Tag Archives: bribery

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/16/2017: SNL, NFL, Collusion, Gossip, And Bribery

Good Morning.

1 Why am I only now getting around to today’s Warm-Up? It is because I spent more than 8 hours over the weekend, and three hours this morning, writing a Motion to Dismiss in response to a ridiculous, retaliatory, vindictive lawsuit by a pro se litigant with a grudge. The complaint has no legal cites, because no legal authority supports its claims. I, however, have to cite cases to show why the Complaint is completely without merit. Since the Complaint is a brain-rotting 18 pages, I have to carefully redact it to have a prayer of meeting the 20 page limit for motions. Even then, there is no guarantee that this won’t drag on for months.

No penalty will be exacted on the plaintiff for filing this spurious and groundless law suit. To do so would chill the right of citizens to seek justice and redress for wrongs through the courts. Thus the underlying objective of the suit will be accomplished: to force me to expend time and effort that I have far better uses for. Ethics Alarms readers are affected, my family is effected, my work is affected, my enjoyment of life is affected, and, of course, the system and the taxpayers who fund it are affected. This is an abuse of the system, but one that cannot and must not be impeded.

2. Does anyone have a theory about why the bribery trial of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez has received minimal mainstream media coverage that does not show bias? When Abscam was going on, the trials of the various members of Congress caught in a bribery sting were front page, Evening News headlines for weeks. The only U.S. Senator tried (and convicted) was a Democrat Harrison Williams. Has the news media become that much more partisan since the Reagan Administration?

3. As expected, exiled NFL kneeler (first) and quarterback (second) Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance accusing NFL teams of colluding to prevent him from getting a contract with any team this season.

We’ve been here before. This is the Barry Bonds scenario all over again. Bonds, the definitive ethics corrupter in Major League Baseball and a flagrant steroid cheat and liar, was not resigned by the San Francisco Giants after the 2007 season. He was 42, but his season had been productive, with a 1.o45 OPS, close to the best in the game. I wrote an article for The Hardball Times arguing that Bonds would not be signed, because doing so would permanently scar any team that accepted him, injure the team’s culture, corrupt its young players, and wound baseball itself. The invective hurled at me and my article by sportswriters and readers was unrelenting. ESPN’s Keith Law said that my essay made anyone who read it stupid. MLB’s satellite channel’s hosts laughed about the idea that teams cared about such matters as integrity. Bonds, however, was not signed, and never played again. While he and his defenders claimed collusion among the owners, no evidence appeared. Continue reading

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Reconsidering “Lincoln,” Lincoln…And Trump

I’ve been reading a lot about Abraham Lincoln of late. A book by William Hanchett called “The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies” reminded me that while President Jackson is the closest historical match for the populist, outsider aspect of Donald Trump’s rise, the startlingly close match for the antipathy and hatred Trump has faced from the moment of his election eerily traces the experience of Abraham Lincoln.

Like Trump a minority President, Abe won only 39.8% of the popular vote but was still comfortably elected by the Electoral College. As with Trump, his opposition refused to give him a chance to govern or unify the nation, although in his case, the Democrats divided the country literally, seceding from the union before Lincoln took the oath of office. Today’s Democrats are without that option (thanks to Lincoln!), but are doing everything else in their power to undermine the elected leader. (And California, the most Democratic state, is saber-rattling about seceding.) Also like Trump, Lincoln did not concede that his lack of a popular vote majority in any way robbed him of a mandate to govern.

From the moment the election results were known, many Democrats proclaimed the election of Lincoln itself to be an act of aggression, a “declaration of war.” Many in Lincoln’s own party—even his own Attorney General—accused him, with some justification, of engaging unconstitutional measures. The Governor of New York evoked the Revolutionary War generation, saying that they would not stand for such incursions on their rights. Constitutional expert George Ticknor Curtis of Massachusetts predicted that the Lincoln Presidency would “be an end to this experiment in self-government.”

Meanwhile, pundits and critics heaped personal abuse on Lincoln, calling him grotesque, a barbarian, ” gorilla.” Diarist George Templeton Strong, whose words are so often quoted by Ken Burns in his documentary about the Civil War, called him a “yahoo.” It was said that fashionable New Yorkers would be ashamed to be seen in the presence of someone as boorish and uncultured as Lincoln;  it was rumored that he rejected handkerchiefs and “blew his nose through his thumb and forefingers, frontier-style.” As late as 1864, a New York editor wrote,

“[The President] is an uneducated boor. He  is brutal in all his habits and in all his ways. He is filthy. He is obscene. He is vicious.”

Somehow, despite this cruel barrage of ad hominem rhetoric, arguably more successful then that it would be now since the public has more knowledge of the President and can make their own observations, Lincoln persevered to meet the greatest challenges any President ever faced.

While still pondering some of the parallels with today’s relentless attacks on our current President, I watched again the 2012 Stephen Spielberg-directed film “Lincoln,” which was almost unanimously praised when it was released, and which I enjoyed a great deal when I first saw it. This time, however, “Lincoln” revealed itself as an ethics corrupter. Continue reading

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We Now Have Definitive Proof That Hillary Clinton Was Engaged In Blatant, Illegal Influence Peddling

The Office of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has confirmed that Hillary Clinton, while Secretary of State,  made a personal call in March 2011 to  pressure—my sourcesays says “demand”—that Bangladesh’s prime minister  restore Dr. Muhammed Yunus, a 2006 Nobel Peace prize winner, to his previous position  as chairman of the country’s most prominent microcredit bank, Grameen Bank.  The bank’s nonprofit, Grameen America, which Yunus chairs, had donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative. (Gee, I wonder why.) 

There is a recent video of Hasina explaining this episode to her Parliament.

To be clear, it was illegal for Hillary Clinton to use her position and influence with the U.S. government to assist any donor to  her spouse’s charitable foundation, and if you really think it was just her spouse’s, I have a perpetual motion machine for sale that you might like. She also knew it was illegal. Federal ethics laws require government officials to recuse themselves from matters that have an impact on their family’s business. 

Federal laws prohibit bribes, too.

Yunus had been disqualified from serving in the position, but had illegally served anyway, and collected a salary,  for a decade past the statutory limit. After complaints were filed, he was terminated by order of the high Bangladesh court. So not only was Clinton delivering a political favor bought and paid for by a Clinton Foundation “donation,” she was asking the Prime Minister to break her own nation’s laws.

This is real, stinky, high-level, low-class corruption. There is no other way to describe it. Clinton was using her position with the U.S. government for personal profit, and abusing the public trust by doing the bidding of foreign nationals in exchange for cash. Moreover, you know and I know that this could not have been some weird one-off aberration due to Hillary’s interest in Bangladesh. If she did this once there, she did it in other instances. I cannot emphasize enough how serious conduct it is. It is as unethical, venal and dirty as public service gets.

This was your candidate, Democrats. This was your champion, feminists. This was your standard-bearer, liberals. This is the woman whose defeat has sent you into the maw of madness, progressives. Now what?

Hillary Clinton was unfit to serve by virtue of her conduct and her character; I said so for many months, and this is smoking gun evidence. I will be watching to see who among her supporters and cheering section has the integrity to admit it.

I admit: the story shocks even me.

Let’s see if the revelation by the Prime Minister makes the headlines in the news shows, the Times and the Post. Let’s see how the Clinton machine tries to spin it.

You know they will.

 

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Why Health and Human Services Nominee Price’s Smoking Gun Ethics Breaches Won’t Disqualify Him

smoking-gun

There was good news on the Trump Administration Ethics Train Wreck, still just pulling out of the station. Despite the ethically-challenged reaction fro the Trump transition team when it was revealed that Monica Crowley had plagiarized in her latest book, somebody, somewhere, persuaded the conservative radio talk-show host to resign her new White House post. Good. But as many—most?—predicted, the muck is just beginning to bubble to the surface.

CNN reports that Rep. Tom Price,Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services who will have much of the responsibility for dismantling Obamacare  without triggering a health system crash, appears to have engaged in a flagrant instance of using his position for financial gain.  Last year, Price purchased shares in Zimmer Biomet, a medical device manufacturer [Full disclosure: I have one of their artificial hip joints, setting off metal detectors at airports all over the world] right before he introduced  legislation that would have directly benefited the company.

Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares in the company last March, and then, less than a week after the transaction,  introduced the HIP Act (Clever!) to delay until 2018 a regulation that industry analysts believed  would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet, one of two companies most affected by a regulation that limits payments for joint implant procedures. Not only did Price have a financial stake in the regulation he tried to stall,but after Price introduced  his bill, Zimmer Biomet’s political action committee donated to the Georgia congressman’s reelection campaign.

Merely a coincidence, I’m sure.

Price is scheduled to appear before the Senate Health Committee this week, and the Senate Finance Committee later. He should withdraw, or failing that, Trump should pull the nomination. Price’s purchase of the Zimmer Biomet shares isn’t the first time he’s used inside information (the inside information being “I’m going to propose a bill”) to buy shares in a company. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that he traded roughly $300,000 in shares over the past four years in health companies while pursuing legislation that could affect their bottom lines.

Yeccch. Continue reading

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Now THAT’S A Trump Bribe…Wait, Wait, I Mean The APPEARANCE Of An ALLEGED Bribe!

Why is Pam smiling?

Why is Pam smiling?

After his election victory, Donald Trump agreed to pay out $25 million in settlement  of claims against the new defunct Trump University. In September, before the election, the Florida Attorney General’s office had announced that that there were “insufficient grounds” to proceed with a fraud probe of the school. Three years earlier, it had announced that it was considering such a probe in anticipation of legal action against Trump University.

Four days after that threat, Donald Trump’s personal charity illegally donated $25,000 to a political group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s re-election campaign. Bondi personally solicited that donation from Trump just as her office was deciding whether to pursue the Trump U. investigation. (This is almost certainly an prosecutorial ethics violation, as well as being obviously corrupt.) This revelation by the Associated Press emerged during the campaign, and was swamped by all the other Trump controversies at the time.

Yesterday, Trump’s transition team told Bloomberg that Pam Bondi has accepted a job in Trump’s White House. Continue reading

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A Lawyer Ponders: “Will Obama Pardon Clinton? And If He Does, Will She Accept?” An Ethicist Answers…

get-out-of-jail2

Over at The Hill, lawyer David Weisberg examines the questions in the title above. Frankly, I assumed that Hillary needing a pardon from Obama was a dead issue, but Weisberg persuades me that it might not be.

Let’s begin by pointing out that it would be gallactically stupid for the Trump Justice Department to prosecute Clinton. Doing so would be a guaranteed circus; it would inflame Democrats who are already resembling The Human Torch, and it would appear to be a political prosecution. A winning President tries to put his losing opponent in jail would reek of banana republic vengeance, and that’s one reason why no American President has ever done it.

This is Donald Trump we are talking about, however, so who knows? Certainly many of his more angry and less grey matter-blessed supporters would love to see Hillary in the slammer. I am hoping and praying that Trump either is smarter than this or has advisors who can talk him out of his worst ideas, but I am not as confident as I should be. Weisberg makes the reasonable point that Hillary may not be confident either:

“Since being elected, Trump has been remarkably warm towards the person he used to call “Crooked Hillary.” But how confident could Clinton be that the Justice Department, under a Trump administration, would not prosecute? Prosecutorial decisions are supposed to be independent of political considerations, so Trump’s recent friendliness should not be controlling once the new attorney general is in office.”

That last sentence is both true, and following the wretched partisanship of the Obama Justice Department, very much in the category of  legal fiction. Continue reading

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Tales From The “Bias Makes Us Stupid” Files: Is It Possible That The News Media Really Thinks That Donald Trump’s Latest Stupid Blather Is More Newsworthy Than Hillary Trading State Department Favors For Foundation Contributions

Media bias

In a statement that is mindblowing for its shameless ethics ignorance, Slate editor Josh Voorhees wrote,

“The latest batch of State Department emails from Hillary Clinton’s tenure, released Tuesday, further highlights the occasionally overlapping interests between the agency and the Clinton Foundation. The messages, which don’t directly involve the Democratic nominee herself, aren’t going to overshadow Donald Trump’s ongoing self-immolation—nor should they—but they are worth a closer look.”

“Nor should they?”

Nor should they?

By what possible set of warped values could the latest inanity from a Presidential candidate who constantly says silly, inarticulate and ultimately meaningless things the second they pop into what we generously call “his brain,” be more worthy of public attention than revelations that the other candidate for President used her position in the State Department for the enrichment of herself and her family?

The former is a well-established idiot free-associator idiotically free-associating with the same results he always gets. Why is this news? It is only news because the news media, knowing well that Trump just utters  jokes, ad-libs, random observations, musings, insults and all sorts of other things that adults never say in public because his confused and disoriented fans enjoy them, intentionally treats them as serious statements of a serious person, when they know very well he is not. The latest of these is the Trump assertion that Obama is “literally” the “founder of ISIS.” It is as newsworthy as if Trump said “Obama is literally a tree frog.” OK, everyone knows this isn’t true, and that Trump is a babbling fool. Got it. Next? Yet this non-story gets absurd attention: like at ABC News, The National Memo, Business Insider, Fox News Insider, Politicus USA, Washington Post, Raw Story, The New Civil Rights MovementDaily Kos, The Times of Israel, CBS New York, RT, Balloon Juice, New York Magazine, Guardian, Independent Journal Review, Mother Jones, NBC News,and Mediaite.

Before that, it was media hysteria over Trump’s bizarre “Second Amendment people” crack being a crime, which Popehat neatly debunks here. Ken White’s  opening statement is also enlightening: “Donald Trump, against all advice and rumors of pivot, will continue to be Donald Trump.”

Exactly. Which means his continuing to say stuff that mature and responsible people don’t say is not legitimate front page news.

Ah, but it provides an excuse not to explain to the public how stunningly corrupt Hillary is and has been. That is the objective, and an biased and unethical objective it is. Continue reading

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