Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, Feb. 1, 2020: A New Month, Post Fake News Shame, And Impeachment Failure Freakout Edition

The good news: Other Bill’s get well bouquet (above) from the Commentariat to the fallen “Mrs. Ethics Alarms” is still thriving!

1. Humbly grateful...for all the gracious notes of forgiveness for the “Unethical Quote Of The Century” fiasco, explicated here in the early morning hours. Imagine: with all the hysterical, dishonest, apocalyptic declarations flying around the airwaves, news media and  web, I managed to write about one that was never said.

2. Ann Althouse on “rigged.” The politically neutral bloggress gave me a much needed laugh with this: Responding to the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank’s unhingery in “The Senate impeachment trial was rigged!,” Ann wrote,

Yeah, it was rigged. Everything is rigged. The election was rigged. Trump isn’t really President. The impeachment trial was rigged. The acquittal won’t count as an acquittal. If Trump wins reelection, it will be because it was rigged. It’s all rigged. The Constitution itself is rigged. What’s with that 2/3 vote requirement? Rigged. Electoral college? Rigged! Life itself is rigged!…

Bingo. Do all the people screaming about the decision not to allow witnesses remember that the Clinton impeachment trial has no  witnesses, and neither Republican nor Democrats complained?  The ones who do are hypocrites, the ones who don’t. most. I think, are inexcusably ignorant. I’m not certain the Democrats really wanted witnesses, since their alleged “bombshell” witness, John Bolton, was not going to testify that he knew the reason Trump was pushing for a Ukrainian investigation was to “rig” the election, and the GOP was going to demand to question Biden and son. as well as the “whistleblower.” I suspect that the Democrats assumed that calling witnesses would be voted down, giving them a theme that Republicans were covering up for Trump. Or maybe not. Nothing about the Plan S impeachment sham makes sense. However, the screaming at the sky over a result that was inevitable and widely known to be so years ago was also inevitable, and, one would think, embarrassing.

3. Speaking of “rigged”… Yesterday, the Democratic National Committee announced a  change in their debate participant requirements for the February 19 candidates debate in Las Vegas, removing the individual donor threshold.  This now allows billionaire Michael Bloomberg to participate assuming he can reach the minimum polling average, which seem inevitable.   Bloomberg has been self-funding his campaign, so it had been impossible for him to meet the previous 225,000 individual donor mandate.

There is nothing wrong with the DNC adjusting its rules as conditions change in order to find its strongest candidate. What eliminated candidates like Cory Booker, Andrew Yang and Kamala Harris was the obvious fact that Democratic voters didn’t want any of them as the nominee. With the debates being semi-useless because of the over-crowded stage, cuts had to be made, and minuscule poll numbers was a good basis for culling the herd. Never mind: the candidates decided to engage in race-baiting against their own party, arguing that the DNC should have changed the rules to ensure more “diversity,” meaning “more blacks.” There was diversity galore in the last debate, other than diversity of viewpoint of course:  two woman, a gay man, a Jew, a Communist, three seniors, two Gen Xers, and a mentally disabled man. Is there any area where the left doesn’t think affirmative action and racial quotas are a justification for loosening qualifications?

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, in contrast, simply tweeted that Bloomberg has bought the DNC. Of course he has, or at least bought his way into the debate. (So has Steyer, though that didn’t stop him from attacking the DNC rules change.) What, however, is the DNC’s alternative? Bloomberg’s ad blitz has him rising in the polls, simply because few outside of New York knew who he was before. If he’s a factor, he should be required to debate with the others, where, I suspect, most Democrats will find him short, old (not that there’s anything wrong with that) ,  annoying, and carrying more baggage than a U-Haul.

4. And speaking of Tulsi: Gabbard is suing Hillary Clinton for defamation (for calling her a Russian asset). It’s a virtually frivolous suit: false claims in a political context have been routinely rejected as causes for such suits.  Clinton has now twice refused to accept service of the  lawsuit:  The New York Post reports

“[Gabbard’s lawyer] said their process server first attempted to effect service at Clinton’s house in Chappaqua on Tuesday afternoon — but was turned away by Secret Service agents. The agents directed the server to Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, who on Wednesday claimed at his Washington, DC, firm, Williams & Connolly, that he was unable to accept service on Clinton’s behalf.”

Pundit Charles Glasser wrote

Here’s the thing. She had her Arkansas law license reinstated last May. But the Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct state that: “It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: (a) violate or attempt to violate the rules of professional conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another; (b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects; (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; (d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice; (e) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official; or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law; or (f) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law.”

Seems to me that dodging service of a complaint might violate sections (c) and (d), no?

No. The Rule involved. 8.4, is virtually always applied to lawyers involved in the practice of law. Outside of committing an actual crime, which avoiding process as described isn’t, no bar is likely to likely to use 8.4 to sanction a non-practicing lawyer like Clinton

It’s moot now anyway, for Hillary Clinton finally accepted service in connection with the $50 million lawsuit.

5. A Nation of Assholes Update. If you want to blame Trump for this, I won’t stop you.

Congresswoman Tlaib of “The Squad,” and “impeach the motherfucker” fame is under fire for another example of gutter level incivility previously unseen in a House member.

Moderating a Bernie Sanders event in Clive, Iowa, moderator Dionna Langford referenced Hillary Clinton’s statement in an interview that “nobody likes” Sanders.

Rep. Tlaib was sitting on the stage along with fellow Squad member  Ilhan Omar. They are both Sanders supporters, since they disapprove of Capitalism and the U.S. version of democracy.

Langford said, “When someone by the name of Hillary Clinton said that nobody…,” she was interrupted by loud booing from the audience.  “We’re not gonna boo, we’re not gonna boo, we’re classy here,” she said.

“No, no, I’ll boo! Booooooo!!!!” the distingushed Congresswoan from Michigan countered. “No, we’re gonna boo. That’s alright. The haters will shut up on Monday when we win,” referring to the primary election in Iowa.

Thus bringing the standards of public discourse down another few notches….

I’ve been wanting to poll this for a long time…

And this poll, from this post, is still accepting responses…

19 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, Feb. 1, 2020: A New Month, Post Fake News Shame, And Impeachment Failure Freakout Edition

  1. RE #3 – there’s this gem from Politico: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/31/dnc-superdelegates-110083

    The DNC had its thumb on the scale for Hillary last time around. Looking more and more like they’re going to put their thumb on the scale this time for anyone-but-Bernie.

    I adore the irony in all of this. The so-called “democratic” party repeatedly proves that it’s anything but. Meantime, the Republican party honchos did everything they could to stop Trump in the last cycle – except the kind of sleazy rules changes the Dems consider business as usual.

    I keep wondering why so many progressives don’t realize this. Perchance once the Bernie Bros see their Messiah defenestrated a second time, the scales may fall from their eyes.

  2. 1. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Schumer may not have said it, but I’d wager it’s run through his mind, and he has said pretty much everything else involving President Trump is illegitimate.

    3. I saw my first ABB (Anyone But Bernie) ad on the internet this morning. It showed pictures of Bernie with people talking about how many states won’t vote for a Socialist – well duh, only stupid people would do that – and Bernie’s too old with health problems.

    The campaign to eliminate him is well underway.

    That first poll is really tough…like voting for cancer. I’m going with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, though having any of them on your side is equivalent to losing your two best players.

  3. Who remembers when the GOP controlled the House and Obama was in the White House and the DNC controlled the Senate?

    Remember how the House was just a raucous and impassioned lower chamber of Congress and thank God for the deliberative body of the Senate to control it’s temporary passions? And how it was the stubborn and recalcitrant Republicans in that lower chamber that were refusing to get on board with good governance?

    This guy remembers.

    • This guy remembers too. I also don’t doubt that if it had been Hillary who given the nation’s highest-ranking generals a tongue-lashing, the same folks who excoriate Trump for so doing would all be cheering “you go, girl!”

  4. A few thoughts on the all but over impeachment:

    After Friday’s vote, it’s all over but the formalities for the third impeachment and the second attempt at a soft coup by Congress against the president. It’s also the least legitimate of the third impeachments plus the one effort that never got to impeachment because the president resigned.

    The Radical Republicans tried to push Andrew Johnson out of office because, as a Democrat and a southerner (he was from Tennessee), he was in the way of their harsh program of Reconstruction they wanted to impose on the South after the Civil War, so they essentially took a policy dispute up to eleven. Nixon oversaw criminal activities and lied repeatedly, so his trust was shot and he could no longer lead. Bill Clinton had a sleazy, but probably not impeachable, affair, but then perjured himself, which is a crime, to cover it up, a classic case of the coverup being worse than the act. The best the Democratic Party could come up with on this one was a phone call with, at best, mixed motives.

    Nowhere in the Constitution or the other laws of this land does it say that the president or any other official must act totally selflessly at all times in the discharge of his duties, or he risks being impeached and removed from office. Nowhere does it say that, as chief diplomat of the United States, the president is not empowered to engage in political jiujitsu with other governments. Nowhere does it say that, as chief law enforcement officer of the United States, the president is not empowered to look into dealings by others with foreign governments that he has a question about. Most importantly, nowhere does it say that the president, or any other executive official, must defer to Congress, particularly to the House, in all things.

    The Founding Fathers were very clear on the concept of separation of powers when they drew up the Constitution. They did not want any one official, or even one institution, making the laws and then prosecuting and punishing anyone accused of breaking the laws. They specifically did not want any of the three branches of government becoming more powerful than the others. That’s why it’s called checks and balances. The nation is still working out how that is supposed to work in every situation, but that’s the basic concept we all learned back around 3rd grade. They built in the power of impeachment to guard against gross abuses by corrupt officials, but they specifically rejected the idea of a parliamentary system where the legislature holds most of the power and can call a vote of no confidence in the government fairly easily.

    They also specifically rejected the idea of one branch of government encroaching on the prerogatives of the others. Congress can pass all the laws it wants, but, unless the president signs them and later enforces them, they mean nothing. Congress can also do all the overseeing it wants, but, its power to demand testimony, documents, or anything else can be checked by the courts. That’s how it works. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

    Frankly, I’m not sure the Founding Fathers envisioned the concept of political parties ever becoming so dominant, nor that the differences between them would become so pronounced as now. I also don’t believe they ever envisioned the procedures and the powers of the Constitution becoming weapons in the service of those parties and differences. The president is not supposed to be subject to being kicked out of power simply because the other political party dislikes him. If the president is going to be kicked out of power, the main mechanism for doing that is supposed to be an election. That’s why impeachment is deliberately a high bar. In the 231 years since Washington was sworn in no president has been removed from office, and only three impeached. The only one to leave office early quit rather than let the process play out to the end. It’s supposed to be rare, and used only in extreme circumstances, for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

    Treason is also deliberately a high bar, because European monarchs used it as a catch-all charge to get rid of those they disliked, but that’s neither here nor there, since treason wasn’t alleged here. Bribery was not alleged either. That leaves only the catch-all category of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” “Abuse of power” is not a crime anywhere on the books anywhere in this country. There are statutes that govern misconduct while in office, but, typically, before one can be guilty under them, it must be proven that they acted with purpose to gain a benefit or injure another, and they must have known the act or omission was unlawful. In other words, acting with mixed motives in a gray area of one’s power is not misconduct while in office. Obstruction of Congress might mean more…if the House had followed the process all the way to conclusion. It is not obstruction to assert a privilege or to resist a subpoena. If someone does, then the seeker of the information or documents goes to court to get a ruling that the privilege does not cover this situation or that the documents must be turned over. If the court so rules and the person still withholds, then that person would be guilty of obstruction.

    In this case, the Democrats in the House have only themselves to blame for the failure of this case. They should have sought court review of the various demands for testimony and documents. Once they had court orders in hand, if they got them, then they would have been in a much stronger position to argue obstruction. However, going to court takes time, and there was no guarantee the courts would rule in their favor. Even then, the president would have appealed the decision all the way up, and that takes a lot of time. By the time there was a final decision, we could well be into 2021, and the election would be over. So they rushed through the investigation and generated these two half-baked charges. Any prosecutor will tell you that rushed charges or attempts to overcharge are sure paths to reasonable doubt and an acquittal. Several of the House managers were former prosecutors and should have known better.

    The fact of the matter is that, no matter what Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, or Jerry Nadler say, no matter how much they shake their heads, or tut-tut, or play the part of the oh-so-reluctant defenders of the Constitution and the American people, they didn’t enter into this process with pure motives, and they should know it. The Democratic Party and the political left generally have been gunning for this president since November 9, 2016, before he was even sworn in. When attempting to hijack the electoral college, harassing his appointees, twisting the Emoluments Clause, trying to dig up decades-old dirt from strippers, and countless accusations of everything from insanity to racism didn’t work, and a supposedly irreproachable former FBI director spent two years on an investigation that came up empty, they have turned at last to the political nuclear option. Now that is 99.999% guaranteed to fail, and what do we hear? Do we hear “Maybe this really isn’t going anywhere because there is “no there there?”” Do we hear “This didn’t work, let’s concentrate on the election instead?” “Do we hear “We gave it our best shot but we came up short, let’s get back to working for the American people?”

    Nope. Instead we hear “the Senators had no courage, but we’ll keep looking until we find the evidence to have that man frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. It’s out there somewhere!”
    Part of this is probably confirmation bias, because 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 thought they had Trump, who should also have never been elected, dead in their sights, and they could only hope that enough Republicans would see enough of the light and “get on the right side of history” to remove him.

    It was the right thing to do, after all, since there’s never been 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 ever did 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.

    Well, it doesn’t appear to have happened, yet the Democrats won’t give up the ghost. This is starting to take on the characteristics of an obsession with that which you can never defeat. Herman Melville treated that theme at some length in the book Moby Dick. Captain Ahab is determined to have his revenge on the great white whale that crippled him, so much that he does creepy things like baptizing a new-forged harpoon in blood and having his harpooners drink a toast of death to Moby Dick from the sockets of their weapons. Yet, when he finally confronts this monster of the deep, swearing “for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee!” all his skill seems to desert him, and he is pulled to his doom by becoming tangled in his own rope. He is 58 and has done great things, and that was far from the first harpoon he threw. This should not have happened. Captain Ahab let his obsession take over, and in the end it destroyed him, his ship, and all but one of his crew. If the left doesn’t lay off this obsession, they’re going to share his fate.

  5. P.S. – That bouquet from Other Bill looks like magazine art! Absolutely gorgeous…

    Thanks again, Other Bill, for being so thoughtful, and thanks, Jack, for sharing the photo.

  6. 1. From what I can tell you are a genuine person and would never willing attempt to deceive us. I also noticed that I could not find it and I did not report it to you. I believe I failed you more than you failed me.

    3. I don’t really understand your logic here. Changing the rules 1/2 through the game isn’t fair to the people playing the game. Bloomberg understood the rules and choose not to obey them to “do his own thing. And your response is he should be rewarded for it because he is a “strong candidate?” The fact that he is gaining some stride is moral luck. He could have failed spectacularly. I think you made a similar case on how the GOP should have stopped Trump (and I disagreed with you there).

    • The Commenters came through, and you’re one. You share in the credit.

      Re: 2. But it’s not a game. Each party has an ethical obligation to do its bast to arrive at the most qualified and most electable candidate for President. When the current rules no longer appear to be able to do that, then a party has a duty to change the rules.

      • 1. Thank you for your kind words.

        2. Well I use the word game loosely. I see it’s importance but this just seems like The just ends justify the means rationalization. I doubt Kant would have approved Bentham might.

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