Never Trump Does The Hindenburg

Donald TrumpThat crashing sound and acrid burning smell you’ve noticed of late is the “NeverTrump” (NT) movement meeting political reality in the same manner the dirigible Hindenburg met the ground in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

To review the bidding, the NT cabal is led by a small coterie of Republican elitists and disgruntled king-makers. They think that the 13 million or so GOP voters who chose Donald Trump in the primaries (a record, by the way, and some two and a half million more votes than Mittens Romney received in 2012) should be given the middle finger, told to go pound sand, and then be expected to embrace whichever pliable stooge the establishment puts forward after they steal the nomination from Trump.

They are unlikely to succeed in overturning at the convention the clear popular choice of rank and file Republicans across the country, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying. Like the Hindenburg, NT is kept afloat by a combination of hot air and noxious gas. The most gaseous in the effort is William Kristol, he of the perpetual smirk. He has been holding his breath and stamping his feet since midway through the primary process. He’s throwing a gargantuan tantrum because the “little people” who make up the GOP base didn’t listen to them.

Billy Kristol’s main claim to fame is that he was Chief of Staff for Vice President Dan Quayle. Billy used to like to boast that he was the smartest person on Quayle’s staff.  As Charles Krauthammer observed, this “is akin to being the tallest building in Topeka Kansas.”

As if to prove Krauthammer correct, Billy’s first self-described “bombshell” for NT was to announce that David French would run as a third party alternative to Trump. If you are asking “David who?” you’re in good company. French is a writer nobody has ever heard of who writes for a once fine magazine, National Review, that nobody reads anymore. Eventually, even the anonymous Mr. French could see the Hindenburg-like trajectory of NT and withdrew from consideration. What followed was a series of trial balloons that made the Hindenburg look like the Starship Enterprise.

So the NT brain trust switched from recruiting a third party candidate to oppose Trump to stealing the nomination at the convention next week. I use the verb “steal” advisedly but correctly. The NT strategy is to change the rules (the rules every delegate to the convention ran under and was elected under) so that delegates legally bound to vote for Trump won’t have to do so. For instance, Republicans in my Congressional District cast 69.58 percent of their ballots for Trump, thereby earning him all three delegates from this district. The NT folks think that these delegates ought to ignore the votes of the 70 percent of local Republicans who sent them to the convention and vote for somebody else, anybody else, even if that person wasn’t on the ballot and received zero votes.

The tallest building in Topeka Kansas and his Quisling Caucus apparently think this would be a positive development for the GOP. After all, few things reinforce faith in democracy like ignoring the actual votes of the people. Billy World’s Trump Derangement Syndrome is so advanced that they believe changing the rules, not in the middle of the game but 95 percent through the game, and thereby stealing the nomination from the clear choice of the Republican primary electorate is justified by their prissy, starched collar, blue nosed disdain for this ruffian outsider named Trump.

Success for their larceny would rupture the party, perhaps irreversibly, but they don’t care. The great unwashed among the Republican voters – those barbarians in “fly over” country who ignored the advice of their betters inside the D.C. beltway – need to be taught a lesson. The Republican Party will be a shambles if their gambit succeeds, but at least they might have a chance to rule over the ashes. They need to destroy the party in order to save it.

As I said in my previous column, I know many fine folks who are skeptical of Trump. These are “worker bee” types by and large who, like me, had other favorites earlier in the primaries. The first part of conversations with them usually consists of my saying “yes, I know,” “I agree,” “you’re right about that,” etc. Lately to save time I open the conversation with, “I will stipulate to every negative thing you are going to say about Trump, now let’s talk about the 3 to 4 Supreme Court appointments and several hundred Federal court appointments the next president will have.”

For it is in the courts that the existential threat to our liberties lie. If there were 5 or 6 young, healthy Anton Scalias and Clarence Thomas’s currently on the Supreme Court I likely wouldn’t really care who won this November. But there are not. Donald Trump has published a list of stellar conservative jurists as candidates for court appointments. Hillary Clinton’s court appointments will be far left, quasi-Stalinist activists. She will fill the federal bureaucracy with conservative-haters who will make Lois Lerner look like Mother Theresa. The full force of the federal government will be embarked on a search and destroy mission against conservatives, our values and our freedoms.

Think I’m exaggerating? The Christian bakers in Oregon who demurred on participating in the gay wedding were not only fined $150,000 but also ordered to attend mandatory – mandatory – “sensitivity and diversity” classes. A couple of months ago Loretta Lynch promised to “vigorously prosecute” anyone who spread “inflammatory rhetoric” about Islam. The Obama-appointed U.S. attorney in Idaho has warned that it is “very likely against the law” to publicly comment in a “negative, provocative” manner on the case of three immigrant minors who molested a 5-year-old. The attorneys general of 11 Marxist U.S. states want to make felons of corporate CEOs who publicly challenge “climate change.” Add that to the violent onslaught on campus against conservative speakers. At a Trump rally in San Jose a month ago the police stood idly by while ordinary citizens were brutally assaulted (7 were hospitalized and cars vandalized while attempting to attend the public event). The day after, the mayor of San Jose blamed Trump and his “extremist” supporters for the disturbance. The local newspaper heartily agreed with him, stating that “extremist views like Trump’s have no place in civilized discourse and as such are certainly not protected by the first amendment.” Emphasis added. Those are chilling words, but just a sample of what would be allowed, nay encouraged, by a Clinton-appointed judiciary and executive branch.

Like it or not, there is only one candidate who can stop this from happening. His name is Donald Trump. Winston Churchill said of Democracy that “it is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” So it is with Trump the candidate. Imperfect, flawed and a thesaurus full of other pejoratives, but if you do not vote for him you are enabling the dark night of socialist repression that will most assuredly flow out of a Clinton regime. The shredding of the constitution will be on your head.

The last retort of the NT Clinton enablers is often “sometimes party loyalty demands too much.” Indeed it does. My first two votes for president were cast in 1972 and 1976. In neither year did I vote for the Republican nominee. I’m not supporting Donald Trump out of loyalty to my party. I’m doing it out of loyalty to my country.

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review.

Coming Together After Orlando

We live our lives day by day, but we are defined by those moments which we carry with us forever. Whether a wedding, the birth of a child or an historic event, we remember the fluid details and panorama of experiences that we lose in an average Tuesday as soon as its over.

I can remember exactly where I was win the Challenger exploded on liftoff, when the first Gulf War started and a moment by moment mental reel of 9/11. Some of these moments are directly related to us. Others are outside events of which we have no part but leave their indelible mark on our personal timeline and those of everyone around us.

Political campaigns too, are marked by moments. Richard Nixon’s sweaty five o’clockshadow in 1960. The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Ronald Reagan using his singular wit and ability to turn a negative into a positive against Walter Mondale. And of course, Michael Dukakis riding around on a tank in a helmet that reduced his stature — literally and figuratively — and became the symbol of a man not ready for the White House.

2016 has been filled with those candidate-generated moments; Donald Trump is setting the land speed record for how many of them he can produce weekly. But it has also had more than its fair share of outside events that have diverted the course and narrative of the contest. And all of them have had to do with many, many innocent people dying. Whether in Paris or Brussels or San Bernardino and now Orlando, we’ve been spectators to horrific acts of terror and bloodshed that shake our personal and national stability to their cores.

Most of the details about the attack in Orlando will take time to sort out. Why did Omar Mateen pledge allegiance to ISIS? Why was his outlet extreme violence? Why did he choose the Pulse nightclub instead of a diner? Who were the people that lost their lives? Who is still in the hospital fighting for theirs? To be sure, the political and national debate around the massacre has already escalated too quickly, will achieve too little in actual conversation or understanding and dissipate after a few weeks.

That is how we deal with tragedy in America in 2016. We are a nation uncertain of ourselves, today, tomorrow and into the future. Our collective national psyche is still badly damaged as we attempt to dig out of the wreckage — physical, financial and spiritual. We can blame our short attention span on the 722 inputs each of us has to gather news and information, but that is a cop out. If we sit and think about tragedies like Orlando for too long, it means we have to confront and come to grips with their root causes. Those are discussions that we are unfortunately all too unwilling to have.

What is the story of Orlando? Is it the story of a disturbed individual carrying out a disturbing act in an all too premeditated manner? If we find Mateen to have had a history of mental health problems, do we discuss the ongoing and overarching issues we have in that area? If, as he says, he was inspired by ISIS, are we willing to say that either our actions overseas are a contributing factor? Or are we willing to admit that, yes, even in America, someone can take their faith to a bad and dark place and carry out horrific acts in its name?

Or are we willing to discuss the fact that this man had become so disillusioned and alone that he felt that his only method in which to be remembered was to take the lives of dozens of people just out having fun on a Saturday night? How did he come by the weapons he used in the attack? Did he buy them legally? Did he buy them illegally? Should he have been allowed to do the former? How was able able to do the latter?

It would be hard to believe that the gunman didn’t know he was targeting a popular gay establishment. Was that his motivation? Was it a religiously-inspired protest against the gay and lesbian community’s strides toward acceptance, awareness and equality? Or did he simply know that there would be hundreds and hundreds of people there, many who would be unwitting victims of his treachery and bloodletting?

Our political discourse has fallen so far that the discussion has already been reduced to guns, gays and God. Our level of political discourse has fallen so far that you can’t even offer “thoughts and prayers” on Twitter or Facebook without being attacked. We should as a nation, come together in finding answers and understanding as to why and how such an attack could happen — and that doesn’t mean simply determining where the killer bought his gun.

Instead we will almost assuredly find ourselves more divided, our political envelope further pushed toward the extreme edges and our leaders content that they’ve displayed the appropriate level of outrage to score cheap political points.

After the eerily similar attack on the Bataclan Theater in Paris last fall, Donald Trump intimated that because of France’s strict firearms laws, the victims couldn’t defend themselves. Florida allows for broad firearm ownership and generally protects those who use guns in self-defense. What’s his answer this time?

If Mateen’s motivations were truly fueled by ISIS, as he claimed prior to the attack, will Hillary Clinton admit that there is such a thing as fundamentalist Islam and that it actually doesn’t like us? Even President Obama called them terrorist attacks. Are our politicians able to even imagine standing at the lectern and doing something other than triangulating how best to profit with voters with who already agree with them?

These moments define us, our relationships and ultimately our country. The city of Orlando, the families and friends of the victims, and the first responders who took out the killer, put the dead to rest, tended to the wounded and comforted others will never forget what happened Saturday night. As they attempt to find meaning and ultimately peace, instead of ratcheting up the volume on the issues that divide us, maybe just once we could put that aside and come together. If even for just a moment.

Republican political consultant and communications advisor to Lincoln Labs.

Election Day: Questions, What to Look For and a Few Predictions

Voting boothElection primary day is finally here in California. Watching much of the rest of the country’s voters engage in the process of choosing presidential nominees is little more than a spectator sport for Californians. While the choices of whom to vote for have been limited by those other states’ voters, Californians now will get a chance to speak through the ballot. Other important races will be decided, as well, and analysts will be looking for trends that could indicate how November campaigns turn out.

A few items to think about and a look into a cloudy and cracked crystal ball:

The Presidential Campaigns

Questions/What to Look For: Is the reported surge in Democratic registration a sign that the Bernie Sanders campaign is bringing in new voters? Will they show up on Election Day? On the Republican side, does Trump’s presumptive nominee status keep some Republicans away from the polls affecting down ticket races? Is there a protest vote against Trump by some GOP voters who either skip the presidential ballot or vote for another name in the Republican column?

Prediction: Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic primary by a larger margin than the 2-percent edge most polls have been predicting. A protest vote against Trump will be measured by his securing about 75% of the Republicans who vote, meaning one-quarter of the Republicans are not satisfied with the GOP presumptive nominee.

U.S. Senate

Questions/What to Look for: Will Attorney General Kamala Harris have a large commanding lead over the second place finisher or will the race be within 10-15%. If the latter, and that second place finisher is Congress member Loretta Sanchez, that will set up an interesting fall campaign for the first major seat affected by the top two primary. Will Latino voters rally to Sanchez in big numbers? (And how will that affect the thinking of those considering statewide races in 2018? I’m thinking of you, Antonio.)

Prediction: Harris has a comfortable win. If Sanchez qualifies for the finals, her fall campaign will turn on how Sanchez manages to find the sweet spot of corralling enough Democrats while attracting a strong Republican vote.

Shaping the Legislature

Questions/What to Look for: Outside competing interests are pouring in big money to help shape a legislature supportive of their issues. Will a trend of more business friendly Democrats continue to blossom or will labor and progressive candidates score big? Much of the independent expenditures come from advocates on both sides of education and environmental issues and success could lead to dramatic changes on how those issues are addressed by the next legislature. If the environmental candidates do well, will that increase the interest of environmentalist/financial player Tom Steyer to consider a gubernatorial run? Will a dominant Democratic showing increase the chances of the Democrats securing supermajorities in both houses in November? Or will supermajority even matter if a large number of Democratic victors are considered pro-business Democrats?

Prediction: Californians deep-blue hue will only become deeper—at least on the surface. However, business will do well enough to make for some interesting top two runoffs in November and keep the intramural conflicts within the Democratic Party active.

Local Measures

Questions/What to Look for: Many tax and bond measures appear on local ballots. Will success or failure of these measures be a harbinger for how voters will respond to statewide tax and bond measures in the fall? Will success of a nine-county parcel tax to protect the San Francisco Bay mean more regional ventures around the state in the future?

Predictions: According to the historical record, a large number of the tax and bond measures pass at the local level. That record remains intact. However, this may not be an indication of how voters will respond to statewide measures in November. The statewide measures often have more sophisticated opposition campaigns than local measures face. If the San Francisco Bay parcel taxes pass–close, but I think the measure will pass–it will encourage those who believe dealing with some of California’s problems over a sprawling area calls for regional solutions and we will see more efforts in that direction.

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Never Mind Never Trump

To do a brief full disclosure, I was a national director of the Super PAC which created the Draft Ben Carson for President movement and, after he officially announced his candidacy, the Super PAC (2016 Committee) supporting that candidacy. After Carson withdrew I wanted to support Marco Rubio, but he imploded shortly after Carson, so for about a nano-second I was the congressional district chairman for Ted Cruz in my Glendale, CA based congressional district.

That means Donald Trump was my fourth choice for president. He is now my first choice, indeed the only choice that makes any sense. He is the only choice that gives hope that America and her traditional freedoms will not be thrown down the rat hole represented by putting another Democrat in the Oval Office on January 20, 2017.

Since Trump clinched the nomination thousands of trees and millions of electrons have been sacrificed to document the nascent (for UCLA grads that means “new”) “Never Trump” movement among Republicans. There are some well-meaning activists, supporters of one or more of the other 147 GOP candidates for president, among the Neverland folks.  Many newbies to the political process among them, their disappointment is palpable and understandable. They get a pass. What is not excusable is, for lack of a better definition, the “conservative establishment” types who are spearheading and cheerleading for the NeverTrump, Neverland crusaders.

I know most of the NeverTrump/Neverland folks. I’ve worked with some of them. A smaller group of them I consider friends. That said, with very few exceptions the NeverTrump leadership (largely confined to the East Coast) consists of navel gazing, thumb sucking narcissists. Most of them have never run for office or been in a hands-on position in a winning political campaign. I wouldn’t trust them to win a municipal water board campaign in California.

But they are “very important people” and “deep thinkers” – just ask them. In fact, you don’t need to ask them, they’ll tell you…over and over again. They are mad as Hell that the Republican primary voters did not follow instructions. So to punish the GOP plebeians who disobeyed orders and nominated someone outside the acceptable Conservative Caste, these conservative “leaders” are willing to turn the country, and most importantly the Supreme Court, over to Hillary/Bernie/Joe, all of whom would govern as Obama’s third term.

As my dear old friend John Nolan used to say, “stupid, stupid, stupid. I am so tired of stupidity!” (Side note to personal and political friends, John Nolan was Pat’s father).

I am hardly blind to Donald Trump’s deficiencies as the ideal conservative or even ideal Republican. But neither am I blind to the fact that one – and only one – issue truly matters for the future of the country, and that is the future of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Like it or not SCOTUS is where the action is in re: determining the future direction of American governance. For the past 40 years, from Roe v. Wade through Kelo (eminent domain) to gay “marriage” and Obamacare, the left has won its most significant victories in SCOTUS – victories it could never have won at the ballot box. Sadly but truly, SCOTUS has had and will continue to have much more influence on America than any majority in Congress.

The next president is likely to have at last two and perhaps four appointments to SCOTUS. Given the current 4–4 balance in SCOTUS, the next president will set the ideological balance for the next 20–30 years, and that ideological majority will form America’s politics, mores and future … until most of you reading this column are dead.

We cannot be sure what kind of appointees we’d get from President Trump, but we most certainly can be sure what we’d get from Hillary/Bernie/Joe – far left ideologues who would pave the way for America’s descent into a dark, extended nightmare of socialist tyranny.

My NeverTrump-Neverland friends rightfully point out that there’s no assurance that Trump’s appointees would be stellar conservative constitutionalists. They are right of course. SCOTUS appointments are notoriously fickle. Hence Ronald Reagan’s huge mistake in putting Sandra Day O’Connor  on the bench juxtaposed with George H.W. Bush’s enormous favor to America in adding Clarence Thomas to the Court. So who was the better conservative in that trade-off?

Here’s the exercise I want Trump deniers to do. Pick a number between one and one hundred, said number representing what you think are the odds that President Trump would put good judges on SCOTUS. Then pick a similar number for Hillary/Bernie/Joe. This is a trick question, as it really doesn’t matter what number you chose for Trump. His number is going to be bigger than the Democrats’ number, which is zero. That is game, set and match for me.

There are many other issues on this topic worthy of discussion, and I will do my best in future columns to do justice to both the pro and anti Trump viewpoints. I will close with a quote from the always wise Dennis Prager, who recently wrote: “I just don’t understand how anyone who understands the threat the left and the Democrats pose to America will refuse to vote for the only person who can stop them.”

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review. 

California governor Brown endorses Clinton

As reported by CNN:

California Governor Jerry Brown lent his support to Hillary Clinton Tuesday, saying it was the only way to “stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump.”

Next week’s California primary is the final battleground for Clinton as she prepares to clinch the nomination. But it has become an unexpectedly tight race between her and Bernie Sanders, which does not bode well for Clinton.

Even though she will likely secure the nomination in New Jersey, which also goes to the polls June 7, Clinton has banked on the support of non-white Americans. A loss in the diverse Golden State would show that Sanders has made in-roads with these voters. Sanders has pledged to stay in the race until the Democratic convention in July. …

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No presidential debate in California after Clinton breaks promise

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:

There will be no Democratic presidential debate in California, because Hillary Clinton’s campaign reneged Monday on its earlier promise to participate in one. In February, the campaigns of both Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders agreed to debate in California before the state’s June 7 primary.

But with Clinton comfortably ahead in both pledged delegates and superdelegates — plus her desire to pivot to her likely general election matchup against Republican Donald Trump — there was little political incentive for her campaign to participate.

The Chronicle, as the Sanders campaign noted last week, also expressed interest in co-hosting a debate. But that debate will not happen.

“We have declined Fox News’ invitation to participate in a debate in California,” said campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri. “As we have said previously, we plan to compete hard in the remaining primary states, particularly California, while turning our attention to …

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Effort to thwart terrorism must start at the U.S. border

border fence mexico immigrationNearly 15 years after the 9/11 attacks, we are still debating what to do to fight terrorism.

Following the attacks in Brussels, President Obama called for bringing the killers to justice, Donald Trump called for waterboarding captured terrorists, and Hillary Clinton called for increased surveillance and interception of communications.

Ted Cruz wants proactive policing in Muslim communities to uncover radicalism, Bernie Sanders wants the international community to come together, and John Kasich wants heads of state to assemble teams to examine vulnerabilities and close security gaps.

Cruz would try “carpet bombing” ISIS territory and Trump would use overwhelming military power against the Islamic State.

Trump also would control the borders more tightly, an idea derided by Clinton, who said America doesn’t “hide behind walls.”

We’ll see.

There are problems with every approach. Overwhelming military force leaves unanswered the question, “And then what?” Will we permanently station U.S. troops to hold the territory and protect the innocent population from the seething rage of rival factions? It’s an option some have supported in the past. Others have waited in line for six hours to rally for candidates who are against it.

The plan to bring terrorists to justice suffers from two major problems. Arresting a terrorist seems only to create a job opening in the organization. And U.S. courts are not friendly to secret intelligence sources or coerced confessions. It’s easy to sneer at “reading terrorists their Miranda rights,” but our justice system protects the rights of the accused, and if we weaken those protections, we all will be at greater risk of wrongful convictions.

Military tribunals are an option for captured foreign terrorists, but Obama wants to close the prison at Guantanamo, which may complicate the process.

Increased surveillance of communications and “pro-active policing” risk further violating the rights of innocent Americans. The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures and requires the government to get a search warrant. The Fourth Amendment survived the Civil War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Cold War. Are we going to lose it in a war against terrorists?

It’s a great idea to have international cooperation and to close security gaps. We’ve been trying to do that for a lot longer than 15 years.

That leaves border control. There is room for improvement on that.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, recently held a hearing on the use of asylum claims to avoid deportation. It has long been U.S. policy to allow immigrants, particularly women and children from Central America, to stay in the United States if they assert that they have a credible fear of persecution at home.

In the past, many asylum seekers who entered the U.S. illegally were held in custody until their cases were heard in court, but in 2009 Obama changed that policy. Now anyone who says the magic words “credible fear of persecution” is released and given permission to work in the U.S.

Last year, hundreds of immigrants from Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan, Iran and Syria who were caught entering the U.S. were able to stay in the country by saying those magic words.

“Dangerous criminals and potential terrorists are gaming the system without consequence,” DeSantis said. “These numbers illustrate vulnerabilities throughout our immigration system.”

We could probably tighten that up pretty quickly. But first we need a president who thinks it’s a problem.

Hillary Clinton Put Herself Above the Law

hillary-clinton-biopics-cancelled-ftrIn August 2011, Hurricane Irene was threatening to disrupt communications on the eastern seaboard, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal Blackberry was malfunctioning.

State Department official Stephen D. Mull emailed Clinton aide Huma Abedin to offer a back-up. The government Blackberry would have “an operating State Department email account,” he wrote, and would “mask her identity,” but “would also be subject to FOIA requests.”

Abedin wrote back that it “doesn’t make a whole lot of sense” for Clinton to have a State Department Blackberry.

Mull’s email is startling. He was alerting Clinton’s staff that messages sent on a State Department-issued Blackberry would be public records under the Freedom of Information Act, as required by law. Her private server, he implicitly acknowledged, was invisible to public records searches.

“It just boggles the mind that the State Department allowed this circumstance to arise in the first place,” said U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who recently held a hearing in Washington on a Freedom of Information Act request brought by the government watchdog group Judicial Watch. “It’s just very, very, very troubling,” he said.

The Freedom of Information Act was signed into law in 1966 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and it was expanded and strengthened in 1974 following the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.

The public has the right to request access to records from any federal agency. The government is required to disclose information requested under the FOIA except for nine specific exemptions, which include personal privacy and national security, but not “running for president.”

Judge Sullivan may allow Judicial Watch to take testimony from Mrs. Clinton’s aides, State Department officials and perhaps the former secretary of state herself, starting in April.

Clinton also may be interviewed by the FBI, which is separately investigating whether anyone committed a crime by mishandling classified material. The State Department says 22 emails on Clinton’s private server contained “top secret” information. Another 65 have been classified “secret” and 2,028 more are “confidential.”

Now there are reports that the Justice Department has granted immunity from prosecution to the former State Department employee and campaign staffer who set up the private server at Clinton’s home in 2009. Bryan Pagliano invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when called before Congress last September. He will have to answer questions from the FBI.

This is not nothing.

At a minimum, this is a secretary of state who put herself above the law — a law that was signed by a Democratic president — and who handled sensitive information in a manner that ought to disqualify her from ever receiving a security clearance.

It is bizarre that the Clinton presidential campaign is rolling along as if none of this is happening. Hillary Clinton could become the next president of the United States, assuming she makes it to the November election and has still not been charged with a crime.

But the nation’s ethical standard for president of the United States should be higher than “has still not been charged with a crime.”

We need transparency laws like the Freedom of Information Act so the public can hold the government accountable for its actions. When officials can operate in complete secrecy, there is no check on their actions or their ethics.

Using a private email server to evade the Freedom of Information Act is like taking the license plates off a car to evade a ticket from a red-light camera system.

Sooner or later, it’s going to end in a horrible wreck.

Susan Shelley is a San Fernando Valley author, a former television associate producer and twice a Republican candidate for the California Assembly.

Dem-on-Dem spats belie party unity in San Jose

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

SAN JOSE — Tired of taking potshots from Bernie Sanders supporters at the California Democratic Party’s convention this weekend, Dana Smith tried to make nice with one antagonist.

“Whoever wins in November, it will be a Democrat,” Smith, a Daly City delegate holding two pro-Hillary Clinton signs, told Clark McCartney, a retired teacher from Riverside County. “Not if she’s indicted first,” he barked.

Even as party bigwigs assure the more than 3,000 Democratic activists gathered at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center that the Republican presidential candidates’ “food fight” will virtually guarantee that a Democrat stays in the White House, some of the rank-and-file don’t seem so sure as they watch the Dem-on-Dem spats on the convention floor.

Indeed, with the traditionally decisive Super Tuesday nominating contests just two days away — and Clinton romping to victory in Saturday’s South Carolina Democratic Primary — many convention-goers appear to have more in common with their Republican counterparts than they might want to admit. …

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Division and Disagreement Face CA Democrats in 2016

Democrat DonkeyConflicts over the spoils of Democratic leadership in California have come to define the party’s prospects and future in 2016 and beyond.

Division and disagreement

Falling victim to their extreme dominance in statewide politics, an increasing number of Democrats have sharpened their blades against one another this election season — driving uncomfortable wedges between minority groups that have long formed the bedrock of the Democrats’ broad coalition. “The racial and ethnic overtones of politics in California, the country’s most diverse state, surfaced again last week,” the Sacramento Bee observed. “Two Democratic Assembly incumbents, Mike Gipson and Cheryl Brown, both of whom are black, are facing challenges from Latina opponents within their own party.”

“The challenges to Brown and Gipson are motivated by their stances on environmental legislation, not race. But the prospect of unseating two black incumbents, with African Americans’ share of the state’s population dwindling, stirred concern.”

Elsewhere, some Democrats have found themselves in hot water for departing too far or too often from party orthodoxy — a dangerous move in increasingly partisan and populist times. In California’s 7th District, for instance, Rep. Ami Bera has begun to lose key support within his own party, thanks to votes roiling labor and other elements of California Democrats’ liberal base. “Bera’s votes on issues such as Syria refugees and trade are coming under intense examination as local Democrats debate withholding endorsement from him in his re-election race against Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican,” McClatchy reported. “Last week, the Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club, Bera’s home club, voted against endorsing him.”

Brown’s balancing act

In his State of the State speech this month, Gov. Jerry Brown sought to ameliorate some intraparty divides while holding fast to others. “Legislative Democrats say they can spend some of California’s budget surplus on expanded government services without disrupting Gov. Jerry Brown’s push for fiscal restraint,” as the Sacramento Bee also reported, while Brown urged them “instead to focus on paying down debts and liabilities incurred in the past.” But Brown didn’t mention the multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project that has been one of his marquee projects, despite arousing the frustration of environmentalists to his left who believed cap-and-trade money should not be spent on the system.

A recent Field poll revealed that a modest but sharply critical segment of Democrats appear to have turned their backs on Brown. Fully 17 percent said a description of Brown as having “the right experience to deal with the problems facing California” applied “not at all,” while 18 percent took the same dim view of the claim that Brown “has the vision to lead California into the future.” At the same time, over 40 percent of Democrat respondents agreed at least somewhat with the idea that Brown favors too many unaffordable projects and isn’t doing enough to help average Californians.

But Brown has consolidated support, despite sometimes unorthodox policies, to an unprecedented degree in California politics. At a time when Democrats nationwide have become increasingly split over whether to embrace Hillary Clinton as their nominee, Brown’s name has perennially appeared in conversations about where they might look for an alternative to both Clinton and Sanders. Despite Brown’s refusal to play along, he has been floated once again — by New York City liberals, according to Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen. “Their pet conspiracy theory is that President Barack Obama so detests Hillary Clinton — and worries about her ability to win in November and preserve his agenda — that his Justice Department will indict her this spring on charges of breaching national security in the email scandal,” he wrote at the Sacramento Bee. “Exit a wounded Hillary, enter a prominent Democrat to rescue the party — none other than California’s governor.”

Originally published by