Monday, 31 October 2016
The Federal Bureau of Insurrection
Many years ago now, while working in an office, I spilt some printer toner on the floor. I went to find one of the cleaners to ask to borrow a vacuum to get rid of it all. She informed me that yes I would have to do so because 'we all know' that toner is radioactive. I looked at her as if she were mad. Of course it's not radioactive, I told her, it's just ink. She was having none of it.
Now this was long before the days of the internet and of YouTube. It was way before 9/11. Nowadays there is probably proof, sorry 'proof' of this on YouTube.
My Mum has a neighbour who told me recently that she doesn't believe that man landed on the moon. How does she know? YouTube. I gave her half a dozen reasons, through angrily gritted teeth, why this conspiracy theory is nonsense. I doubt she believed me. Maybe I should make a video about it.
I mention all of this only because I am trying to make sense of the revival, the resurrection in fact, of the whole 'scandal' that is Hillary Clinton's emails. The worst you can say about this particular episode is that it was ill advised and careless. Indeed that was what the FBI said as recently as 4 months ago. Then they took leave of their senses. Or perhaps they were abducted by space aliens and anally probed forcing them to say things they didn't want to say. It makes as much sense as their own explanation.
Because this is a government agency that, just 10 days prior to a general election, has announced that it has reopened an investigation. The person they are investigating? The woman who is currently running to be president and was, until this scandal re-erupted, the clear front runner. Now we live in strange times it's true, but you might consider that they would have to have pretty strong grounds to make such an astonishing intervention in an election. Yet it turns out that the Feds have known about the existence of a cache of emails for a month now and yet nobody has read them. For all they know they might contain jokes about conspiracy theorists or recipes for Halloween. The greater likelihood is that these are just the same emails that they have already investigated and concluded were of no great consequence.
According to the the FBI itself, there was a small amount of classified material on Mrs Clinton's server, but none of the emails were clearly marked as such. There has been no demonstrable harm caused to US national security. Yet James B. Comey, the Director of the FBI, has clearly panicked and decided to comment on an investigation. Why? Conspiracy theorists. The lunatics have clearly taken over the asylum.
Ms Clinton has been found guilty of no offence. The FBI could find no grounds for prosecution, although in this verdict they already overstepped the mark because it is not for the FBI to decide who should or should not be prosecuted. They are an investigatory authority. But anyway this, clearly, was a case of malfeasance according to the Republican Party nominee, Donald Trump. He was furious that Hillary wasn't immediately clapped in leg irons and so are the half wits who follow him and will be seeing conspiracies everywhere.
How else can you describe the people who are so slavishly devoted to this man? The man who routinely calls his opponent crooked Hillary is himself as crooked as they come. He set up a university in his name that was plainly and demonstrably fraudulent. He has boasted, on tape, of how he can commit sexual deviancy crimes with impunity. He has spent his entire career as a developer using tax laws and chapter 11 bankruptcy laws to ensure that he doesn't have to pay his bills. He has used the money from his own charitable foundation, money donated by others (Trump hasn't donated for nearly a decade) to pretend that he himself is giving money away and has even used this money to settle his own business debts, something that is against the law. He has lied without embarrassment during this presidential campaign to such an extent that journalist fact checkers have been unable to keep up.
And yet this man accuses Ms Clinton of crookedness because she ill advisedly kept some emails on a private server. Remember, nobody is defending what Ms Clinton did. Nobody is claiming that she is the perfect candidate and not capable of dishonesty. But compared to Trump?
The worrying aspect of this presidential campaign is that a substantial number of Americans seem to have a fantastically short attention span. The whole emails issue has boiled beneath the surface for its entirety of course, although this is largely because it is an issue that Trump has kept there with his repeated attacks based on innuendo. It was dealt with by the FBI, to the chagrin of Trump, over the summer. Yet now it raises its head again and suddenly the liar in chief is back and running neck and neck with Clinton. The groper in chief, the chapter 11 president, the man who can lie more times per minute than any other on the planet is close to the presidency based on an investigation that is no more likely than the last time to show anything. Except of course that Trump imagines that one of the powers of the presidency is to lock up your opponents.
America is looking dangerously divided right now. It is a truly terrifying prospect. In just over a week's time the polling places will open. The Republican Party, which just this time last week was staring down the barrel of a landslide defeat, is now daring to dream that it might win after all. But with such a man as its leader? The same party that was encouraging talk that it might prevent the next president from naming a new Supreme Court Justice if of course the next president was Ms Clinton, has run a dangerous, divisive, dishonest and downright despicable campaign under a man they should have been disavowing. Now, thanks to the FBI, the febrile atmosphere could be about to get much much worse. The very least we can assume is court challenges. The other alternatives do not bear being thought about. And that's before we even begin to wonder what Russia might make of the opportunity.