Sunday Ethics Scripture, 5/10/2020: It Doesn’t Include “Forgiveness”

1. You know…Kool-Aid! Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) finally was forced into releasing the transcripts from the House’s investigation “collusion,” one of the more extensive of the multiple Democratic coup attempts. The Federalist explains, :

Former Obama administration defense official Evelyn Farkas testified under oath that she lied during an MSNBC interview when she claimed to have evidence of alleged collusion, a newly declassified congressional transcript of her testimony shows. Farkas testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on June 26, 2017, as part of the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Lawmakers keyed in on an appearance Farkas made on MSNBC on March 2, 2017, in which she urged intelligence community bureaucrats to disseminate within the government and potentially even leak to media any incriminating information they had about Trump or his aides.

“I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior [Obama administration] people who left…[that] it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy,” Farkas said.

[…]

“Why don’t we go back to that sentence that I just asked you about. It says ‘the Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about their staff dealing with Russians,” [Rep. Trey] Gowdy said. “Well, how would you know what the U.S. government knew at that point? You didn’t work for it, did you?”

“I didn’t,” said Farkas, a former mid-level Russia analyst who left the federal government in 2015.

“Then how did you know?” Gowdy responded.

“I didn’t know anything,” Farkas said.

Writes Matt Vespa, in a distinctly partisan tone but completely accurately,

“Everyone who isn’t Trump deranged knew this was a pile of crap. How many “bombshells” have there been? How many have turned out to be nothing burgers, not even lasting 36 hours in the news cycle because there was never solid evidence to prove such a conspiracy? This is what happens when the entire myth was based on a political opposition research document—the Trump dossier—which was compiled by an ex-MI6 spook Christopher Steele, whose anti-Trump efforts were funded by Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was probably never vetted by the FBI, given the glaring errors in it, and it was used as credible evidence to secure a spy warrant against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign official. It was biased political propaganda. This collusion delusion was already debunked in the original Mueller report, which said there was no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion and shredded what was left of the unverified Trump dossier. The Department of Justice Inspector General’s report on the FISA abuses during the Obama administration also took a tomahawk to the dossier. The core of this collusion myth was already dead, but with the exoneration of Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, more pieces are falling off this dead collusion carcass. 

2. And no..I will not forgive, nor will I forget, the arrogant, biased and ignorant people who called me partisan and worse for fairly, objectively and correctly analyzing this historic attack on democracy and accurately calling it a soft coup attempt, one of many. Allowing people who behave this badly to expect forgiveness encourages them to keep being as destructive,  reckless and lazy, and to assume there are no consequences for their conduct. There are, and there should be.

There is a great deal that I will forgive. Not that.

3. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Here’s Friday’s Times headline: “U.S. Drops Pursuit Of Flynn, In Move Backed By Trump.” Shameful. The case was dropped because there was irrefutable evidence that it was illegal and a set-up; that it was the epitome of a wrongful and corrupt prosecution. Never mind: the Times chooses to fuel the desperate spin the AUC (“Axis of Unethical Conduct”) is trying to put on this despite unequivocal evidence and documentation. This is a cover-up by Barr and Trump! Except it isn’t. But the New York Times, the self-proclaimed paragon of American journalism, is using its reputation and visibility to deceive Americans that it is.

I’m not forgiving or forgetting this, either.

4. I finally watched “The Post,” the star-studded film hymn to the glory of our newsmedia that recounts the mostly accurate tale of how the Washington Post and the Times published the Pentagon Papers.  The movie is dominated by progressive Hollywood icons Tom Hanks ( as Ben Bradley) and Meryl Streep (as Katherine Graham). The problem is that it falsely conveys to audiences—and, I believe, was intended to convey—the propaganda that the the Post and the Times are still serving the interests of the nation, the public and democracy by their relentless, courageous and objective search for the truth. As the entire “collusion” debacle proved, they are not (if they ever were). Let’s assume for the sake of argument that was what print journalism was like when the Pentagon Papers were published….in 1971. That was 50 years ago, a full half-century. Today’s journalism is as materially different from journalism then as today’s entertainment, drug laws, sexual mores and fashion would be  unrecognizable to a Seventies time-traveler.

The “Resistance” Is Desperate To Hide The Fact That Their Attempted Coup Is One. Don’t Let Them Get Away With it.

“A coup by any other name would still be a coup, and would still stink” WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. (Well, he said something like that….)..

Just for the record, I’ve been calling this a “coup” all along. For some reason Facebook yesterday was stuffed with the specious and technical arguments that the Democratic Party/ “resistance”/mainstream media alliance’s efforts to find a way to remove the elected President literally from the moment he was elected (bringing those objective TV anchors and reporters to tears), and now finally culminating in a contrived impeachment hearing, is not accurately called a coup. “But it’s not through military violence!” “But if Trump is removed, it would make Pence President, so there’s no regime change!” I’ve explained before that what is being attempted meets the exact definition a “soft coup,” and thus that saying this isn’t an attempted coup is like saying a scrambled egg isn’t an egg.

This side of the ideological divide, as we know, thrives on word games and deceitful framing: heaven forbid that the public grasps what is going on under their noses.

It is particularly annoying when I am told that by one of the Facebook Borg whose understanding of the traditions  and institution of the Presidency extends to what they have been told by Rachel Maddow lectures me that by using “coup” I am mouthing Fox News “talking points.” First, I don’t watch Fox News; second, Fox News has its share of pro-impeachment fans (making it more balanced than any other network, all of which appear to lack any prominent on-air employees who are not coup-collaborators), notably fake “judge” Napolitano,  and third, most notable of all, Ethics Alarms began using the term “coup” while most critics (and Presient Trump) were throwing around “fishing expedition” and “witch hunt.”

Maybe the pundits who are suddenly using coup secretly read Ethics Alarms. That would be encouraging.  In that spirit, here is a summary of Victor Davis Hanson’s ten reasons (to which number he adds “at least”) the current impeachment effort is in fact a coup, in a column yesterday in the New York Post adapted from a piece in the National Review: Continue reading

The Coup In Progress: Presidential Impeachment/Removal Plans

I am finally devoting a dedicated post  to this list, in part because I am sick of searching for the thing every time I want to reference it. I will eventually deposit the list along with the Apology Scale and the Rationalizations List as another separate page in the “Rule Book” to your right.

One note on the use of the term coup. Some media pundits, their hands already bloodied, have been making the sophist claim that what has been going on since November 2016 isn’t a coup under the dictionary definition, which requires violence and usually a military take-over. Using cover-terms and euphemisms is a form of lying, and it is an especially common practice from  the Left right now, though the Right has its moments.

A “soft coup,” also known as a silent coup, does not use violence, and is typically based on a conspiracy or plot  aimed at seizing power, overthrowing existing legal authority, exchanging political leadership, changing the political system or the current institutional order. We are watching a long-running soft coup. A soft coup is still a coup.

There have been 19 Plans to abuse various processes, laws and theories, all put forward and promoted by members of the Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream news media alliance since President Trump’s election.  The  desired effect of this barrage, apart from serving the goal of removing him without the bother (and risk) of an election,  has been to make it impossible for the President to govern, and to destroy his support among the public.

When Plan S, which late novelist Robert Ludlum might have called “The Ukrainian Perversion” if it had been one of his novels, fails like the rest, or if President Trump is re-elected, the list will keep growing.

The List: Continue reading

An Excellent Analysis Of The Impeachment-As-Coup Attempt Now Underway

As an ethicist, I frequently have to remind my clients that I will not give legal opinions. That’s not my job, though I am a licensed attorney. I know I sometimes venture into law as well as other areas that I have a more than casual interest and knowledge of, such as Constitutional law, history, theater, and popular culture, but there are topics covered here by necessity that require me to opine beyond my primary expertise to an uncomfortable extent.

I have especially wrestled with this problem regarding the recent impeachment assualt by the Democrats, “the resistance,” and the news media, which are essentially the “axis of unethical conduct” in this matter. (I will henceforth use the shorthand AUC.) A half written explication of what is going on—“What’s going on here?” is the starting point for most ethics analysis, after all—is sitting in my drafts file, causing anxiety like an unpaid debt. Thus I am relieved and grateful for the Wall Street Journal column that was published over the weekend, an analysis by David B. Rivkin Jr., Elizabeth Price Foley titled This Impeachment Subverts the Constitution.”

I am relieved, because the column is remarkably consistent with my own conclusions and analysis. See? “I’m smart! I’m not dumb like everyone says!”

I have been writing on Ethics Alarms that the efforts to de-legitimize the election and Presidency of Donald Trump have constituted a destructive attack on the Constitution and the American system of government literally from the moment Trump won the 2016 election, and I have been chronicling how, despite my desire to write about non-political matters and despite the fact that this assignment has hurt traffic here and gotten my blog banned from Facebook. I consider it a matter of integrity, responsibility, and civic duty, because the actions of the AUC represent the most important, damaging, wide-spread and perilous unethical conduct to take place in the United States since Watergate, and perhaps longer.

Read the entire article, please. I will point you to some if its important and, as I see them, accurate observations:

  • “Democrats have been seeking to impeach Mr. Trump since the party took control of the House, though it isn’t clear for what offense….The effort is akin to a constitutionally proscribed bill of attainder—a legislative effort to punish a disfavored person. The Senate should treat it accordingly.”

Exactly. I described the effort as akin to a bill of attainder in an argument on Facebook about a week ago.

  • “House Democrats have discarded the Constitution, tradition and basic fairness merely because they hate Mr. Trump. Because the House has not properly begun impeachment proceedings, the president has no obligation to cooperate. The courts also should not enforce any purportedly impeachment-related document requests from the House. (A federal district judge held Friday that the Judiciary Committee is engaged in an impeachment inquiry and therefore must see grand-jury materials from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but that ruling will likely be overturned on appeal.) And the House cannot cure this problem simply by voting on articles of impeachment at the end of a flawed process.”

This is how I see the situation as well. It is part of the despicable plot that Democrats will force the Supreme Court to overturn their machinations, probably in a ideologically split vote, thus allowing them to attack the legitimacy of SCOTUS, demand court-packing measures, and further unravel public trust in our institutions.

  • “There is no evidence on the public record that Mr. Trump has committed an impeachable offense. The Constitution permits impeachment only for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The Founders considered allowing impeachment on the broader grounds of “maladministration,” “neglect of duty” and “mal-practice,” but they rejected these reasons for fear of giving too much power to Congress. The phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” includes abuses of power that do not constitute violations of criminal statutes. But its scope is limited.”

The misinformation being embedded in American minds on this point is frightening. I keep challenging the Facebook Borg’s daily references to the President’s “crimes,” and get back “emoluments,” allegations of conduct that occurred before the election, and election law theories that have no precedent and that are desperate at best. The general attitude of the AUC and its cheering section is that the President has committed crimes because that’s the kind of guy he is. This was the relentless argument of an anti-Trump stalwart whose derangement ultimately sent him around the bend and off the approved commenters list. It is also the orientation of the majority of columnists who populate the New York Times op-ed pages. What they are selling is bigotry: a presumption of guilt because of who and what an individual is, rather than being based on what an individual has done.

  • “One theory is that by asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Kyiv’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and potential corruption by Joe Biden and his son Hunter was unlawful “interference with an election.” There is no such crime in the federal criminal code (the same is true of “collusion”). Election-related offenses involve specific actions such as voting by aliens, fraudulent voting, buying votes and interfering with access to the polls. None of these apply here.Nor would asking Ukraine to investigate a political rival violate campaign-finance laws, because receiving information from Ukraine did not constitute a prohibited foreign contribution. The Mueller report noted that no court has ever concluded that information is a ‘thing of value,” and the Justice Department has concluded that it is not.'”

Thank you, thank you, thank you. A competent news media should have made this clear immediately, because it is true.

  • “More fundamentally, the Constitution gives the president plenary authority to conduct foreign affairs and diplomacy, including broad discretion over the timing and release of appropriated funds. Many presidents have refused to spend appropriated money for military or other purposes, on grounds that it was unnecessary, unwise or incompatible with their priorities…Presidents often delay or refuse foreign aid as diplomatic leverage, even when Congress has authorized the funds. Disbursing foreign aid—and withholding it—has historically been one of the president’s most potent foreign-policy tools, and Congress cannot impair it….In 2013, Barack Obama, in a phone conversation with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, said he would slash hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic assistance until Cairo cooperated with U.S. counter-terrorism goals. The Obama administration also withheld millions in foreign aid and imposed visa restrictions on African countries, including Uganda and Nigeria, that failed to protect gay rights.”

There is more. The impeachment Plan S,   the Ukraine narrative, (the complete, updated list was last published here) is no more legitimate or honest than its family members A-R, and all should be considered unconscionable means to an undemocratic end, a soft coup to remove an elected President without the necessity of an election. Rivkin and Foley have performed a great service by laying out so much crucial (and under-publicized) information clearly and persuasively.

___________________________________________

Pointer: Glenn Reynolds

Ethics Cool-Down, 9/25/19: Democracy On The Rocks

Ahhhhh…

I wish I had a martini, but since I don’t keep alcohol in the house, this will do…

1. More from the Ethics Alarms “res Ipsa loquitur” files:

The story is here.

I remember kindergarten classmates, boys and girls, frequently going on kissing sprees. Adults knew it was nothing decades ago. Had #MeToo really made people this unable to make obvious distinctions? Proportion is an ethical value.

2. Regarding today’s earlier post from the same files...Yes, I think that the transcript of the President’s call to the Ukraine, on its face, should make Democratic claims of an impeachable offense look as silly and contrived as they are. This does not, however, allow for confirmation bias, which is at fever pitch in “the resistance” with some toxic frustration and desperation mixed in. This is one reason the mainstream media keeps calling the transcript a “summary,” which implies that something material is missing, and your Deranged friends keep raising Nixon’s edited versions of White House meetings on Watergate matters, as if this has any similarity to that at all.

Calls with foreign leaders are typically not recorded, so this was a reconstructed transcript, which is as close to an exact one as we are going to get. For those who presume that everything this President does is impeachable, that’s a problem. For those who accept that he was elected President and should have the same opportunity to do his job as all the others, it isn’t, and there are too many like that in the public for this latest manufactured offense to work.

I guess this is Plan S.

I’m so, so sick of this.

3. I guess it’s time for another update:

The Complete Presidential Impeachment or Removal Plans A-S (Updated 9/25/2019)

Plan A: Reverse the election by hijacking the Electoral College.

Plan B: Pre-emptive impeachment. 

Plan C : The Emoluments Clause.

Plan D: “Collusion with Russia”

Plan E : ”Trump is mentally ill so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.”

Plan F: The Maxine Waters Plan, which  is to just impeach the President because Democrats want to, because they can.

Plan G : “The President obstructed justice by firing incompetent subordinates, and that’s impeachable.”

Plan H: “Tweeting stupid stuff is impeachable”

Plan I:  “Let’s relentlessly harass him and insult him and obstruct his efforts to do his job so he snaps and does something really impeachable.”

Plan J : Force Trump’s resignation based on alleged sexual misconduct that predated his candidacy.

Plan K: Election law violations in pay-offs to old sex-partners

Plan L: The perjury trap: get Trump to testify under oath, then prove something he said was a lie.

Plan M: Guilt by association. Prove close associates or family members violated laws.

Plan N: Claim that Trump’s comments at his press conference with Putin were “treasonous.”

Plan O: The Mueller Report proves the Trump is unfit for office even if it did not conclude that he committed any impeachable offenses. 

Plan P: Summarized here as “We have to impeach him because he’s daring us to and if we don’t, we let him win, but we can’t, but then he’ll win!”.”

Plan Q: Impeach Trump to justify getting his taxes, and then use the presumed evidence in his taxes to impeach him.

Plan R: Rep. Adam Schiff announced on July 24 that President Trump should be impeached because he is “disloyal” to the country. This desperate response to the fizzle of the Mueller Report was ignored and forgotten the second it came out of Schiff’s mouth, but it confirmed what the list above already proved: the Democrats don’t want to impeach the President for something he did; they want to find something he did to justify impeaching him.

Plan S: Trump should be impeached because his call to Ukrainian President Zelensky was really an effort to shake down the Ukraine and force it to find dirt on Joe Biden, thus “interfering” in the 2020 election even though Biden hasn’t been nominated (and won’t be), even though a President has every justification to seek evidence of a prior administration’s wrongdoing in foreign relations, and even though there isn’t a whiff of a threat of quid pro quo in the only transcript of the call.

Continue reading