My Head Can’t Explode Any More Over Trump Derangement Stories—Like This One [CORRECTED]

Six professors at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School signed a letter demanding that Penn President Amy Gutmann investigate allegations that President Donald Trump fraudulently gained admission to the university 50 years ago.

“Failing to investigate an allegation of fraud at such a level broadcasts to prospective students and the world at large that the playing field is not equal,” wrote the professors in part.  The allegation? It was made by Trump-family feud exploiter Mary Trump, the President’s niece, in her book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.” She wrote that someone named Joe Shapiro, whom she described as a “smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker,” was paid “well” to take the SAT for the President, thus helping Trump get into the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate.

Now, she has clarified that this was a different Joe Shapiro than the one married to Maria Shriver, though that Joe has known the President for years. (That Joe Shapiro could sue her.) No, it’s another Joe Shapiro…one who can’t be found. Mary says she is certain  Trump cheated on his SATs, though she has no proof at all (and obviously wasn’t on hand for the test), because she trusts the people who told her, whom she does not name. “I’m counting on people I trust who told me this story. So, in terms of documentation, no, I can’t prove it. But I can certainly say with 100% certainty that I was told this story by a source very close to Donald,” she told George Stephanopoulas on ABC.

Mary later said  she got the idea from the President’s 83-year-old sister, whom Mary—this is a real class act we’re talking about here—surreptitiously taped trashing her brother. At one point in the hours of tapes made in 2018 and 2019, the President’s older sister said she “believed” her brother cheated on the “SATs or whatever.”  So apparently Mary is 100% sure that she “was told the story” by her aunt, who, since she said she “believed” her brother cheated on his, well, some test, apparently had no first hand information on the matter herself. Why nobody has asked the retired judge to explain why she “believes” her brother cheated, I don’t know. But she, being a lawyer, could tell them that the tape would be inadmissible as evidence of what she thought, if she was still around to testify directly.

[Notice of correction: I initially wrote that Trump’s sister was dead. Stupid mistake. Thanks to Michael for the heads up.]

That makes Mary’s claim double hearsay. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 11/15/2019: Idiots, “Friends,” Rationalizations And Doing Things The Hard Way

The Korean War memorial on the Washington Mall….moving and ghostly.

Greetings!

1. The media, doing its best to make the public stupid. Yesterday the collected dolts  of “The View” managed to mangle the concept of hearsay, following a Democrat rep’s absurd contention that hearsay evidence cold be “better” than  direct testimony.  The panel show also misrepresented how the Clinton impeachment proceeded.

Sunny Hostin, the alleged conservative on the panel,  said that  President Clinton’s impeachment  was the result of Linda Tripp’s  testimony, saying , “Clinton was impeached because of Linda Tripp’s testimony, which was complete hearsay!”

How wrong can a statement be? Clinton was impeached because he lied under oath in a hearing involving the civil law suit against him by Paula Jones (as well as for lying to a grand jury and obstruction of justice.) Tripp had made an illegal tape recording of Lewinsky, which was not hearsay. Tripp’s tape was used to get Lewinsky to admit the affair, which was clearly not hearsay. Then there was that stained dress. Had not direct testimony and physical evidence backed up Tripp’s account, Clinton almost certainly   not have been impeached

2. This is why we can’t have nice things. It was inevitable, with all the recent resurgence in interest in the 90s sitcom “Friends,” that the long-running and still-popular show would finally be subjected to one of those depressing reunion specials. This was especially likely because the aging cast isn’t much in demand these days, and mots of them could use a boost.

But Beware, “Friends,” the woke posse is watching. The show about six white hetero singles living in New York was not diverse, and has been criticized in the 15 years since it ended for being implicitly racist, sexist, and anti-LGBTQ. Thus the Righteous have decreed, “Friends’ reunion is all we have wanted for years, but HBO Max version better have more racial diversity and LGBTQ representation.”

Thus we get this,

[T]he iconic NBC show is not without its problems, and yet it entertained us in real-time for ten years and for years after that, making us laugh on the days we are feeling low and making us believe that they will be there for us. It is only natural that we want to relive those feelings again, but even those of us who grew up on ‘Friends’ have outgrown those insensitive jabs about Chandler’s (Mathew Perry) drag queen father, unwarranted fat-shaming of Monica (Courtney Cox), repeated complicity of Joey’s (Matt LeBlanc) sexism and so on.

When the show does return in – hopefully – 2020 for an HBO Max audience, we should hope that it is rich in diversity without it being about tokenism. It is unfathomable that this group of friends who live in New York, the melting pot of America, hasn’t made friends with more diverse backgrounds. Even more so, it is difficult to believe that they haven’t even interacted with people of different sexualities, sexual identities, and races for them to know better than to make jokes about them. It may have flown in the 90s and 2000s, but it definitely isn’t going to in the current day and age.

No, we should hope that it is funny, but if awkward virtue signalling and making sure that all the EEOC boxes are checked while making up for ten years of insensitively showing a group of friends who hung out primarily with people like themselves (like most of us), are going to be the priorities, and you know they will be, it would be kinder and more responsible to leave Ross, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, Rachel and Monica where they belong—in the past, on re-runs.

Incidentally, one of the two funniest jokes I ever heard on “Friends” involved “fat-shaming.” The groups was watching an old home movie taken when Monica was a grossly over-weight teen. The now svelte woman, embarrassed, said, “They say that the camera makes you look 15 pounds heavier,” to which Chandler replied, “Just how many cameras were on you?”

3. Upon reflection, I don’t think I need to add this new rationalization. The Rationalization List is stuck at 99, and I have been wondering what #100 would be. When I was writing about the now-fired Canadian hockey pundit Don Cherry bringing himself down with his big mouth, I was annoyed by how many of his defenders argued that Don was just being Don, and since he was always Don, and “didn’t mean anything” by being Don, and was popular because he was Don, being Don shouldn’t be held against him. I suspect this bothered me so much because it appears to be the only thing keeping Joe Biden from being ripped to pieces by #MeToo Furies, as he richly deserves to be. So briefly I considered the need for a “It’s just who he is” rationalization.

Upon reflection, I demurred. This is cutting the rationalizations too thin. We already have Rationalization 41 A. Popeye’s Excuse, or “I am what I am”:

Sure, let’s stipulate that the jerk is exactly who and what he presents himself as being. This doesn’t excuse his conduct in any way. He is what he is, and what he is is an irresponsible, narcissistic, rude, boorish, uncivil, nasty, destructive, ignorant, impulsive untrustworthy and despicable creep. Being a real  irresponsible, narcissistic, rude, boorish, uncivil, nasty, destructive, ignorant, impulsive untrustworthy and despicable creep is no more ethical than being a phony one. In this case, transparency is not a virtue.

..and Joe Biden even has his own rationalization springing from Cherry-like excuses, Rationalization 38B, Joe Biden’s Inoculation or “I don’t deny that I do this!”

A sub-rationalization to #38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!,” Joe Biden’s Inoculation argues that habitual bad conduct is mitigated by one’s open admission and acknowledgment that one’s engaging in it is an ongoing problem.

I think this base is well covered. The search for #100 goes on…

4. Why didn’t she just take the bar exam one more time?  I don’t understand this story at all.

Roberta Guedes graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 2014, but she  failed to pass the Florida Bar exam twice. The traditional remedy for this is boning up and taking the exam again, and again if necessary, but noooooo. 

Instead, federal prosecutors say, she used the name of a classmate  to register two new law firms with the state Division of Corporations. Agnieszka Piasecka attended law school with Roberta, and the friends  talked about starting a law firm together, When Guedes flunked the bar exam, Piasecka who did not flunk,   opened her own firm in Clearwater,  specializing in wills and trusts, immigration, and divorce cases.

The plot began when Guedes offered Piasecka the free use of her  office in downtown Tampa to meet with clients a few times.

In September 2014, Guedes incorporated a firm she called Ferguson and McKenzie LLC, listing Piasecka as its registered agent. In November, she started a second legal services business called Immigration and Litigation Law Office, Inc., listing another woman, Arlete Chouinard, as a vice president and manager.  Neither Piasecka nor Chouinard knew about this. She created websites for both companies, including claims of  national and international offices that didn’t exist, and faked partners and associates using stock photos. She also represented clients, accepting fees while never telling them that she had no license.

Now Guedes, 40, faces prison time after pleading guilty to federal charges of mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. It is fair to say that it is now too late to pass the bar exam.

Incompetent Elected Official, Unethical Quote Of The Week, And Ethics Dunce: Democrat Rep. Mike Quigley (IL) [UPDATED]

And let me add, 

KABOOM!

“And, if gets to closed primer on hearsay, I think the American public needs to be reminded that countless people have been convicted on hearsay because the courts have routinely allowed and created, needed exceptions to hearsay…Hearsay can be much better evidence than direct … and it’s certainly valid in this instance.”

—-Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), making an ass of himself, misinforming the public, but nicely illustrating the lack of integrity and honesty at the heart of the current Democratic impeachment inquiry.

And how proud Loyola Law School must be to have graduated this idiot!

The Honorable Rep. is trying, I assume, to slide by the fact that much of the testimony being presented against the President is hearsay, which means, “not valid evidence.” There is a good reason for that: when what someone else says is repeated by another party as evidence of the proof of the statement’s truth, it obviously cannot be given much weight. For one thing, the actual speaker cannot be cross-examined, making the admission of such a statement as evidence reversible error. A witness can testify to what he or she heard someone else say, but that’s not hearsay.  The testimony is good evidence that the statement was made, just not that the speaker was necessarily telling the truth.

However, nobody, and no legal authority, rationally believes that “hearsay can be much better evidence than direct.” The statement is ridiculous on its face. It literally means that it is better to have someone who heard a statement testify that the statement was true rather than have the individual who made the statement.

Nor do courts “routinely” create exceptions to the rule against hearsay. The exceptions are old and well-established, and have not changed or had additions in many decades.

Here is the list from the Federal Rules of Evidence: Continue reading

Still MORE From The Ethics Alarms” Res Ipsa Loquitur” Files: That “Whistleblower” Complaint

Nnnnope. not this either.

Here’s all you have to read, in my view:

In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rival ls. The President’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well.

  • Over the past four months, more than half a dozen S. officials have informed me of various facts related to this effort. The information provided herein was relayed to me in the course of official interagency business. It is routine for U.S. officials with responsibility for a particular regional or functional portfolio to share such information with one another in order to inform policymaking and analysis.
  • I was not a direct witness to most of the events described. However, I found  my colleagues’ accounts of these events to be credible because, in almost all cases, multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another. In  addition,  a variety of information consistent with these private accounts has been reported.

Amazing. Continue reading

Reporting The Mysterious Ukraine “Scandal”: Once Again, I’m Fighting The Urge To Conclude That These Are Just Corrupt, Terrible People

 

And losing.

When the first notice of the unnamed whistle-blower’s complaint about—well, something involving the President and the Ukraine surfaced on the New York Times front page, in an article that was so devoid of facts, details and corroboration that its only excuse for publication was to titillate Trump-Haters, I wrote,

“This is what the Times considers front page news now. Instantly, “resistance” members and Democrats will leap to the conclusion that whatever it is, it’s impeachable. Those who are thoroughly sick of the successive coup attempts will assume that this is one more concocted sliming by the Deep State, so we can have a “Russiagate” style investigation that will hamstring President Trump’s second term… For my part, I’ll wait for actual facts, thanks. I don’t trust “the intelligence community” not to manufacture ways to undermine the Presidency, not after Comey, McCabe, the FISA fiasco, the FBI lovebirds texts, and Mueller’s statements, among other smoking guns. I don’t trust the Times reporting, I don’t trust President Trump not to do or say something that crosses ethical or legal lines, and I certainly don’t trust Congressional Democrats to determine what are serious transgressions by this President and what are typical maneuvers that have only become ominous because he isn’t Barack Obama.”

Well, I’ve been waiting. As predicted, Democratic impeachment-mongers and Presidential hopefuls are screaming to the skies, and the mainstream media has been flogging the as-yet non-story, another species of fake news, as if it were the Second Coming. Yet here is how the New York Times itself explained the alleged scandal:

What did Mr. Trump do?

In a July 25 phone call, Mr. Trump is said to have pressed the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Mr. Biden’s younger son, Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Mr. Trump has seized on an unsubstantiated theory that Mr. Biden was trying to protect the company from prosecution when he called for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor in 2016. Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers, has pushed the Ukrainian government to investigate the matter.

Is “said to have”? By whom? This is not news reporting, it’s gossip. The Biden theory is unsubstantiated? The theory the Times has published multiple stories about regarding the President’s interactions with the Ukraine is far less substantiated.

Why is this coming up now?

Because of an intelligence community whistle-blower who filed a complaint last month about the president’s actions. An inspector general deemed the complaint “credible” and “urgent” and forwarded it to the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, who has refused to share it with Congress….

Amazingly, it has now been revealed that the “whistle-blower” did not have  direct knowledge of the communications between President Trump and the foreign leader in question. An official who has been briefed on the matter, however, told CNN that the whistleblower “didn’t have direct knowledge of the communications.” The official said that the concerns and subsequent complaint came in part from the whistleblower “learning information that was not obtained during the course of their work.” That’s hearsay by definition, and means that the report has no probative or evidentiary value whatsoever until it is independently verified. Until then, it is also not news.

What did the whistle-blower claim?

The full extent of the whistle-blower’s complaint, as well as the whistle-blower’s identity, is not publicly known. Reporting by The New York Times and others has established that the complaint involves Mr. Trump’s interactions with Ukraine and a phone call with a foreign leader — possibly, but not necessarily, Mr. Zelensky. It is not clear if it includes other matters.

This is really what the Times itself says. A “whistleblower” from the intelligence community made a complaint about something he was told by an an unnamed party about a private phone call with a yet to be identified official.

Here’s my favorite, though: Continue reading

Newsweek’s “Big Lie” cover (From The Ethics Alarms “Stop Making Me Defend President Trump!” File) [Part II]

Let’s finish the survey of the allegedly racist statements the “resistance’s” Big Lie strategy requires us to accept as part of its efforts to denigrate and marginalize the duly elected President of the United States.

Next up for debunking….

  • “Shithole countries.” This isn’t just a contrived race-bating gotcha, it’s a  hearsay contrived race-baiting gotcha. I wrote about this one enough here.

It’s pure crap, ironically enough.

  • Very fine people on both sides.” The Big Lie purveyors will flog this one forever. Once again Trump’s inability to use his native tongue with nuance gave his critics a club to beat him with when he declined to accept the “good vs evil” characterization of the Charlottesville riot that was being pushed by the media.  He should have said there were horrible people on both sides, for there certainly were. The protest march organized by a white supremacist group to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue by the history-censoring Left undoubtedly had non-white supremacists in the group: I, for example, strongly object to tearing down Lee’s statues, and I’m a very fine people. The group that arrived to turn a peaceful an d Constitutionally protected march into a battle did not deserve the blanket endorsement the Left insisted upon: they were in the wrong, and precipitated the violence. Moreover, the President stated clearly that there was no excuse for white supremacy or bigotry. Once, admitting the humanity of your adversaries and those you disagree with was regarded as virtue. Now, it makes one a racist.

Continue reading

Newsweek’s “Big Lie” cover (From The Ethics Alarms “Stop Making Me Defend President Trump!” File) [Part I]

[And before I begin, let me say: what a despicable, juvenile, vicious, unprofessional cover, even for Newsweek. Why not just run a photo of the President with a moustache, goatee, mean eyebrows and horns scrawled on it by a 5th grade member of the “Resistance”? Do these pathetic President-haters realize how gutter-level their constant assault has become, and how it it harms the nation, society and our institutions? If they do, they are betraying their country; if they don’t, they are too ignorant and badly socialized to regard as serious critics.]

The most persistent Big Lie narrative as part of the “resistance” soft coup effort is that President Trump is a racist. This week’s Newsweek cover is amusingly inept in its efforts to advance that libelous and slanderous narrative, because it demonstrates how weak their case is. The cover is plastered with the allegedly “racist” statements the President has made that prove his bigotry. None of them are racist. Big Lie-style, however, Democrats, complicit journalists and assorted Trump-haters have been citing these quotes so long and repetitively that Newsweek apparently thinks they are res ipsa loquitur—that the speak for themselves. What speaks for itself, or should, is that Newsweek thinks, or wants readers to think, that these quotes constitute evidence of any racial animus at all, and hasn’t a metaphorical leg to stand on.

When I challenge Facebook friends to back up their “Trump is a racist” claims, all they usually can muster are these same quotes. Sad.

Let’s examine and analyze them, shall we? Continue reading

Another White House Closed-Door “Gotcha,” Another Chunk Gouged Out Of Our Liberties

The icky ethics category of private or limited audience statements that get unethically publicized by malign third-parties to embarrass and harm the speaker has been explored here many times, notably in the case of Donald Sterling, the NBA owner and billionaire who lost his franchise, millions of dollars and his reputation over a remark he made in his own bedroom that was surreptitiously recorded and released by a treacherous girlfriend.. The position of Ethics Alarms on these incidents, which also includes spurned lovers sharing private emails to the world in order to humiliate a correspondent, the Democratic Senators who leaked the President’s course rhetoric about “shithole” countries that took place during a meeting that was supposed to be private and confidential, and Donald Trump’s infamous “pussy-grabbing” statements, is simple. Once the embarrassing words have unethically made public, they can’t be ignored. Neither should the circumstances of their making, or the unethical nature of their subsequent use was weapons of personal destruction.

 

There is not a human being alive who has not made statements in private meetings or conversations, whether  those statements be jokes, insults, rueful observations or deliberate hyperbole, that would be horribly inappropriate as public utterances. Thus the feigned horror at such statements by others is the rankest kind of Golden Rule hypocrisy. In addition, the opprobrium and public disgrace brought down on the heads of those whose mean/ugly/politically incorrect/vulgar/ nasty/insulting words are made public by a treacherous friend, associate or colleague erodes every American’s freedom of thought, association and expression, as well as their privacy.

The most recent example of this unethical sequence occurred after Kelly Sadler, a White House special assistant, stated in a closed-door policy meeting that Senator John McCain’s opposition to Trump’s nominee for CIA director “doesn’t matter” because “he’s dying anyway.” Some saboteur in the meeting, determined to harm both Sadler and her boss, leaked this small moment in a private meeting, in which participants reasonably assumed they did not have to be politically correct, nice, kind, civil or careful because everyone in the meeting had tacitly agreed that the meeting was confidential. That, and only that, is the ethical breach here. (Nah, there’s no “deep state”…there are just nefarious moles in the White House who coordinate with the news media to undermine the President. That’s all!). Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/15/18: Icons, Shitholes And Chianti

Good Morning, and Happy Martin Luther King Day.

1 Priorities, priorities…Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga) has made his career out of the fact that he was an associate of Dr. King during the civil rights movement.  On Sunday’s”This Week” on ABC’, Lewis said on he would not vote for legislation that prevents a government shutdown if it did not first resolve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “I, for one, will not vote on government funding until we get a deal for DACA,” the alleged icon said.

That’s right: Lewis, and presumably many of his colleagues, would waste millions of dollars and interfere with life and daily needs of American citizens to obtain a path to citizenship for 800,000 currently illegal residents, and create a permanent incentive for foreign citizens to break our laws so they can get their kids an entitlement.  It’s more important to give illegal residents what they have no right to have, then to ensure legal citizens what their taxes pay for. This is the unethical result when ideology takes precedence over common sense.

2. Fake news also takes precedence, apparently. “Trump’s Words Eclipsing Deal For Dreamers” reads the above-the-fold headline on today’s New York Times. There are many other similar headlines on display. If, in fact, it is true that the President’s (alleged, disputed, reported initially via hearsay, denied by the speaker, and intentionally misrepresented by critics even if the alleged version is accepted) words have a decisive impact on a DACA deal, then the DACA adherents were posturing all along. What difference does it make to DACA what the President says off-the cuff in a private meeting? Apparently it is more important to Democrats and the “resistance” to denigrate the President than to accomplish substantive policy goals. Good to know.

UPDATE: I just read the opinion of conservative blogger Liz Shield after I wrote this. She said,

My position on sh!ithole-gate is this: It’s not appropriate for the President of the United States use this kind of language. Now, this was a private meeting and perhaps Trump did not think the Democrats would sabotage the DACA negotiations and, in this regard, Trump is terribly naive. There will be no good faith discussions on any policy because the policy of the Democrats is that Trump must FAIL, even at the expense of the Democrat constituencies they claim to be fighting so hard for. That is their position and I hope the president gets hip to this soon. Instead, the conversation we are having is not about policy but rather that Trump is a RACIST. Which is, coincidentally, the sole platform held by his political enemies.

Pretty much. The last sentence is unfair, though: their platform is that the President is a racist, senile, crazy, stupid, a Nazi, a traitor, a liar, a sexual predator and not really President. Continue reading

Ethics Update On The “Shithole” Scandal: More Dunces, Hacks, Hypocrites And Liars

When we last left the ‘Shithole’ scandal, now being cited routinely up and down the news media as proof positive that the President is a racist, we knew the following:

1 Unnamed sources “briefed on” or “familiar with” the President’s meeting with select lawmakers regarding an immigration deal told the Washington Post and others that President Trump “grew frustrated with lawmakers” when he learned that part of the proposed deal protected immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, and said,

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

2. Despite the fact that these “sources” had no direct knowledge of what was said in the meeting they did not attend, the New York Times characterized them as having “direct knowledge,” which was impossible. The news media also represented these accounts based on briefings as fact, with headlines such as the Times’ “Trump Alarms Lawmakers With Disparaging Words for Haiti and Africa.”

3. In a series of tweets, the President denied the characterization of what he had said.

4. Senator Dick Durbin, while not expressly quoting the President, told reporters that Trump had said things “in the course of his comments which were hate-filed, vile and racist,” and added, “I use those word advisedly. I understand how powerful they are. But I cannot believe in the history of the White House in that Oval Office that any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.”

5. Nonetheless, the news media, in its subsequent coverage in cable news shows and on the web, treated the claim that Trump had said what the second-hand, anonymous sources had claimed, and used this as a departure point for a general discussion of how racist and vulgar the President was. CNN commentators used the term “shithole” over a hundred times.

6. Websites and blogs with commentators capable of fairness and objectivity, like Ethics AlarmsAlthouse, and Powerline, were forced to accept arguendo (I’m sorry, but I love using that word) the anti-Trump narrative’s assumptions in order to point out that calling countries that are, in fact, “shitholes” is not a racist statement about the people in those countries. This, of course, is how Big Lie propaganda works. You have to accept the lie in order to debunk it.

To sum up, then: The news media reported as fact what were in truth  disputed comments in a private meeting, and the representation of these as truth solidified during the day and evening, and through yesterday.  Now we get headlines like this one, in Entertainment Weekly: “Anderson Cooper chokes up while discussing Trump’s ‘sh–hole’ comment”

Updated Comments and observations: Continue reading