Hillary, Her Minions, And Scooby-Doo

Former DNC chair Howard Dean just reinforced his prominent position among the ten most loathsome figures in modern politics with this tweet regarding James Comey’s revelation that the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of her official communications via e-mail was being re-opened:

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Dean’s meaning: since Russian hacks of  various e-mail accounts have provided ugly and often sinister evidence of the corrupt attitudes and practices of Hillary Clinton and her campaign, Comey’s required notification of Congress—required, mind you, by basic ethical principles and the rules of the legal profession—makes him a wrongdoer on par with those fueling Wikileaks. After all, without them, Hillary and her minions—including the outrageously complicit news media—would have succeeded in fooling all of the people all of the time. Yes, Comey, damn him, is now “on the same side” as Putin, because he is stripping away Clinton’s facade of trustworthiness.

Even before yesterday’s surprise announcement, the Democratic defense was in place that because Russia was attempting to influence the US election by revealing the filthy underside of Clinton, Inc., including, among other things…

….the inappropriate melding of Sate Department business, pay-to-play incentives, Clinton foundation fundraising and family enrichment

….discussions among aides on how to cover-up Hillary’s e-mail misadventures

….private speeches to Wall Street contradicting her public, anti-Wall street rhetoric, and most disturbing of all,

….collusion by journalists to assist the campaign

….such enlightening evidence should be ignored. This, those well-versed in the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list will recognize, is   Rationalization #55, The Scooby Doo Deflection, or “I should have gotten away with it!,” in practice. Continue reading

Comey’s Letter Ignites A Public Seminar On Spin And Disinformation

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From the New York Times (Note: the officially declared Trump  reviling/Clinton-favoring  Times is still a solid source on the matter of Hillary’s e-mails, because it broke the story about her private server in the first place.):

WASHINGTON — The presidential campaign was rocked on Friday after federal law enforcement officials said that emails pertinent to the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server were discovered on a computer belonging to Anthony D. Weiner, the estranged husband of a top Clinton aide.

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said the emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, which law enforcement officials said was an F.B.I. investigation into illicit text messages from Mr. Weiner to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. Mr. Weiner, a former Democratic congressman from New York, is married to Huma Abedin, the top aide.

Mr. Comey’s letter said that the F.B.I. would review the emails to determine if they improperly contained classified information, which is tightly controlled by the government. Senior law enforcement officials said that it was unclear if any of the emails were from Mrs. Clinton’s private server. And while Mr. Comey said in his letter that the emails “appear to be pertinent,” the F.B.I. had not yet examined them.

That’s it, as of this morning. Anything else, at this point, is speculation or disinformation. However, this is undeniable: whatever was found on the computer was considered relevant enough to the question of whether Hillary Clinton knowingly violated federal law and endangered US security in her machinations to avoid FOIA scrutiny of her private dealings to mandate re-opening the investigation, which had been, as the Times notes, closed.

It seems fair to assume that this is all we will know until the election, which means that Hillary Clinton will face the verdict of voters while under FBI investigation. That isn’t good for her, but boy, does she (and the Democrats) deserve it. The Clinton way, as we learned from Whitewater and the other controversies during Bill’s administration, is that when one of their seamy deals provokes suspicion, the game plan is to deny, deny, stonewall, confuse, muddle the story, muddy the water, barely cooperate with authorities, count on the “friendly journalists” to assist, run out the clock, and wait for the public to become so frustrated and bored that the cry of “Let’s move on!” is effective. We have seen this time and time again, because it has worked. This time, her lies and delaying tactics backfired, and left the sword dangling over her head for all to see far too long. Now everyone will have to wonder if Clinton will be declared a felon while in the White House. I’d say that’s extremely unlikely, but you never know, especially with this bizarre election script.

What’s going on here?

What’s going on here is that James Comey played it by the book, and by book I mean the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct governing the ethical conduct of all lawyers within its borders, including Comey.

Rule 3.3 in all jurisdictions (except California, but it has an equivalent rule) requires  lawyers to correct any material representations of fact or law that they have presented in a “Tribunal,” which is defined as an “ajudicative body,” usually a court. Congress and congressional committees are not adjudicative bodies for the purposes of 3,3. However, the most obscure and infrequently cited rule in all of legal ethics, Rule 3.9, says this:

Rule 3.9 Advocate in Non-adjudicative Proceedings

A lawyer representing a client before a legislative or administrative body in a nonadjudicative proceeding shall disclose that the appearance is in a representative capacity and shall conform to the provisions of Rules 3.3, 3.4(a) through (c), and 3.5.

I have met few lawyers in the government or out of it that have ever read this rule. I know for a fact that lawyers who testify before Congress almost never “disclose” that. However, lawyers—ethical ones, anyway—will correct misleading testimony as Rule 3.3, though 3.9, requires. That’s what Comey did.

It is disgraceful that the FBI’s investigation into a matter bearing on the fitness of a Presidential candidate was closed prematurely and that its recommendation to the Justice Department in the matter was based on incomplete evidence, resulting in the current uncertainty. Nonetheless, once new evidence was uncovered that agents felt could change the results of that investigation, the Bureau had no choice. It had to investigate, and Comey had to correct his testimony that the investigation of Clinton’s conduct was over. It’s not.

Now Democrats, partisan agents of the Clinton campaign and corrupted journalists are giving a spectacular public seminar on how they spin, and, if we pay attention, a demonstration of who is interested in truth and whose function in life is to mislead the public. Continue reading

Of Bundys, Trump, Wikileaks, Rebellion—You Know, The Whole 2016 Election Thing

jury-nullThe jigsaw puzzle of an existential national crisis, a real one, are assembling sufficiently so an image can be distinguished. It is uglier than I imagined.

1. Item:  The Bundy Brothers were acquitted. This was pure jury nullification, because they were guilty as hell. It might be an aberration, but I fear it is not. The jury is a fractal of democracy, and when juries start finding lawbreakers innocent, they are sending a message that those in power ignore at their peril. They say “We don’t like or respect you or your laws, and you better change, or else.” The complete class, regional and ideological estrangement from the Federal government this decision represents shows how completely Barack Obama has divided the nation, and portend a long, long, difficult and, one can only hope non-violent recovery, if some competent leaders emerge who can handle it. As trust in our institutions have collapsed with accelerating speed over the last decade, civility has deteriorated and authorities have increasingly threatened the basic Constitutional rights of citizens while extending privileges to non-citizens for political motives, the connective tissue of our society has been frayed to the snapping point. Responsible leadership, objective  and rational citizens must not shrug this verdict off as just a bunch of gun nuts and cowboys throwing a tantrum.

2. Item: Donald Trump keeps saying that the election is “rigged.” This is beyond irresponsible, in isolation not more irresponsible than what Trump has said about other things, but the timing and sheer intensity of this drumbeat from him is truly horrible….and also likely to be effective.  Continue reading

The Unethical Candidacy Of Evan McMullin

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From Wikipedia:

“McMullin will likely not appear on enough ballots to win the necessary Electoral College majority of 270 electoral votes. However, McMullin hopes to deny a majority of the electoral vote from either of the two major party candidates. In such a scenario, under the the terms of the Twelfth Amendment, the House of Representatives would select among the top-three electoral vote winners. McMullin hopes that he could win the presidential election by finishing among the top-three electoral vote winners, and then winning the contingent election in the House.”

Reportedly, Evan McMullin also hopes to some day be able to burrow to China, like a mole, so he can see the terracotta warriors without paying airfare and going through Customs. (All right, I made that up.)

How ridiculous do  a Presidential candidate’s “hopes” have to be before they disqualify him to be President? Whatever the answer is, Evan McMullin has lapped it. Either he is dangerously detached from reality, or he’s exploiting deperate voters by lying to them. On the chart above, only the orange states have McMullin on the ballot. The yellow states allow write-ins, which mean he is on the ballot exactly as I am, or Donald Duck, Batman, and Britney Spears. In the rest, you can’t vote for him at all.

McMullin didn’t even announce his candidacy until August 8. Why the rush, Evan? This is like the joke about Poland’s greatest comedian being asked what the secret to comedy is, and before the question is completed he shouts, “Timing!” Timing is essential to effective leadership too, as the dithering style of Barack Obama has shown in many tragic ways. [I expect him to give an eloquent speech about the dangers of racial distrust and attacks on the rule of law —as, for example, in this fiasco—sometime in 2018. Probably on a golf course.] It was clear to anyone paying attention that the U.S. was going to be stuck with a Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton binary hell-choice by the end of May, when the Libertarian Party demonstrated to the world that it is a joke. Was McMullin not paying attention? That’s a bad sign, don’t you think?

The U.S. Presidency is important, and elections are important. One of the first times I wrote a post critical of Donald Trump was when he first floated the idea of running for President several cycles ago, and it was clear—then— that he was doing it as a publicity stunt.  This was signature significance, I wrote.  Only a massive jerk (I already knew Trump was a massive jerk, of course) with no concern for his country sets out to confuse and confound the easily confused and confounded American voter by throwing random pollution into the Presidential campaign. After the 2000 election, where the twin ego-driven campaigns of Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan probably changed the identity of the next President by sheer chance, it was obvious that nobody should put themselves on the ballot unless there is a very good reason related to the nation’s welfare. Building a credible third party option over time is a good reason, or can be if the party doesn’t try to do it by nominating an incompetent. Running for President for vanity, or to sell merchandise, or to get speaking gigs, is not a good reason. It is unethical. Continue reading

Sanctioned Race And Gender Bias In Tort Compensation?

For its next witness, the defense calls the distinguished  forensic economist...

“For its next witness, the defense calls the distinguished forensic economist…”

I was going to make this an ethics quiz, but there really is only one answer. The practice is ethically indefensible, and noxious too. The only question is how and why it is still occurring.

One reason may be that not enough people know about it. I certainly didn’t. Kudos to the Washington Post for shining light on a terrible, and terribly unethical, practice.

The American tort system frequently uses race and gender statistics to calculate the damages victims or their families should receive in compensation after someone is catastrophically injured or killed by another individual’s negligence or misconduct. Experts are allowed to testify regarding what a particular victim might have achieved and earned during their lives, were they not dead, or brain-damaged, or paralyzed. Race and gender are among the factors allowed into that calculation.

Writes the Post:

As a result, white and male victims often receive larger awards than people of color and women in similar cases, according to more than two dozen lawyers and forensic economists, the experts who make the calculations. These differences largely derive from projections of  how much more money individuals would have earned over their lifetimes had they not been injured – projections that take into account average earnings and employment levels by race and gender.

Continue reading

Donald Trump Is Bouncing Back In The Polls….Why?

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Ann Althouse writes in horror that the Bloomberg poll, a poll that polling guru Nate Silver marks as one of the best, has Donald Trump making up most of what was a 9 point lead just a week ago. “How is it possible?” she asks?

Here is how it’s possible. Americans deeply, deeply resent the tactics and unethical methods of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, as well as, and even especially, the biased news media that has, it was just reported, been 91% negative regarding Donald Trump. Althouse anticipated this backlash back in September, when she quoted journalist/author Robert Wright, who said he was concerned that the media would be so “ham-handed” in its pro-Clinton/anti-Trump bias that “it wouldn’t work.”

In the competition of who is more unfit to lead, Trump wins in a landslide. However, Clinton’s supporters, staff, minions and party have earned the “Most Unethical, Undemocratic, Totalitarian” prize, by at least as large a margin:

1. On CNN’s “State of the Union” last week,  Jake Tapper grilled Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, about Robert Creamer and Scott Foval, the  Democratic operatives who were caught in a Project Veritas video sting talking about instigating violence at a Trump rally.

TAPPER: Have you looked into whether or not Democratic operatives paid by the Democratic National Committee were actually instigating these horrific actions, these violent actions we saw at Trump rallies? That’s — I’m sure you would agree, if that’s true, that’s really offensive.

MOOK: Well, violence is unacceptable. These individuals no longer have a relationship with the DNC. They have never had a relationship with the Clinton campaign. And my understanding is that the events that are referenced happened, I think, in February of last year. They didn’t have a contract with the DNC until June.  But, putting that all aside, this was, again, a video that was leaked out for the purpose of damaging the campaign. It’s edited, so we don’t know what the full context is. And there is — there’s no evidence whatsoever that we have been able to find that anyone ever did anything like this when they were working for the DNC.

Wait, what? Mook just admitted that the DNC hired these Nixonian thugs after they disrupted the Trump events. Before that, they were doing this stuff for free? They were only fired after the video was released.  How does the fact that they aren’t under contract any more serve as a defense of their activities? White House logs show Creamer visiting the White House hundreds of times.  Why?

Mook’s “They have never had a relationship with the Clinton campaign” is such a weaselly line. How about an unequivocal denial that the campaign knew about or coordinated with these cheats? Where is that? Then he defaults to attacking the methods by which these operatives were exposed, just as Clinton’s mouthpeices, like Donna Brazile, have tried to blame Wikileaks for what the Wikileaks leaks show.

Do Democrats just shrug off this kind of anti-Democratic activity as standard “by any means necessary” tactics? What kind of leader obtains power this way? I guarantee that independents, conservatives and uncommitted voters are frightened and disgusted by it. If voting for Trump is the only way to register that disgust, then he’ll be the beneficiary of the backlash.

2. Yesterday “Dilbert” cartoonist Scott Adams, who is a Trump supporters, posted this:

I’ve been trying to figure out what common trait binds Clinton supporters together. As far as I can tell, the most unifying characteristic is a willingness to bully in all its forms.

If you have a Trump sign in your lawn, they will steal it.

If you have a Trump bumper sticker, they will deface your car.

if you speak of Trump at work you could get fired.

On social media, almost every message I get from a Clinton supporter is a bullying type of message. They insult. They try to shame. They label. And obviously they threaten my livelihood.

We know from Project Veritas that Clinton supporters tried to incite violence at Trump rallies. The media downplays it.

We also know Clinton’s side hired paid trolls to bully online. You don’t hear much about that.

Yesterday, by no coincidence, Huffington Post, Salon, and Daily Kos all published similar-sounding hit pieces on me, presumably to lower my influence. (That reason, plus jealousy, are the only reasons writers write about other writers.)

Joe Biden said he wanted to take Trump behind the bleachers and beat him up. No one on Clinton’s side disavowed that call to violence because, I assume, they consider it justified hyperbole. 

Team Clinton has succeeded in perpetuating one of the greatest evils I have seen in my lifetime. Her side has branded Trump supporters (40%+ of voters) as Nazis, sexists, homophobes, racists, and a few other fighting words. Their argument is built on confirmation bias and persuasion. But facts don’t matter because facts never matter in politics. What matters is that Clinton’s framing of Trump provides moral cover for any bullying behavior online or in person. No one can be a bad person for opposing Hitler, right?

I admit to having no respect for Trump supporters (as opposed to Never Hillary Trump voters), just as I have no respect for the tactics Adams describes. He exaggerates in the last section, but otherwise, he is accurate. Never before has a political party and its followers, aided by the news media, tried to “otherize” a major party candidate, and to make it dangerous in schools and workplaces to express support of a candidate. That’s not democracy. Continue reading

Sorry, Steve Bartman, But It’s Impossible To Leave You Alone

As the Chicago Cubs plowed their way to the World Series and a possible end to their 108 year failure to win a World Series, numerous sports writers, including some I thought were smart enough to know better, set out to prove their compassion, sensitivity and gooey caramel centers by arguing that the news media and fans should “leave Steve Bartman alone.” Bartman, for those of you who have lived in a bank vault since 2003, was the hapless young Chicago Cubs fan who unintentionally interfered with a foul ball that might have been catchable by Cubs outfielder Moises Alou in the decisive game of 2003 National League Championship Series. In a perfect display of the dangers of moral luck, Bartman’s mistake—it didn’t help that he was wearing earphones and watching the ball rather than the action on the field—began a chain of random events  that constituted a complete collapse by Chicago in that very same half-inning, sending the Miami Marlins and not the Cubs, who had seemed comfortably ahead, to the Series. Bartman, who issued a sincere and pitiful apology, was widely vilified and literally run out of town. He then became part of Cubs and baseball lore, one more chapter in the sad saga has been called “the Billy Goat Curse,” the uncanny inability of this team to win it all.

Over time, even Bartman’s tormenters came to see that holding him responsible for the team’s failure was cruel consequentialism at its worst. Alou, who had sicced the Furies on Bartman by angrily pointing at him after the incident from the field and later told everyone that with the interference, he would have caught the ball, even came out ten years later–five years!—to say that he wouldn’t have caught the ball, and Bartman wasn’t to blame. (I wrote about that epic example of barn-door locking here.) Now, NBC’s Craig Calcattera and many others are beating a new drum: nobody should write about or talk about Stave any more, because it’s so unfair. Continue reading