Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured “Crisis”: The Comey Firing Freakout

1. When this ridiculous episode is recounted in history books, if it is, it will only be as an example of how the news media worked in tandem with Democrats to undermine the President of the United States, and deeply wounded American democracy and the public trust as a result. I suppose if it is recounted, it will either be as one of the many factors that led Americans to express disgust for both the news media and the Democratic party, forcing the first to shape up and the latter to re-invent itself, or, under the worst case scenario, to explain how the United States lost its Constitutional government.

2. A President of the United States fired an FBI director who deserved to be fired, and everything else is political warfare and public disinformation. A President firing someone he had the power to fire and that most Americans rightly believed should be fired cannot be a scandal, a crisis, or anything else worthy of the hysterical coverage this story has received. The coverage of the story is the antithesis of the journalism ethics tenet that journalists cover stories but do not create them.

3. President (and candidate) Trump is certainly at fault for handing his enemies sticks to beat him with. I put this is exactly the same category with a voluptuous woman walking into a bar full of drunken, rowdy men and doing a provocative dance to the jukebox as they hoot and drool. She should be safe, but she isn’t, and she should know that she isn’t. The drunken dogs should be trustworthy not to sexually assault her, but they aren’t,   When she ends up like Jodie Foster in “The Accused,” it is her sexual assailants who are guilty, but it is not blaming the victim to ask, “What the hell were you thinking?”

4. Of course, as has been proven at nauseating length here and elsewhere, President Trump does not think, at least in the professional sense of the word. It was stupid to throw out compliments to Vladimir Putin. It was stupid to make defensive-sounding comments about the Russian hacks because he didn’t want to admit that any factors led to his election other than his essential brilliance. One  indication that there are no sinister connections between Trump and Russia is that if there were, it would be mind-numbingly moronic for Trump to do anything but show hostility to the country and its leaders. It is only slightly less moronic for him to say these things when he has nothing to hide regarding “Russian ties.”

[An aside: a recent commenter on another thread repeated the oft-cited nonsense that Trump must be smart (like he says) because he has an IQ of 160. If Donald Trump scored 160 on an IQ test, then IQ tests should be thrown out and never used again. However, that claim is imaginary. (IQ tests don’t prove you are “smart,” either, but that’s a different issue.) A researcher once estimated Trump’s IQ based on his admission to Wharton and the gross average IQ of Wharton grads, which is itself a phony number. Then this  (incompetently) estimated figure was used by other hacks in some of those “Who was the smartest President?” articles, which estimate the IQs of the Presidents using the same kind of bad reasoning as the process that arrived at the figure for Trump (it was 156, not 160). In truth, nobody knows what Trump’s IQ is. Everybody knows, however, or should, that he does and says an astounding number of dumb things, many of which mostly have the effect of harming him, or his ability to do his job.]

5. Evidence of the above was the President putting out as one of the reasons he fired Comey  that he wanted the Russian investigation concluded and felt that Comey was allowing it to drag on. I view this as signature significance for a stupid man, even if it is true and innocent, which I’m sure it is.

The Russian investigation is that rarity, an actual political witch hunt. The “Trump is a traitor” narrative is the Left’s version of “Obama is a Kenyan,” and serves exactly the same purpose: to smear and illegitimize an elected President of the United States. I therefore regard anyone embracing it with the same contempt and vanishing respect I regarded anyone who repeated the slander that Barack Obama wasn’t a citizen (this group of self-disgraced included Donald Trump.) Of course Trump wants the Russian investigation concluded. It’s a waste of time, and it is being used as part of a non-stop political war by the news media against the Office of the President and the institutions of democracy. All right, that’s why I want the investigation over; Trump wants it over because he knows it is an ongoing personal insult to him, pushed along by Democrats and Republicans, like John McCain, who he deliberately made into enemies with his big, undisciplined mouth.

I suppose the President should get points for being honest against his own interests, but all this statement did was allow “the resistance” to say, “AHA!”

6.  The amount of fake stories the news media has issued and repeated to manufacture this “crisis” is staggering, and proves the bias and untrustworthiness of what currently passed for U.S. journalism. Most of these “scoops” were thinly (and unethically) sourced by anonymous figures with unrevealed biases…also a journalism ethics breach. Some examples (and not the only ones):

Report: Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein threatened to resign if the President didn’t make it clear that his memo was not the impetus for Comey’s firing. Fact: It never happened.  Rosenstein told a reporter that he was not quitting and has never threatened to.

Report: Shortly before being fired, Comey had asked for more money to pursue the Russian investigation. Fact: During a Senate hearing yesterday, Acting FBI Director McCabe said under oath that he knew of no such request. (Note: an individual with a name in a position to know who says something didn’t happen has more credibility than “anonymous sources” who say it did happen. ) Said McCabe: “I believe we have the adequate resources to do it. I can assure you we are covered.”

Never mind: CBS news repeated the anonymously sourced version this morning.

Report: Firing Comey “interferes” with the Russian investigation. Fact: Of course it doesn’t.

McCabe again:

“Simply put, you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing. We don’t curtail our activities. We continue to focus on our mission to get the job done.”

7.  One story that is almost certainly true is the account that the President asked Comey during a private dinner if Comey would promise to be personally loyal to Trump, and that Comey refused. Trump’s question was ignorant, though prompted by legitimate paranoia, such as the unprofessional and unethical conduct of Sally Yates before she was fired. The President’s administration is teeming with hard-left Obama loyalists leaking to the press and coordinating with Democrats to sabotage his agenda. An FBI Director cannot be “loyal” to the executive in the sense that Trump is used to from a lifetime in business. Comey’s answer was the ethical one.

Telling tales about his conversations with the President, however, is not ethical, or professional.

I wish I could promise that this is the last Ethics Alarms post about the topic.



Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

90 responses to “Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured “Crisis”: The Comey Firing Freakout

  1. I hope this wraps it up too.

    I think you meant “delegitimize” when discussing Obama and Kenya.

  2. charlesgreen

    Moments before you posted this, I posted a reply to your previous post, which more properly should have been here. I won’t take up your digital space to repeat it, other than to say, I’ll bet you a very fine dinner that your prediction is unlikely. More likely is that he is out of office within a year, probably by resignation.

    This is NOT a “fake” ethics crisis; this is the real deal.

    • charlesgreen wrote, “This is NOT a “fake” ethics crisis; this is the real deal.”

      Do you know what ginned up hysterical partisan hyperbole is?

    • It is a fake ethics crisis, and I’ll double that bet.

      There has not been a single thing that Trump has done that is outside normal, historical Presidential handling of the office in substance. Style is something else, but style is not impeachable.

      • Not impeachable in sane America. But when the Republicans lose the House in 2018, you know what the first order of business will be for the hate-driven left.

      • Oh dear God, is the man a moron. Trump, that is. But we have had morons and worse as POTUS, without impeachable offenses.

      • This is beginning to get exciting! A ‘fine dinner’, not including the wine, could run to $600-700 per person. I think it is important here, for the sake of all concerend, to define the wine. As many know, a Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945 can cost up to $23,000.00

        Double all that and now we are looking at some money. Will BitCoin be accepted? Rubles? A promise to pay based on a pound of flesh surrounding the heart?

        I think it is wise — from a legal standpoint — to get clear about the projected value of the fine dinner.

        But my interest does not stop here. I think an excellent Reality-type version of ‘My Dinner With Andre’ could come from this, a movie script valuable in millions, millions. It has to take place though in an upscale Russian restaurant in the Capital with trap doors and underground chambers; kitchen help who look like Peter Laurie; and MacBeth’s palace dagger must make an appearance in the sky like a Portent from Heaven. There has to be intriques-galore and hot lawyer ladies with intellectual reading glasses and poison capsules on chains (Karen?) The NSA will have to have bugs everywhere. In the back, in soft focus, a man with a striking resemblence to Cardinal Newman is seen there dining alone.

        At the end I think that Charles will reveal himself to be Mustafa Monde and thus the tragic end to the dinner will herald the beginning the the Russian-American Re-Education Camps, the management of which will be subcontracted to Google and overseen by Ex-Pres Obama in a new civillian role. (I opt for role as Head Cook so at least everyone will eat well).

      • charlesgreen

        “There has not been a single thing that Trump has done that is outside normal, historical Presidential handling of the office in substance.”

        It’s now May 18, six days after you wrote this. It’s been a helluva week.

        Let’s see:
        -Trump has again asserted criminal behavior by his predecessor.
        -He has most likely done things that amount to obstruction of justice.
        -He has reacted to the appointment of a special counsel by alleging hs’s the biggest victim in political history
        -Oh yeah he let fly some deeply classified secrets involving an ally, without the ally’s knowledge; then denied it; then excused it by saying he was within his rights. To the Russians. Face to face. In the Oval office.
        -Has alleged to have secret taps.
        -Has, despite claiming to be an uber-businessman, managed to create unpredecentedly low levels of public approval, and low morale for his staff.
        -Has managed to make liars or fools of some previously well-thought of people.
        -Has now apparently hired Flynn in full knowledge that he was hiring someone under investigation.

        Most of these, I would argue – and absolutely all of them taken together – in the course of a single week – are massively beyond any normal historical Presidential handling of the office in substance.

        Do you not agree with that statement at this point? How much more insanity is required?

        He may or may not be impeachable. But at this point I think it can’t be denied that he is:
        -temperamentally unsuited to the office by virtue of paranoia, thin-skinnedness, viciousness
        -willfully stupid, and continually so, on most issues confronting him.
        -incapable of understanding the difference between a family business and a constitutional democracy.

        And yet – at least as of six days ago – were still asserting, along with Fox news and most GOP voters, that this massively unprecedented display of incompetence is not what it appears – instead it’s mostly the unfair ravings of a vindictive press, out to get him.

        Listen, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. And just because the press paints him out to be a raving, paranoid, shallow, incompetent fool doesn’t mean he’s NOT a raving, paranoid, shallow, incompetent fool.

        Idiots in the Oval Office can do great harm. The press is on the right side on this one, motives be damned. This mess can’t be straightened out too soon.

        • Okay Charles, lets dance 🙂

          Let’s see:
          -Trump has again asserted criminal behavior by his predecessor.
          -He has most likely done things that amount to obstruction of justice.
          -he let fly some deeply classified secrets involving an ally, without the ally’s knowledge; then denied it…
          -Has managed to make liars or fools of some previously well-thought of people.

          Substitute Obama for Trump in any of the above, and the same holds true. Oh, maybe not in the first 100 days, but Obama had the press covering for him, actively suppressing gaffs and stupid mistakes.

          -Has alleged to have secret taps.

          Obama DID have secret, illegal taps, and was given a pass by the press, Establishment, et. al.

          at this point I think it can’t be denied that he is:
          -temperamentally unsuited to the office by virtue of paranoia, thin-skinnedness, viciousness
          -willfully stupid, and continually so, on most issues confronting him.

          Again, same could be said for Obama.

          I realize this is a rationalization, and Obama knowingly doing what Trump mistakenly does doesn’t make it any better.

          Idiots in the Oval Office can do great harm.

          This is true: we just retired one from the office of POTUS and are trying to fix his willful attempt to destroy America.

          This mess can’t be straightened out too soon.

          NOW the penny drops. Exactly how, pray tell, should we do that? Invalidate an election? Don’t let me put words in your mouth, Charles, but you dropped the innuendo, as I read it. Please, do explain how we fix this when the left is making it happen by their vile treatment of an already unstable man? (One who has the football, no less!)

          This smacks of the NYT willful dropping of ethics because Trump could not be allowed to win the election. All of these are forced errors, caused by the hissy fit the left has engaged in since the people spoke in the election.

          What it really comes down to is the left openly stating “we know better how to run your lives and want to take all power away from you deplorables forever”

          Remember, I hold you in the highest regard…

          • Dammit, you made me comment on the Comey/Russian/MSM meltdown, Charles, even if indirectly. I was staying away from that.

            Seems to me we should add that to the list of classic blunders, like “Never get involved in a land war in Asia” or “Never go up against a Sicilian with death on the line.”

          • charlesgreen


            I like you too. But this looks like an unbridgeable gap. I simply do not see anything in common between Trump and Obama. It is literally hard for me to see the equivalence.

            But I do know two things:
            a. sometimes – rarely to be sure, but sometimes – I’m wrong
            b. I don’t always have enough imagination to understand other people.

            It’s why i read Jack’s blog. It is in that outer range of what I can stand reading, and what really stretches my thinking.

            So, let’s agree to disagree on this one.

            That’s a third thing: sometimes politics ain’t worth it.

            • We are all trapped by our paradigms, I guess. I was raised working class poor, in rural Texas. I assume your experiences differed significantly.

              I read this blog for much the same reasons. I want intelligent discussion/debate with different life experience and point of view.

              Our assumptions about our opponents are our biggest blind spot.

        • You generally understand business hierarchies and leadership to a degree, given your profession. I’ll present you a Tale of Two Lieutenants. It’ll be an easy tale because these Platoon Leaders are exactly the same person, but in different scenarios. This young officer is arrogant yet not fully compentent for the job of leading his infantry men, yet he’s still in that position, he doesn’t seem interested in listening to the advice of others and makes a few blunders among other decisions, which may not be perfect are still executable plans. He’s been in combat for a little while, he’s led his men with no stellar accomplishments and some clumsy operations, but nothing outright wrong.

          In the first setting, our young lieutenant’s platoon sergeant gently mentions “hey sir, listen, you’re eager and active, but I think you should consider the following adjustments to your plans… things will work more smoothly and still reach your vision.” He’s got 3 squad leaders, who are a bit impatient but still loyal, who just want to get the job done and keep their guys safe, all 3 actively seek ways to make the lieuteant’s life easier by being proactive and humbly making suggestions and recommended plan adjustments. Now, the LT’s boss, the company commander is a bit more hard nosed often reminding the LT with stern tones that he needs to hit the books and school himself some more and let’s him know he’s not impressed with his leadership so far, but that he wants his Platoon Leader to meet with him every other day for professional development. The LT scoffs but plods on.

          In the second setting, we have our same old and experienced platoon sergeant gently counseling the LT and the same squad leaders eagerly but impatiently supporting their boss. Only this time we have a company commander who calls the LT every 30 seconds on the radio demanding situation reports which occupy the LT’s attention most of the time when his men are locked in combat needing decisions. The commander’s tone is dirisive often to the tone of “you shit-head moron, I can’t believe how much of an incompetent waste of humanity you are, you better get this right or I swear I’m removing you first chance I get you asshole turd eater.” Outside of combat, a senior staff officer often discusses with the company commander within earshot of the LT… “man, you’re lieutenant is such a piece of crap. You know after hours, he goes to his room and plays video games with the other LTs. He ought to be studying. Can you believe he spent the weekend getting drunk with his buddies? What a useless piece of crap” and another staff officer can often be seen meeting with the lieutenants squad leaders constantly deriding him, “I can’t believe he’s your lieutenant. I wouldn’t follow that jack ass to the ice cream store. He makes awful decisions, if I were y’all I wouldn’t do a damn thing he says”

          Now, our LT is already prone to making bad decisions, but which LT do you think is going to make worse decisions or more bad decisions or not even bother trying to improve himself or not even have his good decisions acknowledged or engage in open rebellion against the organization ? Remember. They are the *exact same* person by personality and skill level.

          You see, this entire Trump administration and Left wing meltdown fiasco has Caine Mutiny ethics written all over it. Yes, of course in our republic, the opposition is not obligated to follow lock step, but damn.. they are obligated not to make the conditions so absolutely impossible to function so they can turn around and wail about the administrations inability to function.

          • Comment Of The Day nomination here.

            This is exactly what I have been musing, but put into a parable that anyone can understand.

            Great job, Tex! From another Aggie, class of ’93

          • texagg04,
            Really, really good comment!

            What’s happening with the left is both intentional subversion and intentional sedition – we need to start using those words, they accurately define what’s happening. Their goal is to literally prevent the Trump administration from governing and physically remove him from office. Let’s be honest, can you think of a better tactic than putting the administration in defense mode 100% of the time by using their best tactical tools, first a colluding media is ginning up public resistance and second “activist” judges literally impede progress?

            “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” Malcolm X

            Where do you think a seditious propaganda civil war will lead?

            I wonder what the resistance battle flag will look like.

            • charlesgreen

              Zoltar, Tezxagg, the problem with arguing from metaphor is there is absolutely no recourse to it. The rules of logic and evidence don’t apply.

              One either buys this metaphor, or one doesn’t. You both do. Surprise surprise, I don’t.

              You say a good man is being abused by a vast left-wing conspiracy. I say he’s a dangerous incompetent who is the sole author of every dilemma he finds himself in.

              We can trade metaphors all day, but we’re both just preaching to our own choirs.

              • You didn’t even read it did you?

                The fact you think I’ve cast Trump as a good man would indicate you could even be bother to spend the 60 seconds necessary to read that.

                You don’t want to answer the question posed endure you know it is convicting of the absolutely Ethics-desolate Left, of which you are a part and happy cheerleader for.

                Thanks though. This is revealing.

              • Charles, you raised a straw man argument. Tex never called Trump a good man, and the story describes an arrogant, ignorant, inexperienced, and possible lazy individual.

                You say a good man is being abused by a vast left-wing conspiracy. I say he’s a dangerous incompetent who is the sole author of every dilemma he finds himself in.

                I say a dangerous incompetent man is being abused by a vast left-wing conspiracy.

                Think about that, everyone.

                It is not likely to end well for the country.

                • Well stated, though I am tolerant of charles’ smears, one of the chief tools of the Left is to immediately try to hang onto the detractors of the Left some sort of love of Trump or belief in Trump’s “goodness”… this way they can attack that or quietly undermine the detractors.

                  It is a strawman.

                  It is silly.

              • Charles,
                I’m curious why you chose not to address anything I wrote except that I wrote, “Really, really good comment!”

                How do you feel about the words “intentional subversion and intentional sedition” being used to describe the actions of the political left aka the anti-Trump resistance.

                Also; please find a way to show me that the motives of the political left since before the inauguration took place have been anything other than to literally prevent the Trump administration from governing and physically remove him from office.

                • charlesgreen

                  How do I feel about “intentional subversion and intentional sedition?”

                  There’s no question a lot of people on the left would very much like to see Trump out of office (though we are all given pause by the prospect of President Pence). But you give us far too much credit when you say we are subverting and seditions.

                  Let me ask you this:
                  -Who subverted Trump into hiring Flynn? Seems to me the classic left-wing suspects, like Obama, warned him not to. Hell even Flynn himself told Trump he was under investigation.
                  -Who subverted Trump into blurting out highly classified information in the Oval Office? To the Russkies?
                  -Who subverted Trump into inviting the Russians into the Oval Office in the first place (helluva bad set of optics).
                  -Who tricked or subverted or conned trump into:
                  -making misogynist comments all the time
                  -proposing legislation that predictably failed in the courts for predictable consitutional reasons

                  And you know I could go on.

                  My point is, nearly all Trump’s crises are entirely of his own making. It doesn’t need any one on the left to help him, he’s doing a helluva job making it easy for people who oppose him to do so.

                  And it’s hardly seditious: look that one up. All the resistance against Trump is coming from classic insittutional sources, like Congress, the press, and the judiciary (not to be confused with the “deep state” nonsense).

                  • Personal question Charles; do you think anything you just wrote sounds like rationalizations?

                    Charles wrote, “And it’s hardly seditious: look that one up.”

                    Don’t give me any of that pompous crap Charles; I did look up the word sedition and I don’t use it lightly.

                    Here’s just one definition of sedition…

                    “language or behavior intended to persuade other people to oppose their government and change it”

                    Maybe you should spend some quality time with a few dictionaries and actually understand sedition before you spout off like that again.

                    • charlesgreen

                      I note you selectively quoted that definition, leaving out “…sometimes by violence.”

                      Here’s Wikipedia’s slightly longer definiton:
                      Sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that tends toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontention (or resistance) to lawful authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Seditious words in writing are seditious libel. A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interests of sedition.

                      Typically, sedition is considered a subversive act, and the overt acts that may be prosecutable under sedition laws vary from one legal code to another.

                      Can you point to an act of the establishment left (press, Democrats in Congress, even Judiciary) which would be fairly characterized as “subversion of a constitution,” or “seditious libel,” or “insurrection against the established order?”

                      And make sure to distinguish any such acts from lawful demonstrations, constitutionally protected speech, and the like.

                      Meanwhile have a look at the cases the Trump is serving up all by himself: like admitting that he fired Comey to hinder the Russia investigation (looks suspiciously like obstruction of justice). Or like unilaterally revealing top secret info to the Russians in the Oval Office (looks like treason). Or like accusing the previous president of having “tapped” him (looks like libel). Or like hiring an admitted foreign agent under investigation to become National Security Advisor and giving him access to top-secret info (looks again like treason).

                      No one needs to resort to seditious behavior to drive this president out of office; he’s digging his own grave, every day.

                    • Charles wrote, “I note you selectively quoted that definition, leaving out “…sometimes by violence.”

                      It was intentional choice by me and a 100% justifiable choice since it only “sometimes” defines the word where the part prior to the comma defines it 100% of the time; but please go right ahead and ignore that fact and build a strawman to use as a back-handed smear.

                      Charles wrote, “Here’s Wikipedia’s slightly longer definition:”

                      Seriously Charles, you talked about me selectively leaving something out of an actual definition as defined in an actual dictionary that literally doesn’t define the word all the time, only sometimes, and then you turn around and use Wikipedia, a user input driven source online encyclopedia, when there are actual dictionaries online? Interesting choice.

                      We disagree. I’m shocked.

                    • charlesgreen

                      By the way, “language or behavior intended to persuade other people to oppose their government and change it” by itself is practically indistinguishable from the exercise of free speech. Which last I looked is constitutionally protected.

                    • So now you’re implying that sedition is a Constitutional Right?

                    • charlesgreen

                      Of course not. I’m stating (not implying) that you picked a narrow definition to hang your hat on, one so milquetoast as to be indistinguishable from the exercise of free speech.

                      Sedition has a far harder edge to it: here are some further definitions:

                      Law Dictionary, Merriam Webster
                      Legal Definition of sedition
                      : the crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its overthrow or destruction — compare criminal syndicalism, sabotage

                      Definition of sedition for English Language Learners (also Merriam Webster)
                      : the crime of saying, writing, or doing something that encourages people to disobey their government

                      See the difference there?

                    • The difference, from a layman’s perspective seems to boil down to this:

                      We can call on our fellow citizens to CHANGE laws, but calling on our fellow citizens to BREAK laws (with a reasonably likelihood that they will follow our call) is sedition.

                      We can call on our fellow citizens to AMEND our form of government and our processes of governing, but calling on our fellow citizens to SUBVERT the *form* of government and the *processes* of governing is sedition.

                      But I cannot tell if there is a wide gap between those two standards or a wide overlap between those two standards, but there is a wide gray area involving the two standards that reeks of Ethics Incompleteness Theorem which is why we almost never enforce sedition laws regardless of how seditious a particular group behaves.

                      And make no mistake, the Left, THRIVES inside those kinds of ethics incompleteness realms. They can do their most damage to the Republic hiding out in there and then walking away saying “what? totally legal man!”.

    • You’ll lose the bet because you limited the time you could win to a year, which would be May 12, 2018. You might have had a shot if you said “within his first term” and Democrats swept through the mid-terms. I’m not sure what solace making such predictions offer to people these days. It seems like a never ending string of predictions. “He won’t declare himself a candidate.” “He won’t get his campaign off the ground.” “The first primary debate will expose him.” “He won’t win any primaries.” “He won’t win the nomination.” “He won’t beat the Democrats.” “He won’t be inaugurated.” “He won’t make it a month.” “He won’t make it 100 days.” “He won’t make it a year.” “He won’t finish his first term.” “He won’t be re-elected.”

      Can I please implore all who read this: quit making Trump predictions.

      • charlesgreen

        I am comforted by the fact that Jack unequivocally predicted that neither Trump nor Hillary would get their respective parties’ nominations, if I recall.

        Yes, I’m probably sticking my neck out too far saying one year; we should all be wary of predictions.

        Time will tell whether history records this as a crisis of ethics, or as sniping from the press and disaffected Democrats.

      • valkygrrl

        Trump will blame his next failure on everyone but himself, and if something good happens, will take complete credit for the work of others.

        Donald Trump’s next interview will contain pointless digressions describing something routine as the best/the greatest/the worst/terrible.

        Sometime in the next week, not counting what already happened today, Donald Trump will throw a temper tantrum on twitter.

        In the next 60 days Donald Trump will completely reverse himself about something he said during the campaign.

        • valkygrrl, we agree on every prediction you just made.

          In other news, firewood is being shipped to Hell due to the blizzard… /snark

          • Jack, we need a post on how the Spurs were aided in their win by either a) James Harden point shaving, or b) someone slipped him date rape drugs

            How ethical are the accusations?


            • I will, but please tell Charles that by doing so I won’t be turning a blind eye to more important matters…

              • charlesgreen


                • Charles, can we pleez pleez pleeeez talk about something else, preferably sports related, now?


                  • valkygrrl

                    There’s enough sports, bah. How about a compassion of the rationalizations used in Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein vs the ones used in Old Man’s War (essentially an updated version of the same story) by John Sclazi.

                    Jack’s done analysis of TV show episodes after all.

                    • NOW WE ARE TALKING!

                      Starship Troopers and OMW both relied on volunteer military forces, but OMW recruited them on a false premise: man had to fight the galaxy to colonize. Later books revealed the depths of the unethical actions taken by the colonies, so I vote this as the most unethical of the two.

                      All of Heinlein’s works are based on rationalizations, straw man arguments, and bald faced libertarian-like rhetoric. Fun reads, but I find myself taking his assertions for quotations, and when attributing them realize they are not real. Some of the observations are shrewd analysis of human nature, nonetheless.

                      Have you read Scalzi’s other works? ‘The Androids Dream’ is set in a different universe, but is detailed and as groundbreaking as the OMW universe.

                    • valkygrrl

                      I read Lock-In and Redshirts though redshirts didn’t really stick in my memory all that well, loved Lock-in, I could almost imagine it taking place in the same world as Mary Robinette Kowel’s Kiss me Twice. Then picked up OMW when there was a $1.99 ebook sale, I’ve been undecided about buy the rest of the series. Budgets only stretch so far.

                      Oh I also read The Shadow War of the Night Dragons</em< but didn't rate it very high on my Hugo ballot that year, Six Months and Three Days was infinity better. Though I was all about The Paper Menagerie and The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees that year.

      • charlesgreen

        My bet’s looking a little better, after only a week…

        • 3 times zero is still zero. Hasn’t been a remotely impeachable offense yet.

          Obama, however, had several that could have been if the GOp were even slightly as irresponsible as today’s Democrats. Nat Hentoff, who I read since college and was a civil liberties icon, wrote (in 2014)

          The ACLU should be organizing with other presumed guardians of our individual constitutional liberties to demand that impeachment proceedings begin against Obama, the most flagrant presidential violator of the Constitution in our history.
          This is for the sake of our very identity as Americans.

          Obama was killing people. That’s worse than anything Trump has done, and the rest of the news media didn’t give a damn.

          • I presume Jack is referring to the well documented drone targeting and killings of American citizens without due process, or any process at all except pushing the button.

            And progressives ought to be scared shitless that Trump now has that power. If he is a tenth of the monster they say he is, why not use what Obama got away with?

            (Answer: Obama was the real monster: he actually did things the left hates. Trump has only used words so far.)

          • charlesgreen

            “Hasn’t been a remotely impeachable offense yet.”

            My understanding (again, I’m not a lawyer) is that the recourse of impeachment is deliberately not of a piece with criminal statutes. Madison explicitly wrote about it being essentially a political solution to largely political problems. It would probably surprise the founders that in our 250 years it has never been successfully used even once (unless you count Nixon’s resignation).

            Point is, you could very well argue we’ve already got impeachable offsenses, since they’re not statute-based things. To be cynical about it, an impeachable offense is whatever the House says it is. To be more realistic about it, Nixon wasn’t forced to resign because of a third-rate burglary; and I’m sure there have been many non-impeached instances of obstruction of justice.

            He was impeached because he came to be seen as a crook, a mean-spirited, nasty, drunk-in-the-nighttime-hallways paranoid figure who dishonored the office. Very impeachable, and rightly so.

            So I guess I’m quibbling with “remotely.” Given it’s at root a political solution, I would argue we’re past remote.

            • Can you find that argument by Madison?

              I’ve perused the notes of William Paterson, Robert Yates, James McHenry, William Pierce, Rufus King, and Alexander Hamilton on the Constitutional convention. All of them note that the convention agreed that impeachment should occur against “malpractice” or “misconduct” or “corruption” AND against “neglect of duty”. Then the words of the Constitution clearly say impeachment is for treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. I haven’t found in the various sources, yet, why the wording change.

              My assumption is that the wording of the Constitution leaves it clear that removal of the President is dependent on breaking laws yet to be enacted. That is to say, the Presidential impeachment is subject to laws, and if society so deems conduct worthy of being a crime, it needs to be enshrined in law.

              Whereas the convention’s earlier wording of the needs for impeachment seemed vague and open to subjective “feelings” and passions of the time. The final draft clearly ties the need for impeachment to written law, not arbitrary whim.

              Here’s Hamilton’s primary discussion on impeachment in the Federalist papers: “”

              He does refer to the ultimately political nature of impeachment…but not that impeachment derives from political needs, but rather simply through partisanship will gain a political nature…which, his essay (and the follow on) attempt to argue why trying impeachment in the Senate is the best solution to fight what would ultimately be seen as a political act.

              • charlesgreen


                Impressive! In this area, you clearly know more than I do, and I defer to your assessment.

                For what it’s worth (and I may have misrepresented him), I was reacting to the following article

                by Greg Weiner, author of a book on Madison.

                I’m curious to hear your thoughts on his article.

                • He is making an argument from the same source material I mentioned, chiefly the Federalist papers. I still haven’t found Madison’s own specific arguments regarding it, but I think the source is irrelevant as the body of work published by the Founders (“Federalist” and “Antifederalist” alike) should be read as a single work documenting an internal dialogue, to be used as clarification when and where the final adopted documents possibly contain ambiguity. This could very well be one of those cases. That being said, the body of work by the Founders which may aid in revealing their intent or at least how they believed their philosophy of our political system out to be enshrined in the constitution, isn’t the only body of work used to interpret their intent. There is precedence and tradition, which the author of this article disregards when he says “Our tendency to read the impeachment power in an overly legalistic way, which is ratified by 230 years of excessive timidity about its use, obscures the political rather than juridical nature of the device.”

                  He’s right in nothing that many of the earliest drafts and proposed language of the impeachment standards were very vague, such as (not an exhaustive list):

                  “…and removable on impeachment and conviction for mar-practice, corrupt conduct, and neglect of duty.” (from an article called “Variant Texts of the Plan Presented by William Patterson”)

                  “The governors, senators, and all officers of the United States to be liable to impeachment for mal and corrupt conduct; and, upon conviction, to be removed from office, and disqualified for holding any place of trust, or profit.” (from an article called “Variant Texts of the Plan Presented by Alexander Hamilton”)

                  “9. Resolved, that a National Executive be instituted … and to be removable on Impeachment and Conviction of Mal-Practice, or neglect of duty.” (Notes of William Patterson in the Federal Convention of 1787)

                  “Mr. Maddison observed that to prevent a Man from holding an Office longer than he ought, he may for mal-practice be impeached and removed” (Notes of Major William Pierce)

                  “Mr. Dickinson moved that in the seventh resolution, the words, and removable on impeachment and conviction for mal conduct or neglect in the execution of his office, should be inserted after the words ineligible a second time. Agreed to. The remainder postponed.” (Notes of Honorable Robert Yates on the Federal Convention of 1787)

                  “-Chief Magistrate must be free from impeachment extent-manners- Wilson” (Notes of Alexander Hamilton in the Federal Convention of 1787 – this isn’t necessarily Hamilton’s view, rather he noted that James Wilson of Pennsylvania made the argument)

                  So why the switch to far more legalistic language?

                  Well, we know from their other writings that the Founders crafted the Constitution with an eye towards halting the ever changing and easily violent passions of the People and even the People’s representatives. So language that creates a standard which essentially means one thing when the people *feel* one way and an entirely different thing when the people *feel* differently wouldn’t cut it. So the only option was the funnel the standards through Rule of Law. And since we know Laws change as well, new laws are added and old laws dropped, there still had to be a certain open-endedness to the Impeachment Clause. This way, any enacted laws in the future would apply to presidents as well as the standards written into the Constitution.

                  “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” It would seem that treason is unarguable. “Corruption” was replaced with “bribery” which seems to be a much more legally describable act – I mean, what one Democrat calls “pursuing an agenda” one Republican will call “corruption” and vice versa, so the term “corruption” seems a bit vague. As for the final clause, I think that’s where the Founder’s had an eye for whatever future laws Congress enacted or repealed and the long litany of laws the soon to be Congress would immediately adopt from the old government anyway.

                  I think however, that one standard probably every president has missed (simply because we’ve bequeathed ourselves TOO many programs, laws and bureaucracies) is that every department and section of the Executive branch exists because of a law, in order to pursue a particular law and governed by law…and that technically, anytime an Executive Officer (up to the President) does NOT enforce laws on the books or fails to follow particular laws as they govern the Executive Branch, then they are committing impeachable offenses. But holy cow if that will ever be triggered.

                  The author of the article quotes, as his decisive proof, Hamilton’s Federalist #65:

                  Mason’s intent was clearly to delineate a political category, something Alexander Hamilton — who did not shrink in the defense of executive power — recognized in Federalist 65, which says that impeachment applied to offenses “of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they related chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

                  He’s lifted that excerpt from a larger paragraph:

                  “A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

                  I think the author does a disservice by pulling the piece out of context. This paragraph is found within a 2-part essay on WHY the Senate has been given the power of trying impeachment proceedings, found within a larger arc of essays on the powers of the Senate in general. The focus of the essay has little to do with WHY any particular President should be impeached and more to do with WHY the Senate is the least worst forum to try the President in. I word it “least worst”, because the bulk of the essay acknowledges that every branch of government could have serious separation of powers issues and conflict of interest issues as the court of impeachment, but that the Senate is the “least worst” of them, and with impeachment split between House and Senate, and the Senate’s conflicts of interest (namely the appointment of Executive positions, is diluted to merely Confirmation of presidential nominations) that it’s a much better forum for the trial.

                  I think what Hamilton is actually describing, is that no matter what reason a President is impeached, it by it’s own nature will be Political. Not that it can, ethically, have a political *source*, but that it will by nature have a political *quality*. Hamilton is merely describing the problems caused by impeachment and why the Senate best alleviates those problems.

                  I cannot find anywhere else that the Founders mused on exactly what they meant by “corruption” or “mal-practice” or “neglect of duty” and can only assume, since their vision was Rule of Law, that they certainly did not mean any standard based on the capricious whims of opposing political opinions. But I don’t even think the author needs to make the argument he needs to make…he merely needs to follow the process and determine if Trump has broken any laws, which seems to be the “obstruction of justice” tack the Left is currently undertaking.

  3. fattymoon

    Trump’s Twitter obsession is like adding kindling to the fire that will eventually consume him. See today’s tweets, for example.

  4. Here is what I don’t understand or can’t comprehend: I own a large, multinational, powerful company. My IT director is not doing a good job. Viruses affect my server, causing confusion and delay and lost production. My IT director keeps telling me that things are fine. One hour later my server crashes because it got hacked, exposing my company to security risks. I decide to fire my IT director. Wouldn’t I have someone in mind as a replacement, or a list of possible candidates culled to a select few, before I fire the IT director?

    Trump decided Comey had to go, and it was his decision and his right. The FBI Director serves at his pleasure and can be fired for any reason or no reason. Yet, the FBI directorship is an important position. Why wouldn’t Trump have Comey’s successor waiting in the wings to be presented to Congress forthwith? It seems like Trump is running the government as he would one of his companies. Government is very a different animal from private business. Why the self-inflicted wound?


  5. Chris

    2. A President of the United States fired an FBI director who deserved to be fired, and everything else is political warfare and public disinformation. A President firing someone he had the power to fire and that most Americans rightly believed should be fired cannot be a scandal, a crisis, or anything else worthy of the hysterical coverage this story has received.

    What if–and this is entirely a hypothetical used to illustrate a point, not an accusation–it came out that Trump fired Comey not for any of the reasons he deserved to be fired, but because he made sexual advances at Comey and Comey would not reciprocate?

    I bring this up to illustrate the point that myself and other commenters have raised already: it is perfectly possible for one to fire an employee who deserves to be fired for reasons unrelated to the merits, and that when one does this, one is acting unethically. If Trump had fired an employee who deserved to be fired because they would not sleep with him, then that would indeed be a scandal.

    Therefore, your absolutist statement “A President firing someone he had the power to fire and that most Americans rightly believed should be fired cannot be a scandal, a crisis, or anything else worthy of the hysterical coverage this story has received” is incorrect.

    Similarly, the president firing Comey not for the reasons stated in the Rosenstein memo, but because he was personally angry over Comey’s investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia, is also scandalous. It shows pettiness, vindictiveness, and a disrespect for the process. It shows that the president makes decisions based on personal animus, not what is best for the country.

    And we know today that Trump did made the decision as a result of his anger over the Russia investigation, because Trump said so.

    Not that you spent 48 hours calling insulting the mental health of everyone who came to this rational conclusion, and even called the New York Times “deceptive” for mentioning the Russia investigation in their headline and lede of the story about Comey’s firing. Now that Trump himself has confirmed he made the decision as a result of anger over the Russia investigation, you owe us an apology.

    And really, ours was always the most logical conclusion. We knew the following immediately:

    1) That Trump was angry over the existence of the Russia investigation
    2) That the majority of complaints in the Rosenstein memo were reasons to fire Comey months ago
    3) That Trump praised Comey for doing many of the same things the Rosenstein memo said were reasons to fire him
    4) That Trump was angry at Comey for not backing up his wiretapping conspiracy theory
    5) That Trump has a habit of firing people he does not believe are personally loyal to him

    All of these reasons could lead a rational observer to conclude that Trump fired Comey for personal reasons. Rational observers on both sides of the political aisle, including conservative and libertarian writers, drew this conclusion. Yet you and many of the commenters here kept repeating some variation of the following arguments:

    1) Anyone who thinks Trump fired Comey for personal reasons is insane
    2) Using someone’s past behavior to draw conclusions about their current behavior is bigotry
    3) The reasons for Trump firing Comey don’t matter, and also if you still disagree with my reasons, you’re crazy

    In the past few days we’ve seen additional evidence that we were correct in our conclusion:

    6) Trump’s staff could not give a unified explanation for why Comey was fired
    7) Some of their reasons, such as the FBI losing confidence in Comey, were directly contradicted by McCabe
    8) Trump’s staff said he only chose to fire him after reading the memo; this was proven false by Trump
    9) Trump said he made the decision after thinking about how the Russia investigation is fake news

    We were right, Jack. You called us crazy and we were right.

    The ethical thing to do at this point is to concede this and apologize.

    • fattymoon

      I don’t ask for an apology. I just want Jack to admit he’s in error.

      Also, Jack, you got stats for this statement…? “A President firing someone he had the power to fire and that most Americans rightly believed should be fired…” You say “most Americans” – show us the proof of this assertion.

      • fattymoon

        Might I add, should your assertion prove correct (I’m just asking for proof which, I suppose, is impossible for anyone to provide), then that would indicate Comey was doing a very good job cause he was pissing off people on both sides of the aisle and, hence, their supporters in the general populace.

        • fattymoon

          Gotta go. Today’s presser is about to start on C-Span. I’m waiting for a question about Spicer and the bushes hahaha!

    • False.

      1) Anyone who thinks Trump fired Comey for personal reasons is insane

      The accusation is that Trump fired Comey to protect himself from an investigation that doesn’t involve him. That is anti-trump bias and hysteria. Neat of you to generalize this into “personal reasons.” That’s deceit.

      2) Using someone’s past behavior to draw conclusions about their current behavior is bigotry

      No, saying, as you did repeatedly, “That’s what he is” is bigotry. Judging someone not by what they do but by what they “are” is bigotry.

      3) The reasons for Trump firing Comey don’t matter, and also if you still disagree with my reasons, you’re crazy;

      Is this a contest to top yourself in putting words in my mouth? The reasons don’t matter in the sense that the action itself is legal, ethical, and within his power. Comey said the same thing.

      In the past few days we’ve seen additional evidence that we were correct in our conclusion:

      I don’t owe you or anyone an apology for correctly calling this fake hysteria what it is: another effort to “get” Trump for doing something any other President could do without objection. (Maxine Waters, being an idiot, actually said this outright. Meet your ally!) It is the real ethics crisis here, and you are part of it. I will patiently await fairness and proportion to re-enter your values.

      • fattymoon

        Well then, Jack, instead of you doubling down (kinda like the man himself), can we steer the conversation to Spicer and the bushes?

      • Chris


        The accusation is that Trump fired Comey to protect himself from an investigation that doesn’t involve him.

        First of all, the notion that the investigation “doesn’t involve him” is too stupid to take seriously. His campaign is being investigated. I’m coming around to your argument that we should not say “Trump is being investigated” based on the investigation into his campaign, but to say an investigation into his campaign “doesn’t involve him” is ridiculous.

        Second, I’m looking back at my comments, and I can’t find one where I said he fired Comey to protect himself from the investigation. If you can find one, I’ll concede the point, but what I do remember saying a lot is that Trump fired Comey out of personal vengeance. I also said that he fired Comey only after Comey became a threat to his own power, and gave examples of how he did so: by revealing he was investigating Trump’s campaign, and by refusing to back up Trump’s wiretapping claims. Both of my arguments were and are factually true. Yet this is how you responded to my statement that Trump only fired Comey after he became a threat to his own power:

        Seriously? Trump fires the director after an extensive memo from a top attorney explaining why it is a good idea; everyone and his brother wants the guy fired; Comey just botched a high profile hearing, there is every reason to fire him, and you’re just sure it was for some other reason, because Trump BAD.

        Well, now we know that Trump did indeed fire Comey for “some other reason.”

        At one point you also said this:

        Firing Comey isn’t related to the Russia investigation.

        Trump now says it is.

        No, saying, as you did repeatedly, “That’s what he is” is bigotry. Judging someone not by what they do but by what they “are” is bigotry.

        No. What he is is a petty asshole. Try denying this. You can’t, because you said it yourself. Assuming a petty asshole has done something for a petty asshole reason is not bigotry, it is common sense.

        And of course, we now know he fired Comey for a petty asshole reason, because he said so.

        Is this a contest to top yourself in putting words in my mouth? The reasons don’t matter in the sense that the action itself is legal, ethical, and within his power. Comey said the same thing.

        It’s like you’re auditioning for Conway’s job. Comey did say the firing was legal and within his power, but he did NOT say it was ethical. Whether it was ethical is the entire subject of this debate. It wasn’t ethical, for the reasons already explained.

        I don’t owe you or anyone an apology for correctly calling this fake hysteria what it is: another effort to “get” Trump for doing something any other President could do without objection. (Maxine Waters, being an idiot, actually said this outright. Meet your ally!) It is the real ethics crisis here, and you are part of it. I will patiently await fairness and proportion to re-enter your values.

        You don’t know any other president could do it without objection, and this is nothing but the “everybody does it” rationalization. charles and I have already said we would think it unethical if Clinton fired Comey in the middle of the email investigation.

        And the real ethics crisis here is that we have a president who makes decisions based purely on personal animus, not on what’s best for the country.

      • Oliver K. Manuel

        I agree with your analysis.

        The fanatical opposition to President Trump and blind support for the AGW fable convince me :

        1. The primary purpose of “consensus science” is to keep the public always frighten and unaware of NATURE’s benevolence:

        2. Trump will have to strip the US NAS (National Academy of Sciences) of authority to review future programs and budgets of federal research agencies to drain the Washington, DC swamp of selfish ‘gators!

  6. dragin_dragon

    Re: the aside:
    Most serious studies of IQ have found little correlation of IQ with anything other than success at college. That I know of, there has never been a study linking IQ to impulse control, though that does sound rather interesting. There has been some anecdotal data indicating that some genetic conditions that result in lowered IQ’s (developmental disabilities…what used to be referred to as mental retardation) may also result in a lack of impulse control. If I were going to (unethically) estimate Trump’s IQ without ever meeting and speaking with the man, much less administering an IQ test, his lack of impulse control would be one of the major things I would consider. Where he was accepted into college would not be.

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