The Laydown Criminal Case Against Comey

It seems that the very sanctimonious former FBI Director, James Comey, is out on a tour, promoting his book "A Higher Loyalty."  Comey has the idea that he was treated shabbily by the President when he was fired in May 2017, and that he occupies the moral high ground with respect to the President.

You would think that, of anyone, the Director of the FBI would know what constitutes a federal crime.  Don't be so sure.  Consider just one example where Comey has committed a clear and obvious crime and yet doesn't seem to have a clue.

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The New York Times Instructs On How To Solve Society's Problems

Last week the Washington Post called on nine progressive public policy "experts" to tell us how to fix the "staggering" problem of income inequality.  To no one's surprise, the "solutions" were all some variety of government "programs" and handouts of one sort or another and spending vast sums of money from the infinite federal pile of loot.  This week the New York Times weighs in with a couple of efforts on related topics, namely disparate results by race in maternity and childhood poverty.  

Once again the proposed solutions are the usual variants of new government "programs" and spending and collective coercion.  I guess that's understandable -- that's as far as their imaginations stretch; it's all they know.  But there are several aspects of this that I can't understand.  One is the high moral dudgeon and condescension that pervades these things.  Society is guilty!  You are guilty!  How could anyone (it must be the Republicans!) be so evil and heartless to oppose the programs and spending that will so obviously provide an immediate fix to these grave problems?  A second thing I can't understand is the unquestioning attribution of the persistence of the problems to the two official universal causes, namely white racism and failure to spend enough government money, without ever citing any data or asking whether these explanations make any sense.  And the third thing I can't understand is the total unwillingness to recognize that vast numbers of programs and vast amounts of spending already exist to address these problems, none of which works or ameliorates the problems at all.  Aren't we owed at least a few words on why we should believe that it will somehow be different this time?

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All You Need To Know About The Pulitzer Prizes: Self-Parody Alert

It's likely that you have heard of the Pulitzer Prizes, and you may even have the idea that they are something very prestigious.  If so, take a look at some winners of the current round of these things, announced yesterday.  You will likely find yourself asking, is this a parody?  A fair characterization of several of the prize recipients for this year is "Who did the most to advance the progressive narrative of the moment?"  But can you win the prize even if what you report is completely false, even the most clear-cut of "fake news"?  Actually, that seems to be a principal qualification for winning.

Of course the article congratulating the winners is on the front page of the New York Times, and of course it emphasizes the prizes that Pravda itself won.  And what was the big prize this year in the main category of "national reporting"?  Yes, it went to the Times (and Washington Post) for their many, many articles on the Trump/Russia "collusion" story:

The national reporting prize went to The Times and The Washington Post for their coverage of Mr. Trump’s possible ties to Russia — a recognition of two journalism stalwarts that exposed the hidden activities of the Trump White House while withstanding much presidential ire.

Wait a minute:  I thought that the Trump/Russia collusion story had completely blown up in the faces of the Times and the Post.

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Notice To Readers

Dear Manhattan Contrarian readers,

Many readers have reported to me over the past couple of weeks that they have gotten security notices when accessing this website.  We have investigated, and the matter appears to relate to changes in security settings at our platform, Squarespace.  Fixing the problem requires that the website be "restarted."  I don't even know what that means, but the site will go down some time this evening, and then be "restarted" over the weekend.  Hopefully back Monday with some new content.  Apologies to all.

Francis Menton

UPDATE, April 14:  Everything is back up and running after very little down time.  Thanks to all for your patience.

Would A Prosecutor Ever Misuse His Powers To Remove A Political Opponent?

Unlike many political commenters, I'm mostly steering clear of commenting on what Robert Mueller might be up to.  Most of the facts in Mueller's possession are not publicly known.  Maybe he is actually on to something real.  I doubt it, but for a member of the public, there's no way of knowing for sure at this point.  

However, there are certainly some very good reasons to be dubious.  For starters, is it even conceivable that the recent raids on the home, office and hotel room of Trump personal counsel Michael Cohen have something to do with "Russian collusion" related to the 2016 election?  And if the raids don't have anything to do with that subject, what business is this of Mueller?  It seems that we have empowered a federal prosecutor with an unlimited budget, and 5000+ federal crimes to choose from, and a staff of committed Hillary partisans, not to investigate some specific crime (like the Watergate burglary), but rather to investigate anything and everything he wants going back for years until he comes up with something -- anything -- to "get" the President.  Is this now our idea of good public policy?  Isn't this whole process fundamentally inconsistent with honoring the results of the election that chose Trump as the President?

But for today, let's discuss an even better reason to be dubious about what is going on.  And that is the very powerful incentives operating upon prosecutors that lead them to misuse their prosecutorial powers for political purposes, particularly in the cause of taking down political opponents and rivals, and thereby trying to swing the levers of power back to their own party or faction.  Republicans are by no means pure on this subject; but when you look at the last decade or so it is completely extraordinary how many weak to fake and phony prosecutions have been brought by Democrat prosecutors against Republicans, particularly Republicans in marginal or swing seats that have a good chance of getting flipped to a Democrat if the Republican office-holder can be taken down.  Not so many instances of this come to mind for you?  Let's consider a some examples:

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    How To Solve The Problem Of "Staggering" Income Inequality

    Do you think that income inequality in the United States is a major problem?  How about a "staggering" problem?  Recall that our ex-President Obama in 2014 famously called income inequality the "defining challenge of our time."  Or there was New York's Mayor de Blasio, who one-upped Obama by raising income inequality to a "crisis," -- one that, moreover, is "quiet" and "persistent" and "urgent."  From de Blasio's January 2014 inaugural address:

    New York has faced fiscal collapse, a crime epidemic, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters. But now, in our time, we face a different crisis – an inequality crisis. . . .  It’s a quiet crisis, but one no less pernicious than those that have come before.  Its urgency is read on the faces of our neighbors and their children, as families struggle to make it against increasingly long odds. 

    For me, I say it all depends on how you look at the world.  If you want to look at the world as providing the occasion for anger, resentment, and victimhood, then by all means declare income inequality to be a crisis.  Are you not one of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States?  Well boo-hoo!  Let's all sit around and feel sorry for ourselves and plot our revenge!  

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