Ethics Quote of the Week: Popehat’s Ken White


“[L]ying about Trump’s legal affairs doesn’t help. It helps promote lying, not Clinton (or anyone else.) This week social media is full of a narrative that the mainstream media is “ignoring” that Trump is on trial for rape and racketeering in December. That’s dishonest…Trump is historically awful. That’s not a reason to promote narratives that damage us as a nation. Lying about the nature of allegations, and treating allegations as presumptively true, damage us as a nation. “

—-Attorney/blogger Ken White, explaining the “rape trial” and “racketeering charges” against Donald Trump that Clinton supporters have been citing on-line and off as an “It’s not the worst thing!” rationalization (#22) to deflect criticism of Hillary Clinton

On Popehat, where he reigns supreme, former prosecutor and current lawyer Ken White has posted an essay called  “The Facts About A Couple of Pending Lawsuits Against Donald Trump,”  a blessed service to all of us who want to make the social media defenders of Hillary Clinton stop trying to corrupt everyone else with spin, lies and rationalizations.

Three main talking points of distraction and disinformation have been issued to followers by the panicked Clinton campaign to spread hither and yon. (Like Ken, I know that Trump must lose, but I want Clinton’s victory to be as unpleasant and marginal as possible.) The first and most insulting is the tried and true “vast conspiracy” against little ol’ Hillary, mostly because she’s a woman. The second is the lie that she’s no more dishonest than other politicians. (This one infuriates me, as it is demonstrably false, and attempts to set the standard for acceptable, institutionalized trustworthiness for U.S. public servants to Hillary’s miserable level for all time. This is, perhaps, the greatest long-term danger she poses to the nation.)

The third is the “how can anyone care about those stupid e-mails when Trump has a rape trial in December?” smear. I’ve been bouncing around Facebook trying to explain why this argument makes my friends look like idiots, but they, like the townspeople in Ionesco’s allegorical comedy “Rhinoceros” who start sprouting horns, pawing the ground and grunting, seem to have collectively given in to mindless conformity.

Ken explains why the third talking point is irresponsible: at this point, there are only allegations. “The fact that I hate Donald Trump does not mean that the allegation is or is not true,” he says.

The “rape trial” is a particularly misleading situation. Ken:

“Donald Trump has been sued civilly by a woman who claims he raped her when she was 13. I am prepared to believe the very worst about Trump, and I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I am more than usually skeptical based on the lawsuit’s provenance. The case is not “going to trial” in December. It has been set for a completely routine early status conference in December that will lead to more complete schedules. As far as I can tell, no discovery has been conducted by either side. The case is an allegation against Donald Trump.”

Please leave the link to Ken’s post on your Clinton-corrupted social media friends’ cyber-doorsteps. It probably won’t help, but you owe it to them to try to stem the progress of their mutation to mindlessness.

I also highly recommend the comments on Ken’s post, which are a wonderful tonic for the depressingly vile exchanges on the political sites. There is a full spectrum of anti-Trump, pro-Clinton, lesser of two evils commentators (I did not see a genuine pro-Trump comment, but that is not surprising, since everyone seems to be educated and minimally sane), and some genuinely funny observations. My favorite is this one, from Popehat comment auteur “En Passant”:

If Trump is elected, customers will defraud banks, men will rape women, and women will give birth to lizards.

If Hillary is elected, the opposite will happen. Banks will defraud customers, women will rape men, and lizards will give birth to women.

Your choice, America.

Where are you, Harold Staasen, now that we need you desperately?

54 thoughts on “Ethics Quote of the Week: Popehat’s Ken White

  1. The quote goes for both sides, though. The mendacity (love that word) that is rampant today makes no one trustworthy. We as a people have lost our moorings and are adrift in a sea of near chaos. I hope that we survive the next 4 years, whoever wins, because whoever wins, I’m afraid that we have already lost in so many ways, and the lack of ethics in this campaign has been a major contributing factor. (stating the obvious, but just needed to get that off my soul)

  2. Good article. Trump would(will) be a nightmare, but I do recognize the Clinton machine tactics being used and that too is scary. Rational people are between a rock and a hard place. Neither one of these candidates cast a reflection when they pass a mirror.

  3. Popehat has a good post, but I think that he is wrong on one point:
    Hillary must lose, and lose decisively. If for no other reason than the fact that she was the beneficiary of a rigged system in the primaries, and has tried to rig the system in the general election. Look at what we’ve seen revealed from Wikileaks about Donna Brazile.

    It’s a choice between Hillary Clinton winning and rigging the system, or Donald Trump winning and a relatively fair system.

    • No, no. For the same reason it is important that Hillary and Co. not think they fooled the public and their totalitarian methods are validated, the GOP cannot get away with its betrayal of its duty to present a competent, stable, honorable candidate. Trump and the GOp deserve to lose even more than the Democrats and Hillary…it just won’t feel as good.

      • The problem is that any victory for Hillary will be seen has having fooled (enough of) the public and as a validation of their totalitarian methods. A close victory (or even a close loss) will be the impetus for more riots like those in Chicago and San Jose intended to shut down conservative speakers, the use of RICO against “climate change deniers”, more investigations like the “John Doe” cases in Wisconsin (read David French’s article “Wisconsin’s Shame” in National Review). Worse, the vast majority of the major press outlets will cheer such actions on.

        Look again at what Project Veritas and Wikileaks have revealed, and tell me that is not likely to happen.

        Trump sucks… but American democracy is at stake. In ordinary circumstances, the GOP would deserve to lose. I know I am breaking out Rationalizaton #28, but this is NOT an ordinary election.

        • Again, if Trump wins, that is material evidence that democracy doesn’t work, because the nation is too stupid and journalism is too corrupt to do it competently. A functioning Democracy doesn’t produce leaders like Trump.

          • Allegedly functioning democracies also gave the world Hugo Chavez (tyrant), Silvio Berlusconi (Trump prelude), and Justin Trudeau (undercompetent). Democracies gave the world socialist incompetents Gerhard Schroder and Jose Zapatero. Some on the left even would call Iran essentially democratic. (of course all candidates need the supreme leader’s imprimatur…) An allegedly functioning democracy elected Obama twice and, if you have your way, will elect Hillary.

            • And Trump is worse than every single one of those. Easily. There are limits.
              Trump, if elected, will disprove my honors thesis, was that US culture selects out special people to be leaders, and only people who get through that cultural filter become President without certain positive traits. VPs who inherit the office don’t fit sometimes—Ford,Tyler, Fillmore, A. Johnson, Coolidge. But the model worked, right up until Trump, who must be blocked at the goal line.

              • Than Chavez? Who you (deservedly) trashed up and down after his death 3 years ago and rightly pointed to as an example of democracy failing itself?

                  • Really? I mean, Chavez took PDVSA and changed it from one of the better-run oil companies in the world to a shuddering wreck, mostly by purging huge chunks of its workforce for ideological disloyalty. He caused massive inflation, then slapped price controls on as a stop-gap, which drove production into the ground and directly caused the current massive shortages. Thanks to Chavez, Venezuela went from one of the nicer countries in Latin America to an actual failed state which needed to reinstate the corvee in order to feed itself. Chavez literally banned opposition politicians who looked like they might pose a threat to him from running in elections. You think Trump would be worse than that? I mean, I get that Trump is a horrible person, and has allied himself with legitimately dispicable groups. But doesn’t comparing him to Chavez seem slightly hyperbolic?

                    • As I said before, you can’t compare the contexts. Chavez was a democratically elected strong man, and had no restraints. He had leadership experience in the army and formed a party. His speeches, unlike Trump, aren’t incoherent. We’re talking character and ability, not policy: the guy was a Marxist. He was over his head. You can’t compare the two; it’s impossible. Mainly, he was serious, he was a corrupt adult, whereas Trump is a corrupt child. Who knows what he would have done in Venezuela?

  4. “(Like Ken, I know that Trump must lose, but I want Clinton’s victory to be as unpleasant and marginal as possible.)”

    Unfortunately we don’t get to pick how victories occur. I am also not sure this would be a good result for the nation. To have a president who is widely despised with no mandate facing a possibly hostile congress (it is looking more and more like the GOP WILL hang onto Congress after all) is a recipe for getting nothing done, and endless infighting for at least 2 years.

    Also, I have to ask, why are you immune from ethical estoppel if you vote for Clinton? (apart from the fact that it’s your blog, your rules) In my opinion, anyone who knows full well how slimy Clinton is and all that she stands for, yet still pulls the lever for her, is no different than my coworker who says Hillary is the greatest thing that ever happened to America after Obama or the third-wave feminist classmate I had to unfollow because she posted five idiotic “She’s the greatest” memes before breakfast one day. We don’t get to qualify our votes.

    Anyone looking back down the line is just going to know we voted one way or the other, just like anyone who looks over my college football team’s records is only going to know we defeated Lehigh University in the final game of the 1991 football season, although they might be able to extrapolate what the game was like from the score (43-42). It doesn’t matter that both teams were good and played their best, and that day we played just a tiny bit better and the luck broke our way just a bit more, the result is the same as when we stomped Brown University flat 56-0. If Hillary wins by 4 votes or 4 million, the same thing happens. Given that she is all the things that have been set forth on this blog, how is voting for her anything other than a “yes” to all those things?

    I am still grappling with my decision which was originally going to be to leave the top spot blank, and wash my hands of both these slimy candidates. It was a VERY easy decision to make with Clinton looking like a shoe-in and any vote I cast being insignificant. With things becoming a very tight race and these new revelations, though, I am not sure I shouldn’t don my gas mask and pull the lever for the more volatile, but less coldly criminal candidate, and preserve my right to criticize at least.

    • I cast my ballot early. So, for whom my vote will be tallied will forever be a mystery and a secret – but, most mysteriously, a secret to ME. I am reminded of the Bible verses (and, I believe Jesus said them – that is, “believe” as in being unsure of the attribution indicated in the text and context, due to my bad memory), about giving in such a way that my left hand does not know what my right hand is doing – and I am at peace.

      • I too voted early, and I’m content with all my choices save one. I’m still confused why the metropolitan water reclamation district has nine elected positions. One would think that a single elected person and a staff–or even just a staff–could manage to manage the sewers.

          • Do the sewer and storm drain bosses have many favors to offer? If it’s patronage jobs then dividing it up for nine people dilutes the usefulness, no one person would have enough to offer.

            • Cory wanted to separate water and sewer from City service altogether and create an entirely new political entity called the Municipal Utilities Authority, which would give him a board he could fill with his friends and some huge amount of new borrowing and bond issuance authority, since the City was all tapped out, and many more projects he could pass out to his friends.

        • In this election, voting early is irresponsible. Sorry. In an impossible choice, you need every scrap of relevant data, and it’s still coming in. Essentially, most early voters are pure partisans, voting based on single issues, race, gender, something. The system should not enable lack of consideration.

          • Most people I know who voted early had made up their minds long ago and nothing would move them. A lot of honorable conservatives, such as myself, are only deciding to “come home” now that the reopening of the investigation meant tolerating Hillary would be a bridge too far. This one couple in Maine who are nominal Republicans but defended Obamacare HARD in 2013, were saying they were voting for Hilary before Trump was even nominated, and anyone who didn’t like it could suck it.

          • I assume you’re only speaking of president? My reps to the general assembly were unopposed, I’m content with my congresscritter, I studied the bar association’s voter guide for judicial election, I have no intention of sending Mark Kirk back to Washington and if something shocking comes up in the elections for country clerk of court and recorder of deeds, I’ll admit you were right.

            For president, what on earth could happen to make me want to vote for Trump? Is there going to be a tape where Secretary Clinton says grab them by the dick and stick your tongue down their throats? Is it going to turn out that she died in 2010 and got raised by the same necromancer who did Keith Richards? Is she going to claim Applejack is best pony when everyone in the gods damned bronyverse knows Rairity is, and has always been, best pony because she gets to sing Sondheim songs while sewing?

          • I just voted and no, it wasn’t irresponsible for me to do so.

            As everyone knows, I am not the biggest Clinton fan — heck, I won’t even be surprised if one day it is definitely shown that she has traded political favors for money. However, she still is rational and competent — much like many of our white collar and government criminals that roam among us. Trump has demonstrably shown that he is irrational and incompetent — and he has legal controversies of his own. But his temperament is key — Trump cannot be trusted to not try and attempt to use the office to lay waste to his political and business enemies. And, in an increasing volatile world, I am honestly scared of how he will handle foreign entanglements. I will try and move away from the DC area if he is elected — if I have to choose my poison between dying in a tactical strike or perishing in a nuclear winter, I guess I am choosing nuclear winter.

            • Nukes for me. Big airfields make for big targets, O’Hare has to have at least two warheads aimed at it, an air burst for the hangars and a ground for the runways. I’m close enough that I shouldn’t feel a thing. Anyway I have the feeling that The Postman, the book not the movie, was prophetic and as soon as the smoke clears aggressive survivalist types will go raiding and disrupt any chance at rebuilding.

              I don’t fancy being shot for my basket of acorns in front of my half-finished wattle and daub hovel after the bombs drop.

              • That was my dad’s philosophy. He always said that he would drive all of us straight to Detroit if he had notice of nuclear war with Russia.

            • So when e-mails appear showing that Clinton, Obama and the Justice Department have been colluding with the news media behind closed doors to ensure her election, you will consider that non-material data? How about when Trump is arrested as a traitor who has colluded with Putin tomorrow, and Mike Pence becomes the candidate by default?

              “Trump cannot be trusted to not try and attempt to use the office to lay waste to his political and business enemies.”

              Why in the world would you highlight THAT? If there is one characteristic Clinton and Trump share exactly, it is that! Hillary and Co. immediately seeks to punish and destroy anyone who gets in her way. Look at Comey! Did you see the Bernie exchange from Podesta e-mails?

              In February, longtime Clinton adviser and Democratic insider Joel Johnson had sent an email to Clinton campaign head John Podesta, emphasizing, “Bernie needs to be ground to a pulp. We can’t start believing our own primary bullshit. This is no time to run the general. Crush him as hard as you can.”

              Just after Salon reported Johnson’s message on Thursday morning, however, the whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks released another trove of emails to and from Podesta. In this new batch of messages appeared Podesta’s response to Johnson’s advice.

              “I agree with that in principle,” Podesta wrote in reply to Johnson’s “no mercy” email.

              • I see your confusion. You are discussing the normal vile tactics that exist in politics. I am using the words “lay waste” literally as in Trump thinking he can order the FBI to kill someone, requesting eminent domain of everyone’s property he hates, asking the Air Force to bomb someone’s house, starting a war over a twitter remark, or attempting to jail the media. Do I think he will be successful at this? Probably not, but he will bring such topics into the national discussion, irreversibly damaging our nation.

                • I’m not confused, S—I think you are. Trump talks through his hat, makes grand declarations, and does nothing. He’s a blowhard. Hillary works undercover, uses hired henchmen, and keeps her hands clean. Remember the leaked conversation from Wikileaks when SOS Hillary asked about Assange, “Can’t we just drone this guy?” That’s Hillary.

                  Would I feel more in danger with Trump mad at me or Hillary? No contest. It’s Hillary, hands down.

                  • If someone hacked my texts or emails they would find exchanges where I said I wanted to kill my husband. That doesn’t mean that I want to actually kill him.

                    Please tell me you don’t believe that Clinton actually is considering droning Assange if she gets elected.

                    See, this is why people in your generation should not ban the use of the smiley face or LOL — sometimes you need them.

                    • Deletion is your friend. And, if you are deleting email, you need to hard delete (clean it out of your trash folder) before it gets backed-up to the server each day. Texts are harder to retrieve (absent a subpoena), but you should delete those as well.

                      You and I will have to disagree about Clinton. I do not believe that she is a cold-blooded murderer.

                • I am using the words “lay waste” literally as in Trump thinking he can order the FBI to kill someone, …

                  No, the detention of Obama and Hillary, and their families, will be done quite legally. They are, after all, the literal founders of ISIS according to the Leader. Under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 section 1021 et al.

                  ” The NDAA, an otherwise mundane annual bill that lays out the use of funds for the Department of Defense, has come under attack during the Obama administration for the introduction of a provision in 2012 that allows the military to detain United States citizens indefinitely without charge or trial for mere suspicions of ties to terrorism. Under the 2012 NDAA’s Sec. 1021, U.S. President Obama did not agree to give the military the power to arrest and hold Americans without the writ of habeas corpus as he promised with that year’s signing statement that his administration would not abuse that privilege.”

                  A Trump administration would not be bound by such signing limitations, in fact one of the few things Trump has consistently stated is that all such will be voided.

                  After the confessions have been extracted under torture, there will be more arrests, of course. All legal – until the SCOTUS says otherwise. But of course, they’re the first on the list. GOP congressman and right wing think tanks have already stated that the US can do without one, in a legal sense.

                  • Of course none of this might happen. But could it? I’ve yet to find anyone who can point me to any reason other than “but.. but… He couldn’t do that.. it would be unthinkable”.

                    Nothing about the man’s character leads me to believe that if his legal team told him of this, he wouldn’t use it immediately against his enemies. Especially those in the GOP who betrayed him.

                    • This line of reasoning cuts equally with both candidates. The worst case scenario for Hillary, given the totalitarian proclivities of her enablers, lackeys, minions and henchpersons (?), is worse than the worst case scenario for Trump….and it is not sufficiently remote to let me sleep at night. But Trump has no acceptable BEST case scenario.

          • I’d argue that depends on the reasons for which a person voted early. In my case, I was changing residencies, but was already past the deadline for registering to vote in the state I was moving into… So my choice was voting early in the state I was leaving, or being unable to vote in the election at all.

            It didn’t particularly thrill me to vote early, and some of the stuff that has happened since then has made me seriously question the choice I made. But I still think it was the only responsible choice, when faced with the alternative of not voting.

            • Well, sure. There are legitimate reasons to vote early. But you know that your situation is not the motivation for the push to allow easier early voting. It an effort to increase participation by low-information voters.

    • This is the best compromise I can reach with my emotional side really wanting Hillary and all her fellow-plotters and enablers, cheaters and fixers, spinners and assholes, to lose and have to face the reality that the Democratic party’s undemocratic anointment, all the gender-baiting, all the smoke and mirrors to hide Obama’s incompetence, still lost to an utter fool, because Lincoln was right. It is also a reaction to the calls in the left punditry that Clinton had to win in a landslide, as if that wouldn’t signal ethics rot beyond repair.

    • “Also, I have to ask, why are you immune from ethical estoppel if you vote for Clinton? (apart from the fact that it’s your blog, your rules) In my opinion, anyone who knows full well how slimy Clinton is and all that she stands for, yet still pulls the lever for her, is no different than my coworker who says Hillary is the greatest thing that ever happened to America after Obama or the third-wave feminist classmate I had to unfollow because she posted five idiotic “She’s the greatest” memes before breakfast one day. We don’t get to qualify our votes.”

      No, that’s neither logical nor fair. It’s a bad, binery choice with bad odds in both cases. If one reluctantly chooses an option with a 75% of disaster because the other choice is 99.99% likely to backfire, that does not estop you from criticizing and protesting with full integrity if the worst occurs. Those who support, and rationalize, and enable that 75% are the ones I don’t want to hear from, and the entire party that put the 99.99% choice into the mix is advised to shut up forever. But I’m making the most ethical choice I can. I am not voting for Hillary because I don’t want responsibility for Trump. That’s bullshit and a rationalization: Americans, as a people, are responsible 100%, everyone, for the leaders they end up with, because majority rules, and we endorse the system by living under it.

      This article, applauded by Glenn Reynolds (who is rapidly losing a stable orbit) is absolute garbage. Being a “NeverTrumper” (which I am not: I’d vote for him over, say, Kanye West, or a rabid oppossum) has nothing to do with “clean hands”—nobody has clean hands who is part of the nationa nd the process when it ends up like this, but I’m trying to at help least make sure whatever vote citizen make, they make it based on facts, not tricks, cheats and lies.

      1. It’s a binary choice, and anyone who argues otherwise is in denial.

      2. Every citizen has an obligation to avoid the worst choice.

      3. The worst choice is Trump, by any measure, because he has no assets whatsoever. Ted Cruz, at least, knows the law and is smart. Jeb Bush, at least, is a decent human being and was a fairly effective governor. Chris Christie, at least runs a state, and has a mind. Hillary, at least, has worked within the system and can form a coherent sentence…and, since she has no principles, is flexible. FDR was an autocrat by nature and a sociopath, and on balance, did well. We have had Presidents who rose above corrupt backgrounds—LBJ, Arthur, Truman—because they were still patriots and had basic skills and decency.

      I think I’ve proven here that I know my Presidential character and history. With Hillary, there’s a shot that she will surprise us by rising above expectations, as others have. I’m voting for that shot, because its the only shot.

      • “the entire party that put the 99.99% choice into the mix is advised to shut up forever.”

        Taken out of context that sounds like an endorsement of one-party rule, and a lot like some columnists in 2008 that said the GOP should be outlawed, just like the Nazi Party in Germany and the Communist Party in Russia. I don’t think that’s what you meant, but I can’t NOT point that out.

        Ted, Jeb, and Christie (whose aides were just convicted today in Bridgegate) aren’t on the ballot. The party and the public had their chance to nominate them. Ted actually just joined the fight on Trump’s behalf, sort of, Christie wholeheartedly, though I bet Trump drops him like a hot potato now, and Jeb is sulking at home after being roundly and decisively beaten. Never thought of Truman as corrupt, but he WAS the last small-town ordinary guy to be President, AND he was a businessman and nonacademic.

        “because they were still patriots and had basic skills and decency.”

        Bingo. Hillary, or Gal Capone, as I think she should be dubbed, is at the head of a party that is largely anti-patriotic, she certainly is, and she has zero decency. Basic skills I will grant you, but then again LBJ had incredible political skill, and was a racist, a panderer, and all-around sonofabitch. You know your presidential history, probably more than I do (and that’s saying a lot, actually), but I think your shot is not just a long shot but a forlorn shot.

        • Well, why would you take it out of context?

          It’s simple: when parties fail the public and a poor leader from the other party is elected, I don’t want to hear them shifting accountability. The GOP elected Obama…it is accountable. McCain was a terrible candidate. It re-elected Obama too. Romney should have won on the merits, but the campaign was a mess.

          The party needs a complete purge and over-haul, because it is incompetent, and untrustworthy
          Just like the other party.

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