Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/5/2017: Train Wrecks, Rationalizations, Donna, Debbie, And More

Goooooood MORNING!

(I’m over-compensating: I feel horrible today)

1  “These alleged actions, which haven’t been denied, are reprehensible, indefensible and unacceptable. Any elected official or state employee who has settled a sexual harassment claim should resign immediately.The people of Kentucky deserve better. We appropriately demand a high level of integrity from our leaders, and will tolerate nothing less in our state,” said Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin  after it was revealed that Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover (R) recently settled a sexual harassment claim made by a female member of his staff.

What an ethically clueless bit of grandstanding from Bevin. The fact that an accusation hasn’t been denied doesn’t make it true. The fact  an out of court settlement was agreed to doesn’t make the accusation true either. Bevin has just painted a target on any official’s back who might have blundered across a line of workplace propriety once, and done so with an employee with an agenda, a grudge, a bill to pay, or the lack of the ethical intelligence to say, “That was wrong, don’t do it again.”

As usual with elected officials, Bevin is playing human pendulum, pronouncing an unfair and unreasonable standard in response to a culture where there previously were few standards at all.

Thought experiment: let’s say the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck revealed itself in the Obama administration, and the uncomfortable woman in this photo…

..goes to Vice President Biden after the shoot and accuses him of sexual harassment, indeed, sexual assault. Uncle Joe apologizes, swears he meant nothing by it, says he always acts like this (because he apparently does), jokes his favorite magician is “David Cop-A-Feel”, just like President George H.W. Bush, but the young woman is adamant. She says she will go to the press and file a lawsuit unless he writes a check. Reluctantly, he does.

Should the Vice-President resign? Or just learn to keep his hands to himself?

2. Sentimentalists and socialists mourning the decline of unions just got a splash of metaphorical ice water in their faces.

After reporters and editors in the combined newsroom of DNAinfo and Gothamist, two of New York City’s leading online news sources, voted to join the Writers Guild of America, the sites’ owner, billionaire Joe Ricketts, announced that both were defunct.

 “DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure,” he said. Ricketts had lots money in every month of DNAinfo’s existence, while The Village Voice, The Wall Street Journal and The Daily News were also cutting staff and costs. What were his writers and editors thinking?

I presume that they were thinking like Bernie Sanders, who believes that it is the obligation of a business is to finance the lives of its employees to the breaking point and beyond, and not to have its priority be providing public services and consumer products while making a profit. It is troubling that such a warped version of economics, justice, fairness and reality should have taken hold in the minds of so many Americans, but perhaps Ricketts’ no-nonsense response will help clear the fog.

So far, it isn’t clearing, though…

Said the Writers Guild,  “It is no secret that threats were made to these workers during the organizing drive. The Guild will be looking at all of our potential areas of recourse and we will aggressively pursue our new members’ rights.”

Threats…as in “If you increase my costs now, then I’ll have to close shop. Sorry.” That’s called “conveying necessary information.”

 DNAinfo reporter Katie Honan declared after the pro-union vote, “If this is the future of journalism, it should be a career for people, not a post-college hobby.”

Ah yes, what should be in socialist utopia magically will be, if everyone claps their hands. This is an ideologically fed delusion, and similar examples abound.

I think Ethics blogging should be career too, but I’m not quitting my job. It is not ethical to act in defiance of reality.

3. Donna Brazile going rogue is just a new burst of chaos from The Hillary Clinton Presidential Candidacy Ethics Train Wreck, which debuted on April 27, 2015. I was going to count the posts in this horrible progression, but it was going to take too long. You can scroll through yourself here.

No, I do not have any sympathy for Clinton,n or the Democratic National Committee, nor Brazile, whom I assume got enough money for her upcoming unethical new memoir (it is unethical to accept money to rat out your employer, your allies and your friends, especially when you wait until the horse is so far out of the barn that it  is sending you postcards) that she feels it will be worth it to spend the rest of her public life distrusted and detested by just about everyone.

4. A few observations on the most recent Brazile shots across the Democratic Party’s bow…

  • Brazile says she considered using her powers as interim DNC chair to initiate the process of removing Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine from the ticket after Clinton’s September 11, 2016, collapse in New York City—you know, the one Hillary initially lied about, the one that followed media ridicule over conservative news sources questioning Clinton’s health,  the one that Democrats and the news media said the Republicans were over-hyping because it was just “dehydration.” (She had pneumonia.)

That collapse.

Brazile writes that she settled on Biden and Senator Cory Booker (N.J.), but then, she writes, she “…thought of Hillary, and all the women in the country who were so proud of and excited about her. I could not do this to them.”

Ugh. There may be many reasons why removing Clinton after she had been nominated was a bad idea, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that if Brazile really felt that removing her was the responsible decision, her stated reason for not doing it was unethical, and abysmal management. Her duty is to the nation, the party, the process and the public. Her confession that she avoided what she thought was a necessary decision because she didn’t want to disappoint one constituency group is managerial fecklessness, incompetence, and cowardice.

People this inept were running the Democratic campaign! Gee, I wonder how Hillary lost? Must have been sexism, Russia and Facebook.

  • More on that theme: Ethics Alarms has meticulously documented how jaw-droppingly awful Debbie Wasserman Schultz is for years. She was not only dishonest and incompetent, she was flagrantly, transparently, wildly dishonest and incompetent, as well as dumb as moss and abrasive to boot. I can’t even imagine what kind of individual could listen to her for more than three minutes and think, “Gee, what a smart, articulate, trustworthy person!” By placing this woman in charge of the Democratic National Committee, her party was saying, in neon, “WE LIKE HACKS.” Anyone with their eyes open had to know she was an inside agent for the Clinton campaign from the beginning of the nomination process, and we are supposed to believe that Brazile was stunned to discover that the process was rigged?

I refuse to believe that I am that much smarter than everybody else.

  • The rationalizations for Hillary and the Democrats coming from progressive pundits are right off the list. Every party rigs their nominations! (Then they shouldn’t pretend that they don’t.) Bernie Sanders wasn’t even a Democrat! They didn’t have to be fair to him! ( If he entered the contest in good faith, and he did, they absolutely has an obligation to be fair.)  and on. And on. Here’s the whole list of the Rationalizations being used now to pretend that Hillary Clinton essentially buying the DNC before the primaries even commenced was no big deal:

1. The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it”
2 A. Sicilian Ethics, or “They had it coming”
3. Consequentialism, or “It worked out for the best”
4. Marion Barry’s Misdirection, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical.”
11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What will we do without him/her?”
22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!”
28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”
32. The Unethical Role Model: “He/She would have done the same thing”
38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!
41. The Evasive Tautology, or “It is what it is.”
42. The Hillary Inoculation, or “If he/she doesn’t care, why should anyone else?”
44. The Unethical Precedent, or “It’s not the first time”
48. Ethics Jiu Jitsu, or “Haters Gonna Hate!
49. “Convenient Futility,” or “It wouldn’t have mattered if I had done the right thing.
50A. Narcissist Ethics , or “I don’t care”
51 . The Underwood Maneuver, or “That’s in the past.”
53. Tessio’s Excuse, or “It’s just business”
55. The Scooby Doo Deflection, or “I should have gotten away with it!”
58. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!”

  • The defenders also appear to not know what a “conflict of interest” is. See, if an organization is financially dependent on one individual when it is supposed to be an objective and independent body overseeing a competition among that individual and others, that is a conflict of interest that must be disclosed to those others, and waived by them.

I’m sure Bernie, Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chaffee would have been happy to agree to participate in a coronation masquerading as democracy. (I’m too sarcastic today; I’m sorry. I warned you that  I wasn’t feeling great…)

  • Also not on Clinton/DNC defenders’ radar: “the appearance of impropriety.” But then that has never been on the Clintons’ radar either.


32 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/5/2017: Train Wrecks, Rationalizations, Donna, Debbie, And More

  1. The fact an out of court settlement was agreed to doesn’t make the accusation true either

    However, it is circumstantial evidence that the accusation is true.

    And do you know why it is called circumstantial evidence? Because it is evidence.

    • But it is the weakest possible evidence. It would usually be excluded as evidence in a subsequent lawsuit, and this is the best justification for NDAs. Litigation is expensive, time consuming and embarrassing. Insurance companies often insist on settlements regardless of guilt.

    • Hmmmm….an out of court settlement is circumstantial evidence that the allegations are true? Remind me to keep you off the jury.

      Let’s say someone files a ridiculous defamation claim against jack. You know – purely hypothetical. And he settles it for one dollar. Or he settles it for agreeing not to pursue counterclaims for abuse of process. Or he goes to a lawyer who tells him he has a slam dunk winner, no need to worry, but it’s going to cost 25k to win so jack settles for 5k. How do any of those scenarios have the slightest bearing on whether the claims were true.

      Now, at a certain point, the money paid might be so stupid (o’reilly) that you can make some inferences. But the mere fact that an outnof court settlement is reached is evidence of nothing.

    • Depends on the amount of the settlement too. If it was nuisance value, then it’s more likely that it was someone making a business decision to make a bs allegation go away and someone knowing they made a tenuous allegation taking the money and running. If it was a substantial settlement, then it’s more likely there was something to it, and the accuser had a solid case.

  2. For the life of me, I still can’t figure out what Brazile’s end-game is, anyone care to opine why she opened the choke & flock-shot Lefty INC point-blank?

    It couldn’t be an just an urge to set the record straight, her body of work suggests that honesty, or the willingness to do the right thing, lies outside her skill-set.

    Book sales? Would it worth napalming (ala Keith Olbermann’s ESPN exit) all those bridges for a coupla mill while also showing the world you’ll cut bait in a nano-second if the price is right?

    Reckon we’re left with revenge and/or payback, which has been known to be a mighty powerful motivator.

    Rumor has it that during the…um…rumored aftermath of that 09/07/2016 Commander-in-Chief forum HRC/Matt Lauer interview, she cut Brazile a new one.

    HILLARY TO DONNA BRAZILE: “I’m so sick of your face. You stare at the wall like a brain dead buffalo, while letting that fucking Lauer get away with this. What are you good for, really? Get the fuck to work janitoring this mess – do I make myself clear?” (bolds mine)

    • Clinton lackey/weasel/hack extraordinaire Little Georgie Stephanopoulos: “I have gotten e-mails from Democrats, passionate Democrats who say they feel betrayed by all this, but do you think this helps for the book to come out?”

      Brazile: “You know what I tell them, go to hell! I’m going to tell my story!
      They (the Clinton campaign) told us to shut up and basically let them win the election.”

      • “They (the Clinton campaign) told us to shut up and basically let them win the election.”

        And so you did, Donna. Or at least tried to. Only now are you coming out with all this dirt, after it’s too late, and I think it’s safe to assume you would never have revealed all of this if Clinton had won. I know you think you are, but you’re not a hero, Donna.

        • Eugene Robinson on “Meet The Press” yesterday:

          “So, she’s (Brazile) determined to tell her story and I too think there must have been some interaction between her and the Clinton campaign, between her and Clinton, some interaction that left a very sour taste in her mouth.” (bolds mine)

          Gosh, a VERY public “I’m so sick of your face” and “You stare at the wall like a brain dead buffalo” wouldn’t have done that, would it?

    • “anyone care to opine why she opened the choke & flock-shot Lefty INC point-blank?”

      I agree that revenge and/or payback could “be a mighty powerful motivator” in this situation.

      Another motivation is that she really, really needs the money.

      And thirdly, Donna Brazille being a strategist — maybe there is some strategic thinking behind writing this book.

      Some elements could be:

      1. She won’t get much work as a strategic consultant/analyst from the networks; no money there.
      2. Hillary won’t run in 2020 for president; no money there.
      3. The Democratic Party has either to clean house or face the possibility of a splitting of the party — the left part of the party (think Bernie Sanders and supporters)
      4. The current Powers to Be (Hillary Clinton, Tom Perez) in the DP are not capable of cleaning house.

      By writing the book she positions herself as:

      a. willing to clean house (but wise enough not to do that in the midst of the elections, also being an interim chair)
      b. willing to take tough decisions (like removing Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine from the ticket)
      c. a fair person who did not agree with (may be even was ‘shocked’ by) the way Bernie Sanders was treated by the party and a person who wants (has made?) amends/apologies to him.

      A fourth option in this multiple answer question could be:

      All of the above!

        • ”My guess is that she’s cashing in.”

          Could be, is that the logical next step after having forgiven one’s self of unconscionable ethical lapses?

          “My conscience, as an activist, as a strategist — my conscience is very clear,”

          Perhaps she might consider earmarking some of that swag for some advanced IT courses so she won’t get fooled again?

          “if I had to do it all over again, I would know a hell of a lot more about cybersecurity.”

    • Paul W. Schlecht wrote, “For the life of me, I still can’t figure out what Brazile’s end-game is, anyone care to opine why she opened the choke & flock-shot Lefty INC point-blank?”

      In my opinion she is trying to set herself up as being the “honest face” of the political left that’s not afraid to challenge the status quo and thus somehow instilling some kind of faux hope for future integrity of the party, I think she is going to run for political office.

      • ”she is trying to set herself up as being the ‘honest face’ of the political left that’s not afraid to challenge the status quo”

        Yep, and there’s Palace Coup a-boilin.’ Keep an eye on the VA gubernatorial election tomorrow, if Lefty Ralph Northam gets whupped by Righty Ed Gillespie, all hell’s going to break loose.

        (PBS Political analyst) MARK SHIELDS: ”I would say this, Judy. If, in fact, the Democrats lose on Tuesday in Virginia, that it will lead to — close to civil war within the Democratic Party.” (bolds mine)

        JUDY WOODRUFF: ”Whoa.”

        Still, the increasing revenge/payback drumbeat continues apace.

        Brazile: “I’m not Patsey the slave (from “12 Years A Slave”) (y)’all keep whipping me and whipping me and you never give me any money or any way to do my damn job. I am not going to be your whipping girl!”

  3. 1. “Should the Vice-President resign? Or just learn to keep his hands to himself?”

    Whether it’s Biden or Bush Sr. or anyone else, it’s simple really. He should have known to keep his hands to himself from the start.

  4. Biden would do neither. He’d just take a leaf from the Clinton playbook and say that the woman who accused him was either a slut or a nut who either led him on or was trying to shake him down. The media would grab right onto it, and this woman would be trashed while he would barely lose a step.

    In private industry the unions have to be reasonable, they can’t act like the public sector unions, who can tell the public entities to just raise taxes. A businessowner can shut things down in a heartbeat, leaving the union high and dry, and that’s just what happened here.

    As for Donna Brazile, it’s pretty obvious, she was brought in to try to save the DNC’s supposedly sure-fire bid for the presidency which appeared to be floundering in the wake of the GOP convention and Debbie Wasserman-Schulz’s embarrassing resignation, she found out too late she couldn’t do it her way because Hillary was holding the reins both as nominee and as chief financier, things went south, and she was the one left without a chair when the music stopped. At this point she probably feels like she doesn’t owe anyone anything, so she might as well tell her side of things.

    BTW, I am certain Martin O’Malley had his own reasons for acting as a willing tomato can for Hillary to knock down. At 54 he’s still got some life left in him, and maybe he was hoping to raise his profile enough to be a contender to be Hillary’s successor in 2024 (though he’d be 61 then) or get a position in her administration, or both. Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb both should have known better, as former Republicans the best they could be perceived as was Democrat-lite.

    • You should hear the excuses the liberals at work make for creepy old Biden. He’s just a touchy guy, that’s how he is, he’s old, who wouldn’t enjoy a groping from the vice prez, etc. etc.

      • (sigh) None of this would be acceptable if it was them or their significant others being felt up, or if it was anyone other than a prominent liberal politician doing the feeling. I’d bet the most valuable piece in my collection that they’d otherwise be the first one to tell a handsy (or mistaken) colleague or neighbor “hands off or else,” (maybe they’re willing to hug a female neighbor goodnight at the end of an event, but the wall goes up if a male ties to follow suit) slap a creepy uncle or grandfather either trying to exercise the rights of age or overreaching in error (the bride’s OK with a kiss from her hunky naval officer cousin, but wants her not-so-hygienic and wrinkled great-uncle to stay away), or snap at someone who was good-looking or highly placed but didn’t interest them “just what makes you think you’re so damn irresistible?” To a lot of women contact is like candy, to be doled out to those they like, and significantly and conspicuously withheld from those they don’t.

      • (The flip side too, is just how many Democrats would have happily, enthusiastically, voted for Biden vs their ‘begrudging’ support of Hillary. And no one would give one fig that Biden’s personal conduct and demeanor is noticeably Trumpian.

        Bet not one of the sycophants decrying Trump’s conduct now would bad an eye with Biden’s conduct.

        But alas, we never get to know the story of what would have been)

  5. Eventually things are going to get so bad that a vast majority of the population in the United States will just remove themselves from all things political and become the docile sheep that the left wants them to be. My wife has been in this frame of mind for years; she thinks that 100% of politicians are corrupted and there is absolutely nothing she can do about it, so she willingly accepts whatever the rest of the voters choose.

    • Breaking my self-enforced-due-to-personal-life-issues silence to respond, Z.

      My wife has felt the same way. It took me years, but I recently (finally!) got her to see that the old saw about ‘evil winning because good people did nothing’ is applicable. Defaulting to apathy -or distracted by life, which is the same thing in the end- is what GOT us to this dysfunctional state of affairs. Americans have had it good too many generations and no longer understand what makes our little republic experiment work: informed citizen involvement.

      There are other factors, but I believe this one is the tipping point, the reason all the other problems were allowed to continue as they have for the past century. Apathy leads to disinterest, a ‘pox on both their houses’ attitude that results in self disenfranchisement. I have watched this progress my entire life. Politics should be a primary concern of any Republic’s citizens: political decisions are going to define your life, after all. One should at least decide what one thinks about that, if not take an active hand.

      The vaunted ‘low information voter’ phenomenon is a consequence, as are the ‘fake news’ and propaganda in our national media. The Big Lie is working well… and it would not, if more citizens paid attention.

      What can one do?

      First and foremost, vote. Texas will likely have a record low voter turnout tomorrow: no races on the ballot, just state constitutional amendments (if ‘just’ can be applied to such!)

      My wife, whose health issues have made me reassess my priorities with my time, asked me about my votes on the seven (!) amendments, to which I answered for-against-for-for-for-for-for. She then asked me how she could use that, since her ballot might be different than mine. [sigh] I reminded her (college educated, when that still meant something, mind you) that it would be illegal for her to receive a different ballot than I had voted with. Never mind the point that I made an educated attempt to understand the issues at stake (which in some cases were as consequential as using the left hand to wave goodbye instead of the right for the vast majority of voters) and at least had a semi logical position on each. (She was trusting my judgement and preparedness, knowing I do not vote if I do not understand the issue.)
      She is intelligent (and quite pretty, I might add… since she might check up on me here!) but detached from politics and basic civics. This is rampant in my social demographic and in general, as voter statistics point out. People have to get externally motivated to perform a basic duty.

      Second, get involved. Have a dog in the hunt. Be wrong, be willing to lose, but have a position backed by personal involvement.

      In this regard, I have been elected to our community’s Home Owners Association Board of Directors. I was asked to run, and did not bring an ax to grind with me: just plain Golden Rule ethics. (Hat tip to EA and Jack for the education that moved me to this point. I was not qualified before interacting on EA and learning to look at other viewpoints, and judging them -and myself- ethically)
      This is politics at it’s lowest level: people who live in proximity making rules for all to live by. Because of my position, I have the ear of local politicians, at least in a small way. I attend my town’s civic functions, and relay what was said to the rest of the Board. I personally talk to neighbors, listen to their complaints (valid or not,) and intervene when they have been wronged and it is within my scope of office. I have a hand in enforcing those rules, when it is necessary. I walk through the park and pool areas, noting needed repairs and look for ways to fund them (even if I have to pick up garbage myself.) I am a servant: there is no compensation for the position and it could become a thankless job. But I am engaged, and making a difference in people’s lives, albeit in small, personal ways.

      Finally, make an attempt to see past the propaganda the media (both sides) spews daily. Note a smear, regardless of where it comes from, and mark that source for suspicion in the future. (Trump overfeeds Japanese fish, anyone?) Realize that a national publication that has ethics rot in one area (Trump, gun control, immigration, civil forfeiture…) should be taken with a grain of salt in all areas. View multiple sources: Fox is as biased, in their own fashion, as CNN. Gather facts, not pundit opinions. Think for yourself.

      Being a good citizen used to be taught and modeled. Now you have to make the effort.

  6. Jack,

    “…. the one that followed media ridicule over conservative news sources questioning Clinton’s health”

    Except to hear conservatives at the time tell it, she’d suffered a massive concussion months ago and was now having spasms, seizures, and gaffes all over the place — something there was no direct evidence of. I’m not saying she didn’t lie or that it wasn’t valid to question her health, but the rumors from the Right were beyond out of line.

    • No doubt: a lot of the rumors were unfair and inflammatory. On the other hand, Clinton fed the doubts by not being transparent, and by looking and sounding “off” several times. Rumors flourish in deception. The health questions were, in the end, just an extension of her credibility problem.

      • ”Clinton fed the doubts by not being transparent”

        She, et al, also broke SS protocol/rules by ditching her NYPD escort to an ER.

        If memory serves, that prompted some hack/flack (couldn’t find the quote) to boast about her & her pneumonia: “how badass is that?”

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