Susan Rice Again, Part 1

Of the many important ethics developments waiting for me to get out of bed and for my brain to start functioning, I think this one is the most important right now. I’m going to have to finish it in installments, since I can only last about 30 minutes before having to rest. I apologize for the inconvenience.

What you see above is the finally completely-declassified Jan. 20, 2017 memo  Susan Rice sent to herself via email documenting a January 5 Oval Office meeting with then-President Obama and others.  January 20 was the official end date of the Obama administration, because President Trump was sworn into office that day.

[What a coincidence!]

The memo was declassified by Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell and transmitted to the Justice Department. Republican Senator Ron Johnson’s office, representing Wisconsin, released the memo to the news media.

Observations:

1. It was ridiculously difficult to find a complete copy of the entire memo. Almost ever source wanting describe it, when I prefer to read such things, because I don’t trust journalists or pundits, and neither should anyone.

2. Let’s refamiliarize ourselves with Susan Rice. Rice was Obama’s National Security Advisor when she wrote the email, but previously she had been named the Ethics Alarms Liar of the Year for 2014, and that wasn’t even her worst year for lying. In 2014 she earned the title for going on ABC to tell America that Bowe Bergdahl “…served the United States with honor and distinction…” Bergdalh, you may recall,  was in fact a deserter, who left his troops in Afghanistan and walked into a Taliban camp. He was eventually obtained in trade for five terrorists, all ready to kill again, in what the Obama administration regarded as a good deal.

Since Obama never had any scandals and the non-Obama-worshiping media was questioning the logic behind this, Rice was dispatched as Obama’s favorite spin-merchant to quiet the controversy her usual way, by lying, and not very convincingly either. Remember, she had already disgraced herself on September 16, 2012, when she was U.N. Ambassador and Obama sent her to all the talk shows to lie about Benghazi, since the truth was problematic and it was an election year. Rice kept repeating the script that the attack on the compound was spontaneous, was not a terrorist action, and was caused by an anti-Muslim YouTube video.

Her ABC statement about Bergdahl was too self-evidently ridiculous for even the mainstream media to swallow, so Rice was later dispatched to CNN to “walk back” her ridiculous comment, which I reacted to at the time by being glad my army veteran father hadn’t lived to hear it, since it might have killed him. On CNN she “explained” to Jim Acosta,

“…what I was referring to was the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That, in and of itself, is a very honorable thing.”

This only could have meant,  1) “I think you, as a member of the boot-licking pro-Obama media, will accept this, because you pretty much accept anything if it protects The Great One,” or, 2) “We think the American public has the IQ of wood chips, and will think this makes sense,” or 3) “I, Susan Rice, have the IQ of wood chips, and really believe what I just said. Doesn’t it make you sleep soundly at night knowing that someone like me is the National Security Advisor.”

Don’t rule out #3, but #1 didn’t quite work, even with a partisan hack like Acosta, who couldn’t resist asking, “Honor and distinction?”But he allowed Rice to change the subject, and she pivoted to talking about the presumption of innocence.

I wrote at the time what a competent journalist not willing to enable such deception should have responded:

“What? Wait a minute, Ambassador Rice, you didn’t say Bergdahl was honorable. You said he served with honor and distinction. Enlisting is honorable and admirable to be sure, but service is what an enlistee does after volunteering for service. Are you saying that the act of enlisting makes a soldier’s service honorable whatever he does on the field of battle? So the soldier who went rogue and shot several of his comrades would still be, by your definition, honorable? Do you really believe that we should honor any soldier, even a deserter? A traitor? Is there anything in your definition of honorable that a soldier could do after volunteering for service that forfeits that honor?

“You also said that Bergdahl “served with distinction. “How is that covered by the mere fact of his enlisting? Do you mean “distinction” literally, as in, “not every soldier walks away from his post and gets himself captured by the Taliban”? For I agree—that’s certainly distinctive—thank God—but how is it honorable?“

Rice, I am quite certain, would have embarrassed herself with whatever huminahumina babble that direct question would have provoked, because she just isn’t that bright, which raises the questions of what Obama had her in important positions, and why she was his designated liar. Even Hillary was a better liar.

That interview got worse, believe it or not. For mere seconds after flagrantly spinning her false characterization of Bergdahl as a soldier who served “with honor and distinction,” she said,

“I’m upfront with the American people and I always do my best on behalf of my country and I do my best to tell the facts as I know them.”

That’s Susan Rice!

More to come.

 

Cemetery Ethics: The German POW Gravestones.

If you encountered that gravestone in a cemetery, would it move you to file a protest? Or to start an advocacy group dedicated to having the marker removed or taken down?

There are two such  gravestones marking the resting places of German prisoners of war in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, and another one is in Fort Douglas Post Cemetery in Salt Lake City. They are located among the graves of American veterans, some of whom fought against Germany in World War II. A retired colonel visiting his Jewish grandfather’s grave at the Texas cemetery saw one of the markers with the swastika symbol,  and his complaint moved  the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which obviously does not have enough on its plate, to demand that the Veterans Administration “do something.”

Apparently in the throes of a strong attack of common sense and possessing functioning ethics alarms, the VA’s National Cemetery Administration has responded to the protest  by stating that it “will continue to preserve these headstones, like every past administration has. All of the headstones date back to the 1940s, when the Army approved the inscriptions in question.”

Mike Weinstein, the founder of the MRFF and a former Air Force officer, deeply feels the pain of having to allow buried soldiers have the emblems of the nations they fought for on their headstones, and is apoplectic about the decision.  “It’s intolerable,”  he said. “This should not require explaining why this is wrong.”

Baseball writer Bill James once wrote that when someone says that that their proposition shouldn’t require explaining, it usually means that they have no valid arguments.

“But..but…” Wienstein sputters, if you translate the German phrase on the the headstones, they read, “HE DIED FAR FROM HOME FOR FUHRER, PEOPLE AND FATHERLAND”! I know I always enjoy translating the foreign languages on headstones over the graves of strangers just in case I can find them offensive. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 5/13/2020….Oh, So WHAT If It’s Morning Or Not? Who CARES? Who Cares About ANY Of It?

1. I miss Ken. Ken White used to troll people who would ask him to post their sponsored content on Popehat. Now that he’s writing for The Atlantic, which morphed into a “resistance” organ and which I refuse to read on principle unless a particular screed is brought to my attention, I no longer get to chuckle at his nonsense mockery post about ponies and the rest. Now I’m getting this junk too. Faith Cormier writes,

I was visiting your website, ethicsalarms.com, and it had me wondering: do you accept outside submissions? If so, we’d love to create an original piece for you!Because it would include a totally natural reference to one of our clients, we’re prepared to pay you $100 for your time and effort. (Payments made through PayPal.) Shall we send you a draft, Jack? Alternatively, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Yeah, I have a question, Faith. How could you read this blog, with the title “Ethics Alarms,” and make a proposal like that? “Totally natural reference” means a promotion, and that this would be deceptive marketing.  My integrity may have a price some day, but if it does, it will be a hell of a lot higher than a hundred bucks.

2. Ethics movie spoiler.  “Standoff,” is a 2016 film that critics mostly slammed because critics don’t understand ethics movies. A hit man (Lawrence Fishburne) who is chasing a 12-year-old girl who took a photo of him while he was executing people tracks her down to a run-down house where a depressed and alcoholic veteran (Thomas Jane) is living. The veteran, who has some facility with firearms (and who lost his own young son, sending him into his tailspin) decides to protect her, though the hit man demands that he turn her over to be shot. The veteran faces several ethics conflicts after making the altruistic decision to risk his own life to try to save a child who showed up on his doorstep by random chance. The hit man captures a police officer and tortures him to force the girl’s surrender. He then threatens to kill the officer, and does, as the veteran rejects the proffered exchange. Finally, the hit man captures the veteran’s ex-wife, and says he will kill her if he doesn’t get the little girl. (“How do I know I can trust you?” the vteran asks as they are negotiating. “You can’t!” the hit man replies.)

Now that’s an ethics conflict! Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, V-E Day 75th Anniversary Edition

To my father and all the rest…

Thank-you for saving the world.

1. About that Eva Murry story. The last we heard from Eva Murry, she was telling the story of how creepy Joe Biden complimented her on the size of her breasts 12 years ago, when she was 14. Ethics Alarms noted at the time that the woman’s detailed account had no effect on the credibility of Tara Reade’s allegations one way or the other, since we already knew Biden was creepy.  However,earlier this week Fox News reported : 

A past organizer for Delaware’s First State Gridiron Dinner now says Joe Biden did not attend the event in 2008, after a woman recently claimed the former vice president and senator sexually harassed her there, Fox News has learned….

Local news reports from the time said Biden was having sinus surgery earlier that week — to address issues including a deviated septum — and was scheduled to be out of work for the whole week.

At the time, his spokeswoman said that she “anticipates that he’ll be out for the remainder of the week recovering at his home in Wilmington,” according to a report in the News Journal at the time.

Murry’s aunt, Christine O’Donnell (of “I am not a witch” fame) says she remembers Murry talking about the event at the time, and  stood by her viece’s accusation, telling Fox,

“Yes, it could have been another year. So what? She was a teenager when I ran for office. It doesn’t make it okay. It happened when I was running for office against him. If it was 2007, that makes it even worse.”

But it couldn’t have been in 2007 either, because records place him in Iowa that evening.

All anyone can figure out is that young Murry ran into a different creep that she thought was Biden, though that seems unlikely too. What’s going on here? Why would the woman subject herself to national scrutiny and embarrassment by telling her story in such detail when it wasn’t true?

Since the new evidence came to light, she has been notably silent. That’s not right; she made an accusation against Biden, and needs to follow up with either an explanation or an apology. Continue reading

Before The Rot Set In: Wendell Willkie And James Beggs [Corrected]

A quote in an obituary for long-time NASA chief James Beggs, who died this week at the age of 94, shocked me into realizing once again how alien basic ethics have become to our leaders in business, government, politics…hell, just about anywhere.  And once again, I’m wondering what good I’m doing, and why I bother.

Beggs had overseen more than 20 successful space shuttle launches, but he was on administrative leave due to an investigation of his conduct when the Challenger launched and exploded in 1986. As we have discussed on Ethics Alarms, a landmark example of failed ethics and decision-making caused the temporary leadership of NASA to ignore dire warnings from two engineers and send the shuttle and its precious human cargo up in dangerously cold weather.  Indeed Beggs called NASA  from his exile that fateful day to express his concern about icing. He resigned from NASA in 1986, about a month after the Challenger disaster.

Beggs was reluctant to criticize his former agency’s culpability in the accident, but he was adamant that “they shouldn’t have launched.”  “Whether I would have done anything different at the time, I’ve thought about that,” he said. “I think I would have, but that’s pure conjecture.”

Remarkable. How often does a critic of a past decision have the intrinsic fairness and integrity to say that? The Wuhan virus landscape has been polluted by extravagant and unjust second-guessing from the start, as everyone from politicians to pundits to plumbers are just certain that they would have known how to handle an unprecedented situation with significant unknown factors and substantial risk. They would have reached a different, quicker,better approach than the individual who actually had to make the call.

It’s a disgusting spectacle, and an unethical one. The “right” decision can always be made to seem obvious after the fact; critics cannot possibly know what their state of mind would have been at the actual time the decision had to be made by someone else. Beggs’ acknowledgement of that, in a situation where he could have credibly second-guessed his colleagues without equivocation, demonstrates the character of a decent and ethical professional determined to do and say the right thing even when opportunities are present for personal gain.

That story, in turn, reminded me of…Wendell Willkie. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Captain Crozier And The Ghost Of Billy Mitchell”

Eddie Rickenbacker

We have a lot of Michaels commenting here, and one of them, plain old Michael, I have had the honor and pleasure of knowing personally. In this fascinating Comment of the Day, he provides some fascinating details regarding Billy Mitchell’s trial, and some other perspective as well. The post immediately expanded by reading list.

Here is Michael’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Captain Crozier And The Ghost Of Billy Mitchell“:

As a cadet at the USAF Academy (class of 1969) I had Billy Mitchell  among my pantheon of heroes. Nonetheless, my philosophy professor, Col Malcolm Wakin, had us debate the ethics of the Billy Mitchell trial. He was not trying to get us to “an answer” (although it seemed pretty clear that the members of the Court were biased, and our debate centered more on Mitchell’s actions); rather, to engage in debate. It was one of the reasons he was my favorite Academy professors. Always probing. Always promoting open debate. This is a rather long intro, but I wanted the background of my own “ethics awakening” known.

Wakin was a major when he started promoting the idea that military academies should include philosophy departments. Other officers denigrated the idea, but the USAF decided to establish an Academy philosophy department and selected Major Wakin as its first department head. At the time, that meant a “temporary” promotion directly to full colonel! Therefore, not long after being called “silly” by many other officers, he outranked them. He was department head for many years, eventually retiring as a Brig General and being sought by many companies and the US Olympic Committee to provide ethics advice. Continue reading

I Know We’ve Got Enough To Worry About, But…How Much Is The Government Ethically Obligated To Tell Us About UFOs?

Today the Pentagon shared three videos taken by US Navy pilots that show  what the military calls “unidentified aerial phenomena,” and what we have usually called “UFOs.” The videos, from November 2004 and January 2015, have been on the web for a while, and have turned up in various documentaries and even  on the History Channel and elsewhere.

The three videos can be downloaded here. (I’ve seen them. Cool!) The Department of Defense stated that the videos were finally being made public after it was determined that they did not reveal any “sensitive capabilities or systems,” nor would releasing them “impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions.” Continue reading