1. Now THIS ia an abuse of power! It sure looks as if outgoing Kentucky governor Matt Bevin—he’s a Republican, remember— has decided to take revenge on the state that narrowly defeated him for re-election. Right before he moved out of the Governor’s Mansion, Bevin issued 428 pardons and commutations, often without apparent regard to who or what he was pardoning. He pardoned a man convicted of homicide, after the murderer’s family raised more than $20,000 to help Bevin pay off a debt owed from his previous gubernatorial campaign. That wasn’t the only murderer Kentucky got back in its Christmas stocking; there were more, like the man who paid to have his business partner killed, and another who killed his parents.. Bevin released a man convicted of raping a child.
While many of the pardons issued did involve cases where there were allegations of sloppy police work and injustice, many did not. Bevin pardoned Dayton Ross Jones, who pleaded guilty to the 2014 sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy, for example. That crime was captured on video and shared on social media. Jones was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2016. Now he’s out.
“A young man was attacked, was violated, it was filmed, it was sent out to different people at his school,” Kentucky’s new governor, Andy Beshear said. “It was one of the worst crimes that we have seen. I fully disagree with that pardon. It is a shame and its wrong.”
But there isn’t a thing he or Kentucky citizens can do about it.
2. Let’s ask Chris Wallace about this sterling example of fair and balanced journalism...I know that Ethics Alarms has documented over many years what a partisan, biased, incompetent and dishonest hack Chris Cillizza is, so this is hardly news. Still, he has a job at CNN, which allows him to inflict his hackery on the public. An ethical news organization wouldn’t keep someone like Cillizza around., but as James Earl Jones used to say, “This is CNN.” The disturbing part is that he’s far from the worst hack on its payroll.
A Monmouth University poll this week claimed that Republican voters believed that George Washington was a better President than Donald Trump by only a 44%-37% margin. (Remember: polls.) Cillizza said that fact that 37% of Republican respondents chose Trump over Washington provides “a useful way into understanding just how rote the fealty is to Trump within the ranks of the Republican Party at the moment.”
Let me just interject here that almost no Americans could tell you anything about George Washington’s terms in office other than the fact that he was the first President. (This is another reason to watch “John Adams.”)
While implying that Republicans are ignorant morons, however, Cillizza neglected to mention another alleged result of the poll: Democratic voters said former President Barack Obama was a better President than George an embarrassing 63%-29% margin.
3. KABOOM! Yes, this made my head explode. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bomber whom a jury properly sentenced to death, may get a new trial because the forewoman of the jury had retweeted a message before being selected that praised “all of the law enforcement professionals who went through hell to bring in that piece of garbage.”
Now that the facts are out and the terrorist’s defense team is seeking a new trial or at least a withdrawal of the death sentence. A panel of federal judges this week began examining whether Judge George A. O’Toole, who presided over Tsarnaev’s trial in 2015, adequately screened jurors for bias. That’s an easy one: he didn’t. The Twitter fan who became the forewoman of jury wasn’t even the only juror who had engaged in social media trashing of the defendant he had sworn to treat fairly and without prejudice. On the day of sentencing, that juror tweeted that Tsarnaev was “scum” and “trash,” and that he belonged in a “dungeon where he will be forgotten about until his time comes.”
“It’s just very puzzling,” said Judge William J. Kayatta Jr, “You have a defendant who is clearly guilty of this heinous crime and you then stretch and don’t try to follow the rules that we’ve laid down for a trial.” Judge Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson asked why the judge did not screen jurors in detail about where they received information about Mr. Tsarnaev. Great question.
“Why isn’t this the kind of case that would require probing that kind of information,” she said, “such that not doing so, even if it’s not an abuse of law, is simply an abuse of discretion because the circumstances simply require it?”
That’s a convoluted way of saying, “Are there really judges so out of touch that they don’t know that social media is everywhere, influencing users, creating bias, and making the selection of a truly objective jury more difficult than ever before?”
Yes, there really are.
4. Score more ethics points for Jonathan Turley. Prof. Turley showed his commitment to open discourse by allowing a fellow George Washington law professor, Alan Morrison, to publish his rebuttal to Turley’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry on Turley’s own blog, Res Ipsa Loquitur.
If I were prone to be cynical—Me? Cynical?—I’d suggest that the reason Turley was so generous is that he knows Morrison’s arguments are weak. Here’s one, for example:
Turley downplays the significance of Trump’s holding up the aid to Ukraine on the ground that he finally released it before the end of the fiscal year and so it didn’t really matter at all. There are two major flaws with this argument. First, all of the evidence to date indicates that the President had no intention of releasing the funds and would not have done so if the whistleblower’s complaint had not surfaced. Of course, that may be a mistaken conclusion, but only the President and his closest advisers could refute that view – and they are not talking.
There’s no persuasive evidence at all about what the President’s “intention” was, just supposition. Morrison is adopting the speculative motive approach so popular among “the resistance” as they claim that conduct no other President would or could be impeached for is uniquely sinister in Trump’s case.
Read the whole thing. It shows how strong Turley’s reasoning is.
5. To Adblock or not to Adblock? My best website story sources are now overwhelmingly refusing to allow me access unless I disable my adblocker. I don’t care to read their bellyaching about how they need ads to pay for their content: I’ve got the Golden Rule on my side. I don’t inflict ads on my readers, and nobody but me is paying the bills. But I need Mediate, and the Daily Beast, and the Daily Caller and others. So I’m selectively disabling the adblocker, and what do you know? On those sites pop-up ads come so thick and fast it’s almost impossible to read anything.