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April 27, 2018

Mary Katherine Ham: Trump Should Pardon Martha Stewart to Further Troll James Comey
And What Sanctimony Tells Me About the Sanctimonious

Pardon Martha Stewart to troll Comey -- and also, because it's the right thing to do.

But mostly for the trolling.

Here's MKH's top two reasons for a pardon (though she lists more):

1. The Whole Thing Was Nonsense

If you ask an average American why Stewart went to jail, they’d probably tell you "insider trading." In fact, that is not what brought her down. She was never charged with insider trading over the 2001 sale of ImClone stock that started the whole affair. She was charged with conspiring to lie about the crime with which she was never charged.

"Stewart has always asserted that she sold the stock because it fell below a 'predetermined price [$60] at which she planned to sell,'" Slate reported. "The U.S. attorney, in contrast, alleges that Stewart sold because she heard that Sam Waksal, ImClone’s CEO, was trying to sell his own stock in the company. The alleged crimes, in any event, took place after the sale."

That move, which she said she did on the advice of her broker, prevented a loss of about $45,000. The case for insider trading was weak, so the government went after her on more novel charges.

One was so novel it got tossed out by the judge. That particular legal theory was that because Stewart publicly professed her innocence of insider trading, she thereby propped up the value of her own company, with which her personal reputation was inextricably linked. That amounted to "securities fraud."

There’s a reason "don't make a federal case out of it" is a phrase for blowing something out of proportion, and this case is a perfect example. It shouldn't have been a federal case, and Stewart shouldn't have lost her freedom, her executive position, and a bunch of earning potential over it.

Taking the US Attorney's allegation as true (momentarily), it appears Martha Stewart was accused of insider trading, which was not true (the circumstances can't support that charge), and contrived a lie to give her an alibi for a crime she didn't commit.

Technically, a crime. Maybe.

But really -- get the fuck out of here with this weak bullshit. Her "crime" was caused by your flawed accusation. If the state is falsely charging someone with a crime that they will later confess is not a crime and can't be prosecuted, and someone, in a panic move, tells a lie (which turns out to be immaterial, as there was no crime to conceal), as far as I'm concerned, that lie is the government's fault.

Also, if she had lied about, say, an unrelated sexual encounter, this couldn't have been considered a criminal false statement because it's entirely immaterial.

Given that there was no crime she was covering up with her lie, it too was just as immaterial as, say, some sweaty dalliance with the Sultan of Brunei.

This demonstrates, of course, that a prosecutor with an eye for politics and press coverage will stop at very little to secure a conviction against someone they believe to be disliked by the public.

Something to keep in mind. Especially given James Comey's leak with the admitted intent to get a special counsel as vengeance for his firing.

2. To Take A Swipe At Comey

Hey, we know what makes the guy tick. Guess who decided to go after Stewart on these charges when he was a federal prosecutor? James Comey. A pardon to Stewart would be a blow to Comey that is perfectly within Trump's power and a much less controversial move than firing him was.

Anyone who can't admit he made a mental error or was ignorant of a fact is a moron. Anyone who can't admit he is sometimes morally flawed and motivated by base and petty impulses like ego and vengeance is a monster.

Smart people can admit mistakes because acknowledging mistakes is what made them smart in the first place. You can't become smart if you believe that every first-look gut intuition you have is unerringly correct -- that shows no later reflection, no later attempt to research the question, no later attempt to self-correct.

It's only attempts at self-correction that lead to education and becoming smarter. What gets measured gets improved, as they old management saying goes -- and if you're never keeping honest track of your mental golf scores, how will you ever reduce your strokes?

Also, smart people know they're decently intelligent and therefore admitting error is no kind of catastrophic ego event for them. They have the resilience, in the form of justified confidence about their mental abilities, to absorb the pain of admitting an error and then just shrug it off.

An idiot, on the other hand, cannot admit he is wrong, ever, for his ego is both large and fragile. A single crack in his bubble of self-protection could burst the whole thing.

The exact same rule applies to morality. If I see someone admitting they sometimes act selfishly (especially unprompted, though prompted confessions count too), I don't think "Oh that's a selfish person." I think, That's a fairly moral person who is in fact probably overestimating her own selfishness and probably is more selfless than she's currently saying."

How can anyone ever become more moral if they think everything they do was only in service of God and Country? Again, if you're not keeping honest track of your moral record, accurately keeping track of your failings as well as your moral victories, how can you ever actually improve your moral game?

Believing that everything you do is morally pristine is a steep ramp to degeneracy.

As with the confession of an error usually leading me to judge someone as intelligent, not unintelligent (dummies don't admit error), the confession of a moral failing suggests to me that that person is pretty moral and is confessing error precisely because she has high moral standards for herself and judges herself somewhat harshly when she fails to meet the high bar she's set.

On the other hand: James Comey.

This guy is filthy with self-righteousness. He sweats gallons of self-regard. He's moist and sticky with ego.

The fact that he cannot even entertain the possibility that he sometimes acts in his own narrow self-interest, and that not everything he does is animated by patriotism, duty, and Professional Excellence, suggests to me that an awful lot of things he does are done with mercenary, self-interested, and corrupt motives.

The less willing someone is to admit an intellectual defect, the more I assume that person is riddled with intellectual defects and can't even admit to one error for fear of then having to admit ten thousand.

And the more outraged a sanctimonious prick is at the suggestion that he is not, in fact, the moral twin of Lord Jesus Christ, the more I assume that he is a moral reprobate who can't even look at himself clearly in the mirror for fear of what he might wind up seeing.

And apply this to any of the most self-righteous, sanctimonious pricks you see online. The more they insist they are morally spotless, the more I know they're morally filthy.

Such people are ridiculous, and should be ridiculed, and made to gnash their teeth as others laugh at them.

Pardon Martha Stewart, just on the outside chance that it might afford James Comey one more chance at introspection and honest self-examination.

He'll avoid that at all costs, of course-- but it would be righteous of us (and not self-serving and self-pleasing at all! Nope! Not in the least!) to afford him that chance at moral scorekeeping.

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posted by Ace of Spades at 04:58 PM

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