Thursday, January 02, 2014

Double Standards in the White House

The next time the President explains that because Snowden is a criminal he must be punished, somebody should ask him how soon he expects James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, to be indicted for perjury.


Anonymous said...

David, in the UK we have seen extremely little about this scandal (I'm sure his perjury was reported in the major newspapers but there seems to be no commentary on it). How have the US media reacted overall? Has there been much partisanship on the issue? It's maddening that this could end up as a mere footnote in the history of the Snowden affair.

David Friedman said...

There has been a good deal of partisanship. Some Republican congressmen have called for him to be indicted--I'm not sure if any Democrats have joined them.

But the simple fact--that, in response to a direct question he had been warned of in advance, he said the NSA did not deliberately collect any kind of information on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans, and that he later conceded that what said was not true, has been pretty widely reported. That's false testimony under oath, aka perjury.

Brit said...

In your original scenario, the bargaining power of alleged criminal Clapper far exceeds the bargaining power of alleged criminal Snowden. In another scenario of some interest to me, women are routinely subject to significant obstacles in their places of employment (such as negotiating comparable wages for comparable work) as the result of decreased social capital rooted primarily in a long history of laws being applied differently to different people. Or another example, men being denied new-parent leave when while their female colleagues are granted new-parent leave --- in the sphere of child-rearing, men tend to have less social capital and therefore less bargaining power. Uneven application of the law in the sphere of children and families is commonplace and therein men are often subjected to ridiculously different standards than the taxpayer's expense, no less.

Social and legal double standards exist in nearly every layer of our world, but are likely expressed most blatantly in societies where rule of law is easily upended. Perhaps a society with complete intolerance for situations like your original post would have less tolerance for other expensive forms of individual subjugation. Therefore, all libertarians should be feminists and vice-versa.

DoJ said...

Cause for (very cautious) optimism:

"His leaks revealed that James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, lied to Congress when testifying in March that the N.S.A. was not collecting data on millions of Americans. (There has been no discussion of punishment for that lie.)" That's a fairly pointed parenthetical, especially considering the source.

Fridrikr inn gamli Tomasson said...

Doesn't Congress have the power and the duty to indict for perjury before Congress or one of its committees? Why hasn't one of the houses indicted Clapper? How does the inaction by Congress become a double standard for the White House?

Anonymous said...

Brit: The wage gap is a myth, when you control for relevant differences between men and women (occupations, college majors, length of time in workplace, workplace danger/deaths, willingness to travel, etc) the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.

Power Child said...


What do you think is responsible for this "long history of laws being applied differently to different people"? Could it be that different people are in fact different, and so the same law applied evenly would have unjust results? Isn't that why we don't, for example, apply criminal laws the same way to children as adults?

(I know that many libertarians oppose child labor laws, but I don't know of any libertarian arguments against the distinction between children and adults in criminal law.)

You may respond that people of different genders, or races or whatever else, are not different the way children and adults are different.

But the differences are still there, and sometimes they are substantial. The difference between genders, for example, is huge when it comes to the required effort and natural ability--to say nothing of hormone-induced inclination--to bring a healthy child into the world. The difference is so absolute that it is probably even greater than the difference in ability and cognizance between children and adults, which is mostly a matter of gradations.

And then there are also differences in context. That's why, for instance, a transgression that carries one set of consequences for civilians may carry a much different set of consequences for a soldier, and thus why we have the court-martial as a distinct legal procedure.

As for feminism, your conception of it is idealized. Steve Sailer's is more accurate: "Contemporary feminism is quite simple: If men are at fault for you not being able to do whatever it is you want to do, blame men. But if women are at fault, blame society or American culture or the media or institutional sexism or whatever."

Anonymous said...

David, thanks for your response. Perhaps if there are more revelations about the NSA there will be increased public and media support for indictment, but I'm not going to hold my breath otherwise.

Brit, you are conflating statutory laws with bargaining power, the latter is a phenomenon underlying the creation of (contract) laws. So I wouldn't say that someone who believes in the rule of law should necessarily want equal (or similar) outcomes in jobs, pay etc between the sexes.

Fridrikr, I'm not sure about the legal/constitutional aspect but certainly Obama is at least worthy of criticism for failing to even condemn the rule of law being set aside for the man he nominated to be the Director of National Intelligence?

Power Child said...

Totally OT, but David you earlier had a post with a recipe for an Indian lentil soup. It called for garam masala, which I pointed out was actually a mix of spices that most Indian cooks make themselves.

A friend of Indian descent relates to me her garam masala recipe:

2-3 bay leaves
2-3 cardamom pods
2 star anise seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2-3 cloves

Dry roast these in a pan for a few minutes. Once roasted, grind into a powder using a mortar and pestle (or some other faster method if you've got one).

My friend uses 1/2 to 3/4 tsp of the resulting spice mix in her dishes.

Anonymous said...

The current administrations track record of choosing which laws to apply, and which people to apply them to, while appalling, is nothing new.

The real scandal should be the complete cowardice of "the 5th estate" who fail to publicize this outrage.

David Friedman said...

Power Child:

My post on the recipe included a link to the page I got it (and modified it) from. That page also has a recipe for making garam masala.