In Case Someone, Like The Mainstream News Media, Is Claiming That The Justice Department Just Cleared Hillary Clinton Of Wrongdoing, Don’t Believe Them

Hillary Clinton was engaged in a long and lucrative influence peddling scam known as the Clinton Foundation.  It was a a brilliant, technically legal way to fund the family’s international travel, perks, and opportunity to set up lucrative deals for the family while pursuing other interests, but its was as corrupt as Rasputin’s beard was long.

The proof is in the chart above, unless you have been hit over the head with a skillet. Why would the Foundation’s donations dry up once the two senior Clintons were out of power and without prospects of regaining a measure of it?  Three guesses, and the first two don’t count.  Donations reached $134 million in 2010, right after Hillary became secretary of state, and stayed in that range through 2016. When she lost the election, support crashed, going from $217 million in 2016 to $26 million in 2017. The foundation fired 22 staffers and shuttered the Clinton Global Initiative.

There’s no mystery about what the Clintons were pulling. I teach a course every year on foundation ethics, and often discussed what a general counsel’s duties were once one discovered that their charity or non-profit was using the  non-profit tax laws this way. Nobody can argue it isn’t clever, though its not really unique: a lot of non-profits use the illusion of good works—just enough to meet legal requirements—to essentially launder funds. In this case, the foundation let foreign nations and others bribe the Clintons while getting a tax deduction. Sweet!

The Washington Post described the Justice Department investigation of the foundation as an effort to “mollify conservatives clamoring for more investigations of Hillary Clinton” about “vague corruption allegations.” Fake news. There’s been nothing vague about the accusations. I wrote about the foundation’s corruption many times, like here, in 2015, and here, in 2016, or here. Continue reading

President Trump Has This Unfortunate Habit In Common With The Clintons: He Lies For No Reason

Bill Clinton’s proclivity for lying in public just because he felt like it drove me dangerously close to stark raving mad. He lied about trivia and substantive matters; he lied when it was easy to check his facts. Hillary’s similar penchant arguably was more infuriating, because she was so bad at it. She would be President today if she had just  admitted that she screwed up by using a “home-brewed” server. All she had to say was that she didn’t understand the technology and made serious mistakes, even to the extent of sending messages that contained classified material and violating her own department’s policy. She could have done this in 2015, and never heard a peep about the matter again. Not that I was sorry to see her torpedo her own candidacy, but still: how ridiculous and unnecessary.

The Democratic/resistance/mainstream media narrative about Trump’s lies is exaggerated and hypocritical, especially giving the stream of whoppers that routinely issue from Pelosi, Schumer, Warren, Schiff and others. Unlike other “resistance” themes, however, it isn’t entirely unwarranted. Trump, as I have noted for a long time, just says stuff; half the time I’m pretty sure he believes complete fantasy when he says these things. That’s not a mitigation. A U.S. President can’t responsibly do that, but Trump does, has, and presumably always will. This is Julie Principle territory: Fish gotta swim, Birds gotta fly, When he’s off script, Trump’s gonna lie.

Shortly after he was elected, I wrote,

Donald Trump, more than any national figure in my lifetime,  requires a careful, measured application of The Julie Principle to serve everyone’s best interest. Screaming “TRUMP IS TRUMP! ARRGHHHHH!” for four years will do no good at all. Find a way to co-exist with him so his negative proclivities do as little damage as possible and his positive ones have a chance to thrive, and save the explosions of indignation for substantive matters where opposition is essential.

All of that said—and did I call it, or what?—it is astounding to me that after three years in office we still have to endure infuriating episodes like the constantly shifting explanations for why General Soleimani was droned.

From the interview with Defense Secretary Mike Esper on “Face the Nation” yesterday:
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Afternoon Ethics Notes, 12/17/2019: Miller, Hillary and the Duke [CORRECTED]

Hark!

1. Lesson: Don’t underestimate the Duke! It looks like John Wayne is stronger than the cancel culture after all.  Earlier this year the Woke Avengers tracked down an old Playboy interview where the actor made some inflammatory remarks about blacks and Native Americans (I thought then and I think now that the Duke was deliberately trolling his liberal critics, but it was still a bad interview.) Predictions were rife that the most enduring, influential and popular screen icon of all time had reached the end of his run. It doesn’t appear so: at least two cable channels are running John Wayne film marathons on or around Christmas.

2. The ethical response: feel compassion for Hillary. There are people who get run over and squashed by life, their own failings, and bad luck. We don’t have to like all of them, but the Golden Rule argues that we should feel some pity and compassion for them, even though many have brought some of their misery on themselves.

I think about this when I see, for example, Marcia Clark, the losing prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case, and her desperately tucked and altered face as she transitioned into a B-media personality. The earliest example of this syndrome that I can remember noticing was perennial Republican Presidential candidate Harold Stassen, with his dazed expression and bad toupee, who once thought he was going to be President. Dubbed the “Boy Wonder,” Stassen was only 41 when he seemed to be on his way to winning the Republican nomination for President for the 1948 election in which President Harry Truman was widely regarded as both a lame and dead duck. Stassen lost the convention battle, however, to Thomas Dewey, of subsequent “Dewey Defeats Truman!” fame. After that, Stassen ran for President in 1952, 1964, 1968, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 , gradually becoming a laughing stock. (He also ran unsucessfully for Governor of Minnesota,  the United States Senate twice, Governor of Pennsylvania twice, Mayor of Philadelphia once; and U.S. Representative). I just thought he was a buffoon until my father told me about his many accomplishments before his dreams were crushed. He was one of the founders of the United Nations, for example.

As I made pretty clear in 2016, when I wrote almost as many critical posts about her and her generally awful ethics as I did about our current President when he was a candidate, I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. I’ve continued to write critical commentary about her, because she continues to operate with wildly malfunctioning ethics alarms. She is stuck now, in Kübler-Ross terms, in the first three stages of grief: denial, pain and guilt, and anger and bargaining because she lost the election she was certain she was going to win. (So is the entire Democratic Party.)

Now look at her:

3. Marvin Miller makes it into the Hall of Fame. Yecchh. Marvin Miller was described in his obituary as “an economist and labor leader who became one of the most important figures in baseball history by building the major league players union into a force that revolutionized the game and ultimately transformed all of professional sports.” I have no quarrel with any of that. Miller was a labor activist who did his job extremely well. I would put him into a labor leader’s Hall of Fame—-I’m sure one would get at least a hundred or so visitors a year—without blinking. He no more belongs in the the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY than I do, but he was posthumously elected to that Hall of Fame last week.
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Post Thanksgiving Ethics Hangover,11/29/2019: The Toilet Bowl, Mr. Peanut, And Other Embarrassments

This is always one of the strangest days of the year.

Especially strange for me: I keeled over right at the start of Thanksgiving dinner for no discernible reason. One minute I was sipping a beer and feeling oddly light-headed, and the next my son was lifting me off the floor. It must have been spectacular, because it scared the hell out of everyone but my son’s girlfriend, who assumed I was staging a gag. (She got to know me fast…) I’m sorry I missed the excitement.

Today I’ve been feeling out of it, but I can’t tell whether the cause is the fainting spell, L-Tryptophan, or something else (it has been a rough week). My wife has been following me around like a bloodhound, expecting me to go down for the count.

I’ll be seeing my doctor first thing Monday. But enough about me:

1. Tit for Tat. Three women,  Jana Solis, Natalie Sept and Nicole Vogel, accused Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, of making unwanted sexual advances toward them years ago, right after he testified as a star witness at the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Sondland appeared before Congress and gave what was  viewed by many as damaging testimony about the President’s dealings with Ukraine and the alleged “quid pro quo.”  The timing of the accusations is suspicious, and the Left has no one to blame but itself as its weaponized “believe all women” nonsense circles around like the deadly torpedo in “The Hunt for the Red October.” This was begun by Anita Hill, escalated by Cristina Blasey Ford, and soon such convenient accusations will have no power whatsoever.

Good.

2.Please remember: Hillary Cinton is (at least) as rotten a human being as Donald Trump, just a different kind of rotten human being. Journalist Ronan Farrow told the Financial Times  that Hillary Clinton cut him off him when she discovered he was investigating sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey  Weinstein. Weinstein donated tens of thousands of dollars to groups supporting Clinton’s candidacy during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Federal Election Committee data.

Though Clinton had appointed Farrow as her special adviser on global youth issues in 2011 when she was Secretary of State and he had worked with Clinton “for years,” she quickly distanced herself from him and cancelled an interview after she learned that he  was looking into Weinstein’s harassment and sexual abuse.

“It’s remarkable how quickly even people with a long relationship with you will turn if you threaten the centers of power or the sources of funding around them,” Farrow said. “Ultimately, there are a lot of people out there who operate in that way. They’re beholden to powerful interests and if you go up against those interests, you become radioactive very quickly.”

It’s not remarkable. What’s remarkable is that so many women still get misty over the fact that this cynical hypocrite who pretended to be a feminist champion while allying herself with people like Bill Clinton and Harvey Weinstein was deservedly defeated in the 2016 election. Continue reading

Flashback: For Your Use When “Resistance” Relatives Attack At Thanksgiving Dinner

It all began here. How quickly we forget—or how quickly they hope we’ll  forget.

In two December 20, 2016 posts, “The Electoral College’s Day Of  Reckoning I and II,” Ethics Alarms covered the first attack on American democracy in what came to called here the “2016 post-election Ethics Train Wreck.” This has culminated in the current House Democrats’ impeachment fiasco. Make no mistake: it is a single plot, one that I never suspected would have continued this long, and caused as much damage to the nation as it has.

When your relatives start spouting talking points that they have  neither researched, thought critically about nor understand, consider reminding them where it all started, and who has really been responsible for bringing the United States of America to this sorry and thoroughly avoidable place. Most of the villains of the coup attempts to come outed themselves here: Democrats, the news media, academics, Hollywood, professionals, especially lawyers. Most had outed themselves earlier, of course, but still had plausible deniability. Not after this.

As you can see, they had decided, way back in 2016, right after the election after thaye had wept, and cursed, and rended their garments, that because they didn’t want Donald Trump to be President, they had a right to prevent him from taking office, and if that failed, then to interfere with his right to fulfill the duties of the office until they could come up with some way remove him. This is where it began, and this is what has been going on ever since.

Your resistance family members and friends have been been responsible because they enabled this. Don’t let them get away with it.

The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning, Part I: Revelations

After all the protests, the petitioning, the grandstanding, the misinformation and bad law and false history, after all the harassment and intimidation aimed at getting state electors to violate their pledges, duty and the trust of theirs state voters, all designed to keep Donald Trump from attaining 270 electoral votes and thus forcing the Presidential election into the House of Representatives for the first time since 1876, the results were just another humiliation for the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump was officially elected President of the United States, and it wasn’t close.

Four Democratic electors in Washington, a state Clinton won, voted for someone else, giving her just eight of the state’s 12 electoral votes. They will be prosecuted, apparently, for breaking a Washington statute. Colin Powell, a Republican, received three of the faithless elector votes and Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle received one, apparently because one elector decided that rather than vote for Senator Elizabeth Warren, a real Native American was preferable. Single  electors in both Maine and Minnesota attempted to cast ballots for Bernie Sanders, but state laws requiring electors to follow the statewide vote invalidated both rebellious ballots. One Hawaii elector did vote for Sanders, an especially outrageous betrayal of the vote since Hawaii went to Clinton even more decisively than California.  Never mind: this unknown, unvetted, undistinguished citizen decided that no, he or she knew better. That’s the model Democrats were promoting.

The one Republican elector, Texas’s Christopher Suprun, of Texas, who had trumpeted his  intention  not to vote for Trump despite his state heavily favoring the President Elect voted for Ohio Governor John Kasich as promised, and another Texas elector defected to vote for Ron Paul. Thus the almost six week Democratic push to use the Electoral College to pull victory from the jaws of defeat had the net effect of increasing Trump’s Electoral vote advantage over Clinton by three, with Hillary Clinton becoming the candidate with most defecting electors in over 200 years.

George Will’s favorite phrase “condign justice” leaps to mind. First the Wisconsin recount increases Trump’s vote total, and now this.

Three Ethics Observations on one of the most embarrassing spectacles in U.S. election history:

1. Ironically, the Electoral College functioned exactly the way the Founders intended it to, and rescued the nation from a regional candidate. Trump won the nation, and Hillary was elected Queen of California. The country wanted radical change, while the huddled socialists, crypto-Marxists, radical college students, illegal immigration fans and nanny state addicts were happy with things as they are.

California is a complete outlier, virtually a one-party state. As an analysis by Investor’s Business Daily points out, between 2008 and 2016, the number of Californians who registered as Democrats increased  by 1.1 million, while the number of registered Republicans dropped by almost 400,000. Republicans in the state stayed away from the polling places because they had nobody to vote for in many places. Two Democrats, and no Republican, were on the ballot to replace Senator Barbara Boxer. Nor were there Republicans on the ballots for House seats in nine of California’s congressional districts. At the state level, six districts had no Republicans running for the state senate, and 16 districts had no Republicans running for state assembly seats:

Such Republicans as there were knew Clinton was going to win the state  and its 55 electoral votes,  so there was little motivation to cast a ballot.Clinton was getting all 55 votes, no matter what. Thus Trump received 11% fewer California votes than John McCain did in 2008, as  the number of registered Democrats in the state climbed by 13% since then. If California had voted like every other Democratic state — where Clinton averaged 53.5% wins — Clinton and Trump would have ended up in a virtual popular vote tie. Laws requiring electors to follow the statewide vote invalidated both efforts.

If you take California out of the popular vote equation, then Trump won the rest of the country by 1.4 million votes.  The Founders installed a system that favors a candidate with broad-based appeal over all the diverse regions and cultures of a large nation, and that isn’t going to be easily dominated by a large voting bloc that is atypical of the rest of the population—like California in 2016.

2. Writer Daniel Brezenoff, the originator of the Change.Org  Electoral College Petition , appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News to collect his Andy Warhol Fifteen Minutes of Fame chip. He repeated his undemocratic logic for overturning the election. Carlson accused Brezenoff of “resorting to less democratic means, putting the decision in the hands of even fewer people,” to which Brezenoff, who initially filed his petition using a fake name, responded, “That’s right, to protect the Constitution from an unfit President!”

The answer is smoking gun evidence of what was really afoot here.  Brezenoff thought Trump was unfit,just as I thought Trump was unfit, but the election showed that millions of citizens felt differently. We can’t ethically, logically, fairly, reasonably and Constitutionally come back after the election and say that a handful of not-especially-qualified electors are going to reverse the election result because our view is the right one.

We lost. The fact that we don’t like the result and are positive the winners just don’t understand is not sufficient to justify what the Democrats and progressives like Brezenoff were advocating.

3. It is disturbing and shocking—maybe I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am— that no prominent Democratic leader publicly condemned the organized efforts to turn electors faithless. This, as much as anything else, validates my late decision  that the Democrats were too corrupt and untrustworthy to get my vote. Silence, as the legal maxim goes, implies consent, and the petitioners, historical frauds, harassers and intimidators all did their worst on behalf of the Democratic Party. Nothing but harm could come to the party and its member progressives from such an arrogant, defiant and  futile scheme, and nothing but further division could have come from a success, which basic civic literacy should have informed party leaders was impossible. Nonetheless, they said nothing–Obama, Michelle, Pelosi, Reid, Shumer, the Clintons, Jimmy Carter, Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, the President. Nothing.

Was it cowardice, and the fear of tempting the rabid, angry Left from coming after them, mouths foaming? Or was it that they were willing to benefit from a Hail Mary pass, even one that destabilized the government and society? Bernie Sanders was especially cynical, telling interviewers before yesterday that he thought the Electoral College was beneficial, then calling for its elimination after the voting was over.

The worst, of course, was Hillary Clinton. Had integrity meant anything to her (we know it never has) she would have known that her unequivocal condemnation of Donald Trump for suggesting that he might not “accept the results” if he lost the election mandated a “Stop this nonsense now” message to her traumatized and infantile supporters (see photo above). She couldn’t mount the guts and principle to do it. A miniscule-to-the-vanishing-point chance that somehow, through some combination of luck and cosmic intervention, an elector uprising would give her the power she craves was sufficient to inspire Hillary to even surpass the hypocrisy she had displayed by joining in Jill Stein’s ridiculous recount efforts.

It was said of Hubert Humphrey that in his passion to attain the Presidency, he proved himself unworthy of it. Hillary Clinton has made Hubert Humphrey look wonderful in retrospect.

To be fair, so has Donald Trump.

The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning, Part II: Dunces, Heroes, Villains, And Fools

The failure of the ugly Electoral College revolt scheme that ended yesterday—let’s ignore the coming storm of frivolous lawsuits for now, all right?—with the official, irreversible, like it or lump it victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton also settled some distinctions, some desirable, some not. Continue reading

On Top Of Everything Else, Hillary Clinton Is A Coward

(but we knew that…)

After the former Secretary of State accused Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of being a Russian asset (along with Jill Stein) in a podcast, she abruptly backed out of the Fortune magazine “Most Powerful Women Summit” in Washington, DC. that will take place next week. Clinton aides cited a scheduling conflict—how rude to schedule something else after you have agreed to speak at an event!—because this decision had nothing to do with the fact that Gabbard would be there, and Hillary would have to stand face-to-face with the woman—and military veteran– whose patriotism she impugned. No really, nothing at all. Nope. Not a factor. Really.

One of George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility is “Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust” (#89). I’m pretty sure one of the rules he personally followed was “If you do speak evil of the absent, at least have the courage and decency to say it to her face at the earliest convenience.”

I have never for a nanosecond regretted my last minute decision not to vote for this awful woman and the party that continues to laud and enable her.

Friday Ethics Catch-Up, 10/18/2009: Hillary Snaps, And More Evidence That Everything Is Spinning Madly Out Of Control

I am totally fried, and wondering if it is responsible to post in this condition. But ethics waits for no man…

1. Last chance to see my presentation at the Smithsonian, “Courtroom Drama:The Art of Cross-Examination.” Details here. There will be a lot of ethics discussed, as you would expect, plus some Clarence Darrow, Atticus Finch, F.Lee Bailey, Perry Mason, Cousin Vinny, and “You can’t handle the truth!,” among other highlights. I’m doing the two-hour program with my younger sister Edith, who, unlike me, has actually done cross examinations.

2. Whoa! Tell me again what an honorable, trustworthy woman Hillary Clinton is. Here’s Hillary, actually calling Jill Stein and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the lone moderate in the Democratic Presidential nomination race—well, the lone moderate who doesn’t habitually grope women—“Russian assets” in a podcast:

And brava to Gabbard, who didn’t mince words on Twitter in her response to the smear: Continue reading