Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/3/19: Lies and Ridiculous Lies

Bad day, right from the start.

An old friend, and one of my favorite people in the world, just suffered a terrible tragedy, one of those random, devastating, lightning strikes to the heart. He is much loved, and will be hearing from many, including me, once I figure out what to say. I’m always flummoxed in such situations, hating to mouth platitudes (I’m so sorry for your loss), but unable to think of anything more helpful.

1. The Washington Post factchecker is trying to be non-partisan again. I wonder how long it will last this time? He gave Cory Booker four Pinnochio’s for his statement during the last debate, “We lost the state of Michigan because everybody from Republicans to Russians were targeting the suppression of African American voters.”

That one missed the cut in the Ethics Alarms post. It is a complete lie, absolutely baseless. It is exactly as false and irresponsible as President Trump’s claim, unmoored to anything but wild speculation that widespread voter fraud cost him California. That, of course, was roundly mocked and condemned by some of the same pundits who are rooting for Booker.

Glenn Kessler explains in his article that there are absolutely no facts that support Booker’s claim. It is just made up. No data exists that indicate that Russian social media hi-jinks cost Clinton votes in Michigan, or anywhere, for that matter, much less the thousands of votes needed to flip the state. Nor does Michigan have any new measures that that would have suppressed African American voters. Indeed Clinton lost because the African American turn-out was not as strong as 2012, but that was expected, and the fall-off was approximately what was predicted. Kessler concludes, “[W]e could not find any specific examples of new laws enacted between 2012 and 2016 that could have reduced African American turnout. In fact, the Republican governor in 2012 vetoed a bill that would have required a photo ID for absentee voting.”

The worst thing  about Donald Trump, we are told, is that he habitually makes statements like Cory Booker’s.

Kessler concludes,

With a narrow margin of less than 11,000 votes, anything is possible, but election experts say there is no evidence the Russian or GOP efforts were successful. Instead, the most likely explanation for the loss was that Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama, was on the ballot, so turnout by African American voters returned to pre-Obama levels. Perhaps that’s an argument for a black candidate like Booker to be on the ticket, but he’s wrong to claim the Russians and the GOP were responsible for Clinton’s loss in Michigan. The burden of proof is on Booker, and he failed to back up his claim.

2.  If Booker gets four Pinocchios, how many does this whatever-she-is get? Ten? Fifty?

Oh what a tangled web we eave doesn’t scratch the surface with 20-year-old Carissa Pinkston, once a model for pop queen Rihanna’s global lingerie brand, Savage X Fenty. Pinkston wrote two Facebook post in May, “Being transgender does not NOT make you a woman. It simply makes you transgender” and that “in a biological context, there are males and females.”

These should not be controversial statements, but they are politically incorrect, so she was fired. In July, trying to regain the support of the Woke, she posted on Instagram,  “I wasn’t ready to come out yet but today I got fired and I’ve been receiving hate mail and death threats ever since so I’m forced to tell everyone the truth. I’m transgender.”

She was surprise, it seems, that her revelation didn’t make her popular again. She ontinued to be battered by the Social Media Furies, so she posted,

“I apologize for any transphobic remark I’ve ever made towards the trans community, I thought if I came out as trans that I could somehow make things better for myself but it appears I’ve only made things worse.” 

Ya think? But wait, there’s more: in a subsequent interview with Buzzfeed, Carissa explained  her seemingly contradictory remarks by saying that she felt like she was transgender, saying,  “I definitely feel like a trans person in a way…in high school I was really bullied.”

Well, that settles it. We now know what Carissa Pinkston is.

She’s an idiot.

3. Good. President Donald Trump ordered the Navy to rescind achievement medals given to military prosecutors in the case of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who was acquitted of murdering an Islamic State group prisoner. A sniper and medic, Gallagher, is a 19-year Navy veteran who had previously been awarded the Bronze Star. He was serving his eighth deployment at the time of the alleged incident.  He was also accused of shooting unarmed Iraqi civilians, but was acquitted on those counts as well.

The military judge sanctioned the prosecution for violating the defendant’s constitutional rights. The lead prosecutor, Cmdr. Christopher Czaplak, also was removed from the case for conducting a warrantless surveillance program aimed at tracking emails sent by the defense team. Prosecutors were also accused of granting immunity in an effort to block defense witnesses from testifying, according to the Navy Times.

Why the Navy would give medals to prosecutors in a case where their target was acquitted and they were found to have committed multiple unethical acts is a mystery. Trump had signaled that he might pardon Gallagher if he were convicted. That was wrong, but blocking the Navy’s effort to reward those responsible for a bad prosecution was right.

4. Good Trump, bad Trump, flat learning curve Trump. The President said yesterday that he will not nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to be director of national intelligence (DNI), just days after announcing that the GOP congressman was his choice to replace Daniel Coats. The reason is that Ratcliffe was facing strong bi-partisan opposition because had been an outspoken critic of the FBI and the Mueller investigation. Not that they both didn’t deserve it, but it is affirmatively foolish to appoint an outspoken adversary of national intelligence agencies to lead them. In a typical flood of tweets, the President blamed the media for his having to bail on Ratcliffe. No, this was his fault and his fault alone.

After three years of repeated appointments and nominations made impulsively and without proper vetting, resulting in more embarrassments, reversals and self-inflicted wounds than any five—ten?— previous Presidents, President Trump still hasn’t learned why just naming people without due diligence isn’t a sound practice.

It’s amazing.


14 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/3/19: Lies and Ridiculous Lies

  1. We met a very nice older, wealthy couple from San Francisco on Coronado island last night. Just chatted about flying and travel and so forth. The very last minute of the conversation ended super awkwardly.

    Lady: “You can’t even fly to Puerto Rico right now. Well, you can now, but it was closed for a while because of the riots and protests.”
    Me: “Oh, right, over the governor.”
    Woman: “They had the right idea. He was stealing their money. That’s what we need to do to get Trump out of there. He does the same thing. He steals our money!”
    Me: “Well, there’s a peaceful election coming up, so…”
    Her: “Well, I hope so. If Trump doesn’t rig it again. And the Russians.”
    Me: [flummoxed]

    And at that time her husband politely changed the subject and everything ended happily. We’re past ideological “bubbles” and “echo chambers” now. Half the country is just living in its own little world, along with Cory Booker.

    • Have they forgotten the charges of Trump being a racist when he questioned how the PR government’s stewardship of taxpayer funds.

      • From the news accounts I’ve read they’re saying that the governor is “Trump’s puppet” and making an association, but I haven’t seen any accompanying reasons to think this. No one wants to point out that Puerto Rico is, generally, corrupt on a scale not seen in America outside of certain large cities.

  2. 1. This:

    Glenn Kessler explains in his article that there are absolutely no facts that support Booker’s claim.

    … is one of the reasons Booker is doing so badly. He says things that everyone knows is wrong, then emotes all over the statements to keep anyone from smacking it around without arousing woke angst. Because feelz. Or something.

    Trump, in the alternative, makes absurd comments and then defends them with the passionate heat of a thousand suns.

    The lesson: If you’re going to make shit up, be all in and not a molten snowflake.

    2. Another snowflake. Many, maybe most people have been bullied by somebody in high school. They usually come out better for it, learning early how to deal with adversity. Life isn’t for sissies (well, unless you are a college student looking for your safe space).

    So buckle up, buttercup.

    3. Yes, good. As ex-Navy, my initial reaction was negative toward Trump until I read the particulars.

    Then I applauded him. Yesterday, the CNO took further laudable actions in this matter, and JAG evidently balked. This is setting up a situation where JAG is going to get crushed by the top Navy brass and the entire service reviewed and hopefully retrained, along with numerous retirements and not a few outright ended careers.

    Good, as you say. About damn time.

    4. Sigh.

    • What she describes is exactly what happens…you feel tongu-tied, don’t want to intrude, and so many days or weeks go by that you feel it’s too late.

  3. “Why the Navy would give medals to prosecutors in a case where their target was acquitted and they were found to have committed multiple unethical acts is a mystery. ”

    This may be SOP. In the Joyce Gilchrist case, she was chastised for sloppy or improper work by each appellate judge she faced. Each time she was reprimanded by a judge for improper testimony, the policed department gave her a commendation. The medals are for ‘taking enemy fire’. Prosecutors are apparently required to do unethical and illegal things to get convictions in many agencies. If they get caught, they get commendations and medals for their brave work.

      • Such a thing could only encourage vigilantism.

        If state officials are rewarded for unethical conduct in prosecuting offenders, why would it be wrong for private citizens to engage in vigilantism?

        • Oh, it is even worse than that. The whitleblowers are severely punished. Remember, it is perfectly legal for the FBI to retaliate against whistleblowers. They and several other federal agencies (like the Government Accountability Office and all the intelligence agencies) were specifically excluded from the Whistleblower Protection Act. It is perfectly find for those agencies to hound whistleblowers for decades with audits, false investigations, false arrests, jailings, etc.

          The Joyce Gilchrist case is quite fascinating. She just made up her forensic results, testified about impossible conclusions from tests in thousands of cases. The data is missing. She put over 20 people on death row. Eleven were executed. Prosecutors, police, and judges all knew what was going on. It took a whistleblower to reveal what was going on to the press. The whistleblower was severely punished. Gilchrist was sent to work in the equine lab, then moved to Texas and sued the city and threatened to tell all. When the press went to look for her, they couldn’t find her. They eventually were told that she had been dead for 6 months. There was no public notice of her death. The circumstances of her death have not been revealed. What happened to her body has not been revealed. All they found was a 6 month old death certificate…

  4. Jack

    I am not sure if vetting is an ethical consideration. James Clapper, Comey and Brennan were all vetted and passed. No doubt they were selected on their own ethical behaviors.

      • I suppose it depends on what type of person you want and the nominator’s motivation.

        Vetting does not necessarily mean you are evaluating a person based on their honesty and integrity. Vetting can simply mean evaluation based one’s lack of controversy and willingness to tow the party line.

  5. I do love the ‘Democrats lost Michigan because of voter fraud’ lie. This isn’t just a lie, it is a Democrat lie. Remember, the rule is ‘always accuse your opponent of what you actually do’ in the Democratic Party. Remember the recount? Why did they stop the recount? They found the closer you got to Detroit, the more election irregularities they found. In Detroit, they couldn’t recount 60% of the ballot boxes because there were more ballots in the box than voters who voted. In some cases, there were more ballots recorded by the electronic ballot machine than in the ballot box. The overvotes were in places where only 3% of the vote was recorded for Trump. In one case, a ballot box with 50 ballots recorded almost 1000 votes for Clinton. However, in Michigans recount methodology, all of those 1000 votes still counted for Clinton. All of the overvoting ballot boxes still counted for Clinton. Only new votes for Clinton were counted, excess fraudulent votes were not subtracted. Only ballot boxes in the responsible districts where the paperwork was in order and the ballot box hadn’t been stuffed were recounted.

    The apparent truth: “The Democrats didn’t win Michigan because they didn’t commit enough voter fraud”. This seems to be the trend across the country. In each battleground state, the Democrat-led city reported their votes last and, like Philadelphia, asked “How many votes does she need to win”? Trump somehow was able to disrupt this mechanism and that is what drove them mad. The fix was in, but Trump won anyway.

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