A Cautionary Tale: The Corruption Of Post Columnist Colbert King, Part II

Part I is here.

King refused to apply his usual ethics alarms to Obama, but continued to be a credible and objective analyst where the D.C. government was involved. He was an instant Donald Trump-hater, however. the second the 2016 results were known. I can understand reaction to the two-time runaway winner of the Ethics Alarms “Asshole of the Year” award. But King concluded Trump was a racist—his embrace of  birther accusations against his beloved Obama was enough to guarantee that—and once Trump was elected, King became the Post’s counterpart to Trump-deranged Times columnist Charles M. Blow, except that King at his worst is usually more endurable than Blow at his best.

King’s latest anti-Trump screed, however, shows how far a smart pundit can fall when the cognitive dissonance scale and confirmation bias work in tandem, especially when old age marches on and one is mired in both work and personal bubbles where a single bias dominates.

The column begins with one of my least varieties of fake news, future news, when a journalist sets out to push a negative view of a politician based on what he will do.  The headline is “It’s a good bet Trump pardons his felon allies. Here’s when that’s most likely.”

I don’t think it is a good bet, though it is certainly possible. King assumes it is a good bet, as his column makes clear (along with all of his previous columns relating to Trump) because he thinks of the President as a corrupt racketeer. King’s once nimble mind  is now incapable of imagining a justification for pardoning the “allies” in question, Roger Stone, Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort. I can: arguably all three of them were indicted and convicted because of the “resistance”effort to try to drive Donald Trump from office, and to send a message to anyone who might be of value to his administration that they would instantly be in cross-hairs if they dared to try to support the President. President  Trump might feel responsible for their plight, and use his absolute clemency power to relieve their burdens. If so, it would not be an unprecedented political or personal use of the pardon and clemency power. King reallywas just using this question as a pretense to vent about the President, whom he detests, shredding his own credibility in the process. For example, Continue reading

Yes, It’s Bizarro World—But The Mainstream Media Anti-Trump Bias Is Still Ridiculous

The President’s master-trolling display before Thanksgiving plunged us squarely into Bizarro World Ethics territory. I cannot imagine any previous President of the United States pulling a public stunt even close to as juvenile and silly as tweeting the photo above out to his followers and, inevitably, the world. I can’t imagine another President even considering it. The leader of the free world, the dignified occupant of the White House, the leader and role model of millions just doesn’t do something like that. He just…just..doesn’t, that’s all!

Yet there it was , just before 11:00 am on November 27. And like so many other seemingly vulgar and impetuous acts and statements that President Trump has authored, the deranged foes of the President managed to make it look like a brilliant stratagem. First the Washington Post—surely there must be some perceptive people working there, wouldn’t you think?—sent out this hurrumphing tweet:

Oh, it’s doctored! Good sleuthing, Post! Quick, add this to your recent list of Trump mendacities: he tried to make the public think that he’s built like Rocky under those blue suits, the liar!

And “unclear why”!!! Unclear why? How bone-headedly biased does someone have to be to not understand why Trump would tweet out a photo of himself as “Rocky” (in “Rocky 3”, to be accurate)? Has anyone on the Post staff seen “Rocky,” or is so stuffed with culturally ignorant naifs whose idea of an ancient inspirational movie is the ten-year-old “The Blind Side” that “Rocky” (1976) and its descendants are buried in their “Irrelevant films my grandparents watched” files? Continue reading

Thanksgiving Dinner Ethics Appetizers, 11/28/2019: Boing Boing, Boeing, And Bears In The Woods

Have a gentle, loving Thanksgiving, everyone.

And thanks so much for visiting and participating.

Tangential question: Does anyone watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade any more, with the lip synced musical numbers in the street, the inflatable balloons of anciet cartoon characters, the floats that are virtually identical every year, and the phony blather from the B-level celebrities in the booth? Isn’t this spectacle now something that people watch out habit, like the Miss America pageant, “Peanuts” holiday specials and the Oscars, even though it has the entertainment value of styrofoam?

1. Tucker Carlson endorses the Julie Principle! Last night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson made the shocking statement that President Trump has been less than truthful with the American people.

“We’re not gonna lie to you, that was untrue,” Carlson said. “The crowd at the 2017 inauguration was not the largest ever measured at the National Mall. Sorry, it wasn’t. Why did the president claim that it was? Well, because that’s who he is. Donald Trump is a salesman, he’s a talker, a boaster, a booster, a compulsive self-promoter. At times he’s a full-blown BS artist.”

Observations:

  • NOW Carlson is enlightening us about this? Every sentient being knew this about Donald Trump ten years ago, before the Presidency was a twinkle in his eye.
  • Has there ever been an irrelevant fabrication by any U.S. President as harped upon incessantly by critics and the media as Trump’s silly claims about his inauguration crowd?
  •  The Washington Post, aping the New York Times, manufactured another one of those compilations of Trump “lies.” As of last month, the Post says, Trump had told over 13,000 false or misleading statements since taking office, including, of course, including the Inauguration boast. If I didn’t have a sock drawer crisis to deal with, I’m sure I would find that at least a third of those “lies” are in fact nothing of the sort, but mistakes, off-the-cuff exaggerations, and obvious puffery, as in, “Trump said X was ‘the —-est,’ but Y is actually  —-er.”
  • Here is what I wrote almost exactly three years ago, before that Inauguration, in a post called, “Trump, His Critics, and The Julie Principle”:

Yesterday, many, not several but many, of my Angry Left Facebook friends posted links to stories attacking Trump’s silly tweet about him really winning the popular vote and there being millions of fraudulent votes for Hillary Clinton. “Is he going to do this sort of thing his entire administration?” one friend asked.

YES! YES HE IS! OF COURSE HE IS! DON’T YOU KNOW THIS ALREADY? ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO FLIP OUT AT EVERY SINGLE  INSTANCE WHEN TRUMP SAYS OR TWEETS SOMETHING STUPID LIKE THIS?

If so, then you are going to go nuts, and you will just become irrelevant and annoying.

Which, of course, they have. Including the Post and Tucker Carlson. Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be fair, so has Donald Trump.

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

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

Comment Of The Day: “Yes, It’s Open Forum Time Again!,” And Reflections On The State of Our Democracy, Part 2

Part I, and Michael R’s Comment of the Day, are here.

The embedded government bureaucracy has always been recognized as a necessary evil, because the pre-Civil Service system of cleaning house after every election was inefficient and an invitation to cronyism. It cannot be denied, however, that partisan biases and loyalties within the “Deep State” create other serious problems, including individuals taking it upon themselves to undermine and  sabotage policies they disagree with.  Usually the phenomenon is subtle and not routine, but the partisan hysteria weaponized it against Trump, with anti-Trump government employees with influence and power felt more justified in betraying the President than ever before. Prime among this group has been the judiciary, the intelligence community, the State Department, and the diplomatic corps.

Seduced by a partisan narrative, spread daily by the mainstream media, that an illegitimate President who was elected by racists and morons was poised to destroy the country, and maybe the world, because of his greed, stupidity–and insanity!–once unthinkable levels of disloyalty and active opposition to a President by those paid to support the leader chosen by the people were not only justified, but necessary. This attitude quickly metastasized into a coup mentality. This too is routinely derided as a Fox News talking point, but denial only works for so long. In this case, time is almost up.

I finally concluded, early in 2017, that Trump’s election showed that our democracy works and remains vital. The nation was being dragged into a new culture which was violently contrary to core American principles and values that have made the nation what it was, in great part because of the Left’s ideological  capture  of American institutions, notably education, the legal profession, journalism, and the political elites. Somehow, in the inexplicable wisdom of crowd, the ignorant, confused, misinformed and emotion-driven U.S  public found a way to say “Enough!” in the most startling, obnoxious, disruptive way imaginable.

Lincoln was proven right. You can’t fool all the people all the time. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/18/19: Complainers, Climate Hysterics, Tiny Tims And Fake News

Good morning!

Good news! You won’t be thinking I’m dead any more, at least not until I am.  The combination of some complicated travel itineraries and the death of my laptop resulted in uncharacteristic interruptions of the dialogue here, twice causing soem readers to speculate on my demise, or at least incapacity. No, it was just that budgetary priorities made replacing the travel computer a bit less urgent than things like a new roof, a car that runs, things like that. Over the weekend I address the computer problem, and not a second too soon, as I will be setting off today on yet another New Jersey odyssey. Paul Morella and I will be presenting editions of our Clarence Darrow legal ethics program for N.J. lawyers in Brunswick and Fairfield,  sandwiched in between about 9 hours of driving, but I should be able to keep the ethics fires burning to some extent. Unless I’m dead, of course. As my fatalistic father liked to say cheerily , driving my morbid mom crazy, “You never know!”

1. God bless them, every one! This is one example of non-traditional casting I agree with: increasing numbers of “A Christmas Carol” productions are casting children with disabilities to play Tiny Tim. I would fight to the death for the right of a fully-able young actor to play the roles, as well as for the right of a director to cast one. However, the show presents such an ideal opportunity for a child who normally might not  have many chances to a play any  role on stage  because of his physical limitations that it seems like a shame to let it pass. I also agree with the directors who opine that having a genuinely challenged Tiny Tim gives some extra oomph to the show.

Is it exploitative? Sure, to some extent. That, however, is show business.

I draw the line, however, at casting Cratchit children who are different races than their parents, making it look like Mrs. Cratchit has been turning tricks to make ends meet, or “Tiny Tina.”

2.  Here’s another kind of “fake news”…Yahoo! News felt that an entire post was necessary to inform the world that the President had screened “Joker” at the White House. Why is this news, or even mildly interesting? It’s a big movie, with lots of buzz. Presidents have screened movies at the White House for decades, usually without comment from the news media. Now, if he had screened the original “Birth of a Nation,” like racist Woodrow Wilson, or “Tusk,” that might be worth a small news item.

Let’s see, what other fake news items (as in thins that don’t qualify as news) are there on Yahoo!? How about “Michelle Obama Looked Incredible in a Yellow Corseted Schiaparelli Gown at the American Portrait Gala”? For some reason, I thought the fawning over Michelle, which as always hyperbolic and excessive, might have abated since she left the White House, after all, the news media quit going bonkers over every Jackie Kennedy ensemble once she wasn’t First Lady any more. Then there’s the matter of the gown Yahoo! is raving about… Continue reading

No, This Isn’t Impeachable Either, Just Unethical And Illegal

They are whooping it up at the Trump-Haters Club, because President Trump will have to pay $2 million in damages to nonprofit groups as a penalty for what can only be called a fraudulent use of his foundation in 2016. As part of the settlement agreement,  the President had to admit misusing funds raised by the Donald J. Trump Foundation, accessing them to assist his campaign, pay off debts of businesses he owned, including Mar-a-Lago and the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County,  and, as an especially obnoxious move,  purchasing a $10,000 portrait of himself to hand in one of his Florida hotels. New York’s Attorney General  filed suit  accusing the Trump family of using the foundation to benefit various businesses and assist Trump’s  presidential run. You can’t use a non-profit like that; this is the kind of scam that got Tom DeLay thrown in prison.

The President admitted that the alleged charity charity gave his campaign complete control over the $2.8 million that the foundation had raised at an Iowa fund-raiser for veterans in January 2016. It was in fact a fund-raiser for the campaign, not veterans.

Nice.

Continue reading