On the Razor’s Edge Between Citizen and Subject


I’m actually surprised, sometimes, how directly lessons from local politics apply even at the national level.

A few years ago, a friend of mine submitted a charter complaint, as allowed by Tiverton’s Home Rule Charter, against a school employee for disseminating political material in a school.  In contravention of the clear process for such complaints, the Town Clerk conducted an investigation, including being party to the discarding of evidence, and dismissed the complaint.

Now, I happen to like the Town Clerk, but thinking it vital that the process for complaints be clear, strictly followed, and universal in their application, I filed a complaint against her for this activity.  Ultimately, the Town Council let her off by finding that she didn’t “knowingly” violate the charter.  The ruling was ridiculous.  In general, “knowing” action means the person knows he or she took the action, not that he or she knows it was illegal, and the clerk didn’t accidentally conduct an investigation.  Making matters even clearer, section 1211(d)(2) provides for distinct additional penalties when a town employee knows his or her action is a violation.  There is simply no ambiguity, here.

But the council members liked the clerk, and most of them had a political interest in protecting the school employee and the political group whose material she promoted (Tiverton 1st).  So, they simply declared the law to be something different than what it clearly was for this one case.

Now, at the national level, despite what could accurately be described as “gross negligence”… a week after her husband met with the nation’s top law-enforcement agent in a clearly inappropriate, nearly clandestine meeting… the same day the President of the United States takes to the campaign trail with her, Hillary Clinton has dodged prosecution for sending classified information using a private email server because, in the words of FBI Director James Comey, the investigators did not find “some combination of clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information or vast quantities of information exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct or indications of disloyalty to the United States or efforts to obstruct justice.”  She didn’t know, despite having been warned against the server, so that’s that.

As in Tiverton, the reality is that the people whom we have entrusted to enforce our laws simply don’t want to do it, in this case, so we’re stuck.  And that means the only thing keeping us as citizens, rather than subjects of a ruling oligarchy, is our behavior.  If we accept this new reality, we’re serfs.  On that count, I’m with Kurt Schlichter:

They don’t realize that by rejecting the rule of law, they have set us free. We are independent. We owe them nothing – not respect, not loyalty, not obedience. But with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we will still mutually pledge those who have earned our loyalty with their adherence to the rule of law, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Through a system of pensions, job security (union rules), and what I will call “insider information”, we have developed a “political class” which reaches from bottom to top. As with wolves in a pack, there is some desire to protect each other. The reasoning probably expresses itself as “he/she didn’t mean to do it”, “it was just a mistake”, “it seems a small error to ruin a career over”, etc. What it boils down to is “I could be next” not to mention that it builds up what is now known as “political capital”.

    In my career I have had little national experience, but I have seen local rules bent, twisted and stood on their heads. Sometimes simply to please the venality of the official in charge, sometimes to favor, or advantage, a “favorite”.

    Notice that in the Clinton affair, Ms. Lynch has already been promised that she will retain her job under Clinton. I suspect this is an example of “political capital”. Ms. Lynch and Ms. Clinton will both “owe” each other.

  • Paul Kelly

    The media can.paint this email outcome as an innocent mistake, to the less informed population.And some will believe it..But to those who have had classified jobs in either military or civil service know otherwise..This outcome was a slap in the face to the rule of law. As far as I.know of security breeches, there isn’t an excuse of making a mistake..You either follow the requirements to possess a clearance to a “T”, and abide by the rules, or you are breaking the law.Just.put this into the PC hall of fame.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      I did notice that there has been no mention of anyone losing their security clearance. I suspect that there has been significant “watering” of clearances, unless otherwise convenient. My father worked with ICBM’s, the FBI came to my middle school to check on me. Heard of such a thing recently?

      • Paul Kelly

        It is still a strict set of rules for each level. An infraction like a DUI, or unreported traffic fine can exclude someone..Although you answered the question.in your post with the 2 words,”otherwise convenient.”

  • ShannonEntropy

    I was shocked — shocked! — to learn that FBI Director James Comey basically re·wrote the federal law on handling classified information


    But if the FBI Director can bend the Law to his political whims & masters … why are you surprised that the Tiverton Town Clerk would do it too ??

  • Mike678

    Ignorance, as you say, is no defense. The law was clearly broken and mitigating factors apply to sentencing, not to the decision to prosecute. Comey didn’t say she was innocent–he said no prosecutor would take the case.

    Given the political climate and the Clinton’s ability (money and power) to smear their opponents (Ken Starr) and the total lack of courage demonstrated by most of the Republican party, it is easy to see why career prosecutors wouldn’t risk their careers. Self interest often trumps doing the right thing–as you saw in Tiverton.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      The Clinton situation reminds me of “laws are for little people”. Try imagine appearing in court to contest a speeding ticket for doing 75 in a 65. Do you think the judge would be swayed by “no one was hurt and I didn’t intend it, it was just a mistake”. In the future, if I find myself with a traffic violation, I will not begin speaking Spanish and instead claim that I “self identify” as a Clinton. As to the FBI, think of how many Whitey Bulger had on his payroll.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        I guess I am not the only one who sees things my way:
        Sorry pictures from social media won’t come up.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    II happened top listen to a bit of NPR yesterday, even they seemed amazed at the Hillary decision. I think this will continue to bite Hillary.

  • Paul Kelly

    And what about an.even bigger problem …The Clinton.Foundation.investigation..Is the Justice dept. going to just roll on.their backs like dying cockroaches, and let them.put it off for 27 months..Or is somebody finally going to grow a pair and get it done before the.election.

    • Mike678

      I wish that all Justice would do is roll over. My fear is that the politicized DoJ will actively assist the dismemberment of the rule of law.

      They should, perhaps, think it through. Once the former law-abiding citizens understand that the rule of law no longer exists, they may stop being the sheep the elites want them to be.