Observations on Highlands Election

Dear Highlands Voter,
 
I do not participate in Facebook but friends have sent me two entries and I feel compelled to respond.  One is a compilation of Rick O’Neil’s experience, achievements, and quality of life improvements and the other was answers to questions from Linda Snyder.  As a avid attendee at council meetings for over 20 years all observations are my own from personal experience.
 
Rick’s Achievements:
None of these things could have been done alone by Rick and mostly he did not initiate the tasks.  They were usually initiated because of resident requests or other Council members suggestions.  Any one who knows how towns operate should know this.  I would like to particularly address the sewer infiltration repairs.  I was member of the sewer authority at the time and Rick refused to even attend a meeting we arranged to address the infiltration, offer a solution to the problem and a grant to the Borough to help fix the problem.  So Highlands went years without the grant while Atlantic Highlands complied and received several grants.  Finally the authority took it upon itself to award the basin 8 sewer relining grant but I think it was after Rick’s term of office as Mayor.
The skate park was built for about 2 families whose boys were interested in skate boarding.  It cost approximately $75,000 and those boys refused to use it because they didn’t want to comply with the rules.  Over the years it was virtually unused by the youth in Highlands.
To take credit for the funding of projects is totally irresponsible.  if you look at them you will see that he is taking responsibility for the paving of county roads (particularly Linden and Bay Ave,) that the county owns  and always takes care of and repairs when necessary.  All of the other funds are a result of council members and advisors not Rick acquiring them by himself.
Quality of Life Improvements: Most of the items in this section were initiated by residents or the BID and he had very little input in them.
 
The questions from Ms. Snyder: 
I love his qualification that he heard people out  “most of the time”  he had no choice as it was mostly at the public portion of council meetings but even then when he got tired of listening or just decided he didn’t want to hear any more he would shut them down.  
The entire passage about the lack of communication is farcical.  The embarrassment and disappointment of the litigation over appointments was exactly what he and Mr. Nolan did when Anna Little was the mayor and was in full compliance with our local ordinances.  Honest communication is a critical part of town government but he doesn’t need to start it because it is already been started through the present council taping or streaming the Council meetings.  As a matter of fact  a wife of one of the attendees disagreed with her husband’s statement at a meeting (she was watching at home) so she came right down to the meeting to express her opinion.
If Rick was interested enough to attend or watch the council meetings before the last two months he would know that in the Linden Avenue situation he would have heard the question asked and the Police Chief respond that they were not given sufficient notice by the contractor to notify the public.  Rick needn’t blame the Freeholders because I think it was our water lines that were being repaired.
 
Taxes:  The current Council did not give you a big tax increase.  The budget is voted on near the end of the year and the current Council (that Rick is blaming) only took office in January therefore the previous Council of Ryan, Redmond, Kane and Nolan gave you this tax increase and Rick should have known this because of his past history on Council. He doesn’t mention that the current Freeholders have delivered the largest property tax cut in Monmouth County history.
 
The development of the Shadow Lawn property was held up because a resident years ago took the officials to court and won thereby stopping the project because the Council did not do their due diligence in following the course of the application.  The present Council had nothing to do with it.  
 
The rest of the questions and answers are already in progress so I shall not address them.
 
Sincerely,
 
Carol Bucco 
Highlands, NJ

 

Observations on Highlands Election

Dear Highlands Voter,
 
I do not participate in Facebook but friends have sent me two entries and I feel compelled to respond.  One is a compilation of Rick O’Neil’s experience, achievements, and quality of life improvements and the other was answers to questions from Linda Snyder.  As a avid attendee at council meetings for over 20 years all observations are my own from personal experience.
 
Rick’s Achievements:
None of these things could have been done alone by Rick and mostly he did not initiate the tasks.  They were usually initiated because of resident requests or other Council members suggestions.  Any one who knows how towns operate should know this.  I would like to particularly address the sewer infiltration repairs.  I was member of the sewer authority at the time and Rick refused to even attend a meeting we arranged to address the infiltration, offer a solution to the problem and a grant to the Borough to help fix the problem.  So Highlands went years without the grant while Atlantic Highlands complied and received several grants.  Finally the authority took it upon itself to award the basin 8 sewer relining grant but I think it was after Rick’s term of office as Mayor.
The skate park was built for about 2 families whose boys were interested in skate boarding.  It cost approximately $75,000 and those boys refused to use it because they didn’t want to comply with the rules.  Over the years it was virtually unused by the youth in Highlands.
To take credit for the funding of projects is totally irresponsible.  if you look at them you will see that he is taking responsibility for the paving of county roads (particularly Linden and Bay Ave,) that the county owns  and always takes care of and repairs when necessary.  All of the other funds are a result of council members and advisors not Rick acquiring them by himself.
Quality of Life Improvements: Most of the items in this section were initiated by residents or the BID and he had very little input in them.
 
The questions from Ms. Snyder: 
I love his qualification that he heard people out  “most of the time”  he had no choice as it was mostly at the public portion of council meetings but even then when he got tired of listening or just decided he didn’t want to hear any more he would shut them down.  
The entire passage about the lack of communication is farcical.  The embarrassment and disappointment of the litigation over appointments was exactly what he and Mr. Nolan did when Anna Little was the mayor and was in full compliance with our local ordinances.  Honest communication is a critical part of town government but he doesn’t need to start it because it is already been started through the present council taping or streaming the Council meetings.  As a matter of fact  a wife of one of the attendees disagreed with her husband’s statement at a meeting (she was watching at home) so she came right down to the meeting to express her opinion.
If Rick was interested enough to attend or watch the council meetings before the last two months he would know that in the Linden Avenue situation he would have heard the question asked and the Police Chief respond that they were not given sufficient notice by the contractor to notify the public.  Rick needn’t blame the Freeholders because I think it was our water lines that were being repaired.
 
Taxes:  The current Council did not give you a big tax increase.  The budget is voted on near the end of the year and the current Council (that Rick is blaming) only took office in January therefore the previous Council of Ryan, Redmond, Kane and Nolan gave you this tax increase and Rick should have known this because of his past history on Council. He doesn’t mention that the current Freeholders have delivered the largest property tax cut in Monmouth County history.
 
The development of the Shadow Lawn property was held up because a resident years ago took the officials to court and won thereby stopping the project because the Council did not do their due diligence in following the course of the application.  The present Council had nothing to do with it.  
 
The rest of the questions and answers are already in progress so I shall not address them.
 
Sincerely,
 
Carol Bucco 
Highlands, NJ

 

“This Too Shall Pass” at Guild of Creative Art

gca paul hansenWelcome to the show! This exhibit like my others is of a metaphysical nature, hope you enjoy it!
Now I must reach out in a much more mundane manner.

A sale’s pitch, you bet.

The paintings in the gallery have been brushed directly on the walls (right onto the sheetrock) they will be here for a short time and then gone forever (not unlike N.R. McShane’s works, lost in a terrible fire)

There will be no monies made on the sale of this art.

There has been placed next to each painting a ballot box. I am asking for you to vote for your favorite work in the form of a donation. Place a mere dollar or whatever you see fit in the box. 100% of all funds will go directly to keeping the Guild of Creative Arts’ doors open to the public.

I appreciate your patronage, for the ‘’Guild’’ has truly been the conduit for my art. The winner, based on dollar amount will be announced in the guilds newsletter.

In the words of N.R. McShane ‘’open your heart and mind. Art exists only in the present moment, no floor, no walls, no ceiling.’’

Enjoy the show!
Paul Hansen

The Guild is located at 620 Broad Street, Shrewsbury NJ. (732) 741-1441. www.Guildofcreativeart.org

Guild hours : closed Monday (except for classes), Tuesday Wednesday and Friday 8 am – 4:30 pm, Thursday from 8 am – 4:30 pm and Saturday 10 am – 3 pm.

“This Too Shall Pass” at Guild of Creative Art

gca paul hansenWelcome to the show! This exhibit like my others is of a metaphysical nature, hope you enjoy it!
Now I must reach out in a much more mundane manner.

A sale’s pitch, you bet.

The paintings in the gallery have been brushed directly on the walls (right onto the sheetrock) they will be here for a short time and then gone forever (not unlike N.R. McShane’s works, lost in a terrible fire)

There will be no monies made on the sale of this art.

There has been placed next to each painting a ballot box. I am asking for you to vote for your favorite work in the form of a donation. Place a mere dollar or whatever you see fit in the box. 100% of all funds will go directly to keeping the Guild of Creative Arts’ doors open to the public.

I appreciate your patronage, for the ‘’Guild’’ has truly been the conduit for my art. The winner, based on dollar amount will be announced in the guilds newsletter.

In the words of N.R. McShane ‘’open your heart and mind. Art exists only in the present moment, no floor, no walls, no ceiling.’’

Enjoy the show!
Paul Hansen

The Guild is located at 620 Broad Street, Shrewsbury NJ. (732) 741-1441. www.Guildofcreativeart.org

Guild hours : closed Monday (except for classes), Tuesday Wednesday and Friday 8 am – 4:30 pm, Thursday from 8 am – 4:30 pm and Saturday 10 am – 3 pm.

OSU Student Starts “Invisible” Disability Club

daniel vance 120About nine months ago, I featured 22-year-old Ohio State student Harley Jo Skorpenske, whose open letter to all the people who had criticized her for using handicapped parking spaces had gone viral on Facebook.

Skorpenske has lupus, which the National Institutes of Health defines as a “serious and potential fatal disease that mainly affects young women.” It can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. Due to lupus, Skorpenske has had one lung collapse on three occasions and so she can’t tolerate walking long distances. Her disability can’t be seen, i.e., it’s “invisible.”

In a recent telephone interview, Skorpenske said, “After the Facebook post went viral, I was contacted by chronic illness sufferers from around the world. They encouraged me and shared their experiences. People from Ohio State contacted me, too.”

Skorpenske said she had been looking for a disability group to join while at OSU and had attended club meetings involving people with disabilities, but soon realized the experiences people with “invisible” disabilities had were unique. After receiving an email from another OSU student with lupus, she and this student began a club for students with invisible disabilities.

As a group, she said, “We do different things, such as having round-table discussions about aspects of invisible illness, which could include such things as ways of communicating with professors or also having a full-time job or managing relationships related to our illnesses. We get input from everyone and have guest speakers who typically are people with an invisible illness out in the ‘real’ world. They may have a job full-time or be married with children. They tell how they deal with it and how they got to where they are with it.”

The group’s current advocacy project involves raising awareness for people with invisible disabilities concerning handicapped seating on campus buses. Currently, the buses have pictures of a wheelchair over these sections. Skorpenske’s group would like additional signage explaining not all disabilities can be seen.

As for students interested in starting similar campus groups, she said, “My biggest advice is to find one or two others with an invisible illness who are willing to put in a lot of time and work, especially in the start-up phase. For example, I spent time over the summer writing the constitution so we could be approved as an official campus organization. Right now, we have between eight and twelve people coming to our meetings.”

Facebook: Disabilities by Daniel J. Vance. [Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod.]

 

OSU Student Starts “Invisible” Disability Club

daniel vance 120About nine months ago, I featured 22-year-old Ohio State student Harley Jo Skorpenske, whose open letter to all the people who had criticized her for using handicapped parking spaces had gone viral on Facebook.

Skorpenske has lupus, which the National Institutes of Health defines as a “serious and potential fatal disease that mainly affects young women.” It can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. Due to lupus, Skorpenske has had one lung collapse on three occasions and so she can’t tolerate walking long distances. Her disability can’t be seen, i.e., it’s “invisible.”

In a recent telephone interview, Skorpenske said, “After the Facebook post went viral, I was contacted by chronic illness sufferers from around the world. They encouraged me and shared their experiences. People from Ohio State contacted me, too.”

Skorpenske said she had been looking for a disability group to join while at OSU and had attended club meetings involving people with disabilities, but soon realized the experiences people with “invisible” disabilities had were unique. After receiving an email from another OSU student with lupus, she and this student began a club for students with invisible disabilities.

As a group, she said, “We do different things, such as having round-table discussions about aspects of invisible illness, which could include such things as ways of communicating with professors or also having a full-time job or managing relationships related to our illnesses. We get input from everyone and have guest speakers who typically are people with an invisible illness out in the ‘real’ world. They may have a job full-time or be married with children. They tell how they deal with it and how they got to where they are with it.”

The group’s current advocacy project involves raising awareness for people with invisible disabilities concerning handicapped seating on campus buses. Currently, the buses have pictures of a wheelchair over these sections. Skorpenske’s group would like additional signage explaining not all disabilities can be seen.

As for students interested in starting similar campus groups, she said, “My biggest advice is to find one or two others with an invisible illness who are willing to put in a lot of time and work, especially in the start-up phase. For example, I spent time over the summer writing the constitution so we could be approved as an official campus organization. Right now, we have between eight and twelve people coming to our meetings.”

Facebook: Disabilities by Daniel J. Vance. [Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod.]

 

Tower Hill Concert Series Features Stephen Trafton “Encountering Ephesians”

stephen traftonphoto: Stephen Trafton’s dramatic interpretation of “Encountering Ephesians” November 13 in Red Bank.

RED BANK — Broadway singer, actor and musician Stephen Trafton presents his unique interpretation of “Encountering Ephesians”, on November 13 at 7 p.m. at Tower Hill First Presbyterian Church, 255 Harding Road, Red Bank. This dramatic presentation is a featured event of the Tower Hill Concert Series, where Trafton offered his “Encountering Philippians” in 2013 and “Paul’s Letter to the Colossians” in 2014 and now returns by popular request.

Through his “Living Letters” programs, Trafton presents dynamic, interactive performances of the Apostle Paul’s letters that enable churches to enter into the drama of Scripture, providing a powerful new way to understand, experience, and live out the Word of God. More info can be found at www.living-letters.com.

Stephen Trafton’s Broadway credits include Les Misérables (Original Revival Cast) and the National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera, and in numerous regional theater productions. He received his training at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, OH. Trafton is on staff in Youth Ministry at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, which is under the leadership of Dr. Tim Keller. He performs Living Letters (Philippians, Colossians and Ephesians) at venues across the country. Currently, he lives in NYC with his wife, Juliette, their son, Tadd (2), and their daughter, Audra (1).

“Encountering Ephesians” is presented without charge. An offering will be taken to benefit the concert series.

The church is handicapped-accessible. For additional information on Tower Hill Concert Series events, call 732.747.1348 or see http://towerhillchurch.org/music-ministry-2/concert-series/.                  

Tower Hill Concert Series Features Stephen Trafton “Encountering Ephesians”

stephen traftonphoto: Stephen Trafton’s dramatic interpretation of “Encountering Ephesians” November 13 in Red Bank.

RED BANK — Broadway singer, actor and musician Stephen Trafton presents his unique interpretation of “Encountering Ephesians”, on November 13 at 7 p.m. at Tower Hill First Presbyterian Church, 255 Harding Road, Red Bank. This dramatic presentation is a featured event of the Tower Hill Concert Series, where Trafton offered his “Encountering Philippians” in 2013 and “Paul’s Letter to the Colossians” in 2014 and now returns by popular request.

Through his “Living Letters” programs, Trafton presents dynamic, interactive performances of the Apostle Paul’s letters that enable churches to enter into the drama of Scripture, providing a powerful new way to understand, experience, and live out the Word of God. More info can be found at www.living-letters.com.

Stephen Trafton’s Broadway credits include Les Misérables (Original Revival Cast) and the National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera, and in numerous regional theater productions. He received his training at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, OH. Trafton is on staff in Youth Ministry at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, which is under the leadership of Dr. Tim Keller. He performs Living Letters (Philippians, Colossians and Ephesians) at venues across the country. Currently, he lives in NYC with his wife, Juliette, their son, Tadd (2), and their daughter, Audra (1).

“Encountering Ephesians” is presented without charge. An offering will be taken to benefit the concert series.

The church is handicapped-accessible. For additional information on Tower Hill Concert Series events, call 732.747.1348 or see http://towerhillchurch.org/music-ministry-2/concert-series/.                  

Another Diversion (Or is it?)

woody zimmermann 120The most bizarre presidential campaign in living memory took an even more bizarre turn this week when FBI Director James Comey “amended” his statement of early July, which had indicated that an indictment of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would not be sought regarding her use of a private e-mail server to receive and transmit classified documents. As I noted in an earlier article [1] Director Comey had declared that Mrs. Clinton and her staff “…were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” while concluding “…that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” In plain language, the matter was closed.

These declarations predictably produced much rejoicing in the Clinton camp over the vindication of their righteous candidate, and at least as much bitter denunciation of political “foul play” from the Trump side. Eel-like, Mrs. Clinton had once again slithered free of what looked – to millions of Americans well-acquainted with rules and laws governing classified material – like clear violations of those laws. It was an escape worthy of Willie Sutton himself. [2]

But this week, according to Mr. Comey, the game is once again “afoot.” Exact information is sparse on exactly why the e-mail case was re-opened, but “insiders” (whoever they may be) say that classified information appears to have been sent to the cell-phone of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Mrs. Clinton’s advisor and vice-chair of her campaign, Huma Abedin. At present, the situation is extremely confused, with both presidential campaigns voicing opinions the exact opposites of those they held after Mr. Comey’s July announcement. Republicans think it might be their 11th-hour miracle. Democrats act like someone just threw a jockstrap into the punch-bowl.

Dark theories abound on why Mr. Comey would suddenly re-open the Clinton e-mail case just 10 days before the election. Being a lifetime-member of the Grassy Knoll Society myself, I resonate with some, but have no special knowledge on which (if any) might be true. My best tack here is to describe each theory briefly, give my assessment, and let the reader decide which seems most plausible. Here are five possible theories that have reached my ear (in no particular order). I’ll conclude by indicating my favorite(s).

(1) It’s a last-ditch diversion to save Mrs. Clinton.

This popular theory evokes what political wags now call the Rule of Rahm: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” It originated with Mr. Obama’s original Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, who famously (if cynically) espoused the use of crises to enact policies and laws that could never pass congressional muster in normal times. (The Zim-corollary to the Rahm’s Rule is: “If no crisis is available, create a diversion.”)

Close observers of the Obama administration’s modus operandi believe that with the presidential race tightening – possibly due to damage done to Mrs. Clinton by the WikiLeaks e-mail disclosures – a bold move was required to divert media- and public-attention away from those wretched hacked e-mails. A sensational announcement by Mr. Comey that the Clinton case was being re-opened – possibly in connection with the sex-pervert Weiner – was just the ticket for sending the media hounds baying after a fresh scent. (With no hurricane extant, it was the best they could do.) Wall-to-wall, 24/7 coverage is sure to follow. Then, after a week or so – runs the theory – the FBI will sound the all-clear, announcing that nothing untoward has been found and Mrs. Clinton is completely in the clear. During that week, the WikiLeaks story will vanish down the Memory Hole and – Voila! – Election Day will arrive. With Mrs. Clinton free of any taint from vexing e-mails and perverts, she cruises to an easy win.

Is this credible? History suggests that it could be what’s happening. Diversions have been a favorite tool of the Obamanistas from day one. On the other hand, would an issue as risky as Mrs. Clinton’s classified e-mails be a plausible choice for a diversion? Announce that Mrs. Clinton might still have a classified e-mail problem in order to divert attention away from the WikiLeaks disclosures? Are you kidding me? That’s like the Keystone Kops starting a fire to stop a pie-battle.

(2) There’s a revolt inside the FBI.

I have heard this one from several quarters, including from a merchant I know whose clients include wives of several FBI agents. This theory has Mr. Comey re-opening the Clinton investigation to head off leaks of new information by FBI agents who are outraged that she was allowed to skate on charges that would fire any ordinary citizens (at least) or send them to jail (at worst).

Part of this theory includes the possibility that those Clinton laptops supposedly “smashed” under FBI-supervision were actually salvaged by agents who refused to destroy evidence connected to a possible criminal case. Another part is the idea that Mr. Comey was forced, for political reasons, to close the original investigation without charging Mrs. Clinton. He knows that this was a mistake which he needs to correct in the interest of restoring the morale and integrity of his agency.

This seems far-fetched, but you never know. There is the verbal evidence of the merchant (whose occupation I decline to identify, to prevent a fire or a mysterious disappearance). Nearly anything is possible when politics intrude into law-enforcement.

(3) Director Comey wants to wreck Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

By this theory, Mr. Comey’s re-opening of the Clinton case is an October Surprise meant to mortally wound Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Comey’s reputation as an honest public servant took a hit when he closed the case in July. Undoubtedly (say the theorists) he was commanded by his superiors to stop the music so Mrs. Clinton could win. In order to restore his reputation and possibly protect his job after the election, Mr. Comey wants Mrs. Clinton to lose. Or perhaps he believes she is headed for a sure loss, so he wants to look good to Mr. Trump by re-opening the case. Either way, it’s all about his job.

Could it be true? It’s all speculation, of course. We can’t know because we don’t know Mr. Comey’s heart. He has a reputation for honesty. I would hate to learn that he’s just another political hack.

(4) President Obama wants to wreck Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

Thus, he has directed Mr. Comey to re-open the Clinton case to cast a cloud of suspicion over her on the eve of the election. This is so far-fetched that I hesitate to include it as a plausible theory. We often hear of the enmity between the Obamas and the Clinton, stemming from the 2008 Democratic primary when Mrs. Clinton “wuz robbed” of a sure win by the dazzling, silver-tongued upstart who came out of nowhere to stop her at the five-yard-line. But Mr. Obama is enthusiastically campaigning for her, and so is Mrs. Obama. Is that all just for show? How could the president want Mr. Trump to win, when he is dead certain to undo much of Mr. Obama’s transformative “change?” Knocking out Mrs. Clinton would really be a daft move on his part. More than anything else, he wants his legacy to be protected by a new president who is somewhat sympathetic to it.

(5) Mr. Comey is an honest lawman following the evidence where it leads.

We have been made so cynical by corrupt political dealings that the possibility of actual honesty motivating a public official seems improbable. (I admit to being guilty of this, too.) However unlikely it may seem, Mr. Comey could be a serious tough-guy who won’t bow to political pressures from either side. I am sympathetic to the difficult tap-dance he has to perform to enforce the law honestly, while avoiding the appearance of trying to influence an election in which one of the candidates might have violated federal law. As Gilbert and Sullivan famously wrote, “A policeman’s lot is not an ‘appy one.”

On the other hand, honest law-enforcement is fundamentally compromised – arguably corrupted – when its agents must tiptoe round possible political consequences when they investigate violations by political figures. To the man on the street – who absolutely knows he would never be treated so delicately – the whole thing looks and smells bad.

My assessment (for what it’s worth).

Probably none of these theories is fully accurate. I reject (3) and (4) completely, for their political unlikelihood. Even if Mr. Comey were a fanatical acolyte of Mr. Trump, he would be insane to do something to deliberately wreck Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. If she wins, he would be toast, of course. But even if Mr. Trump should win, how could he ever trust an FBI director who took official actions for the purpose of defeating a candidate for the presidency? I’m not a lawyer, but I think this would come very close to treason. It simply can’t be.

Ditto for (4). I don’t give Mr. Obama very high marks for political integrity (assuming that the term itself is not oxymoronic). But the idea that he would actually conspire to defeat the candidate of his own party seems almost – how else to say it? – “Republican.” (Only Republicans treat the candidate of their party like this. Democrats, never.)

My choice for explaining Mr. Comey’s recent move is (5). Absent concrete evidence that he is politically motivated in some way, I prefer to assume that he is acting honestly and in good faith. At the same time, it would be schoolboy-ish to ignore the intrusion of politics into law-enforcement. Carrying out the president’s political agenda is the job of any agency-director, but partisan hacks don’t usually have careers that cross party-lines. (Where are Janet Reno and Madeline Albright these days?) Politics must have its limits in law-enforcement. The official who ignores those limits becomes a “one-hit-wonder.”

I do attach some credence to (2) and (1) – probably in that order. I have known a few FBI agents over the years. They seemed like exceptionally honest and not at all political in their work. Most of them could easily move to other non-federal law-enforcement jobs, so one imagines that they have some freedom – within reasonable bounds – to voice disapproval if a decision handed down from on high contradicts the evidence in a case. They won’t speak of this outside of the agency, but things might get pretty hot inside. How far this might go, I couldn’t say without some inside-connections.

I can also entertain the possibility that theory (1) is at least partly correct. Diversions are, as I have mentioned, a favorite Obama-administration tool. It’s not too big a stretch to imagine that this might be their hail-Mary pass to salvage Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. But the serious objections I noted still stand. It’s why this theory gets my lowest probability.

Whatever the case, however, I urge readers to concentrate on the real issues involved in this campaign. There’s a lot more at stake than who tried to manipulate media-coverage.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

[1] “She Beat the Rap (The FBI Says she’s Not a Crook)” – http://www.ahherald.com/columns-list/at-large/22643-she-beat-the-rap-the-fbi-says-she%E2%80%99s-not-a-crook

[2] Willie Sutton (1901-1980) was a notorious bank robber who stole an estimated $2 million. He spent half of his life in prison and escaped three times, including once from Sing-Sing in 1932. He became famous for saying he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” Mafioso Donald Frankos said Sutton made Jesse James and John Dillinger “look like amateurs.” Later in his life he became a consultant on bank-security.

 

Another Diversion (Or is it?)

woody zimmermann 120The most bizarre presidential campaign in living memory took an even more bizarre turn this week when FBI Director James Comey “amended” his statement of early July, which had indicated that an indictment of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would not be sought regarding her use of a private e-mail server to receive and transmit classified documents. As I noted in an earlier article [1] Director Comey had declared that Mrs. Clinton and her staff “…were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” while concluding “…that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” In plain language, the matter was closed.

These declarations predictably produced much rejoicing in the Clinton camp over the vindication of their righteous candidate, and at least as much bitter denunciation of political “foul play” from the Trump side. Eel-like, Mrs. Clinton had once again slithered free of what looked – to millions of Americans well-acquainted with rules and laws governing classified material – like clear violations of those laws. It was an escape worthy of Willie Sutton himself. [2]

But this week, according to Mr. Comey, the game is once again “afoot.” Exact information is sparse on exactly why the e-mail case was re-opened, but “insiders” (whoever they may be) say that classified information appears to have been sent to the cell-phone of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Mrs. Clinton’s advisor and vice-chair of her campaign, Huma Abedin. At present, the situation is extremely confused, with both presidential campaigns voicing opinions the exact opposites of those they held after Mr. Comey’s July announcement. Republicans think it might be their 11th-hour miracle. Democrats act like someone just threw a jockstrap into the punch-bowl.

Dark theories abound on why Mr. Comey would suddenly re-open the Clinton e-mail case just 10 days before the election. Being a lifetime-member of the Grassy Knoll Society myself, I resonate with some, but have no special knowledge on which (if any) might be true. My best tack here is to describe each theory briefly, give my assessment, and let the reader decide which seems most plausible. Here are five possible theories that have reached my ear (in no particular order). I’ll conclude by indicating my favorite(s).

(1) It’s a last-ditch diversion to save Mrs. Clinton.

This popular theory evokes what political wags now call the Rule of Rahm: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” It originated with Mr. Obama’s original Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, who famously (if cynically) espoused the use of crises to enact policies and laws that could never pass congressional muster in normal times. (The Zim-corollary to the Rahm’s Rule is: “If no crisis is available, create a diversion.”)

Close observers of the Obama administration’s modus operandi believe that with the presidential race tightening – possibly due to damage done to Mrs. Clinton by the WikiLeaks e-mail disclosures – a bold move was required to divert media- and public-attention away from those wretched hacked e-mails. A sensational announcement by Mr. Comey that the Clinton case was being re-opened – possibly in connection with the sex-pervert Weiner – was just the ticket for sending the media hounds baying after a fresh scent. (With no hurricane extant, it was the best they could do.) Wall-to-wall, 24/7 coverage is sure to follow. Then, after a week or so – runs the theory – the FBI will sound the all-clear, announcing that nothing untoward has been found and Mrs. Clinton is completely in the clear. During that week, the WikiLeaks story will vanish down the Memory Hole and – Voila! – Election Day will arrive. With Mrs. Clinton free of any taint from vexing e-mails and perverts, she cruises to an easy win.

Is this credible? History suggests that it could be what’s happening. Diversions have been a favorite tool of the Obamanistas from day one. On the other hand, would an issue as risky as Mrs. Clinton’s classified e-mails be a plausible choice for a diversion? Announce that Mrs. Clinton might still have a classified e-mail problem in order to divert attention away from the WikiLeaks disclosures? Are you kidding me? That’s like the Keystone Kops starting a fire to stop a pie-battle.

(2) There’s a revolt inside the FBI.

I have heard this one from several quarters, including from a merchant I know whose clients include wives of several FBI agents. This theory has Mr. Comey re-opening the Clinton investigation to head off leaks of new information by FBI agents who are outraged that she was allowed to skate on charges that would fire any ordinary citizens (at least) or send them to jail (at worst).

Part of this theory includes the possibility that those Clinton laptops supposedly “smashed” under FBI-supervision were actually salvaged by agents who refused to destroy evidence connected to a possible criminal case. Another part is the idea that Mr. Comey was forced, for political reasons, to close the original investigation without charging Mrs. Clinton. He knows that this was a mistake which he needs to correct in the interest of restoring the morale and integrity of his agency.

This seems far-fetched, but you never know. There is the verbal evidence of the merchant (whose occupation I decline to identify, to prevent a fire or a mysterious disappearance). Nearly anything is possible when politics intrude into law-enforcement.

(3) Director Comey wants to wreck Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

By this theory, Mr. Comey’s re-opening of the Clinton case is an October Surprise meant to mortally wound Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Comey’s reputation as an honest public servant took a hit when he closed the case in July. Undoubtedly (say the theorists) he was commanded by his superiors to stop the music so Mrs. Clinton could win. In order to restore his reputation and possibly protect his job after the election, Mr. Comey wants Mrs. Clinton to lose. Or perhaps he believes she is headed for a sure loss, so he wants to look good to Mr. Trump by re-opening the case. Either way, it’s all about his job.

Could it be true? It’s all speculation, of course. We can’t know because we don’t know Mr. Comey’s heart. He has a reputation for honesty. I would hate to learn that he’s just another political hack.

(4) President Obama wants to wreck Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

Thus, he has directed Mr. Comey to re-open the Clinton case to cast a cloud of suspicion over her on the eve of the election. This is so far-fetched that I hesitate to include it as a plausible theory. We often hear of the enmity between the Obamas and the Clinton, stemming from the 2008 Democratic primary when Mrs. Clinton “wuz robbed” of a sure win by the dazzling, silver-tongued upstart who came out of nowhere to stop her at the five-yard-line. But Mr. Obama is enthusiastically campaigning for her, and so is Mrs. Obama. Is that all just for show? How could the president want Mr. Trump to win, when he is dead certain to undo much of Mr. Obama’s transformative “change?” Knocking out Mrs. Clinton would really be a daft move on his part. More than anything else, he wants his legacy to be protected by a new president who is somewhat sympathetic to it.

(5) Mr. Comey is an honest lawman following the evidence where it leads.

We have been made so cynical by corrupt political dealings that the possibility of actual honesty motivating a public official seems improbable. (I admit to being guilty of this, too.) However unlikely it may seem, Mr. Comey could be a serious tough-guy who won’t bow to political pressures from either side. I am sympathetic to the difficult tap-dance he has to perform to enforce the law honestly, while avoiding the appearance of trying to influence an election in which one of the candidates might have violated federal law. As Gilbert and Sullivan famously wrote, “A policeman’s lot is not an ‘appy one.”

On the other hand, honest law-enforcement is fundamentally compromised – arguably corrupted – when its agents must tiptoe round possible political consequences when they investigate violations by political figures. To the man on the street – who absolutely knows he would never be treated so delicately – the whole thing looks and smells bad.

My assessment (for what it’s worth).

Probably none of these theories is fully accurate. I reject (3) and (4) completely, for their political unlikelihood. Even if Mr. Comey were a fanatical acolyte of Mr. Trump, he would be insane to do something to deliberately wreck Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. If she wins, he would be toast, of course. But even if Mr. Trump should win, how could he ever trust an FBI director who took official actions for the purpose of defeating a candidate for the presidency? I’m not a lawyer, but I think this would come very close to treason. It simply can’t be.

Ditto for (4). I don’t give Mr. Obama very high marks for political integrity (assuming that the term itself is not oxymoronic). But the idea that he would actually conspire to defeat the candidate of his own party seems almost – how else to say it? – “Republican.” (Only Republicans treat the candidate of their party like this. Democrats, never.)

My choice for explaining Mr. Comey’s recent move is (5). Absent concrete evidence that he is politically motivated in some way, I prefer to assume that he is acting honestly and in good faith. At the same time, it would be schoolboy-ish to ignore the intrusion of politics into law-enforcement. Carrying out the president’s political agenda is the job of any agency-director, but partisan hacks don’t usually have careers that cross party-lines. (Where are Janet Reno and Madeline Albright these days?) Politics must have its limits in law-enforcement. The official who ignores those limits becomes a “one-hit-wonder.”

I do attach some credence to (2) and (1) – probably in that order. I have known a few FBI agents over the years. They seemed like exceptionally honest and not at all political in their work. Most of them could easily move to other non-federal law-enforcement jobs, so one imagines that they have some freedom – within reasonable bounds – to voice disapproval if a decision handed down from on high contradicts the evidence in a case. They won’t speak of this outside of the agency, but things might get pretty hot inside. How far this might go, I couldn’t say without some inside-connections.

I can also entertain the possibility that theory (1) is at least partly correct. Diversions are, as I have mentioned, a favorite Obama-administration tool. It’s not too big a stretch to imagine that this might be their hail-Mary pass to salvage Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. But the serious objections I noted still stand. It’s why this theory gets my lowest probability.

Whatever the case, however, I urge readers to concentrate on the real issues involved in this campaign. There’s a lot more at stake than who tried to manipulate media-coverage.

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[1] “She Beat the Rap (The FBI Says she’s Not a Crook)” – http://www.ahherald.com/columns-list/at-large/22643-she-beat-the-rap-the-fbi-says-she%E2%80%99s-not-a-crook

[2] Willie Sutton (1901-1980) was a notorious bank robber who stole an estimated $2 million. He spent half of his life in prison and escaped three times, including once from Sing-Sing in 1932. He became famous for saying he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” Mafioso Donald Frankos said Sutton made Jesse James and John Dillinger “look like amateurs.” Later in his life he became a consultant on bank-security.