Hillary Clinton: More Equal Under the Law Than Others

In his July 5 press briefing, FBI director James Comey spoke 2,341 words explaining his decision not to recommend criminal charges over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to transmit, receive and store classified information during her tenure as US Secretary of State. He could have named that tune in four words:

“Because she’s Hillary Clinton.”

Comey left no doubt whatsoever that Clinton and her staff broke the law: “[T]here is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information. For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. … any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”

“But that doesn’t matter, because she’s Hillary Clinton.”

18 U.S. Code § 1924 provides for a sentence of up to one year in prison for “Whoever, being an officer … of the United States, and, by virtue of his office, employment, position, or contract, becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified information of the United States, knowingly removes such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location …”

“No biggie. After all, she’s Hillary Clinton.”

18 US Code § 793 provides for a sentence of up to ten years in prison for “Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of [classified information] … through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust …”

“But hey, you know, she’s Hillary Clinton.”

When she became Secretary of State, Clinton signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement laying out the penalties for mishandling classified information. She claims she doesn’t remember signing it.

“Unlike mere mortals, Madame Secretary Clinton mustn’t be held to commitments she doesn’t happen to remember making.”

“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information,” said Comey, “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

“Because she’s Hillary Clinton.”

“To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences.”

“Unless she happens to be Hillary Clinton.”

“Silly proles … laws are for the little people.”

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


No, It’s Not Just You. Politics Really Does Drive People Nuts.

Crazy TV Face from rgbstock.com

Before Charles Krauthammer became a political columnist capable of simultaneously endearing and enraging all comers, left and right, he studied medicine at Harvard,  practiced psychiatry at Massachusetts General, and directed psychiatric research planning in the Carter administration. For that reason I hesitate to assume that he was joking, when, in a late 2003 column,  he coined the term “Bush Derangement Syndrome”: “[T]he acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush.”

Memory turns tricky as one ages, but I don’t think there’s anything especially new or novel about the phenomenon Krauthammer describes.

LBJ probably had JFK killed, right? And Nixon, we all know about HIM. Carter was a little too bland and hapless to arouse Derangement Syndrome, but he seems like an exception, not the rule.

I was only 16 when Ronald Reagan began his second term, but as I recall Iran-Contra and such set quite a few people  melting …  or maybe it was  trickling … down.

Mutterings about Bush the Elder were somewhat more muted, but I had little trouble suspending disbelief while reading Larry Beinhart’s excellent novel American Hero — upon which the hit film Wag The Dog was (to my mind too loosely) based, and which treated the first Gulf War as Lee Atwater’s masterpiece combo of  feature film and re-election commercial.

And the Clintons. Oh, the Clintons. Everything either of them ever did was crooked, everyone they ever met who later died  (which was almost everyone) was killed by them or for them, and they ran (together!) the most corrupt, dishonest, left-wing administration in history (until Barack Obama’s).

To my mind 1993-2001 is the period during which [insert name here] Derangement Syndrome metastasized from a persistent but flu-like malady into the (unfortunately not mercifully fatal) equivalent of Ebola — acute at the time, chronic ever since. Poor George W. Bush. Poor Barack Obama.

And there’s no end in sight. Even having (thankfully) set aside such questions as “is Ted Cruz the Zodiac Killer, and was his dad Lee Harvey Oswald’s sidekick?” I don’t see any future in which the next president of the United States doesn’t call forth the same emotional reactions and the same wild theories as the last three.

Is the problem them, or is it us? Well, of course it’s both, but how much of which? On reflection, I have to come down on the side of it being mostly us.

We expect too much from, give too much credit to, and place too much blame on, presidents and other politicians.

Yes, they encourage it. Politics is pretty much one part each circus, tent revival service and multi-level marketing pitch.

But we’re the ones who buy the ticket. We’re the ones who take the ride. We’re the ones who won’t change the channel. We’re addicted to the drama.

America will become a saner place when we figure out how to let politics and politicians be less important to us than their nearest relative, professional wrestling.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


America: Mourn … er, Born … on the 4th of July

English: "The Declaration of Independence...
E”The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776,” oil on canvas, by the American artist John Trumbull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m sure every generation agonizingly reappraises what we mean by the word “America,” whether or not our present is worthy of our history,  how well or poorly we’ve maintained the society our founding fathers envisioned. The 4th of July — “Independence Day” to commemorate the date on the 13 colonies’ Declaration of Independence — seems like an appropriate occasion for such reflection.

By way of not being a Debbie Downer, let’s look at some areas in which we’ve actually improved on 1776: These days a woman can own property and vote, an American of African descent is no longer someone ELSE’s property (or 3/5th of a person for purposes of stuffing Congress with “representation” for his or her owners), and we’re much less likely on average to be killed by bears, smallpox or angry Native Americans. All to the good, I’d say.

But looking over the list of colonial grievances levied against King George III in the Declaration, I think it’s fair to say that we suffer most of them today — on steroids — courtesy of Washington, DC.

“[E]rected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance” is my favorite complaint (in terms of creative phrasing) against Britain in the Declaration. These days, it sounds like the federal government’s job description.

“Taxation without representation” (not so concisely worded in the Declaration) was a major colonial complaint. How’s the US doing versus the mother country these days?

Well, the US boasts 537 elected federal officeholders (435 US Representatives, 100 US Senators, a president and a vice-president) to “represent” a population of about 320 million citizens, or about one “representative” per 600,000 citizens.

The United Kingdom’s House of Commons alone, on the other hand, consists of 650 members of parliament “representing” only 65 million citizens, or one representative per 100,000. Looks like they’ve got us beat “representation”-wise.

Adding insult to injury, American “representatives” spend their work days finding new and creative ways to tax the rest of us to death while simultaneously depriving us of the rights we allegedly rebelled to secure way back when.

America, it seems to me, has fallen far short of what she could have been had we actually secured our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and jealously guarded them to this day. Between the fireworks and grilling out, take a moment to shed a tear with me for what might have been and isn’t.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.