Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/29/17

Good Morning!

1. Jezebel fails an integrity test. Are you surprised? The feminist site  has a story about John Smelcer, a successful novelist who has falsely claimed to be a Alaskan Native American  and has used  twenty-five-years of fake credentials and phony biographical details to gain a foothold with academia, publishing houses and critics. Smelcer’s deceptions are a good ethics tale on their own; I especially enjoy his tendency to use blurbs from dead authors on his Amazon pages. But it was this sentence in the Jezebel piece that really impressed me:

“…he was hired by the University of Alaska Anchorage as part of an effort to increase its diversity, with the understanding that he was an Alaskan Native.”

preceded by,

“Smelcer sounds like a Rachel Dolezal…”

Rachel Dolezal? The former NAACP official who claimed (and still claims) she was black when she wasn’t? Is that who comes to mind when you think about a prominent figure who was hired by a university as a diversity candidate after falsely claiming Native American status, and who has parlayed that fraud into national prominence?

The feminist website is shamelessly (transparently, clumsily, hilariously) protecting Senator Elizabeth Warren, aka “Fauxahontas,” and demonstrating how it and the rest of the left-wing media will try to whitewash her personal history to advance the hypocritical demagogue to the White House if possible.

The same story has another example of flagrant unethical conduct being unsuccessfully slipped under the ethics radar. In the process of noting that Smelcer’s Amazon page includes bogus endorsements by such dead literary luminaries as  Norman Mailer, Saul Bellow, and J.D. Salinger, the story quotes Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States,  who also authored an accolade for Smelcer. She wrote to Jezebel that she has asked Smelcer to remove her blurb several times, explaining,

He was so intrusive, he kept lobbying me to give him a blurb. And I basically gave him one just to get rid of him. I was very busy on tour, and unbeknownst to me, he put it on a new book he just published. I’ve written him multiple times for over a year to take my blurb off his publicity, and he wouldn’t do it. He uses all these famous dead people’s names. I never thought someone would be so brazen as to do something like that, but I thought, okay, I’m in good company!

We see. Dunbar-Ortiz thinks it’s okay to give a fake endorsement of a book that she knows will be used to deceive purchasers and critics as long as she’s busy, and doesn’t have the integrity to say “no” and mean it. And wait—what? She gave him a blurb and says now that she didn’t expect him to use it?

No, Roxanne, you’re not in good company, all those dead authors are in bad company, with you. They didn’t give Smelcer blurbs; they’re dead. You’re the one who voluntarily aided his scam.

2. Yesterday, the New York Times wrote that President Trump’s withdrawal from the Kennedy Center Honors event has organizers concerned that his absence may permanently mar the event, and create a precedent “upending one of the few Washington traditions left for Republicans and Democrats to come together.”

Right: this is Trump’s fault. The President withdrew after Norman Lear, honored for his sixties sitcoms but also a progressive activist, announced that he would accept his accolades but boycott a reception at the White House. That started a stampede of disrespect, with fellow honoree  Carmen de Lavallade, 86, announcing that she too would skip the “in light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our current leadership is choosing to engage in.” Then Lionel Richie—does this seem like a B list for the Kennedy Center this year?– hinted that he might do the same.

This is part and parcel of the despicable show business attempt to undermine the President’s Inauguration as a symbol of unity and respect for the office by pressuring various artists not to participate. As with the White House Correspondents dinner, the President’s only responsible course was to withdraw. He should inform the Kennedy Center’s board, currently stacked with Obama appointees like Valerie Jarrett, that he will continue to do so for the remainder of his time in Washington unless and until all recipients of Kennedy Center Honors are told that leaving politics out of their acceptance is a non-negotiable condition of their receiving the honors at all.

3. More on the Joe Arpaio pardon freak-out: “Morning Joe” Scarborough said yesterday that “when” Democrats draft their impeachment papers—note the President’s sole impeachable conduct so far is that he displeases Democrats—the Arpaio pardon will be on the list of examples of his “abuse of power.” Using a power completely within the boundaries set by the Constitution is not “abuse of power,” Joe, but you may be right. If one perusse the many posts I have authored here defending a President whom I deplore, a high percentage of them protests the unethical practice of condemning Trump for doing what every other President before him has done without similar condemnation.

The pardon of an 85-year old man facing a light sentence is being called an attack on the Rule of Law by the same pundits, legal experts and elected officials who were largely mum when President Obama inexplicable used his pardon power to release Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican nationalist and terrorist. From the Washington Post (an opinion piece by Charles Lane):

During the 1970s, Lopez Rivera headed a Chicago-based cell of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), which waged a futile but violent struggle to win Puerto Rican independence.

The FALN claimed responsibility for more than 120 bombings between 1974 and 1983 in a wave of senseless destruction that killed six and injured dozens. In 1981, a federal court in Chicago sentenced Lopez Rivera, then 37, to 55 years for seditious conspiracy, armed robbery, interstate transportation of firearms and conspiracy to transport explosives with intent to destroy government property.

Notably, the seditious-conspiracy charge was not some “thought crime,” as Lopez Rivera’s lawyer has said: The indictment listed 28 Chicago-area bombings, some of which caused injuries, as “overt acts” in support of the conspiracy.

FBI agents discovered dynamite, detonators and firearms at two residences occupied by Lopez Rivera. At trial, a cooperating witness from the FALN testified that Lopez Rivera personally trained him in bomb-making.

So Lopez Rivera is neither a low-level offender nor a nonviolent one. Nor, crucially, is he repentant.

He defiantly challenged the legitimacy of the court that tried him. Shortly after entering federal prison at Leavenworth, Kan., he and FALN members on the outside hatched an escape plan; the FBI foiled it by arresting Lopez Rivera’s would-be helpers, who were armed with guns and explosives. A conviction for that escape attempt added 15 years to his sentence.

In 1999, Lopez Rivera was one of 16 imprisoned Puerto Rican terrorists to whom then-President Bill Clinton offered executive clemency. He refused, reportedly because Clinton’s offer did not include one of the FALN members who had tried to break him out of Leavenworth.

Lopez Revera didn’t even make Professor Jonathan Turley’s USA Today list of bad pardons that, in his words, “[pale] in comparison with some past misuses of pardon authority…Left to their own devices, Presidents have repeatedly used this power for their personal, political and familial interests.”

(Without anyone seriously suggesting impeachment.)

Here are some of Turley’s examples that I was unaware of and hadn’t noted here previously (except the final one):

…Thomas Jefferson was accused of using the power to pardon his political allies convicted under the Alien and Sedition Act (though he opposed the act). He also pardoned Dr. Erick Bollman to allow Bollman to testify against Jefferson’s arch rival, Aaron Burr, in 1807 for treason. Bollman ultimately refused to accept the pardon and thus did not testify.

Franklin Roosevelt pardoned Conrad Mann for running an illegal lottery. Mann was a close political associate of Kansas City boss Thomas Pendergast, who made a fortune off illegal alcohol, graft and gambling and is credited with putting Harry Truman into office.

…Harry Truman pardoned one of Louisiana’s most corrupt politicians, Democrat George Caldwell. “Big George” was notorious for skimming money off government projects, including the building fund for Louisiana State University. He was finally prosecuted for tax evasion and bribery, but pardoned by Truman…

…Bill Clinton was a serial abuser of pardon authority, using the power to benefit family, friends and political donors. Clinton granted a pardon to his own brother, Roger Clinton, and his friend (and fellow Whitewater business partner) Susan McDougal. Most notoriously, he pardoned a man who is generally viewed as one of the least worthy recipients of a pardon in modern history: the fugitive financier Marc Rich. Rich was a major Democratic donor and entirely unrepentant for his tax evasion, racketeering, fraud and illegal dealings with Iran.

Double standards aren’t ethical. I don’t know why this concept seems so hard to grasp for some people.

 

50 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

50 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/29/17

  1. Mrs. Q

    Ms. Dunbar-Ortiz, who my wife has met, is also not Native. We laughed out loud when she said in her latest book that northern tribes had corn in their diets. Corn! Can’t figure out why we’ve never seen corn served at the longhouse but whatever.

  2. Steve-O-in-NJ

    #1. It’s Jezebel. Why even bother?

    #2. Showbiz has always been liberal, but in GWB’s time enough of them were willing to bite their tongues, and, at least during his first term, there was the unifying effect and patriotic surge of 9/11 and two (initially) popular wars to tamp down the anger and the bitterness about the “stolen” 2000 election. However, once things started to go sideways in Iraq Madonna, George Lucas, and all the usual players didn’t hesitate to slam him. A few, like Michael Moore, the Dixie Chicks and Garrison Keillor, had been slamming him all the way. Of course once Obama was elected the entertainment industry gave itself sore lips kissing his ass, and was looking to a full sixteen years of unfettered access when the Queen was coronated, and you know the rest. Screw the entertainment industry. Let them spend the next three and a half years, or maybe the next seven and a half years, embarrassing themselves by producing junk that all amounts to “we hate the president.” They’ll just show themselves to be shameless partisan ass-kissers all the more when the next Democrat is in the White House and they give themselves Muslim-style forehead calluses from all the bowing and scraping.

    #3.I hit some of this in my response to another post today, but again this comes as no surprise. The left in this country has no standards except double standards. They are worse than the roided-up stuntmen playing wrestling heels who used to rant at Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene Okerlund in the old WWF about how everything they did was right and everything the other side did was wrong. It’s literally at the point you can’t trust anything they say.

  3. Chris

    2. Yesterday, the New York Times wrote that President Trump’s withdrawal from the Kennedy Center Honors event has organizers concerned that his absence may permanently mar the event, and create a precedent “upending one of the few Washington traditions left for Republicans and Democrats to come together.”

    Right: this is Trump’s fault. The President withdrew after Norman Lear, honored for his sixties sitcoms but also a progressive activist, announced that he would accept his accolades but boycott a reception at the White House. That started a stampede of disrespect, with fellow honoree Carmen de Lavallade, 86, announcing that she too would skip the “in light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our current leadership is choosing to engage in.” Then Lionel Richie—does this seem like a B list for the Kennedy Center this year?– hinted that he might do the same.

    This is part and parcel of the despicable show business attempt to undermine the President’s Inauguration as a symbol of unity and respect for the office by pressuring various artists not to participate. As with the White House Correspondents dinner, the President’s only responsible course was to withdraw. He should inform the Kennedy Center’s board, currently stacked with Obama appointees like Valerie Jarrett, that he will continue to do so for the remainder of his time in Washington unless and until all recipients of Kennedy Center Honors are told that leaving politics out of their acceptance is a non-negotiable condition of their receiving the honors at all.

    They did it first?

    If the Kennedy Center Honors event really is “one of the few Washington traditions left for Republicans and Democrats to come together,” than President Trump should attend even if he is the only one to attend. Celebrities have no special duty to unite the country, but presidents do. Choosing not to go, just as in the case of the WHCD, is petty. The president should rise above the pettiness and set the example, but he won’t, because he can’t. That he refuses to even try to be a uniter, instead consistently lashing out at his critics in the most unpresidential manner possible, only lenss them more justification for their treatment of him. If he chose to start responding to criticism the same way that, say, Pence responded when the cast of Hamilton lectured him, his approval ratings would increase within a week. But he just can’t take the high road.

    • JP

      I don’t know the purpose of the event but based on the things I have read concerning this story it was my impression that it was to honor the people who were boycotting. If that is the case it seems big of the president to step aside to allow those people to have those honors.of course this could be the graduation speaker debate, but I guess that would depend on those being honored.

    • Chris, that’s just ridiculous on its face. The ceremony is to be celebrating the arts. Every other set of honorees accepted the President’s role, regardless of politics. Robert Redford accepted an honor from George Bush. The President is supposed to be able to attend the ceremony to represent his office—the Kennedy Center itself is a monument to the office—without being a lightening rod for political grandstanding and hate. He’s a co-host of a celebration. If the artists are determined to be respectful and taint their own honor, he is under no obligation to be abused, and has a duty not to allow his office to be treated like that.

      As with the VMA’s, the entire show business and artistic community have signalled that they want to grandstand and be divisive, which is not the purpose of art. Trump is 100% correct. Screw ’em.

      • Chris

        Despite what Trump believes, “screw ’em” is not an attitude the president can afford to show toward any citizen. I highly doubt it’s an attitude you would have accepted from Obama. It’s an attitude that Hillary Clinton was pilloried for when she called half of Trump’s supporters “deplorables.” Should Obama have boycotted the WHCA because Trump was there? A competent leader knows how to deal with and mitigate the “abuse” he receives from the public, and much of the “abuse” Trump faces is a result of his own thin skin and divisiveness.

        Really, one could make the argument that the press and media shouldn’t show up to honor the president, given how much he has verbally abused them. But then we’re just in a game of “Who started it.” If the press and media aren’t going to be the bigger people here, then it’s up to the president to rise above and be a uniter. “Screw ’em” does not do that, and is an abdication of his responsibility.

        • “Screw em” means, if they are not going to behave as patriotic citizens and respect the office, then I have no obligation to let them use me a punching bag. And he doesn’t. And shouldn’t.

          Obama had an immediate and unbeatable defense if someone tried to treat him like the celebrities and artists have treated Trump. They are racists, that’s all. Trump doesn’t have that shield. His only recourse is to get out of the line of fire.

          • Chris

            The president is always in the line of fire. If he can’t take it, he shouldn’t be president.

            The ethical recourse would be to act as if the criticism doesn’t phase him, attend the ceremony, and try and heal the divisions. But he’s incapable of that; as he revealed once again when he explained why he pardoned Arpaio during Hurricane Harvey, all he cares about is ratings.

            • Steve-O-in-NJ

              You mean like Obama so gracefully handled criticism? You can’t heal divisions if the other side doesn’t want them healed or wants them healed only on their terms. I submit that a good chunk of the left doesn’t want to heal divisions with the president. They hate him, they just want to oppose everything he does, and some, like Charles Blow, literally will spit their last breath at him. Others want to heal, sort of, they want to leverage the good name of healing to make the president act like he didn’t win this time out and does not have any authority. That’s not healing, that’s giving in to bullying and extortion. GWB put up with it to a large extent, and got mercilessly poked fun at for trying to act in good graces. Trump just isn’t doing it. Sorry he refuses to dance to your tune.

              • Chris

                You mean like Obama so gracefully handled criticism?

                Compared to Trump? Yes. Compared to Trump, Obama handled criticism masterfully–and that’s saying a lot, since Obama did not handle criticism well. But Trump has reached new lows when it comes to how he treats his critics. This is undeniable.

                Sorry he refuses to dance to your tune.

                He refuses to have a modicum of decorum and good taste.

            • crella

              Don’t you think, though, that the Trump-bashing level is far beyond normal criticism? Not a day goes by without 3-4 anti-Trump headlines on CNN, lately in fonts that take up 1/4 of the top page. Questioning policy is one thing, speculative fear-mongering and outright ridicule are different. He’s now being criticized (CNN Opinion) for going to Texas too soon. We know that if he waited 2-3 more days he’d be branded as being too late, and not caring. Anything good (his speech the other day) that can’t be spun to look bad is branded ‘fake Trump’, and ‘how long will it last?’ and ‘how soon will the real Trump reappear?’ . Why not just praise what was a good speech? Nope! Can’t do it! Any inkling of praise for ’45’ is being a traitor to the cause….

              The fact that he can do NO good in the eyes of the press should be a huge clue, Chris. No one is wrong 100% of the time. I don’t recall another President subject to such scathing headlines day in and day out, in the sarcastic tones I’m seeing.

              • Chris

                Don’t you think, though, that the Trump-bashing level is far beyond normal criticism?

                Yes, though Trump is not a normal president. This does not, of course, justify unfair or inaccurate criticism of Trump. But even if the media were 100% objective and neutral, I would still expect coverage of Trump to be overwhelmingly negative.

                He’s now being criticized (CNN Opinion) for going to Texas too soon. We know that if he waited 2-3 more days he’d be branded as being too late, and not caring.

                I agree with you on this. Chalk this one up to unfair anti-Trump bias.

                Anything good (his speech the other day) that can’t be spun to look bad is branded ‘fake Trump’, and ‘how long will it last?’ and ‘how soon will the real Trump reappear?’ . Why not just praise what was a good speech?

                Well…the speech was “fake Trump.” You cannot talk about how the military is united and transcends the bonds of color and creed while at the same time pledging to expel trans soldiers, and expect that talk to be read as sincere. Calling that out was perfectly fair given how closely on the heels to Trump’s needlessly cruel anti-trans ban it was.

        • I think that’s an adorably naive way to look at it. Ever since winning on November 8th, Trump has figured out that he literally can’t order his steak the way he likes it without someone having a bloody meltdown over it. He is a deeply polarizing figure, and not because of anything individually that he does, but because of what people ascribe to him. Just last month you were jumping at Russian shadows in the throes of Commie fever because you thought he *might* have colluded with Putin to tell the American people what the DNC really thought of them.

          He doesn’t owe you, or anyone else, a platform from which you can unpack your neurosis to his face.

          • “but because of what people ascribe to him”

            Bingo.

          • Chris

            I think that’s an adorably naive way to look at it. Ever since winning on November 8th, Trump has figured out that he literally can’t order his steak the way he likes it without someone having a bloody meltdown over it.

            Actually, what’s adorably naive is that you think this is new. The “steak with ketchup” thing got about as much play as Obama’s dijon mustard, or Bill Clinton’s hamburgers, and it was not a “meltdown,” it was a joke. Making fun of someone isn’t a “meltdown.” This was a terrible example to pick.

            He is a deeply polarizing figure, and not because of anything individually that he does, but because of what people ascribe to him.

            Good god. Even if one accepts that the Left goes too far in their criticism of Trump–and in many instances they do–are you really arguing that he hasn’t done anything divisive himself? That’s ridiculous. Jack has documented Trump’s own polarizing behavior enough for you to know this isn’t true. Cast some blame on the Left for polarizing the nation using trumped-up anti-Trump talking points, and I might agree with you to an extent. But the idea that if the Left just got out of Trump’s way, he wouldn’t do anything polarizing or divisive himself is just flat-out insane.

            Just last month you were jumping at Russian shadows in the throes of Commie fever because you thought he *might* have colluded with Putin to tell the American people what the DNC really thought of them.

            Have you missed the news the past few days? Russiagate is back, baby:

            • “Good god. Even if one accepts that the Left goes too far in their criticism of Trump–and in many instances they do–are you really arguing that he hasn’t done anything divisive himself?”

              Of course not… But if the public at large reacts pretty much the same way to him ordering his steak well done with ketchup as it does it him installing someone actively suing the EPA as head of the EPA, then their ability to signal what it is they actually care about is fundamentally undermined. And because they aren’t willing or able to differentiate those signals, because I don’t actually believe that anyone *really* cares how Donald Trump likes his steak, I have to fall back to the position that people don’t care what it is that Donald Trump does, specifically, that so triggers the masses, it’s just that Donald Trump triggers them.

              “But the idea that if the Left just got out of Trump’s way, he wouldn’t do anything polarizing or divisive himself is just flat-out insane.”

              That Trump is divisive is self evidently true. But it’s also something that you’ve only recently discovered that you care about. Barack Obama was better spoken than Trump, but in a lot of very important ways, he pushed policy that was so antithetical to half the country, and alternately abused the bully pulpit and pretended that his opponents were racist. Previous to Donald Trump, Barack Obama was probably the most divisive American president since Lincoln. The right was just better behaved. The union can withstand individual idiots in office, but it requires better citizenship from it’s stakeholders. Criticism and protest are great American pastimes, the protracted REEEEEEEEEEEEEE of outrage coming from Trump’s opponents, and the political violence that has defined 2017, is bullshit. And I’m going to call it like I see it and place the blame firmly where I think it belongs.

              “Have you missed the news the past few days? Russiagate is back, baby”

              Christ… I just put the Keen’s back in the pantry. You wait there, I’ll go get it, make another plaster, and we’ll see if we can break the fever this time.

              I mean. Really…. It reads like the guy thought that closing a major business deal with a foreign power would look good for Trump and give him a bump.That’s Occam’s razor until someone actually puts into words exactly what they think this proves, and how this proves it.

              • Chris

                Of course not… But if the public at large reacts pretty much the same way to him ordering his steak well done with ketchup as it does it him installing someone actively suing the EPA as head of the EPA, then their ability to signal what it is they actually care about is fundamentally undermined.

                Please show me the evidence that this actually happened. I recall jokes about the way Trump ordered his steak. I do not recall outrage. I believe you are mischaracterizing this issue, and you seem to be the one who cannot differentiate between outrage and jokes.

                I mean. Really…. It reads like the guy thought that closing a major business deal with a foreign power would look good for Trump and give him a bump.That’s Occam’s razor until someone actually puts into words exactly what they think this proves, and how this proves it.

                The Times story and subsequent revelations don’t prove anything we didn’t already know, it just adds more evidence to what we already did know:

                –That Trump lied when he said he had no deals with Russia while running for office
                –That the Russian government was actively trying to boost Trump’s campaign at the same time Trump was praising Russia and Putin
                –That Trump seems to attract Russian mobsters like flies to shit.

                What isn’t proven is whether Trump made any deal with the Russian government–“You help me, I help you.” This may never be proven. But as long as stories like this keep coming out, suspicion is warranted, and not finding any of this remotely suspicious is flat-out stupid.

                • “Please show me the evidence that this actually happened. I recall jokes about the way Trump ordered his steak. I do not recall outrage. I believe you are mischaracterizing this issue, and you seem to be the one who cannot differentiate between outrage and jokes.”

                  He says, missing the obvious hyperbole. Look, given enough time and energy, I’m sure I could come up with some loon that followed that fact pattern exactly, but I’ll grant you the juxtaposition wasn’t particularly mainstream. But, you understand, generally, what I’m talking about, right? Here’s an exercise: What has Trump done, that you think people generally accepted as good?

                  “The Times story and subsequent revelations don’t prove anything we didn’t already know, it just adds more evidence to what we already did know:”

                  In order:

                  “That Trump lied when he said he had no deals with Russia while running for office.”

                  Distinction between telling a lie and saying something that is not true aside, you’re right…. But most of what Trump says isn’t True. Which doesn’t excuse him! I really wish he had a more healthy relationship with the truth. But I’m struggling to understand why you think THIS untruth is special. Why it PROVES something other than most the noises that Trump makes aren’t true.

                  “That the Russian government was actively trying to boost Trump’s campaign at the same time Trump was praising Russia and Putin.”

                  I don’t think this proves it, nor that we know this. My going theory at the time was that IF Russians were actually undermining Hillary, it was because they thought that Hillary was going to win and they were interested in a weakened administration. You have to remember, Hillary Clinton once publicly called Putin “soulless”, and in response he said “Бездушный? Ну, по крайней мере у меня есть мозг.” (Soulless? Well, at least I have a brain.). Putin does not, and never has, liked Clinton. A good relationship with Trump, I think, is more akin to a cherry on the top than something he would not have done anyway, if in fact he actually did it.

                  • Chris

                    He says, missing the obvious hyperbole.

                    When accusing your political opponents of having hyperbolic, hysterical reactions to things…it’s helpful not to have hyperbolic, hysterical reactions to things yourself. You can’t accuse leftists of making irrational, over-the-top claims about Trump at the exact same time you’re making irrational, over-the-top claims about leftists, and expect to prove anything. Like I said, you picked a bad example; there have been complaints from leftists that have been unfair, and I’ve said so myself here. But when you conflate jokes with actual outrage, you not only fail to prove your case that leftists are conflating Trump’s innocuous behavior with outrageous behavior, you actively undermine it.

                    Here’s an exercise: What has Trump done, that you think people generally accepted as good?

                    I can’t even think of anything that Obama or Bush did that was “generally accepted as good,” if you mean that it was approved of by both sides of the aisle without controversy. Again, this comes with the territory. This isn’t to say that Trump hasn’t faced more opposition than past presidents–he has, though I would argue for mostly justifiable reasons–but “What has he done that you think people generally accepted as good” isn’t a good metric for judging that.

                    Distinction between telling a lie and saying something that is not true aside, you’re right…. But most of what Trump says isn’t True. Which doesn’t excuse him! I really wish he had a more healthy relationship with the truth. But I’m struggling to understand why you think THIS untruth is special. Why it PROVES something other than most the noises that Trump makes aren’t true.

                    Even Trump usually has a reason for lying. He isn’t just this unmotivated force of nature; he’s a person with agency, as I keep having to remind people who insist that we ascribe no moral judgment to his actions.

                    What it proves is that Trump felt the need to lie about his dealings with Russia.

                    Just like Kushner.

                    Just like Flynn.

                    Just like Manaforte.

                    Just like Cohen.

                    Just like Donald Trump, Jr.

                    This is called a pattern, Humble. When the same group of people keeps getting caught lying about Russia over and over again, the question “Why?” becomes relevant. And when people tell us to ignore that they’re lying and that there isn’t really any reason for it, and that we’re delusional idiots for thinking there might be a reason that seems to comport with all available facts…well, that looks a lot like gaslighting.

                    I don’t think this proves it, nor that we know this.

                    “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this.” –Felix Sater, in an e-mail to Michael Cohen.

                    What more proof do you need?

                    • Chris

                      That last sentence, for the record, means “What more proof do you need that Russia wanted Trump to win?” and NOT “What more proof do you need that Trump colluded with Russia to achieve this goal?” I say that in advance because I know if I don’t, someone will interpret it that way. There is no proof yet that anyone on the Trump team colluded with Russia, only that Don Jr. tried.

                    • “This is called a pattern, Humble. When the same group of people keeps getting caught lying about Russia over and over again, the question “Why?” ”

                      I really think you’re overthinking this.

                      Now… I could be wrong, but my recollection is that Donald Trump didn’t deny dealings with Russians until long after progressives started making it really politically uncomfortable for him to have those dealings. I think that he and his team lied because they didn’t want the headache of having those relations, and they for some reason thought they could keep them under wraps…. Which again… Is bad… But if lies got politicians impeached, their shelf life would be measured in syllables. I think that a lot of the missteps that Trump has taken in this case stem from his knowledge that he did not in fact conspire with Russians to influence the election and the belief that the truth would insulate him. James Comey said as much at his hearing… He said that his impression of why Trump fired him was that he was increasingly frustrated with Comey not releasing what they and most of Washington already knew: There was no evidence of collusion.

                      I mean…. You pointed to five different people that have lied about Russian connections… But there is aren’t any connections between all five of them and a single Russian scandal. Some of them were involved with a diplomat, some of them talked to a lawyer, if either of those meetings were in fact where the theoretical collusion happened, then you have supplied examples for me of people who lied about their Russian connections without collusion, because the list has mutually exclusive names on it.

                      Again… I challenge you to put it into words: What do you think it’s possible to find?

                    • “What more proof do you need that Russia wanted Trump to win?”

                      What proof do you have that they did? I mean… At this point, with the Awan situation, there’s doubt that the DNC leaks were even hacks… You know that, right?

                      Again… My theory is that IF Russia did actually put a thumb on the scale, it is more likely that they did it as a move against Hillary than they did it as a move for Trump.

                      But… Your question seems to imply that you think that Russia took it upon itself to find ways to influence the election in Donald Trump’s favour…. If that’s the extent of the allegation… Not that Trump promised some quid pro quo, or facilitated it, even if not for a lack of trying….Then, why is any of this Trump’s problem?

                      I mean, we can have all kinds of discussions of the absolute hypocrisy of Americans thinking that foreigners should stay out of their elections, considering how much influence America tries to exert on foreigners…. But if you don’t even think that Trump or someone close to him actually made a deal… Why would you hold them accountable for it?

                    • “But if lies got politicians impeached, their shelf life would be measured in syllables.”

                      It struck me that the last president to be impeached actually did get impeached for lying…. Although there was more to it than that. “Lying while not under oath, testifying to congress”.

                    • It’s conceding too much to even ask this question, Crella, or, having felt it needed to be asked, expecting a rational answer. There is no factual dispute over whether the news media and “the resistance” has attacked Trump for everything, excessively, dishonestly, out of all proposition and fairness, to the detriment of the office and the nation. There is no question that he is attacked for conduct and words that no other President has faced criticism for. Anyone who denies it is either lying or under a spell.

                    • Chris

                      Now… I could be wrong, but my recollection is that Donald Trump didn’t deny dealings with Russians until long after progressives started making it really politically uncomfortable for him to have those dealings. I think that he and his team lied because they didn’t want the headache of having those relations, and they for some reason thought they could keep them under wraps….

                      That’s a plausible theory.

                      But given the appearance of impropriety here, an investigation is necessary. This investigation has been portrayed by the conservatives here as trumped up and politicized. No one has actually criticized Mueller as far as I can remember, which is strange. But there has been absolutely no serious attention paid to that investigation by you or the conservatives here.

                      I also doubt that if, say, Bill Clinton had lied about meeting Loretta Lynch on that tarmac, you’d be as forgiving. I believe you would have interpreted that in the worst light possible.

                      Which again… Is bad… But if lies got politicians impeached, their shelf life would be measured in syllables. I think that a lot of the missteps that Trump has taken in this case stem from his knowledge that he did not in fact conspire with Russians to influence the election and the belief that the truth would insulate him.

                      Again, plausible. But note that this does not explain the lavish praise Trump has heaped on Putin, even in private conversations with other foreign leaders. This could be explained by Trump believing that Putin likes him, which seems to be the best way to get Trump on your side. Or it could be explained by kompromat, or secret dealings. I have not made any statement of fact here on which explanation is true. But all three explanations are equally plausible. Those who believe that Trump colluded with Russia, or who, like myself, strongly suspect it as a possibility, are not crazy or deluded. There is nothing outrageous or hard to believe about this possibility. Only a fool would say that Trump wouldn’t do this, because only a fool would say Trump wouldn’t do anything.

                      This is, again, why we need an investigation, and why the rumors will not stop until it is concluded. (Those who really want to believe he is guilty won’t stop even after it’s concluded, because that’s not how things work in politics. See: Benghazi.)

                      James Comey said as much at his hearing… He said that his impression of why Trump fired him was that he was increasingly frustrated with Comey not releasing what they and most of Washington already knew: There was no evidence of collusion.

                      That’s a very one-sided portrayal of what Comey said.

                      I mean…. You pointed to five different people that have lied about Russian connections… But there is aren’t any connections between all five of them and a single Russian scandal.

                      The sheer broadness of the Russian scandal is, in and of itself, damning.

                      Some of them were involved with a diplomat, some of them talked to a lawyer, if either of those meetings were in fact where the theoretical collusion happened, then you have supplied examples for me of people who lied about their Russian connections without collusion, because the list has mutually exclusive names on it.

                      All of them or none of them could have been involved in collusion; it’s not like a magic spell where pledges could have only been made at one time and place under a new moon. What we know is that there were multiple opportunities for such pledges to be made. The most damning are the Trump Jr. affair, which proved the Trump campaign wanted dirt on Hillary from the Russian government, and the instance with Kushner asking to set up a private line of communication with the Kremlin. That both misled about these events initially casts further doubt on their stories. But “All these people lied about totally different Russian meetings!” is hardly a compelling defense.

                      Again… I challenge you to put it into words: What do you think it’s possible to find?

                      I…literally just did this: “What isn’t proven is whether Trump made any deal with the Russian government–“You help me, I help you.” This may never be proven. But as long as stories like this keep coming out, suspicion is warranted, and not finding any of this remotely suspicious is flat-out stupid.”

                      Or perhaps the Steele dossier will eventually be proven. Either way, impeachment would be on the table.

                      But… Your question seems to imply that you think that Russia took it upon itself to find ways to influence the election in Donald Trump’s favour…. If that’s the extent of the allegation… Not that Trump promised some quid pro quo, or facilitated it, even if not for a lack of trying….Then, why is any of this Trump’s problem?

                      Again, I just said there could have been a quid pro quo.

                  • Greg

                    The New York Times article is preposterous. Somebody pitched a deal to one of Trump’s people, one of the many hundreds, if not thousands, of deals that are pitched to Trump every year.

                    –That Trump lied when he said he had no deals with Russia while running for office

                    This was not a Trump deal. It was a deal that was pitched to an Trump’s lawyer that Trump did not pursue. This supposed “letter of intent” cannot possibly have been a serious commitment of any kind. As the article makes clear, nothing ever happened on the deal other than some chat about possibilities.

                    –That the Russian government was actively trying to boost Trump’s campaign at the same time Trump was praising Russia and Putin

                    This does not show that the Russian government was trying to boost Trump’s campaign. It shows that a promoter who was pitching a deal to Trump said that he could deliver the Russian government’s support, although the article makes clear that the promoter did not actually have the slightest ability to do so.

                    –That Trump seems to attract Russian mobsters like flies to shit.

                    Rich people attract people who want their money. I have a friend who, after tragically suffering brain damage in a car accident, spent years bombarding Trump and many other rich people with wacky business proposals.

                    • crella

                      Jack (because I didn’t have a Reply option directly under your post)

                      Yes, I know. Chris’ slamming Trump for bowing out of an event because performers were poised to boycott, and his ‘They did it first’? remark prompted my question. an ‘I can’t believe you can’t see it ‘ moment, I guess, but I don’t want to start an argument, so would rather start with a question and work into the issue from there. I was then out all day (it’s 7 pm here) and wasn’t able to continue the discussion.

  4. valkygrrl

    1: I expect she blurbed a previous book and he used it as an endorsement of the new one.

    3: Oscar Lopez Rivera wasn’t on the list because it wasn’t a pardon. Yes the distinction matters.

    The Marc Rich pardon was impeachable, which is why he ran out the clock before doing it.

    Imagine this hypothetical. Muller subpoenas people to testify in front of the grand jury along with a bunch of documents. People refuse, and/or destroy documents. Trump pardons them for it.

    Impeachable? I’m going with yes.

    • Boy, is there anything you won’t spin?

      1. Authors are sent copies of a book and asked for blurbs. There is no indication that the blurb was for a different book.
      2. No, that is no distinction. The commutation power is part of the pardon power. The difference that matters is that Obama let a terrorist and unrepentant murderer out of prison when he wouldn’t promise not to bomb again.
      3. Clinton’s pardon of Rich was impeachable because it was almost certainly bought and paid for. That’s bribery, and a crime (they never could have proved it.) It is not impeachable because Rich is bad guy.
      4. If you are going with yes, you are Constitutionally illiterate, and too biased to think straight.

      • 4. I’ve been seeing this more and more since Trump took office… It’s like, all of a sudden the left cares about the constitution, because they think that they can use it to achieve their goals… But they have no idea what it does… And so they muddle and Magoo their way through it like children with only a base understanding of the language with which the words are written.

        I can’t think of a better example than the emoluments clause. If any of the newly-christened constitutional scholars preaching the impending downfall of Trump because he owns hotels actually knew that “emoluments” was a word prior to 2017, I’ll eat my loafers.

      • valkygrrl

        https://lofgren.house.gov/uploadedfiles/constitutional_grounds_for_presidential_impeachment_-_house_judiciary_comm_staff_report_february_1974.pdf

        At the time of the Constitutional Convention the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” had been in use for over 400 years in impeachment proceedings in Parliament.6 It first appears in 1386 in the impeachment of the King’s Chancellor. Michael de le Pole, Earl of Suffolk.7 Some of the charges may have involved common law offenses.8 Others plainly did not: de la Pole was charged with breaking a promise he made to the full Parliament to execute in connection with a parliamentary ordinance the advice of a committee of nine lords regarding the improvement of the estate of the King and the realm: “this was not done, and it was the fault of himself as he was then chief officer.” He was also charged with failing to expend a sum that Parliament had directed be used to ransom the town of Ghent, because of which “the said town was lost.”9

        The phrase does not reappear in impeachment proceedings until 1450. In that year articles of impeachment against William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk (a descendant of Michael), charged him with several acts of high treason, but also with “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,”10 including such various offenses as “advising the King to grant liberties and privileges to certain persons to the hindrance of the due execution of the laws,” “procuring offices for person who were unfit , and unworthy of them” and “squandering away the public treasure.”11

        Impeachment was used frequently during the reigns of James I (1603-1625) and Charles I (1628-1649). During the period from 1620 to 1649 over 100 impeachments were voted by the House of Commons.12 Some of these impeachments charged high treason, as in the case of Strafford; others charged high crimes and misdemeanors. The latter included both statutory offenses, particularly with respect to the Crown monopolies. and non-statuatory offenses. For example, Sir Henry Yelverton, the King’s Attorney General, was impeached in 1621 of high crimes and misdemeanors in that he failed to prosecute after commencing suits, and exercised authority before it was properly vested in him.13

        There were no impeachments during the Commonwealth (1649-1660). Following the end of the Commonwealth and the Restoration of Charles II (1660-1685) a more powerful Parliament expanded somewhat the scope of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” by the impeaching officers of the Crown for such things as negligent discharge of duties14 and improprieties in office.15

        The phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” appears in nearly all of the comparatively few impeachments that occured in the eighteenth century. Many of the charges involved abuse of official power or trust. For example, Edward, Earl of Oxford, was charged in 1701 with “violation of his duty and trust” in that, while a member of the King’s privy council, he took advantage of the ready access he had to the King to secure various royal rents and revenues for his own use, thereby greatly diminishing the revenues of the crown and subjecting the people of England to “grievous taxes.”16 Oxford was also charged with procuring a naval commission for William Kidd, “known to be a person of ill fame and reputation,” and ordering him “to pursue the intended voyage, in which Kidd did commit diverse piracies…, being thereto encourage through hopes of being protected by the high station and interest of Oxford, in violation of the laws of nations, and the interruption and discouragement of the trade of England.”17

        The impeachment of Warren Hastings, first attempted in 1786 and concluded in 1795, 18 is particularly important because [it was] contemporaneous with the American Convention debates. Hastings was the first Governor-General of India. The articles indicate that Hastings was being charged with high crimes and misdemeanors in the form of gross maladministration, corruption in office, and cruelty toward the people of India.19

        Two points emerge from the 400 years of English parliamentary experience with the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” First the particular allegations of misconduct alleged damage to the state in such forms as misapplication of funds, abuse of official power, neglect of duty, encroachment on Parliament¹s prerogatives, corruption, and betrayal of trust.20 Second, the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” was confined to parliamentary impeachments; it had no roots in the ordinary criminal law,21 and the particular allegations of misconduct under that heading were not necessarily limited to common law or statutory derelictions or crimes.

        And a bit later some apt specifics.

        Edmund Randolph said in the Virgina convention that the President may be impeached if he “misbehaves.”61 He later cited the example of the President’s receipt of presents or emoluments from a foreign power in violation of the constitutional prohibition of Article I, section 9. 62 In the same convention George Mason argued that the President might use his pardoning power to “pardon crimes which were advised by himself” or, before indictment or conviction, “to stop inquiry and prevent detection.” James Madison responded:

        [I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty…63

  5. Rich in CT

    preceded by,

    “Smelcer sounds like a Rachel Dolezal…”

    To be fair, I did not think of Elizabeth Warren either (I try not to…)

  6. Something I’ve noticed is that the left is really approaching this from a scorched earth perspective. I’m being told on a weekly basis that I support Trump, and when I respond that I really don’t, and here’s all the things that I deeply disagree with him about, I’m told some variation of: “you pick and choose, you’re either with him or against him.”

    My perception of this is that it wouldn’t be enough to even fully condemn Trump and his policies, what they’re really looking for is for me to accept theirs. And that’s deeply stupid, because I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to throw my principles to the curb because someone I find odious happens to belong to a party that ostensibly also follows those principles. I’m not going to abandon fiscal conservatism and embrace communism because Trump has stupid fiscal policies. I’m not going to surrender logic and reason to the cult of diversity because Trump is an idiot.

    And why is that stupid? Well… If someone insists that if I don’t do those things, then I’m a Trump supporter, then well, I guess that makes me a Trump supporter. When you offer ultimatums, you have to make damn sure that you know that the person you’re forcing a choice on will find your offer less odious than the alternative.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      The funny part is that when GWB said that you were either with us or with the terrorists before the joint session of Congress where he announced the War on Terror, there was plenty of shock and pearl-clutching on the left. Now they say the same – either you are with us or you are with Trump, and if you are with Trump you are the enemy, who we will don black masks and come after with clubs and worse.

    • Chris

      When you say that Trump isn’t a polarizing figure because of anything he’s done, but because of what other people project onto him, you sound like a Trump supporter.

      Since I know you aren’t a Trump supporter, my conclusion on this is that you’re bending over so far backwards to blame the Left for everything that it’s causing you to ignore Trump’s glaring character flaws.

      • I think you completely missed the point, Chris. One person’s glaring character flaws are not sufficient to cause polarization. Polarization is a phenomenon where the glaring character flaws of other people lead them to try and enforce this “with us or against us” idiocy.

        Humanity’s problems don’t come from the politicians. Humanity’s problems are why the politicians keep getting elected.

  7. Wayne

    They don’t care about being ethical. Political expediency is the hallmark of many of the Presidential pardons. I would exclude Ford’s pardon of Nixon as he gained nothing but grief from the pardon.

  8. Andrew Wakeling

    Oh. I didn’t hear that the Arpaio pardon had anything to do with showing compassion to a frail 85 year old? That is just you finding a convenient justification. Paul Krugman has it right. It simply stinks. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/opinion/fascism-arpaio-pardon-trump.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

    • What a snotty re-entry! Age is one of the most common justifications for pardons and commutations. I’m not looking for a justification–a President doesn’t need a justification. I wrote that I wouldn’t have pardoned him, and noted that it sends the wrong message. Krugman, who, as usual, is an ass—and he knows nothing about law or government—misses the issue, as do you. It’s legal, it’s completely discretionary, the President has the power to do it, and that’s all she wrote.

      And, of course, it is a minor pardon, because it is of and old man facing a short sentence.
      But I’m happy to give you a chance to vent.

      • Chris

        Jack, no one here has questioned the legality of the pardon. Andrew is questioning the ethics, which is the subject of this blog, not the law.

        And while I don’t read Krugman anymore, Andrew has a point. Trump never said or implied that Arpaio’s age was a reason for the pardon. He told us the reason: ratings.

        http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/348327-trump-i-pardoned-arpaio-during-hurricane-because-i-thought-tv-ratings

        • That was never in question here, or discussed, or argued. The post was about critics calling the pardon an attack on the rule of law, which is legally and Constitutionally nonsensical. Mercy is an ethical value: there is an argument that the pardon was ethical. What part of the post on 8/25 is ambiguous for you and Andrew?

          Would pardoning him send dangerous messages (it’s OK to violate judicial orders you think are wrong; the ends justifies the means; Presidents should meddle in local law enforcement, “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice”) as well as defensible ones ( judges and elected official enabling illegal immigration are a threat to the rule of law; Joe is an old man with a long record of public service who deserves mercy even though he was wrong…)

          Yes.

          Will such a pardon, especially as the news media is again spinning to make the case that Trump is sympathetic with xenophobes and white nationalists, further inflame an overly emotional debate that needs to be calmed, not exacerbated?

          God, yes.

          Is the most responsible course for Trump to stay out of this mess?

          YES!

          Will he?

          Of course not.

          So let’s see: I unequivocally declared the pardon irresponsible, dangerous (reckless, incompetent), endorsing the unethical standard of the ends justify the means, and stupid. The fact that I pointed out, accurately, that the pardon is defensible does not and never means that I can’t still regard conduct as unethical: lots of unethical conduct is “defensible,” and I don’t accept the defenses as sufficient to justify the conduct. It was a bad pardon. As I said. I said I wouldn’t have issued it, which clearly states that it I don’t regard it as a ethical.

          Andrew does NOT have a point: Trump specifically mentioned age in his initial pardoning statement:

          Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is (a) worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”

          I love it when lazy commenters protest based on their own failure to check the facts. Love it.

    • crella

      I can’t tell where the second image is from……did the listing of the hat coincide with the hurricane? Or has it been on sale since the Inauguration? The Tweet ( of course) makes it look as if the hurricane conference was an opportunity to plug the hat, but really?

    • I don’t respond to comments that start like that. I wouldn’t try that again, if I were you.

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