- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 28

Hillary Clinton’s trust problem

Is it any wonder voters don’t trust Hillary Clinton? Her chronic obsession with secrecy - laid out in a new report on her email practices while secretary of state - makes them wonder what she’s trying to hide.

The report by the State Department’s inspector general last week was damning not only because she failed to comply with department rules but also because she failed to cooperate with investigators.

The Office of the Inspector General spoke with Secretary of State John Kerry and former secretaries Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice but “through her counsel, Secretary Clinton declined OIG’s request for an interview.” What’s more, eight former State Department employees, most of whom were appointed by Clinton, refused to talk.

Why the secrecy? In this case, that’s hard to say. But it does fit a Clinton pattern going back decades. When she ran the Clinton administration’s health care project in 1993, the meetings were secret. When she was under investigation for the Whitewater land deals, she resisted releasing the records. She still hasn’t released transcripts of her multimillion-dollar speeches to Wall Street bankers. This latest news about her private email server - operated out of the Clintons’ home in New York - is of a piece with the rest.

The report concluded that Clinton didn’t seek legal approval for her use of the private email server and that agency staff wouldn’t have approved it if they had known because of obvious security risks. Clinton handled email in a way that was “not an appropriate method” for preserving public records, the report said, and it found that while Clinton said the system was secure, she never provided details to officials responsible for ensuring that it was. In fact, when IT staff raised concerns about the system, they were told to “never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again,” the report says.

There was every reason to fear for the security of the system. Indeed, the report found several cases in which either Clinton or her aides expressed fear that the server she shared with her husband, the former president, Bill Clinton, might have been hacked. There is no evidence that it ever was.

Clinton has not adequately explained her actions or even acknowledged she understands the severity of the issue. We get it: She is overly cautious after years of political attacks and wants to shield herself from more attacks. Understandable. But hiding emails from the public only reinforces a well-deserved reputation for secrecy and raises concerns about what kind of government she would lead if elected president in November. Her halfhearted attempts so far to explain away her secret email server are not reassuring.


Wisconsin State Journal, May 31

Don’t play games with Zika funding

Mosquitoes are bad enough in Wisconsin without having to worry about bites causing terrible birth defects.

Congress should quickly grant the Centers for Disease Control’s request for funding to fight the Zika virus.

Health officials on Friday confirmed a second Wisconsin woman - this time a resident of Dane County - has contracted the illness. Both women had traveled to Latin America, where the virus is concentrated.

Wisconsin can’t pretend it’s not at risk. Though no mosquitoes here carry the virus - yet - Zika also can be transmitted by sexual contact.

Congress needs to act, not play political games with public health.

“In a public health emergency, speed is critical,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, told the National Press Club on Thursday. “A day, a week, a month can make all of the difference.”

The U.S. Senate, with bipartisan support, just approved $1.1 billion for efforts to exterminate mosquitoes that carry the virus, testing and vaccine research. That’s down from the president’s request of $1.9 billion but more than the $622 million the House wants to spend.

Congress should be able to hammer out a reasonable agreement.

It’s been three long months since President Barack Obama requested the money. All the while, the CDC has issued increasingly urgent warnings about the need to act quickly to prevent an outbreak in the United States.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, and his fellow Republicans who control the House want to offset the cost of Zika funding with cuts in other spending. That’s a fine idea - but not if it delays action.

This isn’t - or shouldn’t be - a partisan issue. Unfortunately, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson pulled Obamacare into the debate. Republicans have been unrealistically trying to repeal the president’s signature health care law for years. Johnson, R-Oshkosh, voted against bipartisan Zika funding in the Senate, saying he wanted to take dollars for battling the virus from an Obamacare prevention plan instead.

Other Republicans, including former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio from the swampy state of Florida, backed Obama’s full $1.9 billion request. Florida and other states closest to Latin America face higher risk of exposure than the rest of the nation.

“This is a public health emergency that cannot wait for this extended debate on this issue,” Rubio said.

He’s right.

The longer Congress waits to steer money to the CDC, the more likely the virus will spread - costing more money to contain than it would now to prevent. That point should resonate with Johnson and other funding sticklers.

Hundreds of pregnant women in the United States and its territories have tested positive for Zika. All of them contracted the illness while traveling, but there’s no guarantee that pattern will continue. About 10 cases have resulted from sexual transmission.

The CDC just warned it’s having to borrow from funds intended for flu, hurricane relief and other emergencies to stay after Zika. The CDC also worries it may have to delay testing for a vaccine if Congress can’t negotiate adequate funding soon.

America shouldn’t panic. At the same time, America shouldn’t put off prudent effort and expense to ensure the public is safe.


Beloit Daily News, May 28

Gerrymandering case belongs at SCOTUS

Sometimes, the only reasonable reaction to things that come out of government officials’ mouths is a disgusted shake of one’s head.

Consider: Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Brian Keenan, defending for the state the legislative redistricting plan drawn by Republicans after the 2010 election, said it is to be expected that maps will be put together to score partisan advantage.

That’s right. The Justice department lawyer says it should be considered normal and acceptable for political parties to corrupt the system to lock in self-advantage.

Good grief. Argue that the maps drawn in 2011 are fair. Argue that the plaintiffs’ case lacks evidence of harm. Argue that all the rules were followed to the letter.

But don’t tell the people they should just accept the political parties are going to screw them by designing legislative districts to expand and preserve the number of safe seats.

Here are the two premises we believe should guide thinking on the issue: (1) gerrymandering is wrong, and (2) neither political party can be trusted not to do it.

Democrats and Republicans have proved that, over and over, all across America. When Democrats are in charge they corrupt the system for their own advantage - look no further than Illinois. When Republicans are in charge they do the exact same thing, with Wisconsin as the poster child.

In this game of political hide-the-vote one extreme fringe or the other wins, and the people lose. Why would politicians do that to their constituents? Here’s our take: Because most of them do not really believe in democracy. They believe in power. Their own power. And they are willing to grab it and hold it by any means necessary. Gerrymandering is just a tool to them.

So diluting people’s votes has become business-as-usual. Both parties are guilty. It goes on, to one degree or another, in most states.

It is our hope the three-judge federal panel agrees and finds Wisconsin Republicans over-stepped their bounds in 2011 by stealing legislative seats through manipulation of districts. Then we hope the case is appealed and goes before the Supreme Court of the United States, because a ruling there could strike a blow for democracy and provide a powerful reminder to politicians that they are elected to serve the people -not themselves, and not their political parties.

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