Tag Archives: Trump-Russia conspiracy theory

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/8/2018: Tolstoy And The News [UPDATED!]

Good Morning!

1  Thanks, Leo! I think.. Althouse reminded me of a Tolstoi quote that offers the perfect explanation of why bias makes you stupid:

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.”

Researching this one led me to another quote from the Peasant Count:

“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabrics of their life”.

The quotes explain more of what is going on in the culture, journalism and politics right now than I am comfortable thinking about…which means that I am perpetually uncomfortable.

2. Someone please explain why we have not had this made crystal clear to us...This morning I heard Senator Lindsay Graham, a Republican Senator whom I regard as an honorable and ethical public servant, note while talking about the unfolding FISA scandal that Christopher Steele, the author of the so-called Russian dossier, was paid in part by the DNC and the Clinton campaign to assemble the material, for which he visited Russia and engaged with sources there. Wait…what? This made Steele an agent of the Clinton campaign by definition, and means, therefore, that the Clinton campaign was “colluding” with Russia during the Presidential 2016 campaign, to “meddle” with U.S. elections.

[UPDATE and Correction: This is what the honorable and ethical Senator said. In fact, since Steele was a former spy, he couldn’t go to Russia. He did, however, engage sources who did, and who made contacts with Russians. Legally, this makes little difference. An agent who uses an agent to do the work of the principle is still responsible for what THAT agent does. ]

But the statement above is inaccurate. ] This constitutes more evidence of Clinton “collusion” than Mueller’s year-long investigation has uncovered regarding the Trump campaign, since, as far as we know, it has uncovered no such evidence at all. Is Mueller investigating Democratic “collusion”? If not, why not? The argument that Clinton was engaged in exactly the kind of activities Trump’s campaign is being accused of has been brushed off as crazy Fox News talking points by the mainstream media. It seems pretty clear now that this is a false and deliberately misleading representation, even before we arrive at the problematical use of the document by the FBI and the Justice Department. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/2/17: Flying Morons, A Fake News Crash, Death By Bias, And Me

Good Morning!

1 Moron on board. Passengers can create personal wi-fi networks o and name them what they want while flying on some airlines, like Turkish Airlines.One passenger on a flight from Nairobi to Istanbul named his wi-fi network “bomb on board.”

Brilliant. Passengers could see that the network was in operation on the plane when they used their own devices, and became, ah, upset. In a statement, Turkish Airlines said the flight made an emergency landing at the Khartoum airport in Sudan, but the flight was safely resumed after security inspections on all passengers and the aircraft.

2. Terry McAuliffe for President! A 220-page report from Timothy Heaphy, a former U.S. attorney, was commissioned by the city council to find out what  happened in Charlottesville when a white nationalist group opposing the removal of a Robert. E. Lee statue was opposed by a group including violent antifa thugs. It was released yesterday, and USA Today reports that it concluded…

“This represents a failure of one of government’s core functions — the protection of fundamental rights. Law enforcement also failed to maintain order and protect citizens from harm, injury and death.”

Among the report’s other findings:

• Charlottesville police didn’t ensure separation between counter-protesters and so-called alt-right protesters upset with the city council’s decision to remove the Robert E. Lee statue from Emancipation Park.

• Officers weren’t stationed along routes to the park, but instead remained behind barricades in relatively empty zones.

• City police didn’t adequately coordinate with Virginia State Police, and authorities were unable to communicate via radio.

• State police didn’t share a formal planning document with city police, “a crucial failure.”

• Officers were inadequately equipped to respond to the clashes between the two groups, and tactical gear was not accessible to officers.

The handling of this episode by city and state officials was a warning about how tenuous support is for core American rights and values, though the news media didn’t cover it that way. Ethics Alarms did. Here is what I wrote at the time about the Governor of Virginia, now being prominently mentions as a possible Democratic Presidential nominee…after all, he is long-time Clinton loyalist, so why not?

[We] have Virginia’s governor Terry McAuliffe, who used the power and influence of his office to declare that people holding views he does not approve of are not welcome in the Old Dominion. In the midst of some patriotic grandstanding, he said…

“You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you….There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America.”

This is leftist fascism, by definition. Who is Terry McAuliffe, or Virginia, or anyone, to say who can or should have a “place” in the United States of America? How is this statement applied to white nationalists any different legally or ethically from applying it to Muslims, or lesbians, or abortion advocates, or Catholics, Jews or libertarians?

It isn’t. The entire point of the Bill of Rights is that the government does not get to tell us what to thing, what we can chant, what we can protest, and where we can live.

Charlottesville’s mayor made similar sentiments known, and the result was that the police obeyed the cues, and a riot resulted.

Then the news media blamed Steve Bannon and President Trump. Continue reading

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KABOOM! I Thought I Had Seen The Most Ridiculous Theories Of How President Trump Obstructed Justice, But I Was Wrong!

To be clear, the KABOOM! in this case, which is the announcement that something has made my head explode, is not because of the ridiculous theory itself, but because I was wrong to believe that theories coming out of the Trump Deranged Who Were Once Smarter Than This couldn’t get worse.  I thought the theory that it was obstruction of justice for President Trump to fire an employee and subordinate, James Comey, whom not only he clearly had the authority to fire, but that just about everyone in the country in both parties had declared inept, biased, or criminal at one time or another over the past 12 months, and who had clearly committed firing offenses under Trump.

How could anyone of any authority or expertise whatsoever come up with a more idiotic theory than that? I was certain the answer was, “They can’t.” I bet my head on it.

Ah, but the hate of “the resistance” and the professionalism-corroding power of the Anti-Trump Brain Eating Virus is stronger than even I thought. Get this, and hold on to your heads:

In a USA Today story President Trump’s counsel John Dowd—he’s the one who doesn’t use obscenities or look like an axe-murderer—acknowledged that he had engaged in communications with the Special Counsel on behalf of his client, conveying how much the President “appreciates what Bob Mueller is doing.” Dowd said that the President asked him to convey his “appreciation and greetings.”

Ah-HA! Notre Dame professor Jimmy Gurulé, a former U.S. assistant attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, told LawNewz.com that the message from Dowd could be construed as intimidation or an effort to influence the investigation. “‘I’m watching you.’ How else could it be interpreted?” Gurulé said. ‘ Thank you for conducting an investigation into my campaign. Thank you for conducting an investigation into my son and my son-in-law.’”

How else? Gee, I don’t know. I’d interpret it as, “I appreciate what a difficult task you have, and understand that we all have to do our jobs”…

…since THAT’S WHAT WAS SAID. Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Professor Jonathan Turley

“This is Larry Tribe’s brain on Trump…”

“There is an open frustration among many who want confirmation that we are finally close to a Trump indictment. It is neither satisfying nor entertaining to consistently say that this is far short of any cognizable criminal case. However, the cable news is filled with experts assuring viewers that we are closer than we are. It is like finding a scientist willing to assure viewers that the moon is half its actual distance. It may be an exciting prospect, but it makes any attempt a dangerous pursuit.”

-George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley, decisively debunking claims that President Trump was guilty of “witness tampering” when he helped hos son craft a misleading description of his meeting with Russians offering “opposition research.”

When the nauseating history of “the resistance” is written, laying out how Democrats, progressives and the news media abused, harassed, undermined, obstructed and withheld basic respect of his office from this President unlike any before him in hopes of  overturning an election, Professor Turley will stand tall, just as he did during the run-up to the Clinton impeachment, when he was one of the few liberal scholars with the courage to spit on the Democrats’ “everybody does it” and “it’s just sex” defenses. Along with fellow liberal legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, Turley has steadfastly insisted on legal precision and fairness from the various members of his profession, some distinguished indeed, who have rushed to give aid and comport to  anti-Trump zealots by jamming the square pegs of Trump’s conduct into the round holes of criminal statutes.

One of the repeat offenders has been former Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe.  Tribe quickly announced that what Trump had done by working on his son’s statement was witness tampering.  Tribe previously has opined that Trump and his family was guilty of evidence of obstruction of justice, criminal election violations, Logan Act violations, extortion and possible treason by the president or his family, as well as by May joining Maxine Waters in the indefensible fantasy that Trump could and should be impeached. Tribe also recently tweeted that White House aide Stephen Miller was a “non human,” though that tweet has been taken down by its impulsive author.

Come on, Larry! You can’t do “the resistance” any good by broadcasting your biases like that!

Yes, there is strong evidence that the Trump Hate Virus has eaten away at the once brilliant professor’s prodigious brain, but Turley respectfully treats his latest impeachment fantasy with the respect it might deserve if Tribe were still at its peak:

[A] misleading statement is not a crime in itself — or half of Washington would be serving time. It is spin. It turned out to be remarkably ill-advised and self-defeating spin, but it was a classic effort to emphasize the least damaging part of the story. It was also dumb. The president knew there was a special counsel in the field investigating his role into a possible effort to obstruct the Russian investigation. There were various options in responding to the New York Times story about emails to Trump’s son.

This was the worst of all available options. The president prevented his staff from insulating himself from the story and creating some crush space between him and his controversy. By inserting himself into the controversy, he harmed both his and his son’s legal position. Trump, once again, made the White House the center of gravity for the scandal rather than Trump Tower or the campaign….

However, it still does not make it a crime. Take Tribe’s witness tampering claim. The statutory provision in 18 U.S.C. 1512 addresses an effort to “corruptly persuade another person” to “influence” testimony of that person in the withholding of information. This language has never been extended to a public statement of this kind.

First, there was no existing demand for testimony from Trump Jr. on this meeting. Second, there is no evidence that Trump told his son to lie about the email or the original understanding of the meeting. This was not coaching for testimony but a public defense. Third, even if this were construed to be about testimony, the law contains an express affirmative defense (that needs only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence) that “the conduct consisted solely of lawful conduct” and that the defendant intended to encourage truthful testimony. The Trumps have emphasized what the meeting primarily addressed while downplaying what it was intended to address. They did not address the original purpose in the statement.

Turley goes on to note the pernicious double standards being employed by Tribe and others corrupted by their “resistance” fervor.”

“The Clintons were famous for such spins. Indeed, with knowledge of an ongoing investigation in the field, Clinton repeatedly changed her account of the use of a personal server to transmit sensitive and classified information. It went from an assertion that no classified material was sent (which is untrue) to a statement that she never “received nor sent any material that was marked classified” (which is also untrue).”

Of course, Tribe never raised a peep about Hillary’s conduct on Twitter or anywhere else. Continue reading

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Debbie Wasserman Schultz And Her Shady Pakistani Tech

Obviously, this is not true. In fact, Anderson didn’t mention the story at all….

While the Trump-stalking pro-“resistance” news media has been lightning-quick to pounce on any whiff of suspicion emanating from everything from a botched opposition research attempt by the President’s idiot son, to a “secret” meeting between the President and Putin that was in plain view. to a shockingly friendly letter to the President from a 9-year-old, it has been strangely incurious about this story, which to the non Trump-deranged is belching more smoke than any two “scandals” being investigated by the special counsel. No headlines, no segments on the broadcast news, except for Fox, of course. I haven’t written about it because it’s difficult to find sources other than Fox and Breitbart to rely on. I’m still unsure what exactly it all means

Up to the moment he was arrested for bank fraud as he attempted to leave the country for Pakistan,  Imran Awan was being paid by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer (added immediately and shamelessly after having to resign after being revealed as leading the rigging of the nomination against Bernie Sanders and for Hillary), and hilariously dishonest spinner for Barack Obama for eight years, as her trusted IT guy. Well, as her IT guy, anyway.

Aswan’s wife, Hina Alvi, also in the family business of being paid by Democrats, had already fled the country with her three young daughters. The Awans  had snagged a fraudulent $165,000 loan  from the Congressional Federal Credit Union, and sent it home to Pakistan. Aswan’s position with the DNC and Wasserman-Schultz had given him and other nefarious collaborators—his relatives!— in various Hill IT department years of access to the e-mails and electronic files of members of the House’s Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. They were accessing members’ computers without their knowledge, transferring files to remote servers, and stealing computer equipment, including hard drives.

The Democrats fired all of the Awans early this year, except, oddly, for Awan himself, who stayed on Debbie’s staff, collecting a heft salary.  She kept him in a place that allowed  access to the work product and communications of members of  United States Congress right up until he was arrested.

What does this mean? We don’t know yet, and the news media is acting as if it doesn’t want to know. Asks Andrew McCarthy, Continue reading

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Bravo! Professor Turley And Sir Thomas More On The Disgraceful, Dangerous, And Deranged Professionals Of “The Resistance”

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.

Echoing More, Turley writes, Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/15/2017

Gooooood Morning Ethics Alarms Readers in Vietnam (3, 501 views so far)!!

1. I am three new rationalizations and at least two Comments of the Day behind. Sorry.

2. One of the more creative efforts to make Donald Trump Jr.’s aborted opposition research meeting seem significant, sinister and one more step to the impeachment “the resistance” and the news media so, so desperately want is this article in the Washington Post, by a Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, the director of the Intelligence and Defense Project at Harvard’s Belfer Center, who was a director of intelligence and counterintelligence at the Department of Energy and previously a CIA intelligence officer in domestic and international posts. His analysis is a masterpiece of projection, supposition, unwarranted assumptions and exaggeration. Rolf’s argument is that the meeting is important because it constituted a “green light” to Russia that the Trump campaign approved of Russian meddling in the election, would not blow the whistle on it, would be open to more serious involvement, and would respond to such action with future quid pro quo favors. All of this, simply based on the willingness to meet on the hopes of acquiring dirt on Hillary Clinton.

It is useful a a microcosm of the entire Russia-Trump conspiracy theory, and indeed conspiracy theories generally. Applied to an agreement between a married man and a single woman to have drinks together, the fact that the man never tells his spouse about the meeting means that the man thought the meeting was illicit, was open to having adulterous sex with the woman, would react favorably to the woman’s subsequent efforts to undermine his marriage, and was a green light to the woman to escalate her seduction. But as in the case of Trump’s meeting, a married man having drinks with an unmarried woman is not illicit, no matter what Mike Pence thinks, and is not proof of any further actions or unethical intent no matter what conclusions the woman leaps to. There is also the disconnect that under Mowatt-Larssen’s analysis and his version of the Russian thinking, Donald Trump Jr was central to the Trump campaign rather than incidental. He also seems to think the right hand in this chaotic organization knew what the right hand was doing, which we know not to be true. Continue reading

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