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Updated July 7, 2016

Blue Ridge Journal
"A Potpourri of Good Sense"
presented by H.Paul Lillebo

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All essays by topic

Recent essays:
Mindless campaign and media
Presidential Candidates 2016
The Press in elections
The flap over voter ID
The Real population problem
Democrat President'l Candidates?
The Georgia Guidestones
Islamist terror & Islamic culture
Unconstitutional amendments
Nationhood & Multiculturalism
Good Friday
NSA, Snowden, national security
Nebulous cosmology
Another Washington disaster
Bye-bye privacy
U.S. states as power centers
Asteroids, meteors, and us
World peace - regional security
A New Year's wish list
Israel and Palestine
No Emancipation Celebration?
Presidential debates again!
The "Roberts trick"
The sins of The Fathers
NC vote on same-sex marriage
Updating the U.S. Constitution
Reforming a moribund Congress
A Civilization built on hot air
The "Occupy Wall St." protests
Arguing about God
The irrational stock exchange
The danger of belief
Obama's asteroid boondoggle
Presidential MQ's
"Don't ask, don't tell"
The Second Coming
Glob. Warm'g - western guilt?
Rot of campaign finance
Health care debacle
Cities in the sea
On human population
Education for democracy
Are 3 gods better than 1?
Stupid is as stupid does
A new economics
Immediate energy solution
A Public Stock Exchange
The Dawkins delusion
Viceroy of the carpenter?
Charisma and Democracy
US missile shield for Europe
Eve of Eden
A fable of fools
China's cheap labor
Memorial Day: an addition
Congress & representation
On doing stupid things
The Calendar & diplomacy
Science & Religion
The American President
The spark of life
Liberal & Conservative
Real campaign issues
Evolut'n/Creat'n conundrum
The toy kings of Europe
The disease of militarism
The Supreme Court...
Reps, Dems & coup d'état
On going to Heaven
"Creationism" in school
Mars Madness
Global warming
Free public transit
Lotto: a new poor tax
EU: the new imperialism

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And just for fun:
Some odd tales

For your mental delectation:
(Click the puzzle to solve it)

The world's current top chess players:
(I'm left out again...) for more details and full list

Support Bernie
Suggested Related Essays:
"A Fable of Fools"
"Hillary's Revenge."

Current essay:

Let's look at Hillary Clinton (1)

Will the U.S. elect as president a politician who unleashed the Middle East holocaust?

American voters have done many strange things. But few would be stranger than electing as Commander-in-Chief a politician responsible for the tragic decision to launch the cataclysmic and needless bloodbath in the Middle East and North Africa.

A few days ago, the Chilcot report was published in The UK, a seven-year examination of the process that led to the Iraq war. Although the report was specifically concerned with the British decision process, it made several damning conclusions that apply equally well to the American decision to go to war: 1.The war was premature and unnecessary, because the peaceful options for solution had not been exhausted. 2.The threat posed by Saddam Hussein was deliberatedly exaggerated. 3.There was no reasonable plan for post-invasion conditions (and UK advice on this was ignored by the US); and 4.The entire venture was based on deeply flawed analysis and misunderstanding of the Iraqi and other Middle-Eastern societies. All these facts and more were recognized and warned of before Senators Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and others approved the invasion.

Pity the citizens of the Middle East and much of North Africa whose lives have been brutalized by the violence set in motion by the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. This intemperate attack was the brainchild of President George W.Bush, with his infamous team of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice. But no less responsible for the war and the holocaust that we're still witnessing unfold in 2016 are the members of Congress who gave Bush & Co. the green light to destroy the region. While more perceptive members of Congress, like Senator Ted Kennedy and then-Representative Bernie Sanders, spoke forcefully against the folly of unleashing a war in the Middle East, Senator Hillary Clinton voted with the majority Republicans to attack Iraq and initiate the conflagration that followed, an act that has been called the most irresponsible, the most foolish, the most pointless and tragic in the history of American foreign relations. This bloodbath has to date resulted in more than a million dead throughout the region, including at least 4,500 American soldiers, plus more millions displaced and homeless across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe: a heavy weight on the conscience of those who started the war.

The fall of governments, the bloodbaths, the rise of inhuman terror, and the millions of desperate displaced families barely clinging to life throughout the region, is Senator Hillary Clinton's legacy, fourteen years after her choice to start this horrid war.

Just two weeks before the fateful vote in Congress, Senator Edward Kennedy gave a speech at Johns Hopkins where he detailed the overwhelming reasons against starting a war in the Middle East. He stressed that the US military leadership opposed the idea of a new war while the fight against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan was still unfinished. He warned that "This escalation, spiraling out of control, could draw the Arab world into a regional war..." Exactly. Jim Webb in a Washington Post op-ed made the same points and more: no exit strategy was planned, Bush's idea that Americans would be welcomed as liberators was nonsense – instead they would be seen and hated as Christian crusading armies. (With the new Chilcot report in hand, we can say that just about all the problems identified in that report were warned of and were available to Congress before the vote to go to war.)

While Kennedy, Sanders, and other thoughtful and well-informed members of Congress tried hard to stop the folly of starting a Middle East cataclysm, Hillary Clinton sided with Bush and Cheney in favor of war. She said years later, campaigning for votes, that she was "sorry". She said she regretted her vote. But she has never publicly recognized any connection between her vote and the millions dead or displaced because of her decision. So here we are, in 2016, and where is this former first lady whose decision in 2002 has killed over a million people? After having said she is sorry, has she retreated to reflect on the consequences of her actions? Is she doing penance to expiate her guilt? Not at all – instead she has had the brazenness to present herself unapologetically to the country as the best-qualified person to be our Commander-in-Chief! The cheek! And the Democratic party has sunk to a level where it allows itself to be manipulated by the famously corrupt Clintons and their operatives to the degree that it has to all appearances consented to the farce of presenting the compromised Mrs.Clinton as its nominee-to-be for president of the United States.

Most of the politicians who started the Iraq war later moved on, some of them voted out of office for their thoughtlessness in approving Mr.Bush's atrocity. But President Barack Obama, who won nomination to the presidency over Hillary Clinton in 2008 by lambasting Clinton's support for Mr.Bush's war as failure to understand international relations, nevertheless appointed Mrs.Clinton to the nation's highest diplomatic post as Secretary of State in 2009. It is understood that a quid pro quo with the Clintons lay behind this strange appointment – very likely a promise that Hillary would not challenge Obama for the Democratic party nomination in his expected reelection bid in 2012.

Early in 2011, as anti-government protests raged in Libya, Secretary Clinton urged President Obama to engage U.S. forces in a bombing campaign to take down the government of Colonel Gaddafi. How many times must it be learned that when you remove a strongman and his security apparatus from a multitribal or multiethnic nation with a history of violent internal relations, without planning for the follow-up, chaos will result. We saw it in the USSR and in Yugoslavia in the '90s, and Hillary should have learned it after her own tragic vote in favor of dismantling Iraq, but she hadn't learned it by 2011, and when President Obama followed her advice Libya ceased to be a state and became what it is today: civil war continues, and large parts of the country are a lawless haven for terrorists and weapons dealers. Mr.Obama has called this the worst decision he ever made as president, and while mentioning no names he lay the blame on getting bad advice. His advisor Secretary Clinton, on the other hand, has touted the Libya bombing as one of her top achievements as Secretary of State. And it probably was.

Shortly thereafter, Secretary Clinton advised the president to move American ground troops into the civil war in Syria, advice that the president fortunately ignored. Mrs.Clinton is evidently a slow learner, she had still not learned the basic lesson about dismantling governments without a plan, not to mention the illegality of such acts of war.

Hillary Clinton not only likes to start wars, she wants to be credited with having been in one. When running for reelection to the Senate in 2006, she wanted to polish up her credentials with a little war-experience. She told the campaign crowd of her visit to Bosnia while she was "first lady", how she and her party had to duck bullets when exiting their plane at the Tuzla airport, and how the welcome ceremony had to be cancelled on account of the shooting.

Unfortunately, there was video of the event that showed a perfectly peaceful arrival with a little girl giving Hillary flowers at the non-cancelled ceremony. It was all a lie intended to burnish her otherwise rather pedestrian background with some brush with the reality of war. But the brush was just a paint brush. (There are several more videos of Hillary's brave trip on YouTube.) Hillary's craven effort to borrow the glory of our soldiers was the behavior of a moral bankrupt, of a knave that would resort to any calumny to win personal recognition. (News anchor Brian Williams had been fired by NBC for exactly the same kind of exaggeration of his non-existent war experience – viewers felt he could no longer be trusted.)

The revelation in 2015 of our Secretary of State's cavalier attitude toward diplomatic security, and of her complete lack of appreciation of the security hazards inherent in electronic communication, came as a shock. The FBI has just concluded their investigation of Mrs.Clinton's home basement email server that she used for official business, to determine whether her evident security carelessness included indictable violations of law. Just days ago, the FBI Director, Mr.Comey, announced that although he found that Mrs.Clinton exercised "extreme carelessness" with highly classified material throughout her four-year term as Secretary of State, and although there was evidence that the unauthorized email systems through which she had sent classified information had been hacked, and although she had clearly shared highly classified information with persons without the necessary clearance, he had decided not to indict her due to "lack of intent". A number of prosecutors have pointed out that under Title 18 Section 793 of the federal penal code, which prescribes criminal penalties for "gross negligence" in guarding classified material – there is no requirement of intent.

It's interesting that the Director describes Ms.Clinton as not knowing what she was doing. This is her defense! She's a lawyer, she was briefed, rebriefed, and reminded numerous times about the State Department's required security procedures, but, says Mr.Comey, she did not mean to do what she did, i.e., to compromise security, even though she knew that what she did compromised security. It would take a half-wit to not understand what she was doing. And the question is, if she doesn't know what she is doing, what's she doing running for president?

FBI's findings were forwarded for disposition to the U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, a political appointee and ally of President Obama, who endorsed the finding without further review and declared the matter closed. While the President is thought to be a fair man by political standards, he nevertheless has a close connection with Mrs.Clinton, and he – like the Attorney General – had already pronounced his opinion (ahead of FBI's finding) that Clinton's casual use of her easily hacked private server has not been the cause of any significant damage from loss of classified information. It is not known how he could know this while the FBI had not yet completed their investigation, but in my view the op-ed by Matthew Whitaker on "TheBlaze", arguing that a special prosecutor should be appointed to deal with this case, reflects the best way to ensure that this matter is reviewed without the taint of political favor. I hardly need add that any security breach reflecting on the Secretary of State would also reflect on the President, whose chief concern at the present time is his own legacy – a compelling reason to appoint a special counsel. But no matter whether criminal charges are filed, the episode demonstrates again the arrogance displayed by Secretary Clinton in refusing to follow standard Department of State security rules and practices, along with her "What..Me?" defense: she didn't mean to do it, she didn't understand...     In any case, this record of four years of "extreme carelessness" with highly classified information should normally preclude a person from getting a security clearance again. Which, of course, would disqualify one from becoming president. But, I say "normally" ...

The idea that the Democratic electorate of the United States are now in large numbers casting votes for nomination to the office of president for one of the originators of the current horror in the Middle East, one of the chief malefactors who has these million deaths and more millions of hopeless refugees on her conscience, and who has repeatedly demonstrated her lack of understanding of international affairs and of basic security requirements, is bizarre. Though, with some knowledge of how big money works in the U.S. to buy political position and influence, and of how easily a large portion of the electorate is led by money spent on slick advertising, the process becomes credible, if still sad. At this date, there is only one serious challenger to her crowning by the Democratic party, and that is Senator Bernie Sanders, a competent and conscientious man of the people who refuses to seek or accept the huge, politically motivated corporate quid pro quo donations that are and have been the hallmark of Clinton campaigns. Bernie Sanders is the single honest and non-corrupt politician left in this campaign. He will make a thoughtful, fair, and productive president, and he deserves all our votes.

H. Paul Lillebo

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Previous essay: 
Mindless Campaign, Mindless Media

Where's the beef?

A presidential election campaign is the great quadrennial opportunity for a national conversation about our future – about how well we've done and where we've failed; about how we will improve our society as we go forward. The conversation is carried by the candidates for that high office, and is urged forward by "The Press", which is expected to remind the people of our failures and urge the candidates toward solutions. But our Press, print and electronic alike, is completely failing to fulfill its necessary role in a democracy.

Next previous essay: 
The Presidential Candidates, 2016

America, you've got to be kidding!

In a seemingly endless process – arcane, tedious, unfair, and corrupt – a great country is in the middle of failing to find a suitable candidate for the job of President.

2016 Election:

The British Chilcot Report on the Iraq war was just released. It offers a crushing judgement about the tragedy and incompetence of the British and American decision to unleash war in Iraq without UN authorization, a decision in which Hillary Clinton played a key role.

FBI chief excoriates Hillary Clinton for "extremely careless" treatment of classified material (here's an interesting contrast of fact and fiction), but predictably declines to indict the candidate his boss supports. Mr.Comey said he declined to prosecute because Ms.Clinton's carelessness was not intentional. But as many have pointed out, the federal penal code prescribes criminal penalties for "gross negligence" in guarding classified material, with no requirement of intent. One might think that four years of extreme carelessness with secret and top secret material – and Hillary's mail setup was very much intentional – would meet that standard. In any case, in Mr.Comey's testimony to Congress today he said that FBI's examination of the email traffic on Hillary's server contradicted on several points the testimony she had given to Congress under oath. Some members of the committee seemed interested in that information.

Nationwide poll: tight Trump-Clinton race.
The latest Quinnipiac University Poll has Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a statistical dead heat. A poll director notes, "Voters find themselves in the middle of a mean-spirited, scorched-earth campaign between two candidates they don't like. And they don't think either candidate would be a good president."

Washington ethics watchdog ("FACT") names Hillary Clinton the most corrupt politician of 2015.
It's nice to see someone get the recognition they deserve. On a list of the eight most corrupt politicians of both major parties, Hillary was in a class of her own. She was cited for "overwhelming evidence" of a range of ethics violations and abuses of the public trust, involving the Clinton Foundation, preferential corporate donor treatment as Secretary of State, and campaign violations. Isn't it about time we call a crook a crook?

Visit the Hillary Page:
"Thanks for the Memories"

The true Hillary Clinton is not the construct we see running for president of the United States. Indeed, "true" is not a word we are used to associating with Mrs. Clinton. Her 40 years in the public eye call up vivid memories of scandals and lies, incompetence, bribery and other corruption, financial irregularities, felonious friends, and a supremely embarrassing tour in the White House with a supremely embarrassing husband, "Horny" Bill Clinton, who again is a co-applicant to return to the White House.

For some inexplicable reason, a substantial portion of the Democratic Party's voters seem to have excused Bill and Hillary's past outrages, or – if they're young – they may simply be unaware of the real Hillary, who by now has learned to play nice to the public. Many who do remember the 90's find it astounding that the party cannot find an honest, qualified leader as a candidate for the presidency. The above link should help with recalling the nature of the schemes of the former president and his wife, and their unquenchable and unprincipled lust for power.

It's particularly strange to see both the Democratic and and Republican parties offering us family members of recent presidents as candidates. We have 320 million people in this country. The attempt to convince us that the wife, brother, or son of the president would be the best president reeks of corruption, of improper money influence and maintenance of the political power elite. Family dynasties have been customary in some countries, but it's not a custom we ought to adopt in the U.S.  The effort by Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush to seem and sound "progressive" or "renewing" is a sham and a fraud. One can only hope that the American people will, in the end, not allow themselves to be duped by these slick snake-oil hawkers.

Washington Post: Jim Webb on the need for an Independent President
Webb decries the development of extremism and triviality in our elections, and the partisanship threatening to destroy this country's ability to govern itself.

Clinton received TOP SECRET emails on home server

The NY Times reports that at least 22 emails received by Hillary on her home acount contained "Top Secret" information. It can be assumed that her home email account was routinely hacked, and that the Top Secret material fell into the hands of foreign agents. Most gov't employees would already have been indicted for such a security breach.

Poll: Not trusting Hillary
The nationwide Quinnipiac University poll (PDF) sampled eligible voters.

To the question, "Would you say that [candidate] is honest and trustworthy?" – asked about six candidates of both parties, Sanders led the positive responses, while Clinton led the negative responses with 61% "no", and Trump elicited 54% "no" replies.

In an unprompted word association question, the words most often immediately associated with Hillary were 1. "liar", 2. dishonest, and 3. untrustworthy. Most frequently associated with Donald Trump were arrogant, blowhard, and idiot. So it could be an interesting election.

Interesting election footnote:
The Washington Post reported on August 5 that Bill Clinton had a phone call with Donald Trump a couple of weeks before Trump's declaration as a presidential candidate. Aides to both men say that the former president urged Trump to get more involved in politics, and that Trump's ideas could be a valuable addition to the Republican party's discourse. No one says Mr.Clinton urged Trump to run, but he knew Trump was near the moment of decision. Was Clinton sowing the seeds of tumult in the Republican camp? Setting up a perfect foil for his wife's barbs? Dangerous sport, exchanging barbs with Trump.

All text © H. Paul Lillebo