Saturday, October 1, 2016

If you're pro-Patriots, then you're also pro-Hillary. Deal.

Maybe you support Trump, or maybe you're undecided, but don't feel right about Hillary. Ask yourself why.

More likely than not, you'll give me an earful about emails. Or Benghazi. Or the Clinton Foundation. Or--my personal favorite--that Bill and Hillary Clinton are mass murderers.

We've heard of these scandals for so long--and so often--that our reaction has become conditioned: "Benghazi", "email" and "Clinton Foundation" are trigger words, shorthand utterances thrown out in place of an actual argument, the same way Jets fans shout "cheaters!" and then run away before you can respond. 

Hillary's detractors don't want to discuss the email "scandal" for the same reason Patriot haters avoid the details about Spygate: The more you dig, the less you find.

Despite well over a year of hysterical screaming, only one claim against Hillary has even a hint of validity: That classified information was potentially mishandled. Much has been made, for example, of the fact that Hillary used a personal address for office email, but this is perfectly legal and has been done frequently in the past, including by Republicans such as Colin Powell, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Sarah Palin, and others. Almost reminds you of how scouting opponents' defensive signals is legal and quite common, and how Roger Goodell himself admits it, but somehow--maddeningly--it doesn't seem to matter.

It's illegal to discuss classified information without taking proper safeguards, the same way it's illegal for a doctor to discuss a patient's private health information in an open area where others might hear. A doctor can be punished for doing this, but of course, there is a huge difference between absentmindedly forgetting to close a door and selling Kim Kardashian's patient file to the National Enquirer. The former is simple carelessness; the latter is a deliberate criminal act.

Even Hillary's harshest detractors don't claim she was intentionally leaking / sharing / selling confidential information; once you cut through the hair-on-fire rhetoric, all they're really claiming is that she was careless. In fact, the FBI report uses that exact word.

"But what about the deleted emails?" you ask. Yes, Hillary's attorneys delivered over 30,000 emails to the State Department and deleted about the same number of "personal" emails that they claimed were not relevant to the investigation. 

"AHA!" you scream. "Why would she delete emails? Why would she do that? She must be hiding something! Guilty! GUILTY!" and, of course, I am instantly reminded of the Gary Tanguays of the world, who screamed just as loudly that, if Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone, that he must be hiding something. But you defended Brady, didn't you?

Yep, you did.

The truth is, you're reaching. You have less on Hillary than Goodell had on Brady. At least in Brady's case, there was an allegation, albeit a flimsy one, that there was a scheme to let little puffs of air out of game balls, so there was a possible motive for Brady to destroy evidence. In this case, neither Hillary, nor anyone else at the State Department, is even accused of anything specific. You're implying that she destroyed evidence without claiming that a crime was even committed!

At most, Hillary is guilty of being less careful than she should have been. And now, I'm sure you'll put on your most somber face and tell me that nothing is more important than protecting our nation's confidential data, and that we need presidents who are going to take that seriously, but all I'll see is Roger Goodell's face, his forehead wrinkled with concern, saying that nothing is more important than the integrity of the game we all love, and I'll reject your argument the same way you rejected Goodell's.

Are you sensing a pattern yet?

Benghazi? Take a deep breath and do some reading. Wash away the toxic discourse, and you'll find that the only charge of any validity against Hillary is that the embassy requested funding for extra security prior to the attack, and their request was denied. Of course, Hillary herself never saw the request, the same way the chairman of JP Morgan Chase does not see every loan application, and the State Department does not have a limitless supply of money to grant every single request it receives. But assume just for a moment that it was granted: The embassy was stormed by 150 men armed with RPGs and assault rifles. Unless the embassy requested a fleet of Humvees and an Apache helicopter, the extra security wouldn't have made a difference--as tragic as that is.

Yes, it was beyond horrible that four people died in those attacks. And the situation was rightly looked into. But the Senate took this to an extreme, forming a "Select Committee" in May, 2014, which then took two years and $3.3 million to complete its investigation. I can't help but be reminded of the outrage all of Patriot Nation felt when we saw that Roger Goodell formed a kind of Select Committee of his own, which took four months and $5 million to complete its work. We lamented the colossal waste of money, the ridiculously long investigation, and the obviously biased way in which it was conducted. I level the same allegations against those conducting the Benghazi inquest, while you seem to have embraced them with open arms.

And lastly, we have the Clinton Foundation. The main allegation here is that there is a conflict of interest, that the Clintons accepted donations to their foundation from individuals who had business before the State Department while Hillary was Secretary of State. While this is true, it is absolutely false that the Clintons derive any personal benefit from the Foundation. They do not collect a salary or any other form of payment, and it ought to be patently obvious that there can't be a pay for play scheme when there is no pay!

Now, it is true that the Clintons set up a a strict set of rules with the Obama administration that governed how the Foundation would communicate with donors, and how those communications would be reported, and after a thorough review, it is clear that those rules were not adhered to 100% of the time. But why do we insist that this automatically proves something sinister is going on? Again, if the Clintons do not personally benefit from the Foundation, what possible motive could they have for skirting their own rules? In fact, if they were up to no good, why would they have set the rules up in the first place?

That reminds me of a story.

On October 16, 2014, the Patriots played the Jets at Gillette Stadium. Jim McNally, the "Deflator", as he called himself, delivered the footballs to the field. During the game, Tom Brady complained angrily that the balls felt like "f*cking bricks," and sure enough, after the game, John Jastremski, the equipment manager, measured the balls and found them to be 16 PSI--almost 3 pounds OVER the allowable limit. The obvious question here is, if the Patriots were deflating their footballs, then how did they get so far over the limit? Did McNally inflate them by accident?

But, more importantly, after the game, Brady instructed Jastremski to remind the officials about what the rules were. He went so far as to request that Jastremski show the rulebook to the officials with the PSI section highlighted. 

Assume for a moment that Brady was guilty of illegally deflating footballs. Why on Earth would he call the referee's attention to the PSI rules if he was doing such a thing? Brady's own actions seem to exonerate him, as Hillary's exonerate her. 

The parallels just keep coming, as recently as last week’s debate. Trump was humiliated—were it a football game, the score would have been 63-6—but of course, Trump has never admitted to losing at anything; it must have been someone else’s fault, and so the blamestorming began. He had a faulty microphone. Lester Holt was biased. Hillary was mean to him. Some Trump supporters even suggested—get this—that Hillary was having answers fed to her over an earpiece!

Never mind that such a risky, elaborate scheme was totally unnecessary. The questions could’ve been predicted by an astute middle school student. Forget all that, and just realize that it’s a conspiracy theory regarding communication equipment.

Sound familiar?

Mike Tomlin’s Steelers lost to the Patriots in Foxboro in week 1, 2015, and after the game, Tomlin hinted darkly that the Patriots had knocked out the Steelers’ headsets. I, along with you, and anyone else with half a brain, immediately reminded the haters that the teams don’t control the headsets, the NFL does, and that anyone who believes otherwise is a tinfoil hat-wearing, moon-landing-was-a-hoax, grassy-knoll-dwelling conspiracy loon. And yet there you go, posting memes about Hillary’s earpiece.

Looks like you stopped thinking at halftime.