Archive for July, 2016
Thursday, July 21st, 2016
An interesting “take” on the war on our police. It’s a tragedy and a result, to a large extent to the radical group: “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
The Media’s False Narrative about “Racist Cops” is to Blame for the War on Police
By Onan Coca July 21, 2016
It’s not just Fox News that’s been lamenting the liberal (and the media) narrative about “racist” police officers and their war on the black community. Even CNN is starting to note that the facts and the data don’t seem to bear out this tired old liberal canard about our racist law enforcement officers. In fact, CNN’s Harry Houck took things a step farther on Sunday when he opined that it was this false narrative flowing from the media that was largely to blame for the violence we now see being perpetrated against our nation’s police officers.
I tell you, it’s heart breaking to see police officers having to go through this again in another city.
The fact is that there is a war on the police and it has started, and the fact is that we have a narrative out there that is — that helps promote this type of things from occurring. You know, we had the shooting with Sterling in Baton Rouge, we don’t know the circumstances. That investigation has not ended yet.
That suspect was armed and still apparently there are a lot of people that think what the police officers did there was criminal. And that narrative out there makes people like this man who shot these three police officers very, very mad, even though it is a false narrative, and we have police officers that are being attacked because of that.
Lost in the story swirling about Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge were the circumstances of his death. Why were police officers called and why did they end up firing at him? Sterling had just committed a crime, he was armed, and he resisted arrest. While his death is tragic, all of these other factors were lost in the media’s retelling of the story… and all that was heard was that the police had killed another black man.
There are most assuredly still matters of racism, discrimination, inequality, and systemic injustice that must be discussed, but the media’s decision to cherry-pick random stories from the daily news cycle and use these as litmus tests for our nation’s morality is doing us all a great disservice. Even worse, the liberal media’s false narrative is not just harming our nation — it’s literally killing our citizens.
Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
An erudite article about the crazy election season we are in. Basically no two candidates for president we have ever had for president have been less appropriate for the office : a liar/felon vs an ignorant bombastic buffoon. Will the Republic survive? One can only hope.
Victor Davis Hanson’s Private Papers
Ten Reasons Why Trump Could Win
July 19, 2016
With four more months until Election Day, be prepared for chills and spills.
By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online
Hillary Clinton has outspent Donald Trump in unprecedented fashion. Her endorsements bury Trump’s. The Obama administration is doing its best to restore her viability. The media are outdoing their 2008 liberal prejudices. And yet in John Connally delegate fashion, Clinton’s vast expenditures of $100 million plus have so far earned her only a tiny, if any, lead in most recent polls. If each point of approval is calibrated by dollars spent, Trump’s fly-by-night campaign is ahead.
Nor has Trump matched Clinton’s organization or voter-registration efforts. He certainly has blown off gifts from a number of Clinton gaffes and misfortunes, usually by gratuitously riffing on off-topic irrelevancies, from the Trump University lawsuit to the genocidal Saddam Hussein’s supposedly redeeming anti-terrorist qualities. Pollsters, gamers, insiders — everyone, really — have written his political epitaph for over a year. Rarely have conservative voices at mainstream-media outlets vowed not to support the Republican nominee. And yet the longer he stays viable, the more likely it is that Trump has a real chance at winning the presidency, which may already be a veritable 50/50 proposition. So why is the supposedly impossible at least now imaginable?
1. Not a Typical Populist
When critics are not slurring Trump as Hitler or Mussolini, they write him off, in sloppy fashion, as a dangerous populist — at worst an hysterical, demagogic Huey Long, at best a quirky Ross Perot: in other words, a flash in the pan who capitalizes on occasional but brief surges of Neanderthal isolationism, protectionism, nativism, xenophobia, and collective insecurity among the lower middle classes.
That diagnosis is rehashed groupthink. By any definition, Trump is not a classical populist. His traction derives from opposing unchecked and cynical illegal immigration, not diverse and measured legal immigration. And he is rebelling not so much against a flabby, sclerotic status quo as against a radical, even revolutionary regime of elites who are now well beyond accustomed norms. It is hardly radical to oppose the Confederate doctrine of legal nullification in more than 300 sanctuary cities, or a de facto open border with Mexico, or doubling the national debt in eight years, or ruining the nation’s health-care system with the most radical reconstruction in the history of American health-care policy, or systematically running huge trade deficits with an autocratic China that does not adhere to international norms of free trade and predicates expanding political and military power in the South China Sea on its commercial mercantilism. Trump seemed incendiary in the primaries, but as he is juxtaposed to the official Clinton extremist agenda, he will likely be reinterpreted increasingly as more mainstream — a probability enhanced by his selection of Mike Pence as his running-mate.
2. Obama Nihilism
Do not underestimate the volatility of Barack Obama’s popularity. As long as Obama keeps silent and out of the limelight, he nears 50 percent in approval ratings. The moment he returns to the fray (and he always does, as a June bug to a patio light), he instinctively reverts to his natural divisive and polarizing self, as evidenced in his disastrous reactions to the Dallas police shootings, and his politically suicidal post-Dallas courting of Al Sharpton (who used to call on supporters to “off” police) and of the architects of Black Lives Matter. It is likely that Obama, to cement a hard progressive legacy in the next four months, will only double down on his gratuitous pandering, and therefore will see his poll numbers return to the low or mid-40s. That may help Trump seem an antidote rather than an obsequious continuance.
3. Two Sorts of Elitists
Both Trump and Clinton are elitists in an anti-elitist year. But elitism is not all the same. The popular furor is not directed at the rich per se, but rather at the perception of cultural snobbishness and hypocrisy among those who romanticize the always-distant poor, as they favor the always-proximate rich, and caricature the despised middle class that lacks the taste of the latter and the appeal of the former. Trump’s in-your-face tastes and brashness are vulgar in the pure Roman sense, and his accent and demeanor are not those of the cultural elite, or even of the dignified Mitt Romney–type moneyed bluestockings. In contrast, Hillary, like Obama, talks down to Americans on how they ought to think, speak, and act. Trump seems to like them just as they are. In turn, middle-class hatred of the elite is not aimed at Trump’s garish marble floors or the narcissistic oversized gold letters plastered over the entrances to his buildings, but rather at the rarified self-righteous. Like it or not, Trump can square the ridiculous circle of a raucous billionaire as man of the people far better than Hillary can handle the contradictions of a Wall Street–created crony multimillionaire pandering to the Sanders socialists.
4. Election Formulas
It is not assured that Clinton can replicate Obama’s formula of record-high minority-voter turnout and bloc voting. More importantly, in a few key states Trump may win 25 to 28 percent of the Latino vote and perhaps 10 percent of the black vote, while Clinton might not capture even 35 percent of the so-called white vote. A surprisingly high minority of blacks and Hispanics do not feel Trump is a nativist or xenophobe, given that illegal immigration is often perceived as putting a strain on scarce social services, imperiling already poor schools, and driving down both wages and the availability of entry-level jobs. Trump’s El Jefeism plays well when juxtaposed to Clinton’s suburban namby-pamby falsity or her unhinged demonization of coal miners and gun owners. The numbers of minority voters in key states who quietly vote Trump need not be great, but rather only must top by 2 or 3 percentage points the disastrous McCain and Romney levels of 2008 and 2012, given the likely historic percentage of white voters that Trump may win. Media elites are in denial over this possibility. Racial hyphenation and bloc voting, along with prophecies of continual white irrelevance, should by their reckoning have long ago doomed Trump in the general election.
5. Crimes and Misdemeanors
Trump struggles with embarrassing misdemeanors, Clinton with high crimes. She may be delighted at not having been indicted, but FBI Director Comey confirmed to the nation that she was an inveterate liar, paranoid, conspiratorial, and incompetent. That she was not charged only made the FBI seem absurd: offering a damning hooved, horned, pitchforked, and forked-tailed portrait of someone mysteriously not a denizen of Hell. Add in the Clinton Foundation syndicate and the fact that lies are lies and often do not fade so easily, and Hillary in the next 15 weeks may average one “liar” and “crooked” disclosure each week — at a rate that even the Trump tax returns and Trump University cannot keep up with.
6. Four Months until the Election
The tumultuous news cycle — Dallas, Paris, Turkey, Baton Rouge — creates anxieties and a general sense that the nation and indeed the world are in chaos — and without any guidance from the White House. Such a vague foreboding that something has to give to avert catastrophe may favor Trump abroad and at home — especially if he can muzzle himself in times of enormous gift-giving from the Clinton campaign. Obama is a lame-duck president who is perceived as weak, vacillating, and ambiguous about his own country’s role in the world — a world that includes Russia, ISIS, China, North Korea, and Iran. The odds are even that at least one of the above in the next few months will feel that it has a rare opportunity to readjust the regional status quo, or at least will have a psychological impetus to try something stupid to humiliate Obama and the U.S. as payback for seven years of his empty sanctimoniousness. Either way, Trump could benefit, given that Hillary is a perceived tool of Obama’s therapeutic foreign policy. Tragically, at home, in the next few months ISIS may re-emerge, and racial relations are not likely to ameliorate, as Hillary straddles a politically correct tiger that she can neither dismount nor safely ride. Self-described leftists are cannibals who always end up devouring their own, given the never-enough trajectory of their equality-of-result creed.
Trump seems extremist in speech, but as the campaign wears on, Hillary may confirm that she is more extremist in fact. It may well be that voters would prefer a brash-talking pragmatist to sober and judicious ideologues. Sloppy talk about temporarily limiting immigration from the Middle East is not so injurious as contrived efforts never to utter the phrase “radical Islam.” Clinton, Obama, and Sanders have moved the Democratic party radically to the left; Trump in some areas has pushed the Republican party to the center. The voter terrified of ISIS, record debt, the spiraling cost of his health care, perceived U.S. decline, and the seemingly violent racial Balkanization of the country — but not terrified of gay marriage or tough trade talks with China — may find Clinton, not Trump, the true radical.
If the polls are off a bit in this warped election year, they are more likely to err on Hillary’s side. Republicans who will vote for Hillary or no one rather than Trump will do so in part out of perceived moral principles, and thus they will not be so shy in showcasing their not-in-my-name ethos. But those who see themselves more as pragmatists, who will eventually hold their nose and vote for the embarrassing Trump, are more likely, in Brexit style, to keep quiet about it and stay under the polling radar. I think that to be truly ahead on Election Day Hillary will have to top Trump by 1 or 2 points in the polls — even with traditional Democratic massaging of voter rolls.
9. Converts and Apostates
The relative closeness of polling in key swing states already suggests that the Reagan Democrats and other Trump converts may either be more numerous than the Never Trump establishment or at least more numerous outside of coastal, and electorally irrelevant, blue states like California and New York — and thus more significant as swing-state adjudicators. In addition, traditional media, in which Never Trump views are most frequently aired, are themselves growing ossified and do not reach voters to the same degree as outlets like the Drudge Report, Breitbart News, and talk radio. In my rural California community, when I meet pro-Trump welders, farmers, and tractor drivers of all races and backgrounds, I try to ask them just one question: Did you vote for Romney? So far 0 percent of that cohort of probably over 100 Central Valley residents said they had turned out for Romney in 2012. Again, the new Trump voters may not be numerous nationwide, but they may be able to swing one or two purple states. Also, it may be more likely that a Never Trumper will weaken and quietly vote Trump in November as he grows aghast at the weekly Clinton circus. The Trump buffooneries may well be more than matched by Clinton’s ideological insanities.
10. The Screech-Owl Factor
For all his lack of discipline, the media-seasoned Trump is still the better and more robust campaigner. His liabilities — bouts of outer-space incoherence, unfamiliarity with basic issues, sloppiness in diction, a personal cruel streak — are balanced by a TV host’s sense of audience, timing, and cadence.
Hillary is the far more disciplined politico, but she is not so much uncharismatic as downright off-putting. Even on those rare occasions when she listens to her new voice-coach handlers and speaks quietly and deliberately, she still comes off not as reassuring, much less engaging, but rather as artificially trying her best not to revert to her natural screech-owl elocution. Heartfelt recklessness can sometimes wear better than packaged sobriety.
* * *
Finally, it is suicidal to descend into the muck to battle Trump. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz all tried and failed, despite the fact that they had every moral justification in hitting back in like kind. Elizabeth Warren is trying to be an anti-Trump street-fighter; but her incoherent venom suggests that Harvard Law professors should stick to academic jousting in the faculty lounge.
Brawlers know the rules of the street far better than establishmentarians. The Senate is not The Apprentice, and politics is not New York real estate. Ask the trash-talking Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg if she came out on top in dueling with Trump — or whether she virtually destroyed a quarter-century’s reputation in minutes and ended up no better than an elderly version of Rosie O’Donnell in a Supreme Court Justice costume. Hillary is stepping up her crude attacks on Trump. But as in the past, such hits are more likely to make the Trump mode suddenly seem normal, and to make Trump a target of those who claim they are more sober and judicious but in extremis prove no more measured than Trump himself.
We have a long way to go till November 8, and the odds are still with Hillary’s establishment money, influence, power, and media. There will be dozens of Trump meltdowns and gaffes to come and always more slams at “crooked” Hillary. And never count out what narcissists like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — or Vladimir Putin — might do, or Obama’s Chicago-like warping of the electoral process. Nonetheless, for a variety of reasons, an unlikely Donald Trump has become a liberal’s worst nightmare, not so much for what he says or represents, but because he still could win — and win in a way, along with the Congress and the prospect of a new Supreme Court, that we have not witnessed in 80 years.
Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
This is an important paper. Dr. Fryer is a Harvard faculty member and is African American. The piece speaks for itself as Jonathan Tobin suggests.
THE NATIONAL ANALYSIS OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
AN EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS OF RACIAL DIFFERENCES IN POLICE USE OF FORCE
ROLAND G. FRYER, JR.
NBER WORKING PAPER #22399
ISSUED IN JULY, 2016
HARVARD STUDY DEBUNKS SHOOTING MYTH
Jonathan S. Tobin / July 11, 2016
What if the popular narrative about police racism that’s being pushed by Black Lives Matter and others in the wake of last week’s fatal shootings is based on unfounded assumptions? That’s the question we are forced to confront today after the publication of a new study conducted by Harvard University’s Rolando G. Fryer Jr. that shows there is no evidence that blacks are more likely than whites to be shot by cops.
Fryer, an African-American economics professor, characterized the results as “the most surprising result of my career.” While FBI director James Comey is quoted in a New York Times Upshot piece about the study saying that reliable statistics about interactions between African-Americans and police have been lacking, Fryer’s effort — which was published under the rubric of the National Bureau of Economic Research — seems to fill in the gap. As the Times notes, Fryer began this undertaking because of his anger about the controversial shootings in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore that put the wind in Black Lives Matter’s sails. But what he discovered doesn’t back up the notion that trigger-happy white cops have declared open season on blacks.
Fryer studied more than 1,332 police shootings involving ten major American police departments in Texas, Florida, and California between 2000 and 2015. While he found that blacks were more likely to be touched or handcuffed by police during the course of investigations or confrontations, they were not more likely to be shot. To the contrary:
In officer-involved shootings in these 10 cities, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white. Black and white civilians involved in police shootings were equally likely to have been carrying a weapon. Both of these results undercut the idea that the police wield lethal force with racial bias.
However, that left the researchers asking whether the police were more likely to fire if the suspect was black. Fryer and his team found that the answer to that question was no. In Houston, the city he spent the most effort studying, he found that blacks were 20 percent less likely to be shot by cops than whites.
Just as interesting is the fact that, again contrary to everyone’s assumptions, the ability of citizens to record encounters with police on their cell phones and post them to social media had no impact on the number of shootings reported. The racial breakdown in the shootings was no different in the era of Facebook videos than it was before then.
These results don’t mean that there are no rogue shooters wearing police uniforms or that racism must be dismissed as an issue not worth addressing. The disproportionate amount of crime that takes place in black neighborhoods can explain some statistics but not all of them. But the study does show that the blithe assumption that cops with impunity are massacring blacks has no connection to reality. Whatever problems we must still address in a nation whose history is connected to racism, the narrative about police racism that has been promoted by Black Lives Matter and racial hucksters like Al Sharpton and legitimized by the Obama administration is basically false.
Each individual instance in which a police officer has killed a black person deserves tough scrutiny. And shooters should be held accountable if their actions are judged to be unlawful. Nor should we dismiss out of hand worries that police continue to stop blacks for questioning far more often than they stop whites. The higher rates at which cops touch and handcuff blacks may be related to the much higher crime rates in black neighborhoods, but that still doesn’t excuse the statistics.
Yet on the main issue of police shooting, the one that has dominated our discussing of late, Fryer found that not only are blacks not more likely to be shot; such shootings are extremely rare altogether.
How, then, is it that Americans have been persuaded to believe something that just isn’t true?
The answer is simple. The notion that blacks are at risk from police fits in nicely with liberal myths about law enforcement and a general refusal to admit that the America of 2016 is a different country than the place that existed a half century earlier, when Jim Crow Laws were still being erased by the newly successful Civil Rights movement. It is that lie that has kept a group like Black Lives Matter going with its destructive agenda that has led to anti-police violence and caused law enforcement to back down in many black neighborhoods, something that is actually costing African-Americans their lives.
Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
This is the most clearly articulated description of the rapidly crumbling away of the best medical care system in the world. Welcome to Obama’s signature, fatal wound that he and the Democrat Party have inflicted on our country.
The American Thinker
July 12, 2016
Obamacare and the Private Practitioner: 2016
By Keith Jackson
Private practice medicine in the United States is rapidly going away. In the past few years, the percentage of doctors who own their own businesses has plummeted. The middle class, the supposed beneficiaries of Obamacare, can’t afford their deductibles and are avoiding necessary treatments and tests because of costs, leading doctors to have to care for them at more advanced stages of disease. Doctors (and nurses), the highest trained and most knowledgeable providers of patient care, are mostly data input vehicles for the massive electronic medical records systems. And the amount of money that has been shoveled into the great abyss of the new government bureaucracy is enough to have bought all of us excellent private care, yet our care and our coverage for that care is worse.
Before Obamacare, the percentage of physicians owning their own businesses was around 70%. It is now hovering around 30%. The reason for the shift is not widely reported. As costs to run their businesses have been going up, reimbursements to doctors are going down, making the margin for being able to stay open smaller and smaller. Meanwhile, hospitals are doing comparatively better. Why? Because they can charge more for a service than doctors can charge. Hospitals can do this because they have traditionally taken care of the uninsured, and states have written into their books a differential in the reimbursement to make things “fair.” This differential allows hospital corporations the ability to afford to buy doctors’ practices.
This affects costs adversely. (Get ready for a lesson in medical billing “transparency”). As an example, if Dr. Jones charges $535 for a C.T. scan of the sinuses as a private practitioner and submits the bill to an insurer, he may receive as payment $235. If a hospital owns the practice, and the billing is done through the hospital’s auspices, they can charge $895 and may get $695. If the doctor then looks down your throat through your nose with a fiber-optic endoscope, he charges $180 and receives $60 in payment from the insurers, while the hospital can charge $365 and get $285.
Because of these differentials, the hospital can negotiate with the doctors to buy their medical and surgical practices with the ability to stabilize their drop in take-home income and allow their offices to remain open. Doctors who used to be staunch advocates of private practice health care have little choice and join “the Borg.” Your costs go up. Private practice goes away.
(Interestingly, hospital corporations still don’t get what they pay for, as doctors often work less diligently as a part of a conglomerate, and even when they do, the costs of running the practices are frequently higher than hospitals predict. They make up for this by restricting that surgeries be done only at their facilities, as surgeries can make up the profit differential, as anyone who has gotten a surgery bill will attest.)
The middle classes and upper middle classes are bearing the brunt of Obamacare, and it negatively impacts physicians and their ability to care for them. In order to afford insurance, people often choose very high deductible plans, usually with no health care savings account to assist them with unexpected costs. And as every American knows, we tend to live right on the edge of what our paychecks allow. As a result, because it is essentially a cash proposition to go to the doctor until that deductible is met, and since billing for health care is done with the knowledge that most bills are negotiated down by insurers and are inflated as a result, affording a visit to the doctor is financially untenable. Because we don’t have cash stashed away for this contingency, we tend to allow disease to progress farther before it is addressed.
A typical example of the plight of the middle and upper middle class with high insurance deductibles is seen in hospital infusion centers. When checking in, these groups frequently are counseled that they need to see the financial department to go over their situation. Americans with a good income may buy a house that is just around the maximum allowed by the banks. They may choose to send their kid to a private school. They know that if they work hard, they can eventually pay the bill, because that formula has worked for them in the past. Then they get cancer. An $8,000.00 deductible and owing 20% of the bill has them staring bankruptcy right in the face. This negatively effects care and makes the job of the private practitioner nearly impossible, with “can I do something less expensive?” a chronic refrain. Many choose no care at all.
Surgeons who used to do frequent semi-elective procedures in communities with relative above average wealth have seen their number of surgery cases plummet, as people will live with their “bum knee” or “sinus” rather than pay to have the problem improved. (As a result, it would probably not be all that surprising if health care costs are going down, as people are not doing things for their health that used to be commonplace. After all, a surgeon doing less surgery saves a bunch of money.)
If you have been to a hospital in the past few years, you have probably noticed that nurses and doctors are not in patient’s rooms like in the past. They are camped out at portable computer stations, inputting data so that proper billing is justified. They are the only people in the system who truly know what care has been delivered and how it should be coded into the electronic medical record system. From a bureaucratic point of view, this would seem optimal. Reasonably and practically, however, it is a nightmare.
To adequately fill in all of the checked boxes to justify levels of care for billing purposes would take more time than can reasonably be extended to a patient than the practitioner has available. Then there is the necessary impersonality of having to look at the computer while talking to the patient so that you don’t have to catch up later, making the patient think that you are not listening and are not relatable. When a patient doesn’t trust the doctor, the compliance to the recommended care plan is gone. That doctor’s effectiveness in helping the patient suffers, as does the patient.
The impact of the electronic medical records systems (EMRs) is profound. Doctors see fewer patients. They end up bringing more work home. The resulting notes that are sent to the referring physicians are cumbersome and almost unreadable. Unless editing is done by some provider with a lot of time on their hands, misdiagnoses are forever listed under “patient problems,” as are medications that were never received. Doctors who spend 45 minutes discussing what another provider might take 5 minutes to do frequently miss out on differential reimbursement because they are not up to speed on the latest coding changes. Cleaning up a chart to reflect all that had been asked and done could take two or three ancillary assistants that the doctors cannot afford to employ. Doctors incrementally do less health care for their patients and more data entry facilitation, decreasing the joy and accomplishment of the profession and decreasing the quality of the encounter.
In addition, the whole point of EMR is to data-mine. The reason for data-mining is essentially to help third parties decide what service that they will pay less for in the next billing cycle. So by checking the interminable boxes in the medical record, the doctor is complicit in his own financial demise.
The instillation and management of Obamacare is so entrenched now as to be almost unassailable. It has cost us untold monies. It promised us much more than it delivered. It has not been worth the investment. Yet with the number of people dependent on the government-run elements of covered care, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare, the possibility of reversing the course back to private care delivery from private hands is about zero.
When the BBC came to America before voting on Obamacare, they sought out people to interview who didn’t have health coverage and asked about their concerns. One woman in Georgia with a strong breast cancer family history was afraid to see the doctor because of cost. The BBC essentially shamed us for the situation, castigating our system as unfair. At the time, however, the chance of that uninsured American surviving her breast cancer diagnosis was substantially higher than a corresponding “covered by the National Health Service” woman in England. No one ever mentioned this fact.
Private practice medicine run by doctors who could “adjust the bill,” make payment plans more suitable for indigent patients and create “lost leaders” – taking a financial hit on one service knowing that they could make up for it with the better reimbursement from another service – were a much better means to provide care. The government-initiated efforts to save us money and increase affordability were dumb from the beginning and have taken away from us one of the greatest things about American health care, namely doctors working with patients to provide care that the doctor and patient both deem is best for that individual. They have skyrocketed costs and impersonalized care.
Who in his right mind would want to “hang up a shingle” in this environment?
Keith Jackson is an otolaryngologist, a head, and neck surgeon in Atlanta,
Tuesday, July 5th, 2016
FBI director says “no reasonable prosecutor” would indict Clinton over emails
This is “hot off the griddle.” Hillary will not be indicted! As expected, “the fix” is in.
VOX:Policy and Politics
(July 5, 2016)
In a statement Tuesday morning, FBI Director James Comey announced that the bureau had completed its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and was recommending to the Justice Department that no charges be filed.
“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey said.
Comey’s statement was harsh and, at times, damning:
He said that 113 emails on Clinton’s servers contained information that was classified at the time.
He said Clinton and her colleagues were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
He said it was “possible” that “hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal account” — the FBI didn’t find “direct evidence of this,” but it would be unlikely that such direct evidence would exist.
However, despite this carelessness, Comey said, he didn’t believe the offenses here rose to the level of past prosecutions related to classified information.
“In looking back at our investigations into the mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts,” he said. Past prosecutions, he said, generally involved “clearly intentional and willful mishandling,” “vast quantities of materials,” or “indications of disloyalty to the United States or efforts to obstruct justice.”
“We do not see those things here,” he said. So, he continued, “we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.”
Comey added that “no outside influence of any kind was brought to bear” on the investigation. “This investigation was done honestly, competently and independently.”
What did Hillary Clinton do?
News broke last year that while serving as secretary of state, Clinton used a personal email account hosted on a private server — Clintonemail.com — for her work-related emails. (In his statement, Comey said there were actually several servers involved at various points.)
There are several reasons this was problematic.
First of all, government officials are supposed to preserve their work-related emails in accordance with federal record-keeping laws and regulations. But Clinton made no contemporaneous effort to do that, and only turned over those emails she deemed to be work-related after she had stepped down (and after State officials started asking where her records were).
Now, it’s not like all of Clinton’s correspondence vanished — whenever Clinton emailed her subordinates on their own government email accounts, those records were preserved from their ends. Plus, Secretary of State Colin Powell also used a personal email account for all his work. Still, the State Department’s inspector general came down pretty hard on Clinton for not appropriately complying with record-keeping policies in a report in May.
But the most legally consequential issue has been the question of whether classified information, which is supposed to only be discussed on secure systems, was mishandled. That has been what the FBI has been investigating for the past year or so.
Some of the emails at issue reportedly related to planned drone strikes in Pakistan
According to a Wall Street Journal report by Adam Entous and Devlin Barrett last month, the FBI probe has focused on a series of “vaguely worded” emails from Clinton aides about planned CIA drone strikes in Pakistan.
At the time — in 2011 and 2012 — State officials had the opportunity to object to certain planned drone strikes. And since the drone program itself is classified, deliberations of this nature should have been, and generally were, done over a secured system.
However, officials did occasionally use their regular email to discuss these matters. For instance, Entous and Barrett wrote, there were certain instances when “decisions about imminent strikes had to be relayed fast” and “US diplomats in Pakistan or Washington didn’t have ready access to a more-secure system, either because it was night or they were traveling.”
Since uses of unclassified email to discuss “sensitive but fast-moving events” occasionally took place throughout the government, the Journal’s report had suggested that criminal charges over it were unlikely.
Indeed, Comey chided “the State Department in general” for a culture that lacked “the kind of care for classified information that’s found elsewhere in the US government.”
Donald Trump has preemptively tried to delegitimize the FBI’s conclusion
Many Republican voters have long hoped that Clinton would face criminal charges over the email matter. Conservative media outlets have long suggested that indictments were sure to be forthcoming, and that the only possible explanation for Clinton not being indicted would be corruption from the Obama Justice Department.
Indeed, Donald Trump has been making this argument explicitly in recent days. And he got a bit of an assist last week, when former President Bill Clinton met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch while both of their planes were at the same airport tarmac. (Lynch later said that taking the meeting was a mistake, and that to avoid the appearance of impropriety, she’d accept whatever recommendation the FBI director made about filing charges in the case.)
Still, it may be difficult to characterize Comey as a partisan hack — he’s a Republican who served as a US attorney and then deputy attorney general for the George W. Bush administration. (In that latter job, he became known for resisting the administration’s efforts to authorize a surveillance program that the Justice Department had concluded was illegal.) And his statement on Clinton was quite harsh.
Overall, though, Democrats generally will be breathing sighs of relief about this outcome. For months, the conventional wisdom in Washington has been that no indictments of Clinton or her aides were forthcoming. However, as long as the FBI investigation was continuing, there was still the possibility of criminal charges that could throw the campaign into chaos. Now, while Clinton certainly has a good deal explaining to do to voters about her emails, she won’t have to do it in court.
What a terrible decision. Anything you or I would do like this would have us behind bars. It almost happened to General Petraus for much less than Hillary did. Our government (and especially the Obama administration and the Democrat Party) is so very, very corrupt. Perhaps all is so far gone that it really can’t ever be turned around. I hope not, but the future looks bleak.