Presenting Rationalization #63, “Yoo’s Rationalization,” And How It Missed Getting On The List This Long, I’ll Never Know

no-means-yesRationalization #63, the eighty-first rationalization overall when you add up the sub-rationalizations on the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List, is a major one, and should be near the top. (One of these days I’ll re-arrange and renumber them.) It is in evidence almost every day, and embodies the human fallacy of denial, as well as confirmation bias and contrived ignorance. Named after John Yoo, the Bush lawyer who wrote the infamous memo declaring that waterboarding, an “enhanced interrogation technique,” wasn’t technically torture, Rationalization #63, Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is,” is one of the most effective self-deceptions there is, a handy-dandy way to avoid logic, conscience, accountability and reality.*

I saw a prime example of it this morning, in former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s op-ed about the “Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals Program,” a euphemism for “amnesty for illegal immigrants who arrived as kids with their parents, so they can grow up and vote Democratic.”

She writes,

“This narrative about an initiative that has given temporary haven and work authorization to more than 700,000 undocumented minors, the so-called Dreamers, still has critics howling about presidential overreach, about brazen nose-thumbing at the rule of law and about encouraging others to breach the borders of the United States. But there’s a problem with this take on the program. It is dead wrong.”

What the program really is, she explains, is “prosecutorial discretion,” like the case by case discretion prosecutors have to use to avoid misusing resources.  This is Rationalization #63.

The President signed an order directing a specific group in violation of a clear and unambiguous law, to be immune from prosecution. That’s not ethical prosecutorial discretion as I learned it in law school, or how anyone did. That’s Presidential over-reach, undermining the intent of Congress. It also is “brazen nose-thumbing at the rule of law,” by definition: the law says the group, nearly a million of them, is in continuing violation of the law, and the President says, “Forget the law.” It certainly encourages illegal immigrants to cross our borders illegally to acquire the benefits for their children this order ensures. It is not legitimate “prosecutorial discretion,” which never involves nullification, as in “Well, we’re just not enforcing this law, and that’s that.”

The entire effort to waive the law and the necessary penalties for living illegally within U.S. borders is built on #63, or, if you want to be unkind, lies. These aren’t illegal immigrants, advocates insist, they are “Dreamers.” You know, like in the American Dream! How can anyone want to do anything but hug Dreamers? Enthuses Napolitano:

“Dreamers, among other requirements, came to the United States as children, developed deep roots in the country and have become valuable contributors to their community. They must be in high school or have a diploma, or be a veteran, and they cannot have been convicted of a felony or major misdemeanor.”

Developing deep roots where you don’t belong and live illegally is called “making enforcement difficult.” In the middle of the 20th Century, there were instances of ambitious students attending elite colleges and professional schools without being admitted, joining study groups and clubs, taking exams, doing well, thoroughly embedding themselves in campus life, and then, when they were discovered, pointing to the fact that they had “deep roots” in the institution and not only that, had excelled. Some schools fell for it, and let the frauds stay. (My father had a friend who got into Harvard Law School that way.) Now they kick them right out, and right they are. Becoming “valuable contributors to the community” is a dodge: one who violates a nation’s laws is res ipsa loquitur  a negative influence on the society and the culture. This “deep roots” argument isn’t persuasive when fugitives from justice start new lives under new names in new communities. Whatever they do after (or during) their violations of the law doesn’t erase or mitigate the violations. Going to high school under the false pretense of being legally in the country is wrong, not an act worthy of reward. Why should not breaking other laws justify the government ignoring the breach of the immigration requirements?

The entire argument for the “Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals Program” is based on calling it something other than it is, and for its advocates, giving them the benefit of the doubt, really believing that it isn’t what it is.

Examples of this are everywhere. Paul Krugman, the wildly progressive economist and Times columnist, began his last column like this:

“Remember all the news reports suggesting, without evidence, that the Clinton Foundation’s fund-raising created conflicts of interest?”

The Clinton Foundation’s fundraising created a conflict of interest, by definition. For a non-profit organization, with family connections to either a current Secretary of State or a Presidential candidate, to accept money from any country, company or individual who has or might have interests that the Secretary or potential President can advance is a conflict. It’s indisputable. No further ‘evidence” is needed.”

How does Krugman, a Clinton enabler and apologist through and through, deal with this problem? Simple: he convinces himself that screaming conflicts aren’t what they are without “evidence,” by which he means “proof of a quid pro quo.” But a quid pro quo is bribery, not a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest might lead to bribery, but a conflict is created as soon as there is a tangible reason for an official’s loyalties to be divided.

Ah, but Krugman couldn’t make his unending claims that Hillary Clinton was as pure as Ivory Soap if he allowed himself to admit that she was buried in conflicts of interest. His solution is to retreat into the fantasy of Rationalization #63“Conflicts of interest? Those weren’t conflicts of interest! I don’t see any conflicts of interest!”

Again, I am giving Krugman the benefit of a huge doubt, and assuming that he doesn’t know damn well that this was a conflict, and is deceiving himself rather than isn’t trying to mislead others. Knowing Krugman, this is difficult, but I’m a trusting guy.

Last week’s battles with defenders of the Hamilton cast’s unethical treatment of Mike Pence was what first caused me to realize that the absence of this rationalization left an inexcusably gaping hole in the list. Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is” was third, behind only  #2 A. Sicilian Ethics, or “They had it coming” and #28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times” among the myriad rationalizations used to defend the “Hamilton ” cast’s ambush, and it could only be defended by rationalizations. There were no ethical defenses.

“Oh, no,” they said in unison, “this wasn’t harassment! Harassment isn’t polite.”

Harassment is making an individual feel uncomfortable in a place where the individual has a right to be, by unwarranted words, attitudes, treatment or attention. Constantly telling a particular employee or colleague that she is gorgeous, sexy, attractive or “hot” is harassment, no matter how nicely it is done. A waiter singling a diner out for criticism when he or she is trying to enjoy a meal, or a nearby diner politely pestering a celebrity for an autograph are both harassment. So was an entire cast singling out Pence for a “nice” political rant, in the midst of a an audience who had demonstrated its hostility by booing him.

“But this was just a conversation!” claimed the cast.

Again, I’ll generously assume for the sake of argument that the cast had convinced itself that a prepared speech, from the stage, made after a performance, in full costume, begun with a directive to “hear us,” with no opportunity for the target of the “conversation” to respond, was a conversation rather than what it was, a rude, unprecedented bullying of an audience member who expected, and who should have been allowed, to be treated like every other member of every other Broadway audience since shows started being produced there in the early 10th century.

So the actors weren’t lying. They were just deceiving themselves, by convincing themselves that what they did was not what they did.

Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is.”

It’s everywhere.

And finally, it’s on the list.

*NOTE: I realize that #63  also could be named after Orwell’s “1984,” and called “Big Brother’s Rationalization” in homage to “War is Peace,” etc. But John Yoo deserves it.

 

54 Comments

Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

54 responses to “Presenting Rationalization #63, “Yoo’s Rationalization,” And How It Missed Getting On The List This Long, I’ll Never Know

  1. One quibble here, Jack. The President and the Executive Branch aren’t bound in any way to follow the “intent of Congress.” The Supreme Court put a nail in this idea in Chadda vs United States, or maybe U.S v Chadda. Congress’s only way to manage the Executive is through enacting laws.

    • luckyesteeyoreman

      “Congress’s only way to manage the Executive is through enacting laws.”

      Laws that have to be signed by the President, or enacted by congressional vote to override a president’s veto – or nullified by the Supreme Court.

      With today’s partyism (and virtual one-party control of Congress), combined with the already ridiculously over-centralized and over-empowered federal government, that political Catch-22 is what makes the POTUS a de facto dictator. Which is why I support a constitutional amendment that would empower the legislatures and governors of the states to act collectively as an Electoral Guard against federal overreach.

      • zoebrain

        Haven’t you noticed that the same one party also controls most of the governorships and state legislatures?

        • This is what happens when another party steamrolls over dissent and opposing positions and ideas while denigrating its opposition as racist, sexist, cruel and misogynist, has serial incompetence at all levels without accountability, then has its brilliant policies fail spectacularly, claiming they are great triumphs all the while. It’s cause and effect, as well as justice and just desserts—also negative reinforcement, a chance to learn.

          • Jack Marshall said, “This is what happens when another party steamrolls over dissent and opposing positions and ideas while denigrating its opposition as racist, sexist, cruel and misogynist, has serial incompetence at all levels without accountability…”

            Liberal extremist (Progressives) in the political left thought they were invincible and made the bed to fit their hive-minded ideology. They never considered that reality could be the equivalent of a software virus that infected their hive mind.

            Jack Marshall said, “then has its brilliant policies fail spectacularly”

            True from our point of view; however, in the mind of a Liberal…

            Jack Marshall said, “claiming they are great triumphs all the while.”

            If you don’t think they were “great triumphs” then you’re clearly not thinking like a Liberal; consider that Liberal Magical Thinking is part of the Liberal hive mind.

            Jack Marshall said, “It’s cause and effect”

            Sorry but the Liberal hive mind doesn’t fully understand that concept; it does believe that correlation of their choice equals causation and above all it’s always the other guy’s fault. Remember; Conservatives are wrong, there ends critical thinking for the hive minded political left.

            Jack Marshall said, “justice and just desserts”

            Even though that sounds like a rationalization, I completely agree. Too bad it’s Trump delivering the “justice and just desserts”. At this point I’m thinking that a Wombat could have beat Clinton.

            Jack Marshall said, “a chance to learn.”

            People can only learn from things they accept as truth or fact. It’s clearly built into the ideology of Liberals & Progressives that they are never wrong and they will never “accept” anything that doesn’t agree with their ideology.

            An example of the political left’s inability to learn; Nancy Pelosi was chosen again as House Democratic leader today. It appears that they didn’t get the message from the voters. The path of Liberal stupidity will never be broken.

  2. You put into words that which my mind knew was there but I’ve not been able to communicate it. Every time I typed up a comment trying to share my thoughts on this I ended up deleting it because the way I worded it, it was confusing.

    Great addition to the list.

  3. luckyesteeyoreman

    Jack: Question – trying to be fair here – is “prosecutorial discretion” ethical in response to previously negligent or incompetent enforcement over a span of time and multiple executive administrations?

    Or, does the fact that ballot box-stuffing, being the obvious aim of the “dreamer”-enablers, mean that a claim of “prosecutorial discretion” is UNethical when the same political party that was most negligent and incompetent in doing its part with enforcement makes such a claim?

  4. Chris

    Going to high school under the false pretense of being legally in the country is wrong, not an act worthy of reward.

    Do you really believe most high schoolers who do this have any choice in the matter? Generally, they’re kids who came over with their parents, often when they were much younger. What should they do? Refuse to go to school? Turn in their parents? Hitch a ride back to Mexico? If a young person who has already come into this country illegally going to high school is wrong, what is the right course of action for them?

    • It a problem. Wouldn’t want to be them. But it places the US in an impossible situation as well, and does indeed create a bright, shiny incentive for parents to break the law. If their parents obeyed our laws, they wouldn’t be in the dilemma: not our fault, not our jobs to suffer for it. Both options are unethical: it is ethics zugsawang.

      The children, once they are 18, have a legal and ethical duty to report themselves. Whatever happens after that, they can blame their parents, not me, not you. Telling them its fine,and we’ll let all illegal immigrants force us into rewarding their children whom they made lawbreakers—nope.

      • zoebrain

        Do the concepts of mens rea and “age of criminal responsibility” apply?

        What about the cases where children born overseas but adopted by US parents are being deported now if the parents neglected to have them naturalised, a process they weren’t informed was necessary?

        • The know they are illegally here by the time they are adults. Probably much earlier. Mt wife and I adopted our son, and we were well aware that we had to fulfill our obligations to protect him. If there is no penalty for violating a law, then there is no law. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Law doesn’t work any other way.

      • Other Bill

        Chris. What’s so terrible about these kids having to go back to their country of origin? What’s so great about living in the U.S? Isn’t Mexico a wonderful place. We see the Mexican flag waved proudly at most of these protests by or for “dreamers.” If diversity is so great, why isn’t it a good idea to have kids with an American background living in Mexico and increasing that country’s diversity?

      • Chris

        “The children, once they are 18, have a legal and ethical duty to report themselves.”

        I find that absurd.

        • A principle is at work here that is kissing cousins to the principle at work in this case.

          Wrongdoing committed as a child, or even being, as a child, party to wrong doing, still obligates one, once they reach majority, to rectify the wrong doing.

          • Chris

            I suppose my confusion arises because I see illegal immigration as a pretty low-level offense. If you as a 7-year-old see your parents steal a loaf of bread from the grocery store, are you morally obligated to go back when you turn 18 and inform the store, or the police? Why? What good does that do at that point?

            • “I suppose my confusion arises because I see illegal immigration as a pretty low-level offense.”

              And though it doesn’t rise to murder, equating it to stealing a loaf of bread is fairly indicative.

              The root of your error with your illegal-immigration conclusions is that your first principles are imbalanced. Illegal immigration IS more serious than you want to admit.

    • Chris said, “Do you really believe most high schoolers who do this have any choice in the matter? Generally, they’re kids who came over with their parents, often when they were much younger. What should they do? Refuse to go to school? Turn in their parents? Hitch a ride back to Mexico? If a young person who has already come into this country illegally going to high school is wrong, what is the right course of action for them?”

      Your overall tone sounds like you think that just because it’s hard to make a decision about right and wrong, it’s ok for everyone to do nothing and just ignore the wrong.

      God I hope you’re not a parent; because if you’re teaching your children this kind of immoral crap they are in for a hard, hard life.

      • Chris

        First of all, Zoltar, take your condescending tone and unsolicited parenting advice and shove it up your ass.

        Second, I’m not saying that ” because it’s hard to make a decision about right and wrong, it’s ok for everyone to do nothing and just ignore the wrong.” I was clearly asking if it is wrong for a child to refuse to snitch on their illegal immigrant parents. Clearly, I don’t think it is. I also asked a genuine question about what the right course of action is in that situation. To his credit, Jack gave an answer. One I find bizarre, but at least it was an answer. You gave nothing but sneering, busy-bodied judgment.

        • Is it the right thing to do for a child to ‘snitch’ on their parents, if say, they knew their parents stole $10,000 from a bank or a store?

          Or if they knew their parents were transporting drugs?

          Or if they knew their parents were rapists?

          Or if they knew their parents were committing any other crime?

          Or do you believe that family ties trump ethics?

          • To be sure though, as ethical as it would be for an illegal immigrant child reaching majority to turn themselves in DOES run against A HEAP of other ethical considerations and would therefore label that particular individual as an ethics hero.

            As Jack labels a mother who turned in her sons for murder.

            Another kissing cousin principle to this discussion.

          • Chris

            Most of those are much more serious crimes than illegal immigration, and cause clear, material harm. An active thief or rapist is a danger to society.

            If you found out your parents were growing weed, would you turn them in?

            • “Most of those are much more serious crimes than illegal immigration, and cause clear, material harm.”

              Illegal immigration doesn’t cause harm?

            • By the by, I don’t expect them to do anything regarding family. Family ties are incredibly strong. But I am telling you what the ethically heroic thing would be. For an illegal immigrant child to turn themselves in.

              But, you have a problem if you think it’s not unethical for the child to do nothing.

              There’s not a middle ground on judging the ethics of this, there are possibly insurmountably strong incentives to not do the ethical thing however.

              • Chris

                I would not find such an action heroic at all.

                • So if someone committed a crime, let’s even call it a relatively benign crime, for which the effects of the harm for the most part really have worn off, yet the crime was still committed and harm was still caused, and years down the line, the individual who committed it or was party to it, though in all likelihood will never ever ever ever ever get caught and has probably got a pretty decent future ahead of them, wouldn’t be taking heroic action to confess the crime and seek to rectify it?

                  Phenomenal.

                  I don’t know how you define hero. Most people consider someone who stifles personal gain or even risks considerable personal loss to Right a wrong or simply do the right thing as heroic.

                  • texagg04,
                    When a person has a twisted view on morality it shouldn’t come as big a surprise that they have a twisted view on what’s heroic.

                    If a Liberal didn’t think it, it’s wrong.

                  • Chris

                    So if someone committed a crime, let’s even call it a relatively benign crime, for which the effects of the harm for the most part really have worn off, yet the crime was still committed and harm was still caused, and years down the line, the individual who committed it or was party to it, though in all likelihood will never ever ever ever ever get caught and has probably got a pretty decent future ahead of them, wouldn’t be taking heroic action to confess the crime and seek to rectify it?

                    Not if the harms caused by confessing the crime outweigh the harm caused by committing the crime. Illegal immigration is often a case where rectifying the crime has worse consequences than ignoring it; in fact, it often has worse consequences than the crime itself.

                    • Chris said, “Not if the harms caused by confessing the crime outweigh the harm caused by committing the crime. Illegal immigration is often a case where rectifying the crime has worse consequences than ignoring it; in fact, it often has worse consequences than the crime itself.”

                      Is rationalizations truly the ONLY thing you are capable of writing?

        • Chris said, “First of all, Zoltar, take your condescending tone and unsolicited parenting advice and shove it up your ass.”

          I don’t care what you think of me, my opinion, or anything else on the planet. I invaded your safe place; you’re a big boy now, suck it up.

          Chris said, “Second, I’m not saying that ”because it’s hard to make a decision about right and wrong, it’s ok for everyone to do nothing and just ignore the wrong”, I was clearly asking if it is wrong for a child to refuse to snitch on their illegal immigrant parents. Clearly, I don’t think it is.”

          You’re not saying that they should ignore the wrong (illegal immigrant status) but you are saying that it isn’t wrong (as in ethically wrong) to refuse to snitch on their illegal immigrant (which is illegal and wrong) parents. Sorry Chris, but you are showing some Liberal Magical Thinking and basically talking out of both sides of your mouth. I think I hit the nail on the head when I said “sounds like you think that just because it’s hard to make a decision about right and wrong, it’s ok for everyone to do nothing and just ignore the wrong” and that irks you. I’m sure you’ll have at least a dozen Liberal talking points that imply but, but, but; but what you are suggesting (ignoring illegal activity) is morally bankrupt, thus my comment about parent.

          Chris said, “I also asked a genuine question about what the right course of action is in that situation. To his credit, Jack gave an answer. One I find bizarre, but at least it was an answer. You gave nothing but sneering, busy-bodied judgment.”

          Waaaaaaa……..

          You are correct that I didn’t answer any of your questions and I’m not required answer them. I’ll say this about your question laced comment; I considered every one of your questions to be rhetorical and specifically presented to deliver an overall opinionated tone. So if you think I’m evil for not answering any of your “rhetorical” questions, shoot me now because I’m not going to change.

          Now Chris, I think it’s about time you climb down from that pompous perch you’ve placed yourself upon before you fall and injure yourself.

  5. Other Bill

    This rationalization is used a great deal by the left. I’ve recently run across a term that is used to describe it:

    “Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception, and sanity. Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

    The term owes its origin to the 1938 play Gas Light and has been used in clinical and research literature.”

    It’s a favorite of Chris’s. He simply asserts that black is white and calls it good. It’s a good term to know as it’s a very popular tactic these days.

    • Other Bill,
      I just found this Gaslighting.

      Isn’t a simple way of describing this, brainwashing?

      As long as the left can keep their nonsense in the faces of the ignorant masses, eventually they think the masses will believe it. The left truly want’s to dumb down the public; an idiot that can’t reason is much easier to manipulate than an intelligent person that thinks critically.

      Remember…

      It’s not a lie if everyone believes it. It’s not the truth if no one believes it.

      • Wayne B

        Well, gaslighting seems to be the modus operandi in which the left in the USA and much of Europe seems to operate. A high school or university student who dares to express a contrary opinion in class will most likely be gaslighted or worse.

      • Other Bill

        ZMan, the thing I find interesting about “gaslighting” is that it’s a theraputic/mental illness term. It’s a technique crazy people use to drive other people crazy. I feel as if the left is trying to drive people nuts. So the term seems apt.Propaganda strikes me as more monolithic.rather than individual and personal. Classic passive-aggressive strategy.

        • I read something a while ago, I don’t remember where, that someone thought there must be a group of psychologists advising the leaders of the Democratic Party on how to manipulate, or brainwash, the population on a gradual but grand scale.

          • if you read something somewhere that someone thought, it must be worth posting. It’s probably true.

            • Ethics Bob said, “if you read something somewhere that someone thought, it must be worth posting. It’s probably true.”

              Imply whatever you like that makes heart sing but no Bob, I’m not that idiot in the video below that said “they can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true.” The memory was “relevant” to this particular conversation, so I shared it, that’s all.

              You’re barking up the wrong tree.

        • Other Bill

          But you are right. Done on a large scale as a concerted effort, gaslighting and propagandizing are essentially the same thing.

    • Chris

      Either explain how I did this, Other Bill, or kindly fuck yourself.

  6. It seems to me that the root of the illegal immigration problem is that lots of people really don’t want to live in Mexico (or, apparently, the rest of Central America, even though they already speak the language). Therefore the most effective solution would be to improve living conditions in Central America according to the standards of those who live there. But no; that’s too hard, that’s someone else’s problem, that’s meddling. Whatever happened to thinking big, and then developing the skills to back it up?

    • The only way to do that is to conquer them and impose Libertartian rule.

      who will do that?

    • Other Bill

      Bingo. Who was it that said the problem with the third world isn’t too much colonialism, it’s too little colonialism. Plus the Arabic/Roman/Iberian love of strongmen. Fidel and Stalin and Saddam Hussein could have all been brothers, physically. Anglo Saxons aren’t at all as big on strong men.

  7. War is Peace
    Freedom is Slavery
    Ignorance is Strength

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