Did Hillary Clinton Kill Someone Yesterday?

She must have. She must have killed a lot of people. Perhaps she perpetrated a mass shooting or blew up a school building full of children. Maybe she set a nursing home on fire and laughed while it burned. Something like that must have happened for there to be such Hillary-hating hysteria on television, the Internet, social media, and in print since yesterday.

It’s everywhere, this hysteria. Coming from the right and the left. I have seen it on Fox. I have seen it on CNN—which is subsidizing Trump’s campaign by paying so many of his surrogates for their on-air appearances and broadcasting his rallies endlessly—and, regrettably, I have seen it on MSNBC, starting last night when liberal journalist Chris Hayes invited Clinton-hating Glenn Greenwald on to have a go at Hillary. MSNBC this morning was even worse, as the crew at Morning Joe lost their minds over the FBI’s failure to recommend indictment of an obviously guilty Hillary Clinton.

morning joe and hillary emailYou see, Hillary’s guilt is determined not by a court, not by people in the law business, but by people in the Clinton-hating business. And as we can now see, that’s a big business. Joe Scarborough, a long-time Clinton hater, said this morning, “Anybody else would have gone to jail.” Scarborough, a Republican with a TV show, gets to play judge and jury when it comes to Hillary Clinton. She has no rights a cable pundit is bound to respect.

Try to keep all this hate and hysteria in context. And by context I mean Donald Trump. As Huffpo puts at the end of every story on the GOP nominee:

Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

That factual addendum leaves out one important fact: the man is clearly mentally unstable and in no way can be trusted with any intelligence information, let alone trusted with putting his tiny, insecure fingers on the nuclear trigger. Yet, this morning I heard the Morning Joe panel giggle over Trump’s unhinged speech last night at his rally in North Carolina, a speech that CNN carried in full and which featured this:

Trump Praises Saddam Hussein Again — This Time For Killing Terrorists ‘So Good’

Yes, Trump really praised a brutal dictator. He has never met an authoritarian he didn’t like. And his followers, who shower him with adoration, have apparently never met a lover of authoritarians they didn’t love. And journalists, on television and elsewere, apparently find Trump not dangerous or disturbed, but entertaining.

Also for context keep in mind the David Petraeus controversy scandal, which comes up during almost any discussion of Clinton’s email practices. What exactly did he do? As the L.A. Times put it in an excellent article:

In the Petraeus case, which came to light in 2012, the CIA director was found to have shared highly classified documents with his biographer, Patricia Broadwell, during the course of their affair. Investigators found more than 100 photographs from notebooks Petraeus had given her, as well as secret PowerPoint briefings on the war in Afghanistan. The Justice Department threatened to charge him with three felonies, which could have landed him in prison for years. They eventually settled on a misdemeanor plea deal, where Petraeus pleaded guilty to giving false statements to the FBI, paid a $100,000 fine and was sentenced to two years’ probation. Petraeus, regarded as one of the military’s most skillful commanders by Democrats and Republicans alike, resigned in shame.

Let me summarize that for you: The good, family-values General was banging someone-not-his-wife, and he knowingly gave that someone-not-his-wife classified information that he knew would be made public because that someone-not-his-wife was a journalist writing a book about him, and then, just for grins and giggles, he lied to the FBI about it. Yeah, that’s pretty close to what Hillary Clinton allegedly did, right? Jesus, people.

Oh, I almost forgot. Remember that George W. Bush email controversy in 2007? You don’t? Haven’t heard the hysterical talking heads mention that one when discussing Hillary?  Here’s a summary from PBS’s Washington Week:

In 2007, when Congress asked the Bush administration for emails surrounding the firing of eights U.S. attorneys, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales revealed that many of the emails requested could not be produced because they were sent on a non-government email server.  The officials had used the private domain gwb43.com, a server run by the Republican National Committee. Two years later, it was revealed that potentially 22 million emails were deleted, which was considered by some to be a violation of the Presidential Records Act.

Who went to jail over that? Huh? Karl Rove, who used that private server for most of his emailing while in the White House, is enjoying life on Fox “News” and still working to undermine Democrats everywhere. And Rove never suffered for his part in the public outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Oh, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, knee-deep in that 2007 scandal, was on television this morning criticizing FBI Director James Comey!

What a country.

If I sound angry it is because I am. If you watched and appreciated President Obama yesterday, as he endorsed Hillary Clinton in North Carolina and gave a great speech extolling her virtues, obama and clinton.jpgthen you’d be angry too. That unprecedented event pretty much got lost in all the hate coming from, as I said, both the right and the left. We live in sick times.

If I were Mrs. Clinton, I would tell all the haters out there—especially those Bernie-bots who hate her more than most conservatives do—to go straight to hell. I would tell them they can have Donald Trump if they want him. I would say good luck getting, from a Trump administration, free college and decent healthcare for all and the other things you say you want. I would tell all those young people out there, those who hate Hillary’s guts so much they would prefer a global warming denier as their president, have at it. He’s all yours. I’ll be long dead before the worst of it hits the planet.

I would tell all those working stiffs—including some union folks—who prefer Trump, to enjoy the mess he makes of the economy and the world. Enjoy your lower wages, if you still have a bleeping job. And, finally, I would tell all those journalists, those who are making it safe for Trump to broadcast his bigotry and ignorance and racism and hatred for a free press, I’m outta here. You think it is more interesting to cover someone like Trump? You’ll find out what interesting is. You like the ratings he brings? You’ll be the ones who pay. You think he’s funny? Laugh until you cry.

I would tell them all that I’m going home to play with my grandkids. And when things get really bad, I can move. Can you?

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Not that it matters much to anyone it seems, but here is an excerpt from President Obama’s speech yesterday:

Now, let me tell you, North Carolina, my faith in Hillary Clinton has always been rewarded. I have had a front-row seat to her judgment and her toughness and her commitment to diplomacy. And I witnessed it in the Situation Room where she argued in favor of the mission to get Bin Laden.

I saw how — I saw how — how as a former senator from New York, she knew, she understood because she had seen it, she had witnessed it, what this would mean for the thousands who had lost loved ones when the Twin Towers fell.

I benefited from her savvy and her skill in foreign capitals where her pursuit to diplomacy led to new partnerships, opened up new nations to democracy, helped to reduce the nuclear threat. We’ve all witnessed the work she’s done to advance the lives of women and girls around the globe.

She has been working on this since she was a young woman working at the Children’s Defense Fund. She’s not late to the game at this; she’s been going door to door to make sure kids got a fair share, making sure kids with disabilities could get a quality education.

She’s been fighting those fights, and she’s got the scars to prove it….

But you know, it — it wasn’t just what happened in the lime light that made me grow more and more to admire and respect Hillary. It was how she acted when the cameras weren’t on. It was knowing how she did her homework. It was knowing how many miles she put in traveling to make sure that America was effectively represented in corners of the globe that people don’t even know about. There wasn’t any — any — any political points to be had, but she knew that it was important.

I saw how she treated everybody with respect, even the folks who aren’t quote/unquote “important.” That’s how you judge somebody is how do they treat somebody when the cameras are off and they can’t do anything for you. Do you still treat them right? Do you still treat them with respect? Do you still listen to them? Are you still fighting for them?

I saw how deeply she believes in the things she fights for. And I saw how you can count on her and how she won’t waver and she won’t back down. And she will not quit, no matter how difficult the challenge and no matter how fierce the opposition.

And — and if there’s one thing I can tell you, Charlotte, is those things matter. Those — those — those things matter. I am here to tell you that the truth is nobody fully understands the challenges of the job of president until you’ve actually sat at that desk.

Everybody’s got an opinion, but nobody actually knows the job until you’re sitting behind the desk. Everybody can tweet, but nobody actually knows what it takes to do the job until you’ve sat behind the desk.

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How To Think About The Hillary Clinton Email Story

By now you may have heard that Colin Powell, a former Republican Secretary of State, not only used a personal email account during his time in office, but those emails are all gone. Deleted. Apparently they now exist only in the mind of God. Yet, you won’t remember a scandal over that issue for a simple reason: there was no scandal over that issue.

And by now you have certainly heard that Shrub III, while he was governor of Florida, used a private email account for personal and job-related exchanges. In fact, Jeb Bush got a lot of great mainstream press publicity for releasing 250,000 emails for reporters to rummage through. But there is a problem, as the Tampa Bay Times pointed out:

The Bush files, though enormous, are not complete, however.

The former governor conducted all his communication on his private Jeb@jeb.org account and turned over the hand-selected batch to the state archives when he left office. Absent from the stash are emails the governor deemed not relevant to the public record: those relating to politics, fundraising and personal matters while he was governor.

Keep all that in mind. Colin Powell, a Republican working for the federal government, couldn’t turn over his collection of on-the-job emails to the State Department because they are all gone. Not a trace of them. Jeb Bush, a Republican working for the state of Florida, released a ton of his emails to the public—but he got to pick and choose which ones were relevant.

Now, thanks to Media Matters, we have also been reminded of that time in 2007 when another email controversy was in the news. The George W. Bush-Karl Rove White House was using private email accounts—“controlled by the Republican National Committee”—to discuss government business and then, voilà:

Responding to congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys, the White House announced that as many as five million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost.

Although, as The Washington Post pointed out, the law required the White House “to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision- making and deliberations,” those emails were missing in action. And Media Matters documents just how uninterested most journalists were in pursuing the story with the kind of gusto that they are now pursuing the Hillary Clinton email controversy:

The White House email story broke on a Wednesday. Yet on that Sunday’s Meet The Press, Face The Nation, and Fox News Sunday, the topic of millions of missing White House emails did not come up. At all. (The story did get covered on ABC’s This Week.)

By comparison, not only did every network Sunday news show this week cover the story about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emails, but they were drowning in commentary. Between Meet the Press, Face The Nation, This Week, and Fox News Sunday, Clinton’s “email” or “emails” were referenced more than 100 times on the programs, according to Nexis transcripts. Talk about saturation coverage.

Of course, because it involved a Republican administration, the millions of emails that disappeared in 2007 wasn’t a big deal to Fox “News.” Or worse:

A search of Fox archives locates only one panel discussion about the story and it featured two guests accusing Democrats of engineering a “fishing expedition.”

From then-Fox co-host, Fred Barnes: “I mean, deleted e-mails, who cares?”

All of a sudden, because it involves the Clintons, there is a lot of caring going on at Fox and elsewhere about deleted emails.

But even outside of the conservative media sewer, there has been particularly damning coverage of Mrs. Clinton and her email decisions. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe—which in some ways is Fox and Friends in camouflage—there has been nearly universal condemnation of Clinton and suggestions she is hiding damning information, lying about her motives, and otherwise doing what it is that the Clintons allegedly always do: playing a gullible public for fools. All of this rock-throwing over emails, of course, is so far unsupported by any real evidence. It’s all speculation.

Let me be upfront about one thing. Long-time readers know I am not a big fan of former President Clinton. Never have been. From the time when I was a young and committed right-winger to my current middle-aged liberalism, I have always had doubts about his motives and his methods. Not to mention the fact that he has had a fairly clear problem with relationships involving relatively powerless and, in some cases, vulnerable women around him.

That being said, Mrs. Clinton has also lived some of her political life in the shade. There is no reason to go into all that here, since it is available elsewhere, but some of what she is going through now, involving those deleted emails, is the product of her husband’s lies and truth-twisting and some is the product of her own lack of transparency related to her often complicated and sometimes troubling professional relationships, prior to becoming First Lady.

Thus, it is understandable that the press is pursuing this email story like it is the scandal of the century, since journalists are eager to invalidate the completely ridiculous right-wing claim that the mainstream press has always been in bed with the Clintons and has let them get away with, literally, murder.

In any case, let me ignore the usual nuttery on places like Fox—where Fox and Friends passed on the Darrell Issa speculation that the deleted emails may contain a “stand-down order” related to Benghazi tragedy. I want to examine what, on the face of it, sounds like a reasonable question that was asked by a well-respected mainstream journalist, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

Just one day after she had accused Clinton of “ducking questions” about the emails, Mitchell got to ask her a question during Clinton’s press conference on Tuesday:

MITCHELL: Can you explain how you decided which of the personal emails to get rid of, how you got rid of them and when? 

That sounds reasonable enough, right? What were the mechanics of the decision to delete certain emails and to forward others to the State Department? But Mitchell added this question:

And how you’ll respond to questions about you being the arbiter of what you release?

In other words, as Mitchell reiterated this morning on MSNBC, what gives you the right, Mrs. Clinton, to decide which emails to delete and which to keep? That also, at first glance, seems a reasonable question. Until you think about it. And journalists are supposed to think about it.

We now know that Hillary Clinton said she “wanted to just use one device for both personal and work emails” because it was convenient. And, as she pointed out, “It was allowed.” No one has contradicted that. The federal manual covering this stuff gives her and other government employees the right to determine what is personal and what is government business related. And no one this side of Rush Limbaugh has claimed she broke any laws by doing what she did, by going through her emails and deleting the ones that she decided had nothing to do with her job and were, thus, private.

Yet, a lot of people are having a problem with her right to do that. Many journalists, and most Republicans, want to see all of those emails. The more sober among them have proposed that a third party should get access to the Clinton’s server and look at all the emails and then decide which is personal and which isn’t. It’s important to understand why that would be grossly unfair to Hillary Clinton and an invasion of her privacy, as well as make it more difficult to get good people to enter public service.

First, we all now understand that most government officials in the executive branch use both government email accounts and personal email accounts during their working days. So, let’s suppose that Mrs. Clinton had also decided to use two separate email accounts while she was Secretary of State. One account would have been for her government-related business and the other for her personal, private business. Nice and neat, right?

Now, let’s suppose she decided to send a message to a friend on her private account. Would she be entitled to make that decision? Of course she would be. She wouldn’t be required to send personal emails through her government account. But suppose she wanted to ask that friend about, say, his opinion on the situation in Burma? Would she still have the right to do that using her private account? Damn right she would. And it would be her decision to do so. She would get to decide whether seeking the opinion of someone about Burma should be on a government-controlled server or on a privately-controlled one. Because, obviously, not everything a government employee does is the government’s business. And Secretary Clinton was entitled to have a private life and to send private emails.

So, what is the difference between deciding before the fact or after the fact which communications are private and which aren’t? Just because she, rather foolishly, decided to use only one device to send her emails while she was the Secretary of State doesn’t mean she isn’t entitled to now determine which emails fall within her right to privacy, assuming there is such a thing as privacy these days.

As much as some people hate to admit it, there is some element of trust involved regarding the service of public officials, whether they have one phone or two phones or a hundred phones. Unless we are prepared to pry into every second of their lives and demand that every syllable they utter or every word they type be part of the public record, we have to have some measure of faith that they are doing their jobs honestly, that they are properly separating their private lives from their public ones. If it turns out that Hillary Clinton knowingly broke the law by trying to delete emails directly related to the conduct of official government business, then she should be prosecuted.

One problem with all this is that before September of 2013, the regulations governing how federal agency employees used emails were apparently lax enough to allow those employees to use personal email accounts to conduct official business, so long as those emails were preserved in some way. Mrs. Clinton said yesterday that,

the vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department. 

If it turns out that she deliberately deleted some relevant emails related to policy decisions involving her government job, emails that went to non-government addresses that were not preserved by the State Department, then she is in real trouble. But, as I said, there is exactly zero evidence that she has done anything wrong, not to mention illegal.

And for those Republicans in Congress who are after every jot and tittle that Hillary Clinton sent and received while she was working for the government as Secretary of State, David Brock has requested that they should also make available every jot and tittle, public and private, they have written while holding their government jobs.

Except that will never happen because almost all of them use private email accounts. And the communications of members of Congress are not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. Therefore, anything they release would be strictly voluntary. They get to keep their privacy while demanding that Hillary Clinton surrender hers.

How bleeping convenient.

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AP Photo

 

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