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.

3. On the other hand, we get a hint of the kinds of people advising the Trump campaign from this “defense” of the meeting by Jack Kingston, a former Republican representative from Georgia and a senior adviser the campaign. He said,

“Do you really think — let’s ask ourselves this: Do you really that think they would put anything in writing, and this wouldn’t have a huge red flag if they thought, “Oh gosh, we’ve got to cover this up?” If this was a significant meeting, they would have gone in there and erased those emails. They would have said, “Let’s come out with a statement on this.” This would have been done several months ago. For whatever people believe about Paul Manafort, he is a serious player. He is the adult in the room in this situation. And he would have said, “If you did any emailing on this, erase it.” But because it was an irrelevant meeting, with irrelevant information, I’m sure they just shrugged it off and said it’s one more set of conmon and women coming in and having some angle that we’re just going to dismiss.”

This is signature significance. This sleaze-ball’s argument isn’t that the campaign wouldn’t have done anything illegal or unethical, just that it was savvy enough to institute a cover-up if it did. Moreover, he isn’t sufficiently smart or ethical  to realize that this sounds terrible to anyone with half-functioning ethics alarms. And this guy was in Congress!  That should give you faith in your government; I know it makes me proud.

Kingston is self-evidently corrupt, and is a World Class fool.

Did you know President Trump hires only the best people?

We can at least be grateful that this jackass wasn’t appointed to a Cabinet post.

4. This lawsuit is too silly to warrant a free-standing post, but the lawyers willing to bring it deserve mockery and derision.They include former Obama White House counsel Ian Bassin, former Justice Department lawyer Benjamin Berwick, former U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner and University of Michigan law professor Richard Primus. Shame on all of them.

They are behind an invasion of  privacy lawsuit against the Trump Presidential campaign by Protect Democracy, a group of lawyers who worked in the Obama administration, and who have joined the ranks of partisan professionals driven to the edge of madness by the Democratic defeat in 2016.The suit contains no actual evidence that the Trump campaign was involved in the hacking and release of the DNC emails. It just relies on publicly known facts that people who really want to believe there was “collusion” think shows there must have been something illicit going on. The suit even cites as evidence the Republican Party platform and support for weakening or lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia.

This is abuse of process as harassment, vindictiveness, and grandstanding, and completely unethical. It’s also damning, as the lawsuit’s theory is that the individuals and their party had a right to lie, cheat and deceive the electorate, and that it was an outrage that the American public found out about it all before November 8.

5. Which is worse, do you think, that the Trump campaign had slugs like Jack Kingston working for it, of that lawyers highly placed in the Obama Administration would file a suit like this and not see how it makes them and the entire Democratic Party look?

I’m not sure, but I need to take a shower.

 

26 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

26 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/15/2017

  1. charlesgreen

    I need a shower too, just reading it… maybe you need to take a break and go find something uplifting and positive, just for a break? Surely there’s gotta be something good going on…somewhere…surely?

    • charlesgreen wrote, “maybe you need to take a break and go find something uplifting and positive, just for a break”

      Maybe a nice Yoga session would help Jack too. I’m sure he can find a pile of wonderful kitten exploitation videos that have overlapping ethical issues to talk about. 😉

      I think we are going to see a LOT more things like #4. It’s all diversionary harassment tactics to undermine everyone and everything about the Trump administration.

      It’s truly sad what’s become of those in the political left that are consumed by their anti-Trump hate.

  2. ”go find something uplifting and positive, just for a break?”

    Now that’s an encouraging approach!

    Howse about the Sri Lankan Navy rescue team saving an Elephant that had “wandered” ~ 10 miles (~ 16.13 km) from shore?

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/13/swimming-trunk-elephant-rescued-from-ocean-10-miles-off-sri-lanka-coast

    Wait a minute…this just in: the Pachyderm is the symbol of the EVIL Republican Party and therefore subject to the required derision and necessary withering animosity.

    Never mind.

  3. deery

    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.

    If I were married, and my spouse had drinks after hours with someone single, and did not tell me about it, yes, I am almost certainly going to think something is up. Especially if their story for having the drinks keeps changing, and the only reason they came clean was that a mutual friend of ours threatened to tell me about seeing you out and about with this person. You would be a fool not to be suspicious at that point.

    • “Results will vary.” A third party’s suspicion does not change the nature of the encounter. And for some spouses, the more suspicion a spouse is prone to, the more not mentioning the meeting may seem to make sense. The analogy here would be a hostile news media determined to make anything at all look sinister.

  4. Al Veerhoff

    #2 Meeting with someone you have been led to believe ( or more importantly, wants you to believe) is a Russian official offering you dirt on your political opponent is freakin’ stupid, and it’s the kind of contact offer i assume any patriotic person would report immediately to the FBI, because it’s illegal for a foreign government to meddle in US elections.
    The Russians certainly knew this. They also knew they were reeling in a big one when the canditate’s son, closest advisor and campaign manager all showed up for the meeting. How much are you willing to bet that the meeting was not taped? What did the Russians expect to gain from the meeting, specially if they knew–as they probably did–they were serving up a nothingburger? The facts of the meeting would certainly show the Russians that a conspiracy was possible. If not that, then at least blackmail. This was in no instance an innocent meeting.
    If you want to make a Limbaugh-like comparison, assume that the married man who was going to meet for cocktails with a single woman knew she worked for Gloria Allred and–even though this meeting was on the up-and-up–the woman wanted to talk about sex. And he lives in a community-property state. (“But, your honor, we just talked; that’s all we did.”)

    • charlesgreen

      Al I think you raise a good point.

      If what the Russians wanted to do was to recruit useful idiots by entrapping them in compromising situations – as I whimsically suggested in my Boris and Natasha riff yesterday – they could hardly have done better than this one.

      Over-the-top claims about official government dirt, on-the-record emails in response, cc’ing everybody, and then they all show up? If any KGB officer had scripted this back in last June, their superiors would have probably said “I’ll grant you 500 rubles to fund this wet dream; it’s so unlikely that I’m not going to invest a kopek more.”

      Yet look at how it played out. Did they tape it? Not such a wild and crazy idea…

    • (She was not a Russian official) I love the way the news media and Trump critics gradually expand ambiguous contacts into official status. I went to Moscow for two weeks to adopt my son. A lot of the current reporters would write that I have “Russian connections.”

      You’re playing “telephone.”

      • Chris

        As Al points out, the analogy misses the important point that something potentially illicit was offered in the emails prior to the meeting. A spouse who finds sexts between the offending spouse and the woman he had dinner with would have plenty of justification to assume cheating, even if the offending spouse’a excuse was “Well, she only promised me a handjob, but when we sat down all she wanted to do was talk about Russian adoption policy.”

        (And as we now know, there was a former Russian spy in the room.)

      • charlesgreen

        “someone you have been led to believe ( or more importantly, wants you to believe) is a Russian official”

        That was what he said. Not “is a Russian official.” Different point. But definitely an object example of Telephone.

    • wyogranny

      There is no question that this was sleazy and deserved to be exposed as all such meetings deserve. The light of day will hopefully help everyone in politics see how terrible things like this are.

      I have 2 things to say about it based on my efforts to understand exactly what happened.

      1. Anyone who goes to a meeting set up like this one is beyond stupid and venal.

      2. It’s apparently not criminal.

      After those observations I just want it to go to the back page of the news where I don’t have to see it if I don’t choose to. I hope it scared everyone into avoiding being idiotic but my hope for that is minuscule.

    • Hillary campaign and the DNC asked the Ukraine government for dirt on Trump… hypocrite

  5. Chris

    3. The excuse that’s killing me is all the Republicans referring to Junior as a “good kid” and a “good boy.” He is a 39 year-old man.

    • wyogranny

      And he’s not “good” measured by any standard.

      • Chris

        Also true.

        One thing I will always find hilarious is Hillary Clinton, when asked if there’s anything she liked about her opponent, replying “His kids,” despite the fact that his kids objectively suck.

        • wyogranny

          As does her daughter, but kids are out of bounds when their father is president. I like and respect Ivanka so far. She seems smart and self-controlled.

          • “I like and respect Ivanka so far. She seems smart and self-controlled.”

            I was hoping someone would say that, it’s my impression as well.

            Unfortunately, that sure doesn’t prevent a certain segment of the media from ripping her a new one every chance they get.

            Oddly enough, the same segment that would be slobbering “sexism” were the subject of the attacks to have “proper” ideological certification.

        • Because “all kids are wonderful” is part of Hillary’s talking points.

          The Trump girls don’t suck, however.

          • Chris

            Ivanka does, though I have no opinion on Tiffany.

            • ”Ivanka does (suck), though I have no opinion on Tiffany.”

              Might that be because Tiffany didn’t “sit in” for The Donald at the G20 Conference?

              Like President Trump said, had Hillarity (sic) been POTUS, and had Chelsea sat in for her on the world’s stage, the Lefty media would’ve…um…blown a freakin’ gasket showering spittle-flecked, slobbering praise on her.

              I can just imagine:

              “We’re witnessing HERstory here folks: TOWERING over the Leaders of the known Universe, the 1st Womyn POTUS takes leave.

              “Enter the 1st Daughter, at the ready to take the baton in HER stead.”

              Fade in huge base drum steady measured solo beat, ramp to crescendo, tail off, fade to black.

              Whoopsie; better make that “fade to non-white.”

            • You have to back that up. Being a daughter of a President you don’t like doesn’t make w woman “suck.” Nor does offering her father support; not does advising said father. She is self-supporting; she appears to be a loving and supportive mother. Unless you can point to something more than pure guilt by association, then this seem like blatant bigotry to me. But I’m willing to be convinced…

  6. Al Veerhoff

    Back to that Trump Jr meeting: i just realized it was actually a badger game.

    And my wife pointed out that the visitors might have had an opportunity to plant a bug. I suspect that Trump Tower was not swept electronically until he was elected.

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