We Have A Winner In The “False Hastert-Clinton Equivalency Sweepstakes”! Congratulate Slate’s William Salatan!

I don’t know when William Salatan jumped the ethics shark at Slate; I used to find him fair, reasonable and perceptive. Now he has apparently gone over the Dark Side, the shadowy, ethics-free realm where the Clintons are victims of a vast right wing conspiracy. Too bad.

There is some compensation for Salatan, though. He just penned the perfect example of the Shameless Left’s attempt to exploit the fall of  former GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert to exonerate Bill Clinton, and by extension, his Lady MacBeth, Hillary, as she tries to complete her rise to power fueled by the public’s acceptance of her husband’s corrupt ways.

You can read it here, and I would hope that most of you would be able to spot, and quickly, the multiple blatant ethics bait-and-switches that Salatan employs. But for those deceived, let me provide some guidance.

Many commentators have made the point that Hastert’s prosecution looks politically motivated and unfair. He is not being prosecuted for the alleged sexual misconduct with a student believed to be the source of an extortion attempt, and paying a blackmailer is no crime. He is being prosecuted for lying to the F.B.I about the reason for his large cash withdrawals. Says Salatan:

“The critics have a point. Lying under oath and evading transaction surveillance are derivative crimes. Usually, they’re prosecuted only if the underlying offense is serious and demonstrably true. You can argue that if the core allegation hasn’t been proved, or if the core issue isn’t grave enough, it’s cheap and abusive to proceed with prosecution based purely on derivative charges. But Hastert can’t make that argument, because he made the opposite argument 17 years ago. He threw the book at President Clinton for lying about sex.”

Thus Slate’s misleading and ignorance-seeding headline, “Hastert’s Hypocrisy.” There is no hypocrisy. Moreover, like Professor Kerr, Salatan mistakenly says that Clinton was impeached for “lying about sex.”  That was a Lanny Davis/Clinton spin talking point, and it is false.. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Law Professor Orin Kerr

“If I understand the history correctly, in the late 1990s, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by a man who was also then hiding a sexual affair, who was supposed to be replaced by another Congressman who stepped down when forced to reveal that he too was having a sexual affair, which led to the election of a new Speaker of the House who now has been indicted for lying about payments covering up his sexual contact with a boy. Yikes.”

Prof. Orin Kerr on The Volokh Conspiracy.

Hatert as coachI thought more highly of Prof. Kerr, who belongs to the left end of the group of provocative libertarian legal scholars who make up the commentariat on the erudite blog, recently annexed by the Washington Post, than to believe him capable of abusing his authority with this kind of hackery. He is endorsing  the deceitful “logic” of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt.

Well no, Professor, I guess you don’t understand history properly, or government, or ethics for that matter. Clinton was not impeached for lying about a sexual affair, though that was the tactical spin placed on the impeachment by Clinton’s defenders.

Bill Clinton  was impeached for lying about a sexual affair under oath, before a judge, in court, an act that would get you, as well as any other lawyer, disbarred. If you don’t obey the law enough to be a lawyer, you don’t respect the law enough to be trusted to defend the laws of the land as President of the United States. He was also impeached for lying to a grand jury, another crime, and using his high office, his appointees and his staff to cover up his lies, which is obstruction of justice.

He was also impeached because he was President of the United States, the role model and exemplar for good citizenship, lawfulness and good behavior for the entire nation, and because the relationship in question occurred during his tenure in office, during the working day, and  with a low-level employee in violation of the principles under lying the sexual harassment law he had signed into law himself.

None of this was true of Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, and Dennis Hastert, the three GOP Speakers Kerr is referring to. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Buzz Bissinger

It took about an hour after the  Barry Bonds verdict for the first ethics-challenged national sports writer to write something outrageous about it. Not surprisingly, it was Buzz Bissinger, a the member in good standing of the Daily Beast’s stable of annoyingly hypocritical, biased or appallingly cynical writers, Bissinger belonging to the last category.

His post, which pronounced the Barry Bonds conviction “a travesty” in the title, contained one ethics howler after another, any of one of which would have justified an Ethics Dunce prize.

Here they are:

“It is true that the case of Barry Bonds does hit a new low, a new low in the waste of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money, a new low in the witch hunt of a player who, because he was considered surly and arrogant and unlikable, is now having intimate details of his life revealed (such as testicle shrinkage), a new low in outrageous abuse of government power.” Continue reading

The Ethics of Nailing Barry Bonds

Is Barry Bonds getting the Al Capone treatment? Should we care?

Baseball’s all-time home run king Barry Bonds is finally on trial for perjury and obstruction of justice relating to his 2003 testimony before a grand jury that he never knowingly used steroids. It looks like he may get convicted too, even though the one man who could harm him most, his trainer and childhood pal Greg Anderson, once again has refused to testify and is in jail for contempt of court. (Many—including me— believe that Anderson has a promise of a pay-off from Bonds.)

Essentially everyone who isn’t actively trying to protect Bonds, completely ignorant of the facts of his career, or mentally handicapped knows he was lying and knew it at the time of the grand jury hearings. Barry has been both lucky and relentlessly dishonest, however, seemingly happy to spend the millions he made while cheating and permanently damaging his sport, and pleased with himself for retiring in possession of baseball’s most prestigious home run records, the most homers in a single season, and the most homers in a career.  That Bonds achieved these, and several of his Most Valuable Player awards, while enhanced with the surreptitiously induced body chemistry of a Bulgarian weight-lifter in the 1972 Olympics doesn’t seem to faze him at all. Meanwhile, critics are dredging up the old rationalizations to defend Bonds, none of which apply to his current fix. Continue reading