We’re becoming numb to corruption
Top government officials are increasingly above the law. The elite power structure (academia, media, political parties, and social media giants) pretends not to notice. At issue is whether this is a threat to the country or just the same old same old.
Exhibit A is the FBI and DOJ’s Russia Hoax. Leading FBI officials repeatedly and fraudulently applied to a FISA court to get secret warrants. The FBI’s internal documents made it clear that its leaders knew that the basis for the warrants (Steele dossier) was rife with falsities and unverified. Disgraced FBI head James Comey oversaw some of this fraud on the court, illegally leaked documents, likely lied repeatedly to Congress (he and his lieutenant — Andrew McCabe — contradicted each other), and tanked the prosecution of Hillary Clinton. Comey did so despite knowing that Clinton and her associates openly defied subpoenas, destroyed evidence, and intentionally mishandled top secret documents. Federal prosecutors recommended that Comey’s lieutenant, Andrew McCabe, be indicted for lying to investigators. No adult thinks Clinton, Comey, McCabe, etc. didn’t break the law.
McCabe and the disgraced Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein fought over whether Rosenstein would wear a wire when meeting with Donald Trump and pursue a 25th Amendment plan to remove him. McCabe had a massive conflict of interest when the Clintons’ money man supported his wife’s run for office. Other officials also engaged in FISA abuse, illegally leaked documents, lied under oath, obstructed justice, and spied on the Trump administration. To date, a number of leading FBI and DOJ officials have been demoted, fired, or resigned in disgrace over the Russia Hoax and related spying. None of these criminals has been prosecuted.
Exhibit B involves the Obama Administration. The Russia Hoax began during the sleazy Obama presidency. The IRS admitted to illegally targeting Tea Party groups. The IRS official in the middle of it, Lois Lerner, pled the Fifth. She was held in contempt of Congress. Obama Attorney General Eric Holder was also held in contempt of Congress. He refused to hand over documents relating the Fast and Furious gun running scandal. The DOJ refused to prosecute Lerner and Holder. Holder has a history of sleaziness. He oversaw Bill Clinton’s pardon scandal when pardons were doled out to a spouse of a big donor to the Clinton Library (Marc Rich), Bill’s brother, and one of the people at the center of Clintons’ dirty Whitewater deal (Susan McDougal). Fun fact: Comey was tasked with determining whether the Rich pardon was illegal. He found it wasn’t. Again, none of these criminals have been prosecuted. Holder successor, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, yet another sleazebag, had to distance herself from the Clinton email investigation because of dubious behavior.
Exhibit C. Leading intelligence officials blatantly lied to Congress. This is a felony and one for which private citizens have been recently charged. The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, lied to Congress about the NSA’s electronic searching of Americans’ emails, video clips, and pictures without a warrant. The CIA’s John Brennan lied to Congress about searching computers used by the Senate’s intelligence committee’s staffers. Again, the criminals skated free. Obama’s government even searched the telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated press and Fox News.
While not criminal, other forms of dishonesty and corruption abound. The media regularly trumpeted fake news. Examples include Joe Biden and John Kerry’s sons (lavish deals prematurely judged to be kosher), Covington Catholic High (Catholic school boys falsely accused of having bullied a Native American veteran), Ferguson police shooting (“Hands up, don’t shoot” never happened), Brett Kavanaugh (Christine Blasey Ford’s story fell apart), Russia Hoax, and the Trayvon Martin case (main witness appears to be a fraud). Courts repeatedly block Trump administration’s attempts to rein in the flood of illegal immigration with barely a fig leaf of legality. Campuses look the other way when Antifa and other thugs shut down conservative speakers. Social media giants such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter openly censor the right.
At issue is whether this is a threat to the nation. On the one hand, such widespread criminality in government’s highest reaches threatens to undermine the people’s trust in the government. In addition, corruption in academia, courts, federal intelligence and police agencies, and social media giants encourages further corruption. The criminality, corruption, and lack of trust likely further polarizes the American people. Consider whether FOX and MSNBC viewers will be able to engage in a civil discussion of politics at Thanksgiving. Donald Trump’s voters and Joe Biden’s or Elizabeth Warren’s voters will vie for control of the country with one side, and perhaps both, being disgusted with their country.
On the other hand, the loss of trust in the government and media has a silver lining. Congress and the last few presidencies are replete with silly mandarins (consider, for example, Bushes, Clintons, John Kerry, John McCain, Obamas, Robert Mueller, Nancy Pelosi, and Mitt Romney). The less they control American lives the better. If the criminality and corruption gins up skepticism about them, all the better. One can’t help but look at the recent presidents’ performance (for example, exploding debt, illegal alien invasion, Obamacare, and housing-fueled economic crash) and wars (for example, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and Serbia) without realizing that Americans’ leaders performed poorly. If diminishing trust comes about via corruption and criminality, rather than poor performance, perhaps this is the way to go.
The Obama administration weaponized government agencies (CIA, DOJ, FBI, IRS, and NSA), but this probably will be reversed. The corruption found in cities such as Chicago and New York City and states such as Illinois and New York is nowhere near what it used to be. The same will likely be true for the federal government.
In the end, I suspect less trust in government is a good thing. Criminality and corruption will be corrected and the polarization of politics will give voters more of a real choice. Still, this is just a guess.
Stephen Kershnar is a State University of New York at Fredonia philosophy professor. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org