Ethics Nosegay,2/14/20: A New Ethics Train Wreck For Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love to all!

What does the Easter Bunny sing on Valentine’s Day? Every bunny loves some bunny sometime…

1. Yes, I think the Roger Stone sentencing mess is an Ethics Train Wreck now. As usual, several cars have been reserved by the President, whose dumb tweeting raised the appearance of impropriety and fed his ravenous critics, who will read anything he does in the worst light possible. Good for AG Barr for saying that such public White House word-barfs make it difficult for Barr to do his job.

The President really and truly does not seem to understand how his own job works: if he makes it known what his personal policy desires are, that’s potentially going to influence policy-makers who are supposed to be independent. Why is this so hard to grasp? True, it would be beyond moronic, if the President wanted to interfere with Barr’s handling of the Stone matter, for him to use Twitter rather than to pick up the phone. Also true: Trump has done things equally dumb.

Do you think the President knows the story of Thomas Becket’s murder, triggered when  King Henry II’s shouted out, to no one in particular, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” Two knights decided to make King Henry happy, though they had received no orders. Imagine if President Obama had tweeted—we know he would have been smart enough to just have an aide whisper in Lois Lerner’s ear— “Boy, these tea party groups are a scam! How do they warrant non-profit status?” before the IRS scandal unfolded.

Nonetheless, as is usually buried in Trump Derangement Enabling articles like this one, there are no knights in this case who can do Trump’s wish-fulfillment. “Just as he used US government power to smear Joe Biden in the Ukraine scandal, he succeeded in getting favorable treatment for a friend in the Stone case — though the final sentence will be up to a judge,” the CNN article reveals (let’s see) eight paragraphs in.  Trump can stand on his head shouting “Free Stone!” through a megaphone; he has no leverage with the judge. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/18/19: Redacted Mueller Report Freak-Out Edition

Good morning!

1. Mueller report ethics!

  • Note the names and employers of the pundits and reporters who opine on the 400 page report (to be released today around 11:00 am) before they could possibly read it. [Althouse this morning: “What can they do, once 11 rolls around, to avoid continuing to analyze the Barr presentation (which will include denouncing his decision to do a press conference and dominate the news in advance of the release of the text)? You can be cynical and say the text won’t affect the media, and everyone will keep saying what they were already saying, and that is, in fact, my baseline assumption. The TV news is awful.” Yes, it certainly is.]
  • The New York Times and others are incensed that the Justice Department briefed the President on the report before it was released to the public. This is Trump Derangement, pure and unadulterated. The President has a right to see the report, and the Justice Department is part of the executive branch, which the President oversees.I’d want to be briefed ahead of the release if I were President, especially with a biased news media and a crazed “resistance” preparing to make it look as bad as possible no matter what it says. The complaint is one more entry in “Journalist making the public dumber.”
  • Ken Starr, also indulging in “future news,” says that he is concerned that the report will read like an anti-Trump manifesto. I will be surprised. It is true that the Mueller had some questionably aggressive prosecutors on the team, but the report has Mueller’s name on it and it is his historical legacy. He is regarded in D.C. and in legal circles as professional and fair. I would expect him to keep the report as factual and non-political as possible.
  • In Attorney General Bill Barr’s (completely appropriate) press conference this morning, he said in  part,

Continue reading

Lunch Time Ethics Regurgitation, 4/11/2019: Meltdowns, Mistakes And More

Are you hungry for some ethics???

1. Good! Julian Assange was arrested yesterday after Ecuador withdrew its protection of him, which has gone on for six years. His defense will apparently be that he’s a journalist, and published true information. It’s still illegal to publish classified documents, and I doubt this will stand up, but even if he is legally cleared, the ethics verdict is easy. His objective was to cause chaos, and he knowingly got people killed. He facilitated a flat-out traitor with poor, sad, dumb, confused Bradley, now Chelsea, Manning. Even the good Wikileaks did by exposing the corruption and rot in the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s orbit doesn’t begin to mitigate his status as an ethics villain. (See: The Ruddigore Fallacy)

2. Stop making me defend Rep. Omar! Republicans and conservative media are having a meltdown (we’ll get to the Left’s meltdown in a bit) because loose cannon Democratic Congresswoman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) referred to the 9/ll terrorist murders occurring because “some people did something.” This is exactly the kind of “gotcha!” President Trump has been attacked with repeatedly, almost daily, because he uses words with the care and precision of an infant playing with matches. The trick is to choose the most negative intention and meaning imaginable—and sometimes not imaginable  without dishonest spin—and then to launch that damning meaning into the public discourse. It stinks, and the method stinks whether the speaker is the President or a rogue, anti-Semite Democrat.  An example of the smear used against Trump was some news media and my Facebook Trump-Deranged friends claiming that this, in a tweet complaining about Saturday Night Live, was a serious call for a federal investigation:

…Should Federal Election Commission and/or FCC look into this? There must be Collusion with the Democrats and, of course, Russia!

 

Bias makes you stupid. Continue reading