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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

FBI and GOP at Loggerheads over Clinton Email Investigation - the Devil's in the Details

On Tuesday, July 5, FBI Director James Comey gave a press conference in which he announced that the FBI had completed its investigation into former Secretary of State (presumptive Democratic presidential nominee) Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for official emails during her tenure at the State Department. While Comey described her and her staff as ‘extremely careless’, he was quite clear in stating that there was nothing turned up in the investigation that would warrant criminal charges. He did say that the actions, had it been some other employee, might have warranted security or administrative action, but went on to say that the FBI did not find any evidence that Clinton or her colleagues ‘intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information.’

Unsurprisingly, hotheads in the GOP are already having puppies over this decision. Comey has already been summoned to appear before the Senate Oversight Committee, where he will no doubt be grilled mercilessly as to how he could possibly come to the conclusion he did after the GOP has spent so much time creating this so-called scandal. They were so sure, after all, that Comey, who formerly served as an Assistant Attorney General in a Republican Administration, would come up with findings that supported the elaborate fairy tale they’ve concocted.

This just goes to prove that they’re so lost in the fantasy land they’ve created that they overlook the obvious. Comey might be a Republican, but he’s also a professional who has a character trait most of them seem to lack—integrity. If he thought a crime had been committed, by Republican or Democrat, I have no doubt he would have recommended an indictment. If they’d bothered to study his history, that would have been clear. But then, I’m accusing these guys of having critical thinking skills, when clearly they’ve demonstrated for the past decade they only have the ability to be critical.

Another thing they’ve apparently failed to do is pay attention to what he said. I mean his exact words. While the use of a private server was a ‘careless’ act that would have earned a low-level employee security or administrative sanctions, being careless is not criminal. If that were the case, the GOP would all be put in jail for their ‘extreme recklessness’ in shutting down the government in a snit because they couldn’t get their way, or their incessant ‘perjury’ in claiming that the Affordable Care Act has hurt people who now have health coverage for the first time.. As someone who served as a low, mid, and high-level government official for over thirty years, I can agree that there are two standards when it comes to administrative punishments. One has only to look at the case of General David Petraeus who, after admitting that he gave classified material to his mistress, was given a slap on the wrist and allowed to retire with full pension. Had he been a sergeant or a captain, he’d probably be occupying a bunk at the Disciplinary Barracks in Leavenworth right now, or a best would have been given a general (less than honorable) discharge. That’s a bad situation, but it is what it is. There are two standards, one for the big shots, and another one for the rest of us.

While it might be a terrible, even unfair, thing, it’s not a crime, not in a legal sense. It’s like the recent court decision that found that a State Department officer punished with a bad performance evaluation and relief from duties for refusing to violate a regulation, had no protection under the Whistle Blower Act because he hadn’t been ordered to violate a ‘law.’ The court made a clear distinction between ‘laws’ and ‘regulations.’
Oh, and one little point the pointy heads in the GOP keep ignoring; the State Department didn’t have clear regulations on the use of private email until after Clinton left office. Her two previous predecessors both used private email. Of course, both of them were Republican, so we’ve heard nothing about investigating or prosecuting them.

I don’t expect the GOP to come to its senses any time soon. But, we, the voters, need to keep clear heads about this. We need to deal with facts, not innuendo, reality, not the political fantasy that’s cooked up by people who will do or say anything to con you into voting for them—or voting against their opponents.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Vida Designs - A New Place to Get My Photographs

If you like fine photography and fashion, you can now get them both in one place. Voices - Vida now hosts an online shop of custom-designed fashion accessories featuring some of my best photographs. Go to my shop at and take a look at items, such as the ones pictured below; you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Muhammad Ali dies at 74

Muhammad Ali, a three-times heavyweight champion of the world, who had been struggling with Parkinson's Disease since the 1980s, died  June 3 near Phoenix, Arizona. The flamboyant, controversial boxer and civil rights figure was 74.

Ali was stripped of his title when he refused to report for the draft in protest against racial injustice here in the U.S., but managed to stage an unbelievable comeback.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, he changed his name to Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam.

For more details go here. . .

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

Clinton-Sanders New York Debate: April 2016

Take a look at this, the last Democratic debate before the New York primary, maybe the last this election, and decide which candidate you think you should vote for.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Monday, April 4, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spotting and Solving Ethical Dilemmas at Work

Dr. Terry Newell (l) and PEC chair Rob Dry at special presen-
tation for AFSA and PEC staff.
 Dr. Terry Newell, author and professor at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, conducted a class on 'Spotting and Solving Ethical Dilemmas at Work' for members of AFSA and attendees from the Department of State and other foreign affairs agencies at AFSA headquarters on Marcy 10, 2016.

Hosted by AFSA's Committee on the Foreign Service Profession and Ethics (PEC), the purpose of the class was to improve attendees' ability to identify ethical issues in the work place and find ways to effectively deal with them. Newell, who has conducted presentations on ethics for AFSA in the past, began by stressing that some of the most prevalent ethics issues faced in the work place have nothing to do with violations of law or regulation, but are the ethical components of technical and management issues, which often are cases of right vs. right, rather than right vs. wrong.
AFSA/PEC staff in meeting with Dr. Terry Newell

Newell used examples from other government agencies, such as the VA and NASA to illustrate the process of identifying and dealing with ethical issues, as well as the difficulty of getting it 'right.'

Dr. Terry Newell at afternoon presentation for members of
the foreign affairs community.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Getting a Proper Handle on the Islamic State

An article I recently did on 'Command Post,' the blog for RallyPoint, a social network for active duty, veterans, and supporters of our armed forces, on coming to grips with the Islamic State threat: 'Getting a handle on the Islamic State: To Know Your Enemy, You Must First Accurately Name Him.'

The U.S. Government was concerned about al-Qaeda before September 11, 2001. However, following that horrific event, that organization and its enigmatic leader was the focus of most of our efforts. We sent troops first into Afghanistan and subsequently the ill-fated foray into Iraq, and the main objective was to eliminate al-Qaeda.

Despite the killing of Osama bin Laden; al-Qaeda and its worldwide affiliates continue to be a security threat. However, in the past two years, they have been eclipsed by a force that unfortunately grew out of our operations in Iraq; the Islamic State. As it grew out of al-Qaeda’s franchise, the Islamic State originally was known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Meanwhile, Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi aligned his Jama-at al-Tawhidw’al-Jihad with al-Qaeda in response to the U.S. invasion in 2003. When Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike that same year, AQI was weakened and his successors rebranded the organization as al-Dawa al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham, or ISIS. The al-Sham in the title roughly corresponds to the Levant, which led some to call the organization the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. This rebranding reflected the broadening aims of the organization to create a new caliphate in the region, taking advantage of popular uprisings in Syria.  Read more . . .

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Check My Blogs over at Daily Kos

Daily Kos is a progressive site dedicated to progressive and liberal political blogging, a place where people who believe strongly in the freedom of expression can share their views with a broad audience. A few weeks ago, I was invited to submit my musings, and after considering it a few days, decided to do just that. You already know my political philosophy if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, so you won't be at all surprised at what you find in my diary over at Daily Kos. Go to here and check it out. Comment, and then come back here and tell everyone else what you think.

I go even farther afield at See my Tremr page at And finally, there's a site in the UK dedicated to helping creative types spread the word about their art. I have a page on Niume that's beginning to generate buzz on both sides of the Atlantic. Check it out.

Okay, that's enough blatant self-promotion for now. Enjoy what you see, and tell your friends about it.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

HR BlogVOCATE: Encounter with a Corporate Psychopath

HR BlogVOCATE: Encounter with a Corporate Psychopath: If a friend told you her boss was a “psychopath” you’d probably laugh. At one time or another, most of us have worked with the “boss ...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Put a leash on big oil and gas companies

Subject: Big bullies
Right now, some companies are trying to stop a rule that says if you're an oil and gas company and you make a deal, you have to publish what you pay. If they wins, that means billions of dollars could end up in the pockets of corrupt leaders, rather than life-saving programs to help pull the world's poorest people out of poverty. 

Will you join me and tell the Securities and Exchange Commission #noSecretDeals? Tell them the time is NOW to issue a strong rule that requires oil, mining, and gas companies to be transparent, so money does not fall into the hands of corrupt government officials in Africa.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Check Me Out on BookGarage

I'm currently featured on, along with my most recent Al Pennyback mystery, Dead Ringer. You can check out the entire interview here. . .