The Morning Jolt


Trump’s Email . . . Er, Cellphone, Scandal

President Trump on the phone in June (Reuters photo: Carlos Barria)

Making the click-through worthwhile: Trump chooses to emulate one of Hillary Clinton’s worst traits; a Democratic candidate with some weird beliefs down in Georgia; what to expect from the new Obama-Netflix deal; and an ugly scandal down in South Carolina’s Low Country.

Phoning It in on Communications Security

Am I the only one who remembers that a big argument against Hillary Clinton was that she used an insecure email system and multiple cell phones, and disregarded the rules and laws about the handling of classified information? Do any of the president’s allies ever want to hold him to the standard they held Clinton to?

President Donald Trump uses a White House cellphone that isn’t equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications, according to two senior administration officials — a departure from the practice of his predecessors that potentially exposes him to hacking or surveillance.

The president, who relies on cellphones to reach his friends and millions of Twitter followers, has rebuffed staff efforts to strengthen security around his phone use, according to the administration officials.

The president uses at least two iPhones, according to one of the officials. The phones — one capable only of making calls, the other equipped only with the Twitter app and preloaded with a handful of news sites — are issued by White House Information Technology and the White House Communications Agency, an office staffed by military personnel that oversees White House telecommunications.

While aides have urged the president to swap out the Twitter phone on a monthly basis, Trump has resisted their entreaties, telling them it was “too inconvenient,” the same administration official said.

The president has gone as long as five months without having the phone checked by security experts. It is unclear how often Trump’s call-capable phones, which are essentially used as burner phones, are swapped out.

Why should we care about anything in politics if issues only matter in circumstances that they can be used to attack the opposition?

Even the excuses are the same! Hillary Clinton, March 10, 2015: “I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.”

Some Georgia Democrats Have Some Really Weird Ideas

Erick Erickson writes that today’s gubernatorial primary in Georgia is “the most important election in America for the time being.”

The race pits two Staceys against each other: Abrams and Evans. This race is the most important because it will define the future of the Democratic coalition and Democrats look like they’re about to bet on the losing coalition even if it might be a short-term winner nationally . . .

Abrams represents the progressive wing that will rally highly educated, white, secular voters and minorities. Evans believes the Democrats needs to make an argument to blue collar voters beyond “trust us.” Evans recognizes Democrats cannot go so far left as to alienate would be Democratic voters who are white. Abrams is ready to blow past them and then tell them her ideas will help them, even if they culturally and socially oppose her issues and values.

Elsewhere in Georgia, Democrats will compete for the chance to take on incumbent Republican Jody Hice in the tenth district, a fairly Republican-leaning (R+15) mix of urban and rural communities between Atlanta and Augusta. There’s poorly funded Tabitha Johnson-Green, music teacher Chalis Montgomery, and professor Richard Winfield.

Some of the offerings in Winfield’s 1998 book The Just Family are . . . odd. For starters, he seems to think that “constitutional law should extend to family relations and specify the inalienable household duties of spouses, parents and children, leaving the contingent dimensions of these entitlements and obligations to the corrigible labors of positive legislation.” Get government out of our bedrooms . . . and into every other room in the house, apparently.

His perspective on the mentally disabled in the same book is horrifying:

In the case of irretrievably impaired children, parents retain personal responsibility for providing care, since no other individuals have any particular obligation to bear the burden of a caretaking without upbringing. Civil institutions, however, can relieve parents of their charge without violating any rights of the victim since the latter’s status as a potential person has been obliterated. A systematic treatment of such intervention must await the conception of the relation between family and civil society.

He seems to want the government to get into the business of requiring a license for parenting.

Although current practice tends to limit public scrutiny of parental qualifications to prospective adopters, the need is just as pressing with natural parents of children. Although requiring a license for parenting, as Blustein suggests, is one method for publicly certifying parental qualifications, the likelihood of reproduction by unlicensed parents makes this an unwieldly option. A more effective measure would involve making training in parenting a requirement of mandatory public education and attempting to ensure that all able individuals complete that schooling with success.

(Is it just me, or does the term “unlicensed parents” send a chill down your spine”?)

Confronted with all this in a debate, Winfield “said he stands by the book and invited the audience to read it. He compared himself to Socrates being put on trial. ‘I have nothing to hide, and despite the efforts of the opposition to drag us down into the river of dirty politics, the truth will prevail,’ he said.”

Is quoting a guy’s own book “dragging down into the river of dirty politics”?

Choose carefully, Georgia Democrats.

Coming Soon to ObamaFlix

Announcement: “President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have entered into a multi-year agreement to produce films and series for Netflix, potentially including scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries, and features.”


The Life of Julia: Comedy. A hapless Millennial without eyes thinks she’s got life all figured out . . . and then things get complicated. In each episode, her terrible judgment louses everything up, until she’s saved by staying on her parent’s health insurance, the stimulus, Dodd-Frank financial reform, cap and trade, and federal funding for a Cowboy Poetry festival.

Marvel’s Choom Gang: In 1970s Hawaii, laid-back teenager Barry and his buddies, a wacky group of stoner oddballs, smoke some vibranium-enhanced marijuana that allows them to see through time. They realize that some sinister figure has traveled back in time and altered history, changing the 43rd president in the 21st-century to Matthew Ellis. Converting their Volkswagen Bus “Choomwagon” into a time machine, Barry and his “buds” stumble their way through historical moments of the 1960s to 1980s, attempting to bend the arc of history back toward justice.

Even Stranger Things: A group of innocent, adorable, bike-riding kids stumble onto a series of sinister government conspiracies — VA hospitals leaving veterans dying waiting for care, the Internal Revenue Service targeting Tea Parties for extra scrutiny and hostile treatment, insufficient security at consulates in hostile countries, massive data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management, loan guarantees to solar-panel companies that collapse. The kids learn that because of a nefarious government experiment in the 1980s, all of these programs are invisible to the eyes of anyone of cabinet rank or higher.

Armed Narcos: An quick and angry — er, make that fast and furious — Mexican drug dealer rises to the top of the cartel once the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms starts shipping him guns, no questions asked.

The Queen’s iPod: A modern monarch struggles with the challenges of power in the 21st century until she finds inspiration in an iPod of speeches from a beloved former president.

Red Mirror: An anthology series about how modern technology is secretly ambushed and overtaken by Russian hackers, bots, and trolls, and how a Russian dictator altered your vote, changed the laws that govern you, brainwashed your nutty right-wing uncle, controlled the weather, made your morning coffee too bitter, and made you stub your toe this morning.

Fourteen Reasons Why: In a series of audio cassettes, a troubled teenager offers a variety of reasons to explain how Obama was a remarkably successful president, and how President Trump’s election confirms this, instead of offering evidence that the country was so exhausted and exasperated with progressive Democratic rule that they were willing to roll the dice on a reality-show host.

(Let’s face it, a House of Cards joke would have been too easy.)

ADDENDA: Some ugly controversy down in my parents’ neck of the woods:

Less than a month before the statewide primaries, the Beaufort County South Carolina Republican Party has asked one of its members — a public official running for re-election — to apologize for using an anti-Semitic slur.

The party voted 14-0 Thursday evening after a candidate forum in Bluffton to request that Beaufort County Auditor Jim Beckert, who was in attendance, write a formal letter of apology to party Chairwoman Sherri Zedd for twice addressing emails to her as “Arbeit Zedd.”

“Arbeit” is a German word for “work.” During the Holocaust, Nazis put the phrase “Arbeit Macht Frei” —  or, “Work Sets You Free” — on the gates of concentration camps such as Dachau and Auschwitz-Birkenau.

When Dad mentioned this mess to me, we both had a very, very, very difficult time believing that someone would accidentally use the term “Arbeit” twice in separate e-mails, not know its connection to the Holocaust and concentration camps, and only use it to refer to the one Jewish person in a group.

At that meeting, Beckert claimed that Zedd told him it was part of her name — her proper first name, even though everyone calls her “Sherri” — and spelled it out for him.


Zedd denies this. It’s one of those, “either he’s stupid, or he thinks we’re stupid” situations.


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