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John Livingston

Honor vs Retribution

Three things make earth unquiet. And four she cannot brook. The godly Agar counted them And put them in a book – Proverbs 30: (Author insert)

I watched with sadness and disappointment the Idaho House of Representatives Hearing on the Ethics Committee recommendation for censoring Rep. Priscilla Giddings. The officious sanctimonious stench emanating from the Speaker’s podium was visible on the PBS live stream. The 11 representatives who spoke on behalf of Representative Giddings were courageous. Mrs. Giddings was spectacular in her own defense, but when someone calls you a liar, the more you try to defend yourself the more it begs the question. What I saw in the eyes of most Republicans on the floor was fear not courage. Fear of not being part of the inner circle of “good old boys”. Fear of bucking the system. Fear of not receiving campaign contributions from lobbyists and special interests like IACI/IMA/IHA and the teacher’s unions. The Idaho “swamp and deep state” is alive and well in Boise. Maybe it was “swamp gas emanating from behind the Speakers platform? No matter what, the hearings demonstrated how much RINOs and their first cousins Dems fear conservatives. And the truth.

But a Servant when He Reigneth Is Confusion to the end. He knows no use for power Except to show his might. He gives no heed to judgment. Unless it prove him right.

I listened to the ethics committee hearings early in the summer and was amazed at the lack of due process given to a fellow citizen. I think the listing of the accomplishments of Lt. Col. Giddings missed the point. She is more courageous and honorable than the combined body of Lilliputians that prosecuted her defamation. But due process is not earned by achievement or status but is the right of any citizen.

It is not surprising to me that the very person that orchestrated the calumnae—the man at the podium shrouded in a diaphanous veil of sulfur, didn’t feel obligated that as a signer and a complainant against Mrs. Giddings, and as a political candidate against her in next May’s Lt. Governor’s primary, he failed in addressing the conflict of interest that was obvious to everyone in the room. He had three opportunities to address this conflict and he didn’t. He could have disclosed it in writing before the procedure, he could have declared it publicly prior to the procedure, or he could have stepped down from the podium and allowed for someone else to conduct the debate and vote. He either forgot his obligation to the integrity of the procedure, or he didn’t care. He was either ignorant of a moral and ethical standard or he acted with hubris and conceit. Or maybe he just believes he is accountable to only his lobbyist “swamp masters”. Or maybe a man that doesn’t recognize a conflict of interest when it hits him in the face and is the same type of person that would deny due process to a citizen and not blink an eye.

I would like to point out two legislators that defined the debate for me. Julianne Young was impressive. She must have a future in the Republican Party. She talked of MERCY “not strained and twice blessed” and COMPASSION. In all the proceedings and in all the press there has been nothing that would approach perjury in a court of law and lying was mentioned in the summary of the complaint—but never proven. Feelings have little to do with due process.

Representative James Ruchti invoked the honor code at West Point. A completely different standard than a perjury standard. I served in the Navy as an officer for 16 years. I did not go to the Naval Academy where the Honor Concept is different in one very important way—the process whereby it is executed—confronting the individual prior to a formal hearing. I understand the Honor Code and have tried like I am sure Mr. Ruchti must live by such a code. I am sure that he like I would admit that we have fallen short of that standard even though it defines who we would like to be. The difference between a law or legal definition and an Honor Code is like the difference between the “standard of care” and “the standard of medical practice”. What is the ideal and what is the practice are different? I could only hope that everyone in our society would live by a Code not unlike the Honor Concept at The Naval Academy—the accused should be confronted by the accuser prior to a formal hearing. The Honor Codes have nothing to do with due process or fairness, but rather conscience and self-integrity. In this case with two military officers, it may have mooted the entire process. Mr. James Ruchti was acting politically today, not legally, ethically or morally—and as an honorable man he knows it.

His vows are lightly spoken, His faith is hard to bind, His trust is easy broken, He fears his fellow-kind. The nearest mob will move him To break the pledge, he gave — Oh, a Servant when he Reigneth Is more than ever slave! Rudyard Kipling

Honor Code “A cadet(midshipman) doesn’t lie cheat or steal or tolerate those who do”

Federal Standard for Perjury “”A witness testifying under oath or affirmation violates this section if they give false testimony concerning a material matter with the willful intent to provide false testimony, rather than because of confusion, mistake, or faulty memory.” So how do you impugn the honor of an honorable person? Call them dishonorable without applying any standard for honor.

Many weeks ago, after the completion of the Ammon Bundy trial several people publicly made the claim that one of the witnesses had perjured himself at the trial. I did not watch or attend the proceedings… I recommended that they apply the rules of honorable behavior that I discussed above and a more appropriate person to talk too would be an attorney who understood the law. You see a man’s reputation was at stake and he needed to be given the benefit of the doubt. I had no way of knowing or even understanding the legal bases of their claims, so I stayed out of it, and I haven’t heard anything more which is good.

The Honor Code, The Standards of Perjury, and due process work together to ensure that a good person acting with honorable intent and motives, doesn’t get run over by a politicized mob (legislature) beholding only to the special interests that finance their campaigns.

Here is another standard that was given to us by Abigail Adams when confronted with the information about Thomas Jefferson’s alleged affair with his slave Sally Hemmings in the middle of her husband’s campaign against him for the Presidency. Should they use that information to impugn the character of Jefferson and win the election? Her answer: “It must be the absolute right information, about the right person, at the right place, at the right time, and for the RIGHT REASON”—before we impugn the character of a good person (insert Jefferson….Giddings or the man who allegedly committed perjury.)

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the man at the podium and the witness at the trial were the same person! Inspector Javeret and Jean Valjean could be one and the same! Mercy, forgiveness and redemption, or punishment, subjugation, and reparation. We all live and fight this battle every day. When those in power chose the latter, the people become supplicant and slave to their master. Our Founders had it the other way around—the legislature should be slave to “We The People”

We should follow the example of Mrs. Young. With discipline and courage, we can win the day. Our leaders in the swamp should follow her example. People like “Mr. Speaker” and Mr. Ruchti should attend to the “logs in their own eyes” before addressing the splinters in ours. Let’s clean house. The people of Idaho deserve more Mrs. Young’s.