Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pardon me?

From a lawyer with whom I correspond:

Subject: Hillary Clinton - Continue Investigations, Prosecute or Pardon?

I am of mixed emotions, not mixed opinions, about continuing to investigate Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of government documents, classified and unclassified, obstruction of justice, perjury, etc. With regard to the Clinton Foundation investigation there are the issues of abuse of office, bribery and probably others as well.

I want our laws enforced.  The scale of what she did while in a high public office and the involvement of so many other co-conspirators and accomplices cries out for enforcement as a deterrence against future violations.  To me the tyranny of what Obama, Lynch and the Department of State did to cover up Clinton’s crimes so that she could be elected President were worse than what Clinton herself did.  That was the real abuse of office.  That is not to excuse what Clinton did.  It is impossible to explain to military service members and others who have been imprisoned for much lesser offenses why they were punished and a political figure and her supporters were not.

When Ford pardoned Nixon I was outraged that a President, the highest public official, could so blatantly violate the law and be exonerated, with a public pension and continuing public expense for protection and staff.  In the end I think Ford made the right call; the nation needed to heal.  Ford paid a high price when he was not elected following Nixon’s resignation.

I think there is a good chance Obama will pardon Clinton and many of her entourage using the same argument that the nation needs to move on and Clinton should not be punished for making a “mistake.”  That doesn’t work for me but I hate to have the continued disruption of our government functions and societal upheaval aggravated by continued pursuit of someone who just lost a national election.  Maybe the fear of loss of power and disrepute are sufficient deterrents.  I would prefer that a special prosecutor deal with the investigation and prosecution rather than have continual political hearings.

My (slightly edited for publication)response:

I understand your problem. Months ago I considered this. I’ve come down as follows:

While I don’t think the Nixon comparison works because, inter alia, he was president and she is merely another defeated political candidate, if Obama pardons her that’s that. (To digress: Some of Obama’s forthcoming midnight pardons could make Willie Clinton’s pale by comparison. Anyone remember “Sergeant” Bowie Bergdahl?)

If Obama doesn’t pardon Mrs. Clinton, I am against Congressional hearings because they would not lead to anything substantive. I am for prosecution. Serious crimes were committed. If the Rule of Law means anything, she must pay. How much, is a judgment call by the judicial system.
If she is indicted, even a Trump DOJ will plead it down. I will not be bothered if she goes to prison. After all, other public officials—judges, governors, mayor, legislators— have, as well as other prominent people. I have not heard a convincing argument why she should not pay for her felonious conduct.

If Hillary is not charged, it will be yet another nail in the coffin of public trust, let alone of equal justice.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A thought for Veterans Day

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row, 
That mark our place, and in the sky, 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly, 
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe! 
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high! 
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hillary, revisited

In a typically incisive essay yesterday, "The Clintons -- At the End of All Things" (National Review), Victor Davis Hanson twice referred to Hillary as "amoral." His use of that word reminded me of an essay I wrote several years ago on that very point. Since then, as recently as today, our characterization -- amoral -- has been proved correct time after time. My essay -- "Hillary Clinton: Immoral or Amoral?" is reprinted here:

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hillary Clinton: Immoral or Amoral?

During her recent Congressional testimony about the notorious Benghazi Affair Hillary Clinton uttered the now infamous rhetorical question “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Note my emphasis on the word “it.” In the context the question was asked and answered Clinton’s “it” referred at least to the murder of four Americans, and probably the State Department’s antecedent failure to provide adequate security and the White House’s subsequent stonewalling cover-up. 

In other words — according to the former First Lady, United States Senator, presidential aspirant, Secretary of State, and putative 2016 democratic party presidential candidate — it made no difference that the government of which she was then a high-ranking member exposed Americans to high-risk danger, left them defenseless in a hotbed of terrorists, made no effort to rescue them, literally watched them being murdered, and then tried to cover up apparatchik  malfeasance by lying through officialdom's teeth to the people of the United States.

“What difference?” indeed.
But beyond what has become obvious about Clinton’s and her colleagues’ betrayal of the deceased Americans and the rest of the government’s malfeasance, the Benghazi Affair reveals something even more sinister.
Over the years, some of Hillary Clinton’s questionable conduct has not involved issues of morality. She has been a poseur, playing the role of victimized, yet forgiving, wife during the Lewinsky scandal. She has been a hypocrite, castigating George W. Bush for warrantless surveillance but using purloined tapes to her own political advantage. She has been a paranoid, complaining to the world about the alleged “right wing conspiracy.” She has been a conniver, ousting career White House travel office employees in favor of her cronies. She has been a dilettante, presuming to make over America’s health care system. 
While this conduct, and much more like it, has been unseemly and at odds with the dignified and trustworthy image that had been projected by modern-era First Ladies from Bess Truman to Laura Bush, none of Hillary Clinton’s conduct raised serious moral questions.
On the other hand, Clinton has done many other things that have raised serious questions of immorality (immoral defined as “not in conformity with accepted principles of right and wrong behavior; contrary to the moral code of the community” [Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language (13th ed.)]; in other words knowing, but disregarding, principles of morality).

Mrs. Clinton authored a brief reeking with fraud while a staff lawyer for the Watergate Committee. She was a beneficiary of illegal commodities transactions that turned her a large profit.  She fraudulently stung lenders in the Whitewater land scheme. She bought votes and campaign contributions with criminal pardons issued by her husband. She lied about Chinese contributions to her political campaigns. She participated in slandering and intimidating women whom her husband sexually and otherwise abused, and was complicit in covering up his salacious conduct. She blithely desecrated the presidency by selling the Lincoln Bedroom to donors and celebrities. She stole furniture and furnishings from the White House. And much more, including her recent complicity in the murder of four Americans in Benghazi and the attempted cover-up of the entire sordid affair. All immoral conduct.
There’s more, but to elucidate all of it would be to gild the lily. Hillary Clinton’s immoral conduct— rationalized by her adherence to the “Rules for Radicals” promulgated by her mentor Saul Alinsky — has been detailed on the public record for decades, especially since her abortive campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2007. 
At that time, I raised the question of whether Clinton’s decades-old questionable character traits and corner-cutting conduct demonstrated that she was merely immoral or, worse: Whether she was amoral—and whether there’s any important difference between the two concepts.
The answer is that there is a difference, a profound one, and with Hillary Clinton’s eye on a 2016 presidential nomination it’s crucially important for the future of the United States of America that the voters of this country understand it.
I begin with the concept of “morality” itself, one which Americans instinctively understand.  Rooted in fundamental notions of “right” and “wrong,” most Americans know (or knew!) that it’s right to pay our bills and protect our loved ones; that it is wrong to defraud creditors and abuse children. It’s immoral to buy votes, lie to investigators, release terrorists for a political quid pro quo, attack the defenseless, steal from the White House — all conduct Hillary Clinton was a party to — as well as to engage in countless other actions which, by anyone’s definition, must be characterized as immoral.  That this prospective candidate for the presidency of the United States has acted immorally time and time again is clear beyond any legitimate disagreement.
But what about amorality?—defined as “being neither moral nor immoral; specifically: lying outside the sphere to which moral judgments apply; lacking moral sensibility . . . .”  (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.); emphasis in original.)

A person who is amoral does not accept any moral standard by which her conduct is to be judged by othersShe simply does not care about the concept of morality, about right or wrong, in what she thinks, says, or doesMorality does not apply to such a person. What difference, at this point, does it make?” could well be such person’s mantra.

 Thus, the questions arise: Does all of Hillary Clinton’s dubious conduct over the course of decades reflect a simple, garden-variety immorality—knowing but eschewing the right, and deliberately doing the wrong? Or does Alinsky’s acolyte — the leading candidate of the Democrat Party for the presidency of the United States — at root care nothing for morality and deem it to have no application to her? Is Hillary Clinton amoral?

Her record (let alone her character) leaves no doubt about the answer.  Yet Clinton and her supporters ask: “What difference, at this point, does [morality] make?” 

To ask the question is to answer it.