Impeachment Ethics Update, Holiday Edition, Part One

1. A recent exchange in a Facebook debate: I challenged someone who said that the President had extorted a foreign government to get “dirt” on a likely opponent in the election, thus personal gain. This, he said, was impeachable. After pointing out that the evidence of “extortion” is speculative at best, since a) no money was ultimately withheld,  b) the government at issue says they did not feel extorted, and c), as many have pointed out, using such goodies as foreign aid and state visits as carrots to persuade governments to agree to various U.S. requests and demands that, among other results, might help a President or his party win an election is international politics as usual, and has only been called sinister during this administration.

Then I asked, “If all the facts were the same, except that Joe Biden had not entered the Presidential race, would there be anything wrong, much less impeachable, about the President asking the Ukraine to investigate what appears to have been possible illicit influences on the Vice President of the U.S. through benefits being showered on his son?”

No answer was forthcoming.

So much for impeachment article #1.

2. Alan Dershowitz explained last week  that the Supreme Court “pulled the rug out of part two of impeachment”  by agreeing to hear a trio of cases involving subpoenas for the President’s financial records. He is quite right; I would say inarguably so.

Dershowitz explained that by granting certiorari in three cases where Trump had challenged a congressional subpoena, SCOTUS had made a statement that there was a legal question regarding whether the subpoenas were valid.  Because the Supreme Court said the issue needed to be settled, the message was that the President was right,, that he does not have to comply with a subpoena by Congress unless a court orders him  to comply.

“Now, we don’t know how the court is going to come out,” the former Harvard professor said. “But they made it clear that’s a viable issue. So, that charge, that ground of impeachment, should be immediately removed by the House and not sent to the Senate. There’s nothing to it anymore after the Supreme Court today said you’re entitled to a review on an issue when the President challenges the subpoena power of Congress.”

And that’s it for #2. “It’s all done. It’s over,” says Dershowitz .

3. Trying to pick just one hysterical rant by one of the New York Times’ coup collaborators on the op-ed pages is tough; there’s at least one new brain-melting screed every day. David Leonhardt had a strong entry last week with “The Eight Counts of Impeachment That Trump Deserves” Leonhardt is not a lawyer, nor a political scientist.  He’s mathematician who has been in journalism since college, and his strongly worded opinions on government matters typically have more certitude than scholarship behind them. His “Eight Counts” contained such howlers as “5. Acceptance of emoluments: The Constitution forbids the president from profiting off the office by accepting “emoluments.” Yet Trump continues to own his hotels, allowing politicians, lobbyists and foreigners to enrich him and curry favor with him by staying there. On Sunday, William Barr, the attorney general, personally paid for a 200-person holiday party at Trump’s hotel in downtown Washington.” Of course, Trump does not receive direct enrichment from hotel bills, since they are owned by a corporation. A recent study indicated that Trump’s hotel brand has suffered since he became President, and there is no evidence that he has profited from being President. Then there’s “6. Corruption of elections.” He writes, “Very few campaign-finance violations are impeachable. But $280,000 in undisclosed hush-money payments during a campaign’s final weeks isn’t a normal campaign-finance violation. The 2016 election was close enough — decided by fewer than 80,000 votes across three swing states — that the silence those payments bought may well have flipped the outcome.” He’s talking about the Stormy Daniels scandal. Actually, there is no precedent suggesting that any campaign-finance violations are impeachable, or that conduct prior to becoming President was the object of the Founders’ impeachment clause. Moreover, the idea that paying off a shakedown by a mistress is a campaign finance violation has been almost universally debunked. None of Leonhardt’s Big Eight are more than anti-Trump spin regarding conduct that can just as easily be justified.

But still, he loses the competition to Michelle Goldberg, whose “Democracy Grief Is Real: Seeing what Trump is doing to America, many find it hard to fight off despair” is a masterpiece in the genre of projecting one’s own unethical conduct onto the innocent. It’s also a classic example of Big Lie #5: “Everything is Terrible.”

The thing is really quite spectacular: while Democrats are abusing the Constitutional impeachment process as a culmination of three full years of trying to defy and undermine our democracy by undoing a lawful election…while they are giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens and plotting to give them the vote…while they are pursuing limits on the First, Second and Fifth Amendments, elimination of private health insurance, subjugation of areas of self-government to international bodies,  and the required dictatorial powers to force businesses and citizens to accept Draconian measures to address speculative climate change in the future, Goldberg writes of despair because “democracy is dying” —because of the President who opposes these policies. It’s pretty clear by now what the Left means when they say things like that: democracy is dying any time they lose. Goldberg talks to a whiny progressive, who says,

“It’s like watching someone you love die of a wasting disease” (speaking of our country), she says. “Each day, you still have that little hope no matter what happens, you’re always going to have that little hope that everything’s going to turn out O.K., but every day it seems like we get hit by something else.” Some mornings, she said, it’s hard to get out of bed. “It doesn’t feel like depression,” she said. “It really does feel more like grief.”

Seek psychiatric help, dear. What hits you? Mean tweets? I could fisk this garbage with ease, but it’s 3 am, and Goldberg’s fantasy is self-rebutting.

My serious question: how brainwashed and biased does someone have to be  to read such nonsense and not react with rolled eyes and a cancelled subscription?

38 thoughts on “Impeachment Ethics Update, Holiday Edition, Part One

  1. I wonder if Coca Cola wants their logo bastardized. The image above uses the same shapes, fonts and colors as the iconic Coca Cola trademark. I actually thought it was a coke image when I glanced across the image.

    • It isn’t their logo or the actual Coca Cola font. As much as I hate to be okay with it, it is in fact ok. No trademark or registration infringement, it just quite intentionally looks similar.

        • I agree that colors and shapes cannot be trademarked or copyrighted. The combination does create a confusing image; one that made me think it was a takeoff of an American iconic symbol.

          What prompted my comment was the Sony trademark case in which the Sony corp sued a Korean shopkeeper whose name was Sony and sold electronics was predicated on the idea the four letters S O N Y would cause confusion yet the shops signage was totally different than that of Sony corporation If I recall correctly the electronics giant prevailed.

  2. Hi Jack. You should probably count yourself lucky that the only response you got to #1 was silence, rather than shutuppery or threats. The left doesn’t want to hear any argument that the president might not be anything other than 100% guilty as sin and in need of removal, today would be great. They can see it, and if you can’t see it, they think you are either dumb, blind, or immoral.

    We’ve been over this a few times, but George W. Bush said it best that “Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions.” Too often also, we are all too willing to forgive our own side things maybe we shouldn’t, and not willing to forgive the other side anything, even things we probably should. I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s a mix of moral certitude, unwillingness to look at one’s heroes or leaders too closely, desire to be accepted by a group, and eagerness to criticize those we don’t agree with. It leads to a pro-wrestling mentality where it’s all about insults and threats and the biblical tendency to see the speck in someone else’s eye while missing the plank in one’s own.

    As far as a lot of Democrats are concerned, the GOP forfeited most of its merit when Herbert Hoover oversaw the Great Depression and proved not up to the task of handling it, then forfeited the rest with Watergate. Since then they’ve been trying to stop them when they get elected, but Ronald Reagan was too slippery and too well insulated, George Bush the elder was voted out of office before they could close in, and George Bush the younger, who should never have been elected, had too much of Congress on his side for too long and the political boost of 9/11 was too great. Now they’ve got Trump, who should also have never been elected, dead in their sights, and they can only hope that enough Republicans will see enough of the light and “get on the right side of history” to remove him. It’s the right thing to do, after all, since there’s not a single Democrat since FDR and maybe before, from the least significant councilman in a small village in New England all the way up to the Clintons and Obamas, who has done anything other than work tirelessly and serve selflessly to make the town, county, state, country and world better, fairer, more inclusive, more peaceful places and leave them all better than when they got there, where the rivers and air will be clean, the schools will be adequately funded, those who’ve been fortunate in life will pay their fair share to lift up those who haven’t been, no person who comes here for any reason will be turned away, church and state will be far apart, love will be love, and every child will be a wanted child.

    As far as most Republicans are concerned, the Democratic party forfeited a chunk of its own merit when LBJ couldn’t govern at home and led us into Vietnam without a clear way out, a good bit more when Carter proved to be a total incompetent who let hostages languish in Iraq for over a year, most of it when Clinton had sex in the Oval Office and then perjured himself, and whatever was left with the disaster that was Obama, hiding behind his color. They’ve been constantly trying to stop their hare-brained schemes, but LBJ decided not to run again, Carter was voted out by a landslide, Clinton could talk his way out of anything, and everyone was afraid of being labeled a racist if they challenged Obama. They’ve never forgiven the Democrats for hounding Richard Nixon from office and pulling the rug out from under South Vietnam, and now they think they are up to their old tricks, trying to force a duly elected president from office on an even thinner record. Unfortunately, this time they hold the Senate, and they’re holding firm on acquittal, while letting the Democrats make fools of themselves. It’s the right thing to do, after all, since there’s not a single Republican, from the smallest small-town mayor in rural Missouri all the way up to Trump, the Bushes, and Reagan, who has done anything other than struggle and fight without rest or self-interest, to make the town, county, state, country and world freer, safer, stronger, happier, more prosperous places where government takes only the taxes it absolutely must, does not interfere in business or personal affairs any more than is necessary to keep society safe, concentrates on protecting people rather than running their lives, enforces the laws already in existence rather than trying to come up with new ones as a remedy for every problem, makes sure good fences…and good borders…make good neighbors, makes sure there is a place for faith in society, that no one is forced to violate his conscience, and people take responsibility for their actions rather than avoiding it or passing it to someone else.

    With this state of affairs it should come as no surprise that those on one side just can’t see it the other side’s way, or even admit that there is any merit to the other side’s position. This is a recipe for what I’ll call brain dissolver, meaning an issue or situation that makes people’s brains liquefy and trickle out their ears, leaving them unable to have a real conversation or discussion and instead resorting to shouts, insults, threats, lawsuits, and sometimes violence. There have always been brain dissolving issues. Homosexuality for a long time was one, where one mention of same-sex attraction would send those opposed into paroxysms of insults and often talk about wanting to walk through Provincetown with a club or go to the Village and bust a few heads. Ireland is another, where the slightest whiff of the idea that maybe it doesn’t boil down to Irish=good, British=bad can get you screamed at and called all kinds of hateful names at best, beaten up at worst. Columbus Day is quickly becoming a third, where any kind of discussion will send the liberals into fits of how-dare-yous and the conservatives and Italians into fighting mode.

    At this point all politics, and especially impeachment, is becoming a brain dissolving issue on both sides. The thing is, once the brain has dissolved, getting it back on track is hard, and once you’ve fought with sharp knives, i.e. insults and actions that cause too much pain, there’s no going back.

  3. Larry Tribe is leading the wave that somehow it’s more appropriate for the Democrats to vote to impeach and then not to actually hold the impeachment trial in the senate but to delay. I mean, is this supposed to be some Patton-level grand strategy? Because it strikes me more like accidentally bumping the checker board and all the pieces slide off level strategy…

      • Well, if the Senate flips then most likely Trump will have also been voted out and impeachment would therefore be moot — unless they can get him between Jan. 3rd and the 19th.

        Which would bring up a point of order — does an impeachment, if not acted upon, survive into the following Congress? Proposed bills have to be resubmitted…..

        • Removal from office requires 67 senators voting in affirmation. There are presently 47 democrats and independents, 53 republicans. To have a 67 majority, the democrats have to pick up 20 senators. Considering that there are only 23 total republican seats up for election, that’s a pretty tall task.

      • It’s been fun watching Left twitter take up this cause. This whole impeachment fiasco has been one hilariously sad (and destructive) frantic grasp by the left. They are going to throw out their transmission the way they keep violently shifting their gears in whatever it exactly is they are even trying to do in their efforts to get rid of Trump.

        I almost can taste the desperation in their closed doors strategy sessions. Almost like German high command as Allies are closing in right and left and they’re throwing wild dice rolls in a hopes of forestalling the inevitable.

  4. “How brainwashed and biased does someone have to be to read such nonsense and not react with rolled eyes and a cancelled subscription?”

    [Health warning – reading further will cause the brain to melt.]

    This far: I was talking with people on Facebook and was told a few things. (Cue head explosion graphic – Calvin is my favorite) “Elizabeth Warren is an stupid choice for the Democratic primary. She is too far right to call herself a Democrat. She needs to officially switch to the Republican party like those other radical right wingers.” And: “Warren’s Medicare for All Plan is barely more than right wing trash. It is inadequate. We need Bernie Sanders’ plan at minimum. He’s at least a centrist who understands how to care for people.”

    After those comments, there were a bunch of others chiming in saying that this was absolutely right and those comments on the post got 40+ likes. These are the people I know who are most virulent against Trump, who think Joy Behar is astute, who think that Obama is the Messiah who was stopped by the corruption of Washington from ushering in a utopia, who argue that the minimum age of the Presidency needs to be lowered for AOC, the amazing young genius who will be the next coming of Christ (Christa?). This is the amount of brainwash and bias you need to read that breathlessly and agree wholeheartedly that Goldberg is understating the case.

    I leave with you with less brain cells than you had, but the question is answered…sorry.

  5. Dershowitz has been prescient over the last few years, and I have been watching him specifically. Anyway, he had a great segment on CSPAN3 the other day, which is well worth watching if you have an hour. Some of the callers will try your patience but he brings up a lot of good points.

  6. The only way people could come to the conclusion that what President Trump did in relation to Ukraine and the aid or the accusation of obstruction of congress is impeachable is they have an overwhelming and all-consuming anti-Trump bias which predispositioned them to automatically believe the opposite of Halon’s Razor which states “never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity [or anything else]”; anti-Trump bias clearly dictates that they must “always attribute to criminal malice anything that President Trump does, period”. The assumption of criminal malice is the only core of the Washington DC Democrats and the partisan media’s arguments, without their assumption of malice all their arguments completely fall apart based on facts, period!

    After hoping he could write half as well as that Georgetown University professor Dr. Carol Christine Fair that’s clearly suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, I wonder what that mental giant Mike Rumage’s opinion would be on this whole impeachment fiasco? Mike are you out there?

    Too bad Mike is one of the extreme progressives that blocked me on Facebook, we had some “interesting” heated conversations. Mike might be a nice addition to the line up of progressive commenters here on Ethics Alarms, he could certainly add a different perspective and maybe he’d learn a thing or two by participating.

  7. 1. The Democrats’ essential argument on the Ukraine matter is that if you run for President, you can engage in flagrant corruption and evade U.S. scrutiny.

    If we imagine the DOJ and not Trump himself had suspected corruption by the younger Biden and asked the Ukraine to do an investigation, the Democrats would’ve yelled just as loudly. So a fair question, as you posited, is to suggest it is the position of the Democrats is that it is election interference to ask a foreign power to investigate not just a political rival, but any member of his family.

    So by extension, running for political office in the US extends immunity for familial corruption in foreign countries under the suggestion that asking a foreign jurisdiction to investigate corruption under their own laws is US election interference if a US politician is implicated by said investigation. I assume here that the Dems would note no difference between, say, a candidate for president and one for senate or house.

    Two questions: 1) Who knew such an immunity existed and under what law or court decision is it authorized, and 2) are their any limitations to it?

    2. I think Dershowitz is right, but the very idea that an equal branch of government can “obstruct congress” is absurd.

    3. Idjits, both of them.

    • Trump’s Ukrainian conduct is impeachable because he is using DISCREDITED rumors to justify a politically advantageous foreign dirt-mining investigation into a political rival.

      Did you hear me, the allegations against Hunter Biden are DISCREDITED!

      It is an abuse of office to investigate DISCREDITED allegations.

      (Never mind which investigation DISCREDITED the allegations, mind you. They are DISCREDITED, and therefore forbidden to reexamine.)

      /s

      • The most ironic piece of this whole hullabaloo is Hillary and the DNC sent monies to Russia to spark an investigation into Trump’s campaign with the Steele Dossier…. so the question is, if Hillary won, would you support impeaching her for doing the same conduct to Trump while she was a public official?

      • That’s rich, Rich. Are there really people think anyone would pay perpetual screw-up Hunter Biden a king’s ransom to work for them if they did not anticipate favorable treatment from his father?

  8. I wonder if it would be useful to chart the prominent departures of the former participating leftists and what particular topic drove them away.

    Ampersand (Barry Deutsch) left because of the heated discussions rising out of the Obamacare fiasco

    tgt left because he could no longer shout down or out endure conservative voices here

    Charles Green left I think because of the unending examples of media malfeasance

    Chris left over which particular Trump derangement topic?

    who else?

  9. Then I asked, “If all the facts were the same, except that Joe Biden had not entered the Presidential race, would there be anything wrong, much less impeachable, about the President asking the Ukraine to investigate what appears to have been possible illicit influences on the Vice President of the U.S. through benefits being showered on his son?”

    No answer was forthcoming.

    So much for impeachment article #1.

    The argument, as I understand it, as that when a foreign government investigates a presidential candidate, as opposed t some Random Joe Sixpack, it constitutes interference in the election.

    Implicit in this argument is that any investigation of any candidate for political officer constitutes interference.

    I challenged someone who said that the President had extorted a foreign government to get “dirt” on a likely opponent in the election, thus personal gain.

    Of course, you could ask this.

    Would not the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, which threatened to withhold Congressionally-mandated funds for universities unless those universities violated the due process rights of male students, constitute extortion? And because he issued that letter to curry favor from feminists and anti-rape activists for his re-election campaign, does that not constitute personal gain.

    Should the House have impeached Obama for the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter?

    I should of course rem,ind everyone of Obama’s disdain for the Constitution.

    http://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=122021008084120069090084116126119090046044025046056022093068020006100102097074114014117024102034046124028073126017003064102001026061070069033089004024100092081004093022022065114088067100114071113067094002012018023103012119067119077079027027021013090&EXT=pdf

    Ignoring Supreme Court precedent, the First Amendment, and
    OCR’s own guidance from the Bush administration, the letter declares that
    “sexual harassment should be more broadly defined as ‘any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature

    I cite this because the same people criticizing Trump for undermining the Constitution did not object to the 2013 or 2011 Dear Colleague Letters.

  10. Wouldn’t the charge of obstruction of Congress require Senate agreement? The last time I checked Congress had two parts. So, if the Senate has not agreed that obstruction has occurred how does the House make that claim? If the House passes a bill but the Senate cannot agree and votes it down the House must seek to recraft the bill to achieve a majority in the Senate. This has not occurred so the House is attempting to assume power not granted by charging obstruction of Congress.

  11. I think Trump’s letter may need it’s own post. I was going to bypass the PBS reporting on it and just link to the text of the letter, but the pejorative description in their “unbiased” reporting was unusually blatant.

      • I’ve looked at a few dozen polls, and the general trend is that support for impeachment has gone down throughout this process. Especially in those important swing states.

        So the responder here did not actually answer the original points. Impeachment IS hurting Democrats. And also, Clinton clearly committed an actual felony.

      • Tweet #1 (from the top): false equivilence. Clinton was impeached for lying under oath TWICE and obstructing justice in the process. Defending that was disgraceful. Ttrump is being impeached for being “odious.” That’s not a valid justification for impeachment, and defending him–the Presidency—is correct and necessary.

        Tweet #2 Pickard is a moron. Clinton was not impeached for sex, and Trump did not commit treason. Typical resistance liar, though.

        Tweet #3: Lexington GOP is correct.

        Tweet #4: Colleen is comparing apples and oranges, as well as relying on an outlier poll.

        • Tweet #1 (from the top): false equivilence. Clinton was impeached for lying under oath TWICE and obstructing justice in the process. Defending that was disgraceful. Ttrump is being impeached for being “odious.” That’s not a valid justification for impeachment, and defending him–the Presidency—is correct and necessary.

          You started your first ethics blogs in reaction to the unethical defenses of Bill Clinton.

          Tweet #2 Pickard is a moron. Clinton was not impeached for sex, and Trump did not commit treason. Typical resistance liar, though.

          It is a shame that people continue to believe this lie, despite you debunking it twenty years ago. I heard someone repeat this lie on CNN just minutes ago

          Right now, I am hearing Chris Cuomo on CNN going on this tirade about Trump’s letter.

  12. Here is a quote from Adam Schiff.

    I wonder how [the Republicans] are going to explain one day when their grandchild comes to them and says, ‘Granddad, Grandma, please tell me what you did when that unethical man, that terrible man, that man who was putting people in cages, dividing our country, extorting our allies, please tell me what you did to stand up to that man. What will their answer be? For all too many, it will be nothing. It will be nothing except shame.

  13. I am hearing so many Democrats talking about the rule of law in support of impeachment.

    I am old enough to remember when they were making quite different arguments twenty-one years ago.

    https://ethicsalarms.com/2012/09/07/the-ethics-corrupter-in-chief/

    Perhaps more damaging than Clinton’s conduct were the unethical messages and arguments his surrogates, lawyer Lanny Davis and others, flooded the talk shows and news shows with to keep public opinion supporting the poor, sexy, charming, persecuted President. They were the catalyst for my first ethics blog, for I was shocked at how invalid rationalizations were dominating the discussion. “Everybody does it!‘, used to excuse a President lying under oath, a bright line violation of his Oath of Office, because “everybody lies about sex.” “They did it too!,” citing actual and rumored sexual infidelities by past Presidents to minimize Clinton’s conduct, though had most of the actual affairs being cited been publicized at the time they occurred, those Presidents ( especially Kennedy) would have been impeached as well. “The King’s Pass,” claiming that Clinton was too important to hold to the standards of ordinary mortals. “It’s not the worst thing,” arguing that Clinton’s conduct didn’t reach the level of corruption of President Richard Nixon.* “Everybody makes mistakes,” as if a contrived cover-up of courtroom perjury and a months long workplace affair was “one mistake.” There were others. Lawyers, ministers, celebrities and elected leaders echoed these toxic excuses for Bill’s unethical conduct over and over again for months, rotting the public’s ethical instincts, all so he could get away with it. It worked, too. The Senate is a political body, and as long as the public had a high opinion of Clinton, it was never going to find him guilty of the House’s charges. If the President of the United States had to teach the country that lying under oath, having an adulterous sexual affair with an employee, lying to the public about it and impeding the justice system is acceptable, then so be it: the ends justify the means, of course.

    I am getting the impression that the Democrats only support the rule of law when it hurts someone else.

    Jonathan Turley, Alan M. Dershowitz, and Christopher Charles Morton likely figured it out as well.

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