Tag Archives: Justice Department

“Is It Possible To Address A Race-Related Problem Without Being Attacked As Racist?” And Other Reflections On The Holiday Mall Brawls

mall-violence

On the City Journal website, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute writes in part,

Judging by video evidence, the participants in the violent mall brawls over the Christmas weekend were overwhelmingly black teens, though white teens were also involved. The media have assiduously ignored this fact, of course, as they have for previous violent flash mob episodes. That disproportion has significance for the next administration’s school-discipline policies, however. If Donald Trump wants to make schools safe again, he must rescind the Obama administration’s diktats regarding classroom discipline, which are based on a fantasy version of reality that is having serious real-world consequences.

The Obama Justice and Education Departments have strong-armed schools across the country to all but eliminate the suspension and expulsion of insubordinate students. The reason? Because black students are disciplined at higher rates than whites. According to Washington bureaucrats, such disproportionate suspensions can mean only one thing: teachers and administrators are racist. The Obama administration rejects the proposition that black students are more likely to assault teachers or fight with other students in class. The so-called “school to prison” pipeline is a function of bias, not of behavior, they say.

This week’s mall violence, which injured several police and security officers, is just the latest piece of evidence for how counterfactual that credo is.  A routine complaint in police-community meetings in minority areas is that large groups of teens are fighting on corners…The idea that such street behavior does not have a classroom counterpart is ludicrous. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic males of the same age. The lack of socialization that produces such a vast disparity in murder rates, as well as less lethal street violence, inevitably will show up in classroom behavior….School officials in urban areas across the country set up security corridors manned by police officers at school dismissal times to avoid gang shootings. And yet, the Obama administration would have us believe that in the classroom, black students are no more likely to disrupt order than white students.

The entire essay is here.

Observations: Continue reading

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The Sessions Nomination: President Elect Trump Flunks A Responsibility Test

Oh, yeah, this is JUST what we need...

Oh, yeah…this is JUST what we need…

Is Senator Jeff Sessions, now definitely Donald Trump’s choice to be his Attorney General, a bigot? I have no idea, but it doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter that the blaring “Trump is a racist” narrative relentlessly repeated by the left is unsubstantiated and based on innuendo and distortion.

Racial tensions in our nation are unacceptably high, and not even primarily because of the election. It is irresponsible for Trump, at this crucial juncture, to do anything at all that will add to those tensions, or exacerbate African-American fears, however unjustified, that he will not be a President of all citizens, regardless of creed or color. His nomination of Senator Sessions does exactly that, and he must know it.

In 1986, a much younger Sessions was nominated by President Reagan for a federal judgeship. At sensational Congressional hearings, Justice Department prosecutor J. Gerald Hebert testified that in  1981, he had met with Sessions, then the United States attorney in Mobile, Alabama. Hebert told Sessions that a federal judge had called a prominent white lawyer “a disgrace to his race” for representing black clients.

“Well,” Hebert testified Jeff  Sessions replied,  “maybe he is.”

Hebert also testified that  Sessions had referred to the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP as “un-American” for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.” Then an African-American prosecutor testified that  Sessions had referred to him as “boy” and  that he had joked that he thought that the Ku Klux Klan “was O.K. until I found out they smoked pot.” Continue reading

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James Comey’s Ethical Conflict

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We now know that James Comey’s decision to inform Congress that the Clinton e-mail investigation had been re-opened (If I hear one more Clinton spinner  tells me that no case is ever “closed,” even one that is “completed,” I am going to run naked through the Safeway, screaming dirty limericks in pig latin. Be warned.) was “against Justice Department policy,” specifically the policy of “not acting in such a way as could influence an upcoming election.” Comey understood he was violating these guidelines, sources tell us,but felt he was obligated to do so because he had promised members of Congress he would inform them of any further developments related to Clinton’s email server misuse. Thus he sent a letter to F.B.I. employees after alerting Congress of the (possible) new evidence that necessitated re-opening the investigation. In the letter,  Comey acknowledged that his actions were unprecedented, but explained that…

I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.

According to the Washington Post,  Comey was also concerned that the discovery of the emails would be leaked to the media after he briefed a team of investigators about them, causing the  F.B.I. to be accused of a coverup to benefit Clinton.

Some ethics conclusions:

1. Comey’s actions are consistent with an understanding of the Ethics Incompleteness Principle, which is often discussed on Ethics Alarms:

The human language is not sufficiently precise to define a rule that will work in every instance. There are always anomalies on the periphery of every normative system, no matter how sound or well articulated. If one responds to an anomaly by trying to amend the rule or system to accommodate it, the integrity of the rule or system is disturbed, and perhaps ruined. Yet if one stubbornly applies the rule or system without amendment to the anomaly anyway, one may reach an absurd conclusion or an unjust result. The Ethics Incompleteness Principle suggests that when a system or rule doesn’t seem to work well when applied to an unexpected or unusual situation, the wise response is to abandon the system or rule—in that one anomalous case only— and use  basic ethics principles and analysis to find the best solution. Then return to the system and rules as they were, without altering them to make the treatment of the anomalous situation “consistent.”

Assuming that the “policy” is a sensible and ethical one to begin with (though it isn’t), this was an anomalous case. The FBI, and Comey personally, were rightly under intense criticism for their handling of the investigation. Among other puzzling decisions, Clinton’s aides were given immunity for no apparent reason; Clinton’s interview was neither videoed nor under oath; and Cheryl Mills, who was directly involved in the private server fiasco, was allowed to serve as Clinton’s lawyer when she was questioned. The policy was designed to protect the Justice Department and its component from suspicions of bias and partisan complicity, and the inept handling of the investigation  had already created those suspicions. When such a policy appears likely to have the opposite effect that it was established for, the rational and ethical approach is to make an exception, which is what Comey did.

2. This was courageous. Continue reading

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Loretta Lynch-Bill Clinton Meeting Aftermath: Hillary Drops An Unethical Hint, And My Head Explodes

pulling strings

According to the New York Times, “Democrats close to Mrs. Clinton say she may decide to retain Ms. Lynch, the nation’s first black woman to be attorney general.”

Wait, what?

WHAT????

WHAT???

kaboom

The woman’s department is currently involved in a criminal investigation of Clinton. Lynch has refused to recuse herself from the investigation despite the taint of the meeting with Bill Clinton, which was apparently engineered by one or both Clintons. Though she has said that she will accept the recommendation coming out of the FBI investigation, she is not obligated to do so. Thus she is still a participant in the process and a decision-maker who has significant power and influence, as of this moment, over Hillary Clinton’s political future.

And yet Clinton allows her camp to send the message to Lynch—through the New York Times— that there may be a job waiting for her in the Clinton Administration….as long as, well, you know. This goes beyond the mere appearance of impropriety that Bill’s trick created for Lynch.

The dangling of a potential high-profile job creates an actual conflict of interest. After all, Lynch can’t continue as Attorney General is Hillary isn’t elected, and Hillary’s election prospects are likely to be significantly diminished if she’s in the Big House.

What is this? A flat learning curve? Complete arrogance and open corruption? Stupidity? Are all of Clinton’s advisors and staff as ethically obtuse as she is, just as Trump’s advisors and staff appear to be as inept as he is? How could Clinton let this happen?

If Lynch wants to guarantee that the public does not assume that this is yet more proof that the Clinton’s are rigging the investigation, she needs to declare, right now, that under no circumstances will she consider or accept any post in a Clinton administration. Failing that. she needs to resign.

Writes Ann Althouse:

Sometimes the prosecutor offers the accused a deal and, on rare occasions, the accused offers the prosecutor a deal. But offering it right out in the open like that? It’s as ballsy as a former President strutting across a tarmac in 107° heat, fueled by a raging desire to talk about his grandchildren.

I don’t know if this was really “ballsy.” Having just written at length about Hanlon’s Razor, I’m more inclined to think that Clinton and her camp are just stupid and incompetent, which, if true, calls into question one of the few clear advantages she supposedly has over Donald Trump.

 

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Essay: On Loretta Lynch And Fighting Cynicism And Distrust Regarding The FBI Investigation Of Hillary Clinton

America_Falling_Apar

Warning:

This is long.

I think it’s important

In the wake of Attorney General Lynch’s acknowledgment of wrongdoing in meeting, however briefly and innocently, with Bill Clinton, some  reader comments here are redolent of the destructive distrust of government and leadership engendered by this administration and others, particularly Bill’s. Yet this attitude feeds on itself, and is to an extent a self-fulfilling prophecy. If leaders think that people expect corruption, they are less likely to shy away from it. Cynicism leads to acceptance. Of course, this is one explanation of why the tarmac meeting took place—pure arrogance and a belief that with the news media’s complicity, now virtually any degree of government dishonesty and corruption will be either effectively hidden from the public, or accepted by it.

This is untrue, still. Indeed, this episode is proof that it is untrue, though the news media did make (disgusting and ignorant) efforts to shrug off the clear appearance of impropriety represented by Lynch having a meeting with Clinton the Impeached under these circumstances. Why do I labor trying to write these essays explaining the legal and ethical context of such events if readers are so poisoned by bitterness and distrust that they can’t or won’t process them, and just default to “it doesn’t make any difference, all is shit, all is lost”?  If I believed that, I wouldn’t be spending time—work  time, uncompensated time—writing this stuff. I can earn peanuts directing professional theatrical productions: it makes people happy, gives actors work, and is a lot more fun, believe me.

Paranoia, suspicion, despair, and conspiratorial views of government, which are all these comments represent, are just forms of bias. Bias makes us stupid, and in this case, bias makes us dysfunctional as a people and fearful and miserable as individuals. Continue reading

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Now, Whatever Else, We Know That Attorney General Loretta Lynch Is More Ethical Than Hillary Clinton

Lynch2

Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s response to the immediate criticism of her private, suspicion-generating meeting with Bill Clinton was the correct one and the only ethical response open to her now. Today she admitted that that her airport meeting with former President Bill Clinton while possible charges against Hillary Clinton were being explored by the FBI had undermined public trust in the investigation, and she also took remedial action. She did more than recuse herself from the matter. She announced that she would  accept whatever recommendations that career prosecutors and the F.B.I. director make about whether to bring charges against the presumptive Democratic nominee.

“I will be accepting their recommendations,”  Lynch said in an appearance at the Aspen Ideas Festival. She said that “the case will be resolved by the same team that has been working on it from the beginning.”

This remarkable move will not remove the stain on the meeting, which already created the “appearance of impropriety” at the worst possible time in the worst possible matter. However, Lynch acted quickly, appropriately, honestly and decisively.  Incredibly, the episode may have actually resulted in a situation that will reduce public and political cynicism if Clinton is not indicted, except for those who will insist that the fix was in from the beginning, as indeed it might have been, given the general lack of accountability and propensity for cover-ups in the Obama administration.

As one delicious scenario, it is possible that Bill Clinton’s characteristic penchant for breaking the rules at will may have created a situation that leads to his wife having to face criminal charges. It is certainly true that the chances, still slim, that Hillary will have to face the music is greater now than it was two days ago. Continue reading

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From The Appearance of Impropriety Files: Justice Scalia’s Hunting Trip

ScaliaCheney

A partyist, ignorant hack named Andrea Paysinger, who is banned from further commentary by the Ethics Alarms “too dumb and biased to contribute” rule, just wrote a comment to the Clinton-Lynch post making the typical ratioanalization-rotted argument that “all the brouhaha over this is ridiculous, childish on the part of all the RIGHT WING jerks who SAW NOTHING WRONG with JUSTICE SCALIA taking gifts and spending vacations PAID FOR by those who actually had cases coming up before SCOTUS AND NOT ONE FUCKING TIME DID HE RECUSE HIMSELF.”

I just love it when people accuse me of being a partisan hypocrite without bothering to check what I have written. As it happens, I wrote a great deal about Scalia’s infamous hunting trip, which I unequivocally condemned as creating the appearance of impropriety. (It was, however, factually less troubling than the Clinton-Lynch meeting, as Scalia and Cheney were never alone during the trip in question.) So for people like Andrea (though not Andrea herself, who won’t be able to get back on this site if she recruits an army of Myrmidons), I will hereby post the two Scalia essays, which currently reside only on the Ethics Scoreboard, now an archive of my ethics commentary prior to 2010.

Unfortunately, the site’s search function stopped working when I had to change platforms recently. If you want to check out the Scoreboard now, just use Google: type “Ethics Scoreboard” and the subject or topic. If there was commentary, you’ll find it.

To give due credit, Andrea did identify real hypocrisy on the Lynch issue. Many of the Democrats exposing themselves as corrupted by partisan bias by now trying to defend Lynch also furiously attacked Scalia’s appearance of impropriety. They—your idols, Andrea— have no integrity. I do.

Here was what I wrote about Scalia’s clear appearance of impropriety in 2004.

Good Judge Hunting: Antonin Scalia and the Cheney Case

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently went hunting with Vice President Cheney, even as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on whether the documents pertaining to Cheney’s meetings with energy company officials regarding future US energy policies must be made public. This has led to critics calling for Scalia’s recusal from the case, on the grounds that the social contact renders his objectivity in the matter suspect. Scalia, feisty as always, denies this, and maintains that he is fully capable of ruling objectively.

And I’m sure he is, but that’s beside the point. In the case of judicial independence, it is often appearances that count, and because this is an issue particularly charged with partisan passions, the Supreme Court must avoid any hint that cronyism or personal loyalties are playing a part in the outcome of the legal showdown. Scalia should remove himself from the case.

Justice Scalia has pointed out that personal friendships between the justices and Washington leaders are commonplace, and that mere friendships among professionals should not raise the specter of favoritism or bias. Indeed, had Scalia maintained exactly the same collegial relationship with Cheney, but avoided the hunting trip, there would be no issue. But the outing conjures images of male bonding and frank talk by the campfire (lobbying, perhaps?), and if Justice Scalia were to rule Cheney’s way (and Scalia’s past opinions would suggest that this is likely), the legitimacy of the ruling would be, in the eyes of many, tainted. But there is more.

According to the L.A. Times, Scalia was flown to the hunting reserve on the small jet that serves as Air Force Two. That could be interpreted as a gift to a judge from a pending litigant. The trip has value, and judges are not supposed to accept things of value under circumstances where it calls their objectivity into question. This alone would justify a recusal. And there’s a “strike three.”

The Times reports that the reserve where the duck hunting took place is owned by Wallace Carline, the head of Diamond Services Corp., an oil services firm that is on 41 acres of waterfront property in Amelia, La. The company provides oil dredging, pile driving, salvage work, fabrication, pipe-rolling capability and general oilfield construction. There is no indication that he has a direct stake in the case, but he is an energy executive. So we have a Supreme Court Justice ruling on whether materials should be released regarding the input of the energy industry into national energy policy in meetings held by the Vice-President, after he spends a hunting trip with the Vice-President, who has also provided charter jet transportation, at a hunting reserve where he is the guest of an energy executive.

Come on, Justice Scalia. Continue reading

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