The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Mullings by Rich Galen ®
An American Cyber-Column By Rich Galen
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Rich Galen

Thursday March 22, 2017

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  • First: Remember that special election in Pennsylvania 18 when I wrote that "Conor Lamb (D) won the special election in Southwestern Pennsylvania yesterday by the staggering amount of 627 votes."

  • And remember when you wrote to me that I was a turncoat, rooting for the Democrat to be declared the winner even when there were uncounted provisional and absentee ballots still outstanding?

  • Remember when I wrote back and said (a) the Republican, Rick Saccone wouldn't win all of the outstanding ballots and, (b) even if he did there were not enough to overturn the result?

  • Well

  • Yesterday, Republican Rick Saccone finally conceded the election.

  • I'm not correct all that often, so I need to point it out to you when I am.

  • Second: There is this business about Donald Trump congratulating Vladimir Putin on his victory electing him to another 273-year term as Tsar of Russia.

  • It appears that, according to the Washington Post, he was warned not to do that. In all caps:
    "[There was] a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating 'DO NOT CONGRATULATE,' according to officials familiar with the call."

  • Telling Donald Trump to do anything other than act like a puppy excitedly greeting Vladimir Putin at the front door after a long day alone is a waste of printer ink.

  • But the part that bothers me more is that someone in the White House:
    1 - Knew what was in the briefing papers.

    2 - Knew that Trump had ignored them (had knowledge of the content of the phone call)

    3 - Couldn't get on the phone fast enough to leak it to the WaPo.

  • I understand that each of those acts didn't necessarily have to be carried out by the same person. Person A could have typed the papers, and handed them to person B who was in the room with Trump who then told person C what had happened.

  • That would take a simple case of leaking classified information into the realm of a conspiracy and this White House has just about enough conspiracies to deal with without another one.

  • You know that I am not - to modestly understate it - Donald Trump's biggest fan.

  • But if I made the personal decision to work in the White House complex, and was senior enough to be in a position to read the same briefing papers given to a President of the United States, and was trusted enough to be in or near the Oval Office during that phone call, I think I would have to examine whether my distaste for the President outweighed my oath of office.

  • That oath, as you know, contains a pledge to "Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic "

  • And before you hit the SEND key to tell me that whoever leaked that story was supporting and defending the Constitution, think about whether you believe an individual staffer has the right or authority to make that determination on his or her own.

  • All that will do is to make Trump hunker down even more, isolate himself even more, lash out at others even more, make even more bad choices.

  • I don't put any blame on the Washington Post for this. As I've written a million times over the past 20 years: If it's a good enough story, nothing is off the record no matter what "understanding" you had with a reporter.

  • As the scorpion said after stinging the frog: "It's in my nature."

  • Last thing: Facebook leaked your information.

  • Some outfit named Cambridge Analytica "harvested" the private information of some 50 million Facebook users. It took all that in, massaged it, and then sold it to political campaigns - including those of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

  • I almost never look at my Facebook page. I did just now for this column and I had to look up my password.

  • I have 4,741 "friends."

  • If the stories are correct, Cambridge Analytica got access to not just my information (I could have called them for my password) but the private information of my 4,741 friends.

  • Years ago I thought getting friends on Facebook was a contest. I think I know about 28 of them personally and to them I apologize if C.A. got into their information through me.

  • To the other 4,713 Friends?

  • Let's get coffee. Real soon.

    Lad Link: @ReedGalen who is a more accomplished political advisor than I could ever have hoped to have been, takes a hard look at the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook situation.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Washington Post DO NOT CONGRATULATE story, and to the oath of office taken by civilian employees of the federal government.

    The Mullfoto is of downtown Washington during the snowstorm earlier in the week.

-- END --

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