Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/13/20: Sick Dog Edition

SICK, PLAYFUL  OR SCARED CAVALIER DOG COVERED WITH A WARM  TASSEL BLANKET

This is likely to be short, because the Marshall household is distracted. Over the last 48 hours, some mysterious malady has attacked our sweet dog, and we are deciding whether to avail ourselves of one of the few 24-hour vet emergency services or wait until tomorrow. Thanks to the $$$#@!%! pandemic, anything is going to require hours of waiting, and this is a very bad day for that, as it is a work day here at ProEthics. Starting Friday night, Spuds started acting distracted and hyper, wanting to go out, not wanting to come back into the house, making weird yips and staring outside like the devil was lurking. He suddenly started lying down in strange places, and stopped seeking out his usual resting spots (laps, bed and sofas). At the same time, his pink skin where the fur is sparse looked pinker, his face started showing blotches, and little bumps showed up today on his head. Nose: cold; appetite: fine. He’s not listless: the opposite, in fact. But he’s clearly not happy.

Glad to see he’s adopted the Marshall canine tradition of only having medical emergencies on weekends, though….

1. Ethics Quote from African-American sportswriter Jason Whitlock in a recent column about racism, critical race theory and excuses:

We all love excuses — white, black, brown, yellow, whatever. People who love us, respect us, want the best for us, take the excuses away. The Liberal Construction Company does not love, respect or want the best for black people. That’s why liberals promote excuses for any black failure and disavow any excuse for white failure. If you can control a group’s expectations, you can control their level of success. A generation of black people have had their expectations diminished by Critical Race Theory. It’s a mental slavery, a Jim Crow for the mind.  

I’m not in denial of the existence of racism. I just reject using it as an excuse, and I refuse to fall for the clever marketing of racism’s primary proponents.

2. Andrew McCarthy, the former federal prosecutor turned legal analyst and pundit, shows again why he’s one of Ethics Alarm’s most trusted authorities with his article, “Supreme Court right to refuse to block Biden election — rejects absurd legal theory.” Of course, this is likely to be cited as one more reason for conservatives to abandon Fox News, which has been declared a traitor to the cause because of its admittedly strange coverage on election night.

Continue reading

Failed Late Thursday Ethics Review, 11/19/2020 Turned Early Friday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/20/2020: Let’s Play “Stupid or Not Stupid”!

Unrelated to any kind of stupid: Yesterday was the anniversary of the demise of my old friend, Glenn White, in 2013. I never got to attend a funeral or service for Glenn; his family didn’t see fit to let me know he had died, despite our association of thirty years. This is what I always will remember about Glenn: He knew what it meant to be a friend. We knew each other through theater, though he was a Fairfax City, Virginia politician. Glenn used to say, “If you need me, Jack, you just have to ask. I’ll be there.” And he always was. When he was in his late 70s, I needed someone to play an old man in one of my theater company’s shows. Glenn used to call himself The American Century Theater’s resident geezer, but he had moved to the Virginia countryside, and it was more than a three hour commute, round trip, to rehearsals and performances. My plight was barely out of my mouth when he said, “Sure, you can count on me.”

How many people do you get to meet in your life who are like that?

1. I really hate this...I spent precious time, as I was trying to get a post in before the clock struck 12 last night, writing about this story, published yesterday and passed along credulously by a U.S.news aggregator, only to find that the events described happened in 2019. I have encountered this before: some website is light on material, so it uses an old story for click-bait without stating the time frame until the very end.

2. Today’s inexcusable, biased, partisan and unethical headline from the New York Times front page: “Trump Targeting Michigan In Ploy To Subvert Election.” Clearly, the Times isn’t even trying any more. The use of “ploy” and “subvert” is not only editorializing, it’s irresponsible editorializing. There were certainly a lot of strange things going on in the Michigan voting and vote-counting;the state should be targeted. (There are strange things going on in Michigan generally.) If the Michigan vote was corrupted, discovering how and how much doesn’t “subvert” anything. If it turns out that Michigan actually was won by Trump—admittedly a remote possibility—then that discovery prevents the election from being subverted.

The Times’ job is to explain what the Trump campaign’s challenges to the election are in factual terms, not to speculate on diabolical motives, to trigger violence and subvert democracy.

3. What does this display remind you of?

Belgian phallus

Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Andrew McCarthy, And The Integrity Test It Presents

“The Obama administration and the FBI knew that it was they who were meddling in a presidential campaign — using executive intelligence powers to monitor the president’s political opposition. This, they also knew, would rightly be regarded as a scandalous abuse of power if it ever became public. There was no rational or good-faith evidentiary basis to believe that Trump was in a criminal conspiracy with the Kremlin or that he’d had any role in Russian intelligence’s suspected hacking of Democratic Party email accounts…To believe Trump was unfit for the presidency on temperamental or policy grounds was a perfectly reasonable position for Obama officials to take — though an irrelevant one, since it’s up to the voters to decide who is suitable. But to claim to suspect that Trump was in a cyberespionage conspiracy with the Kremlin was inane . . . except as a subterfuge to conduct political spying, which Obama officials well knew was an abuse of power. So they concealed it.”

Former U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy in the National Review

McCarthy isn’t just giving an opinion here; he’s analyzing evidence as the skilled prosecutor he is. As McCarthy explains, he’s basing his conclusion on recently unclassified documents, and they are incriminating.

McCarthy concludes, after excellent background,

But this much we know: In the stretch run of the 2016 campaign, President Obama authorized his administration’s investigative agencies to monitor his party’s opponent in the presidential election, on the pretext that Donald Trump was a clandestine agent of Russia. Realizing this was a gravely serious allegation for which there was laughably insufficient predication, administration officials kept Trump’s name off the investigative files. That way, they could deny that they were doing what they did. Then they did it . . . and denied it.

The information McCarthy relies upon and its clear implications create integrity tests, or will very soon, for many individuals and institutions. Continue reading

Susan Rice Again, Part 2

Continuing with the observations regarding this remarkable document…

4. I was once involved in an anti-trust lawsuit triggered when all of the competitors of the company I was working for gathered together and conspired on ways to sink my employer’s business. Before the minutes of the meeting, the group’s lawyers prepared a statement that that the group absolutely intended to obey all anti-trust laws, and the meeting would embody the ideals represented in those laws. Then they went ahead and, based on a recording of the meeting, planned ways to conspire against our business in direct violation of the laws they claimed to hold in such high esteem.

It was really comical; these idiots though that by having everyone sign a statement that they weren’t doing what they obviously were doing, this would provide some plausible deniability.

5. We now know that Rice’s bizarre memo was written upon the advice of the White House Counsel’s Office. Rice says she waited 15 days because it was her first opportunity to do so, since she had been so darned busy. It would be a more likely srory if Rice had any credibility at all, which she does not.

6. Let’s let Andrew McCarthy try to explain what’s going on here. The anti-Trump news sources will never give him a forum, so he’s related to Fox News, but McCarthy was spot-on in predicting the course of the Mueller investigation, as is as knowledgeable on the machinations of the Deep State as anyone. He explained in part,

How amusing to find President Obama’s national-security advisor, Susan Rice, suddenly calling for public release of the Flynn–Kislyak conversation intercepted by the Obama administration in late December 2016. I called for its release nearly three-and-a-half years ago. Dr. Rice, in a familiar pattern for her, has spent the ensuing years saying things that were obviously untrue only to reverse herself once the paper trail starts to dribble out.

….Rice has gone from claiming to have had no knowledge of Obama administration monitoring of Flynn and other Trump associates, to claiming no knowledge of any unmaskings of Trump associates, to admitting she was complicit in the unmaskings, to — now — a call for the recorded conversation between retired general Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to be released because it would purportedly show that the Obama administration had good reason to be concerned about Flynn (y’know, the guy she said she had no idea they were investigating).

Naturally, we have now learned that Rice was deeply involved in the Obama administration’s Trump–Russia investigation, including its sub-investigation of Flynn, a top Trump campaign surrogate who was slated to replace Rice as national-security advisor when President Trump took office.

Regarding the memo, McCarthy writes, Continue reading

Update On The Roger Stone Sentencing Fiasco

Last night, I wrote in response to the news that all four of Roger Stone’s prosecutors had resigned after the Justice Department had submitted a memo opposing their recommendation to the judge in the case regarding Stone’s sentence…

I can’t figure this out until…

  • I know whether Stone was targeted as a Trump ally, and how much of this, if any, was politically motivated.
  • What the sentencing guidelines are, and exactly what Stone did.
  • What the reasoning of the Justice Department was in opposing its own prosecutors’ judgment.
  • To what degree the President influenced the decision.

 

Finally, thanks to the always reliable and astute Andrew McCarthy, I do understand, and can confidently say, “What a mess!” Continue reading

On The Impeachment.

I’m not in very good shape tonight, so I’m going to largely rely on the commentary of others to mark this disastrous day in American history.

I reached the point long ago where I was boring myself by having to write the same things over and over again as I documented what is tagged here as the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck: that the Democrats and “the resistance” are completely and solely responsible for abandoning what their own leaders said was the duty of defeated candidates and parties; that the news media has breached its duty to our democracy and endangered the Republic by breaching its own ethical standards and committing to single party advocacy and permanent warfare against an elected President; that President Trump, unlike every one of his predecessors, has never been given the benefit of unified support by the nation, or allowed to do his job as well as he could do it without harassment and abuse from all sides; and most of all, that the strategy of the Democratic Party, to decide to remove this President and then set out to find a way to do it, was unethical, illegal, undemocratic, and un-American.

I reached these conclusions not as a supporter or fan of the President, as anyone who has  visited here knows, but as a life-long student of the American Presidency, U.S. history and leadership, as a lawyer, an ethicist, and as a civically informed citizen.

And I’m right.  Despite the loud howls of the impeachment mob, there have been many thorough briefs supporting my analysis, notable among them Prof. Turley’s statement in the House hearings, and most recently, the President’s own letter. Today’s impeachment vote is an anti-climax, for once the Democrats got the majority in the House, it was obvious that they would impeach the President because they could, once they found a plausible justification.  (Recall that Speaker Pelosi once stated that any impeachment would have to be bi-partisan to be valid. Today’s impeachment votes included no Republicans. Res ipsa loquitur.) The surprise is that they impeached without a plausible justification, and were willing to gamble that slaking the hate of their most rabid base members was worth the certain electoral backlash to follow.

I think it was a foolish, reckless, irresponsible choice, and they deserve to pay a heavy, heavy price for it. It’s important that they do. Crucial, in fact. Continue reading

The Trump Impeachment Ethics Train Wreck: The Impeachment Resolution [Corrected]

With this post, the Democratic strategy of finding a way to impeach President Trump officially gets its own Ethics Train Wreck status. Up to this point, stories relating to impeachment have been filed using the record-setting 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck tag, since it, like so much else, flows from the Democratic Party/”resistance”/ mainstream media (the Axis of Unethical Conduct, or AUC) tantrum over Hillary Clinton blowing the election. An argument could be made that  I should have partitioned the impeachment push earlier, but I wanted to wait until the Democrats were really committed to their dangerous and divisive course. Now they are.

All aboard!

Not a single Republican voted for the resolution yesterday, not even those from less than bright-red districts. This was appropriate, since the impeachment push is not, as one should always be, a good faith Congressional reaction to conduct by the President which meets or might plausibly meet the Constitutional standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Instead, this is the culmination of the Democratic Party’s determination from the beginning of the Trump Presidency to treat him as an illegitimate President and a usurper whom they intended to find a way to remove without an election.

The process, like the Mueller investigation, but even more so, has been so tainted and corrupted from the outset that nothing it uncovers short of smoking-gun evidence of an unquestionable crime by any interpretation can cure it.  House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney said as much yesterday ( “Democrats cannot fix this process.This is a process that has been fundamentally tainted.'”). Indeed, as Democrats were saying that the vote erased Republican complaints about  a lack of transparency in the process, Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Chairman was holding another closed hearing. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Reactions To The Mueller Report, Continued: Quotes

1. The most revealing quote is the New York Times headline I’m looking at, approximately the same size as the one announcing that the Titanic had sunk: “Mueller Report Lays Out Russian Contacts And Trump’s Frantic Effort To Foil Inquiry.” What it reveals is that the New York Times has no interest in objective reporting on this matter, and is still in the mode it announced during the campaign: it sees its job as not to report the news, but to take down Donald Trump. The headline, as well as the cherry-picked excerpts from the 400 page report, are calculated to mislead the public and impede the President’s ability to govern. “Contacts” are not collusion or conspiracy, as the report itself showed. Meeting with Russians is neither illegal nor unusual. “Frantic” is a subjective characterization that does not belong in a headline, and “foil” is misleading. The President wanted the investigation to end, as it made doing his job difficult (as it was intended to do), and he wanted to “foil” its illicit (and obvious) objective of carrying out the Democratic Party’s and the mainstream media’s attempted coup.

The Times, the Post and the rest know that most citizens won’t read the report and couldn’t understand it if they tried, so they are pushing the same false and misleading narrative, an abuse of the news media’s critical role, to see if, somehow, they can still take “get” Donald Trump.

2. Andrew McCarthy, who has been an invaluable analyst throughout this fiasco, clarified the “obstruction of justice” controversy yesterday, and William Barr’s comments on them. McCarthy’s quote:

The attorney general stated that the special counsel evaluated ten incidents with an eye toward whether they amounted to an obstruction offense. Barr elaborated that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disagreed with Mueller on whether these incidents even could have amounted to obstruction as a matter of law…. Barr was not saying that Mueller found one or more of these incidents to constitute obstruction; Mueller was saying that the incidents involved actions that could theoretically have amounted to obstruction.

A concrete example may make this easier to grasp: the firing of FBI director James Comey. Before a prosecutor considered evidence regarding that incident, there would be a preliminary question: Could the president’s dismissal of an FBI director amount to an obstruction offense as a matter of law? If prosecutors were to decide that, even if the evidence showed corrupt intent on the part of the president, a president’s firing of the FBI director cannot constitutionally amount to an obstruction crime, then the prosecutors would not bother to investigate and make an assessment of the evidence.

What Barr is saying is that he and Mueller did not agree, with respect to all ten incidents, on whether the incident could legally amount to obstruction. What the attorney general therefore did was assume, for argument’s sake, that Mueller was correct on the law (i.e., that the incident could theoretically amount to obstruction), and then move on to the second phase of the analysis: Assuming this could be an obstruction offense as a matter of law, could we prove obstruction as a matter of fact? This requires an assessment of whether the evidence of each element of an obstruction offense – most significantly, corrupt intent – could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. That is why Barr laid out the facts that the president could have shut down the investigation but did not; that he could have asserted executive privilege to withhold information from the investigation, but instead made numerous witnesses and well over a million documents available to the special counsel; and that – reportedly according to Mueller – the president sincerely felt frustrated that the investigation was unfairly undermining his presidency. The point is that these facts so cut against the idea of corruptly impeding an investigation that it is inconceivable the prosecutor could prove an obstruction case beyond a reasonable doubt.

What you keep reading and hearing the bitter-enders say is that Trump wanted to obstruct the investigation,  but his staff stopped him. Well, wanting to do something isn’t a crime or even unethical, and staffs and advisors saying “no” is what good staffs and advisors do. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/8/18: “Unconscionable, Despicable, And Indefensible”

Good morning!

1. The Hader Gotcha strikes again. Let me be clear: this is unconscionable, despicable, and indefensible. (Aside: Do you like that trio? In “Perry Mason,” the lawyers always objected that a question was “incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial,” because it sounded nifty. I’ve never heard that objection made in a real trial, or read it in a transcript.) To remind you all, during the baseball season, beginning with young All-Star pitcher Josh Hader, multiple baseball players were embarrassed when someone with ill intent searched their old Twitter feeds to search for tweets that could be deemed racially offensive, hostile to gays, or disrespectful of women. I dubbed this miserable practice as “The Hader Gotcha.“All of the players had to grovel apologies to their team mates and the public, as “woke” sportswriters condemned them and lobbied for MLB to punish them for impulsive social media comments made before they could vote, before they were celebrities, and when their followers consisted of fourteen or so pimply-faced jerks. The same basic principle was employed to smear Brett Kavanaugh, the unfair and factually false preemption that conduct and attitudes displayed by minors indicate what their character is in adulthood.

Well, I guess it’s nice to know that not only whites, baseball players and conservatives are victims of this crap. Mere hours after winning the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s outstanding college football player, Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray had to apologize today for anti-gay tweets he made in 2011-12 , when he was 14 and 15 years old.

In case you are keeping score, because I am, the culprits here are an irresponsible, vicious news media, totalitarian-leaning leftists who want to police thoughts and intimidate the public into ideological conformity, and social media lynch mobs.

2. Sure, Donald Trump is the fear-monger. The increasingly hysterical and hyped warnings and soothsaying by various climate change-promoting bodies are either causing over-sensitive, scientifically ignorant and gullible members of the public to descend into despair, or members  of the news media are deliberately trying to cause fear and panic—at least based on the broadcast lament of MSNBC’s Katie Tur. The anchor told her audience that life was meaningless without a mass effort to combat the horrors of the warming planet. Discussing a New Yorker article on the topic, she said,

“I read that New Yorker article today and I thought gosh, how pointless is my life, and how pointless are the decisions that I make on a day-to-day basis when we are not focused on climate change every day, when it’s not leading every one of our newscasts?”

Unconscionable, despicable, and indefensible? No, just irresponsible, unprofessional, and stupid. And they wonder why so many people can’t take these hysterics seriously…

3. And the winner is…Plan K? Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy thinks that the sentencing statement on Michael Cohen means that the President is very likely to be indicted on a charge of violating federal campaign finance laws  by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who has openly been pursuing a “get Trump” campaign. The theory would be election law violations in the pay-offs to Stormy Daniels, even though paying off a kiss-and -tell threat is usually legal, and even though election law violations are typically handled with fines, not indictments. McCarthy writes,

When it was discovered that Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was guilty of violations involving nearly $2 million – an amount that dwarfs the $280,000 in Cohen’s case – the Obama Justice Department decided not to prosecute. Instead, the matter was quietly disposed of by a $375,000 fine by the Federal Election Commission.

Yes, but Obama’s Justice Department’s mission was to run interference for the President, and there was not an ongoing effort to find some way to undo a presidential election. Continue reading

Death By A Thousand False Narratives

If you read the New York Times and its pundits as your primary news source, hate the President of the United States, and are a sucker for confirmation bias (as most of us are), then you probably really do think that President Trump in on the verge of being prosecuted. He’s not, and the fact that the flagship-by-default of the journalistic establishment nonetheless encourages that misconception is all you need to know about the state of American journalism. It deliberately and incompetently misinforms the public to suit its political alliances and agendas, rather than informing the public objectively about what they need to know to govern themselves.

I hate to keep pointing this out, but the evidence keeps coming, and the deniers are increasing their volume. I’m so sick of this particular story that I could hurl. Unfortunately, I have an obligation as both a responsible citizen, an ethicist and a blogger not to allow these Big Lies to lie around unchallenged, because that’s part of the Big Lie method. People get sick of arguing, and the lie becomes truth by default. Well, I’d rather lose readers—and I have—than be complicit in that.

Today, for example, and prompting this mini-post, was this column in the New York Times Review section, by the managing editor of Lawfare. Its called “Mueller vs Fox News,” and the theory is the exact opposite of reality. Her claim is that Fox News is deceiving the public into thinking that Mueller’s investigation hasn’t uncovered what it has been looking for, a way to push the President out of office, when it has. “The evidence from the special counsel’s investigation is already damning, but it must contend with a haze of lies, confusion and ‘alternative facts,'” she writes.

That cut line is what made me read the piece, for I’m always looking for real, as opposed to hoped for, assumed, or misunderstood, evidence that the President illegally and unethically made a quid pro quo deal of some sort with Russia to steal the election. I don’t like cheating in any field, and I don’t care who does it. I also, however, know what cheating is.

There not only isn’t “damning evidence” relating to the President itemized in the column, there is no evidence at all, just the same Manafort and Cohen machinations we have been hearing about all week, plus the even murkier doings of conservative writer James Corsi, none of which constitute “collusion.” Nonetheless, the author posts a series of Orwellian, black-is-white/War is Peace pronouncements which are the precise opposite of reality—and the Times dutifully publishes them. For example, she writes, Continue reading