Saturday, November 12, 2016

Michigan and New Hampshire Still Not Called by the AP and Media

I didn't expect to actually do any blogs on the election after it was over.  But there's too much of interest still happening.  One thing that bothers me is the AP, and the media in general, have not yet called the presidential race in Michigan and New Hampshire.  I'm a numbers person, so I went and looked at the statistics to see why not.  Admittedly, I relied on the media's numbers.  I looked at every county in Michigan to see where the votes weren't reported yet.  EVERY county had 100% of their votes reported.  Yet Fox, and presumably the AP, only show a total of 96% on their Michigan vote results page.  A similar situation was found for New Hampshire; every county had 100% of their votes reported.  What’s going on?

Michigan's margin for Trump was 11,837 votes, and Michigan is worth 16 electoral college votes.  New Hampshire's margin for Clinton was 2,528 votes, and New Hampshire is worth 4 electoral college votes.  Those are using the current Fox News tallies.

In an article from the AP is quoted as saying “The responsibility for calling races rests with experienced journalists in each state. They are armed with on-the-ground knowledge of their territory that no other national news organization can match.” In addition, says the AP, “On election night, race callers in each state are assisted by experts in AP’s Washington bureau who examine exit poll numbers and votes as they are counted.”

There's lots more worth reading in the article.  You find out the AP claims they won't call a race while there is the possibility of a recount.  That Michigan won't automatically do a recount when the margin is over 2,000 votes.  That Michigan is not required to certify the vote for 14 days.  And that Michigan officials believe no recounts will be requested until certification is made.

So in any state with a possibility of a recount, the AP won't call a race?  Sure, no chance of recounts in any of the other 48.

Here's a point from my own perspective.  Calling Michigan for Trump, and New Hampshire for Clinton would make the electoral vote predictions 306 for Trump to 232 for Clinton.  To me, the 306 looks a lot more impressive than 290, when only 270 are required for a win.

Another point, "experienced [AP] journalists" do the calling on the ground.  Was the AP biased for Hillary like all of the main stream media during the campaign?  I think it was obvious they were.  What's the chances the AP journalists in a state or two are like the Trump protesters in the big Hillary voting cities that say "Not My President"?

You can make up your own mind.  To me, making the call in those two states is straightforward.  If later recounts change the results, you then change your predictions.  It looks to me like the electoral college count is now 306 for Trump and only 232 for Clinton.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

UCLA Crazies and Our Future

I’m going to take a few words to get to my primary point.  So to avoid losing you ahead of time, I want to touch on my ending.  Yesterday, while trying to enjoy Trump’s victory, I saw a video shot of UCLA students walking through a long hall.  There seemed to be hundreds of students.  They were all marching to a slow, continuously repeated chant of “F*** Trump”.  And it seemed like most, if not all were staring down at their phones.  It made me think of what a Nazi Youth march might have looked like, only with a different target and no phones.  It also made it hard to get to sleep.

I’m obviously a Trump supporter.  I really believed that the polls couldn’t be far enough off to support a Trump victory.  All the media, including a good portion of Fox News commentators and Wall Street Journal columnists, seemed to support Hillary Clinton and continuously criticize Trump.  Extreme, over-the-top criticism.  The few advertisements we saw here in Texas, most of which were focused on electing congressmen, were nearly content-free slander.  They took a few seconds of video of their opponent, out-of-context, and made them look like the great Satan out to destroy the good things in America.  I have always assumed most people, busy with their hectic lives working or studying 60 hours or more a week, do not have the time or energy to get past the information on the Main Stream Media and understand the policies and potential impacts of the candidates’ actual positions.  Everything Trump said was taken out of context or distorted to sound like racism, bigotry and misogyny--24/7.  Hillary got a light drubbing on honesty and misjudgments, but the media still depicted her as the nice, dependable, experienced candidate—without ever criticizing or describing her policies.  There were a few on Fox and at the Wall Street Journal that were honest.  But they seemed to be offset, maybe by an editorial policy, that there had to be 50% democratic talking heads on every show.  In written articles, anything criticizing Hillary had to be offset by at least a paragraph also pointing out Trump’s deficiencies.  I won’t be renewing my Wall Street Journal subscription again.
Anyway, on election night, I watched a movie and went to bed early.  I had watched McCain and Romney lose on election night TV coverage, and thought maybe I could avoid the heart-ache of a repeat.  I was unhappy with the nice-guy approach of those two.  They never seemed to fight back.  Trump fights back, and I’m actually a lot happier with his policies.  So I thought maybe I could limit my disappointment to a few minutes on Wednesday morning.  Of course, my wife watched the returns and couldn’t resist giving me a few results:  Texas went red (expected, but the media seemed to think it was in doubt), Evan Bayh lost in Indiana (I grew up with Birch Bayh and was really disappointed with his and Evan’s time in office), she said the media seemed to be going crazy (?), and she thought Florida was going to go red.  Avoiding the returns didn’t help, I couldn’t go to sleep worried about a Clinton future.

I woke up Wednesday morning, turned on my computer, and brought up  There was a big picture of Trump.  I thought, if Hillary won, why would they have a picture of Trump?  I scrolled down and saw the headlines of a Trump victory.  I have to say, I got a bit emotional, and a strong feeling of relief.

I turned on the TV and watched Fox News for most of the morning.  The criticism of Trump was over, though they still had a few of the bitter Democratic partisans on their programs.
I was especially affected by the scene at the Democratic headquarters earlier that morning, when Podesta came on and said Hillary would not show.  Her fans were crying.  And I felt empathy for their loss. 

I was a bit taken aback by Hillary not showing up to say anything.  Had she been so affected by the loss that she had some kind of medical problem?  Was she just so upset and bitter that she couldn’t maintain her composure on stage?  All those people showed up and stayed through 2:30 am with all the bad news, and she couldn’t even make an appearance?  Since then, I’m leaning towards a simpler explanation, she didn’t have any concession remarks or speech prepared, and she can no longer speak without a teleprompter or memorized lines.  Whatever the reason, her lack of appearance seemed to just emphasize my belief in her lack of character.

So I went through the day, feeling pretty good.  And I decided to watch Fox News from Bret Bair through O’Reilly, plus a little bit of Kelly.  I’m not sure when I saw it, but one of them showed a video of the UCLA students marching through a hall chanting “F*** Trump”, again and again and again…  And this morning I see marches in most big cities where worse rants were going on against Trump.

What gives?  The Left criticized Trump when he said he might contest an election.  The election took place, it wasn’t close, and now the Left, at least some of them, seem to think it was illegitimate?  Way too many people seem to be hypocrites.

But more worrisome is the behavior of the UCLA students.  Supposedly, these students are representative of the future of our country.  Did your parents let you curse in public or even in private?  Sure, no one is allowed to physically discipline their children any more.  But you figure most parents are still going to try to instill a sense of decorum and courteous behavior in their children.  They want their children to know right from wrong, how to think about what’s going on around them, and understand it so they can get ahead in life.  They want their children’s schools to teach them how to behave in society as well as imparting the knowledge necessary to live life prosperously in our country.

How did these students get to this point?  Did their parents fail them?  Did their schools?  Did the media or Hollywood lead them off course?  I know the latter two groups have had an obvious slant towards approving this type of behavior.  Schools have been tending towards nonsensical behavior for years.  Some parents may have been bad influences, but I cannot believe most did not want better for their kids and work to make that happen.

Maybe there were other hundreds or thousands of students at UCLA who disapproved of this behavior, whether they vote left or right.  Maybe that’s true on most campuses.  Maybe you don’t see the people with good manners, and that have the ability to think, because they don’t make spectacles of themselves in their schools’ halls and in the streets.

The problem is, you see the mainstream media throwing mud continuously.  You rarely see a new movie that doesn’t push liberal culture and morals.  You almost never hear of colleges promoting free speech and open debate.  You see riots and protests that take place without any apparent regard for the rule of law.  You see politicians pushing to abolish and ignore the Constitution of the United States.  You see people unwilling to admit that most terrorism is Islamic terrorism.  You see a complete political party that seems to want open borders as a way to get more voters for their positions.

All that is worrisome enough.  Then you see hundreds of UCLA students marching to and chanting “F*** Trump”, our new president elect.  Yeah, maybe this election will help us retain our rights and liberties under our Constitution for a few more years.  But the media, our colleges, our entertainment industry and half of our citizens are pushing a different direction.  If our young people move that way too, where is our future?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Protecting Classified Information and Hillary Clinton's Emails

I’ve noticed that a lot of the folks commenting on the Clinton e-mail investigation do not seem to understand how classified information comes about and is protected.  So I thought I would put together a short primer.

Information can be generated, received or collected. If its disclosure to the wrong party could cause damage to the national security, the information is classified at the confidential level.  If disclosure could cause serious damage, the information is classified at the secret level.  If disclosure would cause exceptionally grave damage, it is classified top secret.  If the protections required for those three classification levels are not considered sufficient, the information will be placed in a ‘compartment’ where access is limited and additional security measures are applied.  Reportedly, some of the classified information sent through Hillary Clinton’s non-secure ‘home’ server was at the compartmented level.

Information becomes classified when an Original Classification Authority (OCA) designates it as such.  Usually OCA’s are heads of agencies or departments, though the ability to classify information at the lower security levels is sometimes delegated to organization commanders or directors.

Usually, the OCA will approve a security classification guide.  Sometimes at agency and department levels, there will be a security instruction (regulation).  And you can even get guidance at the Presidential level via Executive Orders.  What you find in these guides, instructions, or orders is a description of what information is and is not classified, what is sensitive but unclassified, and what security classification level is to be applied when the information is classified.  Usually, there is a table in the guidance where the first column is a list of categories or types of information.  Each row in the table describes the classification level and related information.

So, you might have a security classification guide on the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).  It would tell government employees working with the JDAM what information is classified and what is not.  Usually, you don’t get extreme detail.  As an example, the performance characteristics of the JDAM might be classified at the secret level.  The existence of the JDAM, and its general uses, might be unclassified.  Keep in mind, this is a hypothetical case for me, I have no knowledge of the JDAM other than what I’ve read in newspapers.

And I have absolutely no information, beyond what I’ve read in newspapers, about classification guidance for State Department information.

What I do know is that a government employee, when documenting something or communicating about something in their area of expertise, is expected to be aware of the applicable classification guidance.  They are expected to mark titles, headers, and paragraph portions with the appropriate classification markings when they generate a document.  They also apply a document classification header indicating the source for the classifications:  either the OCA, the classification guidance reference, or the derivative classification source from which they have obtained the classification markings.  If you create a document based on OCA guidance, your new document can become a derivative classification source for other ‘authors’.

Everyone is briefed on the protections required of classified information before they are given access.  And they are given periodic refresher training.  They sign forms indicating they have completed the training, and most of those forms indicate the criminal penalties for mishandling or disclosure of classified information to unauthorized individuals.

And here is a key point.  Once the classification guidance is issued, whether or not classified information is properly marked, it is still classified.  And the guidance generally is written to cover categories of information, not specific bits of info.  It is possible that some info could retroactively be classified.  If, for example, the categories in the guidance were not all inclusive.  In my, admittedly limited experience, I’ve never seen that happen.

Another part of security training is that publication of classified information does not change the classification level to unclassified.  Properly cleared government employees are still required to protect that information as classified.  In general, they are not allowed to comment on any public information or disclosure.  And everyone is told to refer any questions to the Public Affairs office at their organization or agency.

A final training point is that everyone is told to transmit information only on approved, secured networks and devices that are authorized to handle the appropriate classification level.  There are specific networks for secret and higher levels of classification.  Everyone knows that it is a security violation to transmit classified information on an unsecured network such as the Internet.

So, with Clinton having upwards of 2,000 classified messages on an unsecured system, it is extremely unlikely that more than a minute fraction were not classified at the time.  Any government employee, with a clearance, knows that transmitting classified information on the Internet, or giving it to unauthorized individuals will cost you your clearance, your job, and probably your freedom for a number of years. 

On the subject of work emails and unclassified networks.  Over the years, the availability of unclassified .gov and .mil email accounts on government desktops has become wide spread, at least in government buildings and installations.  As the cyber threat has grown, guidance has gone out to use only your .mil or .gov email account for government work.  For the last few years, most organizations have provided government Blackberries or iPhones to those senior employees that need to work away from the office or during travel.  They are configured to use the .mil or .gov email accounts and are secured as much as possible against intrusions.  In most cases, you cannot access your .mil or .gov accounts from your personal devices.  To my knowledge, US government systems do not permit automatic forwarding of emails from .mil or .gov accounts.  The only way to get an email off the unclassified .mil or .gov network is to forward an individual email to an Internet account. 

Also, it is supposed to be impossible to transmit an email from a secure, classified network to an unclassified network or the Internet.

For 2,000+ classified emails to be on Clinton’s home server, somebody or several somebodies had to have been at least criminally negligent about protecting classified information.  Someone had to type that information into an email, knowing it was classified.  And that had to have been done 2,000+ times.  Mr. Comey’s claim that there was no evidence of intent is simply hogwash.