Mid-Day Ethics Reflections, 6/24/2020: Bombshells Bursting In Air!

Always appropriate, any day, any time…and besides, they tore down the author’s statue. This is his memorial…

1. As for monuments…the Governor of South Dakota,  Kristi Noem, responding to suggestions that Mount Rushmore would soon be on the George Floyd mob’s hit list, said curtly, “Not on my watch.”

It is not so fanciful a notion, since three of the four Presidents on the mountain have had statues toppled, and the fourth, Lincoln, now has his own statue under fire.  The Freedmen’s Memorial Monument to Abraham Lincoln in Boston’s Lincoln Park is targeted by an online petition as is its original, the statue that stands in Washington D.C.’s Lincoln Park. The fact that the statue was commissioned and paid for by freed African-Americans appears to have no importance to the statue-topplers whatsoever.

After all, Facts Don’t Matter.

2. If there is a shark. she will jump it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserted in an interview Tuesday that Republicans are “trying to get away with murder, actually — the murder of George Floyd.” We must remember this when it is determined that the police involved in Floyd’s death can’t get a fair trial because the second highest ranking elected official in the country declared Floyd to be a murder victim before a trial.

A Democratic-run city (for over a half-a century) with a Democratic mayor and and overwhelmingly Democratic City Council (without a single Republican), in a state with a Democratic Governor, oversaw a police department that has been criticized for its conduct long before Floyd’s death, did nothing to remedy the problem, and now faces the consequences.

By what possible distortion of facts and logic can it be argued that Republicans are “trying to get away with murder”?

Once again, another question must be raised: how could CBS News Radio correspondent Steve Futterman, hearing Pelosi’s accusation, not point this out and still presume to be called a journalist? Continue reading

KABOOM! I Do NOT Enjoy Having My Head Explode First Thing On A Saturday Morning, But NBC HIRED LISA PAGE!!!

On one level, my head blew because this is such a cynical, flagrantly biased act that rejects any concept of ethical journalism. On another, it blew up in shame. With all the nauseating evidence I’ve discussed here pointing to a rotting American journalism that sees itself as the engine of partisan propaganda rather than the means to an informed public, I somehow didn’t think it was this bad. This is my own bias at work: I’m a sap. I want to believe that somewhere, buried deep in the mainstream media, there is integrity and the spark of respect for democracy.

Page was the FBI attorney engaged in an adulterous relationship with Mueller investigation team member Peter Strzok. Their text messages raised legitimate questions about the anti-Trump bias in the FBI and  among those handling the “collusion” matter.  In particular, the reference to the FBI investigation as “insurance” if Trump was elected in an exchange between the lovebirds in  August 2016 seemed to be a smoking gun.

Recently, Page’s name has surfaced  in  the Michael Flynn case. In newly released  texts between Page and  Strzok, who was significantly involved in the pursuit of Flynn, Page suggested that Flynn could be set up using the federal law that criminalizes lies to federal investigators. She suggested to Strzok that “it would be an easy way to just casually slip that in,”  reinforcing other evidence that there was a “get Flynn” mentality at the FBI. Thus Page’s conduct will be a live topic in the upcoming inquiries in Congress and the Justice Department surrounding the methods and motives of the FBI as it pursued Flynn and sought to undermine the Trump Administration. It is outrageous to have an analyst who will be analyzing events that involve herself…or once was considered so, when journalists paid attention to ethics. Continue reading

Alert: Prof Turley Reviews The Rod Rosenstein Senate Judiciary Hearing

Professor Jonathan Turley, a trustworthy analyst, one of the few, just posted his summary of former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Despicably, Democrats had attacked the hearings as if there was no reason to be troubled about the way the investigation of “Russian collusion” was handled despite a mountain of evidence indicating that it was biased, motivated by partisanship, and quite probably illegal. Rosenstein’s testimony, as Turley points out, demonstrated how disingenuous that partisan complaint was. He writes, “Rosenstein said that there is a legitimate question of ‘why it happened?’ That would seem to support the hearing that Democrats are denouncing. ”

Why yes, that seems to be a fair assessment.

I recommend reading Turley’s spin-free account because it is unlikely that the mainstream news media will adequately cover the hearing, since that would interfere with cheerleading  and rationalizing the riots.

Is that overly harsh? I don’t think so. Even the sometimes infuriatingly diplomatic professor is showing signs of losing patience at the constant, shameless efforts to bury the truth. I passed the stage he is reaching now a few years ago.

Some highlights and lowlights: Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Matt Taibbi, “Rolling Stone” Columnist

“I can understand not caring about the plight of Michael Flynn, but cases like this have turned erstwhile liberals – people who just a decade ago were marching in the streets over the civil liberties implications of Cheney’s War on Terror apparatus – into defenders of the spy state. Politicians and pundits across the last four years have rolled their eyes at attorney-client privilege, the presumption of innocence, the right to face one’s accuser, the right to counsel and a host of other issues, regularly denouncing civil rights worries as red-herring excuses for Trumpism.”

—Progressive “Rolling Stone” columnist Matt Taibbi, in “Democrats Have Abandoned Civil Liberties: The Blue Party’s Trump-era Embrace of Authoritarianism Isn’t Just Wrong, it’s a Fatal Political Mistake”

I’m not highlighting Taibbi’s excellent essay as an appeal to authority, not at all. I’ve written about the situation he’s bemoaning for more than three years, and I’ve made my case. (Check the “Totalitarianism” tag—Taibbi should be using that term rather than “authoritarianism.”)  I don’t need Matt Taibbi to prove my analysis correct. I’m calling attention to his essay because it’s a relief: so many people have told me that I am a Fox News, Trumper zombie for pointing out what should be screamingly apparent. For years I have been reading fevered warnings that the President was a dangerous authoritarian endangering democracy, when it seemed apparent that the party those critics supported were presenting the real threat by undermining our institutions and ignoring both the Constitution and the law.  I was beginning to doubt my sanity, just like Ingrid Bergman in “Gaslight.” Only a handful of analysts with courage and integrity—Professors Turley, Dershowitz, Jacobson and Althouse; journalist Glenn Greenwald, a few liberal pundits like Taibbi and Andrew Sullivan (sometimes) kept me from self-commitment.

More from Taibbi, on Michael Flynn:

Warrantless surveillance, multiple illegal leaks of classified information, a false statements charge constructed on the razor’s edge of Miranda, and the use of never-produced, secret counterintelligence evidence in a domestic criminal proceeding – this is the “rule of law” we’re being asked to cheer.

Russiagate cases were often two-level offenses: factually bogus or exaggerated, but also indicative of authoritarian practices. Democrats and Democrat-friendly pundits in the last four years have been consistently unable to register objections on either front.

Flynn’s case fit the pattern. We were told his plea was just the “tip of the iceberg” that would “take the trail of Russian collusion” to the “center of the plot,” i.e. Trump. It turned out he had no deeper story to tell. In fact, none of the people prosecutors tossed in jail to get at the Russian “plot” – some little more than bystanders – had anything to share.

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias. Continue reading

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.

End Of Day Ethics Reflections, 5/7/2020: Obama! Klobuchar! Flynn! Fake Winston Churchill!

Tired and anxious here.

You?

1. This is discouraging. A quote extolling the virtues of perseverance  that I am especially fond of because it defines me as a success despite all outward appearances to the contrary is not, as I have been told repeatedly, most recently in the film “Molly’s Game”—more on that later— from Winston Churchill. Nobody knows who said it, if anyone did. It fits Churchill’s career, philosophy and wit, but he just didn’t say it. The quote: “Success is the ability to move from one failure to another without losing your enthusiasm.”

2. Tonight’s Democratic female VP candidate hypocrisy and double-talk update.         a) Senator Amy Klobuchar: Congressional reporter Manu Raju asked the Senator if she believes Tara Reade (the way she reflexively believed Christine Blasey Ford). Her answer: “I think he’s answered all the questions and he’s made clear that he supports her right to come forward.”  Raju then asked about criticism that Democrats are exhibiting a double-standard, Klobuchar “didn’t answer and walked into an awaiting car.” b)  Stacy Abrams, who has virtually no relevant experience to recommend her as a potential vice-president (well, she did lose an election for governor) has been aggressively promoting herself for the slot, because the only qualifications that matter, as Joe has made clear to all, are x-chromosomes and the right skin pigment. While being interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour yesterday, Abrams responded to a rambling question about her “auditioning” and why “as a black woman,” she felt it was appropriate to do so, with this:

I haven’t been pitching myself, which has been a mischaracterization, I think, because I answer questions honestly. I’ve been getting this question for 14 months, since March of 2019. I’ve repeatedly received the question, and I’m honored that people would put me into the category and think that that was a question to ask. My responsibility is not to question what journalists think is a valid question, but to answer for the audience that they’re speaking to. And as a woman, as a person of color, as a woman of color, it is my responsibility to answer honestly and forthrightly. And if the question is about whether I am competent and qualified for the job, my answer must be unequivocal, because I’m not simply speaking for myself. I’m also speaking to that young woman of color who is thinking about what is in her future. And if I deny her, and deny myself, then I’m doing a disservice to women, to communities of color, and to any disadvantaged community that does not see themselves as the face of leadership.”

Authentic Frontier Gibberish! Continue reading

Here’s Some More Refreshing “Kool-Aid”: Prof. Turley Explains The Mike Flynn Scandal

The prevailing attitude toward the growing and eventually irrefutable evidence that hostile forces within the FBI and the Justice Department were unethically,  illegally and unconstitutionally working behind the scenes to undermine the President and, if possible, have him removed from office was that this was just another right-wing conspiracy theory. That spin allowed the mainstream media to justify refusing to investigate the many smoking guns that were being uncovered,and to report on them using the familiar techniques it employs when it wants to protect its fellow Axis of Unthical Conduct allies, the Democrats and “the resistance.”

The illegal FISA  warrants to allow surveillance of the Trump campaign that a federal judge eventually ruled constituted both judicial and prosecutor misconduct were a small part of the ethics train wreck that was the Mueller investigation. When Ethics Alarms accurately described this breach of law and ethics, I was accused here of “drinking the Kool-Aid,” in a now familiar ploy by blinded or unscrupulous partisans to throw up metaphorical sand and dust, allowing wrongdoing to prevail. By their definition of the term, Prof. Jonathan Turley has mixed-up another delicious pitcher of the beverage. Yum!

Let me interject here what a continuing Ethics Hero Turley is. Almost alone among law professors, scholars and academics, he has been willing to call out ethical misconduct throughout the Trump Administration years thus far without consideration of who benefits or whose political fortunes the truth might harm. For this, progressives have regularly denigrated as a traitor to the cause, the cause being “Get Trump.”  Turley is a Democrat and an old fashioned liberal—you know, the kind that had integrity—but never flinches when it is time to call out the Left on its increasingly unconscionable conduct.

Now the Constitutional Law expert has turned his legal analysis skills on the developing Michael Flynn story. His unequivocal conclusion: “The Flynn Case Should Be Dismissed In The Name Of Justice.” Continue reading

Update On The Roger Stone Sentencing Fiasco

Last night, I wrote in response to the news that all four of Roger Stone’s prosecutors had resigned after the Justice Department had submitted a memo opposing their recommendation to the judge in the case regarding Stone’s sentence…

I can’t figure this out until…

  • I know whether Stone was targeted as a Trump ally, and how much of this, if any, was politically motivated.
  • What the sentencing guidelines are, and exactly what Stone did.
  • What the reasoning of the Justice Department was in opposing its own prosecutors’ judgment.
  • To what degree the President influenced the decision.

 

Finally, thanks to the always reliable and astute Andrew McCarthy, I do understand, and can confidently say, “What a mess!” Continue reading

Post-“Procedure” Ethics De-Brief, 7/26/2019: Drunk-Blogging Edition [CORRECTED]

WHaT tImE iS It, aNYway?

The nurse said that I was to handle the rest of the day as if I were “impaired,” so I guess this is “drunk-blogging,” an allegedly humorous practice that is a trademark political Stephen Green, aka. Vodkapundit when he covers a long and annoying event, like candidates debate or the Mueller testimony. In this case, I don’t have any choice, but I will say this: the first commenter who rags on me for a typo will be srroy! [CORRECTION NOTE: Prodded by JutGory’s comment below, I fixed the several typos in the post, except the one that was intentional. I’m better now.]

1. Welcome to my world, Ann. Althouse just banned “Inga,” a relentlessly snotty and intractable commenter on her blog who is one of the few knee-jerk progressives hanging out there. Ann mentions that she wishes there were a lot more liberal commenters at Althouse, which makes me feel a little better. Her blog has also suffered an ideological exodus in recent years, and Ann thinks of herself—correctly— as a non-partisan contrarian, though she has guest-hosted at Instapundit.. She certainly strives for objectivity (as well as unpredictability), but she has also been very critical of the “resistance” and the media’s treatment of President Trump, as every fair commentator should.

Then again, she refuses to link to Ethics Alarms, so to hell with her…

2. When the U.S. becomes Greece, think of these days, these unethical leaders, and the incompetent public that supported them. The recent budget deal between the President and Congress to explode the budget, ignore the deficit and bring the national debt even closer to a suicidal level is bipartisan betrayal. Although it is especially galling for a President with a “bottom line” orientation to capitulate, Trump is no worse in this respect than Obama, or any of his predecessors going back to Lyndon Johnson. At some point, the American public can only look in the mirror and admit that it has had the power to demand responsible fiscal government, and refuses. We will regret this.

I voted for the late Ross Perot in 1992 for many reasons, but the main one was that I felt he deserved credit for making the debt his signature issue, and for his courageous and clear explanations of the crisis. Since his candidacy, there have been no serious political leaders who have tried to muster consensus that spending has to be cut, that so-called entitlements are out of control, and that our debt is unsustainable. Rand Paul was recently savaged for simply insisting that a new expenditure–expanded assistance for 9-11 first responders–be paid for. Our economy is suffering because of a ridiculously antiquated infrastructure, but it will take trillions to repair.  Politicians are waiting for a crisis, like when city sewer systems break down all across the East Coast, or bridges start collapsing with cars on them–and this is coming. Social security is nearing the point where someone’s going to have to give up something. California could have retrofit its buildings in anticipation of the Big One, but would rather play Russian Roulette. I’m just picking these out of the air randomly—I’m impaired, after all—but I could go on and on.

While the President rammed through  tax cuts without cutting expenditures, his likely opposition tries to buy the votes of the fiscally idiotic with promises of expensive goodies, like “Medicare for All” (more trillions), guaranteed income and free college. The absurd Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (who has no chance, but really how much worse is she than Warren, Sanders, Harris and the rest?) has proposed a thoroughly irresponsible “climate change” plan with about a 10 trillion dollar price tag, and it is mostly made up of Authentic Frontier Gibberish, virtue-signaling and unsupportable assumptions.  Before a public even slightly aware of the dangers of the exploding debt (or a public that has anything but the vaguest notion about what real science is and the uncertainty of climate change projections, such a proposal would be political hara-kiri. Gillibrand considers it a last ditch effort to rescue her campaign.

Oh, heck, just read her alleged plan. I could vivisect it here, but why should I have all the fun? Continue reading

I KNEW He Could Do It! As Impeachment Plans A-Q Look Like Losers, Rep. Adam Schiff Invents Plan R!

It should be obvious what the Democratic Party’s game plan is now, especially since Robert Mueller’s testimony yesterday dashed hopes that he would blow wind into the limp sails of the SS Overthrow The Republican. Instead, the ostensible Special Prosecutor  made the case for “high crimes and misdemeanors” look weaker and more contrived than before. One by one, the weak, weaker and weakest “resistance” plans to remove President Trump have fallen into various states of hopelessness and ruin, and the bitter-enders are now resorting to denial or impeachment rationalizations unmoored to anything at all, like this guy, who says that “history demands” an impeachment. [Pointer: Zoltar]

The Democrats will just keep the impeachment fires burning until the election, hoping that 1) one of the horrible candidates Democrats get to choose from will defeat Trump, which looks like a Hail Mary at this point (but who knows what the President will tweet next) or 2) the Democrats will take control of the Senate, and 3) the public will tolerate them spending another 4 years trying to overthrow an elected President without getting disgusted and turning the House back over to the GOP.  Does this sound rational and responsible to you? I wonder why it sounds reasonable to Democrats.

Meanwhile, I was beginning to think the Ethics Alarms list of coup theories had maxxed out at Q, plan #17. [ The most recent  updated list is here] But somehow I knew, deep in my heart, that Rep. Adam Schiff, who has lied, puffed, exaggerated and grandstanded all manner of impeachment justifications that didn’t exist in fact or law, but somehow isn’t walking around Washington D.C. with his head in a bag, would be equal to the daunting task of coming up with a new plan. And so he has.

Perhaps anticipating the  Mueller Meltdown,  Schiff unveiled Plan R in his opening statement as Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.  His theory? President Trump was “disloyal”:

“Disloyalty to country. Those are strong words. But how else are we to describe a presidential campaign which did not inform the authorities of a foreign offer of dirt on their opponent, which did not publicly shun it, or turn it away, but which instead invited it, encouraged it, and made full use of it? That disloyalty may not have been criminal. But disloyalty to country violates the very obligation of citizenship, our devotion to a core principle on which our nation was founded, that we, the people, not some foreign power that wishes us ill, we decide, who shall govern, us.”

Continue reading