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