Late And Fevered Ethics Musings, 11/15/18: Pardon Hillary, And More Surprises


I can’t tell you how much I hate operating at quarter-steam like this. I have an ethics seminar to get through in two days, so I’m trying to be responsible. Luckily I have to deal with this about once every three years or so.

1. Baseball rejects consequentialism! New York Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom won the National League Cy Young Award after leading the majors in earned run average, meaning that he gave up fewer runs per 9 innings of any pitcher. Indeed, deGrom’s major-league-leading 1.70 ERA was two-thirds of a run lower than the next closest NL hurler, Philadelphia‘s Aaron Nola (2.37), and the second best by any starter this century.  Despite his own excellence, his team, the disappointing New York Mets, lost most of his starts, and deGrom only had a 10-9 record for the season. Traditionally the Cy Young honor, meant to designate the best pitcher in each league, has gone to the pitcher who won the most games while not disgracing himself in other categories. With the advent of statistical analysis, however, it has even dawned on the most meat-headed sportswriters that all a pitcher can do is prevent the other team from scoring, and if his team can’t score behind him, it says nothing about his ability at all.

In other words, doing “good” must be judged by what an individual does, not what happens that is beyond his control as he does it or after.

2. Again, this is why climate change skeptics are right to be skeptical. In a paper published Oct. 31 in the journal Nature and garnering the usual “what’s the matter with you idiots the evidence is overwhelming we’re doomed DOOMED!” coverage by the news media, researchers claimed to have found  that ocean temperatures had warmed 60% more than outlined by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However,  mathematician Nic Lewis posted a critique of the paper, writing that “The findings of the … paper were peer reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media. Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results.”

Ooops! He was right. Co-author Ralph Keeling, climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, took full blame and thanked Lewis for alerting him to the mistake, which I would attribute to mass confirmation bias.  Keeling said they have since redone the calculations, finding the ocean is still likely warmer than the estimate used by the IPCC. However, that increase in heat has a larger range of probability than initially thought — between 10 percent and 70 percent, as other studies have already found. “Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that’s going on in the ocean,” Keeling said. “We really muffed the error margins.”

It is not “climate change denial” to reject over-hyped apocalyptic predictions when the entire climate-change field continues to make predictions and projections that are constantly shown to be not reliable or accurate.

3. Serious proposal: President Trump should pardon Hillary Clinton.  (This should be a full post, but I don’t have the time or the energy, and I’m falling behind as it is.)

U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan ordered former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to answer five questions regarding her use of a private email server to conduct official U.S. diplomatic business and  gave Clinton 30 days to respond under oath. The demand comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by the nonprofit government watchdog Judicial Watch. The five questions are:

  • Who decided to create the system?
  • When was it created?
  • Why was it created?
  • Who set it up?
  • When did it become operational?

Clinton could be subject to contempt of court charges if she refuses to comply with Sullivan’s order or felony charges if she answers the questions falsely

Judge Sullivan also ordered Clinton to explain why she told the House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi on Oct. 22, 2015 that virtually all of her emails “were in the State Department’s system” and “if they want to see them, they would certainly have been able to do so.” He ordered Clinton to “identify the basis for this statement, including all facts on which you relied in support of the statement, how and when you became aware of these facts, and, if you were made aware of these facts by or through another person, identify the person who made you aware of these facts.” Everyone Clinton names as having assisted her in creating her secret email system and in responding to the committee will then be subject to further FOIA discovery by Judicial Watch. Conceivably, new revelations  could  prompt reopening of the FBI investigation but under a less sympathetic attorney general and FBI director.

I would not at all be surprised if Hillary broke the law, or multiple laws. No, I don’t think the high and the mighty should be punished less severely than ordinary mortals, or that they should be given special leniency because of “contributions to society,” in other words, “The King’s Pass.”

However, there is no way any prosecution of Hillary Clinton will not be seen by much of America as political use of the justice system. Prosecuting her will accomplish nothing positive, and only serve to tear the nation’s connective tissue further. Exactly as in the case of Richard Nixon, the American political figure Mrs. Clinton most resembles, it will be better for the nation to let a villain go free than to suffer the bitterness and discord that would inevitable accompany her just desserts.

59 thoughts on “Late And Fevered Ethics Musings, 11/15/18: Pardon Hillary, And More Surprises

  1. 3. One question has to be, pardon her for what? Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I think that straight FOIA violations don’t invoke any potential jailtime. Would you effectively end all investigation into national security breaches, Foundation fundraising, or other matters just to stop Juficial Watch from enforcing compliance with FOIA?

    There’s also the distinction that Nixon’s career was ended, but there’s no reason to think that Clinton’s is. Christopher Hitchens once said of Clinton, “There’s something horrible and undefeatable about people who have no life except the worship of power…people who don’t want the meeting to end, the people who just are unstoppable, who only have one focus, no humanity, no character, nothing but the worship of money and power. They win in the end.” Clinton may win in the end, but there’s no reason grease the way for her.

  2. Wait, better than a pardon would be immunity. Answer these questions honestly so we can fix holes and you won’t be prosecuted for wrongdoing.

    Or am I missing something in the issue?


  3. Nixon was a President (unlike Hillary) and his lies about his involvement in Watergate did not rise to the level of Hillary’s malfeasants. No pardon for lying’ Hillary: Let the chips fall as they may.

  4. The mind boggles as to how outlets such as MSNBC would approach a pardon of Clinton by Trump. Certainly they’d denounce it as a cynical political ploy or some such.

    My gut feel on this is that you are correct in that this is likely what would be best for the country. It may be that Trump would see it that way — he does surprise us regularly. It may also be that he would take some major flak over this from what the ‘news’ channel like to refer to as his ‘base’, much as Ford did over his pardon of Nixon. It certainly didn’t help him in his bid for re-election.

    Nonetheless, I have long believed that it was the right thing for Ford to do, and it was just one more thing for which to admire him. He is consistently underappreciated I think.

    But I just don’t know if Trump can bring himself to think along these lines. On the other hand — once he was elected, he quickly moved to tone down his rhetoric on Clinton. I don’t think he’s had any truck with the ‘lock her up’ rhetoric. That’s to his credit, I believe, and I doubt the reverse would have been true.

    • No they’d outright lie about what a pardon is. Instead of telling the people that a pardon is a declaration of wrong doing that has been forgiven, and when accepted is essentially an admission of guilt, the MSM would misinform the people and lead them to believe a pardon is a declaration that no wrongdoing ever occurred.

  5. This smacks of allowing the powerful and privileged to escape the law. For hundreds of years, ordinary folk have alleged that the laws apply to them, but not to the powerful and connected.

    So which part of the American connective tissue can sustain more damage — a “political” prosecution, which has (sadly) been part of our country’s DNA since the founding — or allowing the powerful to blatantly ignore the law in front of everyone (unfortunately, also commonly in evidence)?

    It’s a tough call. Your reasoning is sound, but not unassailable, and the alternative is just as sound.

    • I agree with you Glen. I don’t want any political prosecutions I want only those are for provable serious offenses.

      If we avoid prosecutions to avoid discord between groups why did they prosecute OJ. Exactly who would be eligible for such beneficence? If this is policy then it could effectively make moot any laws applying to high profile politicians.

        • That’s true, but I could also argue that, even as an exception, it creates the perception of a King’s Pass. Perceptions, as you’ve pointed out many times, are at or near their most important where accountability is concerned.

          Worse, the next time somebody does something similar I can imagine a Clinton pardon being cited as a precedent rather than an exception by both parties. That by no means invalidates your logic, but it does return to the question of damage to our country’s “connective tissue.” We are really answering a question about which bad choice produces the least damage, and I’m not at all sure a pardon is that choice.

        • Except, perhaps in the freeing of an innocent person. Justice Scalia wrote, in the Troy Davis case, I believe, that innocence is not a defense. If someone has been convicted after a full and fair trial, they are guilty. That is how the criminal justice system works. Most reports stop there and castigate Scalia for being heartless, but he continues to explain that this is properly handled through the executives” pardon powers. I actual sent a proposal to establish an ‘Actual Innocence Pardon Commission’ to speed up DNA exonerations in my state.

    • There’s a lot of “ick” to it either way. I agree Jack’s reasoning is sound- and yet, in my gut it feels like the message sent by that reasoning is “If you sin for power, and you are loud enough in saying anyone who catches you is biased, then we shouldn’t punish you because too many ignorant people will believe punishment is just political.”

    • Re #3: I agree with Glenn’s reasoning on this issue. I understand -even if I don’t completely accept- the “it would be better for the nation” argument a la the Nixon pardon, and I really wish, as someone else implied, that she would just go away. However, most people I know would resoundingly reject the idea of a pardon. Here in flyover country, outside the political fog of Metro DC and away from the influence of liberal self-deception on both coasts, it is hard to overestimate the general public’s contempt for Hillary and other political figures who flaunt our laws with apparent impunity. I hear it almost daily. Although I can see both sides of this issue, after 40+ years as a cop I tend to default to the rule of law. If the rule of law fails, this nation will really come unraveled.

      • I agree with how a pardon will fly out here in America’s heartland. People KNOW Hillary is an uncharged felon, and this will intensify resentment against the Establishment Elite (aka ‘The Swamp’)

        Which might be a good thing, if it results in voting against the Elites, and removes more of that ilk out of office.

        • Anyone run statistics on how many of the Clintons enemies and, worse, friends, have met an untimely demise? Just how many small plane engines fail in your circle of acquaintances?
          (C. Victor Raiser, II, Ron Brown*, Charles Meissner, Hershell Friday, Dr. Stanley Heard…)

          How many die of ‘suicide’ or are mysteriously killed with no arrests?
          (Mary Mahoney, Vince Foster, John Ashe, Paul Tulley, Ed Willey, Jerry Parks, James Bunch, James Wilson, Kathy Ferguson, Bill Shelton, Gandy Baugh, Florence Martin, Suzanne Coleman: suicide by gunshot… in the back of the head, Danny Casolaro, Paul Wilcher, Jon Parnell Walker, Barbara Wise, Barry Seal, Stanley Huggins, and so on… My favorite, James Milan, committed suicide by removing his own head. Coroner called it ‘natural causes!’)

          Say whatever you want, the stench is there. Too many strange occurances to just dismiss.

        • I don’t think voting certain people out will be enough. Unfortunately the swamp is also much of America’s billionaire elite including: Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon (all of which donated to Clinton by a margin of 60-1). Not just the tech bros but according to Tucker Carlson’s book Ship of Fools, eight of America’s ten richest counties voted for Clinton in 2016. In Fairfield County Clinton won 20pts, Aspen 45, San Francisco 50. She raised $47.6 million from seven hedge fund firms alone.

          Plus, aren’t many of these elites or Oligarchy as Tucker calls them, connected globally to other elites who share their ideologies? The branches leading to the root are many.

  6. #3. Pardon Hillary Clinton, nope, I disagree.

    For the record, I for one do not agree with any single person, whether it’s the President of the United States or a State Governor, having the sole power to override our system of justice and pardon individuals that have been convicted of violated standing laws or actively under investigation for violated standing laws. Also for the record, I didn’t think that President Nixon should have been pardoned.

    Hillary Clinton was a senior cabinet member not the President of the United States and we should not, no, we cannot allow serious willful violations of in-place security measures and then intentionally lying to Congress to cover up the willful security violations on top of that? I said this back on January 22, 2016 at 8:58 am and I’m sticking with it, “Hillary Clinton should be… charged with unauthorized removal and retention of classified information, she’s already admitted to it… she should be charged for it” and if she actually lied to Congress, and I think she knowingly did, they need to throw the damn book at her. I won’t rationalize a pardon; the fabric of the politics and society in the USA is already shredded and part of the reason for that shredding is the continual rationalizing away of wrong doing by politicians and senior government officials and to rationalize away willful violations of in-place security measures regarding emails and knowingly lying to Congress sets a terrible precedence. Sending a status quo message to the public that the swamp is going to remain a swamp is the wrong message to send to our society that already has a dwindling opinion of our government.

    Personally I don’t give a damn who the person is, if they lie to Congress they should have the damn book thrown at them. Furthermore, the political left has been and is currently rationalizing the ongoing undermining of our method of government, justice system, and the Constitution in favor of social justice warriors controlling everything by terrorizing the public into submission and destroying the lives of anyone who disagrees with them without due-process of law, it’s vigilantism. We as a society need to stand firm against anything and everything that enables, rationalizes, ignores, etc, violating our laws or we will become a lawless society in everything – a vigilante society.

    I will not agree for a moment that Hillary Clinton should be pardoned.

    • I completely agree with you. Hilary has always thought she is above the law and rules; that thought shouldn’t be reinforced. No one should be above the law period.

      David Petraeus avoided prison time but was still charged and plead guilty to mishandling classified information. In comparison to someone who was Secretary of State, he had lesser crimes.

      We may as well throw James Wolfe, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange into the pardon ring too in that case. I mean the last two were only trying to make the public aware of a shady government, right? (sarcasm). Maybe Wikileaks wouldn’t have gotten Hillary’s emails if she hadn’t left them vulnerable…

      Again, Hillary was Secretary of State with access to many things that shouldn’t be vulnerable on unsecured servers, that never should have left her office. She isn’t innocent of deleting emails before turning things over, even after she was told not to. In her own words “In retrospect, this didn’t turn out to be convenient at all, and I regret that this has become such a cause célèbre — but that does not change the facts,” she said. “And no matter what anybody tries to say, the facts are stubborn. What I did was legally permitted, number one, first and foremost, OK?”

      • And no matter what anybody tries to say, the facts are stubborn. What I did was legally permitted, number one, first and foremost, OK?” #bullshit

        How do you know a Clinton is lying?

        Their lips are moving.

  7. #2 “Again, this is why climate change skeptics are right to be skeptical.”

    I’m really not skeptical that the climate is changing, it’s fact that the climate changes and it’s fact that the climate has slowly grown slightly warmer over the last 150 years or so; however, I will argue that the climate scientists ignoring millions of years of cyclical climate changes in favor of using tunnel vision to “prove” that human activity is the basis for their wild apocalyptic predictions of climate change is simply bad science.

    Clean up the environment is and will be a good thing for the planet and all living things on the planet, but using bad tunnel vision science and lying to the public about climate change and making absolutely ridiculous apocalyptic predictions undermines valid reasons and efforts to clean up the environment. I refuse to rationalize the alarmists ends justifies the means bad science to scare the hell out of the public with lies to accomplish the goal.

    • There is nothing inherently incompatible with being a conservative and a conservationist. Remember that the EPA was a product of the Nixon administration. I am all in favor of cleaning up the environment, albeit not necessarily to the extent that it beggars the country.

      I think that if the climate change priests had not gone to such extremes, there really shouldn’t have been a good reason for this issue to be so politicized. But they did and they did cheat and they did make extreme predictions that haven’t been substantiated — I think they largely caused a lot of the push back themselves.
      People make their own decisions and, absent massive government subsidies, don’t see a reason to throw away their own money on expensive green toys. It’s possible we’ll eventually regret that, but I think science will eventually have answers and remedies for us that make sense.

  8. 1. Climate Change: Of course the climate is changing, as geologists will tell you it has been for millions of years. Earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, ice ages, warm eras pre-industry: all just point to the fact that Earth is a constantly evolving body, and to a great extent it acts as it will. Yes, humans can affect parts of the Earth’s climate and livability – the 1960s clean-up of Lake Erie is a great example — but it is the height of arrogance for humans to decide how Earth and its climate should be and function, and that we humans can really control it, improve it, or decide it must stay as it is. It is hilarious that every over-warm summer is climate change; every over-cool summer is also climate change; every early snow storm is climate change; every drought is climate change; every storm is climate change. Everything is caused by humans and an example of climate change? And we humans can control all of it? Ridiculous.

    We had our industrial revolution, and did damage to the environment which has only partially been repaired (e.g., Lake Erie again). Can we tell China – the worst current polluter – that they cannot have theirs as well? Perhaps but only to a point: technology has changed since the 19th century (our major industrial revolution), and China could in fact be much more responsible. But try telling them that. (For all you conspiracy theorists: I did read that the WHO did a longitudinal study of the IQs of a group of Chinese residents in several high-industry cities. Finding: over 10 years the IQs of the study group dropped eight points… making of course for a more malleable society?)

    2. Hillary: The Clintons are among the most abominable leadership couple in our history. Even Nixon – a classic paranoid – resigned in the face of impeachment. But as dangerous as Nixon was, both Clintons are worse — classic sociopaths and narcissists: they breeze through scandals, admitting nothing, loving themselves, praising themselves, denigrating others. (E.g., Hillary, who ignored and enabled Bill’s sexual adventurism and crimes, says with a straight face that she is a feminist and a supporter of ‘MeToo’? Who rode his coattails to every office she ever held presents herself as the self-made woman?) They are dangerous – even old and out of office. Lessons should be learned: Hillary is old and unwell, will not run again, but still has a voice and influence, along with Bill. You can punish an elected official by impeaching him/her and decide not to proceed to the justice system; if you can’t impeach him/her, why not go after her for her crimes? We are so divided as a nation that I don’t care what impact it has.

    What lesson is to be learned by our children? Minor and white collar crimes by average people are prosecuted relentlessly: but if you are a public figure, with charisma and the right connections, you just (barely) lose an election, make millions through an illegal foundation that takes money from foreign governments, and retire with complacency into the sunset. Some democracy.

    • ”it is the height of arrogance for humans to decide how Earth and its climate should be and function, and that we humans can really control it, improve it, or decide it must stay as it is.”

      You mean we CAN’T bend Mother Gaia to our whim? THAT casts rather a gloom over things!

      The fact is that WE CAN’T ACCOUNT FOR THE LACK OF WARMING at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” (caps mine) Dr. Kevin Trenberth; Climate Science Rock Star/ClimateGate Principal/University of East Anglia-Climate Research Unit Email Deleter ad infinitum/ad nauseum.

      Solution? We need to more research on a Science we’ve been repeatedly told is Settled.

  9. What about a public caning, like in Singapore? Fifty good lashes should do it, I’d think. Proceeds for the sale of the collected blood (easily $100-$1000 for each tiny vial) could be used towards a Benghazi widow’s fund, political suicides of convenience victims fund, charity fraud awareness campaign, and at least a couple dozen others that come to mind.,

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