Why Government Doubles Down on Policy Mistakes

Lawmakers, press and the public need to understand the strength of this “doubling down” phenomenon of and guard against it when adopting policy positions.

In simplified form, the dynamic runs as follows:

1)  Government, in response to a perceived need, takes action to meet that need in a manner that distorts economic behavior and produces predictable adverse effects.

2)  The public consequently experiences problems and expresses concern.

3)  The problems themselves become justification for additional government actions that worsen the distortions and the resultant problems.

4)  As problems worsen, the public more urgently demands corrective actions.

5)  Steps #3 and #4 are repeated ad infinitum.

We have seen and continue to see this dynamic operate in many areas of economic policy. To cite but a few:

Worker Health Benefits

With the best of intentions the federal government has long exempted worker compensation in the form of health benefits from income taxation. Lawmakers aren’t scaling back the flawed policy that fuels these problems.There is wide consensus among economists that the results of this policy have been highly deleterious. As I have written previously, this tax exclusion “depresses wages, it drives up health spending, it’s regressive, and it makes it harder for people with enduring health conditions to change jobs or enter the individual insurance market.” Lawmakers have reacted not by scaling back the flawed policy that fuels these problems, but rather by trying to shield Americans from the resulting health care cost increases. This has been done through the enactment of additional health programs and policies that further distort health markets and which themselves drive personal and government health spending still higher.

Federal Health Programs

The federal government has enacted programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to protect vulnerable seniors and poor Americans from ruinous health care costs.
The positive benefits of these programs co-exist with well-documented adverse effects. For example, it is firmly established that creating these programs pushed up national health spending, driving health costs higher for Americans as a whole. Consumer displeasure over these health cost increases subsequently became a rationale for still more government health spending, rather than reducing government’s contribution to the problem. Examples of this doubling down include the health exchange subsidies established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as its further expansion of Medicaid. As the problem of high health care costs remains, proposals have proliferated to expand government’s role still further; for example, some have proposed making Medicare available to the entire US population. Though intended to provide relief, such legislation inevitably adds to national health spending growth. Read the rest of this entry »


Changing Who Controls ICANN Jeopardizes Our Presidential Election

It matters to all of us whether we live in the United States or not, if a hostile country can undermine our democratic process.

There is even more alarming evidence this is happening during this election cycle.

Theresa Payton reports: Changing who controls the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) so close to our presidential election will jeopardize the results of how you vote on Nov. 8 unless Congress stops this changeover. When the calendar hits Sept. 30, a mere 6 weeks before our election, the United States cannot be assured that if any web site is hacked, the responsible party will be held accountable. We cannot be sure if a web site is a valid. We cannot be sure if one country is being favored over another. These are all the things ICANN is responsible for and has worked perfectly since the Internet was created. Why change it now and so close to the election? Why does that matter to you as a voter?

Take a look at recent cyber activity as it relates to the election. The Democratic National Convention was breached comprising the entire party’s strategy, donor base, and indeed, national convention. Everything the DNC had done to prepare for a moment four years in the making (if not longer) was undermined by a hacker who had been in their system for some time but waited for the optimal moment to spring it on the DNC – opening day of the convention. The FBI and other U.S. agencies, as the headlines blare, suspect Russia is responsible for the hack. Recently, Vladimir Putin went so far as to say, “Does it matter who broke in? Surely what’s important is the content of what was released to the public.”

It matters to all of us whether we live in the United States or not, if a hostile country can undermine our democratic process. There is even more alarming evidence this is happening during this election cycle. Russian hackers are suspected of breaching voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona. Arizona went so far as to shut down the state’s voter registration system for a week. No data was stolen but it was downloaded. As for Illinois, some voter data was stolen!

Read the rest of this entry »


Journalists Can’t Pose as FBI Agents, but Heck Yeah, FBI Agents Actually Can Pose as Journalists, Inspector General Says 

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The FBI also did not violate policy when an agent impersonated an editor with the Associated Press in 2007, the Inspector General found.

Alan Neuhauser reports: FBI agents may impersonate journalists while conducting undercover investigations, and an agent who posed as an editor with the Associated Press during a 2007 investigation did not violate agency policies, the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General found in a report released Thursday.

“The Associated Press is deeply disappointed by the Inspector General’s findings, which effectively condone the FBI’s impersonation of an AP journalist in 2007. Such action compromises the ability of a free press to gather the news safely and effectively and raises serious constitutional concerns.”

— Associated Press Vice President Paul Colford, in a statement

The conclusion sparked consternation across social media by journalists, civil rights groups and some legal experts, who have argued that the practice – by its very existence – threatens to heighten public mistrust of reporters, damage journalists’ credibility and have a chilling effect on sources and whistleblowers who may fear that their contacts in the media are actually undercover agents.

“The Associated Press is deeply disappointed by the Inspector General’s findings, which effectively condone the FBI’s impersonation of an AP journalist in 2007,” Associated Press Vice President Paul Colford said in a statement. “Such action compromises the ability of a free press to gather the news safely and effectively and raises serious constitutional concerns.”

[Read the full story here, at US News]

The inspector general’s report acknowledged that the practice calls for “a higher level of approval” by FBI supervisors than was in place in 2007. Policies on impersonating journalists at the time were “less than clear,” it found. However, a new interim policy adopted this June – one that permits agents to pose as journalists so long as they get approval from two high-ranking officials and an undercover review committee at headquarters – meets that requirement.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Federal Prosecutors are Investigating Wells Fargo’s Fraud Case 

After employees allegedly opened 2 million fake accounts.

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[VIDEO] ‘You Are Hereby Served’: Representative Jason Chaffetz Grills Panel on Hillary’s Classified Emails, September 12, 2016

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OH YES THEY DID: Katie Couric Sued For Defamation In Anti-Gun Documentary

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Charge: sequence in film was ‘work of fiction’ that damaged reputation of commentators.

Gun rights advocates don’t enjoy being falsely depicted as dimwits who can’t answer the most basic of questions about their No. 1 public policy issue.

Erik Wemple reports: That’s the takeaway from a defamation lawsuit filed today against Katie Couric and the producers of “Under the Gun,” a documentary about gun violence in the United States. Having debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the documentary itself came under the gun in May, when members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) claimed that it slighted them by mal-editing an interview in which they’d participated. In response to a question from Couric, the film’s narrator, the gun rights advocates were depicted as sitting in baffled silence for nearly 10 seconds.

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[ALSO SEE – Katie Couric Sued for $12 Million For Defamation In Anti-Gun Documentary – bearingarms.com]

In fact, they had supplied an extensive response to Couric’s question.

Many onlookers, including the Erik Wemple Blog, blasted the film for this portrayal. Couric, the global anchor of Yahoo News, initially stood by the product but ultimately apologized for the “misleading” edit. The film’s director, Stephanie Soechtig, wasn’t so contrite. “I think it’s sad to say that these eight seconds didn’t give the VCDL a platform to speak. Their views are expressed repeatedly throughout the film; we know how they feel about background checks. They said it earlier in the film,” said Soechtig in an interview after the furor.

"The lies we told were thiiiiiiiiiiiis big"

“The lies we told were thiiiiiiiiiiiis big”

Intransigence of that sort may bedevil Soechtig in a legal action filed by the VCDL and two gun rights defenders in the film — Daniel Hawes and Patricia Webb — against Couric, Soechtig, Atlas Films and Epix, the documentary’s distributor. Filed in a Virginia federal court by Elizabeth Locke of Clare Locke LLP, the complaint states, “The Defendants manipulated the footage in service of an agenda: they wanted to establish that there is no basis for opposing background checks, by fooling viewers into believing that even a panel of pro-Second Amendment advocates could not provide one.” It seeks compensatory damages of $12 million, and punitive damages of $350,000 per plaintiff.

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

The filmmakers gave this particular lawsuit a galloping start, with a dreadful sequence that comes less than a half-hour into the one-hour-and-45-minute documentary. Seated in a circle are members of the VCDL against a dark backdrop. Couric asks this question: “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” In response, the VCDL members say precisely nothing. They stare into space, or at the floor. Brain-freeze appears to have enveloped them.

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As the suit notes, this depiction is a “work of fiction.” The VCDL members actually filled Couric’s ear; Hawes, for example, said this:

The fact is we do have statutes, both at the federal and state level that prohibit classes of people from being in possession of firearms. If you’re under 18, in Virginia, you can’t walk around with a gun. If you’re an illegal immigrant, if you’re a convicted felon, if you’ve been adjudicated insane, these things are already illegal. So, what we’re really asking about is a question of prior restraint. How can we prevent future crime by identifying bad guys before they do anything bad? And, the simple answer is you can’t. And, particularly, under the legal system we have in the United States, there are a lot of Supreme Court opinions that say, “No, prior restraint is something that the government does not have the authority to do.” Until there is an overt act that allows us to say, “That’s a bad guy,” then you can’t punish him.

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That argument, notes the complaint, is part of the six minutes that the gun rights advocates spent answering Couric’s question. Showing the VCDL as dumbfounded required some work on the part of the filmmakers. In coordinating the interview with the VCDL advocates, Couric and a cameraman from Atlas Films told them that they needed to sit in silence for 10 seconds so that the crew could calibrate the “recording equipment.” It was this passage that “Under the Gun” placed in the film instead of the actual answers supplied to the question about background checks. The suit alleges that this moment carried particular implications for each of the named plaintiffs in the case. Webb is a licensed firearms dealer (Gadsden Guns Inc.), and the edits indicate that “she lacks knowledge regarding background checks — a requirement for every gun sale she does,” argues the complaint. Hawes is an attorney who handles cases involving firearms, and the film suggests that “he lacks the legal expertise and oral advocacy skills required to perform his duties.” Read the rest of this entry »


Disgraced FBI Director Comey Refused to Testify on Clinton Emails

Chaffetz called the hearing to question officials about why whole and partial documents had been withheld from Congress, including unclassified files.

Sarah Westwood reports: FBI Director James Comey refused to attend a classified briefing with the House Oversight Committee despite receiving an invitation to testify about the bureau’s reluctance to disclose thousands of pages of evidence compiled in its year-long investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email use.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee’s top Democrat, said Monday that Comey had declined to appear at the meeting because he had “already bent over backwards” to explain the FBI’s decision-making in the Clinton email case.

But Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the Oversight Committee, disputed the suggestion that he had invited Comey to the public hearing on redactions in notes from the Clinton email case, noting he had discussed specific points of concern in a personal phone call with the FBI director but had not issued a subpoena for Comey’s presence at the hearing.

Chaffetz called the hearing to question officials about why whole and partial documents had been withheld from Congress, including unclassified files.

“I don’t expect to have to issue a subpoena to see unclassified information,” Chaffetz said. Read the rest of this entry »


Ex-Assemblyman Sentenced for Laundering Bribes Taken by Legislator Brother

Former California Assemblyman Tom Calderon, a member of a now disgraced California political dynasty, was sentenced Monday to a year in federal custody for laundering bribes taken by his brother. Former California Assemblyman Tom Calderon leaves federal court in Los Angeles after a sentencing hearing Sept. 12, 2016…..(read more)

Source: KTLA


Paper Tiger: Impeach the IRS Commissioner?

impeach-me

Congress should fulfill its constitutional duty to police executive-branch lawlessness. Don’t hold your breath. 

George Will writes: Republican congressional leaders ardently want conservative members of the House to not force a vote on impeaching the IRS commissioner. The public does not care about John Koskinen’s many misdeeds. And impeachment will distract attention from issues that interest the public. And because Democrats are not ingrates, the required two-thirds of the Senate will never vote to convict Koskinen, whose behavior continues the pattern of doing what Democrats desire with the most intrusive and potentially punitive government agency.

“Congress has become a paper tiger within our tripartite system.”


Jim Geraghty: ‘Picture Comey’s Office When the Complete 68 Pages of the FBI Investigation Comes to his Desk’

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Jim Geraghty writes:

…Picture Comey’s office when the complete 68 pages of the FBI investigation comes to his desk. It’s a mess for her:

  1. Despite many public denials, 110 of her e-mails contained classified information. This, by itself, is a crime.
  2. She and/or her team destroyed e-mails that were under congressional subpoena.
  3. Her team used BleachBit to erase e-mails that were required to be preserved under public-records laws.
  4. She had not turned over work-related e-mails as she claimed; several thousand work-related e-mails were not given to the State Department, as required by law.
  5. Despite her continued insistence that her system was secure, an unknown individual using the encrypted privacy tool Tor to hide their tracks accessed an e-mail account on a Clinton family server.
  6. The evidence pointed to a deliberate, ongoing effort to keep all of her communications off of the secure State Department system, which would be subject to subpoenas and Freedom of Information Act requests. She used several different e-mail servers on her private system, as well as 13 mobile devices and five iPads.
  7. At no time did she get permission, as required, to do official work on her mobile devices. Clinton frequently lost her phones — which included her e-mails with classified information — and she and her staff could not account for them. An assistant to former president Bill Clinton lost a laptop holding Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. Again, as secretary of state, she swore an oath to protect that information. As Comey declared in his statement, “even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.”
  8. Either she or her staff lied to the FBI; Clinton said she never had a computer in her Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility (basically, a room that is nearly impossible to bug or eavesdrop). Huma Abedin said she did.
  9. During the interview with the FBI, Clinton said she “couldn’t recall” more than three dozen times. One portion of the report suggests Clinton could not remember whether or not she received security briefings. But she had previously signed official documents declaring she had been properly briefed.

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[Read the full text here, at National Review Online]

Comey looked at that report and saw plenty of potential reasons to recommend impaneling a grand jury. But had the FBI recommended seeking an indictment of Hillary Clinton, it undoubtedly would have created a political earthquake.

original

The entire Democratic Party would have exploded in rage at the bureau. Comey would have instantly been painted as worse than Ken Starr, worse than Inspector Javert, worse than Torquemada. Clinton defenders would charge that the FBI was torpedoing her presidential campaign, and they might just be right: At the time of Comey’s decision, the Democratic convention was just three weeks away. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Comey’s Agents Were Forgiving About Some Incriminating Evidence’

blind-comey

The FBI’s Blind Clinton Trust.

The closer we look at the FBI’s investigative file on Hillary Clinton’s emails, the more we wonder if Director James Comey always intended to let her off the hook. The calculated release before the long Labor Day weekend suggests political favoritism, and the report shows the FBI didn’t pursue evidence of potential false statements, obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence.

“The notes also show the G-men never did grill Mrs. Clinton on her “intent” in setting up her server. Instead they bought her explanation that it was for personal convenience. This helped Mr. Comey avoid concluding that her purpose was to evade statutes like the Federal Records Act. Mr. Comey also told Congress that indicting her without criminal intent would pose a constitutional problem.”

Mr. Comey’s concessions start with his decision not to interview Mrs. Clinton until the end of his investigation, a mere three days before he announced his conclusions. Regular FBI practice is to get a subject on the record early then see if his story meshes with what agents find. In this case they accepted Mrs. Clinton’s I-don’t-recall defenses after the fact.

ClintonMills

“Ms. Mills has a particular reason for denying early knowledge of the server: She became Mrs. Clinton’s personal lawyer after they both left State. If Ms. Mills knew about the server while at State, she’d be subject to questions about the server. But if she didn’t know about the server until leaving State, she can argue that conversations with Mrs. Clinton are protected by attorney-client privilege. The FBI ignored all this, and it even allowed Ms. Mills to accompany Mrs. Clinton to her FBI interview as Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer.”

The notes also show the G-men never did grill Mrs. Clinton on her “intent” in setting up her server. Instead they bought her explanation that it was for personal convenience. This helped Mr. Comey avoid concluding that her purpose was to evade statutes like the Federal Records Act. Mr. Comey also told Congress that indicting her without criminal intent would pose a constitutional problem. But Congress has written many laws that don’t require criminal intent, and negligent homicide (for example) has never been unconstitutional.

fbi_getty

The FBI notes also blow past evidence that Clinton advisers may have engaged in a cover-up. Consider page 10 of the FBI report: “Clinton’s immediate aides, to include [Huma] Abedin, [Cheryl] Mills, Jacob Sullivan, and [redacted] told the FBI they were unaware of the existence of the private server until after Clinton’s tenure at State or when it became public knowledge.”

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

That’s amazing given that Ms. Abedin had her own email account on the private server. It is also contradicted by page 3: “At the recommendation of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s long-time aide and later Deputy Chief of Staff at State, in or around fall 2008, [ Bill Clinton aide Justin] Cooper contacted Bryan Pagliano . . . to build the new server system and to assist Cooper with the administration of the new server system.”

The FBI must also have ignored two emails referred to by the State Inspector General showing Ms. Mills and Ms. Abedin discussing the server while they worked at State: “hrc email coming back—is server okay?” Ms. Mills asked Ms. Abedin and Mr. Cooper in a Feb. 27, 2010 email. Read the rest of this entry »


FEC Commissioner Warns: Dems Moving Aggressively to Amend the First Amendment

campus-censorship

Paul Bedard writes: A key Federal Election Commission Republican warned Wednesday that liberals are moving aggressively to “amend the First Amendment” so that conservatives are silenced and businesses are chased “out of the democracy.”

“The general tenor of the Left in American politics today has certainly spoken out against First Amendment rights. It has been a reversal over the last 50 years.”

In some the toughest criticism leveled at Democrats, Commissioner Lee E. Goodman said that the attack started once the Tea Party changed American politics in the 2010 election and now dominates the politics of the Left.

[Read the full story here, at Washington Examiner]

“It has triggered a very aggressive movement by people to amend the First Amendment, left intellectuals silencinghave placed it on the table,” Goodman said on Boston’s Howie Carr show.

[Order Kirsten Powers book The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech” from Amazon.com]

“The general tenor of the Left in American politics today has certainly spoken out against First Amendment rights. It has been a reversal over the last 50 years,” he added, citing FDR Democrats who defended socialists and communists.

“I have been concerned about bias both in how complaints are brought to the commission just like in the way, the lobbying campaign for Lois Lerner. It was all one sided. But generally I try to make my First Amendment case by pointing out that we have to impact liberal and conservative speech in the same way.”unknown

[Order Kimberly Strassel’s book  “The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech from Amazon.com]

From trying to reverse the Citizens United decision to using the IRS to kill Tea Party groups, Goodman said that the Democrats have moved to change free speech in the country.

“But I have been concerned from time to time about every time a conservative group comes up, somehow, some way, exceptions and distinctions are made and this is the problem giving government the power to regulate speech in the first instance because ultimately human beings have to make that decision.”

“I have been concerned about bias both in how complaints are brought to the commission just like in the way, the lobbying campaign for Lois Lerner. Read the rest of this entry »


Meet the Young Leaders Shaking up Hong Kong Politics

Pedestrians walk past a banner for new party Youngspiration showing disqualified candidate Edward Leung (L) and Baggio Leung (C) during the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong on September 4, 2016. Young Hong Kong independence activists calling for a complete break from China stood in major elections for the first time on September 4, the biggest vote since 2014 pro-democracy rallies. / AFP / Anthony WALLACE (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Beijing wants pro-democracy activists to go away. Instead, they’re getting elected.

Suzanne Sataline writes: In late 2014, Hong Kong protestors used umbrellas to shield themselves as police soaked them with pepper spray. Student leaders demanded elections free of intrusion from the Chinese central government, capturing headlines around the world, but their efforts failed. On Sept. 4, city residents pushed back again. Voters elected several of those young activists to the city’s legislature, a sharp rebuke to Beijing’s increasing encroachment on political life in the city.

“By the terms of its constitution, called the Basic Law, Hong Kong has autonomy, but with an asterisk. Individual residents cannot elect the city’s leader, nor try to change policies through referenda; they pick just half of their lawmakers. “

A record 2.2 million people queued to cast ballots — hundreds reportedly waited at one polling station past two o’clock in the morning — in the financial capital’s first city-wide election since protests two years earlier. Voters tossed several veteran moderates from the Legislative Council (LegCo), and replaced them with six activists who want to wrest Hong Kong from mainland China’s control. While the chamber’s majority still tilts toward Beijing — thanks mostly to voting rules that grant greater power to trade and industry groups — the new term will seat 30 lawmakers who favor democracy in the 70-member chamber. They will collectively pose a greater obstacle to the city’s unpopular chief executive, C.Y. Leung, a man widely considered too deferential to Beijing.

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“This arrangement of 19 years — engineered by the British crown, enforced by mainland China after it took Hong Kong back — never sought, and was never given, resident approval. Hence the widespread, youth-driven protests two years ago, quickly dubbed the Umbrella Movement.”

By the terms of its constitution, called the Basic Law, Hong Kong has autonomy, but with an asterisk. Individual residents cannot elect the city’s leader, nor try to change policies through referenda; they pick just half of their lawmakers. This arrangement of 19 years — engineered by the British crown, enforced by mainland China after it took Hong Kong back — never sought, and was never given, resident approval. Hence the widespread, youth-driven protests two years ago, quickly dubbed the Umbrella Movement.

[Read the full story here, at Foreign Policy]

Since then, Beijing appears to be tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city. Many residents were unsettled when five members of a local book publisher disappeared last year, and yet Hong Kong’s government seemed to do little to help. (One man later resurfaced, sharing details of how he’d been kidnapped by state security and held for months in mainland China; a colleague is still missing.) A sudden demotion and resignations at the city’s independent graft commission signaled that the lauded agency might not be so independent anymore. The central government’s chief lawyer in Hong Kong said in April that the government could deploy British colonial laws still on the books, such as those for treason and sedition, to prosecute independence activists. This summer, the city government’s Electoral Affairs Commission barred six candidates from the LegCo race, five of whom demand either independence, or a vote on the issue among Hong Kong residents. (The commission’s chairman is appointed by the city’s chief executive.)

Cheng Chung-tai speaks to supporters in Hong Kong elections

“Since then, Beijing appears to be tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city. Many residents were unsettled when five members of a local book publisher disappeared last year, and yet Hong Kong’s government seemed to do little to help.”

But that didn’t stop the election of young upstarts who aim to amend the constitution, expand voting rights, and bolster civil liberties. Sixtus “Baggio” Leung of a new party called Youngspiration thinks Hong Kong should declare independence from China. (None of the Leungs mentioned in this article are related.) Nathan Law, at age 23 the youngest lawmaker in city history, believes residents deserve a vote for self-determination. Beijing officials “are scared of our influence because we are not controllable,” Law, a leader in the 2014 protests, said. “We can mobilize people and arouse people and create enough tension between Hong Kong and China.”

“A sudden demotion and resignations at the city’s independent graft commission signaled that the lauded agency might not be so independent anymore. The central government’s chief lawyer in Hong Kong said in April that the government could deploy British colonial laws still on the books, such as those for treason and sedition, to prosecute independence activists.”

Some of those activists have been preaching on radio and street corners that Hong Kong is historically and culturally separate from China. The city, they have said, cannot trust China, and city residents should decide their own fate. By July, according to one survey, more than 17 percent of residents, and nearly 40 percent of those aged 15 to 24, said the city should separate from China when the “one-country, two-systems” plan ends in 2047. In August, the banned candidates organized what they called the city’s first independence rally, drawing several thousand people. One of the organizers was Edward Tin-kei Leung, a 25-year-old philosophy student born on the mainland. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Administration Spends Another $10 Million to Register New Immigrant Voters 

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Months after the Obama administration spent $19 million to register new immigrant voters that will likely support Democrats in November, it’s dedicating an additional $10 million in a final push as the presidential election approaches. The money is distributed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Homeland Security agency that oversees lawful immigration, to organizations that help enhance pathways to naturalization by offering immigrants free citizenship instruction, English, U.S. history and civics courses. Officially, they’re known as “citizenship integration grants.”

Senate Leadership Speaks To Press About Stimulus Package

Since 2009 USCIS has doled out $63 million in these grants to prepare more than 156,000 resident immigrants in dozens of states for U.S. citizenship, according to the agency’s figures. Besides the free classes, Uncle Sam also offers immigrants free “naturalization legal services,” the latest USCIS grant announcement states. “Recipient organizations serve both traditional immigrant destinations and new immigrant getaway cities in 21 states,” the USCIS document reads. The latest $10 million investment will prepare approximately 25,000 residents from more than 50 countries, according to the agency. More than a dozen states—including California, New York, Florida, Washington and Ohio—with large resident immigrant populations are being targeted as well as cities with huge immigrant populations such as Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been aggressive in promoting its citizen integration grant program this year, offering large sums to recruit new groups that can offer immigrants the services they need to become citizens. Clearly, the ultimate goal is qualifying as many immigrants as possible to vote since they tend to cast ballots for Democrats. “We intend to award about $1 million to first-time recipients in the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program for fiscal year 2016,” the agency’s grant announcement states. “If you represent one of these organizations, or know of an interested organization, we strongly encourage that organization to consider applying. Additionally, another $9 million will fund programs that provide both citizenship instruction and instruction and naturalization application services.” Some might consider this a cash giveaway. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Disgraced FBI Director James Comey Gets Defensive About Timing of Clinton Investigation Labor Day Document Dump 

baloney-fbi-laborday-friday

FBI Director James Comey is defending the bureau’s Friday afternoon release of documents from the Hillary Clinton email investigation, saying “we don’t play games” and that the documents were put out when ready.

…Comey said he briefly considered holding the documents until after the Labor Day holiday, knowing that the Friday afternoon release would likely prompt criticism. He also said more document releases are coming.

JamesComey

We don’t play games. So we released it Friday. We are continuing to process more material and will release batches of documents as they are ready, no matter the day of the week,” Comey said.

[Read Comey’s full memo]

He concluded the memo by writing, “Those suggesting that we are ‘political’ or part of some ‘fix’ either don’t know us, or they are full of baloney (and maybe some of both).

[Read the full text here, at CNNPolitics.com]

On Tuesday, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized the FBI’s handling of the matter, accusing the bureau of playing politics with the release. Read the rest of this entry »


The Devil’s Cupcake: Meet the Mastermind Behind Clinton’s Massive Email Coverup 

Despite signs Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills obstructed efforts by investigators to obtain Clinton’s emails, the FBI invited Mills to attend Hillary’s interview at FBI headquarters as one of her lawyers.

Paul Sperry reports: Newly released FBI documents detailing the bureau’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails reveal the aide who would likely follow her into the White House as chief counsel was central to a cover-up of evidence sought by investigators.

“It’s absolutely outrageous. The FBI saw massive document destruction and clear intent to withhold material evidence,” he added, “and they just ignored that obstruction, and even let her sit in on the interview.”

— Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch President

Yet despite signs Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills obstructed efforts by investigators to obtain Clinton’s emails, the FBI invited Mills to attend Hillary’s interview at FBI headquarters as one of her lawyers.

[Kaine Hammered Over Clinton Email Report, Falsely Claims She Used One Device for Email]

“It’s absolutely outrageous,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.

“The FBI saw massive document destruction and clear intent to withhold material evidence,” he 51qT1HX4PgL._SL250_added, “and they just ignored that obstruction, and even let her sit in on the interview.”

[Order Paul Sperry’s book “The Great American Bank Robbery: The Unauthorized Report About What Really Caused the Great Recession” from Amazon.com]

The smoking gun is on page 16 of the FBI’s 47-page report. It details how Mills ultimately made the determinations about which emails should be preserved before she and Clinton decided to delete the rest as “personal.” Clinton conducted both government and personal business using a personal email account — clintonemail.com — tied to an unsecured server set up in the basement of her New York home.

The FBI makes clear the procedure Mills used to sort out the emails was suspicious.

“The whole thing was designed to keep Clinton Foundation emails away from investigators.”

For starters, Mills was the one who ordered the server host to move the emails from the server to a laptop where she could screen them. She told investigators she could “not recall” if emails with non-gov addresses were included in the transfer. It’s unlikely they were, because an aide who helped her search told the FBI she only screened for emails sent to or from Clinton with .gov and .mil — not .com — addresses.

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[Read the full story here, at the New York Post]

That means messages involving government business between Clinton and her then-deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin — the only aide who had an email account on the clintonemail.com system— were not likely captured. Nor were messages sent between Clinton and Mills and other aides using personal email addresses.

“The FBI saw massive document destruction and clear intent to withhold material evidence and they just ignored that obstruction, and even let [Mills] sit in on the interview.”

 – Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch President

Correspondence between Clinton and Abedin (who regularly emailed her boss from huma@clintonemail.com and HAbedin@hillaryclinton.com) is crucial, Fitton says, because Abedin acted as the go-between on requests for access to Clinton from shady foreign Clinton Foundation donors. He says the mushrooming “pay-for-play” scandal is the real reason the former secretary of state set up a private email system in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »


Hillary Stonewall Clinton Told FBI She (Cough) ‘Couldn’t Recall’ Key Details 26 Times

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Jim Stinson writes: 

…Clinton could not even recall when she got her security clearance. She told FBI agents she wasn’t sure if she carried it over from the U.S. Senate or if she got it from State. But perhaps even worse, Clinton told FBI agents she couldn’t even remember any briefing or training by State “related to the retention of federal records or handling of classified information.”

That admission could raise the question if Clinton was ever trained at all in handling secret information.

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Below is the list of things Clinton could not recall in the FBI interview:

  • When she received security clearance
  • Being briefed on how to handle classified material
  • How many times she used her authority to designate items classified
  • Any briefing on how to handle very top-secret “Special Access Program” material
  • How to select a target for a drone strike
  • How the data from her mobile devices was destroyed when she switched devices
  • The number of times her staff was given a secure phone
  • Why she didn’t get a secure Blackberry
  • Receiving any emails she thought should not be on the private system
  • Did not remember giving staff direction to create private email account
  • Getting guidance from state on email policy
  • Who had access to her Blackberry account
  • The process for deleting her emails
  • Ever getting a message that her storage was almost full
  • Anyone besides Huma Abedin being offered an account on the private server
  • Being sent information on state government private emails being hacked
  • Receiving cable on State Dept personnel securing personal email accounts
  • Receiving cable on Bryan Pagliano upgrading her server
  • Using an iPad mini
  • An Oct. 13, 2012, email on Egypt with Clinton pal Sidney Blumenthal
  • Jacob Sullivan using personal email
  • State Department protocol for confirming classified information in media reports
  • Every briefing she received after suffering concussions
  • Being notified of a FOIA request on Dec. 11, 2012
  • Being read out of her clearance
  • Any further access to her private email account from her State Department tenure after switching to her HRCoffice.com account
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Martha Stewart wishes she’d thought of saying “I don’t recall” to FBI agents.

Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES THEY DID: FBI Releases Hillary Clinton Email Investigation Documents

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The materials include what appears to be a summary of Clinton’s interview with agents.

Matt Zapotosky and Rosalind S. Helderman report: The FBI on Friday released a detailed report on its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, as well as what appears to be a summary of her interview with agents, providing the most thorough look yet at the probe that has dogged the campaign of the Democratic presidential nominee.

“The FBI’s investigation and forensic analysis did not find evidence confirming that Clinton’s e-mail accounts or mobile devices were compromised by cyber means. However, investigative limitations, including the FBI’s inability to obtain all mobile devices and various computer components associated with Clinton’s personal e-mail systems, prevented the FBI from conclusively determining whether the classified information transmitted and stored on Clinton’s personal server systems was compromised via cyber intrusion or other means.”

The documents, which total 58 pages, do not seem to provide any major revelations about Clinton’s actions — though they paint her and her staff as either unaware of or unconcerned with State Department policies on email use. The materials also show that the FBI was unable to track down all of Clinton’s devices, including phones, it sought, and that made it impossible for agents to definitively answer every question they had, including whether Clinton’s emails were hacked.

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“The FBI’s investigation and forensic analysis did not find evidence confirming that Clinton’s e-mail accounts or mobile devices were compromised by cyber means,” the author of the report wrote. “However, investigative limitations, including the FBI’s 12-hillary-clinton-email.w245.h368inability to obtain all mobile devices and various computer components associated with Clinton’s personal e-mail systems, prevented the FBI from conclusively determining whether the classified information transmitted and stored on Clinton’s personal server systems was compromised via cyber intrusion or other means.”

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

FBI Director James B. Comey announced in July that his agency would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton for her use of a private email server. Comey said that Clinton and her staffers were “extremely careless” in how they treated classified information, but investigators did not find they intended to mishandle such material. Nor did investigators uncover exacerbating factors — such as efforts to obstruct justice — that often lead to charges in similar cases, Comey said.

The FBI turned over to several congressional committees documents related to the probe and required that they be viewed only by those with appropriate security clearances, even though not all of the material was classified, legislators and their staffers have said.

Those documents included an investigative report and summaries of interviews with more than a dozen senior Clinton staffers, other State Department officials, former secretary of state Colin Powell and at least one other person. The documents released Friday represent but a fraction of those.

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A summary prepared by FBI agents of their hours-long interview with Clinton in July shows that Clinton’s account to law enforcement was generally consistent with what she has said about her email situation publicly, though she repeatedly told agents she could not recall important details or specific emails she was questioned about.

She told the agents that she began using the private server as a matter of convenience and denied the set-up was intended to help evade public records laws. She indicated she never sought nor received permission to use a private server and said she largely turned over the set-up of the system to aides. Read the rest of this entry »