No, This Isn’t Impeachable Either, Just Unethical And Illegal

They are whooping it up at the Trump-Haters Club, because President Trump will have to pay $2 million in damages to nonprofit groups as a penalty for what can only be called a fraudulent use of his foundation in 2016. As part of the settlement agreement,  the President had to admit misusing funds raised by the Donald J. Trump Foundation, accessing them to assist his campaign, pay off debts of businesses he owned, including Mar-a-Lago and the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County,  and, as an especially obnoxious move,  purchasing a $10,000 portrait of himself to hand in one of his Florida hotels. New York’s Attorney General  filed suit  accusing the Trump family of using the foundation to benefit various businesses and assist Trump’s  presidential run. You can’t use a non-profit like that; this is the kind of scam that got Tom DeLay thrown in prison.

The President admitted that the alleged charity charity gave his campaign complete control over the $2.8 million that the foundation had raised at an Iowa fund-raiser for veterans in January 2016. It was in fact a fund-raiser for the campaign, not veterans.

Nice.

Continue reading

The Coup In Progress: Presidential Impeachment/Removal Plans

I am finally devoting a dedicated post  to this list, in part because I am sick of searching for the thing every time I want to reference it. I will eventually deposit the list along with the Apology Scale and the Rationalizations List as another separate page in the “Rule Book” to your right.

One note on the use of the term coup. Some media pundits, their hands already bloodied, have been making the sophist claim that what has been going on since November 2016 isn’t a coup under the dictionary definition, which requires violence and usually a military take-over. Using cover-terms and euphemisms is a form of lying, and it is an especially common practice from  the Left right now, though the Right has its moments.

A “soft coup,” also known as a silent coup, does not use violence, and is typically based on a conspiracy or plot  aimed at seizing power, overthrowing existing legal authority, exchanging political leadership, changing the political system or the current institutional order. We are watching a long-running soft coup. A soft coup is still a coup.

There have been 19 Plans to abuse various processes, laws and theories, all put forward and promoted by members of the Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream news media alliance since President Trump’s election.  The  desired effect of this barrage, apart from serving the goal of removing him without the bother (and risk) of an election,  has been to make it impossible for the President to govern, and to destroy his support among the public.

When Plan S, which late novelist Robert Ludlum might have called “The Ukrainian Perversion” if it had been one of his novels, fails like the rest, or if President Trump is re-elected, the list will keep growing.

The List: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/4/2019: Ethics Alarms Threats, Lawsuits, Censors And Foes

Good morning!

I’m hoping that I can get back on a more regular schedule soon, and I want to express me thanks for everyone’s patience with the unexplained gaps in commentary and the “warm-ups” that have been turning up ad odd hours of the night.

1. Ethics Alarms defamation suit update! The banned Ethics Alarms commenter whose feelings I hurt received notice that his appeal of the trial judge’s rejection of his absurd defamation claims was rejected, as was his motion to file a non-conforning brief, and his motion for sanctions against me as a Massachusetts lawyer.  Within minutes he had filed a motion for reconsideration. This, of course, requires me to file a response. It is vengeance by pro se abuse, of course, and wildly unethical, but I assumed this was what I was in for.

2. More “Welcome to my world!” notes. A Democratic  candidate for Congress in Michigan whom I referenced as an aside in this post in June about one of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s dumb tweets invaded my in-box last night to ask that I take down the post, saying in part,

I am sending this email to you to formally request that you remove my name from this website. As you are aware AOC has received a number of death threats.  I am a candidate running for Congress in Michigan and I recently had someone shoot a bullet through the window of our headquarters.  We are in the process of getting security however your decision to place my name on a website with someone who is constantly in danger [is] extremely dangerous to my safety and the safety of others. I have contacted the police & I am also in the process of contacting the FBI.  I will be certain to point out your website.

To which I said, in essence, “Bring it on.” I don’t respond well to threats, especially stupid ones. This party really does have a problem with free speech, doesn’t it?

3. Here’s why I don’t belong to the American Bar Association…President Trump’s Ninth Circuit judicial nominee Lawrence VanDyke was called arrogant, lazy, ideological and an anti-LGBTQ bigot in the American Bar Association’s official evaluation of his qualifications for the post. This was based on accusations against the nominee from unnamed associates, sniping at him from the shadows of anonymity.

“Absolutely outrageous and couldn’t be further from the truth,” protested Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt. VanDyke served as state solicitor general under Laxalt, Others interviewed by the ABA for the reports said that their positive recommendations were greeted with perfunctory indifference by ABA personnel. Joseph Tartakovsky, Nevada deputy solicitor general for three years under VanDyke, said his ABA phone interview lasted  seven minutes at most, during which “it was clear to me that she was going through the motions.” Tartakovsky said he was “surprised and dismayed” when he read the ABA’s critical letter, as he  gave VanDyke a strong recommendation, saying he was an “exceptional lawyer” and “born to be a judge.”

I don’t know anything about VanDyke, who could be a legal genius or a judicial hack. I do know the American Bar Association has long been dominated by Democrats and progressives, and is among the many professional associations that has disgraced itself and its members by tacitly allying itself with the “resistance.” The ABA has been incapable of objective assessments of the qualifications of judicial nominees for decades, and should not be trusted with the assignment.

4. Facebook ethics, or what passes for them. Facebook honcho Mark Zuckerberg upset his troops when he announced that his social media platform would not fact-check political ads and censor them for being “false.” Facebook had been using the biased and untrustworthy PolitiFact and Snopes as fact-checkers, so obviously his was the right decision. His minions, however, have been vocal in dissent, even recruiting Hollywood Hard-Lefty Aaron Sorkin to write an “Open Letter” of protest.

I obviously have some experience with Facebook’s objectivity in deciding what information should be published or not, since Ethics Alarms has been banned from the site without any explanation. These people can’t distinguish “facts’ from opinions they don’t like, especially when the opinions contradict the agendas of the Axis of Unethical Conduct (Democrats, “the resistance,” and the mainstream media). Sorkin claims that he fears for children believing that “Kamala Harris ran dog fights out of the basement of a pizza place while Elizabeth Warren destroyed evidence that climate change is a hoax and the deep state sold meth to Rashida Tlaib and Colin Kaepernick.” but the sooner kids learn how to sniff out garbage, the more competent adults they will be. Who is Sorkin kidding? He knows it isn’t the crazy stuff he wants Facebook to smother: he doesn’t want ads that argue that Democrats have been trying to overthrow a President without winning an election, because when you are conducting a disinformation campaign you don’t want any opposition.

 

Wait, Why Was This News Not A Bigger Story? And What ELSE Have They Been Covering Up?

Apparently about  six weeks ago, the U.S. Navy finally publicly admitted that the government is aware of so-far unexplained aircraft that operate beyond mankind’s presumed technological limits, at least in this country. On September 18th, it publicly acknowledged that the advanced aircraft depicted in several recently declassified gun-camera videos are what have been referred to for decades as UFOs, though just to be contrary,  the Navy prefers to use the term “Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon” or UAPs.I guess this is so they can keep saying that various conspiracy theorists and “They’re out there!” kooks have been wrong about UFOs, as in, ‘UFO’s are all fiction and swamp gas. UAP’s, however, are another story!’

Got it.

Jerks.

We all owe  thanks to “The Hill” for posting a story about this yesterday for those of us—like almost everybody— who missed it:

The vehicles observed and recorded by U.S. Navy fighter pilots seem impervious to altitude or the elements; they are able to maneuver above 80,000 feet; they can hover and then instantly accelerate to supersonic and even hypersonic speeds; they have very low radar cross-sections and use a means of propulsion and control that does not appear to involve combustion, exhaust, rotors, wings or flaps.Since the Navy asserts these are not U.S. aircraft, we are confronted by the daunting prospect that a potential adversary of the United States has achieved the ability to render our most sophisticated aircraft and air defense systems obsolete.

The Hill article raised some of the questions I have about this: Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

“As I’ve said many times on this blog, I think election results deserve respect, Democrats have failed to accept that they lost an election and that those who won deserve their victory, and those who were disappointed should be focusing on winning the next election, not undoing to results of the election they lost. Democrats need to turn back from the precipice. They need to give up the drama and hysteria about Trump and show that they are more stable and responsible than Trump. A “no” vote on the impeachment proceedings will only happen if Democrats — some of them — have the sense to say “no.”

—-Ann Althouse, iconoclastic Wisconsin law professor/social commentator/ blogger, in a post this morning.

[Before I start, let me interject that “I think election results deserve respect” is revolting equivocation, and credible commentators should avoid it. In this nation, in this system, in a democracy, election results deserve respect. ]

As frequent readers hear know, I quote or refer to Althouse more frequently than any other web commentator (George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley is a close second) now that Ken White at Popehat has moved on to greener pastures. Her post today, “What I can’t figure out and what really interests me is why today feels different” explains why, at least to me. In the  matter of Donald Trump’s election and the reaction to it by the  Axis of Unethical Conduct (AUC) that I last discussed here, Althouse almost exactly mirrors my analysis, and reveals that she occupies a similar position for making it. I have one up on Ann, I think, because while I almost voted for Hillary Clinton out of my unshakeable (actually it has been a bit shaken now, if not stirred) contempt for Donald Trump, she actually did despite matching my distrust and dislike of Hillary Clinton. In the post containing today’s Ethics Quote of the Week, she reveals why I was right and she was wrong.

The Democratic Party proved to me in late October of 2016 that it seeks power over all else, and no longer possesses a sufficient commitment to American values, our fundamental principles, or our institutions that can compete with that obsession. This means that not only can the party and its members not be trusted, it means that it is actively corrupting the American public and will continue to do so unless and until something makes it change both its strategic and its ideological course.

That Ann still thinks there is any chance at all of the party doing so now shows that she still can’t bring herself to accept the frightening reality that the AUC is willing to destroy the nation to save it. In that respect, I’m still ahead of her, perhaps because the professor is so emotionally committed to being neutral that she cannot accept that the time for neutrality has past when the responsible choice is unavoidable, or ought to be. Continue reading

An Excellent Analysis Of The Impeachment-As-Coup Attempt Now Underway

As an ethicist, I frequently have to remind my clients that I will not give legal opinions. That’s not my job, though I am a licensed attorney. I know I sometimes venture into law as well as other areas that I have a more than casual interest and knowledge of, such as Constitutional law, history, theater, and popular culture, but there are topics covered here by necessity that require me to opine beyond my primary expertise to an uncomfortable extent.

I have especially wrestled with this problem regarding the recent impeachment assualt by the Democrats, “the resistance,” and the news media, which are essentially the “axis of unethical conduct” in this matter. (I will henceforth use the shorthand AUC.) A half written explication of what is going on—“What’s going on here?” is the starting point for most ethics analysis, after all—is sitting in my drafts file, causing anxiety like an unpaid debt. Thus I am relieved and grateful for the Wall Street Journal column that was published over the weekend, an analysis by David B. Rivkin Jr., Elizabeth Price Foley titled This Impeachment Subverts the Constitution.”

I am relieved, because the column is remarkably consistent with my own conclusions and analysis. See? “I’m smart! I’m not dumb like everyone says!”

I have been writing on Ethics Alarms that the efforts to de-legitimize the election and Presidency of Donald Trump have constituted a destructive attack on the Constitution and the American system of government literally from the moment Trump won the 2016 election, and I have been chronicling how, despite my desire to write about non-political matters and despite the fact that this assignment has hurt traffic here and gotten my blog banned from Facebook. I consider it a matter of integrity, responsibility, and civic duty, because the actions of the AUC represent the most important, damaging, wide-spread and perilous unethical conduct to take place in the United States since Watergate, and perhaps longer.

Read the entire article, please. I will point you to some if its important and, as I see them, accurate observations:

  • “Democrats have been seeking to impeach Mr. Trump since the party took control of the House, though it isn’t clear for what offense….The effort is akin to a constitutionally proscribed bill of attainder—a legislative effort to punish a disfavored person. The Senate should treat it accordingly.”

Exactly. I described the effort as akin to a bill of attainder in an argument on Facebook about a week ago.

  • “House Democrats have discarded the Constitution, tradition and basic fairness merely because they hate Mr. Trump. Because the House has not properly begun impeachment proceedings, the president has no obligation to cooperate. The courts also should not enforce any purportedly impeachment-related document requests from the House. (A federal district judge held Friday that the Judiciary Committee is engaged in an impeachment inquiry and therefore must see grand-jury materials from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but that ruling will likely be overturned on appeal.) And the House cannot cure this problem simply by voting on articles of impeachment at the end of a flawed process.”

This is how I see the situation as well. It is part of the despicable plot that Democrats will force the Supreme Court to overturn their machinations, probably in a ideologically split vote, thus allowing them to attack the legitimacy of SCOTUS, demand court-packing measures, and further unravel public trust in our institutions.

  • “There is no evidence on the public record that Mr. Trump has committed an impeachable offense. The Constitution permits impeachment only for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The Founders considered allowing impeachment on the broader grounds of “maladministration,” “neglect of duty” and “mal-practice,” but they rejected these reasons for fear of giving too much power to Congress. The phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” includes abuses of power that do not constitute violations of criminal statutes. But its scope is limited.”

The misinformation being embedded in American minds on this point is frightening. I keep challenging the Facebook Borg’s daily references to the President’s “crimes,” and get back “emoluments,” allegations of conduct that occurred before the election, and election law theories that have no precedent and that are desperate at best. The general attitude of the AUC and its cheering section is that the President has committed crimes because that’s the kind of guy he is. This was the relentless argument of an anti-Trump stalwart whose derangement ultimately sent him around the bend and off the approved commenters list. It is also the orientation of the majority of columnists who populate the New York Times op-ed pages. What they are selling is bigotry: a presumption of guilt because of who and what an individual is, rather than being based on what an individual has done.

  • “One theory is that by asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Kyiv’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and potential corruption by Joe Biden and his son Hunter was unlawful “interference with an election.” There is no such crime in the federal criminal code (the same is true of “collusion”). Election-related offenses involve specific actions such as voting by aliens, fraudulent voting, buying votes and interfering with access to the polls. None of these apply here.Nor would asking Ukraine to investigate a political rival violate campaign-finance laws, because receiving information from Ukraine did not constitute a prohibited foreign contribution. The Mueller report noted that no court has ever concluded that information is a ‘thing of value,” and the Justice Department has concluded that it is not.'”

Thank you, thank you, thank you. A competent news media should have made this clear immediately, because it is true.

  • “More fundamentally, the Constitution gives the president plenary authority to conduct foreign affairs and diplomacy, including broad discretion over the timing and release of appropriated funds. Many presidents have refused to spend appropriated money for military or other purposes, on grounds that it was unnecessary, unwise or incompatible with their priorities…Presidents often delay or refuse foreign aid as diplomatic leverage, even when Congress has authorized the funds. Disbursing foreign aid—and withholding it—has historically been one of the president’s most potent foreign-policy tools, and Congress cannot impair it….In 2013, Barack Obama, in a phone conversation with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, said he would slash hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic assistance until Cairo cooperated with U.S. counter-terrorism goals. The Obama administration also withheld millions in foreign aid and imposed visa restrictions on African countries, including Uganda and Nigeria, that failed to protect gay rights.”

There is more. The impeachment Plan S,   the Ukraine narrative, (the complete, updated list was last published here) is no more legitimate or honest than its family members A-R, and all should be considered unconscionable means to an undemocratic end, a soft coup to remove an elected President without the necessity of an election. Rivkin and Foley have performed a great service by laying out so much crucial (and under-publicized) information clearly and persuasively.

___________________________________________

Pointer: Glenn Reynolds

Saturday Ethics Pitch, 10/26/2019: Calvin Coolidge Was Right, Baseball is Wrong, And Other Revelations

Here it comes!

1. Oh-oh...I was worried about this. Early in the baseball post-season there were rumors flying that MLB had deadened its baseballs after a 2019 season that saw records shattered for homer frequency. I wrote (somewhere this month: I can’t find it) that if the sport really did mess with the balls at this point it would be a massive breach of ethics, changing the conditions of the game when the games mattered most.

So far, the conspiracy theorists have been bolstered by the statistics.

 Baseball researcher Rob Arthur revealed in a Baseball Prospectus report on October10 that after nearly 20 postseason games, home runs were occurring at at half the rate the 2019 season’s homer frequency would predict. Arthur allowed for the fact that better pitchers and hitters  made up  playoff teams, and still  concluded that the ball was not flying as far as it did during the regular season. “The probability that a random selection of games from the rest of the regular season would feature as much air resistance as we’ve seen so far in the postseason,” he wrote, “is about one in one thousand.” A follow-up report by Arthur again found significant variation in the flight of the ball this postseason.

This isn’t good.

2. It’s not even 2020, and the New York Times isn’t even pretending  to be objective. Two examples from today’s Times:

  • In a story about Tulsi Gabbard announcing that she would not run for re-election to the House, the Times spun for Hillary Clinton, writing, “Last Friday, Hillary Clinton suggested that Republicans were “grooming” her for “a third party run”, though Ms. Gabbard has denied any such plans.” What was notable about Clinton’s smear was that she said that Gabbard was “a favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”  This is a variety of “fake news” that the Times excels at, telling only part of the story to manipulate public perception.
  • Headline (Print edition) : “Speaking at Black College, Trump Ridicules Obama For Effort on Racial Equity.”  Wow, what a racist! Attacking efforts at racial equity! In fact, the President criticized the paltry results of Obama’s efforts to advance racial equity. He in no way ridiculed Obama for making those efforts.  Again, the Times is now a master at playing to its anti-Trump readers confirmation bias.

Continue reading