“Nixon was pardoned, and the gut punch to our body politic turned into a festering cynicism about our leaders, which has only grown in the years since. Nixon should have been held accountable. And so should Donald Trump. Another gut punch may prove fatal.”
—-Esteemed actress Glenn Close, who was raised in a cult, whose only jobs have involved performing before and after college (where she majored in theater), and who has no more expertise or authority on these issues than anyone else, including my favorite Harris Teeter check-out clerk, in a letter to the editor that was given op-ed opinion status by the New York Times….because, you see, she’s a great actress, so of course her opinion is special.
Boy, am I sick of writing versions of this post.
Hollywood “resistance” culture and cant notwithstanding, there are no parallels between President Richard Nixon and President Donald Trump, other than the fact that most journalists hated both of them. Even in that respect, there are material differences: the journalists who hated Nixon at least made a pass at objective reporting, though they were thrilled when he provided them with an opportunity to attack. As has been documented here so often that even I’m bored with it, the tactics of the resistance/Democratic Party/ mainstream media regarding Trump was to assume he had committed heinous acts, and to see their task as removing him from office (or making sure he never again runs for office) by searching for some justification. This was the strategy that led to the two weak and unconstitutional impeachments and that produced the list of Big Lies fed to the public throughout Trump’s term in office (and after). It is an unethical and sinister strategy, and the approach of various prosecutors—“Let’s search for something we can get this guy on!” is a breach of legal and prosecutorial ethics as well.
Now THAT was an insurrection! On August 22 in 1831, Nat Turner, an educated slave, killed his owner and escaped withe seven followers, planning onrecruiting a slave army and capturing Virginia’s Southampton county armory. His strategy was then to march 30 miles to Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp, where his army could hide out and strike at will. Turner and his recruits attacked homes throughout Southampton County, killing about 60 white men, women and children. The Virginia state militia, with greatly larger numbers, ended the rebellion while killing many of those who had joined him. The episode resulted in vengeful lynching of many slaves, even those who were not involved in Turner’s revolt
Nat Turner eluded capture until the end of October. Unrepentant, he was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged on November 11.
I noticed, in researching this story, that apparently the word “slave” is now taboo, and the politically correct term is “enslaved people.“
They were slaves. That is what I will continue to call them. Next we will be commanded to refer to them as “non-volunteer unpaid employees.” The only way to stop creeping Orwellian linguistics is to refuse to tolerate it.
1. Careful…whatever it is that Liz Cheney has might be contagious. Cheney’ s vainglorious self-celebration and presumption of martyrdom after being justly crunched by Republican primary voters in Wyoming was quickly followed by an even more outrageous display of imagined virtue by the ridiculous Brian Stelter, now looking for some other news organization to help pervert. Among a myriad of other flaws, Stelter’s fake journalism watchdog show, “Reliable Sources,” had finally tanked in the ratings (along with CNN in general), perhaps because it no longer even pretended to report informatively on how well (and ethically) the news media was doing its job, and was only repeating anti-Trump, anti-conservative talking points and attacking Fox News.
In his final show, instead of leaving in an ethical and dignified manner, Stelter decided to perform a Cheney on steroids. Among his gagworthy declarations was that “teachers use segments from this show all the time in classrooms, in lessons, guiding and teaching the next generation.”
Shepard, who has been obsessed with Watergate for decades and has written three previous books about the scandal, forced the release of a secret prosecutors’ “road map” used to convince a grand jury to indict key Watergate figures and spur the impeachment inquiry. He also claims his research shows that Watergate prosecutors were coordinating with Judge Sirica, which was one reason many of them, included the sainted Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, improperly took documents with them when they left the case. Amusingly (I guess), the Washington Examiner calls this “a big legal no-no.” That’s one way of putting it, I guess—a stupid way. If true, it’s grounds for disbarment for the lawyers and impeachment for the judge.
What Ethics Alarms terms the Axis of Unethical Conduct or AUC—the alliance of the Democratic Party, “the resistance” and the mainstream news media—reached a new low in hostility to democracy and new high in hypocrisy yesterday after it was confirmed that the turnout for President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa had been undermined by Nixon-style “dirty tricks.”
Yesterday morning, the front page of the Times was gloating over the surprisingly small audience for the President. Written by a team including staff Trump assassin Maggie Haberman, the story, which yesterday had a headline stating that the rally “sputtered” and on line says it “fizzled,” said in part, “The weakness of Mr. Trump’s drawing power and political skills, in a state that voted for him overwhelmingly and in a format that he favors, raised new questions about his electoral prospects for a second term at a time when his poll numbers were already falling.” It quickly became clear that there were sinister factors at work, but the reporters allowed confirmation bias to suppress what should have been an automatic instinct: “Gee, what could have caused this?” Instead, they went with an analysis based on their desires and hostility to the President, and presented readers with fake news.
Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias.
It soon became clear that Tik-Tok and K-Pop users, mostly teenagers, reserved hundreds of tickets for the rally, without any intention of showing up. Brian Stelter, CNN’s risible “media watchdog,” happily reported Sunday morning,
“And it seems that one of the other reasons why there were so many empty seats is a no-show protest. A no-show protest. This all started with a video on TikTok created by Mary Jo Laupp, who is effectively being called a ‘TikTok grandma.’ So, she made a video more than a week ago urging viewers to go to Trump’s site, sign up to attend the rally, but pointedly not show up at the rally. And look, it did seem to work to some degree. We don’t know exactly how well but Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale was out there talking about how many people were signing up…..
In a tweet, Parscale had announced that there had been 800,000 requests for tickets.
Stelter then rewarded the organizer of this operation by bringing her on his show to interview. Her rationalization for the dirty trick was that black activists were angry because the President had scheduled his rally on the same week as “Juneteenth,” that revered annual holiday that virtually no one, including CNN, had ever talked about before the George Floyd Freakout. Continue reading →
Egil Krogh died this week. By the time of his death he was all but forgotten, but during the fevered days of the Watergate scandal’s unraveling, he was the Nixon henchman whose name nobody could pronounce. (It’s Ed-gel Crow-G) He was an original member of the infamous group known as “The Plumbers,” the secret White House unit that broke into the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, and later into the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate complex. By the time of the latter operation, Krogh had withdrawn from the Plumbers because he decided its mission—make sure Nixon won the election by any means necessary–was improper, but it was too late. He became the first member of the Nixon team to go to jail, then was disbarred. His fall was a lesson to all lawyers, indeed all human beings, about the insidious ways and unethical culture can corrupt the best of us. Continue reading →
I’m supposed to be student of American Presidential history, and even I had virtually forgotten about William Ruckelshaus, who just died. It was Ruckelshaus who, along with Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson, rejected Ethics Rationalization #15, The Futility Illusion or “If I don’t do it, somebody else will” when the United States of America needed a hero, and got two.
His moment of courage arrived on an October night in 1973 destined to be known in the annals of American history as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Ruckelshaus was then Assistant Attorney General, and President Richard Nixon, was panicked that the ongoing investigation by Special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox was closing in on his blatant obstruction of justice. A White House-triggered burglary of the Democratic National Committee’s offices at the now-famous Foggy Bottom condo complex and hotel in Washington, D.C., seemed about to bring Nixon down, so Nixon resolved to have cripple the investigation by having Cox removed. Ruckelshaus was the second of three officials the beleaguered POTUS ordered to fire the Harvard law professor. For some reason Nixon thought this might relieve him from having to produce the nine incriminating Oval Office tape recordings that Cox had subpoenaed.
Ruckelshaus, under Nixon the first head of the new Environmental Protection Agency, had been named acting head of the FBI in April of 1973, replacing L. Patrick Gray III. He was soon named the top deputy to Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson. When Nixon ordered the mild-mannered Richardson to fire Cox that fateful night, Richardson shocked Nixon by refusing, and resigning immediately. That made Ruckelshaus the Acting Attorney General, and he was suddenly on the hot seat, tasked with carrying out Nixon’s legally and ethically questionable orders.
Cox had been guaranteed complete independence by Nixon and Attorney General Richardson during the prosecutor’s Senate confirmation hearings in May of 1972. Congress directed that he could be be removed only for “gross malfeasance” in office, and by October 20, 1973, there had been none. “I thought what the president was doing was fundamentally wrong,” Ruckelshaus said later. “I was convinced that Cox had only been doing what he had the authority to do; what was really of concern to the President and the White House was that he was too close. He hadn’t engaged in any extraordinary improprieties, quite the contrary.” Continue reading →
As with Saddam’s disastrous bluff, the “we have enough for impeachment but we’re not going to impeach just yet” dance involves some reckless brinkmanship and depends on corrupt and under the table alliances, with the mainstream media replacing the U.N and its complicit members. So far the media has neglected to educate the public regarding how desperate and absurd the current subpoena tactic is, with its close similarity to the Radical Republicans’ attempt to get rid of President Andrew Johnson by demanding that he obey an illegal law, the Tenure of Office Act. (“Andrew Johnson? Who’s that? You must mean Lyndon Johnson, right? No?”)
As Johnson did, President Trump has a Constitutional obligation to protect the Separation of Powers from a House majority intent on abusing its oversight powers. The House Democrats are simultaneously claiming that they have enough WMDs—lets’ call them WTDs, Weapons of Trump’ Destruction—to take down the President, while they continue to search desperately for what they are lying about having. Thus they are demanding that they see the unredacted Mueller report, which would be illegal, getting Trump’s tax documents, which would be a dangerous abuse of privacy and the oversight function, and forcing the former White House Counsel to reveal privileged information, which he cannot legally or ethically do. The idea appears to be to let these orchestrated controversies distract the public and continue into the 2020 campaign, with the Democrats running on a “he should be impeached, but it’s easier just to beat him” theme.
The only question is whether the news media will be any more successful saving the Democrats from their dishonest and dangerous bluff than the U.N.’s crooks were protecting Saddam. I doubt it. The U.N. had and even now has more credibility than the self-flaying news media, and for good reason.
Last week, for example, two New York Times columnists made foolishly weak arguments that Trump had committed impeachable offenses. For clinically Trump-deranged Charles Blow, for whom every column is a barely restrained primal scream against Trump’s existence, the imagined offense is criticizing the press for being exactly as corrupt, biased and untrustworthy as Blow proves it is every week. His own dishonesty is what distinguishes the column; for example, he writes that a poll (Blow loves cherry-picking polls, a flaw he shares with Trump) found that 49% to 36%, Republicans agree that the news media is “the enemy of the people,” but all other groups say that the media “is an important part of democracy.” Continue reading →
1. Handicapped. Unfortunately, my circumstances on this trip, which include a draining computer, hours of driving, the usual vicissitudes of travel but time two (my wife is with me), and multiple speaking responsibilities are going to influence my choice of topics. This is the blogging ethicist’s version of dealing with a disability, as I was discussing in yesterday’s seminar.
It is not unethical for a lawyer to continue to practice law while he or she has a drinking problem, or is developing dementia, or has the flu, but it iss unethical to do so while any of these maladies threaten to diminish the lawyer’s trustworthiness, diligence, zeal or competence. The professional has an ethical obligation to manage disabilities. In my case, several ethics issues that are in the news will require more concentration and analysis to handle well than I am able to muster right now, as I type with one eye on the battery charge and try to work in a hotel room with more than the usual distractions and interruptions. The participation of the White House Counsel in the Mueller investigation, for example, will just have to wait.
We are going to try to find a new power cord today. No, the hotel business center computers won’t do: there isn’t enough time to get even a single post up on them, among other impediments. Continue reading →
1 I want to sincerely thank the Boston Red Sox for giving me, the sole baseball ethicist on the web who also devotes a disturbing amount of his time, energy and passion to following the team, the challenge and opportunity to address a major cheating scandal involving the organization and institution I love. Seriously, guys, thank you. This is exactly what I needed to face after staying up past 1 AM watching the Sox pull out a 19 inning, 6 hour game on Hanley Ramirez’s bloop single to center.
I’ll cover the issue in the next post. Ugh.
2. Ironically, just as the anti-Trump news media was hyperventilating over the fact that the Special Counsel was examining a draft letter by the President regarding his reasons for firing James Comey (draft letters have minimal probative value if any, but you know: Trump), it came to light that in May of 2016, Comey had drafted a statement declining to charge Hillary Clinton or her staff in the State Department e-mail scandal, months before key witnesses (like Clinton herself) had been interviewed or much of the evidence had been reviewed. President Trump, of course, tweeted that this proved there was a “rigged process,” but Comey’s draft is no more incriminating that Trump’s draft. (Now, Loretta Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clintonmight suggest a rigged process, but that’s another story.)
Supreme Court Justices have drafted opinions before oral argument; that doesn’t mean they can’t change their minds. It is certainly odd that Comey would have drafted a statement that Clinton would not be indicted so long before the investigation was completed. It is odder still that Hillary’s interview was not under oath, that it wasn’t videotaped, that there was no transcript, and that she was allowed to have representing her as an attorney at the session a top aide who was also a potential witness.
Professor Turley, in a column at The Hill, agrees that the early draft doesn’t implicate the integrity of the investigation, but raises a related issue:
While I am inclined to accept assurances from Comey that he did not finally decide on charges until after reviewing all of the evidence, the details from the Clinton investigation hardly support a view of a robust and dogged effort in comparison to the type of investigation of people like Paul Manafort.
In pursuing Manafort, special counsel Robert Mueller has now enlisted an army of investigators, reached a cooperative relationship with staunch Trump critic New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and actively pursued tax and financial dealings far afield of the original Russian collusion allegations. He also ordered a heavy-handed (and unnecessary) “no knock” search in the middle of the night on Manafort’s home.
The Clinton investigation looks like Club Fed in comparison. Clinton and her staff refused to cooperate with State Department investigators seeking confirm any damage to national security. Key laptops were withheld and only turned over after Comey’s staff agreed to destroy the computers after their review, despite the relevance of the evidence to congressional investigations. Comey then cut five immunity deals with key Clinton staff members, including former State Department staffer, Bryan Pagliano, who set up a server in Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, N.Y., and worked for her at the State Department.
Pagliano refused to cooperate after invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and destroyed evidence after being given a preservation order. Those deals raised the concern over a type of prosecutorial planned obsolescence, making a viable case less likely.
The amusing part is that all of this circles back to Comey’s firing, which was justified by his handling of the Clinton investigation regardless of any other factors.
3. The New York Times today reviews a festival play called “___hole.” That’s not really the title, however, although “___hole” was printed twice as the play title before the Times made this clear. A comment by the reviewer noted that the real title couldn’t “get past the editors.” Continue reading →
This comment by Humble Talent, one of several COTD entries he has made lately, has to get up today before the ick that was the Alabama Senate Race subsides, and the comment feels moot—though it would not be.
But first, my epiphany about investigative reporting…
Humble’s comment made me realize something that was right in front of my eyes, and has been for a long time, and yet I never before connected the dots. This is especially galling because it involves distrust of the news media, and as you know, I think about this a lot.
What I only now realize, thanks to Humble Talent, is that investigative reporting is virtually always partisan or agenda-driven one way or the other. It isn’t the highest form of journalism, as we of the post-Watergate era have been taught to believe. It may be the most sinister.
Journalists can’t investigate everything. They have to choose what to investigate, and when, and those choices are inevitably determined by biases and political agendas. If choices are made, and they have to be—what do we investigate, about who? When do we know we have something worth printing? When do we run it? What will happen if we do?—the choices will reflect biases, unless coins are flipped and lots are drawn.
I never thought about whether the timing of the Roy Moore teen dates stories the Post ran were timed to come out when they did. But Humble makes me think: did the Post bother to look for dirt on Jones? I doubt it. I think an editor said, “This guy Moore is horrible. I bet there’s some scandal out there that can take him down, maybe a sex scandal. Let’s dig.” The Post sees that as a public service—Moore is objectively horrible—but the “investigative reporting” is essentially opposition research to benefit the Democratic candidate. Then the damning results of the investigation were published when they were deemed to be able to cause the most chaos in the campaign.
Why didn’t this occur to me when I was watching “Spotlight”? We see, in that film about the Boston Globe’s investigation into child abuse in the Boston Catholic Diocese, how the story was held up for months as a mater of tactics and politics. The story almost wasn’t run at all. Now, why did I just assume that it was random chance that…
I’m an idiot. Was I the only one this gullible? I knew that the press could have ended JFK’s Presidency almost at will, but was intimidated out of doing so and wasn’t that unhappy about it. I knew the press intentionally kept the Clinton rape allegation from the public, for fear it would affect the impeachment outcome. I knew that CBS and Dan Rather’s investigative reporting about President Bush’s National Guard conduct was devised and timed (and falsified) to give Kerry the election.
Investigative reporting regarding politics is always politically driven. It has to be.
I am completely dedicated to the Bill of Rights’ guarantee of a free and unencumbered press. A democracy without a free press is doomed. I am also convinced that a free press that abuses its power and influence is as great a threat to democracy as no free press at all.
Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the post, “The Popeye,” From The Ethics Alarms Ethics Estoppel Files: I Can Say The Republican Party Is Rotting, Democrats, But You Can’t: Continue reading →