Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/20/2017: Maybe It’s The Christmas Tree Lights That Are Putting Me In A Rotten Mood, But This Stuff Isn’t Helping…

(It only looks this way to me…)

Good morning, everyone!


1 Again I ask: how does democracy survive this? It is so discouraging to read about facts that “the public has a right to know,” that are”fit to print,” or that must be revealed if democracy is not to “die in darkness,” and know, know, that they will not be honestly or properly covered by the mainstream news media for purely partisan and ideological purposes. It is doubly discouraging to know that so many Americans are either so brainwashed or without integrity to begin with that they will defend this betrayal…and even attack those who try to let the truth out.

There was  a story published earlier this week by Politico, which is largely left-leaning but a major source of political news on the web. It was thoroughly sourced, and thoroughly shocking.

It described how Obama administration secretly quashed efforts to stop Hezbollah from funding its operations through criminal enterprises in the United States, deliberately sabotaging US law enforcement’s efforts to fight terrorist drug and money laundering operations, by  curtailing long-standing efforts to interdict cocaine shipments in the U.S. by Hezbollah, the terrorist organization closely allied with Iran.

The federal and international effort to root out Hezbollah’s crime network predated the Obama administration:

The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

But President Obama was determined to get his nuclear deal with Iran done in his second term, so this effort was suspended by executive directive. “This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said Politico’s on-the-record source David Asher, a Defense Department official charged with tracking Hezbollah’s worldwide criminal enterprise “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

A former CIA officer confirmed tp Politico that the Obama administration’s efforts to hobble their investigation were tied to directly to the nuclear deal with Iran:

DEA operations in the Middle East were shut down repeatedly due to political sensitivities, especially in Lebanon, according to one former CIA officer working in the region. He said pressure from the White House also prompted the CIA to declare “a moratorium” on covert operations against Hezbollah in Lebanon, too, for a time, after the administration received complaints from Iranian negotiators.

“During the negotiations, early on, they [the Iranians] said listen, we need you to lay off Hezbollah, to tamp down the pressure on them, and the Obama administration acquiesced to that request,” the former CIA officer told POLITICO. “It was a strategic decision to show good faith toward the Iranians in terms of reaching an agreement.”

The Obama team “really, really, really wanted the deal,” the former officer said.

As in so many other policy areas, Politico reports, once the Obama administration left office in January 2017, the curtailment of the anti-Hezbollah efforts was reversed. The logjam of task force cases appeared to break, and several task force members told Politico that it wasn’t a coincidence. Meanwhile, reporter Josh Meyer’s writes,

…Hezbollah — in league with Iran, Russia and the Assad regime — has all but overwhelmed the opposition groups in Syria, including those backed by the United States. Hezbollah continues to help train Shiite militants in other hotspots and to undermine U.S. efforts in Iraq, according to U.S. officials. It also continues its expansion in Latin America and, DEA officials said, its role in trafficking cocaine and other drugs into the United States. And it is believed to be the biggest trafficker of the powerful stimulant drug Captagon that is being used by fighters in Syria on all sides.

Politico’s investigative news story  also revealed that an element of the deal was to let a top  Hezbollah operative named Ali Fayad go free as part of the exchange of prisoners. Fayad had  been indicted in U.S. courts for planning to kill American government employees, and U.S. agents believed he reported to Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was the part of the deal that President Obama had described in  his January 2016 speech announcing the lifting of sanctions on Iran  as a “reciprocal humanitarian gesture” in which the United States would release some Iranian-born “civilians” who “were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses.”

As of yesterday, the Obama Legacy Guard hadn’t mounted a credible denial of this. One administration member I saw yesterday angrily told Fox that nobody knew the various considerations the administration had to balance to get the Iran deal done. That’s not exactly a rebuttal; to me it sounded like a confirmation, a classic non-denial denial.

Wrote the Federalist’s David Hirsanyi yesterday, “At this point the Iranian deal should be a colossal scandal. That it’s not tells us a lot about what’s wrong with American journalism and political discourse.”

I cannot find any mention of the story in the New York Times or the Washington Post. CNN hasn’t covered it, though they had time yesterday to mock how the President drank a glass of water, along with other deranged Trump-haters in the media. The three major non-cable networks not named Fox also skipped the story. Fox News covered it as the major revelation it was.

Well, we can’t have that: on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources,” CNN’s fake ethics watchdog discussed whether Fox was “a real news channel.”

2. But never mind…In related news, Colorado Democrats have renamed their annual “Jefferson Jackson Dinner” the “Obama Dinner” to  the 44th president and his wife, because Michelle Obama is more worthy of honor than the founders of the Democratic Party and two of the three greatest Democratic Presidents, both of whom are deemed unworthy because they embodied that racial views of their era and culture. The third great Democratic President—there are only three, with Obama destined to share the level just over Buchanan, Pierce along with Jimmy Carter—can’t be honored because of the embarrassing rounding up all the Japanese Americans thing. Remember, on Progressive World, race obliterates everything. Everything.

3. Feel the hate. After first daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump made a surprise visit to high school students at the Norwalk Early College Academy, a program at Norwalk (Connecticut) High School that allows students to earn a high school diploma and associate’s degree in software engineering, some parents objected and criticized the school for not giving them advance notice so they could pull their kids out of class.

Bias makes you stupid, and hate plus bias makes you an incompetent and irresponsible parent. There is no excuse for behaving like this, but there is a reason: irrational partisan extremism that has become pathological. These parents are modelling un-American and dangerously divisive attitudes for their children, and helping to ensure that the rising generation will be as sick or sicker than the current one.

4. Too stupid to be an Ethics Dunce. I won’t waste an Ethics Dunce on the likes of Rosie O’Donnell, so I’ll just mention here that yesterday she offered three Republican Senators 2 million dollars each if they would vote against the GOP tax reform bill. She really did. It’s not even worth my time explaining all  that’s wrong with this. If you can’t figure it out, ask someone else. Or put your head up for sale on eBay.

I still have Christmas tree lights to hang.


41 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/20/2017: Maybe It’s The Christmas Tree Lights That Are Putting Me In A Rotten Mood, But This Stuff Isn’t Helping…

  1. On point 4 – wouldn’t such an offer be an attempted bribe of a government official. Even if it is an opened ended invitation without a specific legislator named it still constitutes an attempt.

    What makes her stupid is that it ensured all Republicans voted for the bill to avoid being ensnared in a bribery scandal even if they wanted to vote against it.

  2. No. 3. I consider this story fake news and even worse than Jack thinks it is. The only parent quoted is the Kerry Fitzgerald woman. She’s quoted by The Hill and by The Daily Mail. She says nothing about why she wanted to keep her kid out of school. Faculty and staff are quoted in the Daily Mail piece and their concerns see to be that it was a surprise visit, and security concerns and, wait for it, Sandy Hook. There’s not an iota of actual Anti-Trumpism expressed by anyone. But it’s hinted at heavily in the headlines. There’s no one saying, “I don’t want my daughter seeing that super tall rich girl parading around in front of y daughter because I hate Trump.” The story is just wrong on so many levels. And the woman CEO of IBM takes time to visit a school and inspire girls. But that gets no mention. Nope. Women are just gropees, don’t you know? They can’t succeed in corporate America. Men, you know.

  3. Mr Marshall, your thoughts about the CDC scandal that broke out recently? A source-based report in the WaPo said CDC had banned some words, which the director of the CDC directly denied in public on Twitter, and on the CDC website.

    • I had read, in the WaPo’s original story no less, that the entire basis of the story was that the White House requested specific edits to proposed budget documents, including requesting words used in specific places be changed. These were the so-called “banned” words, and there is no evidence that these were not left in place in other parts of the documents or otherwise ordered to be purged from the documents. The story appears to have little-if any-merit, unless requested edits is now headline news. If so, please note that I have generated several headlines in typing this very comment…

    • More fake news. The CDC issued a preferred format that advised staff to avoid a number of phrases commonly used to “weasel” out of making more direct and clear statements, along with vague terms that could be loaded with political baggage such as “diversity”. The phrases weren’t “forbidden”, as the paper claimed.

      • My understanding is that part of the advisement was that it was along the lines of “Republicans pay our bills now, we should probably adjust our language to phrases more pleasant to a conservative ear.”

        • I know that when I hear “diversity” discussed, I can expect to hear about some scheme that would be grossly unfair and unethical if it weren’t necessary to achieve the speaker’s high and noble purpose…

  4. That the Iran Deal giveaway/Hezbollah story is treated as a right wing conspiracy theory is absolutely incredible. It’s a huge story that would become a huge, signature significance, defining stain on any other administration a la Watergate and Iran/Contra. But with Obama, it’s “Nothing to see here, move along.” Mind boggling.

    • Would it be that much of a scandal if the name Obama didn’t cause some people to foam at the mouth? It’s not something I’d want to do but there’s a lot of bad things I might let happen if I legitimately thought I was keeping nukes out of the hands of a hostile nation.

      The choice between good and bad isn’t as important or difficult as the the choice between bad and worse.

      I don’t know and I have no way of knowing what happened behind the scenes in making the Iran deal. I do know though that t’were I in high office I’d have an ulcer inside of a week from having to risk the lives of troops and drone people and pretend not to know, and not to be ultimately responsible for all the top secret nefarious deals we have to make in a world where, as the bard said, hell is empty and all the devils are here.

      • “Would it be that much of a scandal if the name Obama didn’t cause some people to foam at the mouth?”

        To be clear, the Obama administration stopped enforcing drug laws against cocaine cartels with connections to Hezbollah…. the indirect consequence of which was a subsidy on cocaine sales for terrorists.

        But this was OK, in your view… Not good, but preferable, because Obama could push through an agreement that 1) Iran almost immediately broke and 2) doesn’t actually prevent Iran from developing nukes so much as, even had they any intention of following it, merely slowing down the clock.

        Now, you might infer from my tone where I stand on that…. But… rhetorically: Let’s not make “Perfect”get in the way of “Good”. It’s possible… I suppose, that this was in actuality the best possible outcome. In that case; Yes. That would absolutely have been a scandal regardless of who did it. In fact, if Trump did it, progressives would probably be calling for his impeachment. Although, to be fair, they do that basically every other day ending with a y, for various spurious reasons.

        Would this be a scandal if Bill Clinton had done it? Yup.Jimmy Carter? Ditto. Bernie Sanders? In half a heartbeat. Ted Cruz? Marco Rubio? John Kasich? Chris Christie? Yes… Probably starting in different camps, but yes.
        All of those names have at least one thing in common, by the way: I don’t believe that they’d be stupid or arrogant enough to do this.

      • The answer to your question is “yes.” Especially since the deal was unconscionable, incompetent and stupid to begin with. And that aside, the public should be able to make up its own mind, having been provided the facts.

          • Why would I want to believe that the President of the United States allowed terrorists to run drugs in the US so he could pull off a dangerous, phony “deal” with a nation dedicated to destroying the US and Israel?

            Alternative facts are called “propaganda.” Unfortunately, the news media no longer makes that distinction.

      • “Would it be that much of a scandal if the name Obama didn’t cause some people to foam at the mouth?”

        Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Obama’s name wouldn’t cause so many people to foam at the mouth if he wasn’t a human black hole of cronyism and corruption on a galactic level.

  5. 1. Obama made the policy choices he made and he will be judged on them. The only question is will the public come to know all of them so they can make an informed judgment. Not if the mainstream media has anything to say about it. As far as they, and everyone in this country with more melanin whose name isn’t Thomas is concerned, he was the greatest President ever and it’s just too bad he couldn’t run for a third term (some of the media were already talking about getting him a third term before he was even sworn in for his first).

    2. Race does obliterate everything, it has for a decade. No surprise.

    3. Other Bill is exactly right, that was a fake headline, with no other parents named and no kids pulled out of school named. Any parent who did something like that was an idiot.

    4. I dunno what’s worse, this naked attempted bribery of public officials or Sarah Silverman’s promise to scissor Sheldon if he switched party loyalties in 2012.

  6. #4 The FBI needs to confirm this and the Justice Department needs to prosecute Rosie O’Donnell for trying to bribe government officials; I believe what she did is a felony and can get people thrown in prison. If nothing is done to Rosie O’Donnell for this it will be “justification” for the flood gates to be opened.

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