Tag Archives: Whitewater

Addendum: The Dishonest Tax Day Anti-Trump Protests (And The Misleading Defenses Of Them)

How quickly we forget…

I wasn’t going to post any more on this topic, but in 2012 CBS helpfully provided some historical perspective on the supposed “tradition” of candidates releasing tax returns. Some revelations:

1. Donald Trump was not the “first candidate since Nixon” to refuse to release his returns.

Who else didn’t? Why H. Ross Perot, the third party candidate who cost George H.W. Bush re-election in 1992! And what a coincidence: Perot was also a billionaire with complex finances and conflicts! Had he been elected, and that was not beyond the realm of possibility, he, not Trump, would have been the first President since George Washington without elected office experience or experience in military command.  Perot got almost 20 million votes  from Americans who presumable cared about other issues more than Perot’s tax returns, or his refusal to release them.

So Trump was following tradition and practice: the tradition and practice of all billionaires running for President to refuse to release their taxes. The tradition even extends to some half-billionaires: Steve Forbes, another businessman who made a strong run at the GOP nomination in 1996, also refused to release his returns.

(By the way, Perot’s returns were not a major issue in the election, nor did the mainstream media harp on it. But there was some semblance of fair journalism then.)

2. When tax returns are released by candidates, the opposition will still find reasons to object, raise suspicions, and claim that they are not enough. Mitt Romney released two years of returns, and Democrats said he was hiding something nefarious.

In 2008, Barack Obama released seven years of tax returns, then accused Hillary, his opposition for the nomination, of hiding something. “Senator [Hillary] Clinton can’t claim to be vetted until she allows the public the opportunity to see her finances — particularly with respect to any investment in tax shelters,” Obama’s spokesperson Robert Gibbs said. Continue reading

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Filed under Finance, Government & Politics, History

The Late Senator Dale Bumpers Was An Ethics Corrupter Of Historic Significance: That’s His Legacy

Impeachment ticket

Former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers (D-Ark) has died at 90, and his obituaries respectfully note his successful political career that led him to the Arkansas State House as well as Washington, D.C. His death is nicely timed with the re-emergence, thanks to Donald Trump and Bill Cosby, of scrutiny of Bill Clinton’s proclivities as a sexual predator. Bumpers played a key role in not only allowing Clinton to escape accountability for that reprehensible conduct and other conduct required for him to continue it, but also in corrupting the Presidency, the public and the nation.

Good job, Senator. Sorry you’re dead, but now, while you are briefly back in the public eye, is the time to be clear about your legacy.

On January 21, 1999, late in the Clinton impeachment proceedings on the Senate floor, recently retired Senator Dale Bumpers took center stage to defend his fellow Arkansas Democrat as he fought for his political life. The fact that Bumpers was allowed to make such a speech proved that the proceedings were rigged, and were nothing but partisan theater. I don’t think Chief Justice Rehnquist, who supposedly presided over the impeachment “trial,” should have allowed Bumpers to speak; maybe the Chief Justice had to: I am unclear on whether he could have acted like a judge if he wanted to. Bumpers was not then a member of the body, and he introduced no evidence. Indeed, his entire function was to mischaracterize the issues, confuse the public, and remind his Democratic colleagues that their first duty was to the party rather than the nation.

That being the case, he did his job well.

Reading the transcript of his speech again for the first time in over a decade, I was struck at how terrible—cynical, misleading, dishonest—it was. The speech essentially distilled all of the rationalizations and excuses, repeated ad nauseum by Lanny Davis and others on cable TV since the Monica Lewinsky scandal had broken, into a credible imitation of a sincere, non-partisan appeal by an elder statesman. Masterful it was; it was also rotten to the core. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

The Right Thing In Spite Of Themselves: CNN And NBC Abandon Their Hillary Projects

Hillary Clinton, in her dreams...and Bill's...

Hillary Clinton, in her dreams…and Bill’s…

If CNN and NBC had any sense of responsibility, fairness and respect for the American political system, neither would have planned Hillary Clinton projects—CNN, a documentary, NBC, a “docudrama” mini-series—for the coming year, in which the controversial Ms. Clinton is expected to begin running for President of the United States. Neither deserves any credit for cancelling them now, after pundits and especially the Republican Party screamed foul, and foul it was.

There is no way either product could avoid making difficult content choices that would be inevitably influenced by such non-ethical considerations as entertainment value, ratings, political pressure, and artist bias. The documentary and the mini-series would necessarily distort fact and history, because so much of any contemporary figure’s life and career has yet to be objectively examined, and no more so than Hillary Clinton, as polarizing and mysterious figure as U.S. politics has ever produced, rivaling Richard Nixon and Aaron Burr. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture

What’s Wrong About the Sestak Caper

The Sestak-White House “Please Force Pennsylvanians to Keep Arlen Specter as Senator” story has officially cracked wide open, and reports are coming out fast and furious while the White House is spinning faster than Kristi Yamaguchi on speed. It began with Rep. Sestak making himself look determined and incorruptible by telling a radio talk show host on the air that the White House had promised him a plum job if he didn’t challenge Specter in the primary. Once Sesatk won, Rep. Issa of the Republican Truth Squad began demanding that Sestak reveal who made the offer, since it would be a Federal crime (as Sestak had described it) and another Federal law requires Sestak to report Federal crimes committed by government employees. The details will be clarified, corrected and spun some more over the next few days, but the following is clear: Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Ethics Quote of the Week

“In today’s world of suicide bombers and a ravaged economy, it seems not merely frivolous, but ludicrous.”

——— New York Times Assistant Editor Richard Berke, referring to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in his review of the new book, The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr, by Ken Gormley, in the New York Times Book Review.

Berke’s view is popular, common, and ethically indefensible. A President of the United States of America lied under oath in a formal court proceeding, an act that would disqualify him for the practice of law in every state in the nation. He orchestrated a cover-up withing his administration to avoid the consequences of that lie, and lied again in a statement before the American people, not in the interests of national security, but to hide his own misconduct.

Demanding integrity, respect for the law, and conduct in keeping with the importance, dignity and significance of the high office of the President of the United States of America is not, and must never be regarded as, either frivolous or ludicrous. I can only hope that eventually, over time, after the distortions and biases of political passions fade into historical and ethical perspective, sentiments like Berke’s will be both rare and derided for misguided priorities they champion.

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Filed under Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership