Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/18/19: Redacted Mueller Report Freak-Out Edition

Good morning!

1. Mueller report ethics!

  • Note the names and employers of the pundits and reporters who opine on the 400 page report (to be released today around 11:00 am) before they could possibly read it. [Althouse this morning: “What can they do, once 11 rolls around, to avoid continuing to analyze the Barr presentation (which will include denouncing his decision to do a press conference and dominate the news in advance of the release of the text)? You can be cynical and say the text won’t affect the media, and everyone will keep saying what they were already saying, and that is, in fact, my baseline assumption. The TV news is awful.” Yes, it certainly is.]
  • The New York Times and others are incensed that the Justice Department briefed the President on the report before it was released to the public. This is Trump Derangement, pure and unadulterated. The President has a right to see the report, and the Justice Department is part of the executive branch, which the President oversees.I’d want to be briefed ahead of the release if I were President, especially with a biased news media and a crazed “resistance” preparing to make it look as bad as possible no matter what it says. The complaint is one more entry in “Journalist making the public dumber.”
  • Ken Starr, also indulging in “future news,” says that he is concerned that the report will read like an anti-Trump manifesto. I will be surprised. It is true that the Mueller had some questionably aggressive prosecutors on the team, but the report has Mueller’s name on it and it is his historical legacy. He is regarded in D.C. and in legal circles as professional and fair. I would expect him to keep the report as factual and non-political as possible.
  • In Attorney General Bill Barr’s (completely appropriate) press conference this morning, he said in  part,

“After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the special counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election, but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those efforts.”

Regarding that last straw we can expect the “resistance,” Democrats and the news media to grasp at, he said,

“After carefully reviewing the report and in confirmation with the department’s legal counsel and other department lawyers, the deputy attorney general and I concluded the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish the president committed an obstruction offense.”

  • Former assistant U.S. attorney Andy McCarthy, who has been notable throughout this fiasco for correctly analyzing where the Mueller investigation was going and why,  told Fox News, “the special counsel did not resolve the prosecutorial decision on obstruction, so this is a decision for Barr to make…they couldn’t conceivably make an obstruction case” if they had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump obstructed justice—you know, with tweets, name-calling, and firing an incompetent and untrustworthy FBI director.

2.  In related garbage…The New York Times did a puff-piece on actress Laurie Metcalf, currently playing Hillary to John Lithgow’s Bill on Broadway. Twice the article gratuitously notes how dismayed she was at the results of the Mueller investigation, based on Barr’s summary. She was so hopeful, she said, that they would be able to outs Trump from office before 2020. The Times includes this offensive, idiotic, totalitarian and un-American opinion as if it’s one more reason to love Metcalf.

She’s a talented actress, but I regard her as a disgrace, as I regard anyone who professes disappointment that the President of the United States didn’t conspire with a hostile power to steal the Presidency, and who is so disrespectful of our institutions that they want to use contrived means to undo an election.

Barr said this morning, “Thanks to the special counsel’s thorough investigation, we know the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign, or the knowing assistance of any other American, for that matter. That is something all Americans can and should be grateful to have confirmed.”

Exactly. And those who are not grateful are, quite simply, bad citizens, neighbors and Americans.

3. And speaking of totalitarians…Middlebury College cancelled this lecture…

…citing students’ protests that it would make them feel unsafe. When authorities use their power to keep people “safe” from having the opportunity to hear and consider dissenting views, that’s totalitarianism.

How ironic.

4. Too easy? Guess which party’s legislator is sponsoring a bill in Texas that would force parents to let grandparents visit with their grandchildren. Aside from wrecking one of the nice subplots in “Home Alone,” the law would inject the law and government into parental authority and family relations, because Big Brother knows best.

5. For anyone who still takes Snopes seriously despite an IQ above freezing

Snopes felt it had to fact check a joke article by the openly satirical Babylon Bee claiming that Socialist and economics-challenged Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) appeared on “The Price is Right” and guessed that everything was “free.”

Snopes, after duly investigating, rated the story “FALSE.” Does this mean that the staff is that stupid, or that it thinks typical Americans are that stupid? No, it means that the partisan, biased factchecker feels that it has to protect a Democratic “rock star” from satire.

 

24 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/18/19: Redacted Mueller Report Freak-Out Edition

  1. 1. Mueller Report Ethics

    The item is sort of an oxymoron, don’t you think?

    Note the names and employers of the pundits and reporters who opine on the 400 page report (to be released today around 11:00 am) before they could possibly read it.

    Easier to note the names and employers of those who do not opine before it’s released.

    The New York Times and others are incensed that the Justice Department briefed the President on the report before it was released to the public. This is Trump Derangement, pure and unadulterated.

    Well, yes. The Times has to have something to be outraged about, because the biggest outrage is the gigantic 400-page nothingburger about to metaphorically plop down on the desk of every member of congress’ desk — which will be unread by any but a very, very, few; perhaps only single digits — leaves the partisans at the Times with no other choice but to shout “C’est horrible!”

    All the claims that will be made already have been made, days before the release — redactions hold the keys to crimes, Barr has spun it at the president’s request, Barr is Trump’s butt-boy [the term the left will no doubt use in their fever swamps], this is all a conspiracy to hide the truth — the fact that there will be nothing new will only serve to confirm what the tinfoil hat brigade on the Left already knows to be true.

    And the Times will lead the charge by endlessly repeating some version of the preceding paragraph.

    I agree that Starr is wrong, but that all depends on who’s ox is being gored. Some of it will read to Trump supporters like it was written by Maxine Waters, and some to the Democrats as if Jared Kushner penned it himself. At this point, there’s nothing left but spin.

    2. Related garbage

    She’s [Laurie Metcalf] a talented actress, but I regard her as a disgrace, as I regard anyone who professes disappointment that the President of the United States didn’t conspire with a hostile power to steal the Presidency, and who is so disrespectful of our institutions that they want to use contrived means to undo an election.

    Which just goes to amplify, as if it needs amplifying, why we should not trust celebrity opinions on politics. I doubt this woman could recite the first three words of the preamble to the Constitution, or even cite the date the document was signed.

    Yet some will cite this interview approvingly, as if it were incisive and thoughtful. This is one more reason that Trump is now the president.

    3. Middlebury College lecture on totalitarianism

    When authorities use their power to keep people “safe” from having the opportunity to hear and consider dissenting views, that’s totalitarianism.

    Indeed. Perhaps they just wanted to prove his point and save him the trouble of having to expound on the obvious.

    5. Snopes

    Boy, the Babylon Bee is making a living exposing those idjits. It’s a beautiful thing, and could not possibly be more well-deserved.

  2. (3) They are absolutely right. The totalitarians would feel unsafe after the public learns what they are planning. However, Dr. Legutko should thank them for cancelling the lecture rather than allowing him to suffer a beating at the hands of their totalitarian students. Since most of the students involved only got a temporary reprimand on their transcript (to be removed if they didn’t get into any more trouble that semester), I doubt many people will be deterred from ‘punching a Nazi’ again.

    https://hotair.com/archives/2017/03/03/professor-left-in-neck-brace-after-middlebury-college-mob-goes-nuts-over-charles-murray-speech/

  3. #3 – is it not interesting that the lecture is sponsored by the Alexander Hamilton Forum? Is he not a Patron Saint of progressives or do they just like the music from Broadway? From the Forum’s web site:

    “The Alexander Hamilton Forum at Middlebury College aims to foster thoughtful engagement with the ideas that have informed the creation and development of the American polity. The Forum promotes the study of the American political thought and founding principles; their relationship to American institutions, statesmanship, public law, political economy, and grand strategy; and their place in the history of western political philosophy. We seek to offer students an opportunity to think critically about the relevance of political and constitutional theory to a range of contemporary debates in American public life.

    Essential to this mission is our aspiration to contribute to a culture of reasoned, civil discussion and debate across political and intellectual differences.”

    Sadly the students of Middlebury College want nothing to do with “a culture of reasoned, civil discussion and debate across political and intellectual differences.”

    Too bad for them and too bad for America.

    • Leftists only want “reasoned, civil discussion” when they’re at the losing end of a debate. Up until that point, they’re usually acting like complete asses, and calling you hateful and intolerant when you point it out to them.

  4. Well, looking through the Mueller report, the beginning seems rather slanted against Trump. It puts all interactions with Russians in the most sinister light. For example, it does not mention that the meeting with Russians over Clinton dirt was actually instigated and carried out by Fusion GPS (who were being paid by the Clinton campaign, the DNC, and possibly the FBI).

  5. #1 I was joking to my friend yesterday that if we can hook up TV pundits to power generating turbines, we can power the country for a year, on account of all that “It’s Mueller Time” spin. Also, that would make AOC happy, since it would be carbon neutral energy.

    #3 The irony is too rich. A guy who lived through communist Poland is cancelled for the threat of telling the truth about communism. Stories like this make me feel like the Soviets have won over the minds of the American Intelligentsia. Imagine if the Soviet Union was still around, what kind of concessions they would have been able to get out of a president like Obama.

    #5 I read that Babylon Bee story. It was so darn funny. The worst part is it’s not that hard to imagine AOC actually saying that. Especially that last part of the article: “claiming that the game was rigged by capitalism and that “everybody knows giant piles of money are free, that’s like basic economics 101″.”

  6. #1 Question for all the legal minded guru’s here

    Is there a legal difference between the following statements?

    “…the deputy attorney general and I concluded the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish the president committed an obstruction offense.”

    or this…

    “…the deputy attorney general and I concluded the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to prosecute the president for an obstruction offense.”

    I’m hearing variations of the second one from Trump derangement people.

    My opinion;
    The first implies/states that the evidence couldn’t establish that the president committed an obstruction offense at all (therefore it was literally a witch hunt) and the latter implies/states that there was not sufficient evidence of obstruction to prosecute the president; in other words, there was evidence of obstruction but not enough evidence to prosecute.

    Ok, discuss.

    • There’s no difference. There was insufficient evidence to prove a case, ergo insufficient evidence to prosecute, ergo insufficient evidence of a crime, ergo no crime, ergo the President is presumed innocent.

      There’s always evidence.

    • Think of it this way: conspiracy theorists have claimed for a century that William Stanton was part of the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln. There’s certainly “evidence”. He sent troops the opposite of where they needed to go to find Booth. He refused to let Lincoln have the bodyguard he wanted. Troops under his command killed Booth before he could be questioned. Robert Lincoln said that he was burning papers that showed treason by a member of his father’s cabinet. But all of that is weak and circumstantial. Historians have concluded that Stanton was innocent of these accusations.

      • [Stanton] refused to let Lincoln have the bodyguard he wanted.

        Lincoln was quite capable of organising his own arrangements. For security in the run up to his first election as president he drew on German practices of the 1848 era, knowledge of which was brought to the U.S.A. by emigrants who had been involved: using ad hoc units of civilian volunteers who co-ordinated under the aegis of athletic or student organisations. (This pattern revived in Germany in the decade and a half after the First World War, under quite a few political parties and movements.)

        Troops under [Stanton’s] command killed Booth before he could be questioned.

        That was actually carried out by a deranged and insubordinate N.C.O., a religious maniac who had previously implemented his own understanding of biblical morality by castrating himself. Stanton can only be implicated if he can be shown to have known just how erratic his troops were.

        • 1. Nevertheless and be it as it may, Lincoln DID ask Stanton for a specific bodyguard on April 14, 1865, and Stanton did refuse to release him, saying that Stanton had work for him to do—then let the man go home early anyway. This has never been in dispute and
          2. WHY Booth was shot and killed by the troops doesn’t change the fact that he was shot, allowing conspiracy theories involving Stanton to fester, just as the fact that Oswald was shot and killed fueled Kennedy conspiracy theories.

    • “…the deputy attorney general and I concluded the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to prosecute the president for an obstruction offense.”

      Well, you definitely cannot prosecute a crime you cannot establish with evidence. But you can decline to prosecute a crime you think you can establish because you fear that it may not be established enough, or because of other reasons such as questionable or ambiguous mens rea.

      So I read the second statement as an exercise of discretion, and the first as a restatement of “insufficient evidence to win a conviction.”

  7. …citing students’ protests that it would make them feel unsafe. When authorities use their power to keep people “safe” from having the opportunity to hear and consider dissenting views, that’s totalitarianism.

    They did not claim that the professor was wrong on the merits, but rather that they felt unsafe

    Would this university cancel a speech by the President of the Human Rights Campaign if the same number of students claimed that they felt unsafe?

    • Would this university cancel a speech by the President of the Human Rights Campaign if the same number of students claimed that they felt unsafe?

      Only if his resume’ included “…active in the anti-communist movement…”, as did Legutko’s.

  8. ABC Evening News and everyone that they talked to about the Mueller report were fanning the flames of impeachment or “something else” focused on obstruction or something along those lines, they really didn’t explain themselves very well, and I don’t remember them saying anything about the fact that there was absolutely no collusion.

  9. #5 Snopes employed one of their stock rationalization tricks to justify “fact-checking” this obvious satire; we’ve seen them do this before. “Without context, it is inevitable in today’s misinformation age that SOME people will see, believe, and keep scrolling“.

    For a site supposedly dedicated to “facts”, they too often employ imprecise and subjective descriptors like “some” and “many” to support the arguments they attempt. If they say, for example, ”many people thought…” (a claim they’ve used), a critical reader sometimes has to stop and ask “Wait, what is ‘many’; where is any supporting evidence for this claim that ‘many’ people made the assumptions you want to use as part of your ‘proof’?”

    They’re doing that here, wanting us to buy, without question, that this deserved debunking, instead of passing over just one more piece of obvious satire, among thousands, that people spread because it’s funny.

  10. Regarding #4:
    “the law would inject the law and government into parental authority and family relations…”
    After a career in law enforcement, I can say with confidence that this particular ship sailed long ago. Don’t take my word for it, spend a day observing family court and see for yourself how far the state is involved in “family relations.”

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