Latest Ethics Notes On The Hillary Clinton E-Mail Scandal Ethics Train Wreck, Part 3

denial

Continuing from Part 1 and 2…

9. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign circulated a draft letter critical of James Comey to former federal prosecutors, implicitly inviting them to comment publicly.  (This is an implied but unenforceable quid pro quo. These people are good...) Eric Holder, naturally, former US attorney general Michael Mukasey and poor, disgraced former Bush AG Alberto Gonzalez heeded the dog whistle, all disgracing themselves in the process.

Not one of them are privy to the evidence involved, and for these men to be using their positions and reputations to level charges and accusations at a high-placed law enforcement official based on speculation and partisan warfare is unethical. It is unfair, and  undermines the public trust. This is always something that former officials should avoid, as a near absolute. The Golden Rule also applies. These men know how hard these jobs are, and what they would have thought about  ex-officials criticizing them. Basic professional ethics principles discourage this.

Holder, of course, is a proven Clinton hack. Gonzalez might even make Comey look better by criticizing him, so thoroughly discredited is he. (My guess is that he’s desperately attempting to fashion a new pubic image.)

Mukasey’s comments may have been the worst of all. He took the opportunity of the current controversy to attack Comey again for his decision not to recommend that Clinton be indicted. (Meanwhile, CNN used his name in a misleading headline implying that he was criticizing Comey for his letter to Congress. It initially fooled me.) Speaking of the earlier Coney statement, he said,

“This wasn’t Comey’s call. It is not his function as director of the FBI to decide who gets charges and doesn’t. It’s his function to gather evidence. And he didn’t fulfill that function very well. But it’s certainly not his function to get up and pronounce on whether charges should be brought or whether a reasonable prosecutor would ever bring them.I don’t think he should have been this fix. I don’t think he should have put either himself or the bureau or the Justice Department in this fix.”

Wrong (1): it was Comey’s call, because Loretta Lynch told the public that Justice would accept the recommendation of the FBI regarding Clinton’s possible prosecution. Did Mukasey follow the story? I guess not.

Wrong (2): Comey’s extensive public statement in July was necessary to ensure transparency and trust after Loretta Lynch stupidly allowed Bill Clinton to appear to be brokering a deal with her. Presumably Mukasey wouldn’t have done that.

Wrong (3): So Comey did notput either himself or the bureau or the Justice Department in this fix.” Obama put them in this fix, by allowing his Secretary of State to skirt security policies. Holder put them in this fix, by operating such a blatantly partisan and political Justice Department that public trust in a fair investigation of the presumptive Democratic Party presidential candidate was impossible. Lynch put them in this fix, by not resigning.

To his credit, Mukasey did dismiss Harry Reid’s and Richard Painter’s Hatch Act nonsense with appropriate disdain, saying, “That’s baloney. I mean, you know, it’s sort of an amusing talking point for three and a half seconds, but it’s not serious.”

10. The issue is not whether Donald Trump is as corrupt and dishonest as Hilary Clinton, or even more so. In trying to shift focus to Trump to allow Clinton, as usual, to wiggle out of the well-earned consequences of her own wrongdoing by distraction, confusion, and diversion, Clinton’s corrupted allies are throwing every accusation and innuendo at Trump that they can concoct or dig up. It-Doesn’t-Matter. Trump is horrible, the bottom of the barrel, UNDER the barrel, at the bottom of a long, narrow pit under the barrel. Understood. That still doesn’t make Hillary less corrupt, less untrustworthy, and less dishonest. Nor less ruthless, cynical, manipulative, venal and totalitarian.

If we have to elect this horrible candidate and woman as President, at least we should do so with our eyes open, under no illusions about her character or the miserable, dangerous values she will bring with her. It is important that Hillary Clinton enter the White House knowing that the pubic does not trust her, and that we will be watching closely. It is important that she win by a slim margin based on voters who rejected Donald Trump, so any subsequent claims of a mandate or “the voters support” is laugh-inducing. It is important that she have as few deluded and submissive followers as possible.

11.  The New York Times, as it said it would, quickly responded to this threat to Trump’s defeat by running, as its lead story on its front page, this bombshell:

“Donald Trump Used Legally Dubious Method to Avoid Paying Taxes”

Its front page headline-worthy news:

“Newly obtained documents show that in the early 1990s, as he scrambled to stave off financial ruin, Mr. Trump avoided reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income by using a tax avoidance maneuver so legally dubious his own lawyers advised him that the Internal Revenue Service would most likely declare it improper if he were audited. Thanks to this one maneuver, which was later outlawed by Congress, Mr. Trump potentially escaped paying tens of millions of dollars in federal personal income taxes.”

Translation:  Donald Trump used a legal tax maneuver in the 1990s that Bill Clinton’s IRS decided was legitimate. He faced no charges or penalties, and later Congress declared eliminated the loophole.

That isn’t news; that isn’t a scandal; that is nothing. Donald Trump used existing law to reduce his tax liability during a Democratic Administration. What this was is a once great paper stooping to the equivalent of throwing sand in its readers’ eyes, all for Hillary. Pathetic.

In related news, the Times reported declining profits and ad revenues.

12. I was going to devote a whole post to Matthew Yglesias’s latest screed on Vox, but as fun and easy as it would be to expose it for the brain-melting ethics rot it is, it just isn’t worth the trouble. What the piece is good for is to illustrate this crucial rationalization, especially for Hillary supporters…

4. Marion Barry’s Misdirection, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical.”

The late D.C. Mayor and lovable rogue Marion Barry earned himself a place in the Ethics Distortion Hall of Fame with his defense of his giving his blatantly unqualified girlfriend a high-paying job with the DC government. Barry declared that since there was no law against using the public payroll as his own private gift service, there was nothing unethical about it. Once the law was passed (because of him), he then agreed that what he did would be wrong the next time he did it.

Ethics is far broader than law, which is a system of behavior enforced by the state with penalties for violations. Ethics is good conduct as determined by the values and customs of society. Professions promulgate codes of ethics precisely because the law cannot proscribe all inappropriate or harmful behavior. Much that is unethical is not illegal. Lying. Betrayal. Nepotism. Many other kinds of behavior as well, but that is just the factual error in the this rationalization.

The greater problem with it is that it omits the concept of ethics at all.  Ethical conduct is self-motivated, based on the individual’s values and the internalized desire to do the right thing. Barry’s construct assumes that people only behave ethically if there is a tangible, state-enforced penalty for not doing so, and that not incurring a penalty (that is, not breaking the law) is, by definition, ethical.

Nonsense, of course. It is wrong to intentionally muddle the ethical consciousness of the public, and Barry’s statement simply reinforces a misunderstanding of right and wrong.

Muddling the ethical consciousness of the public is essentially what the careers of both Hillary and Bill Clinton have been about, with the eager assistance of such complicit lackeys like Yglesias. Here’s poor Matt’s ethics-free worldview in one passage:

“Network news has devoted more minutes of coverage to Clinton’s emails than to all policy issues combined, even as email investigations have not uncovered any wrongdoing. It’s inexplicable news judgment, unless you simply assume there’s a crime out there.”

 Got that? No “wrongdoing,” because there are no prosecutions. Lying to the public isn’t wrong. Being greedy isn’t wrong. Cover-ups aren’t wrong. Jeopardizing national security isn’t wrong. Destroying likely evidence isn’t wrong. I’ll hand it to Matt: this is definitely how the Clintons think, and it appears to be how the Democratic Party thinks too. (Cheating in debates isn’t wrong: cheaters are people of integrity and high character.)

  1. This is why I don’t read Vox.
  2. These are the people who will be empowered when Hillary is elected. (Yes, yes, Trump thinks this way too.)

32 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Finance, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

32 responses to “Latest Ethics Notes On The Hillary Clinton E-Mail Scandal Ethics Train Wreck, Part 3

  1. Steve-O-in-NJ

    “If we have to elect this horrible candidate and woman as President, at least we should do so with our eyes open, under no illusions about her character or the miserable, dangerous values she will bring with her. It is important that Hillary Clinton enter the White House knowing that the pubic does not trust her, and that we will be watching closely. It is important that she win by a slim margin based on voters who rejected Donald Trump, so any subsequent claims of a mandate or “the voters support” is laugh-inducing. It is important that she have as few deluded and submissive followers as possible.”

    So you don’t agree with the rapidly-dementing-out George Will that this needs to be a curb-stomp for the GOP, then, to purge any thought that Trump was ever a good idea, I take it?

    We could just not elect Hillary, also. Let me ask you this, Jack, if she were actually indicted, although that’s not going to happen in the next few days, would that be enough to get you to buy your ticket for the Trump Train?

    • Doesn’t an indictment for a candidate that a lot of people don’t like a good thing? Doesn’t that mean that they become the shorter path to getting to the VPs?

      Also, no one seems to have asked this question, and this is totally not the right place, but I don’t care: If Trump wins, will he move his administration into the White House or will he run it out of his New York tower?

      • He’d be a fool to do so, because the WH is part of a President’s inherited symbolism, power, credibility and honor.
        But he IS a fool, so stay tuned.

      • Trump give up a chance to rule from Mt. Olympus, no freaking way, it would feed his narcissism.

        That said; it’ll only feed his narcissism for a short time when he finds out what a short leash the Secret Service gives him. I bet he will get tired really quick of being locked into some kind of controlled routine when he’s outside the White House. He is used to the freedom to do what he wants, when he wants to do it, and do it where ever he wants to do it. It’s probably going to be a little like trying to cage a rabid Tasmanian Devil.

        • You aren’t wrong. I also think that it’s funny we put such a premium on Hillary’s mishandling of classified information when we’ve seen what Donald does with information. He brags about what he knows and every piece of information he has is utilized to boost his ego. If you provide him with information, it’s only a matter of time before he flubs and discloses it publicly.

          • Tim LeVier said, “If you provide him with information, it’s only a matter of time before he flubs and discloses it publicly.”

            Yup it’s crystal clear that Trump has a nearly uncontrollable loose cannon mouth and the tact of a bull moose in heat.

  2. Propaganda rules.

    Clinton will win.

    You will be assimilated.

    Resistance is futile.

    Any questions?

    Clintonian reeducation chambers. 😉

    • I was at three vastly different places in my travels today and I swear being confronted with conversations from the political left is like being confronted with a Borg hive mind; that must be what the “progress” is in Progressive thinking.

  3. An aspiring jackass named “Elephant Hunter”—get it? just sent me this…

    your “ethical” rigor is conspicuously partisan, yet the critique of journalists participating in this same behavior is the basis of your article. This is a disgrace to your position. Shame.

    My response…

    Oh really? What party is it you think I’m favoring. As of now, I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. I am writing about ethics, and my professional analysis, you ignorant jerk. Journalists have codes of conduct requiring neutrality and objectivity. I am both objective and neutral, and have never, ever, intentionally crafted my ethical evaluations to assist any party or position. If you actually read the blog, you would know that. Quick: who have I written more posts criticizing their ethics, Hillary or Trump? Which Party have I been more critical of? You have no idea, and neither do I.

    You’re banned. Don’t “shame” me. You just disgraced yourself.

  4. Other Bill

    I wish Toles had stopped doing “cartoons” instead of the Calvin and Hobbs guy.

  5. Chris Marschner

    Jack, I know you think we have no choice in HRC but as someone that has taught enomics and buyer behavior I know that we each assign values to various attributes of choices we make.

    In this election what we will witness is what people truly value.

    Given what we know about both candidates neither should be allowed anywhere near the oval office. Nonrtheless, one will. Thus each of us must assign relative weights to each candidate’s positive and negative attributes to make a choice. No one can tell me how negative I should value a given attribute. If I value a candidate’s behavior negatively I should not be condemned if I dont assign as high a negative value as my neighbor.

    When next Tuesday rolls around I will tally the plusses and minuses for both, hold my nose and vote for what who I think will do the least damage to the Republic and our society.

    Thank you for helping me keep a running tally.

  6. Wayne

    Come to think about it, choosing between Trump and Hillary is like either ramming your ship into an iceberg or sailing around the Graveyard of the Atlantic in a nasty storm.

  7. Complete aside for a minute.

    What I’m mostly watching out for next week is the Bradley Effect.

    “The Bradley effect (less commonly the Wilder effect) is a theory concerning observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some United States government elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other.

    The Bradley effect posits that the inaccurate polls were skewed by the phenomenon of social desirability bias. Specifically, some white voters give inaccurate polling responses for fear that, by stating their true preference, they will open themselves to criticism of racial motivation. Members of the public may feel under pressure to provide an answer that is deemed to be more publicly acceptable, or ‘politically correct’. The reluctance to give accurate polling answers has sometimes extended to post-election exit polls as well. The race of the pollster conducting the interview may factor into voters’ answers.” (wiki)

    Basically, some people will lie to pollsters for various reasons concerning race. Maybe they’re racist assholes, but self aware enough that they don’t want to admit they’re racist assholes. Maybe they’re voting on the issues, but don’t want to SEEM to be racist assholes. Maybe they’re voting McCain, but they really like the idea of a black president. I don’t know. It seems to me that the Bradley effect is a function of a certain amount of shame… From whatever source, reasonable or not.

    It bears to note that part of the equation is that in the last 15, 20 years the media has been shaming conservatives for being conservative, smearing things as “right-wing” as if that meant something inherently bad, or unintelligent…. And to an extent there IS a certain amount of shame in being conservative in America. Not by the loud, brash Twittery people, perhaps… But do you know a whole lot of people at work who bragged about voting for Romney? About half of America did, so chances are you know someone who did, but maybe not know THAT they did.

    Polls bear this out too… I can’t think of the last time Democrats en masse over-preformed their poll numbers when facing a Republican. You look at 2014 in particular… It was a blowout… Polls said Republicans would win the senate, but some of the polls underestimated the Republican candidates support by double digits. I thought at the time that perhaps it was an indicator of partisan media bias trying to influence the election by discouraging Republican voters, except that right wing partisan polls showed close to the same numbers.

    What’s my point? Well… It means that I think that Trump’s real support is actually higher than stated, because a certain amount of shame has led Republicans, and particularly Trump supporters to either lie to or decline to answer pollsters, and I think that Trump has a real path to the White House right now.

    God help us all.

    • Other Bill

      Nice piece, HT. Thanks. I’ve always wondered how it is pols purport to know exactly how the populace voted in a race. So and so won the such and such vote by so many percentage points, etc. How do they know that? Just exit polls, I guess. Crazy, yet people throw around this “data” as if it’s Gospel truth (what a funny term that is).

    • Polls can be terribly skewed by how a question is asked; for instance, I took part on one political poll a few year back where I had to ask that one of the important questions be repeated three times before I completely understood that my first impression of what the question was asking completely wrong. The question was loaded for bear to imply one question but it was actually asking something else; it was 100% clear to me that the question had been manufactured to get an instantaneous emotional response that steered the person to one answer and only one answer which is contradictory to getting fair and unbiased poll results.

      I will never participate in another poll of any kind; in fact I know of no one that actually takes part in polls of any kind. Do any of you take part in polls or do you hang up on them or not answer the phone too?

  8. junkmailfolder

    “Thanks to this one maneuver, which was later outlawed by Congress…”

    Boy does that sentence sound like one of those stupid ads you see all over the internet. I guess that is only reflective of the Times’ professionalism.

  9. Rich in CT

    (My guess is that he’s desperately attempting to fashion a new pubic image.)

    Anthony Wiener’s back in the news, and setting a bad example for everyone…

  10. Steve-O-in-NJ

    “(My guess is that he’s desperately attempting to fashion a new pubic image.)”

    Is he in need of a merkin?

  11. “It is important that Hillary Clinton enter the White House knowing that the pubic does not trust her, and that we will be watching closely. It is important that she win by a slim margin based on voters who rejected Donald Trump, so any subsequent claims of a mandate or “the voters support” is laugh-inducing. It is important that she have as few deluded and submissive followers as possible.”

    I don’t know how you can maintain the belief that Hillary must win by the narrowest of margins to avoid giving her a mandate and also maintain the belief that the ONLY ethical choice is Hillary.

    You want a nation, given these 2 options, where everyone makes the ethical choice to vote against Trump by voting FOR Hillary, but now you want that victory margin to be what, .025%?

    This doesn’t compute.

    • Well, Kantian rationales don’t work in election scenarios. If everyone found both Clinton and Trump disgusting and refused to vote, it would be a constitutional crisis. The decision to vote for Clinton rather than Trump is primary; the hope that she doesn’t win by too much is secondary—they don’t have to be consistent with each other. I can’t control the margin, I can only, slightly, control the winner.

      Clinton winning in landslide would be a catastrophe. Luckily, that’s not going to happen.

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