Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/28/2020: Transcripts! Audacious Defense Lawyers! Canadian Defamation! “Bombshells”! [UPDATED]

Good morning…

1. Here’s a typical unbiased New York Times front page headline regarding the impeachment trial (from last week):

“One One Side, Piles of Evidence, On the Other, Heaps of Scorn”

Here’s some more scorn: there is no evidence at all of impeachable offenses on  that pile, and scorn for the President is being treated as evidence.

2. This is astounding. (From johnburger, and thanks) Check out this.

Discussing reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to quiz NPR anchor Mary Louise Kelly by asking her to find Ukraine on a map (why is this newsworthy?) , CMM host Don Lemon turned to Republican Never-trumper Rick Wilson and suggested that it was ” just a petty attempt to put her down, right?” Hilarity ensued.

RICK WILSON: Of course — of course. He’s just trying to demean her, and obviously it’s false. And, look, he also knows, deep In his heart, that Donald Trump couldn’t find Ukraine on a map if you had the letter “U” and the picture of an actual physical crane next to it. He knows that this is a, you know, an administration defined by ignorance of the world, and so that’s part of him playing to their base and playing to their audience, you know, the credulous boomer rube demo that backs Donald Trump — that wants to think that (does impersonation) “Donald Trump’s the smart one, and y’all — y’all elitists are dumb!”

WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You elitists with your geography and your maps and your spelling!

WILSON: Your math and your reading!

ALI: Yeah, your reading, you know, your geography, knowing other countries, sipping your latte!

WILSON: All those lines on the map!

ALI: Only them elitists know where Ukraine is! Sorry, I apologize.

LEMON (laughing): Oh, my God!

ALI: But it was Rick’s fault. I blame Rick. But, in all honesty–

LEMON: Hold on — hold on — hold on. That was good, sorry. Rick, that was a good one — I needed that. Okay, so, listen.

ALI: But can I tell you what NPR should do? NPR should take a black sharpie, circle it all around that whole subcontinent — Bangladesh and Ukraine — and then just be like there’s Ukraine, right in the middle, just In honor of Donald Trump.

LEMON: A “U” with a crane on it — that is hilarious.

Lemon is 100% responsible for this hackery, and CNN should be suspending him at the very least. He has been drunk on the air twice; he no longer even attempts to hide his partisan biases. As this episode demonstrated, he has no concept of professionalism, and has obviously concluded that as a gay black man, his King’s Pass is ironclad.

3. Oh! Our mistake. All good then. In Colorado fertility doctor Paul Jones is being sued by six families for using his own sperm to impregnate women from 1975 to 1989. (This has happened before with other fertility doctors.)  The families discovered Jones was the biological father through DNA testing.

Jones’ lawyers argue that the women have no basis for a complaint because they requested artificial insemination from an anonymous donor, and that’s exactly what what they received.

4.  Go ahead—move to Canada because you are frightened that Trump-Hitler will take away your rights. A dozen anonymous posters  have been ordered to pay thousands of dollars in damages for what Canada calls defamatory statements they made about a drug company in an internet chat forum. “If people want to make hurtful statements about others and then try to hide from the responsibility to prove the truth or other justification for doing so … their cowardice is reprehensible,” Justice Frederick Myers said in his judgment released Monday.

“Hurtful” comments are not defamatory in the United States, though a lot of people here would like to be able to punish them. O Canada! said it was unable to give the real identities of the posters to the plaintiffs, but did provide email addresses, allowing the plaintiffs to serve the lawsuit.

The  comments  at issue were posted in 2014 and 2015 on the investor-oriented website They were directed at Toronto-based Theralase Technologies Inc., a publicly traded pharmaceutical company, and its principals, Roger Dumoulin-White and spouse, Kristina Hachey. Typical commment: “Roger is like a pest diseased dog spreading his filthy rabbies.  A mangy dog that won’t go away until he’s put down.”

Not defamation. Opinion. As some readers know, I just defended a defamation suit, although I admit, my harsh comments did not reach the inspired level of “a pest diseased dog spreading his filthy rabbies.” Whatever they are.

5. Thanks, Professor—I had started a similar list, and now I can stop. From  Alan Dershowitz Defense Argument Transcript: Trump Impeachment Trial January 27.

I will now give you a list of presidents who in our history have been accused of abusing their power, who would be subject to impeachment under the House Manager’s view of the Constitution.. George Washington, refusal to turn over documents related to the Jay Treaty. John Adams signing and enforcing the alien and sedition laws. Thomas Jefferson purchasing Louisiana without congressional authorization. I’ll go on. John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, arbitrary despotic and corrupt use of the veto power… Abraham Lincoln accused Polk of abusing his power of his office, contemptuously disregarding the constitution, usurping the role of Congress and assuming the role of dictator. He didn’t seek to impeach him. He just sought to defeat him. Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was accused of abusing his power for suspending the writ of habeas Corpus during the Civil War. President Grant, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan… [The Clinton/Gore campaign said] ‘George H.W. Bush… and his administration have abused their governmental power for political purposes.’ That’s how abuse of power should be used, as campaign rhetoric. It should be in statements issued by one political party against the other. That’s the nature of the term. Abuse of power is a political weapon and it should be leveled against political opponents. Let the public decide…. Barack Obama — the House committee on the judiciary, held an entire hearing entitled Obama Administration’s abuse of power…. It is inconceivable that the framers would have intended so politically loaded and promiscuously deployed a term as abuse of power to be weaponized as a tool of impeachment.”

6. UPDATE: How is this a “bombshell”? From the Huffington Post, via AOL:

“John Bolton, the former national security adviser, told Attorney General William Barr that he was worried President Donald Trump had grown too friendly with the strongman leaders of China and Turkey, according to accounts in an unpublished book Bolton wrote that was obtained by The New York Times.”

The report Monday is the second bombshell revelation from the unpublished manuscript this week.

When did what someone said they were thinking, suspected or worried about become relevant evidence of anything, much less a “bombshell.” This is the Mueller investigation hype game all over again. Talk about a flat learning curve….

56 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/28/2020: Transcripts! Audacious Defense Lawyers! Canadian Defamation! “Bombshells”! [UPDATED]

  1. The Alinskyites have built their machine. And, before it’s too late, they want to see if it can be made to work.

    Vegas says Turmp’s chances of re-election are 58.5%, up a lot since the late fall. The Dems need him gone before he trounces them at the polls.

  2. Re: No. 5; Prof. Dershowitz.

    I have seen him on CNN or FOX. He is an impressive thinker. Yesterday, though, he was at a whole new level. If that is how he teaches his classes, his students are incredibly fortunate. Simply mesmerizing. I thought Sekulow as great but Dershowitz is without equal. I wish I had taken classes with him.


  3. Jack, I hope Mrs. Marshall is improving.

    I saw the clip of Lemon and company and was disgusted. These three acted like 10 year olds.

    My theory is that they are extremely worried that their house of cards is being systematically destroyed by the defense so they resort to ridicule. This works among adolescents because their peers are afraid the vitriol will be turned on them if they don’t join them.

    If Bolton wants to plug his book this,way I would suggest the entire manuscript be placed in the trial record which would make it a public document. That would effectively render the document worthless to the NYT’s and Bolton.

    What I don’t understand is how members of the NSC staff are vetting this book now. It is especially disconcerting to know that Vindman’s brother is on the NSC staff charged with vetting books by former officials.

  4. 1. I used the Times and others to track the fast evolving (I think that is a good word) Wuhan Coronavirus activity this weekend… until they blocked me with a paywall. I simply move on to other sources at that point.

    They had the gall to send me TWO emails (and how do you suppose they got my email address?#fuckyougoogle) asking me to support their fight for Truth, Justice, and The American Way… nah, but what they said was gaslighting:

    “The independent journalists at The Times spend years researching, investigating and reporting stories that demand the world’s attention.
    Your support can help them break the next big story…”

    res ipsa loquitur

    2. I read through the transcript. I thought the movie ‘Idiocracy’ was a spoof… apparently it is the blueprint for socialist takeover. This is the attitude which got Trump elected; it will keep him in office.

    3. If the doctor’s defense is successful, we should burn the justice system to the ground and start over.

    4. Socialists gotta stomp rights… it what they do. Just like the death camps.

    5. Soon coming to a Democrat Administration near you: as they sow, so shall they reap.

    6. Meanwhile, the American public yawns, scratches, and wonders about dinner. three years of bullshit from the media has dulled our ability to be outraged.

    7. There is no number 7

  5. >>that whole subcontinent — Bangladesh and Ukraine —

    Really? He really truly said that — and then accused Trump of not knowing his geography?

    Sheesh. What more do we need to know about that person.

      • Suffice it to say, I am of the opinion that Prof. Emeritus Dershowitz would never, ever, survive nomination hearings in the MeeToo era.

    • It’s my opinion that the words of Alan Dershowitz spoke on the floor of the Senate in regards to this impeachment trail will be referred to throughout history from this point in time on. As far as I know, there is nothing regarding the Constitutional powers of Impeachment that has ever been covered so thoroughly.

      Alan Dershowitz’s argument proves beyond any doubt that what the House did with this 100% partisan impeachment was unconstitutional.

      The trial was over after his presentation.

  6. Has anyone considered the possibility that Biden is being set up to be the Dems sacrificial lamb.

    It seems to me that the far left would have no problem using Biden as a tool to sink Trump while also not offering any significant defense for him and his son. By allowing Trump to focus his attention on the Bidens other more leftist candidates can make greater inroads themselves or by their proxies.

    Obama is shrewd. By not endorsing Biden or anyone else he effectively licenses attacks on his loyal number 2 while insulating himself against claims that he is orchestrating such attacks.

    I would bet Obama, Jarrett and Axlerod sit around laughing that Biden has been their dupe for so long.

    • Has anyone considered the possibility that Biden is being set up to be the Dems sacrificial lamb.

      I thought about it, then discounted it. The DNC hates Sanders and Warren, and most non-socialist Democrats (which describes about 305-50%, depending on who you ask) in the Senate fear either Sanders or Warren would lose YUUGGEE to Trump.

      The Dems are working hard to avoid having the Bidens testify for two reasons: 1) no good can come of seeing the aging Biden stammer through tough questions and 2) the younger Biden is a transparently amoral jerk with enough baggage to drag his father down no matter what he says.

      Obama will wind up endorsing Biden, but only after he is the nominee. It’s just good politics. That way he avoids being hated by Bernie Bros and Warren Weirdos.

  7. 4. Question:

    Go ahead—move to Canada because you are frightened that Trump-Hitler will take away your rights.

    Wait… is Trump-Hitler any kin to Bushitler? I gotta know.

    Plus, how is it that some version of “Hitler” winds up in the pet names of all Republican presidents?

    5. Dershowitz

    Hopefully, he didn’t actually spell Martin Van Buren’s name “Van Bern” in his remarks as the reporter evidently did.

    But a brilliant point, nonetheless, though doubtless falling on at last 47 deaf ears.

    6. When everything is a “bombshell,” nothing is.

    By the way, “bombshell” is an oxymoron. A shell is not a bomb, nor a bomb a shell, and there is no military munition described as a “bombshell.” It is the last refuge of the rhetorically stupid, a word that the media should resist on principle. If the writer has concluded something is a “bombshell,” how is it possible that he is being unbiased?

    It isn’t possible. Which is why you should run whenever you see that word. Aside from making you dumber, it has absolutely no function in the English language.

    • A shell is not a bomb, nor a bomb a shell, and there is no military munition described as a “bombshell.”

      Au contraire, my fine friend. The archaic origins lie in a time when cannon fired round shot.

      This was the original name for a what we would call a mortar round.

      BOMB, or BOMB SHELL, now called simply Shell (Fr. Bombe). A hollow iron ball or shell filled with gunpowder, having a vent or fuze-hole into which a fuzee is fitted to set the powder on fire after the shell is thrown out of a mortar. This destructive missile is intended to do injury both by its force in falling, and by bursting after it falls. [Arthur Young, “Nautical Dictionary,” London, 1863]

      • Only if you broke it. If the publication you were quoting spelled it that way, an [sic] would be the correct way to alert readers that it wasn’t your error.

        While President Van Buren certainly deserves to have his name spelled correctly even after lo, these many years and all this wokeness, the person who originally misspelled it does not deserve for his error to be hidden.

          • Heh. Well, what we have here, Jack, is an ethics conflict between the Golden Rule and the virtue of being accountable for your own errors.

            As to your typo record, well, as I pot, I feel really uncomfortable calling out your color… 🙂

  8. 5. The first two that came to my mind were Adams (for those Acts) and Jefferson. I’ve been reading Unger’s biography of James Monroe and just read the morning the section on the Louisiana Purchase. Very timely for me.

  9. Glen. You make good points. I was coming from the perspective that there are two distinct factions in the Democrat party; your parent’s democrats like Biden and the radical leftists that follow AOC, Sanders, the squad etc. The latter group is demonstrably impatient. They want power now and are unwilling to allow an evolutionary process but instead want revolutionary change. I see it reasonably probable that the far left faction will seek to use Biden’s weaknesses relating to his sons activities against him while pretending to defend him as they try to harm Trump.

    Obama may simply be waiting to see which faction triumphs before he makes any significant comments but I don’t see him wanting Biden to be the nominee.

    • I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that point, Chris. I’m confident that the Bernie Bros are all for the Bidens being dragged by the tongue around the Senate, and their corpses drubbed by pariahs. Warren is probably okay with it too, although at this point, I no longer consider her a contender, nor any of the other 30 dwarves, or however many actually remain.

      I’m not sure why Obama wouldn’t prefer Biden. As far left as Obama is, he isn’t in the same solar system with Bernie, and there have already been reports that Obama thinks Bernie is unfit for the job, and unable to beat Trump. Warren, maybe, but at this point, she looks very unlikely, and I can’t see him endorsing an almost certain loser.

      Which leaves Biden. And Obama knows that not looking disloyal will serve him in good stead, and his endorsement after the matter is decided becomes fait accompli with no significant consequences either way other than adding to his “legacy,” whatever that is.

  10. Dershowitz missed one for Thomas Jefferson: Not getting Congressional authorization before sending the first Marines to “the shores of Tripoli”.

  11. #5 I posted a question over on Quora and I worded it to get replies then forwarded the question to left leaning people that have openly conversed on the topic of the Constitution and Impeachment and I’m getting some interesting replies that I thought you all might enjoy.

    The question I posted is “In your lifetime, has there ever been a more thorough evaluation of what the Constitution and the founders of the United States intended for impeachment than what Alan Dershowitz delivered on the floor of the Senate?”

    I’ll post some of the more interesting replies under this comment in individual replies for your reading pleasure and so you can discuss them individually if you like.

    • Steve S***** says…

      “His claims are silly.

      Both Curtis and Dwight did make the “no impeachable offense without a legal violation” argument but —

      1 – That’s not what the Constitution specifies, and he knows it.

      2 – Both Curtis and Dwight made their claims and NEVER had them confirmed by Congress, or the Courts

      3 – There are legal violations of the Impoundment Control Act in Trump’s behavior.

      Dershowitz now, and Curtis and Dwight in the past, are being good attorneys by making every conceivable defense of their client’s position. Dershowitz can’t deny the behavior itself, because Trump admits to it openly, so he instead is arguing that Trumps legal violations somehow “don’t count” or the articles of impeachment aren’t correctly worded, etc.”

      • The impoundment act violation is debatable, and not remotely an impeachable offense. This isn’t a gotcha game. “The behavior itself” is normal, typical Presidential behavior, and 100% legal and common. I agree that an impeachable offense wouldn’t necessarily have to be an actual crime, but the bar for using a non-crime is higher than high, and this is lower than low.

    • Mike J**** says…

      “Frankly, there are more thorough and accurate evaluations of the Constitution and what the founders intended in the men’s rooms of truck stops along I-81 in Virginia.

      Dershowitz was delivering cherry-picked and slanted advocacy and trying to claim that it was even-handed evaluation.

      Real constitutional scholars — ones that aren’t being paid by one of the parties in this dispute — found many of Dershowitz’ claims laughable, particularly the idea that there must be a violation of a Federal criminal statute in order for there to be an impeachable offense. That’s not what “high Crimes” meant in the British common law tradition the authors of the Constitution were familiar with, but more importantly there were no Federal criminal statutes in 1789, when that was being written. The first ones — piracy, treason, and counterfeiting — were passed in 1790. There were no other Federal criminal statutes until after the Civil War. There were three judges impeached during that period, however.

      It was a sad spectacle of a man who has sold off his honor and credibility piece by piece over the years trying to give an argument credibility by his presence. And like a baseball player who’s hung on a year too long and won’t admit that he simply can’t catch up to the fastball any more, the spectacle was as pitiful as it was unnecessary.”

    • William S**** says…
      <blockquote“Dershowitz is claiming that what unites treason, bribery, and high crimes and misdemeanors is degree of criminality, and therefore “high crimes and misdemeanors” must refer only to serious criminal acts. This is nonsense. There is no parity between treason and bribery; treason is a capital offense, and bribery, unqualified, is not even always illegal. The commonality they share is that they are when committed by people in high office, crimes of betrayal of public trust and abuse of power. Thus “high crimes and misdemeanors” refers to other unspecified similar acts, illegal or not.”

    • James F****** says…

      “If you are a subscriber to Dershowitz’s judicial philosophy, probably you are right that his testimony yesterday was unparalleled.

      Unfortunately for Dershowitz, none of Trump’s judicial nominees and none of the Republicans in his audience subscribe to Dershowitz’s philosophy. If you thought Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were great choices for the Supreme Court, you should be very upset with Trump for giving this “libtard” a nationally televised platform.”

    • Gene M**** says…

      “No his claims are ridiculous and he knows what he is saying is BS and that’s why he admitted most legal scholar of the constitution won’t agree with him.

      His excuse is that Trump or any President can abuse his power as much as he wants and even try to get another country to interfere in our election and if it’s not a specific crime like bribery he can’t be impeached. It’s RIdiculous.”

      • That one would make me exit. There is literally no evidence that Trump did anything of the sort. That’s the leap these hacks keep making. If any county uncovers actual corruption by a VP abusing his power, any consequences of that fact are incidental. And “abuse of power” is meaningless. If the President has power to do something, he has the power. “Abus” is in the eyes of the beholder. Of course.

    • James M**** says…

      “Yes. I had a social studies class in middle school about the US legal system that covered it more throughly (and, by Dershowitz’ own admission, probably more accurately — he conceded that his views do not reflect the prevailing opinions and understanding of legal scholars on the subject). Mr. Pappadonis was an excellent teacher.”

    • Thomas M**** says..

      “Dershowitz behaves like a student who’s made a number of spurious and unsupported claims in a “D” paper, but who is so convinced of his own cleverness and insight that he expects an “A” for it.

      The OP seems to be behaving like a fellow student in the class who agrees with his classmate, and who will perform poorly in the course, just like Student Dersh will.”

    • Charles C***** says…

      “Alan Dershowitz went before the Senate and made up his own interpretation of the Constitution.

      Made it up.

      And every real Constitutional scholar disagrees with it.

      Any scumbag lawyer can make up anything they want. Which is all he did.”

      • Haha. Alan Dershowitz offered an informed opinion, which is exactly what all Constitutional scholars do.

        Plus, this is a naked appeal to popularity. Just because what Dershowitz argues isn’t popular among his peers does not invalidate it.

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