As we continue to debate what constitutes stealing a Presidency, Ben Barnes, a former close associate of the late John Connolly—Texas Governor, Democrat-turned-Republican, the man wounded during the assassination of President Kennedy and Secretary of the Treasury under President Reagan—revealed this week that he believes he took part in a secret mission by Connolly to sabotage Jimmy Carter’s re-election. Barnes says that Connolly went to “one Middle Eastern capital after another” in the summer of 1980, telling regional leaders to get a crucial message to Iran’s leader that the nation should not release the 52 U.S. citizens taken hostage from the American embassy until after the election, which Reagan would win and proceed to give Iran “a better deal.”
The New York Times has the details here in (for a change) straightforward reporting. As we all know, Reagan won, and won handily. Nobody can know if the hostage crisis was the reason for Carter’s defeat; after all, Jimmy was not having a very successful term in any respect. Nor, apparently, does anyone know if Connolly’s alleged message ever was relayed to Iran, or if it was, whether it had any influence on Iran’s actions.
The Times makes a strong case that Barnes is telling the truth, though Barnes has no diaries or memos to corroborate his account. For one thing, there is no reason for him to make the story up. For another, the Times spoke with four living individuals who confirmed that Barnes, who is now 85, shared the story with them years ago. Another part of the account that tends to make his tale credible is that William J. Casey, the chairman of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign and later director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was involved. Casey was a shady figure, and his participation in a scheme like this would be in character. Still, there is no evidence besides Barnes’ word.
Mediocre movies can still raise important ethics questions, and so it is with a 2021 bomb called “American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally.” The film dramatizes the bizarre tale of Mildred Gillars, a Maine-born American woman of modest looks and talents who rode her aspirations for a Hollywood career into an infamous gig as an infamous Nazi German radio propagandist during World War II. My father told me about her broadcasts from Berlin, and how she used sexy tones to tell American servicemen that they were doomed, that the Jews, not Germany, were their real enemy, and that their wives and girlfriends were cheating on them while they were in Europe fighting Hitler’s “invincible army.”
Her last broadcast was just a few days before Germany surrendered; Gillars was arrested and charged with being a traitor. In 1948, “Axis Sally” faced a very real threat of being hanged as she went on trial for eight counts of treason. Thanks in great part to a vigorous (if reluctant) defense by famed criminal defense attorney James Laughlin, played by Al Pacino in the film, the jury found her guilty of only one, and what could have been a 30 year jail term turned into ten.
Dad said that American GIs thought “she”Axis Sally” was hilarious, that no soldiers took her seriously, and that her singing was terrible. Her broadcasts were popular in the U.S., as she often relayed news of American prisoners of war to show how well they were being treated by their German captors.
Although I suspect that Pacino’s ringing closing argument in her defense was punched up considerably from the original by Laughlin and maybe even contained some arguments Laughlin did not make, the points he raises in the movie are fascinating:
And as May sinks slowly into the west, we wave farewell…
(All in all, it’s been a discouraging month on the ethics front, and I will not be sorry to see it go.)
1. I just unfriended someone for political reasons, which I never have done before. Not because of what the guy’s stated beliefs are, because I emphatically and unalterably hold that ethical adults should be able to resist cognitive dissonance and maintain good relationships with those whom they believe are obviously, tragically, dangerous wrong about anything from baseball to abortion, but because he demands one-way dialogues.
He wrote me requesting that I not challenge his posts or the assertions of his seal-like followers, yet routinely comments on my page, and his many dubious positions pop up on my feed routinely. Essentially he wants me to be complicit in his enabling the largely Leftist bubble that Facebook has evolved into, and to allow people to cheer on illogical and biased posts without having to defend their barely-thought out screeds.
“…Biden still seems unable to keep his hands to himself.Indeed, at an American Federation of Teachers town hall in Houston on Tuesday night (where he unrolled a pretty decent education plan, to be fair) Biden pulled out another Classic Biden Move, per Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez .“In a somewhat odd moment at tonight’s AFT town hall, Biden tells a 10-year-old girl, ‘I’ll bet you’re as bright as you are good-looking,’” she tweeted. “He takes her over to the assembled reporters, then stands behind her and puts his hands on her shoulders while he’s talking.”
To anyone who believed that Biden had instantly reformed from a career- and life-long addiction to touching, hugging, sniffing, and otherwise behaving disrespectfully, presumptuously and assaultively to women and, ick, young girls, a) I told you so, and b) you’re too gullible to go through life without a keeper.
Is the feminist-dominated Democratic Party really going to let this creep represent it in the 2020 elections? I find that impossible to believe, polls notwithstanding, but maybe I’m giving Democrats credit for integrity that they long ago proved the party no longer values or possesses. Continue reading →
1. In a comment thread about Joe Arpaio’s pardon, the absurd assertion was made that Chelsea Manning was “tortured” at Leavenworth. In knocking down this anti-U.S. propaganda, courtesy of the U.N. and others, I noted that even the U.N. accuser based that assessment on the weird conclusion that Manning was “never convicted of a crime.”
Translation: military courts martial don’t count. Thanks for that opinion, U.N. guy! Why don’t you start your own country?
The other part of the phony torture accusation is the assertion that being held in solitary confinement is torture. Under international law, it is considered “cruel and unusual punishment,” not torture, but… surprise! The U.S. is not governed by international law, much as the globalists wish it were!
Solitary confinement has (rarely) been found by U.S. courts to violate the 8th Amendment when it is of indeterminate duration and without good cause, but that has nothing to do with Manning, who was considered in danger as a traitor in a military prison, and was in solitary for her own protection. The Supreme Court determines what is cruel and unusual punishment in this country, not the U.N., and not international law.
2. I also (I admit it: I knew I would) triggered a freak-out here, and some unfair insults that I will gracefully ignore, by stating that I would have supported execution for Manning, who was and is a traitor. (President Obama commuted her sentence, making the anti-war Left happy but oddly triggering a fraction of the condemnation in the news media that has followed President Trump’s pardoning an 85-year old man facing a minimal jail term. ) The U.S. has been historically reluctant to execute traitors, and in the era where a cyber-leaks can give more aid and comfort to the enemy than Julius and Ethel Rosenberg could have managed in a hundred years, a re-evaluation of that kind, merciful but dangerous policy is over-due for reconsideration. Manning avoided conviction on the worst of the charges against her (then, him) because prosecutors didn’t prove intent sufficiently. Manning claimed that she was just trying to start a “conversation’ about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and was willing to put classified information into the hands of terrorists in order to do it. If she knew she would be facing the death penalty with some certainty, it is likely that Manning would have thought twice, at least. It’s called deterrence, and in an age where self-righteous low-level types like Manning and Edward Snowden can get U.S. intelligence personnel exposed and killed with a few keystrokes, serious deterrence is called for.
3. Remember when I asked readers to alert Ethics Alarms when the first talking head suggested that out first major hurricane in 12 years was the result of climate change? It took longer than I expected, but the first reported fool was CNN anchor John Berman. He was interviewing Bill Read, the former director of the National Hurricane Center, and asked,
“Is there a why to this? Why there is so much water associated with this storm? One thing we heard from scientists over the last 10 years is that climate change does impact the intensity of many of the storms that we see.”
To his credit, Read assured Berman that the heavy rains had nothing to do with climate change, and everything to do with the typical behavior of this kind of storm. The episode shows 1) how little many journalists (I won’t say all, but it is very close to all) understand the science of climate change, but promote it anyway because it aligns with their partisan politics, and 2) how they will try to generate fake news, which is what “Hurricane Harvey Deadly Rainfall Possibly Caused By Climate Change, Expert Tells CNN” would have been. If Berman was interested in promoting public understanding of the climate change controversy, he would have asked, “Climate change models and Al Gore’s documentaries predicted more and more violent storms as a result of global warming, yet this is the first major hurricane we have seen in more than a decade. How do you account for this?”
4. In the teeth of this renewed attack on U.S. history and culture during the Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck, I asked how long it would be before “Gone With The Wind” was banished from the airwaves. The Orpheum Theatre Group in Memphis, Tennessee just withdrew its annual screening of the classic 1939 film out of concern that some may find it ‘offensive’.
If no one has the courage to stand up for art, expression and history as “the offended” try to strangle cultural diversity out of existence, then Orwellian thought control will be the inevitable result. I don’t blame the “offended” for trying to suppress speech, thought and history as much as I blame the cowards who capitulate to it. Next in the line to oblivion: war movies, movies with guns, “Gettysburg” and John Wayne. Continue reading →
Law professor/blogger Jonathan Turley’s latest essay, “Roper’s Resolve: Critics Seek Dangerous Extensions Of Treason and Other Crimes To Prosecute The Trumps” had me at “Roper,” Turley’s direct reference to the most often posted movie clip on Ethics Alarms,* the scene above from “A Man For All Seasons.” Turley applies the scene correctly, too, to the depressingly large mob of previously respectable and responsible lawyers, elected officials, scholars, academics, journalists and pundits who have betrayed their professions’ values and ethics to falsely tell a gullible public that the President and members of his family, campaign and administration have committed treason, espionage, conspiracy, election fraud and obstruction of justice when such accusations are not supported by law or precedent, evidence, facts or common sense. These accusations are, rather, the product of unreasoning fury and bias sparked by Donald Trump’s election as President.
Some of the individuals Turley names, like Senator Tim Kaine, Hillary’s running mate, may be just spewing political bile out of a lack of integrity. Kaine is a former prosecutor and should know better. Some, like Cornell Law School Vice Dean Jens David Ohlin, may be examples of bias making smart people stupid. MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler, who claimed Trump was “conspiring with the U.S.’ sworn enemy to take over and subvert our democracy,” and who declared it is now “clear” that “what Donald Trump Jr. is alleged to have done is a federal crime” are, sadly, typical of how the unethical and dishonest the news media now behaves much of the time. As for my fellow legal ethicist Richard Painter, also fingered by Turley, I’m convinced from his increasingly extreme and hysterical anti-Trump analyses that he has been driven to the edge of madness by Trump’s election. He’s not the only one.
Turley also points to former Watergate assistant special prosecutor Nick Akerman, who is just plain wrong. One cannot claim, as Ackerman does, that there is “a clear case that Donald Trump Jr. has met all the elements” of a violation of the election laws when, as Turley points out, no court has ever reached such a conclusion. That is prima facie evidence that there is no clear case.
[ I cannot begin to express how much I resent having to keep writing posts on this topic.]
The New York Times has reported that a Russian lawyer ( Various reports use the intentionally sinister addition “with ties to state-owned enterprises and to a senior government official.” which simply means that the lawyer had represented them. This isexactly like saying that a criminal defense lawyer “has ties to the mob”because he once represented a gangster. It is despicable journalism, biased and misleading) met with Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort and the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, having been told that she could offer access to negative information about Hillary Clinton. The three members of the Trump campaign quickly discovered that she could not, and wanted to lobby the group on another matter.
Don Jr. said in a statement that he had met with the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at the request of an acquaintance and denied that he received any information on Clinton.
“After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton,” he said. “Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”
Trump Jr. added that Veselnitskaya changed the subject and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and moved the conversation towards the Magnitsky Act, the 2012 bill that blocks certain Russian officials’ entrance to the U.S. and their use of the U.S. banking system. “It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting,” he concluded.
That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Yet all the news stations and news sites are treating this like it is a smoking gun, proof of impeachable offenses by Donald Trump and crimes by his campaign. There is wall to wall coverage, and it is, based on what we know thus far, nothing at all but anti-Trump hype and more of the apparently endless effort by the news media and Democrats to keep the Russian collusion narrative going without any genuine fuel.
I was saddened to see Richard Painter, a solid legal ethicist who has helped drive traffic away from my favorite ethics site by turning it into his own personal Trump attack page with over-heated theories obviously cooked up by a brain derailed by a Trump obsession. On MSNBC , Richard fumed, Continue reading →
And the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck’s carnage continues…
The degree to which the Post 2016 Election Ethics Train Wreck has engulfed the news media has shocked even me, and readers know that Ethics Alarms had swamp-level regard for U.S. journalists long before the 2016 campaign. It has obliterated any legitimate trust a citizen could have in the mainstream media’s news judgment, objectivity and competence, and with the exception of tiny pockets of professionalism here and there (Jake Tapper comes to mind), has declared itself a partisan foe of the electoral system, and the Presidency. The double standards applied regarding Democrats and Republicans as well as the smug shamelessness with which the media has applied them cannot be condemned too harshly. Naturally, the equally corrupted members of the so-called “resistance” see none of the harm and betrayal in this, since it suits their own ends.
Ethics Alarms can’t catalogue all of the worst examples of this; there isn’t time. Last month, for example, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who once had a conscience and a mind even as you or I, authored one of the ugliest and most disgusting pieces I have read in any reputable publication. In the disgrace titled “There’s a Whiff of Treason In The Air” Kristof issued a conspiracy theory that would be at home in the archives of Alex Jones, Mike Cernovich, or Donald Trump in his birther days, except that so many hopeful Democrats endorse it. The column is one long, vicious smear, claiming that President Trump engaged in treason, while citing absolutely no evidence whatsoever that supports such an inflammatory accusation. I considered flagging all of the slimy, dishonest, hypocritical rhetorical techniques Kristof brings to his efforts to undermine his nation’s President, but I decided to do so would insult my readers’ intelligence: it is so obvious, particularly when one considers the Russian “ties” the Clinton campaign had to Russia. Why do the business dealings of Trump campaign personnel with Russian figures spell TREASON to the Times columnist, and the more ominous ties between Russia and the Clintons get a pass? Simple: he wants Donald Trump to be proven a traitor; his readers want it; and he, the Times and the Democratic Party that has sold its integrity and soul intends to push the accusations as long as they can cripple and delegitimize the government they oppose. Continue reading →
The GenForward poll, as reported by The Associated Press found that a majority of young adults, 57 %, regard Donald Trump as an illegitimate President. The number includes three-quarters of black respondents as well as large majorities of Hispanics and Asians.
President Trump is many things. Ethics Alarms began years ago documenting those aspects of his abilities, temperament, skills and character that made him, by the analysis here, an unqualified, undesirable President. One thing that he is not, however, is “illegitimate.” There is no basis whatsoever to consider him so. He was selected to run by the process put in place by the Republican Party, over a large number of experienced and accomplished politicians (and then there was Ben Carson.) He was extensively covered by a hostile press, that all but announced (and in the case of the New York Times, did announce) that it was dedicated to his defeat. His opponent was the allegedly unbeatable, anointed heir to Barack Obama and the previous Democratic President, her husband, both of whose policies were a matter of record. President Trump did not “buy the election,” as he spent about half what his opponent did. Illegal voters, to whatever extent they played a part in the election, probably did not vote for him.
Donald Trump was elected because the right number of voters chose him in the right combination of states, and under the rules in place since the U.S. Constitution was ratified, his was a legitimate election, and he is a legitimate President beyond question. There have been a few Presidents whose legitimacy could be challenged—John Quincy Adams, John Tyler, Rutherford B. Hayes—but not President Donald J. Trump.
So why does a majority of young Americans now regard the President of the United States as “illegitimate”? They believe this because a deliberate strategy has been followed by Democrats, progressives and the news media to make them believe that. They have been told that the Electoral College is undemocratic, as part of a two month long onslaught of propaganda to get a group of electors not chosen for the purpose to overturn the election results. Major figures in the Democratic leadership have declared the President “illegitimate,” without official rebuke. Most of the Congressional Black Caucus boycotted the Inauguration on that basis. Democrats have loudly claimed that an FBI conspiracy was afoot to wreck Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and then attributed her loss to Russian “interference.” Finally, Democrats have claimed that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to steal the election, essentially alleging treason. This last is the major artillery in the Delegitimize Trump battle plan, and it has always been intellectually dishonest, irresponsible, and reckless. Following on the theme, Democrats have even encouraged the use of the inflammatory term “the resistance” to sanctify those who claim the President is “illegitimate,” equating opposition to a duly, legally elected U.S. President with the underground French resistance to Nazi occupiers during World War II, a genuinely illegitimate government. This is indefensible and wrong. Continue reading →
I swear I am trying to post on interesting ethics issues that have nothing to do with Hillary, Donald, either party or their hot-button issues. My issue scout Fred and others have sent me scores of topics that are waiting on the runway. Then things like this happen.
To catch you up: After Wikileaks released embarrassing e-mails, hacked from the DNC, showing collusion by the supposedly neutral arm of the Democratic Party to ensure the nomination for Hillary Clinton, Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook told ABC’s “This Week,” “It’s troubling that some experts are now telling us that this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.”
Then Trump said at a news conference in Florida, “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” the Republican nominee “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Immediately Democrats, partisan lawyers, left-wing pundits and Trump-haters flipped out. Carl Bernstein, the far left half of Woodward and Bernstein, said Trump’s comments were “disqualifying.” Others wrote that his comments were “treason” or “virtual treason.” Clinton senior policy advisor Jake Sullivan said, “This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.”
Trump, predictably, said that he was being sarcastic.
1. I trust that my disgust for Donald Trump, his values, his character and his candidacy have been clearly and thoroughly explained here, as they will continue to be. Nonetheless, basic ethics requires that he be treated fairly by the news media, and I will continue to point out the media’s bias against him, Republicans, and anyone standing in Hillary Clinton’s way as she attempts to corrupt the government and the culture by infecting both with her grubby ambition and dishonesty. This is one more episode of journalism bias in what will be a long, long trail leading right to election day.
2. The Democratic Party’s spin on the e-mail scandal is self-evidently desperate and misleading, not that this appears to discourage Clinton-supporters in the social media from adopting it. The central issue is what the hacked e-mails show, and what the DNC and the Clinton campaign did to rig the nomination. Mook’s deflection, which a fair and competent host would have immediately rejected (but George Stephanopoulos is a loyal former Clinton staffer and confidante with a conflict of interest), was a miserable, dishonest tactic. Naturally, it was quickly adopted by most of the party and its partisan journalist supporters. Sad, weak, Martin O’Malley chimed in,Continue reading →
Why wait for U.S. justice to work, when we can be dictated to by representatives of Chile, Senegal, Georgia, and Mauritius?
Wherever the line lies where grief and anger no longer excuse irresponsible, irrational and destructive conduct, the parents of slain police shooting victim Michale Brown have charged over it.
On Veterans Day, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. addressed the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee supposedly works to address brutality by governments around the world, but based on this stunt, and stunt it is, the panel is just one more U.N. sham entity with an anti-American agenda. Whatever is going through the minds of Brown’s parents, their willingness to be part of this transparent attack on the U.S. is in the spirit of treason.
“We need answers and we need action. And we have to bring it to the U.N. so they can expose it to the rest of the world, what’s going on in small town Ferguson,” McSpadden told CNN. It should be obvious that neither parent has any direct knowledge of what happened to their son, and would not be allowed to testify in any court proceeding held to determine the truth. That the United Nations would behave otherwise is proof positive of bad will and nasty intent, and for McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. to participate in this despicable effort makes them accessories to a plot devised by their own nation’s enemies. Continue reading →