Tag Archives: “everybody does it”

NBC’s Chuck Todd Offers Dubious History To Cover For Democrats

One of these things is not like the other...

One of these things is not like the other…

[A frequent and valued commenter asked Ethics Alarms to examine this, and I am, as many of you know, always eager to delve into the history of My Favorite Men, the Presidents of the United States.]

Yesterday, NBC presented the nauseating display of a prominent member of Congress attempting to undermine the peaceful transfer of power after a legal and fair election. This was unprecedented, and not surprisingly. Only a hyper-partisan ethics dunce who believed that he was beyond criticism and accountability and who was confident that journalists would rationalize his conduct would do such a thing.  In this regard, at least, Rep. John Lewis was correct. The news media had his back.

Before the actual interview was broadcast, news of Lewis’s statement was out regarding Lewis’s attack, and Donald Trump, as he has with Gold Star parents, beauty queens and others and award-winning actresses, had foolishly reacted with an insulting tweet that allowed his critics to shift public attention from the provocation to the target. Is Trump really incapable of learning how stupid this is, no matter how many times he suffers for it? Apparently.

Meanwhile, it was time for the news media to play defense for Lewis, because that’s what they do when Democrats misbehave.

Chuck Todd, the host of “Meet the Press,” used hsiMSNBC show “Meet the Press Daily” to argue that a prominent member of Congress claiming that an elected President isn’t legitimate is just not that big a deal, saying

In case you missed it, Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.), civil rights hero and icon, said Donald Trump does not believe is a legitimate president because of the Russian meddling in the election. Leaving aside how you feel about Lewis’ position, it’s not first time a president’s legitimacy has been questioned.”

Then, no doubt thanks to some intern’s searches on Google, he regaled his audience with misleading American history:

In 1824 when John Quincy Adams won the presidency over Andrew Jackson, despite getting clobbered in the popular vote, a lot of people questioned the legitimacy of his victory. In fact, this happens pretty much every time the popular vote loser moves into the White House.

After the 1876 election, Rutherford Hayes, who was called Ruther-fraud Hayes when Congress gave him the electoral majority.

The same in 1888 with Benjamin Harrison. You may remember the occasional cry of foul in 2000 when the Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount and George W. Bush won the election.

Sometimes, though, it has nothing to do with voting. When William Henry Harrison died a month after taking office in 1841, a lot of people didn’t accept the idea that as vice president John Tyler or any vice president for that matter could legitimately ascend to the presidency. A lot of people just called him an ‘acting president.’

Most recently, of course, the conservative right and and some Republicans claimed to doubt President Obama’s citizenship and therefore the legitimacy of his right to serve in the office of the presidency.

None of this is meant to pass judgment on John Lewis’ position, it’s just to remind us all this isn’t the first time someone has questioned the legitimacy of an American president. Surely won’t be the last.

This is what our political system does, we have this back and forth. It doesn’t make it any less shocking, frankly, to some of us when you do hear it from people with big influence. That’s all for tonight.

See? No big deal! Happens all the time! Everybody does it! Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Ah! So THAT’S What’s Going On In North Carolina!

Somehow the story isn't clear without Elsa in the picture, it it?

Somehow the story isn’t clear without Elsa in the picture, it it?

While national Democrats were desperately and embarrassingly search for some way, any way, to overturn the election of Donald Trump, the mania reaching apotheosis in the unhinged rantings of Michael Moore—“Trump is not president until 12 noon on Jan 20th. So we’ll continue to fight & hope to find a legal, nonviolent way to stop this madness,” the “madness” known as “losing an election”—Democrats, news media, and op-ed writers in the New York Times (but I repeat myself) have been loudly condemning the North Carolina Assembly as part of a condemnation of Republicans generally. After narrowly losing the State House, the overwhelmingly Republican legislature has been passing measures to limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor  in a lame-duck legislative session. The changes drastically reduce the number of officials the governor can appoint within state government, require legislative confirmation of Cabinet-level appointments, eliminate partisan majorities in the state board of elections and strip the governor of the power to make appointments to the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees.

This is, according to Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, for example, a “last-minute power grab” that “marks an alarming departure from basic democratic norms—a blatant attempt to overturn the results of an election by curtailing judicial independence and restructuring the government to seize authority lawfully delegated to the incoming Democratic governor.” By the end, he is foaming at the mouth with indignation:

“What’s happening in North Carolina is not politics as usual. It is an extraordinarily disturbing legislative coup, a flagrant effort to maintain one-party rule by rejecting democratic norms and revoking the will of the voters. It is the kind of thing we might expect to see in Venezuela, not a U.S. state. It should terrify every American citizen who believes in the rule of law. This is so much more than a partisan power grab. This is an attack on democracy itself.”

I was preparing to write something similar, but unlike Stern, I did some research first. What I discovered, however, thanks to the work of Volokh Conspiracy contributor Jonathan Adler, a Case Western law professor, was that as unethical as the General Assembly’s power grab is, the tactic is business as usual in the Tarheel State. Adler points his readers to the research of John Hood, who informs us…

Precisely four times in modern North Carolina history, voters have elected a new governor or lieutenant governor of one party and legislative majorities of the other party. In all four instances, the legislature stripped the newly elected executives of some power.

In the first three instances — Republican Gov. Jim Holshouser’s election in 1972, Republican Gov. Jim Martin’s election in 1984, and Republican Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner’s election in 1988 — a Democratic legislature did the stripping. As Martin’s biographer, I’m most familiar with his experience. Lawmakers limited his ability to staff agencies (including the State Board of Elections), subjected other appointments to constraints or confirmation, and withdrew gubernatorial control over state construction and administrative hearings, among other actions.

In each case, Republicans cried foul. Democrats insisted they were simply carrying out North Carolina’s longstanding preference for legislative supremacy….

Democrats upset with the special session might have been more persuasive had they chosen a different rhetorical strategy. Every time they accused GOP lawmakers of “unprecedented” acts, of “contempt for democracy,” of being “sore losers” and the like, all Republicans heard was hypocrisy. What happened in 2016 was different in detail, but not much in degree, from what happened in the past. A better argument would have been, “Yes, we Democrats went too far when we were in power. It often came back to bite us. Don’t make the same mistake.”

I am all for breaking the cycle. That will inspire greater trust and long-term thinking, from both sides.

That pretty well sums up my position too. Continue reading

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Election Extra! This News Story Illustrates Why You Can’t Trust Hillary Clinton: Corruption! Conflict Of Interest! Lies! Cover-Up! And Of Course, The Mainsteam News Media Doesn’t Want You To Understand It, Which Is Part Of The Story Itself

[ I apologize: this is long. I also think it is important: I know this may be a tipping point for me. I hope you’ll read it, and share it.]

Yesterday, I saw this news item from Reuters, one of the few respectable news sources on the U.S. election that has not been distorting and withholding information to tip public opinion one way or the other. I tracked it all day to see whether the mainstream news media would highlight, or even mention it.

Significantly, the information involved came in a post-workday news dump on a Friday, a technique that has become a favorite of the Obama administration, and has been adopted by its party too.  If you missed it, in other words, that was the intention.

I’ll bold the most critical points:

Reuters:

The Clinton Foundation has confirmed it accepted a $1 million gift from Qatar while Hillary Clinton was U.S. secretary of state without informing the State Department, even though she had promised to let the agency review new or significantly increased support from foreign governments.

Qatari officials pledged the money in 2011 to mark the 65th birthday of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton’s husband, and sought to meet the former U.S. president in person the following year to present him the check, according to an email from a foundation official to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta. The email, among thousands hacked from Podesta’s account, was published last month by WikiLeaks.

Clinton signed an ethics agreement governing her family’s globe-straddling foundation in order to become secretary of state in 2009. The agreement was designed to increase transparency to avoid appearances that U.S. foreign policy could be swayed by wealthy donors.

If a new foreign government wished to donate or if an existing foreign-government donor, such as Qatar, wanted to “increase materially” its support of ongoing programs, Clinton promised that the State Department’s ethics official would be notified and given a chance to raise any concerns.

Clinton Foundation officials last month declined to confirm the Qatar donation. In response to additional questions, a foundation spokesman, Brian Cookstra, this week said that it accepted the $1 million gift from Qatar, but this did not amount to a “material increase” in the Gulf country’s support for the charity. Cookstra declined to say whether Qatari officials received their requested meeting with Bill Clinton.

Officials at Qatar’s embassy in Washington and in its Council of Ministers in the capital, Doha, declined to discuss the donation.

The State Department has said it has no record of the foundation submitting the Qatar gift for review, and that it was incumbent on the foundation to notify the department about donations that needed attention. A department spokeswoman did not respond to additional questions about the donation.

According to the foundation’s website, which lists donors in broad categories by cumulative amounts donated, Qatar’s government has directly given a total of between $1 million and $5 million over the years.

The Clinton Foundation has said it would no longer accept money from foreign governments if Clinton is elected president and would spin off those programs that are dependent on foreign governments.

“MATERIAL” INCREASE

Foundation officials told Reuters last year that they did not always comply with central provisions of the agreement with President Barack Obama’s administration, blaming oversights in some cases.(reut.rs/2fkHPCh)

At least eight other countries besides Qatar gave new or increased funding to the foundation, in most cases to fund its health project, without the State Department being informed, according to foundation and agency records. They include Algeria, which gave for the first time in 2010, and the United Kingdom, which nearly tripled its support for the foundation’s health project to $11.2 million between 2009 and 2012.

Foundation officials have said some of those donations, including Algeria, were oversights and should have been flagged, while others, such as the UK increase, did not qualify as material increases.

The foundation has declined to describe what sort of increase in funding by a foreign government would have triggered notification of the State Department for review. Cookstra said the agreement was designed to “allow foreign funding for critical Clinton Foundation programs” to continue without disruption.

The State Department said it has no record of being asked by the foundation to review any increases in support by a foreign government.Asked whether Qatar was funding a specific program at the foundation, Cookstra said the country supported the organization’s “overall humanitarian work.”

“Qatar continued supporting Clinton Foundation at equal or lower levels” compared with the country’s pre-2009 support, he said. He declined to say if Qatar gave any money during the first three years of Clinton’s four-year term at the State Department, or what its support before 2009 amounted to.

In another email released by WikiLeaks, a former Clinton Foundation fundraiser said he raised more than $21 million in connection with Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday in 2011.

Spokesmen for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Bill Clinton did not respond to emailed questions about the donation.

Now let’s get this out of the way up front: the import and significance of the facts in this story were covered up…by Clinton, by her Foundation, by State, and by the news media.This story was buried in October by the Donald Trump “pussy-grabbing” video, and the news media focused the public’s attention on little else. Continue reading

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Spectacularly Incompetent Candidate Of The Month: Paul Ryan Challenger Paul Nehlen

"This is Paul. Won't you help him? Paul, like millions of other victims across the land, suffers from Constitution Ignorance Syndrome. This dread malady causes its victims to advocate fascist  policies and to sound like idiots in their public statements. But there is hope for Paul, and those like him. Please give, and give generously, To "Educate Paul." a non-profit charity. Your gift is tax-deductible, and you will have made the United States a little less stupid with every penny you contribute to this vital cause."

“This is Paul. Won’t you help him? Paul, like millions of other victims across the land, suffers from Constitution Ignorance Syndrome. This dread malady causes its victims to advocate fascist policies and to sound like idiots in their public statements. But there is hope for Paul, and those like him. Please give, and give generously, To Educate Paul a non-profit charity. Your gift is tax-deductible, and you will have made the United States a little less stupid with every penny you contribute to this vital cause.”

This was the guy that Donald Trump was supposedly going to endorse as retribution for Speaker Ryan’s negative comments? It’s comforting, isn’t it, that Trump isn’t that irrational? Ann Coulter is, but Trump isn’t. (At least in this case.)

Paul Nehlen is the arch conservative and certifiable ignoramus who is challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District’s Republican primary. Interviewed last week on “Chicago’s Morning Answer,” Nehlen said that he wonders why we have any Muslims in the country, and suggested that there should be a public debate about tossing Muslims out of the U.S.

Here’s a partial transcript of the relevant comments Nehlen made to hosts Amy Jacobson and Dan Croft: Continue reading

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Fourth Of July Ethics: The Signers, Snopes, And Fact-Checking

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I received  this inspiring bit of Americana from an old friend, a Marine and lawyer with a love of history. It’s a screed of unknown origin that has been circulating the internet since the 20th Century. Maybe you’ve seen it too:

The Price They Paid

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.

Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well-educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKean was so hounded by British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him – poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted properties of Ellery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge, and Middleton.

At Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson,Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his  gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots.  It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.

Remember: freedom is never free! We thank these early patriots, as well as those patriots now fighting to KEEP our freedom!

I hope you will show your support by sending this to as many people as you can, please. It’s time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more MEANING to it than beer, fireworks, HOT DOGS,  and picnics……

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The purpose and primary message of the post is irrefutably true. Those who signed the Declaration did so at great personal risk and sacrifice. Had the new nation failed in its revolution—and really, it is amazing that it didn’t—all of them would have been hanged as traitors. It was an act of principle and courage, and what happened later is entirely moral luck. The signers would have been no less honorable, remarkable and heroic if every single one of them, by various strokes of good fortune, had become wealthy, powerful, prospered in everything they did and died in advanced years, like Franklin, Adams and Jefferson. Unfortunately, most citizens lack the education, acumen and tools to figure this out, so we get stuff that equates random and uncontrollable misfortune with enhanced virtue. Continue reading

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Four Supreme Court Decisions: Abortion, Guns, Affirmative Action, Corruption…And Ethics. Part 2: McDonnell v. United States

Virginia Governor McDonnell shows off the luxury watch he got as a gift from a businessman he barely knew who expected expected nothing in return...

Virginia Governor McDonnell shows off the luxury watch he got as a gift from a businessman he barely knew who expected expected nothing in return…

Governor Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s Republican governor from 2010 to 2014, was charged with using his office to assist businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., who, often with Mrs. McDonnell as a conduit, gave his family wedding receptions, loans, vacations and jewelry worth more than $175,000. I wrote about this scandal here, here, and here. The gifts were legal, thanks to absurdly lenient Virginia ethics laws, just as they were obviously unethical, except perhaps to the clueless McDonnells.

Governor McDonnell arranged meetings for Williams and attended events with him. My favorite part of the criminal trial was when McDonnell claimed that he never dreamed that Williams expected anything in exchange for all of his gifts, and then Williams said that of course he expected some favors in return. The jury found that McDonnell’s actions amounted to corruption and a quid pro quo exchange amounting to bribery. A federal appeals court upheld the conviction.

The Supreme Court’s 8-0 decision this week to vacate the conviction upholds the principle that even if someone has done something obviously bad, there has to be a law against what was done before the act occurred in order to convict him. It’s a rather narrow decision. The Court points out that the law McDonnell was convicted of breaking requires “official acts” to be bought and sold for the law to be breached, but that all McDonnell did was hand out political favors to his “friend”: setting up meetings, communicating his favor, greasing the wheels, essentially. (Much is made of the fact that Williams didn’t benefit very much from any of this, which is just moral luck. It doesn’t make what the governor did any less sleazy.)

Wrote Chief Justice Roberts in his opinion for the unanimous Court: Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Day, Or “Now THIS Is Spinning!”: Hillary Clinton Spokesperson Brian Fallon

Clinton spin

“While political opponents of Hillary Clinton are sure to misrepresent this report for their own partisan purposes, in reality, the Inspector General documents just how consistent her email practices were with those of other Secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal email. The report shows that problems with the State Department’s electronic record keeping systems were longstanding and that there was no precedent of someone in her position having a State Department email account until after the arrival of her successor. Contrary to the false theories advanced for some time now, the report notes that her use of personal email was known to officials within the Department during her tenure, and that there is no evidence of any successful breach of the Secretary’s server. We agree that steps ought to be taken to ensure the government can better maintain official records, and if she were still at the State Department, Secretary Clinton would embrace and implement any recommendations, including those in this report, to help do that. But as this report makes clear, Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email was not unique, and she took steps that went much further than others to appropriately preserve and release her records.”

—-Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon, spinning the IG report with revelations which prompted that right-wing rag the Washington Post this morning to call his boss’s conduct, in an editorial, “inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules.”

Wow.

Whatever Hillary Clinton’s campaign is paying Brian Fallon to lie for her, it’s not nearly enough.

Imagine: the State Department IG issues a devastating condemnation of Clinton’s conduct, one that proves (as stated here since March, 2015, because it was obvious that early) Clinton has been lying about her conduct, her motives and the consequences of her actions regarding her personal e-mail server installed precisely to avoid the legal reach of the Freedom of Information Act at the risk of compromising national security, and the Clinton camp response is  to say, “See? She was telling the truth all along!”

This response is..

Cynical.

Audacious.

Insulting.

Also designed for use by the completely corrupt, like Nancy Pelosi,  typical of Clinton responses to all scandals, and ridiculously easy to expose.

And before I start exposing, let me address the comments of the liberal end of Woodward and Bernstein (that would be Carl), who while agreeing on CNN this morning that the IG’s report is “devastating” in its near complete demonstration of how much Clinton has misrepresented the facts and her conduct to the news media and the American people, summed it all up be saying that Hillary has had “an uncomfortable relationship with the truth.”

To evoke the late Fred Rogers: Can you say “habitual liar”? Sure you can! A woman who has had “an uncomfortable relationship with the truth,” Carl, is a liar. Don’t sugar-coat it and obfuscate. That’s what the Clintons do. You sound like a Clinton! She’s lying. She lied about the server. She lies all the time. You’re a journalist. Just say it, loud and clear. That’s your damn job.

But I digress.

Let’s just go over how poor Brian Fallon’s statement of desperate mega-spin is dishonest, misleading, and, to be blunt, a pack of lies: Continue reading

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