Delayed Morning Warm-Up, 2/26/21: The Good, The Bad, And The Deranged…

Sorry-For-The-Delay

I just completed my ethics legal seminar, and wow, Trump Derangement runs deep. I kept getting these off topic questions about whether Trump’s lawyer in the impeachment trial was sanctionable for “lying.” Lawyers know better than that: unless you present false evidence (like, just as a wild example, claiming the rioters “killed’ and officer when they did not), advocacy for a client is immune from prosecution, liability or professional discipline. Finally an attendee messaged the group to say, “Can we please stop wasting everyone’s time with these Trump Derangement political questions?”

1. Good! As discussed here, country music superstar Morgan Wallen was suspended indefinitely by his record label and removed from hundreds of radio stations across the country after he used a “racial slur” that no news reporting organization would tell us what it was. OK, I did and will: he was captured on camera saying “nigger” in banter with his friends outside his home, and a malicious neighbor posted the video to social media. Now, I am happy to report, the efforts to “cancel” the singer appear to have largely flopped. The Times reports,

[H]is breakthrough release, “Dangerous: The Double Album” to No. 1 once again. It has held the top spot on Billboard’s album chart for six weeks in a row now, the longest run in the peak position since Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” last summer, and the only country album to spend its first six weeks at No. 1 since Garth Brooks’s “The Chase” in 1992. In its sixth week out, “Dangerous” had the equivalent of 93,000 sales in the United States, including 112 million streams and 10,000 copies sold as a full album, according to the tracking service MRC Data, which is owned by Billboard’s parent company. So far, “Dangerous,” which has 33 tracks in its “bonus” version, has logged just short of one billion streams in the United States.

Meanwhile, a country music station in Knoxville reversed its ban on Wallen’s records after polling listeners, who voted more than 9-1 to have them played again. Other stations are sure to follow, and not because the audience is full of racists who like to use that mysterious word, whatever it is, that the New York Times won’t specify, but because art is distinct from artists, and it is ignorant and foolish to confuse them. Art enriches our lives, and the more of it the better. Unfortunately, there is no correlation between virtue and talent.

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Comment Of The Day Double Feature: “Ted Cruz ‘Scandal’ Significance: Another Smoking Gun”… And Metaphorical Squirrels (1)

Incredibly, some media news sources are still blathering on about how Ted Cruz took his family to sunny Mexico while poor, normal, working Texans were trapped in their freeing homes. The Spectator had some wry words about this on Friday, describing the phenomenon as “squirrels”: distracting but inconsequential attractions the biased news media sends out to avoid covering stories that are unflattering to their client, the Democratic Party. Scott McKay writes in part,

Squirrels. What dog can resist chasing one? And if you don’t want a national discussion of a topic on which your side cannot hold its own, it’s best to set loose an arboreous rodent or two.

Like, for example, if Andrew “Sonny” Cuomo, the New York governor who played Grim Reaper to thousands of his state’s seniors by stashing COVID-19 patients in nursing homes where they resided, would suddenly find himself under scrutiny by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

That wouldn’t be a good look, would it? The Democrat establishment has done all it could to pump Sonny up as a potential national figure. Considering their bench is so shallow they had to present the decrepit and addled Joe Biden as their nominee for resident, er, president, Cuomo is what passes for a future ace in the hole when Biden has been put to pasture and the Democrats recognize Kamala Harris isn’t sellable to the country even if the dead can be made to vote again in strength.

If Cuomo didn’t offer a future presidential prospect, he would surely be someone to throw under the bus. He’s a gubernatorial Biden — a shameless clown devoid of credibility or competence who represents everything regular Americans despise about the political class. Cuomo is the very picture of our coastal elites: his success owes almost completely to the name he inherited from his father Vito, er, Mario Cuomo and his membership in the ruling-class club. Cuomo spouts all of the pieties of the managerial elite, and he’s mastered the art of faking sincerity when he does so. His abject corruption and incompetence in office is easy to paper over — the Cuomos have run so much of New York’s middle class out of the state there are no longer enough of them to ever vote a Democrat out of office, and therefore their party has perfected at the state level the Weaponized Governmental Failure that’s usually reserved for Democrat machines in the cities.

And of course, brother Fredo — sorry, Chris — hosts a show on CNN when he’s not engaged in pugilism with less-than-adoring viewers or faking a COVID quarantine. CNN’s management actually thinks it’s cute to have Fredo interviewing Sonny on its air despite the breathtaking affront to journalistic integrity that represents. That occasional moment of on-air fraternal bliss suddenly lost its luster when the G-Men began covering the set.

Later, he concludes,

Nor are the squirrels going back into the trees anytime soon, because it won’t be long before the Democrats and their compliant minions in the news media and pop culture recognize the urgency of air cover for all kinds of coming disasters.

There’s the unscientific failure to reopen schools as parents groan under the strain of trying to survive the COVID economy while becoming amateur homeschoolers. There’s the burgeoning failure to fulfill Dirty Joe Biden’s vaccine promises while Biden purports to have conjured the vaccines out of thin air. There’s the fact Biden is calling a lid on conducting foreign policy and delegating it to Kamala Harris. There is the looming disaster in China and Iran policy, and particularly the coming crippling shortage in rare-earth minerals. There is the growing recognition that the Brian Sicknick story, on which the Jan. 6 “insurrection” narrative has been built, appears not to have contained a wisp or a smidgeon of truth.

And on and on.

The problem with squirrels is eventually the dogs lose interest. What comes afterward could be fascinating, and not in a good way.

I feel complicit, a bit, in the squirrel problem, but it is a matter of focus. The cover-up that Cuomo has been credibly accused of is obviously unethical: nobody needs me to point that out. Cruz’s mess, which he blundered into, raised ethical issues, which is why it has been more evident on Ethics Alarms.

Two commenters, Null Pointer and Chris Marschner, have contributed Comments of the Day on the matter, one in response to the other, and they make an attractive matched set. First up is Null Pointer’s COTD on the post, “Ted Cruz ‘Scandal’ Significance: Another Smoking Gun”:

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Ethics Inquiry: Did Sen. Cruz Do Anything Wrong?

Cruz trip

As Bill Clinton might say (and probably has, maybe more than once), it depends on what your definition of “wrong” is.

Millions of Texans were left without electricity this week in the middle of the state’s power crisis following a massive winter storm. The Senator’s wife Heidi sent text messages to friends and neighbors complaining that their home was “FREEZING,” and that she wanted the family to escape on the 17th to someplace warmer, at least until Sunday. The mission, if her husband chose to accept it: get to the luxury Ritz-Carlton in sunny Cancún, Mexico. The destination is apparently a family favorite. The GOP Senator did accept, and the Freezing Cruzes fled Houston, hopping an afternoon flight. The consensus of the news media, the commentariat and social media was that…

In fact, you would think Cruz had been caught having a secret romantic rendezvous with a goat. Incriminating photos of Cruz and his wife boarding the flight launched a full-fledged scandal. How dare he flee a crisis when his state was in misery? Ted responded by playing the Parent Card, explaining he had flown to Mexico “to be a good dad” and to chaperone his daughters and their friends, and he promised he was coming back yesterday, which he did.

When he returned, Cruz admitted that his family trip had been a mistake. That is undeniable.

But was it unethical? Was it wrong?

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Regarding The Trump Defense “Fight” Montage

As readers here know, I have not watched a second of the “impeachment” (it is no longer an impeachment) “trial” (it does not comport with the Constitution’s prescription for a Senate trial of a President because I have an unruly sock drawer. There was never a chance that President Trump would be convicted of the manufactured charges rammed through the House when he was in office, and the effort to convict a private citizen or construct a Bill of Attainder to prevent a private citizen from running for office are unconstitutional. If either or both were successful, which is impossible, they would be over-turned by a conservative Supreme Court whose Chief Justice has already signaled his contempt for the partisan exercise by refusing to participate in it. (I hear Roberts’ sock drawer is immaculate).

I’ve read many articles over the last week speculating on what the Democrats are trying to accomplish. Here’s one from yesterday. It’s been pretty clear to me, though incredibly and damningly not the Trump Deranged, that what they are accomplishing is embarrassing and disgracing themselves, their party and the nation; weakening the Constitution and ensuring similar behavior from Republicans in retaliation; exacerbating dangerous division and cynicism among the public, and generally continuing their despicable series of plots over the last four years to reverse the results of the 20i6 election no matter what harm it does to our institutions.

Bias, as the Ethics Alarms motto goes, makes you stupid, and the impeachment charade/fiasco/debacle/ farce/shit-show—you pick your favorite—and hate, as Richard Nixon realized too late, will destroy you. The “trial” is an abject lesson in both truths.

I didn’t watch the any of the trial, but I could not resist watching the video above, not that any of it was a surprise or should have been to any Americans who were paying attention, as in, for example, actually reading the text of Trump’s speech to the protesters. There was no “incitement” in his words, and no one could have been convicted on such evidence, as many objective authorities have pointed out, and many biased professionals have denied, to their eternal shame. Inciting a riot is a crime of intent, and outside of some amateur mind-reading, no intent has been proven or could be. The “case” against Trump—there is no case—has been based on the the “resistance”;s news media allies ludicrously re-casting a riot, a minor one compared to those we have seen over the last decade, almost entirely from the Democratic base with official approval, as an “insurrection,” which it was not. This has been repeated daily since January 6, as if repetition makes it so. It wasn’t even an attempted insurrection, because even the dimmest bulb among the small minority of angry Trump supporters who actually stormed the Capitol could have thought for a millisecond that a couple hundred fools, dummies and clowns had a prayer of overcoming the government or even slowing it down.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/30/2021: Oh, The Usual…Race-Baiting, The Pandemic, Betrayals, Journalism

SCOTUS Morning

Late reflections on this morning’s first post:

  • The story of how the only official to be referred for criminal prosecution as a result of the illegal Justice Department machinations to cripple the Trump administration was reported on page A20 of the New York Times front page this morning. Thirty stories were considered more important for Times readers to know about, including the discovery of  200-year-old fort built by indigenous Alaskans.
  • From the Times report: “The Justice Department has said it no longer believes the full range of evidence available to it by the final two extensions met legal standards to invade Mr. Page’s privacy.” This is deceptive: the purpose of the FISA warrant was to surveil the Trump campaign. meaning that the surveillance was illegal. Page was a means to an end, and the end being sought was redolent of the Nixon dirty tricks that spawned Watergate. The Times is burying the significance of what Clinesmith did. Similarly, the headline “Ex-F.B.I. Lawyer Who Altered Email in Russia Case Is Sentenced to Probation” is deliberately deceptive. The objective of the “collusion” claims were to sink the Trump Presidency, not to punish Russia.
  • A single day’s riot that breached the Capitol and had no tangible effects of the government at all is being routinely labelled an “insurrection,” while a two year effort to cripple a Presidential administration using false evidence and involving the Justice Department, the FBI and news media  is reported as an inconsequential legal matter.

1. Finding systemic racism where it wasn’t. Cicely Tyson died at the age of 96. Like Charlton Heston, the African-American actress became an icon by playing iconic roles. She had by any standards an acting career an actress should be proud of, and most performers would envy: she appeared in 29 films; at least 68 television series, mini-series and single episodes; and 15 productions on and off Broadway.  She  was honored with an Oscar, three Emmys, many Emmy nominations, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Tony, and accomplished it all while being a non-beautiful woman in a profession that values beauty above all, mostly limiting her to character and historical roles.

Yet Times critic Wesley Morris, an African-American who  has a narrative to advance, writes in an appreciation, “Let’s face it: the great parts were always headed to someone whiter anyway… Consider the parts she could have played if the movies were fairer.” This is approximately equivalent to saying, “Imagine the parts Mickey Rooney could have played if the movies were fairer.” Tyson was unique and talented, and the movies were sufficiently fair for her to play major roles in major projects throughout a long career. There are undoubtedly African American actresses who consider it unfair that when a black female character was being cast in a hsitorical film, Tyson was ha the right of first refusal.

Might she have been cast in “The Jagged Edge” in place of Glenn Close? Sure—so could Faye Dunaway. Or Ellen Burstyn. The difference is that those actresses can’t use racism as the reason they weren’t cast.

In addition to her stellar career and reputation, Tyson died with an estate worth at least 10 million dollars. Hollywood has been racially biased for decades, but Cicely Tyson shouldn’t be cited as a victim. Like so many of the individuals she played, she rose above racism by strength of character and ability. Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)…For The Second Time!

Greene

It’s a record!

Ah, the Stupid is strong with this one! Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene invited the press to a town hall event last night in which she planned on answering questions about her support of various wacko conspiracy theories, as well as her silly filing of a bill of impeachment against President Biden. Despite inviting the press, Greene’s instructions were that they couldn’t ask any questions. Yeah, that always works.

A reporter and videographer from a local Georgia station tried to question the Congresswoman, and Greene told them that she was there to speak to her constituents, and not to deal with the news media. Then a Whitfield County sheriff’s deputy escorted the journalists out of the town hall and threatened to arrest and charge the crew with criminal trespassing if they refused to leave. Later, a spokesperson for Greene’s office explained that the crew was removed because the town hall event was “not a press conference.”

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“The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Impeachment” Becomes An Ethics Fiasco: Ten Observations

johnson-impeachment

In this post, “Nancy And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Impeachment “—could it really have just been 12 days ago?—I wrote in part,

Nancy Pelosi came right out and said that her objective in impeaching Trump this time was to stop him from running again. That’s not what the Founders designed impeachment for. She’s admitting that this Congress and her party regard impeachment as just one more political stunt, like ripping up the State of the Union message, boycotting the inauguration, or nominating Kamala Harris. Worse, unless the Senate agrees to rush through a trial the way Pelosi rushed through the impeachment, Trump will already be out of office and a private citizen before he can be convicted—which he wouldn’t be anyway. The Constitution speaks of impeachment and the Senate trial as a means of removing a President, not as a device to say “I hate you! Ooooh, I hate you to pieces!” to an ex-President.

Thus it’s a joke. The first impeachment was a dud. Trump hasn’t been embarrassed, but Congress and the news media have been embarrassed and exposed as fools.

Not that they hadn’t been exposed as fools already.

But “Wait!”—as they say on infomercials–“There’s more!” And it only gets worse:

1. Since the impeachment vote in the House, further investigation of the attack on the Capitol and its time-line has shown that many of the participants had planned to storm the building in advance, in fact had begun preparations before the President addressed the protesters, and had begun to take action while the President was speaking on January 6. Thus the House’s impeachment theory that the President had incited a riot by providing a lit match to an obvious powder-keg is unsustainable n the facts: the powder had already been lit. Nor do the facts support the argument that the President intended to spark a riot, since the words of his speech never suggested violence or alluded to it.

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Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)

Pentagon attack

It’s good that Georgia elected Rep. Greene to Congress. The GOP needed some more wackos to balance Rep. Octavio-Cortez and her friends.

Greene, you will recall, is the one who has already filed impeachment charges against President Biden, which is ridiculous. She’s also apparently a believer of the QAnon conspiracy theories, which puts her about on par intellectually with Democrat Rep. Hank Johnson, who believes that Guam is in danger of tipping over. Slimy progressive smear factory Media Matters for America uncovered old Facebook posts from Greene apparently endorsing the theory that the Sandy Hook and Parkland shootings were “false flags,” which doesn’t even make sense. If the kids were shot, they were shot. It doesn’t matter why they were shot, even if they were murdered by gun control activists….a conspiracy theory that nobody sane would allow to sit in their head for more than a second lest it cause their brains to melt out of their ears.

Greene’s response to the Media Matters hit job was as incompetent as some of her conspiracy theories.“Communists bloggers like @mmfa run the same playbook of lies and smears on people they feel threatened by,” Greene wrote. “Produce fake news, spread it all around, then tag all fake news stories about their victim in all future stories. Guess what? Nobody cares about your BS.”

How about explaining the Facebook posts, Congresswoman (she took them down instead)? This is just attacking the messenger.

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Ethics Footnotes, 1/17/21:Well, I’M Reading, Anyway…

Boy, only diehards are on Ethics Alarms today, yesterday too. I don’t get it; it’s a long weekend, but so what? It’s not like everyone is traveling on long weekends while American are still trembling in terror over the Wuhan virus. Must ethics take a holiday? Apparently so...

1. How can anyone have sympathy for New Yorkers? The city is falling apart. Crime is up, the wealthy are fleeing, corporations are fleeing, the mayor has eliminated admission tests for much of the public school system and stated that his goal is to redistribute wealth, Times Square has returned to pre-Rudy squalor, and tourism was falling like a rock even before the pandemic. They voted for a confessed socialist as mayor (and for his communist, conflict-of-interest flaunting wife)—perhaps acceptable as a novelty—then re-elected him after a disastrous first term. Now, six months ahead of this year’s Democratic mayoral primary that will decide who the next mayor will be because the city’s minorities wouldn’t vote for a Republican if he was running against Nero, the natives are getting restless. Polls show that New Yorkers regard de Blasio’s pet issues of combating climate change and pollution on the bottom of their priority list, but only 56% of respondents said they hold a “very or somewhat unfavorable” view of the guy that was the architect of the city’s collapse. Why isn’t it more like 90%? I suppose for the same reason they elected him twice. In democracy, you get what you deserve. Civic literacy is the individual’s ethical responsibility, nobody else’s.

2. Now THIS is an incompetent elected official…Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) actually said in a video posted last week—I wouldn’t kid you!-–“This idea that saying that Pennsylvania was ‘rigged’ or that we were ‘trying to steal the election,’ that’s a lie. And you do not have the right, that is not protected speech.” Fetterman goes on to say that Twitter should have immediately removed any tweet from President Donald Trump that questioned the integrity of the election, and, in the immortal mark of someone who doesn’t know the First Amendment from a Yorkshire Terrier, compared Trump’s claims to “yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is none.”

This idiot is reportedly considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2022.

To be fair, Fetterman’s view of the free speech,which is to say “there is none unless progressives approve,” appears to be on the way to becoming the predominant one in the Democratic Party.

Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos…

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Nancy And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Impeachment

Pelosi mask2

Here is all you need to know: Newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene announced yesterday on Twitter that she plans to file articles of impeachment against President-elect Joe Biden for abuse of power.

Of course she is. Why not? The Democrats, in their unhinged rush to do anything and everything they could think of to undermine President Trump even before he took office, have guaranteed this kind of impeachment-as-spite will be the new smear of choice by opposition parties. Ironically, this also means that impeachment as a serious tool of democracy to remove a genuinely criminal or position-abusing POTUS has been ruined. As soon as the GOP gets control of the House, which I suspect will be in two years, Republicans will begin abusing impeachment just as Democrats did for the last four years. They’ll do it for revenge, they’ll do it to get even. They’ll do it to harass the Biden Administration. They’ll do it, as Rep. Maxine Waters kept advocating, because they will have a majority and they can.

The talk about Trump being impeached twice “staining his legacy” is delusional. If the contrived impeachments are such a badge of shame, why wasn’t the first one mentioned in the debates? In Democratic campaign ads? Why wasn’t it an issue at all? It didn’t show up in the polls, it didn’t cost Trump any discernible support (though the House Democrats lost seats). It is obvious why. The impeachment was a purely partisan affair, and while Bill Clinton’s impeachment was similarly one-sided, at least there was a valid argument that he had committed one or more “high crimes.” Clinton had lied to a grand jury, and lied in a court hearing under oath, both sufficient to get a lawyer disbarred (and in fact enough to get Clinton disbarred, though he quit the Arkansas bar first.) Democrats began then to turn what was supposed to be a bi-partisan enforcement of leadership standards into a matter of protecting one’s own (as long as his poll numbers were strong, anyway.) Democrats also set the precedent of treating an impeachment as no big deal, when the party featured Bill Clinton as a ballyhooed speaker at several conventions. Bill didn’t seem embarrassed at all.

As ridiculous as the first impeachment was, the current one makes it look like a model effort. The House didn’t bother to present complete evidence or have more than a perfunctory debate. If it were governed by prosecutor ethics—and it should be, when it is preparing the equivalent of an indictment—the Democratic House majority would be sanctionable.

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