Big Deal

“The reason this is such a big deal has — we have this big, messy, wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time, but nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for, except other Americans, and that’s wonderful and often painful.

“But we’re talking about a foreign government that, using technical intrusion, lots of other methods, tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it.

“It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally. They want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them, and so they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible.

“That’s what this is about. And they will be back, because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill, and they don’t like it.”

–James Comey, 8 June 2017

We have a few years in which to find a presidential candidate. I’ve found mine, if he can be convinced to run. On either party’s ticket, or on a new one, as Emmanuel Macron has done in France.

Author: Mike Maltz

Michael D. Maltz is Emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice and of Information and Decision Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is currently an adjunct professor of sociology at the Ohio State University His formal training is in electrical engineering (BEE, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1959; MS & PhD Stanford University, 1961, 1963), and he spent seven years in that field. He then joined the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice (now National Institute of Justice), where he became a criminologist of sorts. After three years with NIJ, he spent thirty years at the University of Illinois at Chicago, during which time he was a part-time Visiting Fellow at the US Bureau of Justice Statistics. Maltz is the author of Recidivism, coauthor of Mapping Crime in Its Community Setting, and coeditor of Envisioning Criminology.

18 thoughts on “Big Deal”

  1. Have you forgotten that Comey played a major role in getting Trump elected? It's only right that he play a major role in getting him impeached. But that won't equalize the situation, because we'll be left with Pence, with families that have been broken up, and — I won't try to list the other harmful things that Trump has already done.

  2. Comey's eloquence in defending American democracy against the intrusion of foreign powers into our elections is welcome. But nothing he says now can excuse or repair the damage his own intrusion in our election has wrought. #notmycandidate

  3. Yes, I'm sure he plays integrity very well, and has feet of clay to boot (pardon the pun). I think that he was put in a extremely difficult position by both Clintons and by Lynch (and possibly by some of Giuliani's friends in the FBI), and in retrospect made an unwise decision. If you can think of a better candidate, I'm open to suggestions.

    1. I don't know where he stands on any issue, really. So while I also applaud his integrity, that would only be one criteria in my list of progressive values and policies a candidate would need to support in order to get my vote.

    2. Most of the people who read, comment, and contribute to this blog are left of center politically and tend to vote for Democrats. Everything about Comey's career suggests that he is a conservative Republican. He clerked for a Reagan-appointed judge. All of his appointments save FBI director have been from Republicans. He donated to the McCain and Romney campaigns. The only non-orthodox political position I'm aware of him having taken was signing a pro-gay marriage brief while in private practice. Basically, you are telling a community generally inclined to vote for Democrats that we should support a Republican who while generally decent and competent screwed up the most important decision he'll ever make. Yes, he was in a difficult position, but if he were the paragon of integrity he is supposed to be he should have followed the well-established rules and policies of the Justice Department and let the chips fall.

      He's basically Mitt Romney: a smart and decent Republican who would be a much better president than Trump but who probably doesn't share my vision for the country. Name a better candidate? Well, let's start with every intelligent, politically skilled, non-corrupt Democratic officeholder.

  4. You cannot be serious. I would take anyone over someone who is likely committed to police ideology and who threw an election to one party over a relatively trivial issue governed by appearances. As a person who held a top secret clearance in the military the whole classification system needs to be scrapped and started over. This seriously makes me question your judgement.

  5. Obama disrespects Trump -> Trump runs for president -> Trump wins
    Trump disrespects Comey -> Comey runs for president -> Comey wins

    That would be quite a disquieting pattern to see emerge. Would say a lot about America's decline.

  6. Comey is interesting, far more than Trump. He has more intelligence than virtue, like I suppose many of the readers of this blog including me. IMHO he cultivates a self-image of integrity and fine moral judgement that papers over the compromises he makes and his limited stock of real moral courage.

    Consider the exchange he reports with Trump when Trump demands loyalty, absolutely improperly. Comey responds bravely, saying he can't offer loyalty, only honesty. But Trump, who thinks of all life as deal-making, offers a compromise: "honest loyalty". Comey, having exhausted his courage, accepts this sullied handshake.

    For a President, you want a man or woman who, once in their life, has said, "get lost, count me out". James Comey is not that person.

  7. James, I think that what Comey told the President is "With respect, sir, count me out," without the "get lost."

    Comey is a man who consulted his senior staff at every juncture, listened to them, made a very tough decision, and is not flinching from the flak it produced. Having worked in DOJ in both the Nixon and (Bill) Clinton administrations, not at the presidential appointee level but close enough to see how it works, I stand by my assessment.

  8. Comey is a profligate virtue-signaler, not a man of integrity. The best way to understand this is in the details of the "her emails" "scandal". You may have experience in DOJ, but I've been running all the required servers for 20 years, and could see that Hillary was dumb, but not criminal. Huma Abedin was dumb, but not criminal. Yet, curiously, Comey was somehow, somehow, able to drag out his investigation, with all the resources available to the FBI, all the way up to the election eve, and then throw it. For the country's sake? Are you kidding me? I have to seriously question your ability to judge character.

    I am leaving out dozens of technical details about the situation, but if you think Comey covered himself with glory here, you could not be more wrong.

  9. Additionally, I second @caphilldcne's comment. I've also held TS (DOE Q) clearance, and the sort of stuff Comey made into a mountain over the course of many months, presenting multiple press conferences in violation of apparent FBI standard procedures, is something that happened routinely during my stint. It sickened me, because in order to get work done, you had to do those things, but management knew it, and they had a big stick to leverage over you. And boy, did Comey use it. Man of integrity, sure…

    cf also Wen Ho Lee at Los Alamos.

  10. Without getting into Comey's character, I just want to say that it's a very sad state of affairs when a substantial number of Republican politicians and voters need to told that it's bad — not good, not a nothingburger, not a distraction or witch hunt — that Russia interfered with our election and will try to do it again. Like Maltz, I liked the oration, but I sure wish it didn't need to be said.

    1. I wasn't a Republican voter. But if Russia interfered with our election in ways we routinely interfere in other country's elections–funding ads for parties they favor, leaking news that damages parties and politicians they oppose–that seems to me to be fair. We still get to vote, based on what information we have.

      I have seen no evidence that Russia's interference was more than leaking true but damaging information. On the other hand, does anyone think Macron would be President of France without US interference? (Arresting DSK in 2011 had a huge impact.)

      1. What sank DSK wasn't the American charge, which he got away with, but the French one. It's king and winding route from DSK screws up by screwing anything female to Hollande becoming Socialist candidate to Hollande getting elected and performing badly to Fillon screwing up through nepotism to Macron winning with massive assistance from Lady Luck. The CIA is just not that good. Should we blame it for Berlusconi?

      2. I'll take your word that the US interferes in other countries' elections. So, what would Russia do if it found that Russian politicians were colluding with American intelligence operatives to interfere with a Russian election? It seems that people suffer far worse just for being a thorn in Putin's side, without proof that they're in league with the CIA or some other agency. Is the only retaliation we have available against Russia agreeing to forgo any more intelligence activities with respect to Russia, provided Russia agrees to forgo theirs?

  11. Yeah, it was a great speech. But wasn't he the guy who was mostly in charge of protecting us from the Russians who simply chose not to do his job? And wasn't Comey the guy who actually worked desperately hard to prevent an intervention to stop the Russians during the election and actually exerted all of the FBI's tremendous influence to keep all knowledge of the extent of Russia's massive intervention secret during the election when it might have made a difference?

    And wasn't Comey also the guy who chose to allow his New York office to basically become a Trump campaign surrogate with its many leaks and other improprieties ? And didn't Comey oversee an investigation of Hillary that was allowed to continue as a partisan political act long after it was clear to the DOJ and to Comey himself that there was no "there" there?

    I have to agree with others here that Comey isn't a man of integrity so much as a man who poses himself as a man of integrity. The time to do something for the country was during the election. He chose to actively suppress evidence of the Russian intervention and he seems to have been mainly responsible for preventing a criminal investigation to be opened against Trump and his Republican cronies in the most two-faced way imaginable.

    The question you have to ask yourself is what would Comey be saying and doing right now if Trump hadn't fired him? My guess is he'd still be covering up for his fellow Republicans.

  12. The time to back a conservative with integrity was after the November debacle. If Hillary Clinton had instructed her delegates to vote for Evan McMullen and pled with the Republican delegates to do the same, Trump might not be be president. But I'm not going to suffer through four years of this crap just to settle for someone that doesn't represent my interests. I'd like an actual Democrat from the Democratic wing of the party in office. Most of the things we couldn't risk to get that are lost now. It's all spilt milk under the bridge now. Time to get someone worth having.

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