Reality Check: There Is Nothing “Stunning,” “Immoral” Or Illegal About A Presidential Candidate Receiving Damaging Information About His Opponent From A Foreign Source, PART 2

[Part I is here]

As usual with most of the “It’s outrageous that the President would say/do that!” freak-outs, this one is rife with amnesia, double standards and hypocrisy.

III.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign hired a British operative to gather anti-Trump dirt—most of which appear to have been rumors and lies, but that doesn’t matter here–from Russian sources. This is indistinguishable legally, ethically and morally from accepting offered intelligence. A candidate’s agent—by law, the same as the candidate herself–sought and received adverse intelligence from foreign nationals. In truth, this is worse than the conduct Trump hypothesized to George, which involved a foreign national approaching him.

That is, however, not all. In July 2016, the Obama administration, in all respects supporting and favoring the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,  accepted unsolicited information from Alexander Downer, an Australian diplomat who also helped arrange a $25 million government donation to the Clinton Foundation years before. Downer said that he had witnessed a Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, bragging about some dirt that the Russians supposedly had on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The Obama administration gave this to the FBI which, in turn, used it to justify opening a counterintelligence case against the Republican nominee for president.

Summary:  The Democratic administration accepted dirt from a foreign friendly and used it to justify investigating its GOP rival. Continue reading

Reality Check: There Is Nothing “Stunning,” “Immoral” Or Illegal About A Presidential Candidate Receiving Damaging Information About His Opponent From A Foreign Source, PART I

Preface.

Just when I think that  ultimate absurdity and peak hysteria have  been reached in the contrived effort to focus hate, fear and distrust on the President, something squirms up out of the muck to set a new–what should I call it? High? Low?

Let’s go with “low.” This one, like many of the others, was triggered by President Trump himself. Why does he do these things? It’s the strangest habit I’ve ever seen in a President or read about, and that includes such quirks as William McKinley calmly draping a dinner napkin over his wife Ida’s head when she would have epileptic seizures at state dinners. I cannot believe that Trump doesn’t know he is throwing red meat to the jackals when he deliberately hits “resistance” hot buttons. Is he trolling? Is he trying to push his enemies to expose their bias and irrationality for all to see? I don’t know. I do know the President shares responsibility for these periodic eruptions

Nevertheless, in this case Trump was being candid, and speaking the truth.

Speaking with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, President Trump said he would accept information on political opponents from a foreign government. “It’s not an interference,” he said.  “They have information. I think I would take it.”

Then came the freak-out.  Predictably, multiple impeachment advocates from the Democratic side of the aisle and their puppet pundits pronounced THIS as the ultimate, final, smoking gun proof that Trump should be impeached, without the immediate and required response from the news media and academia, of “What? Saying what you might do is an impeachable act now? Have you all taken leave of your senses?”

No, mere words and an answer to a hypothetical on a news show are not a crime, nor evidence of one to come. More importantly, the act President Trump described is not only not a crime, it is something I assume that many, many Presidential candidates have done and that virtually every single candidate would do. Trump is unusual in that he is open about it.

Now that’s ironic, don’t you think? The President who has been painted in the news media as a habitual liar is now being attacked for telling the truth. Continue reading

Donald Trump, Abe Lincoln, The Phantom Document Trick, And The Almanac Trial

The most recent example of the news media’s self-destructive obsession with embarrassing and denigrating Donald Trump was the alleged “prop” Mexico deal scandal. this week. Writers from both the New York Times and Washington Post, including Post “Factchecker” Glenn Kessler, stated as fact that the paper the  President had held up as he talked about the border agreement with Mexico and said,

“In here is the agreement. We’re getting along great.Two weeks ago we had nothing,”

…was blank, a prop, just one more example of Trump lying to the American people. Other pundits and bloggers, like progressive Josh Marshall,  joined the mockery.

Then it turned out that some shots of the paper showed that it was a folded over piece with a printed document inside. Of course, that paper could have also been a prop, a recipe for gazpacho or something, but the President’s later remarks suggested that he was enjoying the spectacle (#47, 391 by my count, but I’m sure I missed a few) of the biased and incompetent mainstream news media further undermining the public’s trust in journalism by indulging its hatred for the President.

“I just give you my word, inside here … is the agreement,” he said . “That’s the agreement that everybody says I don’t have.” Finally, someone freeze-framed the video where the inner document could be read. The visible words…

“The Government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under domestic law to bring the agreement into force with a view to ensuring that the agreement will enter into force within 45 days.”

So the paper Trump held up was not a prop, an engine of deception, after all. Or was the President deliberately using the covering paper to beguile the news media into calling him a liar? “You were able to read it through the sunlight,” Mr. Trump told reporters at a press conference. “That was not anticipated.”

And suddenly the voice of Wilfred Brimley (from “Absence of Malice”) intrudes on my consciousness, in an altered version of his famous scene in the film, asking the President, “I could ask you if you set all of this up, but you wouldn’t tell me if you did, would you?”

“Mr. Trump, are you that smart?”

Oh no, of course not! He’s a barely functioning demented moron who should be removed by the  25th Amendment. It’s amazing how he keeps making his smug enemies expose their own hate and ineptitude. Just lucky I guess. Continue reading

The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory. Big Lie #7: “Trump Is Anti-LGBT”

You may notice that this series jumped from Big Lie #2 all the way to #7. I apologize for the confusion: it will be remedied when the directory is complete and the Big Lies are lined up in the proper order.

However, this Big Lie, which I have been hearing and reading from  my many theater friends and colleagues, was nicely highlighted today by the Washington Blade, an LGTB publication of long standing in the District.  It chose today to publish an extensive post called “All of Trump’s anti-LGBT actions since last Pride (plus a few welcome moves).”  The piece nicely shows why the accusation of anti-gay bias is a politically convenient fabrication.

Big Lie #7 was launched immediately after the election. Gay rights activists decided to join in the attacks on Trump by their fellow progressive base members, even though Trump’s history and statements suggested that he was the most gay-friendly Presidential candidate in history.

“This morning, LGBTQ people — particularly young people and their parents — woke up scared and filled with questions about our country and their place in it,” Sarah McBride, national spokeswoman for the LGBT Left Human Rights Campaign, said. McBride added that “much of our community’s progress over the last eight years is at risk after yesterday’s election.”

This was fantasy, fear-mongering, and deliberate misrepresentation. The greatest threat to gays was the presence of Mike Pence, who had been adamantly against gay marriage as Governor of Indiana, as Trump’s running mate. He was chosen  to  appeal to the Religious Right, and the Mid-West.  Vice Presidents  are almost always chosen for their states, regions, and constituencies, not ideological affinity with the President.  Ike chose Nixon as his VP, and detested him. Kennedy disagreed with LBJ on many issues, but needed Texas in the electoral vote column.. George H.W. Bush was well-Left of Reagan, but Ronnie needed to mollify the Republican center (back when it had one). I think it is fair to regard Pence as anti-gay, but Vice Presidents are not Presidents.

Nobody called Barack Obama an idiot just because Joe Biden is. Continue reading

The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory. Big Lie #2: “Trump Is Not A Legitimate President”

The Directory of the Big Lies cynically and unethically employed by the President’s political opponents continues with…

Big Lie #2. “Trump is not a legitimate President”

Although this was not the first of the Big Lies, it was the foundation of all the others to come. The assertion, seeded by Hillary Clinton and spread by pundits and the news media, is pure poison to the democracy, national unity, the public trust, and the national welfare.

It boggles the mind that progressives and Democrats have been willing to risk so much harm to the United States and its culture for the sole purpose of waging political warfare against the President of the United States. I have to believe that at other times in our history, any party considering such a strategy would be stopped short by a respected and responsible leader. Incredibly, the Democrats didn’t have one (and still don’t). The obvious individual who could have minimized the political and cultural carnage was Barack Obama. He had neither the courage, the character nor the bi-partisan concern for the nation to do so. This was one more failure of leadership for the most wildly over-praised President in U.S. history.

The most damning aspect of the Democrats’ refusal after the  election to follow the tradition of all previous losing parties is that they had lectured Donald Trump, when they were certain of victory, about how he was obligated to accept the will of the voters.

Hillary Clinton, another leader of the party who could have killed this insidious  tactic in its cradle, was very clear on how essential such acceptance was—when she thought Trump would be the loser:

“To say you won’t respect the results of the election, that is a direct threat to our democracy,” she said at a rally at a late October rally the University of North Carolina. “We’ve been around 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections and we’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election.” Later, she said unequivocally that “The peaceful transfer of power is one of the things that makes America America.”

For once, Hillary was right. Unable to accept her own responsibility for her shocking defeat, however, she engaged in the exact conduct that she had—correctly—condemned as dangerous, and allowed (and I assume encouraged)  her party to employ it—to this day—as its signature Big Lie. Continue reading

The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory. Big Lie #1: Trump Is Just A Reality TV Star

Introduction

The “Big Lie” strategy of public opinion manipulation, most infamously championed by Adolf Hitler and his propaganda master Joseph Goebbels, has, in sinister fashion, become a routine and ubiquitous component of the Left’s efforts to remove President Donald J. Trump from office without having to defeat him at the polls. One of the most publicized Big Lies, that the President had “colluded” with the Russian government to “steal” the Presidential election from Hillary Clinton was recently exposed as such by the results of the Mueller investigation, and Democrats, with blazing speed, replaced it with another Big Lie  that there is a “Constitutional crisis.”

Becoming addicted to relying on Big Lies as a political strategy is not the sign of ethical political parties, movements, or ideologies.

Perhaps there is a useful distinction between Big Lies and “false narratives,” but I can’t define one. Both are intentional falsehoods designed to frame events in a confounding and deceptive manner, so public policy debates either begin with them as assumptions, thus warping the discussion, or they result in permanent bias, distrust and suspicion of the lie/narrative’s target. For simplicity’s sake, because I believe it is fair to do so, and also because “Big Lie” more accurately reflects just how unethical the tactic is, that is the term I will use in this and the posts to come

Big Lie #1. “Trump is just a reality TV star.” Continue reading

Lunchtime Ethics Appetizer, 6/3/2019: Self-Censorship, Trump’s Ridiculous Jumbo, Turley On Mueller, And A College Ranking Scandal [Updated]

Bon Appettit!

1. To self-censor or not to self-censor. Right after expressing here my dilemma about whether to risk political and partisan backlash by raising current, important and legitimate legal ethics issues from the Mueller investigation, there were a flurry of articles and podcasts about the dangers of self-censorship in a climate where Americans are being systematically intimidated from opposing the Woke Collective. This is a classic ethical dilemma, with ethical considerations like integrity, duty, citizenship, honesty and responsibility, are opposed by non-ethical considerations, like keeping one’s job, paying the bills, and not being cast as a pariah in one’s profession.

I was also reminded of my problem by Instapundit referencing today an old  Washington Post article about Mao’s mass murders. My company lost a lucrative sexual harassment training deal after two Chinese nationals (that I did npt know were in the audience) too offense at a tangential comment about Mao’s exterminations dwarfing those of Hitler and Stalin  (but not Darth Vader). Both contacted me and demanded apologies, claiming that it was Western propaganda and that the Great Leader had “only” executed millions out of necessity. I refused (I know I have mentioned this before here) and said I was sincerely sorry they had been subjected to cultural influences that had warped their ethics, and that if I had been aware that this was a sensitve topic to anyone in the audience, I would have omitted the reference. Having spoken the truth, however, I was not going to deny or apologize for it.

“Why didn’t you just apologize?” my client asked. And I was reminded of the moment in “1776” when a royalist in the Continental Congress asks Jefferson why he called King George “a tyrant” in the Declaration. “Because he is a tyrant,” Jefferson answers.

I’m an ethicist, I said. I’m not going to whitewash the massacre of 45-60 million people because someone is offended by the truth.

That was the end of that contract…

2. The President issues a Jumbo. Why does he do things like this? I have no idea. It si the political equivalent of pushing a pie into his own face. In an interview with the British tabloid, The Sun tabloid, Trump responded to a query about his reaction to  Megan Markle’s statement  that he is a “misogynist” and her suggestion that “she’d move to Canada if you got elected; turned out she moved here.” He said, “Well, a lot of people are moving here, so what can I say. No, I didn’t know that she was nasty.”

Of course Trump was attacked for saying that to a British newspaper—it was racist, it was an insult, the usual. Of course the President shouldn’t stoop to personal swipes at anyone; on the other hand, that’s what he does when he is attacked himself.  “Tit for Tat” and “doing unto others as they did to you” are part of Trump’s “ethics.” Can’t we stipulate this by now? Can’t TRUMP stipulate it at this point?

Then he tweeted, “I never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty.’ Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold! Will @CNN, @nytimes and others apologize? Doubt it!” He did this knowing that the Sun had his statement recorded, and sure enough, the paper  released the audiotape.

See, the idea behind Jimmy Durante saying “Elephant? What elephant?” when caught stealing the biggest pachyderm in the world in a musical comedy is that it’s obviously desperate and ridiculous, and intended to be funny.

This is just self-destructive, disturbing, and really, really stupid.

3. Jonathan Turley on Mueller. The George Washington Law prof has consistently been a voice of reason and objectivity reagarding the Mueller investigation. He has recently written two excellent columns on Mueller’s public statement, here, and here.

Greg should send them to his ex-friend.

4. Why is this more damaging to a school than, say, falsely instructing students about justice, the right to representation, and due process?

From TaxProf Blog: “University Of Oklahoma Inflated Its Alumni Giving Data For 20 Years, U.S. News Strips Its #127 Ranking”

The University of Oklahoma admitted to  U.S. News that it had inflated its alumni giving data since 1999, which affects its placement in the National Universities, Best Value Schools, Top Public Schools, Best Colleges for Veterans and A-Plus Schools for B Students rankings and lists. For the 2019 Best Colleges rankings, the University of Oklahoma originally reported its two-year alumni giving rate at 14 percent. The school informed U.S. News the correct value is 9.7 percent. The average alumni giving rate has a weight of 5 percent in the Best Colleges ranking methodology.

And now,

A former OU student has filed a class action lawsuit against the University of Oklahoma as a result of the university being stripped of its U.S. News & World Report ranking. [Gretzer v. Oklahoma, No. 19-490 (W.D. OK May 28, 2019]

The lawsuit, which was filed May 28 on behalf of former OU student Elani Gretzer and all OU undergraduate students since 1999, alleges the university broke contract by providing false alumni giving data to U.S. News & World Report, inflating its ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” ranking as a result.

The lawsuit alleges the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the Price College of Business was a “material factor” in Gretzer’s decision to enroll at OU. … The suit is also filed on behalf of an estimated minimum of 350,000 people — all OU students who have enrolled since 1999, the year in which OU has admitted it began providing false information to U.S. News & World Report.

Morgan Cloud (Emory) & George Shepherd (Emory), Law Deans In Jail, 77 Mo. L. Rev. 931 (2012):

A most unlikely collection of suspects — law schools, their deans, U.S. News & World Report and its employees — may have committed felonies by publishing false information as part of U.S. News’ ranking of law schools. The possible federal felonies include mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, and making false statements. Employees of law schools and U.S. News who committed these crimes can be punished as individuals, and under federal law the schools and U.S. News would likely be criminally liable for their agents’ crimes.

Some law schools and their deans submitted false information about the schools’ expenditures and their students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores. Others submitted information that may have been literally true but was misleading. Examples include misleading statistics about recent graduates’ employment rates and students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores.

U.S. News itself may have committed mail and wire fraud. It has republished, and sold for profit, data submitted by law schools without verifying the data’s accuracy, despite being aware that at least some schools were submitting false and misleading data. U.S. News refused to correct incorrect data and rankings errors and continued to sell that information even after individual schools confessed that they had submitted false information. In addition, U.S. News marketed its surveys and rankings as valid although they were riddled with fundamental methodological errors.

One question: why isn’t Harvard’s ranking being lowered? I suspect that it’s because maleducating students and systematically undermining American values and civil rights isn’t included in the criteria.

It should be.