Category Archives: Ethics Train Wrecks

Unethical Quote Of The Day: A Lovely, Smart, Trump-Deranged, Left-Biased Facebook Friend

“How do we know the Trump administration is racist? well, they’re all white – and if this had been a white student murdered by a black student or immigrant student in what appears to be a racially-motivated hate crime, they’d have plenty say about it.”

—-A Facebook friend who works at Bowie State, exploiting the tragic death of a black student there at the hands of a white student from the University of Maryland, to attack President Trump in a post on his page.

How hysterical, unfair and unethical is this statement? Let’s see:

1.The administration is not all-white. Even if it was, that would not prove it was racist, except in the warped logic of progressives and social justice warriors. People like my friend know Trump is racist because that’s the narrative, and they just decided that he was, mostly by designating as  racist comments that were not, and using race-baiting as substitute for substantive arguments to support their irresponsible love of illegal immigration.

2. The assertion that simply by being white, one must be racist is itself a racist statement. (My friend is white, but this is virtue -signalling on the Left. Denigrate men, whites and conservatives, and that means you are good.)

Addendum: a commenter on the post who had the bad manners to point out that “we know they are racist because they are all white” was a questionable assertion saw his comment immediately deleted.

2. “We know you are racist because we are sure what you would do, though you have never done it.” This kind of reasoning from a faculty member is what Bowie students pay tuition for.

3. In fact, earlier this month a black student attacked and stabbed FOUR white students in Austin, Texas.

The President had no comments, though it was unquestionably a “racially-motivated” crime.  Never mind though, you know he wanted to say plenty.

4. Presidents should have nothing to say about such incidents. They are local, they are single events, they don’t prove anything, and their comments can undermine the justice system and inflame public opinion. President Obama never learned that, repeatedly making inappropriate comments about events that were none of his business, often exacerbating racial tensions, as in his uninformed, slanted statement about the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman tragedy. Obama also did exactly what my Facebook friend suggest is racist. He never commented on incidents where whites were the victims, as when Francisco Sanchez, a repeatedly deported Illegal immigrant,  shot and killed 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle in 2015. Does that prove Obama was a racist? Of course not! When you are in the grip of irrational Trump paranoia and hate, these standards only apply to this President, not the previous one. Continue reading

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“Fuck Donald Trump!”

I was bemused to see a Sunday New York Times front page story described the White House as beset with “scandals.” Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with anything that qualified as a “scandal” applying the prior standards of ethical journalism, and especially if one considered the standards the news media applied to the Obama Administration. For reference purposes, the Obama White House manipulating the facts of the Benghazi raid to avoid accountability was not a scandal, it was a “nothingburger.”  The IRS, an executive agency under the authority of President Obama, deliberately and illegally sabotaging conservative groups to assist in Obama’s re-election wasn’t a scandal,  it was just “rogue employees.” Obama’s Justice Department surveilling a Fox journalist in defiance of the First Amendment wasn’t a scandal, because Fox News.

“Fast and Furious” wasn’t a scandal because the Attorney General who oversaw it said it wasn’t, and besides, the Justice Department was investigating itself, so all was well. Barack Obama repeatedly lying about what was in the health care bill that we had to pass to know what was in it wasn’t a scandal, it was just a slip of the tongue, over and over again. The same slip. Secretly trading five terrorists for a deserter whom the administration first described to the public as a soldier who “served the United States with honor and distinction” wasn’t a scandal because the mainstream media gave it a pass…and so on.

Firing someone a President has the power and right to fire and who was objectively untrustworthy  is not a scandal, nor is it a “crisis,”  no matter how many times reporters say it is. Alleged statements made by a President leaked by anonymous sources are not scandals, because they are alleged statements made by a President leaked by anonymous sources. A news media—led by two rival national newspapers trying to top each other by publishing breathless accounts of hearsay as if that is ever  evidence of anything—that has openly abandoned all ethical journalism standards and allied itself with a partisan effort to undermine and remove an elected President is a scandal, as well as a crisis. More on that one later.

The other scandal and crisis is the complete abdication of reason, responsibility, civility and sanity by the Democratic Party as it commits to satisfying the blood lust of its most hard-core and irrational supporters, by trying to unseat the President of the United States without the inconvenience of having to win an election. The latest ugly proof that this scandal is real came from California, where the state Democratic Party convention climaxed with outgoing party Chair John Burton extending two middle fingers in the air and leading a cheering throng in the chant,  “Fuck Donald Trump,” as Nancy Pelosi laughed it up in the crowd (as you can see in the photo.) Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured Crisis: The Comey Firing Freakout”

With so much loose talk about impeachment going around (and by “loose” I mean “inexcusably ignorant”), texagg04’s review of the Constitutional standard for the removal of a President is a gift to readers of Ethics Alarms, and one of the most interesting and informative comments ever to appear here.

He was reacting to a New York Times op-ed, cited by another commenter,  by political scientist Greg Weiner (no relation) titled, “Impeachment’s Political Heart,” in which the author concluded,

“The question is by what standards they should conduct this work, and that question provides an opportunity to correct the mistaken assumption according to which presidents can forfeit the public trust only by committing what the law recognizes as a crime. That is a poor bar for a mature republic to set. It is not the one a newborn republic established. And that is why the idea that the conversation about impeachment is simply a political persecution of a man who is technically innocent of a literal crime not only jumps the investigatory gun. It misses the constitutional point.”

Having studied the issue myself, I immediately rejected Weiner’s analysis (which still is worth reading in its entirety) on the ground that a constantly evolving standard of what is a “high crime and misdemeanor” simply means that Presidents can be impeached for behaving, or governing, in ways that enough members of Congress, the news media and the public don’t like. That is what is being advocated now, and that approach would undermine our democracy, the power of elections, and the office of the President.

My gut response, however, is wan and insubstantial compared to tex’s masterful historical review and astute analysis, which (whew!) reaches a similar conclusion.

Here is texagg04’s fascinating Comment of the Day on the post, “Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured “Crisis”: The Comey Firing Freakout”…I’ll have one brief comment afterwards:

[Weiner] is making an argument from the same source material I mentioned, chiefly the Federalist papers. I still haven’t found Madison’s own specific arguments regarding it, but I think the source is irrelevant as the body of work published by the Founders (“Federalist” and “Antifederalist” alike) should be read as a single work documenting an internal dialogue, to be used as clarification when and where the final adopted documents possibly contain ambiguity. This could very well be one of those cases. That being said, the body of work by the Founders which may aid in revealing their intent or at least how they believed their philosophy of our political system out to be enshrined in the constitution, isn’t the only body of work used to interpret their intent. There is precedence and tradition, which the author of this article disregards when he says “Our tendency to read the impeachment power in an overly legalistic way, which is ratified by 230 years of excessive timidity about its use, obscures the political rather than juridical nature of the device.”

He’s right in nothing but that many of the earliest drafts and proposed language of the impeachment standards were very vague, such as (not an exhaustive list):

Continue reading

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My Mistake! I Thought Having Trump As President Would Teach Our Kids To Be Uncivil, Vulgar Assholes…I Didn’t Foresee Anderson Cooper Helping Out

[The title above is a reference to this post from last year, in case you missed it despite my linking to it just about every other day since…]

On the May 19, 2017 edition of Anderson Cooper 360, the CNN host became frustrated with President Trump’s flack Jeffrey Lord—consider him this President’s less slick version of Lanny Davis or less repulsive version of Paul Begala—-as Lord defended the President’s alleged description of former F.B.I. Director James Comey as a “nut job,” leading to this immortal exchange.

Cooper: If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.

Lord: What? [Starts laughing.]

Niiiiice! So professional! So respectful to the President of the United States and any CNN viewers left who have a shred of civility, decency, and sense of  etiquette in public discourse!

So disgusting.

As we know, a back-up weekend weatherman who said this about the  previous President or any before him would have been fired before he finished the 7 day forecast. Cooper, however, is permitted this gutter level breach of courtesy and professionalism, because 1) as CNN’s star, he is held to a lower standard (The Star Syndrome) than weekend weathermen, as we saw in when Cooper smirked and joked with Rachel Maddow about the gay term “teabagger” in order to mock the Tea Party movement,  2) CNN has normalized blatant partisan gestures and outbursts by its talking heads, and 2) this President of the United States  has been found  unworthy of respect and courtesy, or professional journalism standards. CNN will do nothing to discipline Cooper or send te message that his conduct is unacceptable, because the dirty little secret is that as long as President Trump is the target, it is acceptable. At this point in its devolution, CNN is cheerleading what has been accurately called a slow-motion attempted coup by the one-time news network’s party of choice. A Harvard media study released last week showed CNN to be the most unbalanced of all major news outlets in its reporting on the President’s first 100 days, with 97% of its coverage negative in substance or tone.

Cooper later apologized to Lord in the segment, saying, “I like having your voice on here and I think you’re an important voice to have, so I’m sorry I was a little crude. And you defend the president very well, and that’s your job.”

A little crude? Continue reading

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It’s A Comment Of The Day Weekend! First Up…Comment Of The Day: “This Is The Heartbreak Of Anti-Trump Brain Loss…”

I am desperately behind in posting deserving Comments of the Day, and have vowed to catch up. This one, by Zoltar Speaks!, is almost a week old, but fortunately its substance remains very current.

He was responding to the post about Harvard icon Larry Tribe being moved to engage in rumor-mongering and conspiracy theories because of his, and undoubtedly his elite peer group’s, contempt and hatred of the President of the United States. I had been holding it to pair with a long post regarding the daily, embarrassing displays of utter bias and irrationality in the New York Times, based on my forced perusal of the last Sunday edition. That post will arrive sooner or later, but it is unfair to delay wider distribution of Zoltar’s commentary any longer.

I was joking about “Anti-Trump Brain Loss,” but the phenomenon is no joke, and is, in fact, an existential threat to the nation, one more thing that the Trump Deranged are incapable of seeing in their fury. For some reason I was reminded of one of the worst Hollywood  movies ever mad, the hilarious sequel to “The Exorcist,” “The Heretic,” in which we learn that locusts are turned voracious and destructive by being in close proximity with each other. Their beating wings brush against other locusts, and it changes them (we are told) into monstrous forces of destruction. [Note: this is mostly nonsense, but not completely.]  This is like what I witness on Facebook, in the news media and from the more intellectual-limited among Democratic officials, who declare every incident, episode or tweet coming out of the chaotic Trump White House a crisis, then the news media repeats that it is a crisis, and the anti-Trump locusts fantasize about how “the crisis” will finally give them the chance to do what they have been trying to do since November 8, 2016: undo the election.

I was critical of Professor Turley in the previous post, so let me praise his clarity on this topic now. In a post on his blog called “A Question of Law: Calls for the Indictment or Impeachment of Donald Trump Are Transparent and Premature,” he writes,

“Critics increasingly sound like my kids when we drive across country and start to chant “are we there yet?” before we are even a block from the house.  Many view a criminal charge or impeachment as the only hope for America.  However, neither the criminal code nor Article II were meant as post hoc political options for unpopular presidents. Indeed, both are designed to be insulated from public distempers and passions.”

Bingo. Trump hatred has transformed previously responsible adults into children, as well as locusts.  We have never seen anything like it as a nation, and since the infection has mostly crippled an entire political party, the journalism establishment and the pundit class, the risk of permanent harm to the nation is real.  I spent five years warning readers about Donald Trump, and almost two explaining why it was madness to even consider him as a responsible Presidential choice. I did not, however, think for a second that progressive mania in response to a Trump victory—one that arose out of indignation that the Left’s precious agenda would be imperiled by a dolt chosen by the electorate because progressives had become insufferable, arrogant, divisive, cynical, corrupt and increasingly totalitarian—-would create a greater danger than an incompetent President.

Yet that is what has come to pass.  I have always detested the Right’s facile dismissal of liberals as “insane,” as in Michael Savage’s book, “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder,” because it echoes the indoctrination tactics of the Soviet Union, which placed dissenters in mental institutions.  Dubious political beliefs don’t mean one is crazy, but behaving irrationally and irresponsibly because those beliefs aren’t prevailing can produce symptoms of mental disturbance. That seems to be what we are witnessing now.

The locusts’ wings are beating furiously, changing them, driving them mad.

Here is Zoltar Speaks!’s Comment of the Day, the first of several this weekend, on the post, “This Is The Heartbreak Of Anti-Trump Brain Loss…”:

Continue reading

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Responsible And Necessary: The Appointment Of A Special Counsel

The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III (above), a former F.B.I. director, as special counsel to handle the Russia probe.

I am reading conservative pundits fuming over this development for a number of reasons, some of them valid and troubling. However, there is no good argument to be made that a Special Counsel isn’t necessary now.

Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein explained his decision to make the appointment (remember, he is acting AG in the Russian investigation, because Jeff Sessions was bullied and hectored into recusing himself, also unavoidable):

“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter.My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

Exactly. As for the last sentence, President Trump has no one to blame but himself. His own, typical, blundering, blathering ways created this atmosphere—that and “Deep State” leaks calculated to undermine him, and a news media feasting on those leaks like sharks on chum.

It is being argued that you can’t appoint a special prosecutor unless there is a finding that crimes have been committed. Here are the relevant sections of the law:

§ 600.1 Grounds for appointing a Special Counsel.

The Attorney General, or in cases in which the Attorney General is recused, the Acting Attorney General, will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted and –

(a) That investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances; and

(b) That under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.

§ 600.2 Alternatives available to the Attorney General.

When matters are brought to the attention of the Attorney General that might warrant consideration of appointment of a Special Counsel, the Attorney General may:

(a) Appoint a Special Counsel;

(b) Direct that an initial investigation, consisting of such factual inquiry or legal research as the Attorney General deems appropriate, be conducted in order to better inform the decision; or

(c) Conclude that under the circumstances of the matter, the public interest would not be served by removing the investigation from the normal processes of the Department, and that the appropriate component of the Department should handle the matter. If the Attorney General reaches this conclusion, he or she may direct that appropriate steps be taken to mitigate any conflicts of interest, such as recusal of particular officials.

I don’t read the law so narrowly. The law requires that there be a determination that a criminal investigation is warranted, not that crimes have been committed. Continue reading

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Ethical Quote Of The Month: Former Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz

“If it was a polite request saying, ‘Oh, you know, he’s a good guy, Flynn, I wish you’d back off this thing,’ that’s not an obstruction of justice. If it was a command, it would raise stronger problems.”

—Retired Harvard law professor , Constitutional scholar, lawyer, liberal and CNN commentator Alan Dershowitz, trying to explain to MSNBC what “obstruction of justice” means.

I’ve never been a Dershowitz fan, but when the List of Shame is complied after the Post 2016 Election Ethics Train Wreck has finally ground to a halt, he’ll be on another list: the one containing those who maintained their integrity.

He needn’t have bothered: the news media/Democratic Party/ “resistance'” collective has already labelled James Comey’s so far only rumored “memo” recounting that the President asked the then-FBI Director, in a private meeting in February, to close the FBI investigation of Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, proof of criminal motives and acts.

The New York Times learned of the memo from two people who claim they had read it. One of them read part of the memo to a Times journalist.  According to these unnamed sources’ description of the memo, Trump told Comey, “I hope you can let this go” in a meeting that took place the day after Flynn was forced to resign.

“I hope you can let this go” would be consistent with what Dershowitz, no Trump supporter but apparently yet to be infected with the integrity- and logic-destoying anti-Trump virus, accurately described as “not an obstruction of justice.”

The Times, however, a card-carrying member of the “overturn the election” cabal—we know this because it stated last August that defeating Trump justified tossing journalism ethics into the trash, and because since the election, its pages have from the book reviews to the op-ed pages have been filled anti-Trump propaganda—called Trump’s reported request “the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigation” into links between Trump associates and Russia. This must mean that there is no evidence, at all, since saying “I hope you can let this go” is barely influence at all.

The news of the alleged memo was breathlessly hailed by the “Can we impeach him now?” fanatics, including some readers of this blog who should know better and once did, as a “bombshell.” As Alan Dershowitz dispassionately points out, and as I have in the comment threads, it’s no bombshell. This is not  remarkable observation; a New York Times contributor was even allowed to agree with Dershowitz. (The Times can’t completely commit to the lynch mob, for then its efforts to aid and abet would be less valuable. It’s quite a tightrope these people are walking….). Constitutional law prof Elizabeth Price Foley wrote, Continue reading

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