Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We the People Expect a Record


I am exhausted by all the petty infighting. I am tired of the partisan politics. Just knock it off already.  It’s nothing but wrangling between the political parties. Everyone gets it. It’s so painfully clear. Poor Hillary in another overly politicized inquisition to just tear away at her flesh and storied career.  

Our republic is great. For me it is the greatest country that has ever existed. There are some other really good ones, but America is the “cat’s meow.” Loathe to be insensitive with my last idiomatic expression, I don’t want to offend cat owners or dog lovers or people who like leashes--well you get the idea.

America is great in part because it has advanced a unique form of government with built-in checks and balances, among many other institutional protections. What that means is that one branch of government can’t push around another branch. After all, we evolved out of a polity where the king or queen held sway and the Constitutional Framers decided the monarchy wouldn’t work here.  That means that Congress can’t make war by itself and when the President can’t get his ideas passed through Congress, he can’t circumvent the process with some king-like Executive Order to frustrate the process, for example (the Iran Nuclear deal advanced through Executive Order notwithstanding).

Another unique feature of our democracy is governmental transparency. We get to see what our elected officials do or not do. They are supposed to memorialize their actions in the government record for posterity and transparency sake. Thereafter our laws, like Freedom of Information, ensure that we have an optic into governmental activities, assuming it isn’t classified. Because we don’t want just anyone seeing our classified information.

Another really great thing about America is our advancement of individual freedoms embodied in the Bill of Rights, among other places.  But it seems like sometimes when our great American values collide, we have to have a predictable way to advance the most important values of our great land.  The right to do whatever you want, whenever you want is not likely going to win especially when it’s the government at issue.

So if you are a government worker and you don’t like having a government email, too bad so sad. All employees can’t do what they want at work, including the US Government employees.  Or if you don’t like the government provided IT staff, technology choices or functionality provided to get your job done, you can’t just find a cheapo cloud provider and use their free IT email and storage services for your government work because, come on, that would undermine the whole accountability/transparency thing that made our great nation great.  But Hillary Clinton is different. She is the boss. So when she tells the entire State Department to refrain from using personal email for government work, she was talking to everyone but herself. And when she complains about managing the complexity of multiple communications devices, then she should be able to get rid of her government email all together, right? Come on, she’s the boss and should be able to use a private server located in her basement to manage US foreign affairs for all other nations because it’s just way easier for her.  And if she wants to manage state secrets through an IT provider in Colorado located in a strip mall, then she should be allowed to, because, come on, she’s the Queen Bee. Come on, this is America, “Land of the Home and Free of the Brave.”  Freedom rules. But we do not have kings and queens and that’s the really great part of our great land.

I sure wish they would stop busting Clinton’s chops over the information she sent or received via email. Even if it was classified it wasn’t marked classified so not one of the bad guys would have bothered to hack her account and read such boring stuff. (Yes, I heard the “rumor” that several foreign governments tried to hack her server, but who knows if it’s really true.)

And then there is the personal vs. government issue—you don’t think her aids know the difference between a wedding invitation discussion and an explanation of security threat in Libya and the likelihood of a major terror attack on our diplomatic presence there?  Why not let Clinton decide when she will turn over records in accordance with the Federal Records Act, because after all, transparency can happen sometime in the future—maybe after she is elected queen.  And don’t you think the Secretary of State is the best person at the State Department to know what is classified or top- secret and how to protect it. For that matter, I bet she knows best how to secure data, and between her Colorado IT shop in the mall and the NSA or Department of State security personnel, I am sure she had it all locked down and buttoned up. “Hey, can I get some help over here working my fax machine.” And why bother with the National Archives and Records Administration to decide what is a government record worth keeping when Hillary will give us what she hasn’t destroyed when she decides it’s time. 

It’s an election year and that is all this is—partisan politics. I hate the sabre rattling about the silly email security stuff.

On the other hand, if she wasn’t running for President of the United States and her former boss wasn’t the king, I wonder if Hillary would be prosecuted for her mishandling of sensitive government information the way others have been. Thank goodness for transparency and accountability.  I see myself as an Independent. I am not anti-Hillary. But this is not about Clinton or the Republican’s trying to make hay from the Benghazi tragedy. For me, it’s about making a record. I am for ensuring America’s greatness by keeping a complete record and making it open to the citizens. I am also for protecting government secrets. I am also for applying a little reasonableness to the discussion. If what Hillary did doesn’t bother you a little, perhaps you are too colored by Fall foliage or the election season. Just saying.