Six Views for Your Consideration

Security, Books, Pizza, and More

Securing Classified Documents

We have heard in recent days, and will hear a lot more, about classified papers on the loose at the presidential level. There are elements yet to be resolved on the Biden end; we know the story on Trump. Still, we know enough overall to call out the following essential elements.

  • Both cases involve mishandling of classified data. That is serious and has to be treated as such. As noted below, there are important differences in these two cases, but appointing a Special Prosecutor for both has its merits. Justice could have decided to not make such appointments, but having made one, it needed to do the other one as well.
  • The law that deals with punishments in some cases revolves heavily around intent. On this foundation, the Biden case looks far less serious. It appears to be carelessness and mishandling. Bad, but not criminal.Trump, on the other hand, stole documents, knew that was what he was doing, and he resisted giving them back to the US Government for over a year. I will be surprised if the Special Prosecutor does not find some level of criminal liability.
  • The Biden case does take out some political advantage that the Trump case had provided, but not as much as Republicans would wish. The differences noted in 2), above, are worth highlighting and how the Biden team has handled this from Day 1 is quite the contrast from Trump & Company.
  • For me, the bigger issue here is how both cases happened in the first place. We have a pretty darn good system government wide for handling classified material. When used, it is pretty darn tight. Every classified document has someone responsible for it. When such documents are loaned out – to anyone – they are signed out. When they are returned, they are signed back in. These transfer logs are secured and maintained for an extended period. Essentially, we treat classified documents the same way we treat dangerous weapons.
  • Clearly, the system is not being followed at the highest level with any rigor. State, DOD, and other agencies need to clean house on this and ensure that the system is applied every time, for every document, no matter who is using the document. No exceptions.
Ukraine – Converging and Conflicting Leverage Points

I mentioned in an earlier post that I expected the Ukrainians would maintain an offensive posture during the Winter, to further drain and keep off balance the Russian forces. That seems to be happening. On the other hand, Russia has gotten even more ruthless, attacking civilian centers and attempting to freeze people to death in the winter. The third major factor coming into play is the quality of weapons and related systems the West is about to provide to Ukraine. Some of these will have major battlefield impacts.

All of which means that Spring may begin to see the beginning of the end, with changes on the battlefield and setting the stage for negotiations. Who will have the stronger hand is not yet clear. Ukraine is doing everything right and the people are impressively resilient. Still, Putin seems prepared to kill off his own soldiers by the thousands and put his country further back in economic and social grounds. If he is replaced, could be someone better, could be someone even worse.

Time will tell. Hopefully, in the meantime, Congressional Republican noise about cutting off Ukraine will die the death it so richly reserves.

First Days of the New House of Representatives

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks and McCarthy is still Speaker – sort of. Already lasted longer than some thought. Will be interesting if that supposed 3 page agreement he signed with the Nut Wing ever sees the light of day.

A lot of Republican campaign talk focused on inflation, the economy in general, crime, and border security. One might have expected that to be their focus at the starting gate. Of course, the first two were problematic, since inflation is going down steadily, and the economy continues to break records. As for crime, they are launching attacks on the FBI (Hey, they picked on Trumps, so….).

The border really is an issue, not one that is easily solved. It would be orders of magnitude had Congress passed the immigration legislation George Bush II proposed. It was an impressive package, but his own party killed it in Congress. The same folks raise the issue every two years for elections but have yet to do any serious work. Looks like more of the same going forward.

Once More, with Feeling: A Guest Worker Program, Please

While we are on the subject, part of the Bush plan was a guest worker plan. In case you have not noticed, unemployment is at record lows in the US, yet businesses are starving for workers. I was in a major shopping area last weekend and saw stores closed on a Saturday, with heavy foot traffic all around. Signs in the windows said they were sorry to be closed but were too short staff to open the stores.

A guest worker program would ease the border problem, give business much needed help, and fill our ranks with people eager to carry their weight and to contribute to this country. That we still have members of Congress blocking even discussions of this is a disgrace. But hey, makes for great politics to stir the base!

Pizza Boxes!

OK, let’s end today on something a bit lighter. I really like pizza. To me, it is one of the basic food groups. Will happily eat it for lunch, dinner, or snack. Have been known to eat it cold for breakfast. Delicious in every case.

People who are serious about pizza know that it does not travel well. Carry out or delivery pizza degrades noticeably. Turns out the villain in this drama is likely the lowly pizza box. Turns out everything about the box conspires against the pizza. Just to show you that they too deal in more than politics and the arts, the Atlantic magazine did quite an expose on the shame of pizza boxes.

Read it, then go get a pizza to eat at a restaurant or make one at home.  If someone designs the perfect pizza transport container, they will be deservedly rich.

A Personal Footnote

We don’t play the lottery as a rule – the odds are ridiculous. But, when the pot goes over a billion dollars, it seems worth a small risk. So we played last week – and we won. Now we have to decide what to do with our winnings. Cannot decide if we should spend all $12.00 in one place.

    Bill Clontz (& Bonnie)

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6 replies to Six Views for Your Consideration

  1. Curious as to your favorite pizza spot. We are major fans of White Labs Pizza though the leftovers don’t hold up well.
    Liked the various topics in this post. A good read indeed!

    • Can’t say we have an actual above the cut pizza place locally yet. The search continues.

  2. On Classified Documents – All of your points are spot on. Let me suggest one other consideration. There is simply too much classified material; the federal government is significantly “overclassified.” We classify material for many valid reasons – to protect intelligence sources, to deny transfer of critical technology, to protect ongoing operations and decision processes. But we also classify to protect the classifiers from future recrimination when things go wrong. That use is unfortunate. Very little today is truly secret or can remain so for very long. Even with the best planning, things will go wrong. Classifying material to protect the classifier severely inhibits the transparency so necessary for learning from mistakes and for keeping all of us honest. While we are looking at how we protect classified information, we also need to take a good look at what we classify, how long we classify it for and who can do it.

    • That is an excellent point. I have often thought honesty would lead to an additional classification level of “Potentially Embarrassing Stuff, so Let’s Classify It.”

  3. I have trouble comparing Biden and Trump in the classified cases. Trump doesn’t seem to know how NOT to bend the rules or break the law. I don’t want to give Biden a free pass, but I think he is “less guilty”.

    I’m all for guest workers. I’ve seen it in action and it works well. The foreign worker is happy to go back home with a pocket full of money. If they behave, they can easily get a new permit.

    Ukraine will prevail as Russia has shown ineptitude on the battlefield, and the Russian economy will run out of steam. The last time I checked, the economy of NATO countries was 17 times larger than that of Russia, and that doesn’t include Australia, Japan, and other supporters of Ukraine

    Congress: I cannot stomach the fact that Santos is not booted out!!!! Shame

    Pizza boxes. My only comment is that I wish wax paper were put under the pizza so that the box could be recycled. Can you imagine how many boxes are in the landfills each year,!!

  4. Pizza is a favorite topic of mine and I truly do love a good slice and usually more than one. As Jeanne said we love the crust at White Lab Pizza eaten in the restaurant but have found it does not hold well when taken home. My father’s Pizza in Black Mountain is a favorite and is well worth the drive and I think it holds well. We also like Asheville Pizza right down the road and we loved 828 (was Marcos’ until they were sued by the national chain) which unfortunately left during COVID.

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