Here’s the standard Hillary Clinton employed to decide which ‘private’ emails to delete

Hillary Clinton’s public comments confused even the half-interested mainstream reporters assigned to write about her State Department email scandal.

The former secretary sent conflicting signals about whether she hoards or shuns tech gadgets, and she assured people that she did her due diligence when deciding — without any oversight — which of her State emails were worth keeping (those are the “official” ones) and which could safely be tossed into history’s waste bin (those are the “personal” ones.)

Thanks to a column at Time, at least we have an idea of the criteria she used to decide whether her State emails fell into the “official” or “personal” categories: She had top men do a keyword search on her email account and mass delete everything that matched up. Nobody had to read any of those emails to delve more deeply into the true nature of their content; in fact, the process didn’t even require that any of the emails be opened before being deleted.

“The Clintons play by their own set of rules,” wrote David Von Drehle:

And in this case, the former Secretary of State explained, those rules bless her decision to erase some 30,000 emails from the family server despite knowing that the emails had become a subject of intense interest to congressional investigators. These were merely “private personal emails,” Clinton averred, “emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes.” After she finished taking questions, Clinton’s staff disclosed that no one actually read through those 30,000-odd documents before she “chose not to keep” them.

… As a candidate for President in 2008, she included “secret White House email accounts” as part of her critique of the Bush Administration’s “stunning record of secrecy and corruption.” Now, however, Clinton is leaning heavily on “Trust me.” For more than a year after she left office in 2013, she did not transfer work-related email from her private account to the State Department. She commissioned a review of the 62,320 messages in her account only after the department — spurred by the congressional investigation — asked her to do so. And this review did not involve opening and reading each email; instead, Clinton’s lawyers created a list of names and keywords related to her work and searched for those. Slightly more than half the total cache — 31,830 emails — did not contain any of the search terms, according to Clinton’s staff, so they were deemed to be “private, personal records.”

Of course, we don’t know what keywords Clinton’s camp used to winnow the email record; but then again, it hardly matters. If you’re willing to trust the former secretary with self-selecting which emails were “private” and which were “official” from her illegal, quasi-governmental work email account, then you’ve already decided to trust that having such an account is acceptable in the first place.

March Madness indeed: Here’s Obama’s climate change ad hominem attack bracket

President Obama’s Twitter account, which appears to be assiduously followed by young women wanting the president to follow them back (seriously, go check it out), is asking folks to fill out a tournament bracket for the month of March.

You might be thinking this is the bracket for the NCAA basketball tournament, which the president fills out each year, just like the regular sports fans. But the focus of this one is political: It’s a PR stunt to castigate critics of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Clicking on this tweet takes you to the website of Organizing for Action, where the bracket of shame appears:


“Despite the overwhelming scientific agreement that climate change is real and man-made, these sixteen members of Congress prefer to live in a fantasy world, refusing to accept the basic facts,” OFA scolds. “You can learn more about their denial here. Help us pick the worst of the worst. Vote now!”

You can also highlight photos of each climate evildoer to learn more about their anti-scientific prejudices.

But there’s no word on where Obama and OFA plan to take this bracket once they’ve whittled down the field. Will there be a champion?

Ad hominem insults to sitting lawmakers with whom you must work for the good of all Americans… seems like a very presidential use of social media to us.

Kerry says doing away with ‘outdated’ fossil fuels an urgent moral imperative

On the same day a new federal report projected the U.S. could achieve a 35 percent rate of reliance on wind energy, Secretary of State John Kerry called for eleventh-hour action to move away from fossil fuels.

Describing America’s ongoing relationship with coal and petroleum energy as a climate-altering habit that represents “one of the biggest threats facing our planet today,” the nation’s top diplomat said the government is in position to fix the problem by manipulating federal policy to steer the country toward alternative sources.

“It is time, my friends, for people to do real cost accounting. The bottom line is that we can’t only factor in the price of immediate energy needs – we have to include the long-term cost of carbon pollution,” Kerry said in a speech to members of the Atlantic Council, a global affairs think tank.

“We have to factor in the cost of survival. And if we do, we will find that pursuing clean energy now is far more affordable than paying for the consequences of climate change later.”

Kerry also made sure to incorporate a swipe at those who call for more debate on the effectiveness of addressing climate through policy (read: climate change deniers), saying the world is literally out of time to discuss the issue any longer.

“We literally do not have the time to waste debating whether we can say ‘climate change,'” he warned. “We have to talk about how we can solve climate change.” That remark may also have been aimed at Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has fielded questions this week over the veracity of news reports that the state has curtailed the use of politicized terms like “climate change” in official correspondence.

Also on Thursday, a report released by the White House and the Department of Energy prognosticated a near future in which wind power contributes indispensable amounts of energy to the nation’s power grid.

Titled “Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States,” the report forecasts that wind turbines could generate 35 percent of the energy for the U.S. power grid by 2050 – if, that is, the government begins refocusing energy policy to favor wind energy over fossil fuels.

“The Wind Vision report updates and expands upon the DOE’s 2008 report, 20% Wind Energy by 2030, through analysis of scenarios of wind power supplying 10% of national end-use electricity demand by 2020, 20% by 2030, and 35% by 2050,” the report summary states.

“…The Wind Vision analysis concludes that it is both viable and economically compelling to deploy U.S. wind power generation in a portfolio of domestic, low-carbon, low-pollutant power generation solutions at the Study Scenario levels. Realizing these levels of deployment, however, would depend upon both immediate and long-term actions — principally identifying continued wind cost reductions, adding needed transmission capacity, and supporting and enhancing siting and permitting activities — to complement any federal, state, tribal, and local policies that may be enacted.”


Government is the problem

While that headline may sound like the protestation of a self-selected libertarian minority, the sentiment appears to be gaining unprecedented traction with the general public.

In a Gallup poll released Thursday, a sampling of Americans from all 50 states identified the government itself as the most urgent problem America faces. It’s not the first time that’s happened – in fact, the March survey marks the fourth consecutive Gallup poll that has placed government at the top of America’s stack of problems – but it suggests that the idea is becoming entrenched in the political zeitgeist.

Eighteen percent of those who took part in the open-ended survey said the federal government was the nation’s biggest problem, outpacing the next-biggest problem – the economy – by seven percentage points.


The top three issues – government, the economy and joblessness – have remained at the forefront of Americans’ concerns, even as other issues that receive a disproportionate amount of media attention bounce around in the rankings from one poll to the next.

“Though issues such as terrorism, healthcare, race relations and immigration have emerged among the top problems in recent polls, government, the economy and unemployment have been the dominant problems listed by Americans for more than a year,” Gallup noted in its survey summary.

The poll, which claims a margin of error of ± 4 percentage points, sampled 1,025 American adults in all 50 states from March 5-8.


Expelling a college student for constitutionally-protected speech is unconstitutional

It’s one thing for a university to sanction one of its fraternities whose members draw negative attention to the school. After all, a fraternity chapter exists at the pleasure of the university.

But it’s another thing for that same university to expel individual students for drawing negative attention to the school, because individual students have rights afforded them by the Constitution. It’s ironic that the 1st Amendment is the one most under assault on college campuses, where administrators and the perpetually aggrieved have become highly selective in their interpretations of “acceptable” free speech.

Refreshingly, the University of Oklahoma’s decision to expel a pair of students – caught on video allegedly chanting some allegedly racist thing on a bus-full of fraternity brothers – is drawing some heavy criticism from some high-profile sources, including The Washington Post’s Eugene Volokh.

Here are the words at the center of the controversy, as allegedly spoken by members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity  (H/T: The Volokh Conspiracy for transcribing the audio):

There will never be a nigger at SAE

There will never be a nigger at SAE

You can hang him from a tree

But he’ll never sign with me

There will never be a nigger at SAE

(As an aside, someone on the Internet once pointed out that this kind of similarly “offensive” stuff exists just fine – as it should, in a society where free speech protections are woven into the founding document.)

“First, racist speech is constitutionally protected, just as is expression of other contemptible ideas; and universities may not discipline students based on their speech,” Volokh wrote in an excellent, lengthy piece on the constitutionality of expelling a student over saying such things.

Volokh appears a little too eager to submit to the belief that any and every use of a culturally verboten word like “nigger” is intrinsically racist – which it clearly is not – but his defense of the rights of the individuals involved in the controversy is worth reading in its entirety. He points out in a separate article that the university’s standard for expelling the students in this case simply hasn’t been employed when other students exercise their rights to free speech on other topics.

“Students talking about what a horrible, oppressive religion Islam is, or Scientology is, or Catholicism is, or conservative Christianity is, and how no-one should associate with people who have such evil religious views?” he ponders rhetorically. “[This type of speech] Could be called religiously bigoted and exclusionary discussion that, when publicized…create a hostile educational environment for members of that group.”

Except, he goes on to observe, it usually isn’t. “Nigger,” for far too many people, is a too-powerful word, evoking do-something responses by the offended (as well as those who simply wish to be). All those other offenses – insulting Islam or Christianity – don’t get kids expelled nearly so fast.

In a column published Tuesday in USA Today, Robert Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), calls for a free society like ours to use a much more appropriate measuring stick to assay the worth of alleged offensive speech. Doing so, he argues, would allow true offenses to die under the weight of cultural forces, instead of subverting the meaning of Bill of Rights.

“Censorship isn’t necessary for those who are confident in the truth of their views. It’s a signal of insecurity and displays a fear that if an idea is allowed to be expressed, people will find that idea too attractive to resist,” Shibley writes.

“… Instead of government crackdowns on a viewpoint, it is far better to let the marketplace of ideas determine the social consequences for racist speech.”

Seven federal agencies flunk transparency scorecard

The Center for Effective Government (CFG), a transparency watchdog, has just released a scorecard rating the performance of federal government agencies in responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Nearly half of the agencies it rated received non-passing grades.

Operating on the premise that Americans “have a right to information about how our government works and what it does in our name,” CFG took a look at the 15 federal agencies that receive the most requests for information filed under the FOIA, and assigned letter grades to each.

None of them received an “A,” and seven didn’t receive a passing grade.

CFG describes its methodology this way:

Combined, these 15 agencies received over 90 percent of all information requests for each of last two years. We examined their performance in three key areas:

  • The establishment of clear agency rules guiding the release of information and communication with those requesting information;
  • The quality and “user-friendliness” of an agency’s FOIA website; and
  • The timely, complete processing of requests for information.

The number of requests each agency receives, the complexity of the requests, and the number of staff assigned within an agency to process them varies widely and can impact performance.

Obviously, agencies’ responsiveness (or lack thereof) to FOIA requests is the biggest marker of how seriously they take their obligation to the public. Coming in dead last in CFG’s ratings was the State Department which trailed 20 percentage points behind the Department of Health and Human Services:


Taking the concept a step further, as the E Pluribus Unum  blog did Tuesday, assigning all the agencies a single grade – using the individual ratings each received in this scorecard – would yield an overall grade point average for the federal government of .91 on a four-point scale.

“[I]f you computed a grade point average from this open government report card (and I did) the federal government would receive a D for its performance,” blogger Alexander B. Howard wrote. “7 agencies outright failed, with the State Department receiving the worst grade (37%)”

Howard further notes that the CFG scorecard has generated some controversy among other transparency advocates, who have a hard time understanding how the Department of Justice did as well, using the CFG’s methodology, as it did in this year’s report.

D.C. gets second chance to get 2nd Amendment right; fails, gets sued

The City of Washington, D.C., has already been taken down by a federal judge for placing an outright ban on carrying concealed handguns. Facing a judge’s deadline, the city began implementing a new, slightly less prohibitive law to replace the one invalidated by the court. But, headed by a mayor who proudly hates guns and wants handguns banned outright, the city dragged its feet in granting concealed carry permits even to the most cooperative of applicants.

Now the city is getting sued.

A group of plaintiffs who’d been denied concealed carry permits under the city’s new law filed suit in federal court last month, with legal assistance from the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF). Instead of arguing that the city has failed to satisfy the terms of the new gun law it was forced to create, the lawsuit simply argues that the new law is just as unconstitutional as the old one.

That’s because it’s still completely up to the police to decide whether to issue a CC permit, and the only applications they’ll even consider are those submitted by people who can demonstrate an extraordinary reason to fear for their personal safety. In other words, you have to convince the cops to let you have a handgun for self-defense only, and even then you have to be able to prove that you’re already in a recurrently threatening situation.

From a new release the SAF issued in February:

The lawsuit asserts that “individuals cannot be required to prove a ‘good reason’ or ‘other proper reason’ for the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms.” All three individual plaintiffs in the case have applied for District carry permits and have been turned down by Lanier because they could not “Demonstrate a good reason to fear injury to person or property.”

“The city’s requirements to obtain a carry permit are so restrictive in nature as to be prohibitive to virtually all applicants,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “It’s rather like a ‘Catch 22,’ in which you can apply all day long, but no reason is sufficiently good enough for Chief Lanier to issue a permit.

“Because of that,” he added, “the city has set the bar so high that it relegates a fundamental civil right to the status of a heavily-regulated government privilege. That is not only wrong, it also does not live up to previous court rulings. Law-abiding citizens who clear background checks and are allowed to have handguns in their homes are being unnecessarily burdened with the additional requirement of proving some special need.

“The last time we checked,” Gottlieb concluded, “we had a Bill of Rights that applied to the entire nation, including the District. It’s not, and never has been, a ‘Bill of Needs.’”

It’s no exaggeration to say that the city has dragged its feet in making handguns legally accessible; only 16 people living in Washington, D.C., had successfully obtained CC permits under the new law as February drew to a close. And one of those was vocal gun rights reporter Emily Miller, who said she was “shocked” to discover the city had cleared so few applicants.

Obama learned the bad news from TV

Don’t accuse President Obama of having his head in the sand when it comes to infotainment. He’s learned about most of the scandals involving his administration in that most democratic of ways — by watching news of ineptitude and corruption unfold on TV, just like regular folks do.

From Fast and Furious to the VA scandal, from the IRS’s Tea Party discrimination to press coercion at the Department of Justice, Obama learned about it all from turning on the news.

The president confessed Sunday that he didn’t know about the latest scandal involving a member of his own cabinet until it came across the airwaves — at “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports,” as he explained to CBS News’ Bill Plante in a weekend interview.

America’s mainstream press corps has been a crucial player in Obama’s intelligence apparatus throughout his two terms. Here’s a refresher video to bring you up to speed, although it’s nearly a year old and doesn’t include the latest examples:

As with several of the other scandals, the role of the news media in breaking the Hillary Clinton email story to Obama is notable for the celerity with which the press scooped the Obama administration itself. Despite being frequently included (presumably) in chains of electronic communication involving the secretary of state, the White House was unable to beat the press to the realization that Clinton’s email originated from a segregated private server attached to a unique email address.

Obama’s interview information, coupled with press secretary Josh Earnest’s statement last week that the president did indeed “trade emails” with the secretary of state, begs an obvious question that could prove problematic for the Most Transparent Administration in History, the Washington Examiner observes:

So: Obama didn’t know, even though White House officials exchanged emails with Clinton. Is that possible?

The answer is maybe. The first question to ask is whether the president — an active emailer — never exchanged an email message with his secretary of state. Even though email has been around since the early 1990s, neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush used it during their years in office. Obama changed that practice, but his email use is still reportedly limited by security concerns and a desire to keep presidential communications out of the hands of investigators.

… [O]fficials at the State Department almost certainly had to know what was going on. There is an office there called the Executive Secretary, which is in charge of all of the communications into and out of the secretary of state’s office. The executive secretary would not see all of the secretary’s email, but one former official said it would be “stunning” if the executive secretary did not know of Clinton’s practice of using a secret email account.

That’s just enough plausible deniability, of course, to give Obama an out — should a Congressional investigation get too hot. Then again, Obama may be the last to know what Congress is uncovering, if he’s getting his updates from the TV news.

Clinton’s State Department pushed resignation of former employee after he used his private email for work

Under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who not only never used her official government email account to conduct business but never had one created in the first place — the State Department goaded an employee into resigning from his post in part for using a private email account for official business.

In the wake of a scathing 2012 Inspector General’s report criticizing a number of lapses on the part of Scott Gration, a former ambassador to Kenya, Gration was compelled to resign from his post. One of the biggest concerns highlighted in the IG report was his failure to refrain from making official communications on nongovernment email platforms.

Here’s the relevant portion of that IG report:

The Ambassador’s greatest weakness is his reluctance to accept clear-cut U.S. Government decisions. He made clear his disagreement with Washington policy decisions and directives concerning the safe-havening in Nairobi of families of Department employees who volunteered to serve in extreme hardship posts; the creation of a freestanding Somalia Unit; and the nonuse of commercial email for official government business, including Sensitive But Unclassified information. Notwithstanding his talk about the importance of mission staff doing the right thing, the Ambassador by deed or word has encouraged it to do the opposite.

The IG report essentially accuses former ambassador Gration of fostering a culture of hypocrisy by flouting the rules and standards he himself professed to follow and uphold.

Maybe he was just exemplifying a culture of hypocrisy that emanated from the top.

Clinton served as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, and exclusively relied on a private email account — maintained from a server set up in her own house — for the duration of her tenure. Remarkably, she appeared to take some pains to ensure an official government email account was never even created for her, thereby assuring there would never be a need for her to circumvent its use.

“It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that this was an attempt to avoid transparency and accountability for whatever it is she wrote,” Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle wrote Friday.

“… A spokesman for Clinton says that her actions comply with the ‘letter and spirit of the rules.’ To put it kindly, this seems to be complete nonsense… She didn’t just sloppily default to her own personal email address, as many people do; she also made sure that it was not possible to accidentally send her an email on a work account that government oversight groups could access.”

Add to that the fact that everyone who sent, received or copied Clinton’s email address on official communications certainly was aware that her address did not resemble the others, and it’s easy to conceive of a corrupt culture — not only within the State Department but across a complicit executive administration.

February job growth at odds with persistent workforce dropout

Most mainstream news outlets and Wall Street watchers hailed Friday’s release of the latest jobs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics with optimism and enthusiasm. “Good news: Unemployment at lowest in 7 years,” a CNN headline read. NPR hailed the new information as “a sign that the nation’s economy is finally picking up steam.”

Maybe. But there’s a massive chunk of the nation that isn’t presently involved in the labor market or in contributing anything to the economy. In the past two years, there have been 13 months when the non-participation rate in the U.S. labor force matched or exceeded lows previously seen nearly four decades ago.

“The labor force participation rate hovered between 62.9 percent and 62.7 percent in the eleven months between April 2014 and this February, and has been 62.9 percent or lower in 13 of the 17 months since October 2013,” reported CNS News.

“Prior to that, the last time the rate was below 63 percent was 37 years ago, in March 1978 when it was 62.8 percent.”

If you like low unemployment percentage figures, then non-participation in the labor force is your friend. The national unemployment rate in the February jobs report sank to an impressive-looking 5.5 percent. Meanwhile, the labor force’s high non-participation rate barely budged.

“The numbers of those not in the labor force, seasonally adjusted, continued to grow,” Ed Morrissey wrote Friday. “… In February it hit 92.9 million people, up 1.5 million people from a year earlier and 3.45 million from February 2013. It rose 354,000 just in the past month, outstripping the 295,000 jobs added. This tends to grow anyway, but the rate at which it’s growing shows why the U-3 and even U-6 [different metrics the BLS uses to measure unemployment] may not be capturing the real scope of the labor problem in the U.S.”

There were a reported 92,898,000 people who weren’t part of the labor force in February; 56 million of them were women. The BLS considers people not to be participating in the labor force if they have not actively sought, held or obtained employment during the most recent four-week period.

Judge slams EPA for foot dragging on conservatives’ FOIA requests

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not treat information requests from conservative groups with the same urgency as those from other groups, and it has lied to a federal judge about how thoroughly it researches its own records when actually dealing with such requests.

Those are two stinging revelations included in an opinion this week by federal judge Royce C. Lamberth, who all but accused the EPA of discriminating against conservative groups by delivering intentionally opaque responses to requests for information, if it responds at all. Lamberth said all the circumstantial evidence points to a systematic and willful attempt at the agency to stifle one group of voices on a number of environmental policy issues.

Lamberth’s opinion in Landmark Legal Foundation v. EPA, a FOIA lawsuit filed by the former after the EPA wouldn’t release information about the timing of its most controversial regulatory announcements, stopped short of awarding Landmark Legal the punitive award the group had been seeking. But the judge indicated that a lack of preponderance of evidence was the only reason why.

From Lamberth’s opinion:

Two possible explanations exist for EPA’s conduct following Landmark Legal Foundation’s filing of a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request in August 2012. Either EPA intentionally sought to evade Landmark’s lawful FOIA request so the agency could destroy responsive documents, or EPA demonstrated apathy and carelessness toward Landmark’s request. Either scenario reflects poorly upon EPA and surely serves to diminish the public’s trust in the agency. While the government is correct that the record does not support a finding of punitive spoliation sanctions, the Court shall take this opportunity to express its discontent with EPA’s continued disregard for its FOIA obligations.

And the judge goes on to do exactly that.

It is nice to know that a federal judge is willing to expose the agency for what appears to be yet another instance of a government agency discriminating against the American people on the basis of political conviction.

But neither embarrassment, nor even punitive damages, will adequately deter the habit. There is no accountability to the public at such federal agencies; and what accountability does exist feeds into a closed system of insider political loyalties, cronyism and dutiful obedience to the agenda of the presidential administration in power. The problem is bad enough that a federal judge has no trouble identifying it. But identifying the problem is as close to dismantling, abolishing or reforming the system as we’re likely to get.

McConnell suggests states ignore forthcoming EPA rules

In a letter published Tuesday by the Lexington Herald-Leader, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) advised states not to start down a path toward compliance with the Obama administration’s forthcoming environmental regulations on the energy industry.

Saying the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) controversial rules to cut CO2 emissions is “probably illegal,” McConnell warned that states whose leaders oppose the climate regulations may lock themselves in to playing by the administration’s rules if they submit a plan — any plan — outlining their intent to comply (or not comply) with the EPA mandate.

“Don’t be complicit in the administration’s attack on the middle class,” wrote McConnell:

Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won’t be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism.

Refusing to go along at this time with such an extreme proposed regulation would give the courts time to figure out if it is even legal, and it would give Congress more time to fight back. We’re devising strategies now to do just that.

So for now, hold back on the costly process of complying. A better outcome may yet be possible.

Instead, McConnell offered, states should allow legal challenges to the EPA’s authoritative reach to play out in the hope that the courts will invalidate the regulations.

“[S]tates shouldn’t be frightened, nor should they allow themselves to be bullied,” he wrote:

Every state has the power, in theory at least, to design its own approach to meet the excessive and arbitrary mandates imposed by this regulation. But the purported flexibility is actually illusory.

… It sounds like a scary outcome. But states shouldn’t be frightened, nor should they allow themselves to be bullied.

For starters, the legal basis for this regulation is flimsy at best. As iconic left-leaning law professor Laurence Tribe put it, the administration’s effort goes “far beyond its lawful authority.” And even in the unlikely event that the regulation does pass legal muster, it’s difficult to conceive how a plan imposed from Washington would be much different from what a state might develop on its own.

Read the rest at the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Did Eric Hoteham and/or Hillary Clinton commit a felony by secreting State email on a homebrew server?

By now you probably know about the latest scandal involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — the one about how she opted out of the (legally not-optional) use of government email so that she could do all of her State Department work on an email server that was stored inside her New York house, safe from FOIA requests and federal data pulls.

Will it be another “soft” scandal or will the focus shift quickly — as it should — on whether Clinton violated real laws? Given the mainstream media’s tendencies, that’s uncertain. But the conservative media is already asking substantive questions. If substantive answers come, this scandal may take a very different turn from all the others.

Here’s National Review’s Shannen Coffin:

So was the use of private e-mail allowed when Clinton was secretary? Well, sure, at least to some extent. I suspect every federal employee has, at some time, used a private e-mail account to conduct business. But that doesn’t excuse failure to comply with the Federal Records Act.

… But Mrs. Clinton did something here that went well beyond occasional or incidental use of private e-mail accounts. She eschewed the use of an official account entirely, and deliberately established a private e-mail account, apparently maintained on a server in the Clintons’ New York home. As a result, her e-mails were at no time during her tenure in office subject to the Federal Records Act. (She provided some of the e-mails only after she left office, and only when the Department of State asked for them back.) As our friends at Judicial Watch will no doubt remind everyone, there were plenty of Freedom of Information Act requests that would have implicated her e-mails. But they were never searched, even though a reasonable search of all responsive federal records must be made in response to FOIA requests. And the records would have been relevant to congressional inquiries as well, including continuing investigations of the Benghazi attacks.

Why does that matter? Well, a federal criminal law makes it a felony when any custodian of official government records “willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same.” The crime is punishable by up to three years in prison. And interestingly, Congress felt strongly enough about the crime that it included the unusual provision that the perpetrator shall “forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”

It’s significant that The Associated Press waited for more than a year to get a response to requests for Clinton’s emails — without getting any indication from State that it didn’t actually have any of them, presumably because they were housed on her personal server.

Whether Clinton had multiple reasons, or only one, for sidestepping federal law and substituting it with her own, it’s apparent that control, secrecy and a healthy (perhaps too healthy) measure of paranoia informed the move.

When Clinton had the para-State email server installed at her home, the order was done for someone at her address named “Eric Hoteham.” If he’s a real person, the Internet hadn’t discovered him yet Wednesday… other than this Twitter parody. If Clinton made him up, then get ready for a persistent wave of alternative-media articles that pejoratively refer to the former secretary by her freshly-outed masculine alias.

Update: Maryland sides against ‘free-range’ parents with finding of child neglect

In January, police in Maryland launched an investigation into the parenting practices of Alexander and Danielle Meitiv, a self-described “free-range” parenting couple who had allowed their two children to walk unsupervised on a mile-long trek from a local park to their home.

Now the Meitivs have been flagged by Montgomery County (Maryland) Child Protective Services (CPS) for “unsubstantiated” child neglect.

That isn’t exactly a crime, but neither is it a consequence-free finding. According to The Washington Post, a finding of unsubstantiated neglect places the Meitivs on a CPS watch file for at least five years, “and leaves open the question of what would happen if the Meitiv children get reported again for walking without adult supervision.”

The Meitivs’ two children were 10 and 6 years old at the time of their fateful walk home. The parents were adamant that their children’s exercise in freedom wasn’t a symptom of parental carelessness or neglect; rather, it resulted from a conscientious and considered decision about what kind of children they wanted to raise.

“I think it’s absolutely critical for their development — to learn responsibility, to experience the world, to gain confidence and competency… Parenthood is an exercise in risk management,” Danielle Meitiv said at the time. <a “nofollow” href=”” target=”_blank”>Here’s a bit more background on how this all got started.

But the state’s prerogative, so far, has trumped the parents’. In response, the Meitivs have said they do not plan to alter their parenting style.

“The parents say they will continue to allow their son, Rafi, 10, and daughter Dvora, 6, to play or walk together, and won’t be swayed by the CPS finding,” reported The Post.

Spin effort backfires on Clinton Foundation ethics report

Damage control works only if it mitigates the original damage without creating more of it. So the U.S. State Department didn’t do Hillary Clinton any favors last week when it rushed to her defense over a report that the former secretary had violated established ethics rules by allowing the Clinton Foundation to accept donations from foreign governments while she was serving as secretary of state.

The original damage came when The Washington Post reported last week that the Clinton Foundation had accepted “millions of dollars” in donations from foreign governments at the same time that a handful of those governments were actively lobbying the State Department.

That represents an obvious conflict of interest for an official like Clinton, who occupied a cabinet position representing U.S. foreign policy interests while simultaneously fielding money offers for the family charity from governments that also wooed her at her day job. The Obama administration constructed an ethics contract based on Clinton’s unique position before she started at State.

Clinton violated that agreement. The Post’s story came out. Then the State Department immediately came forward to assure the public that all foreign-government donations to the Clinton Foundation had been pre-cleared through lawyers.

That was last week. On March 2, the State Department walked that assurance back.

From Politico:

Asked at a daily briefing Thursday about the foundation’s failure to submit a $500,000 donation from the country of Algeria for a conflict of interest review in 2010, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that the department did such reviews whenever the non-profit founded by former President Bill Clinton sent in information about a potential gift.

“We like to review — and we have reviewed every donation that was submitted,” Psaki said.

However, there are no indications any Clinton Foundation donations were ever sent to the State Department for approval.

Asked about Psaki’s comment, another State Department spokesperson said Monday that the reviews the agency did were of paid speeches Bill Clinton was proposing to make and business deals he wanted to enter into. From 2009 to 2012, hundreds of speech requests and a handful of consulting deals were sent to State Department lawyers for sign off. The vast majority were approved.

“We received requests regarding speeches and consultancies of former President Clinton,” State spokesman Alec Gerlach said.

Clarifying Psaki’s earlier comment, Gerlach said that State Department reviewed every request that came in, not every donation.

So much for damage control. For its part, the Clinton Foundation didn’t sit around relying solely on Jen Psaki’s eloquence to spin the story. Instead, it created its own talking points and distributed them to the usual media apologists.

Those points range from the paternal to the distracting. Here are two examples, courtesy of Capital New York:

  • Let’s remember why journalists are able to dig through all these records. Because unlike many other similar charities, the Foundation voluntarily discloses all of its contributors’ names, right on the Clinton Foundation website. And it refuses to take anonymous contributions. No charity is required to do these, but the Clinton Foundation does it, on its own accord.
  • Something else you won’t find? Anyone questioning the fact that the Clinton Foundation’s work has improved the lives of millions across the globe. But you don’t hear them saying it either. And it’s important that doesn’t get lost in all of this, because it’s the most important part.
  • It’s a false choice to suggest people can’t support political causes or candidates and also care about philanthropy and making a difference in the world.

That last point is especially disingenuous, as it deals in puppies and kittens instead of motive.

She was secretary of state, for crying out loud.

Just another example of totally legal cronyism at its finest

The New York Senate is presently weighing whether to include a green-energy biofuel mandate into the state budget Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put together for 2016, and a consortium of Republicans in the state senate — driven by the self-serving machinations of a wealthy Republican donor — are leading the charge for its inclusion.

According to the New York Post, the biofuel mandate could bump the annual cost of energy for New Yorkers by $150 million per year, and it’s being pushed by the owner of an energy company that just so happens to be constructing the largest biofuel processing facility in the northeastern U.S.

From the Post:

[State] Senate Republicans, under pressure from maverick supermarket billionaire John Catsimatidis, are trying to slip a “green biofuels” mandate into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new budget that could add $150 million a year to heating costs in New York, business sources have told The Post.

Catsimatidis, a Republican mayoral hopeful in 2013 and a heavy campaign contributor to Senate Republicans as well as Cuomo, is well known in the city for owning the Gristedes supermarket chain.

But he’s also the owner of United Metro Energy Corp., a large company that is putting the finishing touches on a massive Brooklyn biofuel-processing plant that will be the largest in the Northeast when it opens this fall.

… The biofuels mandate would require all petroleum-based heating oil sold in the state to contain 2 percent or more of soybean oil and/or spent vegetable oils, such as those used in frying foods, a supposed effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

Many business leaders, however, contend the mandate is actually an unjustified subsidy to the company of a wealthy campaign contributor as well as out-of-state soybean growers that will do nothing to address climate concerns.

Assuming the mandate goes through, Castimatidis “stands to make a windfall profit,” the Post adds, “both in terms of the increased value of United Metro and from the opening of a massive new market for biofuel sales.”

Strangely, it is Cuomo, a Democrat, who may defeat the effort. But Cuomo is reportedly reluctant to offend the environmental lobby’s support base by opposing the mandate, since he’s vetoed other green-energy measures in prior years, “citing cost concerns,” according to the Post.

“But this year, business groups fear that the governor, who has increasingly embraced environmental causes, may allow the mandate to be slipped into the budget.”

Female GOP Congresswoman blasts Democrats’ ‘war’ on women trope at CPAC 2015

This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is in the books. Now that the smoke has cleared, it’s nice to take a breath and take note of some of the smaller moments that didn’t grab headlines while the annual convention was unfolding.

Take Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) – a freshman Congresswoman who, by virtue of all the things that matter to progressives, is in a perfect position to talk about social justice issues. Love is obviously female, and she’s also black. And, while she’d likely be the first to tell you that neither of those things grants her an iota of expertise on policy matters, she also understands that she’s in a unique position to use the Democrats’ own political rules against them.

That’s one of the takeaways from a CPAC interview Love did with Asche Schow of Washington Examiner last week. Ironically, said Love, it is the Democrats’ myopic reliance on identity politics that does the greatest harm to the interest groups they falsely purport to defend. For a party that claims to monopolize the high ground on any social justice issue, the Democrats have adopted a platform that hurts the very people they boast of protecting, said Love.

Nowhere is that more evident, she explained, than the tired Democratic trope of accusing the GOP of waging a “war” on women.

“I think that it’s actually insulting to claim that women can’t make decisions on their own, that they need a centralized government to make those decisions for them,” Love told the Examiner.

“[The ‘war’ on women] comes from the idea that they’d like to separate us based on social status, gender, race, income levels. And we as Americans can’t allow that.”

Love, 39, secured Utah’s 4th Congressional District seat in last year’s GOP wave election after a near-miss loss to former Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat, in 2012. Following last year’s win, progressive media outlets raced to outdo each other in their attempts to explain why, despite her blackness and femininity, she’s nothing special.

The trend continued last week, when The American Prospect described Love’s vision for realizing the American Dream – equality of opportunity instead of outcomes; reining in government’s ambition to control individual freedoms; shifting away from a prevailing culture of government dependency – as “kind of crappy.”

Swing in public opinion favors Congress over Obama on Keystone XL

As President Obama rounds the corner on his lame-duck administration by enacting a series of unilateral executive actions and vetoing bills sent across his desk by a GOP-controlled Congress, a majority of Americans appear to align in favor of the Congress – and against the president – on at least one issue.

According to the results of a Rasmussen poll released in late February, American voters mostly want Congress to win out over the president in the tug of war over the Keystone XL pipeline. Obama vetoed a bill last week that would have cleared the way for construction on the long-debated cross-continental project to begin.

Although the pipeline debate has long been portrayed in the media as one that falls strictly along partisan lines, the bill garnered support from ten Senate Democrats.

Rasmussen found that 59 percent of the 800 “likely voters” surveyed in its Feb. 24-25 poll preferred Congress’ position to the president’s. “Voters aren’t happy with that [Keystone] veto and want Congress to keep doing what it wants even if the president doesn’t like it,” the poll’s summary concluded.

Only 25 percent of those surveyed said Congress should leave the issue alone; another 16 percent said they were not sure.

The Hill reported Monday that the Senate may set up a March 5 vote to override Obama’s veto. This time around, the partisan lines will likely be more clearly drawn, since few Senate Democrats have indicated they wish to butt heads with a Democratic president.

At least nine Democratic senators, however, are expected to vote with the GOP majority. Those in favor of an override must raise 60 Senate votes to end debate, but an actual override will require a simple two-thirds (67-vote) majority.


Harry Reid earns yet another ethics complaint

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) continues to rack up formal ethics complaints alleging that he abuses his public servant’s status in order to achieve political aims.

The latest comes from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a conservative government watchdog group that filed a Feb. 24 complaint against the Senate minority leader for conflating his 2016 re-election campaign with his responsibilities (and his prominent position) as a U.S. Senator.

Reid violated Senate ethics rules, the complaint alleges, when he convened a gaggle of partisan staffers at the Senate’s Mansfield Room on Feb. 15 and used the venue to declare his intent to seek another Senate term.

From the complaint (H/T: The Washington Free Beacon):

According to a report appearing in Politico, a copy of which is enclosed with this letter, Senator Reid “summoned dozens of staffers to the Senate’s Mansfield Room Tuesday” to deliver one “clear message: He’s running for reelection.” See Manu Raju, Harry Reid: I’m Running in 2016, Politico (Feb. 10, 2015) [hereinafter “I’m Running”]. Senator Reid did not call the meeting to discuss an important piece of legislation, answer questions from the media about the perilous state of America’s foreign policy, or address his recent filibuster of legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security. The only reported topic was to announce, “I’m running.” Even Politico admitted the meeting — attended by more than fifty Senate staffers — was “unusual.” Id.

It, however, is much more than merely unusual. It is contrary to Senate Ethics Rules. As the Senate Ethics Manual explains, “Use of official resources to assist campaign organization — Senate space, equipment, staff time, and resources” is prohibited. Senate Ethics Manual at 150. The Committee’s website provides further guidance in red lettering to make it absolutely clear: “No Campaign Activity in Federal Buildings.” See (last visited Feb. 11, 2015). Lest there be any remaining doubt, Appendix J of the Senate Ethics Manual declares in bold type that (1) “Rooms are only available for Senate-related business” and (2) “Senate space may NOT be used for any political campaign activity … whatsoever.” Senate Ethics Manual at 496 (emphasis in original).

Beyond being against Senate Rules, the use of official Senate resources for campaign activity is also illegal. See id. at 153. “Official resources may only be used for official purposes.” Id. Federal law prohibits the use of official funds for any use other than that for which they were appropriated. See id. (citing 31 U.S.C. § 1301 (a)). The Congress has not appropriated money for the day-to-day operation of the Senate for campaign use. Thus, “[i]t is . . . inappropriate to use any official resources to conduct campaign or political activities.” Id.

Basing an ethics complaint off a POLTICO story about a partisan enemy’s low-key pep rally may suggest that FACT is seeking a little publicity. Maybe so, but this isn’t the first time Reid has been accused of violating ethics rules by misappropriating the capitol grounds for political use.

Last May, when Democrats still ruled the Senate and Reid was still in the grip of Koch fever, he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took over the Capitol Visitor Center inside the U.S. Capitol building to screen “Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition,” in willful violation of House and Senate rules.

Reid claimed the screening was a mere “public statement” and not an attempt to air propaganda from the Capitol. For her part, Pelosi claimed House rules don’t apply to use of the visitor center room.

Uncovered emails indicate State Department always knew Benghazi was a planned attack, no mention of YouTube video

State Department emails obtained by a government watchdog last week reveal that no one within the department, including former Secretary Hillary Clinton, ever attributed the Benghazi, Libya, terror attack as anything other than just that — a terror attack.

The emails, obtained by Judicial Watch through a freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, show a lot of back-and-forth between security staff and Clinton aides as the attack unfolded in real time, as well as in its immediate aftermath.

Never does anyone mention anything about a YouTube video in those exchanges. But, only hours after the attack began, they do mention al-Sharia, Al-Qaida’s Libyan affiliate, as the group claiming responsibility.

Judicial Watch obtained the FOIA-requested emails earlier this month, followed by a Feb. 26 report on its website that explains how the new information bolsters its ongoing lawsuit against the State Department. According to Judicial Watch, the emails demonstrate that “top aides for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, including her then-chief of staff Cheryl Mills, knew from the outset that the Benghazi mission compound was under attack by armed assailants tied to a terrorist group.”

The documents make no reference to a spontaneous demonstration or Internet video, except in an official statement issued by Hillary Clinton.

[The] Judicial Watch lawsuit focused on Mrs. Clinton’s involvement in the Benghazi scandal:

Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to notes, updates, or reports created in response to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S, Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. This request includes but is not limited to, notes, taken by then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton or employees of the Office of the Secretary of State during the attack and its immediate aftermath.

The chain of internal emails tracks the events surrounding the terrorist attack in real time beginning immediately upon its inception.

Judicial Watch then uses the emails’ timestamps to reconstruct a play-by-play of the State Department’s assessment of the situation as the attack proceeded — including this exchange, which took place when the ordeal was only two hours young (Judicial Watch presents the following exchanges in reverse chronology because they were discovered only in the “previous conversation” archiving section of a newer email uncovered by the FOIA request; the State Department evidently did not release the originals):

September 11, 2012 11:57 PM email: “(SBU) DS Command reports the current shelter location for COM personnel in Benghazi is under mortar fire. There are reports of injuries to COM staff.”

September 11, 2012 6:06 PM (Subject: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU): “(SBU) Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and call for an attack on Embassy Tripoli”

September 11, 2012, 4:54 PM: “Embassy Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared. A response team is on site to locate COM personnel.”

Although no internal conversation focused on an alternate motive for the attack — say, a grass-roots mob reaction to a blasphemous video — Clinton nevertheless followed the Obama administration’s evolving narrative by issuing a public statement crediting the now-infamous video clip with inspiring the attack.

Despite her three top staff members being informed that a terrorist group had claimed credit for the attack, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, issued an official statement, also produced to Judicial Watch, claiming the assault may have been in “a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”

Cheryl Mills asks that the State Department stop answering press inquiries at 12:11 am on September 12, despite the ongoing questions about “Chris’ whereabouts.” In an email to State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, Jacob Kennedy, and Phillipe Reines (then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications and Senior Communications Advisor), Mills writes:

“Can we stop answering emails for the night Toria b/c now the first one [Hillary Clinton’s ‘inflammatory material posted on the Internet’ statement] is hanging out there.”

If nothing else, these emails reveal that there was a point, even for Clinton, when knowing the motive behind the Benghazi attack did, indeed, make a difference.

A perfect fit

If you’re a U.S. Secretary of State who happens to help run a massive philanthropy on the side — a philanthropy whose success owes much to its association with a former U.S. president, who also happens to be your husband — what kind of influence does a large donation to your philanthropy really buy? Simple good vibes borne of untarnished altruism, or something more?

To compound the question, what if some of your biggest philanthropic donors are foreign governments? Not foreign individuals or corporations, mind you — those kinds of donations rightly might be questioned on their own merits — but foreign governments themselves? Could that possibly pose a conflict of (national) interest for the Secretary of State?

Credit The Washington Post this time around for begging the question. The Post revealed this week that the Clinton Foundation had received “millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state,” even though only one of those donations, amazingly, amounted to a violation of ethics under the Obama administration’s predetermined standards.

The Clinton Foundation was renamed after Hillary left the Obama Administration in 2013 and formally joined the foundation’s leadership. The rename lengthened the foundation’s title from the “William J. Clinton Foundation” to the “Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.”

Here’s the story’s golden paragraph:

The [Obama ethics] agreement, reached before Clinton’s nomination amid concerns that countries could use foundation donations to gain favor with a Clinton-led State Department, allowed governments that had previously donated money to continue making contributions at similar levels.

Could this be part of the reason why John Kerry’s career with the State Department may be even more abysmal than Clinton’s?

Well, let’s see which countries gave the Clinton Foundation money while Hillary was heading up the State Department: Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Algeria, Norway, Australia and the Dominican Republic. Not all of those immediately call to mind an obvious conflict (not that they need to, on principle), but some do.

Qatar was an especially active spender during Clinton’s tenure, serving up “more than $5.3 million on registered lobbyists,” according to The Post’s sources.

“The country’s lobbyists were reported monitoring anti-terrorism activities and efforts to combat violence in Sudan’s Darfur region,” the story adds. “Qatar has also come under criticism from some U.S. allies in the region that have accused it of supporting Hamas and other militant groups. Qatar has denied the allegations.”

Qatar doesn’t deny, though, that it’s keeping a really, really close eye on those five Guantanamo prisoners the Obama administration traded for Bowe Bergdahl last year… except for those times when it isn’t.

“Rarely, if ever, has a potential commander in chief been so closely associated with an organization that has solicited financial support from foreign governments,” the Post intrepidly declares, referencing Hillary’s presumed ascendance to the Democratic presidential frontrunner’s spot in 2016.

Well, maybe a nonprofit organization. With Jeb Bush mulling a run at the GOP presidential nomination, there has to be at least one bombshell story in the offing that alleges some kind of shady corporatist connection involving America’s other present-day political dynasty.

CNN report on right-wing terror threat turns out to be greatly exaggerated

Last week, CNN revealed the existence of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report that placed right-wing sovereign citizen groups on equal footing with ISIS and Islamist terrorists as the most worrisome and significant source of terrorism on U.S. soil.

“[F]ederal and local law enforcement groups view the domestic terror threat from sovereign citizen groups as equal to — and in some cases greater than — the threat from foreign Islamic terror groups, such as ISIS,” CNN’s report asserted.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was very happy at this news, welcoming a government-backed report that shifts the focus away from Islamists and, instead, toward “the threat posed by domestic right-wing violent extremists.”

Then on Wednesday, the folks at Reason got their hands on the DHS report itself. They had a hard time coming to the same conclusions about the right-wing “threat” that CNN had reached.

Here’s Reason’s Jesse Walker:

The intelligence assessment, which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prepared in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was circulated to law enforcement on February 5 but was not released to the public. (DHS did not respond to repeated requests from Reason for comment.) CNN revealed its existence last Friday, but the network quoted only a couple of lines from it and did not post the full document for everyone to see.

… The document declares on its first page that most sovereign citizens are nonviolent, and that it will focus only on the violent fringe within a fringe — the people it calls “sovereign citizen extremists,” or SCEs. It describes their violence as “sporadic,” and it does not expect its rate to rise, predicting instead that the violence will stay “at the same sporadic level” in 2015. The author or authors add that most of the violence consists of “unplanned, reactive” clashes with police officers, not preplanned attacks.

When sovereigns do plan an attack in advance, the report suggests that this tends to be “in direct response to an ongoing personal grievance, such as an arrest or court order.” It argues that sovereign citizens are unlikely to pick a symbolic target — like, say, the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City — and that in this way they are distinct from the killers who attacked two randomly selected cops in Las Vegas last year or three TSA officers at an L.A. airport the year before that. While some police assessments of the movement may give officers the impression that anyone asserting their rights or videotaping an encounter might be a sovereign citizen, the DHS report draws its distinctions fairly carefully.

In short, the DHS report presents sovereign-citizen violence as a fairly rare risk that officers should nonetheless be prepared for should it arise. It does not claim that the threat to police is growing, it does not conflate the sovereigns with other anti-government groups, it makes no broad claims about terror on the right (the word “right-wing” appears nowhere in the document), and it does not compare the sovereigns to ISIS or to any other foreign terrorists.

That, of course, didn’t stop CNN from making the comparison when it first revealed the report in a sensational story with the headline “Bigger threat than ISIS?”  (H/T to Reason for tracking down the archived original link to the CNN story page, whose headline CNN has since modified.)

Here’s the full DHS report, which CNN did not provide at the time it released its Web story exaggerating the “threat” from right-wing domestic terrorists.

Carson headlines CPAC 2015 with tough talk

Ben Carson kicked off this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) with language that makes Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remark seem like a milquetoast recitation from a politically correct phone book.

Carson, who’s all but admitted he plans to enter the field of candidates who intend to seek the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, attacked the Obama-era American zeitgeist that favors dependency and government paternalism.

“It’s not compassion to pat [people] on the head and say, ‘There, there, I’m going to take care of all your needs, your healthcare, your food.’ That’s the opposite of compassion,” said Carson.

“I’m not interested in getting rid of a safety net; I’m interested in getting rid of dependency.”

Those words got a big response from the conservative crowd. It was only one of several applause eruptions Carson received as he touched on national defense, the myth that conservatives lack compassion, deficit spending and Obamacare — which he blasted as “absolutely about [wealth] redistribution and control.”

Carson also reiterated his desire for abolishing the IRS, name-checking the tax agency in the sort of casual fashion that suggests an idea so sensible and well received that it no longer bears a qualifying apology.

But his most succinct direct hit came at the expense of the Obama administration and its progressivist exploitation of identity politics.

“The real enemies in our country are the people who are the purveyors of division,” he said to applause. “I think we have to call them out on that and recognize [that] when we say ‘a nation with liberty and justice for all,’ [that] ‘all’ means ‘all‘ — it means everybody. It means we don’t pick and choose the laws that we want to enforce; we don’t pick and choose the people we want to favor. Everybody gets treated the same. … When our leadership begins to talk that way, I think it will make a dramatic difference for our nation.”