they were married. “Thirty years!” Madonna screamed to the audience. “Thirty years I’ve been waiting for those words! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is marriage and why I will never get married again.”

Last time she sang “True Blue” live was in 1987, just as her marriage to Penn was falling apart.

Good Monday, all! If you read the headlines these days, the press seems to be behaving much better when it comes to Der Trumperer, actually finding, somewhere deep within their ADD-impaired noggins, the capability to focus on his overall awfulness instead of pounding on Hillary incessantly for not paying enough attention to them while dizzy and passing out from pneumonia. (Mommy issues, anyone?) See this “Many Scandals of Donald Trump” article in The Atlantic as an example. Well, see it if you want to experience a degree of boiling rage and nausea you haven’t experienced since you realized that yes, the Republicans were really, truly, f*cking srlsly going to let that mango-colored monkey run against Hillary Clinton. It turns out that Drumpf’s scandals are so numerous, The Atlantic complains it doesn’t have enough space on its pages to write all of them down. Poor babies! If I were a journalist and not a blogger, I might suggest that The Atlantic report on one scandal a day until November 7th. I guess that is just too much Hard Work(TM) for those with journamalism degrees!

In any case, the press is starting to focus its relentlessly negative eye where it belongs, on Dangerous, Despotic, Deplorable Donald. Does this mean they finally get the seriousness of this race? That they have understood the perils of their stunning lack of objectivity and “grading on a curve” when it comes to the pseudo-billionaire who has the overwhelming hubris to think he’s got what it takes to run for President?

Um, no.

If the press “corpse” is to revive itself, it needs to do something it hasn’t yet done, and hasn’t been able to do for the past 40 years: Report objectively on Hillary Clinton. Report on her qualifications, her policies and whether or not they would be good for America; report on what she would do if/when in office. Maybe even cover one of her speeches every once in a while. You know – exactly what they do with Drumpf.

They are showing a few signs of being able to do this. From the article linked above:

The investigation [into his charitable giving] is a new political headache for Trump. The Republican has sought to make hay out of accusations against the Clinton Foundation, but so far that group has no legal troubles. Trump’s charity, however, now finds itself in legal jeopardy.

A truthful and factual comparison! The Clinton Foundation hasn’t done anything illegal, whereas Trump’s Foundation is now under investigation. Could it be The Atlantic has re-discovered what the word “objective” actually means? Not so fast:

The 2016 presidential election could be the most scandal-plagued match-up since James Blaine’s allegedly corrupt business deals squared off against Grover Cleveland’s alleged illegitimate child in 1884. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is the nominee, bringing with her a train-car’s worth of baggage. But the Republican candidate is at least as saddled with controversy as Clinton is—and while many of the Clinton cases involve suspicion and shadowy links, many of Trump’s are fully documented in court cases and legal proceedings.

[facepalm]

No, no, NO. Here’s what’s wrong with this allegedly “fair and balanced” paragraph:

  1. Hillary is not bringing baggage with her. Here’s how I’d write this sentence: “The media is dumping sh*t on her daily, and Hillary has been forced to carry it for the past 40 years.” That is not remotely the same thing. Her worst sin is that she hasn’t found a way to get the media to stop lying about her, for which they, of course, blame her as well. (More on that a bit later.)
  2. Saying “many of the Clinton cases involve suspicion and shadowy links” does not pass the smell test. In fact, ALL of the Clinton cases are nothing but innuendo. I’m going to say that again. ALL OF THE CLINTON CASES ARE NOTHING BUT INNUENDO. There is no evidence that Hillary Clinton has ever done anything wrong or illegal. Ever. So despite the media’s gleeful daily exercise of picking apart every single participle she’s ever dangled, searching for evil conspiracies, corruption, and most likely a vagina dentata, there’s “no there there.” And I don’t think there ever will be, frankly. Hillary’s just not that kind of girl.

To follow up on #1, here is my favorite thing the media does when it comes to HRC: continue to talk about a non-story that originated out of some malarial Republican’s nightmare every day, no matter whether there are “new developments” or not, and then say something like this: “Why is it that she can’t stop us from talking about this?” For example: the “d*mned emails” Bernie Sanders complained about. She has been tried and convicted in the press for being reckless and careless and not trustworthy with national security because…she had a private email server from which she sent a grand total of zero emails which were correctly marked as classified. How utterly absurd. Yet because she hasn’t said some kind of magic word, given enough press conferences, and/or apologized on bended knee to the press while self-flagellating for being an uppity wimminz, the press feels justified in yammering about this bullsh*t as if it’s real, and comparing it to actual Dangerous, Despotic and Deplorable things The Donald has said and done.

So until the media purges itself of its toxic, misogynistic hatred of Hillary Clinton, they’re still never going to get it. And this pathetic farce of an election will continue to be reported as though two equally despicable candidates are running, with equal negatives, instead of one amazing, inspiring public servant versus a putrid pustule of a human being.

This is an open thread.

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Good Saturday afternoon Widdershins!

I just wanted to put up a quick post with some updates and some links to a couple of good articles.  I hope you are having great weather wherever you are today.  It is 96 °  here so I am sitting in my air-conditioned comfort.

Thank goodness this one is over.

Hillary Clinton was interviewed by the FBI about her use of a private email server as secretary of state, her campaign said Saturday, as federal investigators neared the end of the probe that has hung over her White House bid.

Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, gave a voluntary interview for 3 1/2 hours on Saturday morning at FBI Headquarters in Washington, her campaign said.

“She is pleased to have had the opportunity to assist the Department of Justice in bringing this review to a conclusion,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said. “Out of respect for the investigative process, she will not comment further on her interview.”

Spokespeople for the FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment Saturday.

Here’s another excellent piece  on how Bernie lost another competition:  that would be the competition to capture the Democrats on the left side of the party.Summer in an Irish Garden - Trudy Doyle

Elizabeth Warren is the surrogate he was supposed to be. His supporters have become Clinton’s.

Warren certainly did energize that crowd when she and Hillary appeared together in Cincinnati.

Warren was a compelling surrogate, giving Clinton the kind of strong and affirmative endorsement she needs to win over skeptical voters. And Clinton, in turn, was energized, touting her policies and platform—and indicting Trump for his attitudes and behavior. It was a grand display of party unity: Warren and Clinton, the left and the center-left, united against a common foe and cheered on by thousands of excited Democrats, all ready for the general election.

It’s definitely a good read and shows how Sanders screwed up yet again.

Okay this was just a quick little post to steer y’all towards a couple of good reads.  Feel free to add any comments you want to below…or continue enjoying your Independence weekend.

Happy Monday, all. What with all the triumphalist rhetoric Fox News is spewing about how the Democrats are panicking and tanking, it can be very difficult to keep our heads on straight with regard to Hillary’s chances in 2016. OMG her poll numbers are slipping! OMG what if Biden runs?! OMG Jeb Bush is beating her!!! OMG Bernie’s going to win Iowa! These are all the memes I’m hearing.

I’d like us all to take a pause, though, and consider when the first primary vote will be cast.

Feb 1, 2016.

That’s right, folks – people are hyperventilating and freaking out over a contest that is still 6 months away from starting. I submit that there’s absolutely no reason to worry. Why? Because the Democratic Party is backing Hillary.

Hillary Clinton delivered a show of force on Friday meant to make one thing abundantly clear to Democratic leaders, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden: She is the boss.

Coming off two weeks of breathless speculation about the vice president’s ambitions, Clinton now looks like she’s nearly locked up the support of party elites, something she critically failed to accomplish in 2008.

(snip)

In a leak coinciding neatly with Clinton’s appearance in Minneapolis, Brooklyn told Bloomberg it has already secured commitments from more than 60 percent of the party’s superdelegates — those officials and leaders whose support is not tied to primary or caucus tallies. The campaign also says it is briefing the unpledged delegates to firm up support.

It’s not a field-clearing advantage; superdelegates can change allegiances and Clinton was ahead in the delegate count early in the 2008 race too. But it’s significant if it holds.

I know we’re all shocked, shocked that the Democratic Party still works like this. (insert eyeroll) Didn’t we think Barack Obama was going to Change(TM) all that? Wait, that’s right…he was the one who benefited from it in 2008. Without the superdelegates, rigging the vote count and overweighting caucuses, he would never have been the candidate in the first place. Cheating was his MO. It’s the Chicago Way, after all.

As much as I would have loved the DNC to somehow automagically become more fair and less elitist, I didn’t expect it to do so. The Party bigwigs were rewarded for their skulduggery in 2008 with 8 years of a President who raised hundreds of millions of dollars to fill their coffers.  They’re going to want to keep the flow going, and if they look at the field of potential non-Clinton candidates, it’s not exactly impressive. For example, Biden. Here’s my take on ol’ Joe: He won’t run, because to the DNC, what is his advantage over Hillary? The Democratic Party already has an experienced white candidate who is seen as centrist enough to win the general election. Biden would be as superfluous as a hairpiece on Trump’s empty noggin.

There are some choice quotes from DNC delegates about Biden in the article, too:

And it’s not just a question of electoral math for some Democrats, who bristle at the idea that the vice president could reshape the race the second he chose to get in.

“[Biden] doesn’t reach out to me for seven f—ing years and then he wants me to help him out? I don’t think so,” said Florida committeeman and Clinton backer Jon M. Ausman, lamenting the vice president’s lack of party activity compared to Bill Clinton, who invited him to the Lincoln Bedroom as president. “I don’t really give a shit. I don’t care if he gets into the race or not.”

That’s not to mention that the second Joe started campaigning, his numbers would tank due to his chronic foot-in-mouth disease.

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Outlook Message

Good Monday Widdershins!

Have you checked your email recently?  Do you know if it has a security rating assigned to it?  And if you do know how your email might be categorized, could you do anything about it if you believed it was unclassified and then subsequently Inspectors General decided that nooooo, you had classified emails on your email server? Of course not since this would be after the fact.  Yet, this is very similar to what Hillary Clinton is going through after the release of the emails that were on her private email server.

Several things are happening here.  One is the action by former Secretary Clinton to turn over 55,000 pages of emails that resided on the private mail server.  The other issue is requests for documents by reporters and others under the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA.

In this article going back to March of this year, Kurt Eichenwald deconstructs the entire New York Times story concerning “emailgate” and refutes the piece item by item.  As he points out, the first screamer from the Times piece was that Hillary Clinton used a private email system!  Gasp!  Shock!  Surely that wasn’t allowed.  Or was it?  Margaret Sullivan, Times Public Editor tried to deflect criticism of the Times article by doing a “look here at the Federal Regulations!!!” thing.  The only problem with that is that the current regulations at the time Clinton was Secretary of State stated this:

“Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.”

As Eichenwald writes, Sullivan was hoisted on her own petard because she was the one that threw the regulation out there.

Catch the problem? The regulation itself, through its opening words, “specifically designates that employees of certain agencies are allowed to use non-federal email systems.” And one of those agencies just happened to be…drumroll please.… The State Department. In other words, not only was the use of a personal email account not a violation of the rules, it was specifically allowed by the rules.

Now, did you also catch the other issue with trying to blame Hillary over this?  It’s this:

the agency must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.” (Bolding/underlining are mine)

So as far as any “recordkeeping”, that was the duty of the technonerds who worked at State.  The Times article stated “’Regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration at the time required that any emails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records. But Mrs. Clinton and her aides failed to do so.’ “.  But, in no way was Hillary the emailer responsible for such preservation.  I suppose you could argue that yes, as Secretary of State she was the head of the agency, but in reality that responsibility probably fell to someone like the Chief Information Officer for State or someone with a similar title.

Sullivan (the Times Public Editor) then tried the idea of throwing out a bunch of links to other stories on emailgate, such as one from the Washington Post.  Again, from Eichenwald’s article:

A Washington Post story: “A State Department review of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails from her time leading the agency could reveal whether she violated security policies with her use of a private email server, a senior department official said Thursday night.”

Seriously? A review could determine if she violated the rules? That is what is known as a truism. A federal audit of your taxes could determine whether you violated the tax laws. A medical exam performed today on you could determine whether you have cancer. An inspection of your car tires could determine whether they are not inflated enough. All of those statements are true. And all of them mean…absolutely nothing.

Now let’s take a look at other things tied to “emailgate”, that is FOIA requests.

Eichenwald wrote a second article on the brouhaha and this one dealt with the FOIA requests, the reviews of documents by other people for any security issues before those documents are released to the public.  Once again the Times wrote an article which, when dissected, completely fell apart.

Two government inspectors general had made a criminal referral to the Justice Department about Clinton and her handling of the emails.

[snip]

By Friday morning, the Times did what is known in the media trade as a “skin back”—the article now said the criminal referral wasn’t about Clinton but about the department’s handling of emails. Still, it conveyed no indication of what possible crime might be involved.
(and then it gets better but gets worse for the Times)

Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) issued a statement saying that he had spoken to the inspector general of the State Department and that there had been no criminal referral regarding Clinton’s email usage. Rather, Cummings said, the inspectors general for State and the intelligence community had simply notified the Justice Department—which issues the regulations on Freedom of Information Act requests—that some emails subject to FOIA review had been identified as classified when they had not previously been designated that way.  (bolding, underlining, once again mine)

Eichenwald then takes us into the (gasp!) two paragraphs that the Times threw out there, basically with no clarification as to what was being asked of whom and by whom.

Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.

The request follows an assessment in a June 29 memo by the inspectors general

A crack team of professionals reviews Clinton's emails

A crack team of professionals reviews Clinton’s emails

for the State Department and the intelligence agencies that Mrs. Clinton’s private account contained ‘hundreds of potentially classified emails.’ The memo was written to Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management.

Wow!  Justice Department.  Criminal Investigation.  Scary, right?  Except…except, the Times left out the fact that all of this was in terms of FOIA requests.

At no point in the story does the Times mention what this memo—and the other it cited—wasreally all about: that the officials at the Freedom of Information office in the State Department and intelligence agencies, which were reviewing emails for release, had discovered emails that may not have been designated with the correct classification. For anyone who has dealt with the FOIA and government agencies, this is something that happens all the time in every administration.

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