Well, That’s One Phony Impeachment Theory Down For Good…

C

The Supreme Court today threw out lawsuits claiming that Donald Trump violated the obscure Emoluments Clause, and thus profited from his Presidency. The issue, it concluded, was moot because Trump is no longer in office.

The specious accusation President Trump is violating the Constitution by owning businesses while he is President (Plan C on the list) claimed an ethical breach never anticipated by the Founders and an issue that was barely discussed by the news media during the campaign. Once the President was elected, his haters and saboteurs demanded that he surrender his interests in a vast business empire, something that was both logically and practically impossible. The Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 9, Paragraph 8), a true Constitutional dead letter, stipulates that no federal officeholders “shall receive gifts or payments from foreign state or rulers without the consent of Congress.” But payments obviously means pay-offs, and payment for services isn’t a gift. Nor are Trump hotel and other organization receipts payments to the President.

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Ethics Warm-Up, 1/25/21: Wait, MSNBC Admitting Its Bias? The UN Praising the US On Climate Change? The Armed Services Being Reasonable About Hair?

1. Naturally, this was never going to come out before the election, and if it did, it wouldn’t have been reported. Or is that too cynical? Yesterday, The United Nations released its Emissions Gap Report 2020, an annual assessment of contributions to greenhouse gas and carbon emissions. Here is what it said about the U.S.:

“The United States of America emits 13 per cent of global GHG emissions…China emits more than one-quarter of global GHG emissions….Greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the U.S. are dropping precipitously while those of China, India and Russia continue to rise. With the world’s most successful economy (over $21 trillion in 2019), it is not a surprise that the U.S. pollutes more per person, but the U.S. is making great strides in changing this. “

Forbes notes that the U.S.has been decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions faster than any other major polluter, and it did so without the Paris agreement.

2. Well, duh. Via  NewsBusters: MSNBC Live host Stephanie Ruhle said of Biden’s inauguration, “Let’s be honest, you know if President Trump did this, he would be getting crushed for holding a super-spreader event. We’d all be saying it.”Gee, Stephanie, why be honest now? Oh…right.

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Ethics Quiz: Fairness To Lauren Wolfe

NY Times

The New York Times dumped editor Lauren Wolfe yesterday. I had written about Wolfe a few days ago:

“Biden landing at Joint Base Andrews now. I have chills,” New York Times editor Lauren Wolfe said in a tweet yesterday with a screenshot of a report from CNN showing Biden’s plane landing….Wolfe was immediately mocked and excoriated on social media, so she returned with several tweets denying any bias and claiming that she was just naturally exited about a historic moment. Riiiiight. Among her tweets,

  • “I’m shocked that you all don’t feel the importance. Such historical events are deeply moving and thrilling. This attempt to shit on me is nothing more than shortsighted presumption”
  • “So a bunch of people think me being excited for the transfer of power tomorrow is somehow disgusting/idiotic/against journalism. It’s a shame. We should all be interested on historical moments”
  • (to Brit Hume) “Really, Brit? You’ve never felt excited at historical moments? Stop inciting your fans who are coming after me with threats. This was an innocuous tweet and you know it.”

Of course, it was a biased tweet that exposed her and the Times’ unethical bias that screams out from the paper every single day, and she knows it. Wolfe eventually deleted the tweets, which are similarly self-indicting.

On what basis was Wolfe fired? Surely not for being biased in favor of the Democratic President! The entire paper is biased that way and flagrantly so. The Times offices has to be teeming with staffers and editors openly basking in Donald Trump’s defeat. Wolfe must have been surrounded by people talking about their “chills.” The Times can’t possibly care about political bias; if it did, it would hide its own better. It wouldn’t keep putting progressive hacks and Democratic Party operatives with press credentials on its op-ed pages.

It certainly isn’t fair to fire Wolfe for stating on social media a bias that the Times tolerates and approves.

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Glenn Greenwald

A republic

“Unleash this monster and one day it will come for you. And you’ll have no principle to credibly invoke in protest when it does. You’ll be left with nothing more than lame and craven pleading that your friends do not deserve the same treatment as your enemies. Force, not principle, will be the sole factor deciding the outcome. If you’re lucky enough to have important and famous media friends…you have a chance to survive it. Absent that, you have none.”

Glenn Greenwald, in his post on the attempted “canceling” of writer Will Wilkenson over a facetious tweet.

The “monster” Greenwald is referring to is mob anger and indignation, magnified by social media, and enabled by self-preservation and cowardice. His essay, titled “The Moronic Firing of Will Wilkinson Illustrates Why Fear and Bad Faith Mob Demands Reign Supreme,” was triggered by the recent firing of an intellectual I never heard of by a think tank I never heard of, as well as his looming dismissal by the New York Times. His “crime” was this tweet…

Willkerson tweet

…which a hoard of online cretins and power-hungry wastrels pounced upon, falsely calling it a call to do violence to the ex-Vice-President and thus mandating his public humiliation and rejection.

As Greenwald correctly concludes, no reasonably intelligent reader could think the tweet, posted the night of Joe Biden’s inauguration, was anything but a pointed joke. Extreme Trump supporters were furious with Pence for not taking action to reject the 2020 election results. Anti-Trump extremists wanted Pence to remove President Trump using the inapplicable 25th Amendment ploy, which he correctly refused to do (and could do constitutionally anyway.) Thus lunatics on both sides of the U.S. ideological divide could be unified in their anger and hatred toward Mike Pence, ironically making his mistreatment a potentially unifying act. Wilkinson rueful point was valid (if clumsily made), and he wasn’t personally advocating violence against Pence. But a wealthy hedge fund manager and large-money GOP donor, Gabe Hoffman, condemned the tweet which he claimed “call[ed] for former Vice President Mike Pence to be lynched.” Hoffman asked the New York Times, which employs Wilkinson as an opinion writer, to comment on its ” ‘contributing opinion writer’ calling for violence against a public official,” then tweeted to Wilkinson’s other employers, the Niskanen Center, a moderate public policy think tank, to pressure them as well. The Center quickly fired Wilkinson, while his fate with the Times hangs in the balance. A spokesperson for the paper told Fox News: “Advocating violence of any form, even in jest, is unacceptable and against the standards of The New York Times. We’re reassessing our relationship with Will Wilkinson.”

Naturally, as happens in 99% of these increasingly common episodes, the victim of the deliberate misunderstanding resorted to a grovelling apology, saying in part,

“Last night I made an error of judgment and tweeted this. It was sharp sarcasm, but looked like a call for violence. That’s always wrong, even as a joke. It was especially wrong at a moment when unity and peace are so critical. I’m deeply sorry and vow not to repeat the mistake. . . . [T]here was no excuse for putting the point the way I did. It was wrong, period.”

No, actually it didn’t look like a call for violence, and apologizing for something it wasn’t but was deliberately misrepresented as being for malicious purposes is far worse than the tweet itself.

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Saturday Ethics Warm-Up: “Is Anybody There? Does Anybody Care?”

Ultimately, it will all come down to…

  • ..how many Americans are paying attention.
  • …how many Americans are smart enough to connect the dots
  • …how many still want the United States to be the bastion of individual liberty it was designed to be, and
  • …how many American care.

1. I know, I know…polls. Still, the polls we have seem to indicate that outgoing, supposedly maligned and detested Donald Trump has a higher approval rating than incoming President Joe Biden…this, despite the news media drooling all over the latter and a pending second impeachment trial against the former, near constant hyper-insulting anti-Trump verbiage from all sides, and his own infantile, irresponsible and unpresidential behavior since the election. This itself is circumstantial evidence that the election was squirrelly.

Of course, one explanation is that Democrats and progressives hated Trump more vociferously than the President’s supporters cared about keeping him in office. In that case, Republicans and conservatives and whatever Trump’s non-Republican, non-conservative fans are have only themselves to blame, regardless of the shenanigans around the vote-counting.

I stated here many times that I did not believe a President could be elected based on hate. I guess I was wrong.

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The Answer To A “Biased News Media”?

ABC Australia

Guest Post by Andrew Wakeling

What is the point in complaining, as Jack so continually does, about bias in the mainstream press, without ever suggesting a solution?

‘Freedom of speech’ does not include any obligation to be fair and balanced, or even to be honest. Anyone can generate their own copy as newspaper or blog. The rest of us have the wonderful freedom to read or ignore such words as we wish.

I like government funded news, like the UK’s BBC or Australia’s ABC. I am comforted and reassured by the strident criticism that such outlets are ‘left biased’. So they should be. I expect profit seeking outlets in comparison to bias their reporting to favour their rich owners and advertiser clients. Reading the Murdoch press and listening to the BBC at least gives me some sort of net balanced reporting, or the best I can do.

I’m happy as we are. I haven’t seen any malicious misreporting of facts, like cricket scores or stock prices. But certainly Australian victories get more front page reporting than our defeats. But beyond that most reporting is heavily influenced by opinion, and that is what we the public buy.

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Ethics Warm-Up, 1/22/2021, As Your Host Tries Not To Write Angry

Only the soothing tones of Johnny Nash could calm me down after this morning’s ordeal, and it hasn’t worked yet.

I set out with my wife to get her to a rather urgent doctor’s appointment at an office we had never been to before. I should have been forewarned knowing it was in Manassas (those who know Northern Virginia know what I mean.)To make a long, horrible story short, we never got there. The exits on Route 66 suddely skipped five numbers. There was a sign for Exit 47 A, which was also for 47 B without saying so. The construction everywhere made navigation impossible. After missing the right exit, detours and construction mad it seemingly impossible to get on 66 going the other way, The Google map directions were wrong. The GPS installed in the car refused to take the street number, and dumped us in no-man’s land. Naturally, everyone we talked to at the doctor’s office professed ignorance at how to get there. After wandering in the wilderness for two hours, we gave up. Then the last staffer at the doctor’s office said, “Oh, when you come back, don’t use Exit 47 like all the directions say. Use 44. That takes you right to our door and avoids all the construction.”

NOW you tell me that?

The over-arching goal of ethics is to make life easier and more pleasant for everyone else. If you work or live in a locale that is difficult to get to or find the first time, you warn people.

1. Welcome “Impeachment or Removal Plan U”! Well, not really welcome. Not really a removal plan either. Plan U is based on Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was being thrown around as a way to punish Senator Hawley and Cruz for doing what Democrats had done every time this century a Republican had won the Presidency: challenge the electoral vote. When Republicans do it, you see, it’s an insurrection. Then teh second that word escaped their lips, coup-minded Democrats hit themselves in the forehead with teh palm of their hands, “I could have had a V-8!” style, and said, “Wait a minute! How did we let this get by us when we were trying to devise a way to get rid of Trump without winning an election! It was there all the time!” Then, choosing to ignore the fact that you can’t “get rid of” someone who’s already gone, this became the latest of 21—yes 21!—bogus anti-Trump plans. (I haven’t added it to the list yet. Give me a break.)

Let U stand for “Unbelievable!”

Section 3 provides:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

Law profs Seth Tillman and Josh Blackman soberly analyze the theory here, saying in conclusion,

“…it is not clear that the House managers seek to disqualify Trump under the Impeachment Disqualification Clause, as well as under Section 3. The sole article of impeachment is opaque on this point. It references Section 3, but we think it is only referenced in the context of efforts to define a substantive impeachable offense. We expect that President Trump’s counsel will argue that the text of the House’s single article of impeachment does not give him fair notice that he faces Section 3 disqualification. Once again, the House’s rushed drafting may determine the fate of the Senate impeachment trial.”

That. and the fact that the impeachment was based on literally nothing.

2. Now this is a weird ethics movie…“The Killing of a Scared Deer, the 2017 film now on Netflix, raises a “Sophie’s Choice”-style ethical dilemma with solution that looks ridiculous but has at least surface validity if you can accept the premise: the character who has to make the choice is dealing with some kind of a curse.

3. Is it incompetent to employ a strategy that nobody knew was incompetent? Statistical analytics now show that the traditional football strategy of punting usually makes no sense. Now, college and professional teams are going for a first down when once they would have kicked the ball away.

The Chicago Tribune reports,

Punting has become far less prevalent in recent years. NFL teams punted an average of 3.7 times per game during the 2020 regular season, the lowest figure in recorded pro football history. Teams averaged 4.8 punts per game as recently as 2017, a rate that had held more or less steady since the mid-1980s but has declined in each of the last four seasons….The sudden decrease in punting comes over a decade after the football analytics community began decrying the punt as a counterproductive strategy, particularly in short-yardage situations near midfield or when trailing late in a close game. It doesn’t take much number-crunching to realize that if the average offense gains 5.6 yards per play (the 2020 rate), not only should a team be able to pick up a yard or 2 on fourth down, but it should also be wary of gifting the ball to an offense capable of marching right back down the field 5.6 yards at a time.

The traditions and conventional wisdom in sports and other activities, wrong, counter-productive or silly though they may be, don’t indicate incompetence until data, changed conditions or experience indicate that they don’t work. Now it seems obvious that punting is usually foolish, just as baseball finally learned that sacrifice bunts were dumb except in very special situations. But when a culture accepts conventional wisdom and it it is embedded in that culture, one cannot call it incompetence to stick with tradition, unless and until there is access to information proving the accepted practice to be folly.

4. A reminder: Yahoo! and other news sources have reported that “Over 408,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of Thursday.” That’s false. It is the essence of fake news. As Ethics Alarms had noted repeatedly, over 408,000 Americans may have died WITH the virus, but there is no question that they all did not die OF the virus. I am still waiting for a well-publicized estimate of how many of those deaths were not super-seniors, cancer patients, or others who may well have died anyway. This is something we have a right to know.

5. A plea for a double standard from Joe. Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller asked President Biden if the vaccination goal was “high enough,” since “that’s basically where the U.S. is right now.” Biden responded with pique, although he did not call Miller a pony-soldier, saying, “When I announced it you all said it wasn’t possible. Come on, give me a break, man.” It’s a fair request, but if there was ever an instance when any journalist from a non-conservative news organization gave Biden’s predecessor a break, please refresh my memory. I can’t think of one. Besides, Biden is already getting one ” break” after another, as Mediate notes in a recent post titled, “Media Begins Biden Presidency With Overt Fawning and Flattery.”

6. Hank Aaron has died. The legitimate baseball career home run champ (I do not count Barry Bonds) was 86. He represented the very best of baseball ethics on and off the field throughout his career unlike the icon whose homer total he bested (Babe Ruth had no peer as a player, but had the ethics of a ten-year-old his whole life), and the miscreant who passed him by cheating, Bonds. The Hammer was always being over-shadowed by someone: Willy Mays, a contemporary, was more gifted and charismatic; Ernie Banks was more lovable, Roberto Clemente was never had a chance to grow old. Henry Aaron just did his job every day, seldom missing a game due to injury, leading the National League in various seasons in batting average, homers,runs, hits and RBI. Aaron only won one Most Valuable Player Award (in 1957, when his Braves won the pennant), but over his 23 year career, he proved more valuable than almost all of his contemporaries.

[Notice of Correction: I originally wrote that Hank never won an an MVP. Thanks to LoSonnambulo for the correction.]

So The New White House Press Secretary’s Pledge To Bring “Truth And Transparency Back To The Briefing Room” Lasts One Day!

Jen Psaki

In her very first press conference, new Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that when Joe Biden asked her to do the job, they talked of the “importance of bringing truth and transparency back to the briefing room.” Later she added, “If the president were standing with me here today, he would say he works for the American, I work for him, so I also work for the American people. So his objective and his commitment is to bring transparency and truth back to government, to share the truth even when it is hard to hear, and that is something I hope to deliver on as well.”

What a nice speech! And I would be shocked if a single member of the press corps didn’t know it was utter, complete, transparent bull shit. It did give various news sources an opening for another cheap shot against President Trump, because HIS press secretaries were always spinning and obfuscating. Not Jen! SHE worked for an honest President, so she will always be honest.

This was a stupid, stupid thing for Psaki to say. As Ethics Alarms has noted through two administrations and seven Presidential mouthpieces, these are paid liars. That’s their job. It’s a somewhat easier job when the news media is devoted to giving the boss a pass, as it was with Obama and now again with Biden, but even then, press secretaries are seldom transparent and often untruthful. All of them. In fact, Psaki was lying when she said she was going to be transparent and truthful, so she broke her pledge on Day One.

Day Two, however, was hilarious, or cruel, or perfect, depending on your orientation.

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End Of Day Ethics Sighs 1/21/2021: Here’s Kamala! Here’s Batwoman! Here’s Your Newsmedia! And “Heeeere’s Johnny!”

sigh

A very good friend who is married to another very good friend posted yesterday that Kamala Harris’s swearing in as Vice-President moved him to tears, and the Facebook post instantly harvested about a hundred “likes” and “loves.” As God is my witness, as Scarlett used to say, I had to fight to restrain my self from writing on his page (since there is no “What the FUCK is the matter with you?” icon to click on), “Why, because she’s a woman with no qualifications to be President or Vice-President? Because she’s the first Indian-Jamaican VP, and you’ve always wanted one of those? Because she’s just the right skin-shade to pretend to be an African-American, when she’s not? Does it choke you up because she slept her way to political power, then locked up a lot of black men for drug crimes, then accused the U.S. of being racist because of “over-incarceration”? Or does any Democrat, even phonies and rank incompetents, getting power make you feel all misty inside and out? Really, I’m curious.”

Well, he’s a nice, good-hearted guy who has the political sophistication of a cheese, so I just shut up. However, his reaction is just incomprehensible to me.

1. Oh, look, now there’s black Batwoman. Yay. Isn’t this a little cliched and formulaic by now? Will every fictional character eventually have to be made black or have his or her race switched, and every male character get virtual transexual transitioning, to satisfy the Woke and Wonderful? Mikey (who liked Life cereal), is now a girl. Jake from State Farm is now black. Perry Mason’s Paul Drake in the new reboot is black. Inspection Lestrade, Sherlock Holmes’ ally, is black on the Netflix Holmes spin-off. (Watson became female in the TV show “Elementary.” And Asian!) A really bad movie made Ralph Kramden from “The Honeymooners” black; Norton too. On Broadway, when there was a Broadway, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were black, and they aren’t even fictional. Of course.The whole Ghostbusters team was turned female for the reboot (but still had only one black member). There is much, much more. Isn’t this lazy? Isn’t this boring? Don’t women, blacks and other minorities want to have their own popular and iconic characters rather than just taking over white or male ones? Why isn’t such fake “diversity” an insult? Aren’t hand-me-down characters like hand-me-down clothes?

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