Monday, May 30, 2016


The conspiracy candidate. Democrats are advising Hillary to ignore Trump when he resurrects the pseudo-scandals of the Starr era. In my view, this attitude is a mistake. Problems do not go away when they are ignored. Poorly-educated young voters are easily gulled by this kind of nonsense.
The attacks have been winners for Trump, who coasted to the Republican nomination. He went over the top on Thursday, as several media outlets reported he had more than the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nod.

But several Senate Democrats said they do not believe the attacks will keep working.

“If he wants to talk about Vince Foster’s death being a suicide, Americans don’t want a conspiracy theorist in office,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told The Hill. “If he wants to talk about that or his belief that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States… these wacky theories, he’s going to be the National Enquirer candidate basically.”
Kaine is being foolish. Many Americans do want a conspiracy theorist.

Although I've been called a conspiracy theorist myself, the subculture of paranoia has long terrified me. Paranoia is a kind of smack. I've seen it happen: People become addicted -- literally addicted -- to the rush they get from fear-gasm.

Result: We live in a country where the supporters of Bernie Sanders are likely to shout "How much did Hillary pay you to do that?" if the guy from Papa John's delivers a pie with the wrong topping. (Think I'm being hyperbolic? Look at this.)

Trump spews all sorts of nonsense about birtherism and Vince Foster and Ted Cruz' father and God-knows-what-else -- but he himself is well-versed in the conspiratorial arts. Just ask the Indians who competed with his casinos.

Those damned emails. The best recent post on Hillary Clinton's emails comes to us by way of Dave Emory. He and I have disagreed on a certain items in the past, but this article is spot on.
In con­nec­tion with Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server, we high­light the fol­low­ing details, gen­er­ally either unknown and/or under­re­ported in the main­stream media:

FACT: None Of The Emails Sent To Clin­ton Were Labeled As “Classified” Or “Top Secret”

FACT: Emails Orig­i­nated In State Dept. Sys­tem, And Ques­tions About Retroac­tive Clas­si­fi­ca­tion Would Have Occurred Regard­less Of Clinton’s Server Use

FACT: Experts Have Debunked Any Com­par­i­son Between Clinton’s Email Use And David Petraeus’ Crimes

FACT: IG Refer­ral To Jus­tice Depart­ment Was Not Crim­i­nal, And FBI Isn’t Tar­get­ing Clin­ton Herself

In dis­cus­sion of the “e-mail scan­dal,” CNBC’s “Morn­ing Joe Scar­bor­ough” delib­er­ately dis­torted state­ments by Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist David Ignatius. Ignatius opined: ” . . . . My only point is I couldn’t find a case where this kind of activ­ity had been pros­e­cuted and that’s just worth not­ing as we assem­ble our Clin­ton e-mail — and more thing, Joe, legally there is no dif­fer­ence between her using her pri­vate server and if she’d used, which is also not a clas­si­fied sys­tem. The idea that, oh this would have been fine if she used, not legally, no dif­fer­ence. . . . Ignatius responded by explain­ing that experts he spoke with dis­missed as far-fetched claims Clin­ton com­mit­ted a crim­i­nal offense. . . . As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do noth­ing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remem­ber a case like this, where peo­ple infor­mally and inad­ver­tently draw clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion into their phone con­ver­sa­tions or their unclas­si­fied server con­ver­sa­tions, where there had been a pros­e­cu­tion. . . .“

But dur­ing the rebroad­cast of the seg­ment, Morn­ing Joe cut away from Ignatius’ expla­na­tion mid-sentence. Dur­ing the ini­tial broad­cast, Ignatius said (empha­sis added): “As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do noth­ing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remem­ber a case like this, where peo­ple infor­mally and inad­ver­tently draw clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion into their phone con­ver­sa­tions or their unclas­si­fied server con­ver­sa­tions, where there had been a prosecution.”

Scar­bor­ough, a for­mer Repub­li­can mem­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, has a long his­tory of hyp­ing the sup­posed Clin­ton email “scan­dal”despite all evi­dence to the con­trary. He edited Ignatius’s state­ment as fol­lows: “ . . . . As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do noth­ing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remem­ber a case like this, . . . ”
I'll add this: Many people do not understand that it is very possible for someone legally to communicate information which an intelligence agency has marked as "classified."

I know that what I just said sounds like casuistry, but if you give the matter a minute's thought, the principle should be easy enough to grasp.

Consider this scenario: The CIA gets some data -- about, say, the sex life of a foreign leader -- from a Libyan source named Mr. Green. That data goes into the CIA's filing system, where it gets a big, fat "CLASSIFIED" stamp.

Now ask yourself: If I talk about Mr. Green's information in this humble blog, have I committed espionage? Have I revealed secret information?

Nope -- not if I got the information on my own.

Mr. Green is not an American. Nobody controls him. He's allowed to say whatever he likes to whomever he pleases. If he talks to me, fine. If he talks to Hillary Clinton, fine. If he talks to one of Hillary's friends -- who then passes the gossip along to Hillary via her private server or via Yahoo or Gmail or whatever -- fine.

The data is classified only if it comes from a classified document or from a U.S. government employee with access to that kind of document.

The hypothetical "Mr. Green" scenario I've just now outlined describes much of what actually happened in the case of Hillary's emails. As you know, there was a revolt in Libya. During this time of turmoil, a Libyan intelligence official named Mousa Khousa spoke about all sorts of behind-the-scenes African matters to anyone who would listen. I presume that he was sending out feelers, looking for a new employer. A lot of intel from Khousa eventually found its way into classified CIA documents.

(Khousa ended up living in the UK, so it's likely that MI6 debriefed him, and passed along his information to CIA.)

But nothing was classified earlier, when Khousa spoke to Sidney Blumenthal, Hillary's friend. Blumenthal did not work for the government at that time. He was perfectly free to send Hillary an email containing everything he learned, and it doesn't matter if the email was on a private server or Yahoo or whatever. Blumenthal was also free to talk about that stuff on the radio, on the internet, on a bus, on a soap box in a public park. Whatever.

I've seen a fair number of formerly-classified CIA documents, as have many of you. They often contain open source material. If the information is out there in the real world, no classification stamp can stop us from talking about it. How would we even know that it was ever classified?

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get these basic facts through to members of the general public. It's not easy to explain to the average person that the same piece of data can be both classified and unclassified at the same time. If you try to make that argument briefly, during the heat of argument, you sound like a flim-flammer. But if you are allowed to develop the point at some length -- as I have just done -- most people will grasp the general concept.

Except, of course, for those who don't want to grasp it.

Karl and Bernie. All of this nonsense about Hillary's emails is one of the two Big Lies being told about her right now. The other Big Lie, of course, is the oft-heard fiction that the Clinton Foundation is a personal slush fund.

We often hear BernieBros try to damn Hillary on the grounds that the Foundation has taken money from ghastly people (which it has). My response: If evildoers donate to charity, good.

You know what's not excusable? Bernie Sanders receives support from Karl Rove's group, American Crossroads. Why don't the BernieBots ever talk about that? Why isn't that match-made-in-Hell ever discussed on MSNBC?

A simple question about Bernie. Has he denounced the "Bernie or Bust" movement? A pro-forma, yanked-from-the-mouth disavowal is no disavowal at all. I want to see Sanders scream "You fools!" at the Sandernistas who consider Trump preferable to Clinton. The fact that Bernie refuses to do so tells us much.

A strange story. An article briefly appeared on HuffPo claiming that Hillary and Bill Clinton will be indicted on Federal Racketeering charges, because “The Clinton Foundation is an ongoing criminal enterprise engaged in money laundering and soliciting bribes in exchange for political, policy and legislative favors to individuals, corporations and even governments both foreign and domestic.”

The article was almost immediately yanked -- but it was up just long enough for both the Trumpers and the BernieBros to glom onto it, as did Inquisitr.

Remember the 1990s? Remember how the right-wing press -- and, too often, the mainstream press -- repeatedly assured us that Bill Clinton was going to be frog-marched to the Big House any day now? Remember?

And do you remember how those stories always, always, always turned out to be bullshit?

This one is bullshit too.

Basically, the original story was pure right-wing wishful thinking masquerading as inside information -- a propaganda meme packaged as a hot scoop.

Capitol Hill Blue used to do that kind of shit all the freakin' time.

Nobody is investigating the Clinton Foundation; there is no reason to do so. It's a charity. Charity watchdogs have pronounced it clean.

The emails? Scroll up. We've already discussed that.

The original story is here; the author is "distinguished film producer Frank Huguenard." (He seems best-known for the new-agey documentary Beyond Belief, starring Stephen Colbert, of all people.)

As I suspected, Huguenard has no informants. If a writer is going to announce "Hillary to be indicted," then he damned well better be able to back up that assertion with a quote by an actual prosecutor. We don't get one.

Instead, Hugenard he has simply strung together a series of non-sequiturs from previously-published anti-Clinton hit pieces. Example:
Here’s what we do know. Tens of millions of dollars donated to the Clinton Foundation was funneled to the organization through a Canadian shell company which has made tracing the donors nearly impossible. Less than 10% of donations to the Foundation has actually been released to charitable organizations and $2M that has been traced back to long time Bill Clinton friend Julie McMahon (aka The Energizer). When the official investigation into Hillary’s email server began, she instructed her IT professional to delete over 30,000 emails and cloud backups of her emails older than 30 days at both Platte River Networks and Datto, Inc. The FBI has subsequently recovered the majority, if not all, of Hillary’s deleted emails and are putting together a strong case against her for attempting to cover up her illegal and illicit activities.
Where to start?

Well, let's begin by repeating one basic point mentioned earlier: No-one is investigating the Foundation. So how does a non-existent investigation lead to an indictment? The author zooms from the Foundation to the emails, which are two different things, in an transparent attempt to convince gullible readers that a connection exists.

Once again: No investigation. No indictment.

Hugenard stands exposed as a motherfucking liar -- which is no doubt why HuffPo pulled his piece. (My guess is that he's a fibber of the BernieBro variety, not of the Trumpian variety or the Fox News variety.)

Now that we have established Hugenard's basic dishonesty, I see no reason to do a line-by-line refutation of every false claim in his piece. However, it is instructive to look at his claim that "less than 10% of donations" to the Clinton Foundation actually goes to charitable work.

This turns out to be another lie, previously spread by Carly Fiorina. looked into this claim, and made swift work of it.
Asked for backup, the CARLY for America super PAC noted that the Clinton Foundation’s latest IRS Form 990 shows total revenue of nearly $149 million in 2013, and total charitable grant disbursements of nearly $9 million (see page 10). That comes to roughly 6 percent of the budget going to grants. And besides those grants, the super PAC said, “there really isn’t anything that can be categorized as charitable.”

That just isn’t so. The Clinton Foundation does most of its charitable work itself.
In brief: The Clinton Foundation disperses less than ten percent of its funds to other charities. But it does a massive, massive amount of charitable work itself.

See how Fiorina and Hugenard (and Inquistr) have tried to hornswoggle you?

If you want the truth, don't go to liars like Hugenard and Fiorina. Go to CharityWatch, a well-regarded watchdog organization which has declared that 89 percent of the donations to the Clinton Foundation end up helping people in need. Most other charities are not as efficient. (75% is standard.) Even NewsMax agrees with FactCheck:
Watchdog CharityWatch, a project of the American Institute of Philanthropy, gave the Clinton Foundation an "A" rating.

Its president and founder, Daniel Borochoff, said that by looking only at the money the Foundation gave out in grants, Fiorina "is showing her lack of understanding of charitable organizations."
Hugegnard must have known this, yet he deliberately chose to tell porkies. Now that we've exposed the man, do we really need to delve into the rest of his garbage?

Something similar can be said of Inquisitr. That site is rubbish.

The Bottom Line.
Young BernieBots need to learn what their elders learned twenty years ago: The right created a machine capable of spitting out dozens of anti-Clinton propaganda stories each and every day. These stories always turn out to be balderdash.

Except for the one about the blue dress.

Another great post. I like how you wrapped by citing the Biloxi Fire Department. I think I'm getting battle fatigue in that I saw some Clinton Foundation nonsense yesterday but didn't have the will to flog it. I think I'll go back and just drop a link to this post into the comment stream. Thanks, Joe.
I don't know if Bernie is an republican agent but Salon ......

Oh dear!

Thanks for these, Joseph.

I don't Hillary will let it slide when it comes to Trump bringing up all the 1990s "scandals". What's sad is that many in the media are letting Trump get away with it.

Oh, and yet another humdinger of an article from Salon (courtesy of Lawyers, Guns, And Money, since I would rather NOT link to Salon):
For her campaign not to respond to trump is a mistake because a huge part of the electorate are reality tv generations. So they already believe she is boring because she behaves in dignified way. To them entertainment is everything thing they have to be entertained a t school, work and in choosing a president. So ha she doesn't have to anything herself but her campaign should. Frankly we are doing a lot of work her staff should be doing
So why is it always me who feels the need to quibble?

I never really see anything interesting in the 90s scandals. I mean I don't think sex is such a big deal, and the whitewater stuff looked stupid to me, not that i looked so deeply into it. I just wasnt interested. I have already told you I thought the futures trading stuff was probably bent but it's not like I really care so much. The soft corruption which is common in DC is more of a problem to me and she is certainly not alone in that issue. It's an American problem not a Hillary problem.

However I get a totally different sense of the email question from Pat Langs site. The issue seems to be that

1. she deleted records which were not hers to delete. If she used her server to conduct official business then those emails were state department property.

2. She used non secure email for government business in controvention of dept. policy and potentially against the law.

The former looks like a definite problem to my uninformed mind. The latter might be one as well. And I thought it didn't matter whether the classified stuff was really secret.

I think I should go and read some more on this cos I don't get how 1. is not a problem.

"The data is classified only if it comes from a classified document or from a U.S. government employee with access to that kind of document."

I don't know the US law, but the British Official Secrets Act says that protected information must not be disclosed if it comes from a "Crown servant" or a government contractor. (Official Secrets Act 1989, s5.)

Which is not relevant to Hillary Clinton, but maybe some readers might find this useful :)
1. she deleted records which were not hers to delete. If she used her server to conduct official business then those emails were state department property.

The server was a private server as such she could do any thing she wanted to with the emails as long as copies all emails of official business where sent to the state department. She did exactly that by sending copies to government servers. It was the state departments copies that were deleted. She then had to printout 1000's of pages of emails from her server to replace the ones that the government erased.

2. She used non secure email for government business in controvention of dept. policy and potentially against the law.

For classified communication she used the government classified system. For unclassified she used her secure personal email system. No law was broken.

I just read a piece which said that Sid Bluminthal produced 8 emails between himself and the Secretary, which were NOT included in the emails provided by the Secretary to State.

The recent inspectors report contradicts that. There is a difference between classified material and material marked "classified". She used no other email system. She says classified docs were only accessed in hardcopy.

To my untutored eye there is a problem here.

You know what's not excusable? Bernie Sanders receives funding from Karl Rove's group, American Crossroads.

The post you link to never alleges this. It merely states that AC ran anti-Clinton ads in Nevada. There's no statement that the Sanders campaign ever accepted donations from them. If you look up American Crossroads on OpenSecrets, you'll see that they haven't made *any* candidate donations in 2016. At all. Not one dime. Reoublican or Democratic.

What they have done is buy a bunch of anti-Clinton and anti-Democratic ads. And yes, they're trying to sow dissension in the Democratic party - much as you seem to be these days.
Maybe not direct funding, Prop: I will rewrite. But it's best to go back to what Terry Dolan said about NCAP (co-founded with Roger Stone, and a direct predecessor to American Crossroads): "We could be a menace, yes. Ten independent expenditure groups, for example, could amass this great amount of money and defeat the point of accountability in politics. We could say whatever we want about an opponent of a Senator Smith and the senator wouldn’t have to say anything. A group like ours could lie through its teeth and the candidate it helps stays clean."

You accuse ME of sowing dissension? In other words, you are just another BernieBully. And if you are working for Bernie, you are working for Roger Stone.

Thanks for outing yourself.
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