Governmental hell

There should be a special place in hell for officials who reach high office, then act in a manner that brings  ridicule on their institutions.

There are two candidates for that special place. One is the Director of the FBI, who has mucked up the presidential campaign at close to the last minute with a public announcement that befuddles any attempt to understand it.

The second is the group of Supreme Court Justices who agreed to put on their crowded and prized agenda the case of a transgender youth who can't pee in the school lavatory of his/her choosing.

The FBI Director's claim of a connection between emails of an admitted pedophile and Hillary Clinton have so far proved impossible to comprehend. 

What the FBI is doing with the case of a pedophile, presumably because he sent scuzzy emails across state lines is something else that befuddles credulity. And for such a matter to reach the Director? The organization seems to have a number of candidates for government hell.

No surprise that Donald is trumpeting at full volume a claim that Hillary's indictment is imminent, as well as a prison sentence fitting her crimes.

The connections he claims are beyond reason, but that may not keep his established and potential supporters, and a large number of Clinton-haters from voting for him. Commentators are climbing over themselves to speculate on the tipping of what was already becoming a closer election to something that Trump might win despite himself.

In light of the prestige acquired by the FBI over the years, it is not unreasonable for Americans to withhold their votes from someone under active investigation.

If justice could be done in the time remaining to the election, it should require some element in the American establishment to publicize the onset of a criminal investigation against Donald for tax evasion or some other impropriety into the messy ways he has handled business and private finances.

In all that is being written about the FBI Director are suggestions that he is not a complete fool. Ranking FBI personnel were stymied by politically sensitive figures in the Justice Department from pursuing inquiries into the Clinton Foundation. So Comey may have used his discretion to let his bureaucratic/political adversaries know the costs of their activity.

On the matter of the transgender who wants the freedom to visit a lavatory, one can express all the concern appropriate. But to rank the matter among national issues that warrant the treatment of the Supreme Court approaches the madness of the FBI Director's pursuit of questionable indications of a pedophile's email connection with Hillary Clinton. 

Should the young man/woman be faced with a personal problem in the choice of a school lavatory, it should be a problem for the school principal and not the Supreme Court. There appears to be a state law involved, but that, too, seems more a matter for ridicule than something for the Supreme Court. If the kid is faced with peer nastiness whenever there is a call of nature, the principal should be able to speak with the peers and/or their parents. If the problem is more serious, and physical harm has been threatened, then surely the principal can arrange for a security person to accompany the pupil and provide protections for privacy and safety.

If the principal is not up to the tasks, then the appropriate treatment would seem to be his or her replacement with a person who can handle all the delicacies.

Proportionality is one of the standards concerned with government action. Just as one should not attack a fly with artillery, so one should not employ the mightiest and most prestigious of institutions against a problem that should be handled at a much lower level, or for the sake of a suspicion too vague to be clarified.

By no stretch of my imagination is the Supreme Court the appropriate venue for where a kid wants to pee. And the Director of the FBI should have had something much more demonstrable and detailed before he ignited Trump's rhetoric less than two weeks before the presidential election.

It's not hard to list domestic issues in the US that seem to deserve more attention than a transgender's toilet issues or a pedophile's emails. We can begin with the lack of fit between one of the world's richest economies with the worst set of health indicators among well-to-do democracies. One of Obama's principal claims to fame is a highly flawed and expensive health care package, likely to increase substantially in cost for many people in the year to come. It's held hostage not only by profit-making insurance companies, but also by governors capable of expressing their anti-government ideologies by limiting the options available to residents of their states.

With all its faults, the US is as democratic as any country, and its people get the governments they select. That the average American dies earlier than the average resident of any other democracy is due, in part to Americans' disinclination to pay taxes that will benefit others along with themselves. And the preoccupation of Americans with gender-defined toilets may keep most of them happy, but at the cost of inconvenience and discomfort for some who do  not fit the conventional categories.

We have yet to hear what Donald or Hillary thinks about gender obsessed Americans looking for a toilet.

For those waiting to decide until they hear something appropriate on the matter, or for all else that bothers our friends across the sea, the mantra used by ranking officials to end their speeches seems as appropriate as anything.

May God bless and protect the United States of America.

Comments welcome

Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
[email protected]