Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/21/19: Planes, Tribe and McCain

Good morning!

I’m pretty groggy after one intense early morning seminar, five delayed flights,  the long trip home from San Diego, and a midnight arrival back in Virginia, but my ethics alarms seem to be functioning…

1. Today’s air travel ethics saga: I travel as light as possible for trips of two nights or fewer, carrying only my stuffed soft briefcase and a garment bag the is almost empty. I will not become part of the selfish flying hoards who lug ridiculous roller-boards onto the plane, slowing the loading process and hogging the limited storage space. (The airlines should charge passengers for bringing the luggage on board, not for checking it. Morons.) The barely filled garment bag (I wear my suit on the plane) always fits somewhere,  and even when they announce that all bags must be checked at the gate because there is no more space in the bins, I have always been allowed to bring my bag on board…until last night. Two rude and officious American gate monitors ordered me to surrender my bag or, they threatened, be forced to take a later flight. (“Hmmm..what does “later flight” mean to American since this flight is late taking off and the other four flights I’ve been booked on this trip were also late?” I queried. They just didn’t listen to what I was saying, and kept reciting the policy that I had to store one bag overhead and another under my seat.

I have always believed that you can’t take bureaucratic bullying passively, so I asked if there was a supervisor I could talk to. There was: a harried middle-aged guy with a bad toupe. He did listen, as I explained that I knew my own travel supplies, and that unless every compartment was filled with cement, I could easily find a place for my bag, because in nearly a hundred flights, I always have. Furthermore, I pointed out that it was unfair to treat me , one of the few passengers who carries minimal baggage as a matter of consideration and ethics, this way when other passengers were abusing the privilege of carry-on luggage. The guy said that he agreed with me, but since he hadn’t seen my confiscated bag, he couldn’t assess whether I was right or his subordinate Gate Nazis were. Having made my stand, I thanked him, and made my way down the jetway. Continue reading

Lunch time Ethics Warm-Up, 3/19/19: Madea, Plan C, And More.

Yum yum!

Winging off to San Diego in a couple of hours, so be on the alert for an Open Forum while I’m in the air. It’s amazing: I’m going to spend two and a half days of air travel and hanging around a hotel and airports to give a 75 minute legal ethics presentation, albeit to a mob of over 600 lawyers.

1.  From the Ethics Alarms double standards files…

Let’s see: this film has gross black stereotypes and a man in drag, but not in a good, transgender way. I assume nobody will disagree that if this film was made by a white man, it would be received with horror and declared racist, and the white filmmaker would be apologizing to everyone and everything in sight.

2. The return of Plan C! As most recently noted here, Plan C is the obscure and outdated Emoluments Clause. In a series of tweets reviving the specious accusation  President Trump is violating the Constitution by owning businesses while he is President, something never anticipated by the Founders and an issue that was barely discussed by the news media during the campaign, Walter Shaub, a former director of the Office of Government Ethics who long ago declared himself a “resistance” ally,condemned the Embassy of Kuwait’s decision to celebrate its National Liberation Day at the hotel on Feb. 27. He wrote,

 “Kuwait got the message. Turkey got the message. Saudi Arabia got the message. The Philippines got the message. The question is: Which of our allies will stand with the American people, and which will seek to enrich our corrupt President? We will watch. We will remember.”

Oh, eat a bug. Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 9, Paragraph 8) 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. Not are Trump organization receipts payments to the President. I note that Shaub is now a fellow at The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which I used to write about more before I got sick of it. It is the political equivalent of Media Matters, posing as an ethics watchdog when it’s agenda and biases are flagrantly partisan. I regard Shaub using his prior position as authority a breach of ethics: he’s posing as an objective analyst, and he’s not. Indeed, resorting to the silly Emoluments Clause to attack Trump is signature significance. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/15/2019: Fevered Ethics Musings, and More

Good morning

…after a lousy night’s sleep.

 I’m going to deal with the Peter Strzok/Lisa Page Congressional testimony in a full post, but I’ll give a preview here.. As I will elaborate then, this makes me feel like I am going crazy, and also creates dilemmas regarding what this blog is about, and how to keep it trustworthy. The story that has developed over the past week is almost incredible in its objective implications for the Obama administration’ legacy (Did you know that there were NO SCANDALS under President Obama?), the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, the Mueller investigation, the Justice Department, the Democratic Party, and the efforts to undermine the Trump Presidency, and by extension, our democracy. When I write about all of this, however, the result will sound like an over-heated conspiracy theory from the depths of Breitbart. I know that’s what my bubble-dwelling friends on Facebook will say, and what the Ethics Alarms exiles who were, and, I’m sure, still are, incapable of believing anything but “resistance” and Democratic anti-Trump talking points will think as well. I checked yesterday’s New York Times page by page: there was nothing about what Peter Strzok and Lisa Page revealed under oath…not in the news, not on the op-ed page, not in the letters to the editor. How can that be, in a paper that claims to present “all the news that’s fit to print?” I didn’t check the Washington Post (I don’t get the paper version) , but I assume a similar black-out from the paper that hypocritically proclaims that “Democracy Dies In Darkness.” Senator Lindsay Graham s calling for a new Special Prosecutor, and if we had an honest, non-partisan news media, I assume—I hope—that the informed public, at least the uncorrupted portion that has principles that transcend politics, would be doing the same. I know U.S. government and Presidential history better than most, and what I see—and can see only because I do not trust the mainstream media–is worse than Watergate (that over-used phrase) and far, far scarier, because this time, the press is part of the cover-up.

1. Addendum. One legacy that may be ticketed for oblivion is that of John McCain. We learned yesterday that a close McCain associate aggressively circulated the discredited, Trump-smearing Steele memorandum to media outlets all over D.C. after the President was elected. From the Daily Caller:

David Kramer, a former State Department official, said in a deposition on Dec. 13, 2017 that he provided a copy of Christopher Steele’s dossier to reporters from McClatchy, NPR, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and BuzzFeed and CNN’s Carl Bernstein. He also shared the report with State Department official Victoria Nuland, Obama National Security Counsel official Celeste Wallander and Illinois GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

If Senator McCain knew about this, or worse, engineered it, he was trying to undermine the sitting President. Based on his petty and vindictive conduct in the period between the election and his death, this seems very plausible, and even likely.

2. Meanwhile, here’s another irresponsible Trump Tweet storm…which has received more publicity in major news sources than indications that the Obama Justice Department was working to manipulate the 2016 Presidential election. The President tweeted that “airplanes are becoming too complex to fly”   two days after the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people aboard, and before any official assessment of the causes of the crash  was made, “Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!”

Ugh. Talk about abusing a position to make the public dumber. This is just Luddite blathering from someone who has no more expertise regarding airplanes than my mailman. It is not an informed opinion, and the comments can do no good, while causing tangible damage in unfounded fear.

I do agree that Albert Einstein would be a poor choice as a 737 pilot, as would Genghis Khan, Ed Wynn, and Katherine the Great, being untrained in flying AND being dead as mackerels.

2. Another liberal champion bites the dust (and I think I know why).  From the Montgomery Advertiser:

The Southern Poverty Law Center fired Morris Dees, the nonprofit civil rights organization’s co-founder and former chief litigator. SPLC President Richard Cohen said in a statement Dees’ dismissal over his misconduct was effective on Wednesday, March 13. When pressed for details on what led to the termination, the organization declined to elaborate. “As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world,” Cohen said in the emailed statement. “When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action.”

The Law Center is literally an extension of Dees; he has been its face and founder. I’ve been at an award ceremony for Morris Dees. An organization doesn’t treat its progenitor this way unless it has to, and Dees, according to reports, was no longer active in the SPLC’s activities. There is an undropped shoe, and I’m betting the Oxford is one more sexual harassment scandal involving a liberal icon. What other “conduct” would get Dees fired, unless the hate-group labeling group’s founder was using shoe-polish to imitate Michael Jackson?

3.  So how long before college tuitions come down, people stop assuming those with degrees from Harvard are smarter than those who don’t, and higher education admits that a complete overhaul is overdue and mandatory, since colleges have become political indoctrination centers rather than educational institutions?  Commenting on the college admission scandal, George Mason University professor Bryan Kaplan writes at TIME:

…The admissions scandal is an opportunity to separate the lofty mythology of college from the sordid reality. Despite the grand aspirations that students avow on their admission essays, their overriding goal is not enlightenment, but status. Consider why these parents would even desire to fake their kids’ SAT scores. We can imagine them thinking, I desperately want my child to master mathematics, writing and history — and no one teaches math, writing and history like Yale does! But we all know this is fanciful. …Most majors, however, ask little of their students — and get less. Standards were higher in the 1960s, when typical college students toiled about 40 hours a week. Today, however, students work only two-thirds as hard. Full-time college has become a part-time job….Why do employers put up with such a dysfunctional educational system? Part of the answer is that government and donors lavish funding on the status quo with direct subsidies, student loans and alumni donations….The deeper answer, though, is that American higher education tolerably performs one useful service for American business: certification.

… When I was in high school, my crusty health teacher loved to single out a random teen and scoff, “You’re wanted … for impersonating a student.” If you can get your less-than-brilliant, less-than-driven child admitted, he’ll probably get to impersonate a standardly awesome Ivy League graduate for the rest of his life.

…[T]ruth be told, this salacious scandal proves next to nothing. It just illustrates the obvious. Though we casually talk about our “institutions of higher learning,” little learning is going on. Sure, college is an intellectual banquet for the rare students with a passion for ideas and the energy to locate the also-rare professors with a passion for teaching. The vast majority, however, come in search of a stamp on their foreheads that says grade a — and leave with little else. If the parents accused by the FBI are guilty as charged, don’t say they failed to understand the purpose of a college education. Say they understood its purpose all too well.

Bingo.

 

 

Nancy Pelosi And Impeachment Ethics

Clearly, it’s time to revisit impeachment ethics issues, after Nancy Pelosi’s snide declaration (after saying that she is always respectful of the Presidency, mind you), that the President “wasn’t worth it,” it being the political risk of sending him to a trial in the Senate. We should pause a second to acknowledge the hilarity inherent in the Speaker saying that impeachment wasn’t desirable because it would be “divisive to the country” and “divides the country.”  The Democrats, led by Barack Obama, who pointed the way, have intentionally and cynically sliced and diced the country into victims and villains, champions of the oppressed and deplorables, for a decade, unforgivably risking national strength, comity, and peace for speculative electoral gain.

We haven’t added a new Plan to the list of “resistance” and Democratic Party coup attempts—for that’s what they are–including impeachment theories, since last July, though many of the classics re-emerged in the news.  Remember, there were law professors who advocated impeaching Trump before he was inaugurated.  Here’s where it stands:

Impeachment And Coup Plans.

Plan A: Reverse the election by hijacking the Electoral College.[Status: FAILED and DEAD, until it rises again in 2020]

Plan B: Pre-emptive impeachment.  [Status: FAILED and DEAD]

Plan C : The Emoluments Clause. [Status: Still twitching! ]

Plan D: “Collusion with Russia” [Status: On life support]

Plan E : ”Trump is mentally ill so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.” [Status: Amazingly, still being talked about .]

Plan F: The Maxine Waters Plan, which  is to just impeach the President as soon as Democrats control both Houses, because they can. [Status: Hope springs eternal!]

Plan G : “The President obstructed justice by firing incompetent subordinates, and that’s impeachable.” [Status: LAME, but ONGOING]

Plan H: “Tweeting stupid stuff is impeachable” [Status: ONGOING]

Plan I:  “Let’s relentlessly harass him and insult him and obstruct his efforts to do his job so he snaps and does something really impeachable.” [Status: ONGOING]

Plan J : Force Trump’s resignation based on alleged sexual misconduct that predated his candidacy. .[Status: FAILED and DEAD]

Plan K: Election law violations through pay-offs of old sex-partners [Status: ONGOING]

Plan L: The perjury trap: get Trump to testify under oath, then prove something he said was a lie. [Status: To be determined.]

Plan M: Guilt by association. Prove close associates or family members violated laws. [Status: Ongoing.]

Plan N: Claim that Trump’s comments at his press conference with Putin were “treasonous.”

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the soft coup-complicit news media hasn’t been predicting impeachable results from the Mueller investigation lately, which seems odd, since they have been fanning flames of anticipation and suspicion from the day it started. This is because most rational observers are pretty certain that Trump, as he has said from the beginning, did nothing wrong, and certainly nothing impeachable regarding Russia. Never mind:  Democrats have made it clear that this soon-to-be-pronounced dead horse will be flogged by them into goo as long as it attracts donations and is a viable means of stopping the elected President from doing the job he was duly elected to do. Continue reading

Unethical, Damning And Revealing: “Can Peer Pressure Defeat Trump?”

That was the title of an essay in the New York Times Review section a couple of weeks ago. I took a while to get around to reading it, because it was authored by Amy Chozick, the Times journalist who wrote “Chasing Hillary,” an extended mea culpa for contributing to Hillary Clinton’s ‘s defeat by actually reporting the news. I don’t really care what someone capable of writing that thinks, but in this case, she is revealing the frightening, fascist, ends-justify-the means and power-at-any-cost mind-set of her colleagues, her party, the “resistance,” and those Facebook friends of mine who gang-attack me any time I point out that their Trump hate has eaten their brains, ethics, and respect for democracy.

“We are intensely social creatures and need to situate ourselves inside the collective,”she quotes  a professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University as telling her. From that Amy—can I call you Amy?—endorses the use of “peer pressure” —gentle, of course!—to make sure the President she and all decent people detest is defeated. Her title is itself a form of peer pressure, since she assumes that defeating Trump is what “everybody” wants, “everybody” meaning the Good People, like her. And Hillary.

I’m sorry, I threw up in my mouth there and had a giggling fit. I’m OK now.

I taught my son to ignore peer pressure, conventional wisdom, going along with the crowd, going along to get along, and caring so much about who likes you that you surrender your mind and soul. I was taught the same lessons by my relentlessly contrary, idealistic father, who drove my mother to distraction by quitting one job after another when he felt he was being asked to take part in activities he believed were wrong. He suffered for this proclivity, as have I on occasion, and as has my son already at the tender age of 24. But none of us were or are inclined to do what someone else wants us to do because of threats, shaming, mobs of advocates, mass news media propaganda, or social media bullying.

For that is what Chozick is advocating, the strategy we have been seeing since that fateful day in November of 2016 when sufficient voters decided electing a true outsider and an obnoxious one at that was the perfect way to send an indelible message to the arrogant Leftist Elite who just assumed that their dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and contempt for democracy and American values didn’t matter to the public any more.

As I wrote at the time, it was a defiant gesture akin to the decision of Delta House to destroy the homecoming parade of the college that had expelled them. Otter says,” I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!” Sometimes the bad guys just can’t be allowed to win, and Americans. thank God, are still ready to say “Fuck you!” to people who think they can order them around. Yes, electing Trump was a surprising, but much deserved, “Fuck you!”

Of the many, many unexpected benefits of Trump’s election (along with many expected deficits) , perhaps the most important has been the crazed Left’s open revelation that it has no principles whatsoever, closely followed by the completely corrupt news media’s self-impeachment. The opposition to the President—how dare he defeat Hillary, when it was time to elect a female President?—has been an escalating series of anti-democratic, indeed totalitarian tactics. The “resistance’s” violent ally, the antifa, began attacking Trump supporters during the inauguration, a fair imitation of Brown Shirts even as the “resistance” was calling the President a Nazi. That Big Lie has persisted, as have many others, most of which are false projections on Trump.of conduct that Democrats and progressives have, shockingly, adopted as their own.

They have made it clear that they do not believe men should have the rights of due process and presumed innocence, but Trump is the gender bigot . (He is, but just personally, not in his policies) With barely a wisp of proof, they state as fact that Trump is a racist, while aggressively promoting anti-white bias in their schools, colleges, and the news media. Their house historians and scholars assemble slanted and deceitful arguments to accuse the President of “breaching Democratic norms” while Democrats and their leaders have trashed one essential system-bolstering tradition and norm after another. They refused to accept the verdict of the election. They have sought to manufacture justifications for impeachment in the absence of any conduct that meets the Constitutional standard. They have, in fact, called for impeachment purely because they don’t think Trump is “fit to be President,” ignoring, and trying to alter the fact that our system makes the people the arbiter of that issue, not the election’s bitter losers.

They used high school conduct and an unsubstantiated accusation to try to defeat the President’s SCOTUS nominee; they have used obscene language and vile insults that were previously taboo to diminish him; they have attacked the President while he was representing the nation on foreign soil; they have even made it impossible for him to fulfill the unifying symbolic functions of the office, like presiding over the Kennedy Center Honors, appearing at the White House Correspondent’s dinner,  or throwing out the first pitch in a baseball game. They have weaponized the news media as a partisan force, as demonstrated by the one-way focus of CNN and other news sources.

But it’s the President who is dangerously breaching “norms.” Amazingly, many people believe this, because their peer group is saying it’s so loudly and meanacingly, or because they are not especially attentive, knowledgeable, or bright.

Perhaps the most relentless and despicable of the Big Lies emanating from the hate-filled Left is the constant fear-mongering. Since everything did not go to hell under President Trump as “the resistance” was telling us it would (an otherwise smart Massachusetts lawyer, a single mother, told me in December 2016 that she was “terrified” that her toddler son was doomed.) Every day, every single day, I hear interviews by celebrities and read everything from movie reviews to cooking features in which someone casually throws in a reference to how anxious everyone is and how we are in a crisis of existential proportions.

This week, Nick Kristof, always a hard-left scold but now apparently completely infected by the fact-free anti-Trump madness of New York Times colleagues like David Leonardt, Paul Krugman and Charles M. Blow, actually wrote a disgraceful op-ed headlined, We Will Survive. Probably.: American democracy is too resilient for Trump to destroy.”

This is propaganda, not opinion. The only threats to Democracy posed during the first three years of the Trump administration have been the loss of fair, objective and honest news reporting, and the Democratic Party’s ongoing effort to overthrow the President.

Such unconscionable distortions of reality are the catalyst for the “peer pressure” that Chozick endorses. Almost every day, there is a story of one of Chozick’s compatriots attacking someone, sometimes a child , for wearing a MAGA cap. Here’s a recent sampling:

  • “Martin County bus aide offended by MAGA hat grabs it off head of 14-year-old boy”
  • MAGA-hat wearing teen claims California high school wouldn’t permit her to wear hat

  • High school student charged with assaulting classmate wearing MAGA hat, Trump banner

That’s the kind of “peer pressure” that Chozick is endorsing, the gentle examples in her essay notwithstanding, because she knows that that’s what her fellow progressives are doing and have been doing, and it’s not “gentle”: using threats, fear, shaming, and majority pressure to make people do what the mobs–the “peers”—want them to do, or else. Or else we won’t like you, or else we won’t include you, or else we’ll conclude you’re a racist/sexist/ homophobic person who likes seeing children shot/ mean bastard who doesn’t think starving children in South America should have a better life who’s taking marching orders fro Fox New and Sean Hannity.

The peer pressure she is extolling is intimidation. It is a totalitarian strategy, not a democratic one. The Trump-hating hysterics can’t persuade because their position is built on Big Lies, fear, emotion, bias, and historical ignorance. If they can’t persuade us to agree with them, and we are independent enough to see through the lies, then they will try to force us. Hurt us, if necessary.

You know. “Peer pressure.”

 

Comment Of The Day: “President Trump Reportedly Will Not Cooperate With The House Democrats’ Effort To Keep Investigating Him Until They Can Find Something To Impeach Him With.”

Slickwilly, in his estimable Comment of the Day on the post, “President Trump Reportedly Will Not Cooperate With The House Democrats’ Effort To Keep Investigating Him Until They Can Find Something To Impeach Him With,” explores the related and important ethics issues of over-criminalization, prosecutorial abuse and “Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.” (Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin’s secret police chief. Of course, he said it in Russian…)

I know I’ve written on the topic, and would love to include some links, but for the life of me I can’t figure out the key words that would lead me to any of those posts.

_____________________

Of course Trump broke laws.

So did I. So did Jack. EVERYONE breaks laws every day they draw breath. This is a fishing expedition to find them and prosecute anything at all. There are so many laws from so many jurisdictions that you cannot live outside a rubber room and not actively break one.

“…the Congressional Research Service cannot even count the current number of federal crimes… If the federal government can’t even count how many laws there are, what chance does an individual have of being certain that they are not acting in violation of one of them?”

https://www.globalresearch.ca/federal-copyright-laws-americans-break-them-every-day-without-even-knowing-it/5381302

For instance: It is illegal to lie down and sleep with your shoes on in North Dakota; singing off-key is illegal in North Carolina; unmarried Florida women who parachute face jail time; taking a picture of a rabbit (without a permit) from January to April is verboten; walking a dog without a diaper (on the dog) is forbidden in Mississippi; and California insists you not eat an orange in a bathtub.

Take a picture of a rabbit? This one is easy to prove, too: Metadata in digital pictures can tell the time, date, and location of a photo. Post that little indiscretion online and *poof* you are a criminal.

Those are only some looney state laws. Federal laws include confusing copyright infringement with terrorism; taking a fake sick day is “a scheme or artifice to defraud” your company; and failing to affix a mandatory sticker to your UPS package could send you to prison. (You likely break copyright law any time you forward a meme, email, or text someone else created that violates the law… and those laws have TEETH!)

We all have heard of the ‘lying to a federal agent’ non-crime. We know where it has been abused lately, at the highest levels, even where it seems no false statements were made. How does that apply to you? Say you tell a National Park ranger that you cleaned your campsite. He then finds a paper plate you missed. You just lied to a federal agent. Continue reading

President Trump Reportedly Will Not Cooperate With The House Democrats’ Effort To Keep Investigating Him Until They Can Find Something To Impeach Him With.

Good.

On one of Sunday’s talking head shows, Rep. Gerald Nadler (D-NY), whom you might remember pre-diet as one of the most vociferous defenders of President Clinton during the House impeachment hearings, said that there was no question that President Trump had obstructed justice. Asked why, then, the House wasn’t seeking impeachment, Nadler said, “We don’t have the facts yet.” Yes, it’s that again: “the resistance” is positive that the President broke the law somewhere, some how, without any evidence that he broke the law. They just know, that’s all. I’ve been reading Trump-deranged commenters making the same set of arguments for three years now, usually followed by, “If he’s innocent, what’s he afraid of?,” a statement that sounds more comfortable in German, Russian, or Chinese.

This is not how our justice system or our political system is supposed to work, nor is it a proper use of Congress’s investigation and oversight powers. As as been typical of the Democrats’ Bizarro World reasoning, Rep. Elijah Cummings called the President’s defiance an attack on the Separation of Powers. No, it is an attack on the Separation of Powers when Congress cynically sets out to interfere with the ability of the Executive to discharge his Constitutional duties by launching endless, unjustified investigations. In particular, the President is performing a national service by refusing to allow Congress to demand his tax returns. The tax returns of all American must be confidential and private. If Congress can demand and acquire anyone’s tax returns based on speculation alone, then no citizen’s tax documents are safe.

Obama Whisperer David Axelrod inadvertently spoke the truth in a tweet that said, Continue reading