A HIGHER LOYALTY by James Comey: a book review

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Among many other things, the book offers up interesting first-hand descriptions of the three presidents Comey worked with: Bush Jr., Obama, and Trump. Having the most favorable opinion of Obama (“I couldn’t believe a person as intelligent as Obama could be elected president.”). Describes Bush as having a sense of humor, but usually at the expense of others and as a way to assert himself on the top of the hierarchy. And he’s scathing about Trump.

 

James Comey, in this memoir, comes across as a pretty thoughtful person who spends a lot of time considering other people’s perspectives (as opposed to just projecting his own). Of course its fascinating to see how Comey got caught in the middle of the 2016 presidential election. And of his many critics, and the incredible amount of shit he took from people on BOTH sides, he wryly points out that “most of them would do what would be best for their favorite team.” As opposed to things like, oh, rules of law,  truthfulness, or a higher loyalty (hence the title).

And he said that one particular tweet captured the feelings of the times: “That Comey is such a political hack. I just can’t figure out which party.” Ha ha.

Right or wrong with some of the decisions he made, Comey comes across as a very questioning person who sincerely wanted to do the right thing, what was right for the country. While surrounded by people screaming for “their side.” Period.  I don’t question Comey’s integrity. But I’m not completely sold on his intelligence and judgment.  Admittedly Comey was in a difficult position. A “damned if you do damned if you don’t” position. The fact that, at various times, he was getting equal shit from both the Democrats AND the Republicans probably speaks volumes. Ha ha

He never seemed motivated by partisan politics. Always seemed to take great pains to be objective.
I DID question the wisdom of his decisions.  Announcing an FBI investigation into Hillary’s emails just days before the election was probably bad judgment. It tainted Hillary at a crucial juncture. And since the public wouldn’t get the full results until AFTER the election, it was like a “cloud of suspicion” that couldn’t be refuted.
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Comey is one of the many, many people Hillary Clinton blames for her loss in the 2016 presidential election.

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Comey spends a lot of time in the book debating about — and explaining — why he made that fateful decision. To announce the FBI investigation of Hillary’s emails days before the election. Basically he felt that if there WAS something seriously damaging in Hillary’s emails, it would have looked like a “cover-up” by the FBI if they didn’t publicly announce the investigation.

But heres the dumb part. Comey — like most people — assumed Hillary was gonna win by a landslide anyways. So he felt it wouldn’t make any difference anyways.

Wrong.

PS. There WAS quite a bit of damaging stuff on those emails. These were the Hillary emails that for some unknown reason had ended up on the computer of Anthony Wiener, the husband of Hillary’s closest aide. Aside from sex texts that Wiener had sent to minors — which further tainted Hillary’s campaign. There was quite a bit of classified emails that Hillary should have never let get on somebody else’s computer. There were also a large number of “work-related” emails that Hillary had never released to the FBI during a previous investigation. When she had claimed at the time that she had released all of her work-related emails.

For what its worth Comey’s wife and daughter were ardent Hillary supporters. Comey himself claims that he was so disgusted by the behavior of BOTH parties that he ended up not voting.

One oddity in the book. Comey — who is 6-foot-8 — claims he was constantly bullied when he was in high school. I went to the same high school as Comey (Northern Highlands) and I was one of the smallest kids in my class but I never got bullied. Sheesh.

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The part where Comey meets Trump for the first time right after the election is particularly fascinating. One thing about Comey, he has a well-developed ability to “read” people — a trait you’d expect from a lifelong investigator. And he notices the subtle nuances of people’s behavior that reveal their character (for example Comey noticed something about Trump that has always deeply disturbed me — in the thousands and thousands of hours that Trump has been captured on video, he couldn’t find a single example where Trump laughed). Comey is particularly scathing writing about Trump’s character. Virtually every sentence screams out the unspoken message: HE’S UNFIT TO BE PRESIDENT!!

Comey meets Trump and his team for the first time at Trump Tower. And seeing them all sitting there, Comey couldn’t shake his first impression that they reminded him of a bunch of La Cosa Nostra members hanging out at one their clubs. And, like the Mafioso, Trump constantly conveyed the message: You’re either part of our family or you’re the enemy. At one point — to Comey’s great surprise — Trump even asked the FBI director how they should spin this meeting to the press — already assuming Comey was part of his team.

At a second meeting Trump repeatedly tells Comey he expects “loyalty” from him, and implies that he’ll fire him if he isn’t sufficiently loyal. Comey responded that his only loyalty was to “honesty.” And repeatedly tried to explain to Trump that the FBI by its nature must remain independent from the White House, and couldn’t be involved in partisan politics. An explanation that went in one ear and out the other with Trump.

During a third meeting, Comey actually dared to disagree with one of Trump’s opinions. “At that remark, Trump stopped talking altogether. I could see something change in his eyes. A hardness, a darkness. He looked like someone who wasn’t used to being challenged or corrected. The meeting was done.” Later at FBI headquarters Comey told his staff, “I probably ended any personal relationship with the president with that move.”

How Trump fired Comey was absolutely outrageous and classless. He totally broad-sided Comey, with no prior warning or even an explanation. Comey was in Los Angeles speaking at an FBI convention. And Comey is at the airport and he sees on the TV screen the headline: “Comey has been fired.” That’s how he found out about it. . . Then, Trump was outraged when he learned that Comey took the FBI plane back to D.C. since Comey was no longer a member of the FBI. Like Comey is supposed to hitch-hike cross-country to get home or something. . . And then Trump barred Comey from ever entering FBI property. So Comey had to get somebody else to pack up his office.
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Comey is pretty sharp with the details. But he’s often not so good at seeing the big picture. For example, after going through all of Hillary’s emails that were on Wiener’s computer, he ended the investigation by clearing Hillary of all wrong-doing. But for some inexplicable reason,
1.) Comey never got around to asking Hillary HOW all of her emails got on Wiener’s computer in the first place.
2.) Comey never asked Hillary WHY classified information was on the computer of a private citizen.
3.) Nor did he ask Hillary why she had previously claimed that the 30,000 emails that she turned over to the FBI at the beginning of the investigation were ALL of her work-related emails, when hundreds of thousands of MORE work-related emails were found on Wiener’s computer.
4.) Nor did he question her as to why there were many gaps — often 2 or 3 month periods — from which they could find NO Hillary emails, and often during those time periods that were most pertinent to the investigation. (In fact, Comey never talked to Hillary even once.  About anything.)
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All in all, the most disturbing thing about the book is Comey’s portrait of Trump, a man who never laughs and never tolerates a dissenting opinion, surrounding himself with yes-men. And not particularly bright (at one point Trump is admiring the beautiful lettering on a hand-written menu.  “It’s caligraphy,” said Comey.  “No, it’s hand-written,” corrected Trump. Ha ha.)
Comey concludes at the end of the book: “Donald Trump’s presidency threatens much of what is good in this nation. The president is unethical and untethered to truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego-driven, and about personal loyalty.”

So there you go.

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George Zimmerman

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I admit I’m confused about most things in this life. But this one has really got me.

Blacks are shooting and killing people at four times the rate of the rest of society. Blacks make up about 12% of the US population but are committing about 50% of the murders. And in 90% of the cases, its young black men killing other black men. And yet as far as I know, there is no great concern or outrage about this within the black community. Certainly no riots or protests thats for sure.

And now we have a latino guy who shot and killed a black guy.  And now I’m told that I, as a white guy, should be feeling white guilt over this.

This life is just getting weirder and more confusing every day.

 

PS: Odd fact: Zimmerman actually voted for Obama

PPS: This is the part where everyone can now jump in with their smart-as-a-tack opinions about what an idiot, racist, drunkard, moron, and/or moral degenerate I am.

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Obama

Obama poster and original

 So Obama’s position basically is that:  1.)  He didn’t know anything about the Benghazi scandal.  2.)   He didn’t know anything about the IRS scandal.   3.)  He didn’t know anything about the AP wiretap scandal.  And 4.)  He didn’t know anything about the Fast and Furious scandal (oh don’t even get me started on that one).  And now Obama assures us he’s gonna authorize a complete and full investigation to make sure that this kind of tomfoolery never, never, EVER happens again.  Wonderful.   Obama can basically take one of two positions:  1.) He’s a complete idiot, or 2.) he’s a lying sack of shit.

I voted for Obama in 2008.  Like a lot of people I was hoping for the best.   My opinion?  The Obama Administration is about as dirty as it gets.  Oh well, at least he wasn’t as bad as George Bush.  That stupid imbecile.   P.S.  Don’t bother to audit me for making these critical comments about Obama.  I’ve got like 20 bucks in the bank.  You slimeballs.

The war in Afghanistan

 

romesha_leo1 I admit I don’t follow politics too closely. Mostly because politics just pisses me off and I’m already too pissed off for my own good. So I really haven’t been following this war in Afghanistan thing. In fact I had to do a Google double-check just to make sure I was spelling Afghanistan correctly. But is anyone really following this shit? Its like the invisible war that nobody is noticing. Its been going on for what? 10 or 15 years?

What got me thinking about it was last week when Obama awarded the Medal of Army to some soldier over there, one Sgt. Clinton Romesha. “These men were outnumbered, outgunned and almost overrun,” announced Obama, proudly. But whattaya’ know, we prevailed. Horray horray. But what got me thinking was Romesha’s description of our operating procedure over there. As far as I can tell, what we’ve been doing is sending platoons of troops out to the boondocks of Afghanistan to set up “outposts.” Basically, we’re using the troops as bait to flush out the Taliban. The Taliban sees all those US troops and starts shooting at them and attacking them. And then we get to shoot back. Otherwise we’d never be able to even find the Taliban because its not like they’re marching around in uniforms carrying assault weapons. Its a guerilla war thing.

Anyways, the great hero Sgt. Romesha said they were completely surrounded, getting shot at from every direction in a firefight that went on all day. And a bunch of people got killed and wounded. But here’s the stupid part. Here’s the completely pointless thing about all this. After setting up these “outposts” and defending them to the death, after a couple months the platoon just packs up and moves to ANOTHER outpost even farther into the boondocks of Afghanistan. And repeats the whole pointless exercise all over again. Its not like we’re gaining anything. We’re not taking over territory or anything like that. Maybe I’m stuck in the old model of warfare like the Civil War or WWII where you had two armies in different uniforms and whovever killed the most got to claim the territory. But as far as I can tell, nothing is being won in Afghanistan and plenty is being lost (like billions of dollars and countless ruined lives). And now I’m told, after 10 or 15 years of this stupidity we’re finally preparing to withdraw, and then the President will announce some kind of “victory” that supposedly came out of all this pointless carnage.

Am I missing something here? Can my more politically sophisticated readers out there clue me in to something more?

And then on the news today I heard something even more bizarre. According to the latest report, last year more US soldiers died from suicide than from combat. Could that posssibly be true? I guess it makes sense since their whole mission seems to be a suicide mission.

So now I’m really pissed. I knew I should have just stuck to reading the Sports page.

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Politics

 

I’m a registered Republican so I’m voting for Mitt Romney. But I’m getting a little worried about his chances. Romney has presidential hair. But he lacks presidential neck. He often looks sorta’ like a hunchback with his head coming out of his chest. Thats bad. Because the American people want a president with a good, strong neck. It denotes strength and leadership and an up-lifted head peering off into America’s future.
 
Obama on the other hand is a bit of a pencil neck geek, and yet he still conveys a strong neck (note comparative graphics). Somehow you feel he’s resilient as well as visionary. While Romney often appears to be peering downward as if checking whether his fly is open. You might scoff at this theory, but I challenge you to go back and review our previous presidential elections. According to my calculations, the candidate with the stronger neck has won nearly 90% of the time. I rest my case.
 
For example, its no coincidence that one of our most popular presidents  — Ronald Reagan — just happened to have an extremely strong and presidential neck.  And in fact, his popularity only began to waver when he started developing that turkey-neck thing.
 
Consider this: They once did an exhaustive study of all the West Point cadets to find out which ones rose to the rank of 5-star general. What traits did these generals all share? High intelligence? Leadership capacity? True grit? No. They found the one and only common denominator shared by all the 5-star generals was that they all had good. strong, lantern jaws. I kid you not. Whether the lantern jaw actually eminated leadership qualities, or whether it was a perception-is-reality thing (he looks like a leader so therefore he must be) who knows. But the facts speak for themselves.
 
Or as they say at the races: “The horses are coming down the stretch and they’re running neck and neck!” Or in other words:  May the best neck win.