Ethics Quote Of The Year: U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr

“One of the ironies today is that people are saying it is President Trump who is shredding our institutions. I really see no evidence of that. From my perspective, the idea of ‘resisting’ a Democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him, and really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this president. That’s where the shredding of our norms and institutions is occurring.”

—The Attorney General, on CBS This Morning today.

Exactly. Continue reading

Eugene Robinson Provides The Ultimate Impeachment Bias And Ignorance Exhibit. Thanks, Eugene!

The Washington Post’s long-time Pulitzer Prize winning mediocrity, Eugene Robinson, actually enticed me into reading one of his Left-pandering columns with the click-bait title, “If Trump doesn’t warrant impeachment, who does?” I was genuinely curious to see if Robinson had found a real justification for impeaching the President other than some selections out of the Ethics Alarms Get Rid Of Trump Plan list, which now stretched from A to Q. Just so we are all on the same page, here is the current list:

Plan A: Reverse the election by hijacking the Electoral College

Plan B: Pre-emptive impeachment.

Plan C : The Emoluments Clause.

Plan D: “Collusion with Russia”

Plan E : ”Trump is mentally ill so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.”

Plan F: The Maxine Waters Plan, which  is to just impeach the President as soon as Democrats control both Houses, because they can.

Plan G : “The President obstructed justice by firing incompetent subordinates, and that’s impeachable.”

Plan H: “Tweeting stupid stuff is impeachable”

Plan I:  “Let’s relentlessly harass him and insult him and obstruct his efforts to do his job so he snaps and does something really impeachable.”

Plan J : Force Trump’s resignation based on alleged sexual misconduct that predated his candidacy. .

Plan K: Election law violations in pay-offs of old sex-partners

Plan L: The perjury trap: get Trump to testify under oath, then prove something he said was a lie. [

Plan M: Guilt by association. Prove close associates or family members violated laws.

Plan N: Claim that Trump’s comments at his press conference with Putin were “treasonous.”

Plan O:: The Mueller investigation  report is  justification for impeachment even though the investigation found no evidence of crimes or misconduct that could sustain an ethical prosecution.

Plan P: Trump should be impeached because he’s daring the House Democrats to impeach him.

Plan Q:  Impeach Trump to have an unquestionable right to acquire his tax returns, on the assumption that the returns will justify impeachment.

If these seem progressively more desperate to you, there’s a reason: they are, particularly the last three, which emerged after the Mueller investigation failed to accomplish what it was set up to do.

So how do Eugene Robinson’s overwhelming justifications for impeachment stack up? He writes,

Obstruct a Justice Department investigation, perhaps? No, apparently that’s not enough. What about playing footsie with a hostile foreign power? Abusing his office to settle personal grievances? Using instruments of the state, including the justice system, to attack his perceived political opponents? Aligning the nation with murderous foreign dictators while forsaking democracy and human rights? Violating campaign-finance laws with disguised hush-money payments to alleged paramours? Giving aid and comfort to neo-Nazis and white supremacists? Defying requests and subpoenas from congressional committees charged with oversight? Refusing to protect our electoral system from malign foreign interference? Cruelly ripping young children away from their asylum-seeking parents? Lying constantly and shamelessly to the American people, to the point where not a single word he says or writes can be believed? President Trump has done all of this and more.

The last sentence is a tell, of course. It tells us that Robinson is just mouthing the Maxine Waters impeachment argument: Trump should be impeached because everything about Trump drives Democrats, progressives and their allies crazy….in short, “Orange Man Bad!” But let’s examine the reasons Robinson enumerates:

  • Obstruct a Justice Department investigation.

It’s so nice of Eugene to destroy his credibility up front like this.  Reviewing the (weak) evidence that the Mueller investigation suggested might support a charge of obstructing justice, the official responsible for making the determination concluded that there was no obstruction. Even Mueller, in his unethical and Justice policy defying statement, didn’t say the President obstructed an investigation, He said that the investigation didn’t prove he didn’t obstruct it, which is legally meaningless. So we also know Robinson isn’t a lawyer.

  • Playing footsie with a hostile foreign power

This is so stupid it doesn’t deserve rebuttal. So we have moved on from the “collusion” fake crime to the even more ephemeral “playing footsie” standard? Huh. Would Obama’s infamous “more flexibility” comment to Putin caught on camera be considered “footsie”?

  • Abusing his office to settle personal grievances

Another made up offense.

  • Using instruments of the state, including the justice system, to attack his perceived political opponents?

Eugene’s link to support this false assertion is a typical Trump attack Atlantic article that claims such conduct as accusing the Justice Department of behaving unethically (which evidence increasingly shows it did) and appointing an acting Attorney General who was critical of the Mueller investigation somehow meets Robinson’s hyperbolic description.  The article also asserts that Trump wanting Hillary Clinton and James Comey to be prosecuted is an abuse of power.

  • Aligning the nation with murderous foreign dictators while forsaking democracy and human rights.

Oh, for God’s sake. It’s called foreign policy and utilitarian trade-offs, you imbecile. It would be impossible to name a President who did not do this. We can argue about when it is a prudent course,  but what a self-evidently silly statement. Obama reached out to Cuba and opened diplomatic relations without insisting on any human rights reforms at all. Was that impeachable. Eugene?

  • Violating campaign-finance laws with disguised hush-money payments to alleged paramours.

See Plan K. This is a tortured election law violation theory that will not hold water. Worse, it depends on the testimony of the Most Unethical And Unbelievable Lawyer Alive, Michel Cohen.

  • Giving aid and comfort to neo-Nazis and white supremacists?

One of the “resistance’s” Big Lies.

  • Defying requests and subpoenas from congressional committees charged with oversight.

And in the process of abusing that oversight. “Defying a request” is impeachable, eh, Eugene? The President has the same right to challenge the validity of a subpoena as anyone else, as well as a duty to protect his office and the Separation of Powers. Until the issue has been adjudicated, there is nothing improper or illegal with telling Congress to take a hike.

  • Refusing to protect our electoral system from malign foreign interference?

What? WHAT?  The 2016 election was under Obama’s watch. Does Robinson know which President he is talking about?

  • Cruelly ripping young children away from their asylum-seeking parents?

So now it’s just “resistance” talking points, is it? The President cannot be impeached for legal policies executed by executive agencies, particularly policies that were mandatory under the law, even more particularly policy that the previous administration followed as well.  For “asylum-seeking parents” read “illegal immigrants endangering their children to breach U.S. borders.”

  • Lying constantly and shamelessly to the American people, to the point where not a single word he says or writes can be believed.

More talking points and narratives. All of President Trump’s exaggerations, botched facts, misrepresentations and mistakes rolled up into one ugly ball would still not equal the dishonesty and the damage done by Barack Obama’s signature lie to sneak the Affordable Care Act by the gullible public. And no, that wasn’t impeachable, just despicable.

The answer to Robinson’s headline question, “If Trump doesn’t warrant impeachment, who does?” is this:

A President who has actually engaged in conduct the Constitution says is impeachable. As Robinson’s weak and ignorant case shows vividly, President Trump hasn’t.

Disney’s Sinister Threat And The Danger Of Partisan Corporate Boycotts To Democracy

The official position of Ethics Alarms is that organized boycotts are a form of unethical coercion that pose a direct threat to democracy and personal liberty. Recent developments on the corporate front only reinforce that conviction. Several states have chosen this moment to try to persuade a conservative majority on the Supreme Court to either amend or overturn Roe v. Wade, either with so-called “heartbeat” bills, defining a fetus with a detectable heartbeat distinct from the mother’s as a person within the range of Constitutional protection, or in the case of Alabama, a direct challenge to Roe with a bill outlawing abortion entirely except in special circumstances.

My personal assessment is that these efforts are doomed to fail, and that conservative justices, in part because they advocate conservative jurisprudence, will not accept the invitation to overturn Roe regardless of their objections to the holding. It is a major decision of long-standing asserting an individual right, and the epitome of the kind of decision that requires the practice of stare decisus. I cannot think of another example where the Court eliminated a right after a previous Court had protected it, certainly not one with such wide-ranging social and legal implications. Even though abortion is only ethically defensible by applying the most brutal variety of utilitarian balancing,  and requires disingenuous, bootstrapping reasoning in the process, I do not advocate overturning Roe. We have a system, though. The system should be allowed to work. It has generally served us well as a nation and a society. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/31/19: Confirmation, Computers, Clinton, Cruz, And Comments

Good morning.

Trying to get used to my new computer, Microsoft 10, files I can’t find and many other things. Everything is going sloooooowly. Be merciful.

1. More on the Martin Luther King revelations. Yesterday I wrote about King biographer David Garrow’s article revealing the some disturbing and previously unrevealed results of the  FBI’s (illegal) surveillance of Martin Luther King. Predictably, Garrow is under fire for daring to sully an icon’s reputation, and because the source of the material is Hoover’s attempt to undermine King, that is the mode of attack. Garrow won a Pulitzer Prize for “Bearing the Cross,” his 1986 biography of King, and has said in the past  that FBI files should be treated with skepticism. However, he is obviously so disturbed at the new revelations that were inadvertently released that he is performing what he sees as his duty as a historian. He told the Washington Post that the summaries made by FBI agents who were spying on King are accurate, noting that different types of records warrant different levels of trust in their accuracy. The files claiming King was communist, he said,  “are coming literally third- or fourth-hand from a human informant,”so their accuracy is “highly dubious…But with the electronic surveillance records, those are very highly reliable, other than when the FBI can’t understand who’s talking.”

Confirmation bias is the key here. Garrow has none that I can see: his reputation is at risk if he is wrong, and he was an admirer of King, though not blind to his previously known flaws, like his epic infidelity. So far, the reflex deniers of Garrow’s conclusion all appear to be “keepers of the flame,” or at least invested in keeping King’s reputation intact.

It is encouraging to see the Post, which apparently refused to publish Garrow’s article,  covering the story. Most media sources are not, and that is signature significance. Many of the same sources have assumed that Donald Trump engaged in wilful sexual assault based solely on his recorded hyperbolic boasts to Billy Bush. The integrity of journalism in the U.S. could not be at lower tide.

In my case, I know enough about history and the important figures who stroll, dash and charge through it not to be surprised when any of them are revealed to have engaged in objectively horrible conduct at various points in their lives. Given King’s documented sexual appetites and epic infidelities, the likelihood that he was a sexual predator is strong. Again, my position is that King’s personal, even criminal conduct shouldn’t affect the assessment of or national gratitude for his public achievements at all. This isn’t the “personal conduct” dodge that Bill Clinton’s enablers used: his conduct with Lewinski and others was related to his job, his position, and in fact occurred in his office. That’s professional, workplace conduct, not personal.

I assume this will be another story inconvenient to the news media’s favorite causes,  that journalists and editors will attempt to bury, muddy, and minimize. Yes, and anyone who attempts to raise it, analyze it and verify it will be tarred as a racist. Perhaps I am naive and optimistic, but I don’t think that will work here. Just as eventually we had to face the truth about Thomas Jefferson and Bill Cosby, even those who want to deify King will have to deal with his private character, and decide whether they really want his statues and memorials, street signs and holiday, to come down.

Of course, there will be some good people on both sides of the argument. Continue reading

Martin Luther King Was A Depraved Sexual Predator. Now What, Statue-Topplers? [UPDATED]

I’m glad—thrilled may be a better word—that we now have strong evidence that Martin Luther King was not merely an unfaithful husband and compulsive dog (we already knew that, and so did J. Edgar Hoover), but that he was far, far worse. Of course, this doesn’t change in any way my assessment of King’s important contributions to civil rights, human rights, the culture and the nation. I just love to see people who have adopted an impossible and unethical standard for other important historical figures in order to preen, grandstand and mold history to their liking and purpose, to be hoisted—HARD–by their own petard.

King biographer David Garrow  unearthed previously classified FBI documents showing that King was a bad guy in private by any measure, even using a Donald Trump or a Bill Clinton standard.

For those whose view of candidate Trump was permanently lowered by his being caught on video crudely boosting about “grabbing women by the pussy,” William Sullivan, assistant director of the FBI, wrote in a 1964 memo among many recently released that King joked to his friends that “he had started the ‘International Association for the Advancement of Pussy-Eaters’.” There is  an incident recorded by FBI agents and held in a vault under court seal at the US National Archives showing that King  “looked on, laughed and offered advice” while a friend who was also a Baptist minister raped a woman described as one of his “parishioners”.

Believe it or not, that story gets worse. The FBI reported that King joined Logan Kearse, the pastor of Baltimore’s Cornerstone Baptist church, who had arrived in Washington with what the FBI summary describes as “several women ‘parishioners’ of his church” in an orgy in Kearse’s hotel room at the Willard Hotel. The FBI, having neen tipped off about the visit and that King would be involved, bugged the room.

The civil rights icon and his reverend friend  “discussed which women among the parishioners would be suitable for natural and unnatural sex acts.” One of the women protested, so Kearse  raped her as King watched. Continue reading

Lunchtime Ethics Warm-Up, 5/30/2019: Bye! Go For It! And Who Cares?

A yucky ethics meal.

(Sorry)

1. Why is this worthy of being published? Here’s a long Washington Post writer whine that he ““doesn’t recognize”the U.S. any more, and wants to run off and hide someplace better. Why is this any more useful and enlightening  than the rant of some wacko who has decided that human beings have been replaced by pod people, or that we’re really all lying dormant in a Matrix-like sleep? The article is just free-flowing Left-wing bitching and Trump hate that could have been written by any one of thousands of resistance fanatics in the last three years.

Why should anyone care or be enlightened that Ted Gap, whoever he is, regards the U.S. as a viper pit of  “xenophobia” (aka “enforcing the law and protecting the borders”), “its saber-rattling” (aka “foreign affairs”), “its theocratic leanings” (known as “religion”), “its denial of facts and science” (code for “not being willing to spend trillions and send the standard of  living and the economy backwards based on unconfirmed theories and projections”), “its tribalism” (I suspect Ted means the “tribes” he doesn’t personally favor), and “its petty and boorish president” (so if Ted’s candidate loses an election, it means that it’s not the U.S. any more. Got it. Typical “resistance” member.) Continue reading

Icky And Unethical: The Dead Cadet’s Child

A New York judge  ruled that the parents of  West Point cadet Peter Zhu, 21, who was declared brain-dead after a skiing accident, can take sperm harvested from his body with “no restriction.” The parents say they want  to fulfill  their son’s lifelong desire to have children and continue the family name.

Lauren Sydney Flicker, a bioethicist and expert in post-mortem sperm retrieval at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx [there is such a thing as being an expert in post-mortem sperm retrieval?]  told the New York Times,

“Here is the ethical debate, and it will be different for different people: Is it a greater ethical burden to prevent someone from having the opportunity to be a father by passing along their genetic material? Or is it a greater ethical burden to have a man father a child, without his consent, that he wouldn’t be around to raise?”

Huh? I’d say the burden of not living pretty much wipes out the burden of not being a father, and renders it moot. Absent explicit instructions that the young man wanted his sperm used to spawn a child after he died,  the cadet’s desires regarding a family while he was planning on being alive are rendered moot by his death. Continue reading