Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

That ever changing Clinton email defense may be running out of excuses

Anyone who has ever worked in or around classified material understands how draconian the rules concerning their use are.  If revealed to unfriendly eyes, it could mean lives.  Namely the lives of sources or their handlers.  And, not only that, it would likely give those who oppose us a look at the means and methods by which we gather intelligence.

Hillary Clinton threw that all out the window when she made a decision, at the beginning of her term as Secretary of State, to use a private server located in a bathroom somewhere outside the government’s secure nets.  There was no gradual migration to that server for “convenience” (something she first tried to claim), but instead a very deliberate act and decision to circumvent the restrictions she’d face within such a government net.  Oh, and to be able to dodge accountability.

So then she dropped back to another excuse.  No classified material was ever sent to that server.  When that one blew up, the next excuse was that no material “marked” classified was ever sent.

Here’s the thing, however.  Unless you’re a complete idiot, you know what does or doesn’t fall within the realm of classified … especially if you’re the Secretary of State.  And its not like this was all new to her.  She’d served as a US Senator and been privy to classified material before and was certainly briefed on how to handle it.  One can’t imagine, given the stringent rules surrounding the handling of classified material, that she didn’t receive additional briefings when she took State.

She chose to ignore them all.

And her latest excuse?  Well, Chris Cillizza pretty much declares it dead:

That defense hit a major snag on Friday when the State Department announced that it, too, had found “top secret” information on Clinton’s server — 22 emails across seven separate emails chains. The information, the State Department said, was so secret that those emails would never be released to the public.

The Clintonian response?  Well, it’s classic, you have to say that:

The Clinton team quickly pivoted. “After a process that has been dominated by bureaucratic infighting that has too often played out in public view, the loudest and leakiest participants in this interagency dispute have now prevailed in blocking any release of these emails,” said campaign spokesman Brian Fallon.

Calling for the release of the allegedly top secret emails is a smart gambit by the Clinton folks since it makes them look as if they have nothing to hide while being protected by the near-certainty that the State Department won’t simply change its mind on the release because the Clinton team asked them to.

That’s right, ask for the emails to be released and when they’re not, for obvious reasons, claim someone (VRWC) is trying to smear you.

But what were in those emails? John Schindler says it’s pretty volatile stuff … something anyone would know, markings or not, was very highly classified:

Discussions with Intelligence Community officials have revealed that Ms. Clinton’s “unclassified” emails included Holy Grail items of American espionage such as the true names of Central Intelligence Agency intelligence officers serving overseas under cover. Worse, some of those exposed are serving under non-official cover. NOCs (see this for an explanation of their important role in espionage) are the pointy end of the CIA spear and they are always at risk of exposure – which is what Ms. Clinton’s emails have done.

Not only have these spies had their lives put in serious risk by this, it’s a clear violation of Federal law. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, enacted due to the murder of the CIA’s station chief in Athens after his cover was blown by the left-wing media, makes it a Federal crime to divulge the true identity of any covert operative serving U.S. intelligence if that person has not previous been publicly acknowledged to be working for our spy agencies.

You probably recall  Valerie Plame was a NOC and the stink her supposed exposure brought.   The media was all over that … but this?  Yeah, they’ve mostly been forced to report on it, but not very enthusiastically.

If this is the case, Ms. Clinton has committed a very serious breach of security that is and should be punishable by conviction and jail time.

The problem, as has been stated recently, is she’s a powerful politician … not one of the little people.  And we’re becoming more and more acquainted with how the “law” works now for the powerful among us, aren’t we?

Interesting times.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 29 Jan 16

US GDP growth fell to 0.7% annualized in the 4th Quarter of 2015, according to the Commerce Department’s initial estimate. The GDP Price index fell to 0.8%.

The nation’s trade deficit increased 2.0% in November, to $-61.5 billion, as exports fell -0.1% and imports were unchanged from the previous month.

The Employment Cost index rose 2.0% in the 4th Quarter of 2015, with a year-over-year increase of 2.0%. The quarterly increase indicates that wage pressure might be rising.

The Chicago PMI jumped from 42.9 to 55.6 in January. I wouldn’t expect this volatile result to be reflected in Monday’s nation PMI.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index fell from 93.2 to 92.0 in January.


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Stray Voltage

Explaining the Trump phenomenon – I think this is pretty close:

“American presidential elections usually amount to a series of overcorrections: Clinton begat Bush, who produced Obama, whose lax border policies fueled the rise of Trump. In the case of Trump, though, the GOP shares the blame, and not just because his fellow Republicans misdirected their ad buys or waited so long to criticize him. Trump is in part a reaction to the intellectual corruption of the Republican Party. That ought to be obvious to his critics, yet somehow it isn’t.”

The GOP more than shares the blame, they are the direct reason a person like Trump has traction.  Gutless, spineless and afraid to do what they were elected to do election after election has finally turned on them.  They’ve been warned for a while.  The rise of the Teaparty should have given them a clue, but it was business as usual for establishment GOP types.   This last Congressional election and their ineffectiveness while in the majority appears to have been the last straw.  Trump is their creation, and they still don’t understand why.

Speaking of Bernie and why his socialism is attractive to so many, I think this is pretty close as well:

“In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may show early signs of success. But any accomplishments quickly fade as the fundamental deficiencies of central planning emerge. It is the initial illusion of success that gives government intervention its pernicious, seductive appeal. In the long run, socialism has always proven to be a formula for tyranny and misery.”

We’ve actually seen “the long run” in the late and unlamented Soviet Union.  We have examples with us today via North Korea where famine and poverty stalk the population constantly, Cuba, where they live in the ’50s and work for $20 a month and Venezuela, where it failed utterly and the population is now trying to dig out from under the ruin.   But Bernie supporters, apparently, think his version will work.

In the “thank the good Lord” department, this:

President Obama is not interested in sitting on the Supreme Court once he leaves office, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday.

If you think he’s been a disaster as a president, imagine the damage he could do on the Supreme Court.

Interesting.  When given a choice:

The number of dues-paying workers within the state’s labor groups has fallen steadily since GOP Gov. Scott Walker signed his signature legislation, 2011’s Act 10, which repealed most collective bargaining for most public workers. But new federal statistics show that trend intensified in 2015 after Walker and GOP lawmakers followed up on Act 10 by approving so-called right-to-work legislation last spring….

In 2015, 8.3% of Wisconsin workers, or 223,000 in all, were members of unions. That was down sharply from the 306,000 people, or 11.7% of the state’s workforce, who belonged to unions in 2014….

Labor unions are another thing the left isn’t “pro-choice” about.

ICYMI, Al Gore’s apocalyptic predictions expired recently.  Yup, Manhattan isn’t submerged in water (unless you want to count the latest footage in frozen precipitation) as he had predicted 10 years ago.  David French does a riff on the doomsayers:

Gore’s prediction fits right in with the rest of his comrades in the wild-eyed environmentalist movement. There’s a veritable online cottage industry cataloguing hysterical, failed predictions of environmentalist catastrophe. Over at the American Enterprise Institute, Mark Perry keeps his list of “18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions” made around the original Earth Day in 1970. Robert Tracinski at The Federalist has a nice list of “Seven big failed environmentalist predictions.” The Daily Caller’s “25 years of predicting the global warming ‘tipping point’” makes for amusing reading, including one declaration that we had mere “hours to act” to “avert a slow-motion tsunami.”

Indeed.  But the fact of the epic failure of their predictions, they will simply reinvent themselves as they always have.  Here’s French’s chaser:

Can we ignore them yet? Apparently not. Being a climate hysteric means never having to say you’re sorry. Simply change the cataclysm — Overpopulation! No, global cooling! No, global warming! No, climate change! — push the apocalypse back just a few more years, and you’re in business, big business.

Dead on.  Anyone remember who was one of the first investors in the carbon trading scam?

It appears that deploying other Clintons just isn’t quite working out as Hillary hoped.  Bill has been playing to small rooms and Chelsea, well, let’s just say she hasn’t much drawing power, or so it appears:

Chelsea Clinton hosted her highly-hyped Soul Cycle fundraiser for her mother in New York City on Wednesday afternoon.

The $2,700-a-head event, which offered just 60 seats at the popular cycling studio’s Tribeca location and promised guests a photo with Chelsea, was expected to sell out quick while raising some easy money for the Hillary Clinton campaign but was ultimately a flop.

Apparently they fire sold some of the seats at $50 each at the end to fill more and ended up with less than half the bikes filled.  This should have been a slam dunk in NYC if Hillary has the pull most think she does in the city.  Or else it’s Chelsea.  Or both …

The Trumpless debate?  Apparently about the same viewership as the previous debate with Trump included.   Make what you will of that, but regardless, Trump gave his opponents an open field last night and, at least as I view it, came off as a petty, spoiled brat throwing a tantrum.  Like I said, my view.

Have a great weekend!

~McQ

 

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Economic Statistics for 28 Jan 16

December’s durable goods orders plunged -5.1%, and ex-transportation orders fell -1.2%. Capitol goods orders fell -4.3%. On a year-over year basis, durable goods orders fell -0.6%, ex-transportation fell -3.2%, and  core capitol goods fell -7.5%.

The Pending Home Sales Index rose 0.1% in December to 106.8.

The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index fell -1 point to -9 in January.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 16,000 to 278,000. The 4-week average fell 2,250 to 283,000. Continuing claims rose 49,000 to 2.268 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.6 points to 44.6 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $6.5 billion last week, with total assets of $4.482 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-4.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $8.5 billion in the latest week.


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Bogus Bernie burned by WaPo (Democrats with bylines)

Don’t expect this sort of treatment should Queen Hillary ever get the nomination.  Expect every one of the GOP candidates to be treated like this if they’re even somewhat viable.  The Washington Post takes Bernie to the whipping post:

Mr. Sanders’s story continues with fantastical claims about how he would make the European social model work in the United States. He admits that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay for his universal, Medicare-for-all health-care plan, and he promises massive savings on health-care costs that would translate into generous benefits for ordinary people, putting them well ahead, on net. But he does not adequately explain where those massive savings would come from. Getting rid of corporate advertising and overhead would only yield so much. Savings would also have to come from slashing payments to doctors and hospitals and denying benefits that people want.

He would be a braver truth-teller if he explained how he would go about rationing health care like European countries do. His program would be more grounded in reality if he addressed the fact of chronic slow growth in Europe and explained how he would update the 20th-century model of social democracy to accomplish its goals more efficiently. Instead, he promises large benefits and few drawbacks.

And that’s just a sample.  They pretty much trash the low information, economically illiterate’s dream candidate.  Bernie’s the “free stuff” guy, yet even he has to admit that someone has to pay for his “free stuff”.  Of course those who support him stop listening right after “free”.

But that’s really not the point.  Hillary is sinking in the polls.  The presumptive favorite is in a tight race in the first two primary states.  Bernie, despite the fact that he’s clueless, is almost even with the chosen one of the big time Washington media establishment.  You know, the one’s with Democrats with bylines?  Way to close for comfort.  And Clinton isn’t helping.  In fact, it seems she’s beginning to crack a little bit.  Additionally, she’s wearing thin with the voters who are just as tired of the circus she was a ringmaster in as they are of the Bush dynasty.  And all these reminders of her past residence in the big house is beginning to make inroads and erode her support. Then there’s that email thingie.

So up steps the editorial board of the WaPo to take a few well aimed pot shots at her closest competitor.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily disagree with anything they say about Bernie.  I just question the timing and intent.

That said, I loved this chaser they included near the end:

Mr. Sanders tops off his narrative with a deus ex machina: He assures Democrats concerned about the political obstacles in the way of his agenda that he will lead a “political revolution” that will help him clear the capital of corruption and influence-peddling. This self-regarding analysis implies a national consensus favoring his agenda when there is none and ignores the many legitimate checks and balances in the political system that he cannot wish away.

 Sounds a lot like someone who has occupied the White House for the last 7 plus years.  Someone that the editorial board of the Washington Post was wild about, regardless of the fact that he’s acted precisely in the way they now deplore.
Funny that …
~McQ
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Economic Statistics for 27 Jan 16

New home sales jumped 10.8% in December, to a 544,000 annual rate, well above analysts’ predictions.

The Federal Open Markets Committee left short-term interest rates unchanged today, with a Fed Funds target of 0.25% to 0.50%.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications those 8.8% last week, with purchases up 5.0% and refis up 11.0%.


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Free water for Flint is bad, because … no government regulation?

You can’t make this stuff up and it again points out something that I’ve wondered about for some time …. do these publications actually have editors?

Again, it’s the Atlantic.  The writer is David Graham.  His problem?  Well, you see, various corporations are providing the citizens of Flint, MI … you know, the town where the government managed to make the drinking water undrinkable … free water.

Bad, says Graham, very bad … in the long run:

That these firms are stepping up to deliver water is good news for Flint’s schools and citizens in the immediate term. But a one-time infusion of gallons of fresh water doesn’t do much to address the systemic failures of government that led to the water crisis in the first place. By making four for-profit corporations into a de facto public utility, the gift might actually risk making things worse in the long run.

Ye gods.  I must be missing something Mr. Graham.  Why is this bad again?

Walmart, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and Pepsi aren’t just charitable organizations that might have their own ideologies. They’re for-profit companies. And by providing water to the public schools for the remainder of the year, the four companies have effectively supplanted the local water authorities and made themselves an indispensable public utility, but without any amount of public regulation or local accountability. Many people in Flint may want government to work better, but with sufficient donations, they may find that the private sector has supplanted many of government’s functions altogether.

So, wait, they fill in where government has utterly failed and you’re worried that the citizens may say, “wow, these guys are better than government” or something?  Well, if they’re providing water to schools for the remainder of the year they already are, aren’t they?  So, again, what’s the problem sir?

Oh, I bet I know … privatization.  Don’t want any privatization now, do we?  Lord help us if the citizens of Flint should find out that nasty “for profit corporations” might be able to deliver a basic commodity like water better than government, huh?  And especially if they can do it cheaper as well!

Let’s remind Mr. Graham of something he wrote prefacing the whole “OMG, for profit corporations might be seen in a positive light” nonsense:

The Flint water crisis is above all a human tragedy: The effects of lead exposure on development can be lifelong and irreversible. But it is also a fundamental failure of government. At all levels, government failed to protect citizens.

Not only did it fail to protect its citizens, it failed spectacularly in the delivery of a very basic “every-city-does-it” sort of duty – potable water.  Government has always claimed that only it can reliably deliver such a commodity safely.

Yeah, well Flint disagrees.  And it should be clear to Mr. Graham that despite “public regulation” and “local accountability”, that government failure occurred.

Now what, sir?!  Any bets on who will be held accountable?  In government, I mean.

Yeah, me neither.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 26 Dec 16

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.5% in November, and was up 5.9% on a year-over-year basis, while the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index was up 09%, and is up 5.8% on a year-over-year basis.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) US Services Flash was unchanged at 53.7 for January.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose 1.6 points to 98.1 in January.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index slipped to 2 in January from 6 in December.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index rose 0.5 points to 108.8 in January.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales fell to 1.0% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s already-soft 1.4%.


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Here’s the government you should fear

Mostly because of its liberty stifling oppression:

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has joined New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in trying to prosecute ExxonMobil for supposedly lying to its shareholders and the public about climate change, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Times reported that Harris is investigating what ExxonMobil “knew about global warming and what the company told investors.”

Neither Harris nor Schneiderman recognizes the outrageousness of what they are doing—which amounts censoring or restricting speech and debate on what is a contentious scientific theory. In fact, they want not just to stop anyone who questions the global warming theory from being able to speak; they want to punish them with possible civil sanctions or even criminal penalties. As I said before about Schneiderman, Harris needs a remedial lesson in the First Amendment.

Perhaps we should investigate what Harris “knows” about global warming or climate change, which Harris (and Schneiderman) treats as if it is a proven, unassailable, incontrovertible fact.  However, as the Heritage Foundation’s Nicolas Loris has pointed out, “flaws discovered in the scientific assessment of climate change have shown that the scientific consensus is not as settled as the public had been led to believe.”

In fact, what Harris and Schneiderman are doing is treating the “contentious scientific theory” as a proven fact.  It isn’t even close to being proven and instead a very believable assembly of facts to the contrary has made the ‘theory’ seem more like a religion than a reality.  John Cleese … John Cleese for heaven sake … said it best:

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So why is government so insistent that the world is heating up?  Why does it show this bias … and bias it is.  Roy Spencer notes:

I’m not claiming our satellite dataset is necessarily the best global temperature dataset in terms of trends, even though I currently suspect it is closer to being accurate than the surface record — that will be for history to decide. The divergence in surface and satellite trends remains a mystery, and cannot (in my opinion) continue indefinitely if both happen to be largely correct.

But since the satellites generally agree with (1) radiosondes and (2) most global reanalysis datasets (which use all observations radiosondes, surface temperatures, commercial aircraft, satellites, etc. everything except the kitchen sink), I think the fact that NOAA-NASA essentially ignores it reveals an institutional bias that the public who pays the bills is becoming increasingly aware of.

Because there are large … very large … wads of taxpayers money at stake.  There is the UN’s chance to redistribute the wealth, a dream the Third-World Debating Club has harbored for decades.  So alarmism remains the way in which governments and the UN try to peddle their product.

And, as Dr. Spencer says, the public, who pays the bills, “is becoming increasingly aware of” the bias and the fact that the alarmists have yet to prove their point, to wit:

Thermometers Still Disagree with Models …that even if 2015 is the warmest on record, and NOAA has exactly the right answer, it is still well below the average forecast of the IPCC’s climate models, and something very close to that average forms the basis for global warming policy. In other words, even if every successive year is a new record, it matters quite a lot just how much warming we are talking about.

Oh, and about that 2015 being the warmest year on record, again, the data doesn’t support the claim:

We now have the official NOAA-NASA report that 2015 was the warmest year by far in the surface thermometer record. John and I predicted this would be the case fully 7 months ago, when we called 2015 as the winner.

In contrast, our satellite analysis has 2015 only third warmest which has also been widely reported for weeks now. I understand that the RSS satellite analysis has it 4th warmest.

Oh my … and El Nino was kickin’ this past year, wasn’t it?  In fact, per Spencer “El Nino …that a goodly portion of the record warmth in 2015 was naturally induced, just as it was in previous record warm years.”  Or said another way, the warmth was due to a weather event, not global warming.

But of course, the incurious press ran with the headline of the “warmest year evah!” and now governments of California and New York are on record of considering certain speech which doesn’t support the government line to be punishable under the law.

So what do we have going on in the two states?  Something we thought was dead and buried:

These investigations are reminiscent of the old Soviet Union, where Joseph Stalin persecuted those who he thought had the “wrong” scientific views on everything from linguistics to physics.  Besides sending them a copy of the Constitution so they can review the First Amendment, residents of both New York and California might also want to include a copy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book, “In the First Circle,” in which he outlined the Soviet government’s suppression of dissenting scientists and engineers.

And that’s precisely the problem here.  This, to us old timers, is precisely how the Soviet Union (and China) operated.  Of course it made no difference in the reality of science.  What is, is.  But it certainly made a difference in the lives of those who were persecuted by the state because they disagreed with the State’s version of science.

The bottom line is that the state attorneys general of New York and California are not acting like level-headed, objective prosecutors interested in the fair and dispassionate administration of justice. They are instead acting like Grand Inquisitors who must stamp out any heresy that doubts the legitimacy of the climate change religion. They are treating an unproven scientific theory as if it is a creed than cannot be questioned, probed, examined, or doubted.

Indeed.  Welcome to the USSA.

~McQ

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