Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “scandals”

cowboyLAWYER re: lying

Many of my posts are about cowboy stuff.  They seem more popular than what I write about legal topics.  What a surprise!

So, I am warning you fans of ranch life that this ain’t about our horses or dogs or wildfires or brandings or buffalo or deer or antelope.  This is about lying.

Contrary to what seems to be the public perception of lawyers, lawyers need to be even more careful about lying than the general public.  Lawyers are members of a licensed and regulated profession.  Also, that particular profession is charged with pursuing justice.  I tell my clients that their credibility and my credibility are crucial to their cases.  We are stuck with the facts, but how we are perceived by the jury, judge and opposing counsel are how cases are won or lost.

I tell my clients about a particular Colorado jury instruction which is read to every jury.  Each set of jury instructions tell the jury about many things regarding how to decide the case before them, so the sets of instructions vary from case to case, but I suppose all sets include the one I am going to tell you about.  I, at least, always insist on it.

The instruction to which I am referring basically says that if the jury finds that a witness is lying about anything, they can disregard that witness’s entire testimony.

Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama are both lawyers.  They know about this stuff.

I realize that every administration is accused of misleading the public.  I realize that a mistake is different than an intention to deceive.  I realize that press conferences are not under oath.

Nevertheless, having said all that, I am concerned about the scandals that involve telling Congress something that the “tellers” knew was incorrect and was told with a deliberate intention to deceive.  For example, Eric Holder should remember if he signed subpoenas in the matter he was being asked about.  Wouldn’t President Obama know that the attack on the embassy was a terrorist act from the beginning?

If they were my clients, we’d have a little talk out by the water fountain during a break in testimony, at which time I would remind them of the importance of what they should have learned at home or Sunday school, even without going to law school — i.e., telling the truth.

Mitigating Scandals By Passing The Buck

A few weeks ago I wrote a few pieces about my pre-campaign for political office, probably the U.S. Senate then, but now I aspire for higher office.  My pre-campaign is like pre-approval for a credit card — it is not yet approved and my campaign is not yet announced.  However, I have been learning a lot by observing the current administration’s approach to what lesser politicians would perceive as criticism.  President Nixon could take lessons from President Obama.

President Nixon thought he had to admit or deny accusations about Watergate.  President Obama is way more cool than that.  He actually jumps on the bandwagon of the accusers.  He embraces the opportunity to empathize with his critics.  He is very upset by what has happened in Benghazi, what has been done by the I.R.S., and what has been done by the F.B.I.  He is appalled, just like the rest of us.

President Nixon was concerned that the famous “buck” which President Truman had said stopped in the Oval Office actually did stop there.  President Obama has a very different viewpoint.

He is unapologetic about not protecting the ambassador killed at our embassy in Libya.  He is appalled that it happened and he is appalled that anyone would blame the State Department or the military or him.  He wasn’t at fault because he did not really know what all was going on that fateful night.  It was his night off.

Apparently, the buck has not stopped at all.  It was no one’s fault, not even terrorists.  The people who attacked the embassy might not have been terrorists as we commonly use the word.  They were terrorists in a very complicated sense of the word “terrorist” that is so complicated that the denial of this tragedy being caused by terrorists for too long was, well, due to a misunderstanding.  It is complicated, like I said.

What I have gotten out of it is that there are real Al Qaeda terrorists, whom President Obama assumed we all were suspecting, when in actuality the terrorists who performed the terrorism at Benghazi were merely wannabe terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda without being official card-carrying members.  It is an important distinction to our president but I’m not smart enough to understand the distinction or why it is important.  Initially we were told that it was a mob upset by a movie.  Then it was a terrorist act by non-terrorists.  Now it is terrorists who are responsible, but not Al Qaeda terrorists — they know better than to do any terrorist acts now that President Obama has Al Qaeda on the run.

President Obama is also appalled by the I.R.S. having targeted conservative groups.  Some might say that was done under his watch, making him responsible.   Those who say that are silly Trumanites who still believe the buck stops with the President of the United States.  This president is appalled just like the rest of us who are not the president.  He is just like us.  He read about it in the papers.  No one told him what was going on.  He is very appalled.  He is not to blame, of course.  He don’t know nuthin’ about it.  Ignorance is bliss, they say.

Well, President Truman did not say that ignorance is bliss.  He said, “The buck stops here.”  He should have said, if only he was not so dang forthright, “I only know what I read in the papers and now that I read what my administration has been doing, I am appalled.”  That is smart politics.    I am catching on to the modern style of leadership.  Accountability is out of style.  Empathy — that is the ticket!

Don’t say that you are sorry for what you have done or not done.  Instead, say that you understand how those of us in the general public “feel” because you feel however they feel.

President Obama and I, a pre-candidate, feel the same.  We feel the same as each other and we feel the same as the general public feels.   We have empathy.  It is easier than leadership because it is reflective and reactive.

President Obama is a lawyer.  So is the Attorney General, Eric Holder.  So am I.  The President, Attorney General and I are all appalled that the F.B.I. violated the privacy of Associated Press reporters.  We all agree that should not have been done.  We did not know and, now that we do know, the three of us are feeling sad even though we are not at fault.   I am under the impression that the F.B.I. is a rogue organization that none of the three of us control.

When I am elected, I too will make it a point to not know about such things.  I would make it my job to not know.  Whoever is in charge of the Justice Department should do something, if we only knew who is in charge.  I used to think the President and the Attorney General were in charge of the Justice Department, including the F.B.I., but it was long ago that I took American Government in high school, Political Science in college, and Constitutional Law in law school.  I was probably absent the day the teachers and professors covered the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

I am not (yet) in the chain of command, but it is comforting to know that if I become Attorney General or President, I will not be to blame for anything as long as I am suitably appalled by what my subordinates did, or failed to do, which I won’t know about until I read it in the papers.  And, to go beyond my mentor, if elected, I pledge to never read newspapers or listen to the news.

I am also practicing my best sincere look with appropriate body language.  In the photo below I am demonstrating my transparency by gesturing with an open hand, indicating my, you know, openness and, I guess, honesty.  Who wouldn’t vote for an honest-looking cowboy who empathizes with how every American feels?

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