For anyone who actually cares about what the Mueller report means, I highly recommend the Alan Dershowitz “Introduction” to the report, which can be purchased for Kindle for about 7 dollars. I purchased it this morning, and just completed reading it. (The report without the intro is on-line, free, all over the place.) Dershowitz voted for Hillary, is a registered Democrat, was marinated in the Leftist hive that 99% of Harvard has become, and is hardly a “Trump supporter,” which is the now reflex “Shut up!” response to any attempt to break through the “resistance” coup mindset that has become a plague on the web and elsewhere. Dershowitz is pleading anyone who will listen that he deserves plaudits rather than condemnation (one twitter follower calls him a “monster”) for trying to be objective and non-partisan, and I feel his pain, but his protests are unseemly, and undermine the real ethical service he has performed.
The famous Harvard professor states clearly what the news media and Democrats have intentionally tried to obscure: there was no collusion, no crimes related to collusion, and the investigation report says so unequivocally. The report presents “no evidence of any criminal behavior by President Trump or his campaign with regard to Russia,” he writes. Correct. He also remind us, as few media reports have, that this is a one-sided case. There was no cross-examination of witness or challenges to the conclusions of prosecutors, and the document should be read in that light.
As I expected, Dershowitz make an irrefutable argument that the whole process was tainted by conflicts of interest, since Asst. AG Rod Rosenstein, charged with overseeing the investigation, was both a key witness and a potential defendant.
On the more confusing matter of obstruction, he clarifies that as well, particularly by knocking down the theory that a President can be found to have committed a crime by doing something he has clear Constitutional power to do. Dershowitz (and others) have been making this point since the hypocritical uproar over the Comey firing, and he has case law (which you can see from the excerpt above) and legal tradition to back it up. The professor cites the ancient legal principle of Nulla poena sine lege ( “no penalty without a law”, which olds that one cannot be punished for acts not prohibited by law. This is codified in modern democratic states as a basic requirement of the rule of law, and has been described as “one of the most widely held value-judgement in the entire history of human thought.”
Unlike the New York Times, which intentionally cherry-picked quotes from the Mueller Report to give solace to its Trump-Deranged readers, Greenwald reproduced the substantive conclusions that put the nails into the collusion fantasy. Like…
“The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA’s interference operation”
“[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
In sum, Democrats and their supporters had the exact prosecutor they all agreed was the embodiment of competence and integrity in Robert Mueller. He assembled a team of prosecutors and investigators that countless media accounts heralded as the most aggressive and adept in the nation. They had subpoena power, the vast surveillance apparatus of the U.S. government at their disposal, a demonstrated willingness to imprison anyone who lied to them, and unlimited time and resources to dig up everything they could.
The result of all of that was that not a single American – whether with the Trump campaign or otherwise – was charged or indicted on the core question of whether there was any conspiracy or coordination with Russia over the election. No Americans were charged or even accused of being controlled by or working at the behest of the Russian government. None of the key White House aides at the center of the controversy who testified for hours and hours – including Donald Trump, Jr. or Jared Kushner – were charged with any crimes of any kind, not even perjury, obstruction of justice or lying to Congress.
These facts are fatal to the conspiracy theorists who have drowned U.S. discourse for almost three years with a dangerous and distracting fixation on a fictitious espionage thriller involved unhinged claims of sexual and financial blackmail, nefarious infiltration of the U.S. Government by familiar foreign villains, and election cheating that empowered an illegitimate President. They got the exact prosecutor and investigation that they wanted, yet he could not establish that any of this happened and, in many cases, established that it did not.
[For some reason Gilbert and Sullivan quotes are running through my feeble mind this morning. The title is from “Yeomen of the Guard,” which I have directed. It’s not the best of the operettas (though it’s a great show), but it may have the finest score, and I figured out just a couple of weeks ago how to handle its famous shock ending. I hope I get a chance to stage it some day.]
Michel Martin is the NPR host who in December of 2017 stabbed me in the back by permitting Professor Paul Butler’s on-the-air ambush in the middle of my (100% correct) explanation of how sexual harassment works, and then banned me from her show because I didn’t sufficiently bolster her anti-Trump agenda. It was my fault…
I foolishly thought providing last minute, authoritative and free ethics commentary for her show for five years meant I could trust her to treat me fairly and with a modicum of respect.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my Dad for some reason, and that was his favorite hymn. It’s an Easter hymn, but our church always had the choir sing it on the special spring service. My unusually musically talented friends knocked it out of the park at my father’s funeral service at Arlington National Cemetery. It also has the advantage of being composed by Arthur Sullivan, just like “Onward Christian Soldiers!” and “Tit Willow.”
1. Fill out your brackets, and enable corruption. It’s the NCAA tournament again, and again, helping the schools and the NCAA and the networks make money off of the destructive and corrupt culture of big time college basketball is ethically indefensible. The New York Times wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but it did recently write about the dissonance, beginning,
Every March, millions of Americans fill out brackets (more than 40 million people, by one count), cheer the underdogs and tune in on television. Others buy tickets to the games, wear jerseys of their favorite teams and let wins and losses dictate their mood. Yet fans who follow college basketball closely know about the game’s intractable relationship to corruption. Even many who come just for March Madness must know that the real madness is not always on the court.
This week, the lawyer Michael Avenatti was charged with trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike in exchange for concealing information he had about illicit payments to recruits. He has since revealedsome allegations on Twitter….
The Times doesn’t bother to go into the related problem of how basketball distorts academic goals, sucks away resources that should be used for education, and usually leaves its athletes no better educated than they were when they arrived. As you might expect, the Times’ writer is too ethically incompetent to provide and enlightenment. For example, he quotes one ethicist as saying, “…Someone thinks, ‘Gosh, this is unethical, but I love it so much, and my friends and I have such a good time rooting and cheering that I’m going to participate anyway.’” That description could also be used to justify gang rape. Can we have a little nuanced clarification? Then the Times writer, John Branch, offers these ill-devised analogies:
“Such internal debates permeate our culture. Is it O.K. to dance to a Michael Jackson song, to laugh to a Louis C.K. joke, to watch a movie produced by Harvey Weinstein? To cheer for football knowing what it may be doing to players’ brains?”
Let’s see: wrong, wrong,wrong, and…right. 1 for 4.
A Michael Jackson song isn’t corrupt, or unethical: it’s art. He’s dead: dancing to the song does not enable the misconduct. A joke is a joke regardless of who tells it, and again, laughing at a C.K. joke doesn’t make it more or less likely that he’s going to masturbate in front of a female colleague. Workplace misconduct doesn’t taint the work product, and nobody has claimed that movies themselves are culturally corrupting, or that Weinstein’s films harmed the actors in them. Cheering for football is a legitimate comparison, because the sport itself is the problem, just like college basketball itself is the problem.
1.The video montage above is the “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias” smoking gun for all time.
2. If the Democratic Party had competent and ethical leadership, this is what those leaders would do right now. They would thank Robert Mueller for doing a thorough, professional and objective job under difficult circumstances. They would say that that American needed to be assured that there were no illegal and wrongful efforts by the President, his campaign and his party to conspire with a foreign power to undermine a fair election. They would say that they look forward, now that the cloud hanging over the White House has been removed, and President Trump’s assertion that there was no wrongdoing has been confirmed, to working with President Trump in the spirit of cooperation and mutual concern for the national interests, without rancor or recriminations, and hope that he will do the same.
They would also, not publicly, instruct elected officials from their party to accept the conclusions of the report, to be gracious rather than bitter, to end what will now appear to be vindictive investigations, and to get on with the job of governing. This is a grand opportunity for them to regain the respect of the non-hate polluted public, and to behave like adults, patriots and statesmen for the first time since November, 2016.
If they don’t do this, and it is already obvious that they won’t, it will demonstrate that the party is cowering in fear of its most radical and irrational base, that it is following rather than leading, that it has neither integrity, honesty, decency, or the sense God gave a marmoset. Continue reading →
Doesn’t Barbra sing beautifully? Does knowing she’s ethically dead inside ruin her singing for you? (see #2)
1. How arrogant and incompetent is this? UNBELIEVABLY arrogant and incompetent. Apparently Jared Kushner and the President’s daughter, Kushner’s wife, have been using private email accounts for official business. It’s against the law. it’s absurdly hypocritical, after the (deserved) criticism the President leveled against Hillary Clinton for her private server shenanigans. The Justice Department should prosecute both of them, and if the President had anyone else competent that he could trust as a close advisor—he fear he doesn’t—he should fire them both.
2. Wow! Barbra rationalizes sexual child abuse! Will this mean that Babs will no longer be welcome at Democrat fundraisers? Doubtful. Progressive never met a double standard they wouldn’t use.
Here is what the singing icon said to the The Times about Michael Jackson’s recent accusers (via documentary and lawsuits), Wade Robson and James Safechuck, and hold on to your heads:
“His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has. You can say ‘molested,’ but those children[ now grown-up Robson and Safechuck] as you heard, say they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”
Should I rename the infamous Rationalization #22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things” after the Funny Girl? Her statement is a perfect example: a child being raped by a grown man isn’t a big deal if the kid doesn’t die. Then there is #42. The Irrelevant Mitigation: “He’ll/She’ll/They’ll get over it”:
” #42 is pure callousness mixed with consequentialism, and thus beyond redemption or ethical application.. It holds that wrongful conduct is somehow mitigated by the fact that the wound heals, forgiveness is granted, or time breeds forgetfulness. It isn’t. How and whether victims recover or get over their anger does not alter the original misconduct, mitigate it, and certainly does not erase it. Those who cite this rationalization are shrugging off accountability and are signalling that they will repeat their unethical conduct or worse, counting on their victims to give them an opportunity to harm them again. Anyone who employs The Irrelevant Mitigation cannot be trusted”
The despicable suggestion that Jackson’s alleged victims consented to being raped, however, because they wanted it, is really revolting. This is #48.Contrived Consent, or “The Rapist’s Defense”, which…
…aims to cleanse unethical conduct by imagining that the victim consented to it, or secretly sought the result of the wrongful act. The most infamous example of this rationalization is, of course, the rapist’s defense that the victim either was inviting a sexual assault by flirtatious conduct or provocative dress, or secretly “wanted it.”
It is, perhaps, the ugliest rationalization of all.
The good news is that these idiotic comments, signature significance for someone whose ethics alarms have turned to moldy cheese, are attracting appropriate condemnation. Good. [Pointer: Other Bill]
3. Here’s some dishonest leftist spin for the Mueller investigation, as the impeachment hounds try to somehow make the facts consistent with their delusions. From ThinkProgress:
“Mueller’s team has filed dozens of indictments and secured convictions and guilty pleas in the conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election: Six of Trump’s close associates and employees have faced charges. George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser; Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair; Rick Gates, a campaign aide and longtime Manafort business partner; Michael Flynn, a former foreign policy adviser; Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer; and Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, have all been charged by Mueller. Manafort and Cohen have been convicted and sentenced to prison.”
That’s multiple lies framed by a lie. None of Mueller’s indictments involve any conspiracy to interfere with the election except the symbolic charges against Russians, and if there had been any evidence of such a conspiracy, an American would have been inducted on those grounds. Manafort was indicted for his own crimes, not any related to the campaign. Flynn and Cohen had no involvement with Russia either. The others were charged with process crimes: lying to law enforcement, not “colluding” with Russia.
4. “Worst Nazi Ever!” That’s Instapundit Glenn Reynolds gag tag for Trump actions like declaring that Israel should have sovereignty over the Golan Heights, ending decades of U.S. policy of tip-towing around the issue. It also fits here: The President issued an executive order directing federal agencies to “take appropriate steps” to “promote free inquiry” at institutions that receive federal research and education grants, including thorough compliance with the First Amendment. F.I.R.E. approves.
5. Surprise! Your Facebook friends are wrong, and don’t know what they are talking about...It is overwhelmingly likely that the supreme Court will approve the use of emergency powers to build “the wall.” Richard H. Pildes, professor of constitutional law at New York University, wrote a convincing article, “How the Supreme Court Weakened Congress on Emergency Declarations,” in which points out…
The National Emergencies Act (NEA), passed by Congress in l976, never defines that an emergency is, largely leaving that assessment to the President.
Presidents have used the NEA 58 times. In every case–every case!— the President spent funds not appropriated by Congress.
In no case did the Supreme Court overturn the action.
The Supreme Court decision in Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, which declared that “legislative vetoes are unconstitutional,” including vetoes of Presidential actions under the National Emergencies Act.
Absent Congress overriding Trump’s veto of the bill designed to stop his declaration of the emergency at the border, a result that is unlikely, there is no legal way to block the Trump as he acts on the authority of the NEA.
Trump neither violated the Constitution nor violated the separation of powers. His unilateral action was a constitutional power ceded to him by an act of Congress
President Obama used the act to transfer funds without congressional authority to his health care act.
I didn’t think there was a chance that the President’s power to do this would not be upheld, and the article makes me more certain than ever. I also agree with Ronald Trowbridge that if the Justices were capable of ruling only on the law rather than partisan politics, the decision would be unanimous.
Clearly, it’s time to revisit impeachment ethics issues, after Nancy Pelosi’s snide declaration (after saying that she is always respectful of the Presidency, mind you), that the President “wasn’t worth it,” it being the political risk of sending him to a trial in the Senate. We should pause a second to acknowledge the hilarity inherent in the Speaker saying that impeachment wasn’t desirable because it would be “divisive to the country” and “divides the country.” The Democrats, led by Barack Obama, who pointed the way, have intentionally and cynically sliced and diced the country into victims and villains, champions of the oppressed and deplorables, for a decade, unforgivably risking national strength, comity, and peace for speculative electoral gain.
We haven’t added a new Plan to the list of “resistance” and Democratic Party coup attempts—for that’s what they are–including impeachment theories, since last July, though many of the classics re-emerged in the news. Remember, there were law professors who advocated impeaching Trump before he was inaugurated. Here’s where it stands:
Impeachment And Coup Plans.
Plan A: Reverse the election by hijacking the Electoral College.[Status: FAILED and DEAD, until it rises again in 2020]
Plan B: Pre-emptive impeachment. [Status: FAILED and DEAD]
Plan C : The Emoluments Clause. [Status: Still twitching! ]
Plan D: “Collusion with Russia” [Status: On life support]
Plan E : ”Trump is mentally ill so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.” [Status: Amazingly, still being talked about .]
Plan F: The Maxine Waters Plan, which is to just impeach the President as soon as Democrats control both Houses, because they can. [Status: Hope springs eternal!]
Plan G : “The President obstructed justice by firing incompetent subordinates, and that’s impeachable.” [Status: LAME, but ONGOING]
Plan H: “Tweeting stupid stuff is impeachable” [Status: ONGOING]
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.” [Status: ONGOING]
Plan J : Force Trump’s resignation based on alleged sexual misconduct that predated his candidacy. .[Status: FAILED and DEAD]
Plan K: Election law violations through pay-offs of old sex-partners [Status: ONGOING]
Plan L: The perjury trap: get Trump to testify under oath, then prove something he said was a lie. [Status: To be determined.]
Plan M: Guilt by association. Prove close associates or family members violated laws. [Status: Ongoing.]
Plan N: Claim that Trump’s comments at his press conference with Putin were “treasonous.”
I’m sure you’ve noticed that the soft coup-complicit news media hasn’t been predicting impeachable results from the Mueller investigation lately, which seems odd, since they have been fanning flames of anticipation and suspicion from the day it started. This is because most rational observers are pretty certain that Trump, as he has said from the beginning, did nothing wrong, and certainly nothing impeachable regarding Russia. Never mind: Democrats have made it clear that this soon-to-be-pronounced dead horse will be flogged by them into goo as long as it attracts donations and is a viable means of stopping the elected President from doing the job he was duly elected to do. Continue reading →
Increasingly, almost nobody comes here on Saturdays. For me, Saturday is when I have time to catch up on ethics issues, and that’s fun for me. Everybody else doesn’t find ethics fun? How strange…
1. Another day, another fake news story designed to thrill and energize the “resistance.” BuzzFeed published a “bombshell” about Michael Cohen, that impeccably reliable witness, telling investigators that President Trump instructed him to lie to Congress about his pre-election hotel plans—odd that, since there is nothing illegal about planning to build a hotel in Moscow. Without checking sources, without considering the media source’s record of those of the reporters (one of whom has a well-documented pattern of making stuff up), the mainstream media was off to the impeachment races, with CNN and MSNBC in particular talking about almost nothing else all day. Then, as the day edged into evening, the Mueller investigation dropped its own bombshell, taking the remarkable step of declaring the BuzzFeed story a lot of hooey. Some pundits on the Right who trust today’s incompetent news media as much as I do even suggested that BuzzFeed knew its claim was false all along, but were confident that nobody could prove it except the Mueller investigation itself, and of course it would never speak up. The same logic was behind Clifford Irving’s Howard Hughes autobiography hoax (Irving assumed that the reclusive Hughes would never come forward to expose him—but he did.)
The Daily Caller quickly compiled a list of eleven previous botched news reports related to the “collusion” narrative, and it was not all of them by any means. I haven’t checked, but I am quite sure that there were not this many mainstream media headline-generating news stories that proved to be false in the past ten Presidencies combined. What will it take for the industry to declare its performance a crisis? What will it take for even the “resistance” to conclude that their pals the journalists are hacks? Blogger Ann Althouse is so disgusted that she has taken to drawing rat cartoons and diagramming the sentences in anti-Trump screeds. “How embarrassing for the Trump haters,” she writes. “I didn’t even write about the BuzzFeed story myself. I’m so jaded about the latest impeachment bait.”
Why isn’t everybody? It isn’t just bias that makes you stupid. Hate makes you stupid too. Worse than that, it makes you LOOK stupid.
I almost included this in yesterday’s ethics warm-up, but realized that the point was too important not to have the focus of an entire post.
During the Post 2016 Election Ethics Train Wreck that threatens the stability of the United States and its future as a functioning democracy, Prof. Turley has been one of the select few to meet the qualifications laid out by Rudyard Kipling in my late father’s favorite poem “If.” He has managed to keep his head while all about him, especially in academia, his realm, but also most professionals, have been losing theirs, mostly in response to crushing peer pressure, unsupported conventional wisdom, and partisan bias.
It’s remarkable how much easier it is to analyze complex problems accurately when one can maintain sufficient objectivity and remove, and can overcome bias and resist the lure of rationalizations. In The Hill, Turley demonstrates the benefits of his integrity with a sharp and accurate post—it happens to be consistent with my own conclusions of more than a year’s duration, but I don’t have to hang out in a faculty lounge—explaining the dynamics of the unprecedented efforts by the FBI and the Justice Department to undermine the Trump Presidency before it even began.
Turley’s article begins by mentioning the New York Times “bombshell” about the FBI launching an investigation of whether the President of the United States was a Russian asset…
However, the real benefit of the investigative story may not be the original suspicion, but rather how it could explain the course that both sides have taken into our current quagmire. What if there were no collusion or conspiracy but simple cognitive bias on both sides, where the actions of one seemed to confirm precisely the suspicions of the other?
Let me focus the professor’s words here. There are all kinds of cognitive bias, and several may be at work. However, the main one is clearly confirmation bias, the human tendency to interpret information in ways that confirm what we believe already. Continue reading →
Still working on the appellee brief in my defense against the frivolous law suit by an angry banned Ethics Alarms commenter whose boo-boo I bruised. How do you write a professional, respectful, effective rebuttal of a 70 page brief that is basically nonsense? I know how to argue against a real good faith legal assertion–indeed, my enjoyment of brief-writing nearly got me stuck in the traditional practice of law. But “this is deranged crap that doesn’t constitute a valid appeal and that wastes the time of everyone involved” isn’t a professional response, just a fair one.
1. “You know…morons!”At least two people—I can’t find the link for the second one, but it was a child—were wounded when spent bullets shot into the air by New Year’s Eve celebrants fell back to earth and hit them. This happens every year. Why do people think shooting guns into the sky is safe? In WW II, my father had to promise a court martial for any soldier under his command who shot a weapon into the air. This is basic Law of Gravity stuff, but it seems to elude an amazing number of gum owners. I’m only aware of one move that ever featured a death from a falling bullet: “The Mexican,” a failed 2001 Brad Pitt-Julia Roberts comedy.
2. “You know…morons!”(cont.) The Netflix horror hit “The Bird Box,” which involves a blindfolded Sandra Bullock leading her similarly burdened children on an odyssey to escape an apocalyptic threat that only strikes when it is seen, has spawned a web challenge in which people are encouraged to try doing everyday tasks wearing blindfolds. This prompted a warning from Netflix:
“Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.”
Boy and Girl are what Bullock’s character’s children are called, because she is so certain they are doomed that she doesn’t want to name them. I am tempted to say that anyone so stupid as to try this challenge should not be discouraged, because their demise will only benefit the rest of us. But that would be mean.
True, but mean.
3. Follow-Up…The Federalist has more on the unfolding Steele Dossier scandal. I do not see how any result of the Mueller investigation can hold up in court, no matter how much the mainstream news media spins it, with the degree of procedural irregularity and prosecutor misconduct we already know is behind it. Presumably this is why the focus has shifted to the extremely dubious theory that Trump violated election laws by paying off a sex partner, something he would have probably done whether he was running for office or not, and also a transaction that didn’t involve campaign funds. The media keeps reporting the latter as if it is an unquestioned crime (apparently because Michael Cohen was induced to plead guilty to it), but it just isn’t a crime, and I believe in the end that theory will be thrown out of court too. Continue reading →