Tag Archives: 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination

How To Rehabilitate An Ethics Corrupter

I guess most people no longer even notice this kind of thing, but it drives me crazy, and will continue to until I am, in fact, crazy.

There is no doubt: Donna Brazile is an ethics corrupter. With the complicity of mainstream media elite and her cocktail party pals, she has for years been falsely represented to audiences on various public affairs shows and “round tables” as an honest and trustworthy political analyst, when in fact she is a paid operative of the Democratic Party. This has been true since she was the campaign manager for Al Gore’s failed Presidential bid. It is deception every time she is introduced on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” as anything else but a paid agent of the Democratic party. Since her opinion isn’t merely biased but paid for, presenting her as an authority or a pundit is misrepresentation, and intentionally so.

During the last campaign, Brazile revealed her character by using a position with CNN (that never should have been offered, given her known loyalties) to help Hillary Clinton cheat in a town hall and a debate against Bernie Sanders. She cheated. Her cheating was revealed in the e-mails hacked on John Podesta’s e-mail account, but Brazile lied about it when confronted with the evidence, implying that the e-mails were fabricated. Later, after that deception flopped spectacularly, she said that she was “proud” of cheating for Clinton, and regretted nothing.

To sum up, we know, and the media knows, that Donna Brazile is a corrupt partisan, who is eager to misrepresent herself and reality, and cheat when necessary to win for her clients. She should never be presented as an independent, objective, honest or trustworthy commentator or authority. Never. Her presence stands for the unethical propositions that the ends justify the means, and that the Left must prevail even if doing so requires cheating and lies.

Ah, but Donna is one of the gang in Washington, good people, don’t you know, so her journalist pals and the news media are working hard to make Donna acceptable again. Thus I see this headline at “The Hill”:

Brazile: Sending Clinton town hall topics ‘mistake I will forever regret’

Drudge takes the hand-off, and links to the story like this..

DONNA SEEKS REDEMPTION: REGRETS LEAKED QUESTION…

ABC, next to CNN the network that has most shamelessly passed off Brazile as trustworthy commentator, headlined the story,

Donna Brazile: Passing debate questions to Clinton camp ‘a mistake I will forever regret’

FACT: Donna Brazile has never said, implied or stated that she regrets cheating on Clinton’s behalf. Never. Yet these are the headlines of stories that desperately attempted to convince the public that the opposite is the case.

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Ethics Hero: Humorist Dave Barry

dave-barry-2016

Humorist Dave Barry managed to find sufficient humor in 2016 to write his annual satirical year-end review and not fail to reach the high standards he has set for himself in this endeavor for about four decades. That would be justification enough for making the 69-year-old writer 2017’s first ethics hero, but there is more.

Most striking, perhaps, is that the column is both funny and fair. Unlike virtual all topical satire today, it does not take sides, nor show partisan bias. Some of this may be related to the fact that Barry is a self-proclaimed libertarian (perhaps explaining why his long piece did not exploit the humor potential in the campaign of the ridiculous Gary Johnson, or even more, surprising, the fat naked guy running around the podium at the Libertarian convention), but most of it springs from his possession of basic integrity as well as an impressive absence of bias. This distinguishes Dave Barry from such alleged comics and satirists as Samantha Bee, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Amy Shumer, Chelsea Handler, Chris Rock, Seth Myers, Sarah Silverman, Bill Maher, John Oliver, Larry Wilmore, Trevor Noah, and the Saturday Night Live writers, all of whose point of view can be fairly summarized as the belief that if a Democrat, progressive or President Obama has ever done anything foolish or ridiculous, there’s probably a good reason for it.

This remarkable trait, now almost extinct but once known as “an open mind,” allows Barry to write such passages as..

And we voters did our part, passing judgment on the candidates, thinning the herd, rejecting them one by one. Sometimes we had to reject them more than once; John Kasich didn’t get the message until his own staff felled him with tranquilizer darts. But eventually we eliminated the contenders whom we considered to be unqualified or disagreeable, whittling our choices down until only two major candidates were left. And out of all the possibilities, the two that We, the People, in our collective wisdom, deemed worthy of competing for the most important job on Earth, turned out to be …

… drum roll …

… the most flawed, sketchy and generally disliked duo of presidential candidates ever!

Yes. After all that, the American people, looking for a leader, ended up with a choice between ointment and suppository…

and Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

“The 2016 Election Is a Disaster Without a Moral”? Only If You’re In Denial, Mr. Chait!

That should be "lessons," plural...

That should be “lessons,” plural...

The many outbursts of  liberal anger, resentment, accusations and denial over the election have been revealing, and not in a good way. Few have been as directly and stubbornly misguided and biased, however, as the current New York Magazine article by Jonathan Chait, with the clickbait title, “The 2016 Election Is a Disaster Without a Moral.”

It is, in essence, yet another example of Democrats attempting to argue away any accountability for their own misfortune, making Chait’s piece itself a denial of several moral lessons, such as “I am the architect of my own destiny,” “Take responsibility for your failures,” and “Don’t blame others for your own mistakes.” The post-election progressive freak-out, of which Chait is a part, also has a very important moral lesson in store, the one embodied in the Serenity Prayer authored by theologian and philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971):

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the  courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Clearly, this moral lesson is completely elusive, with pointless recounts underway supported by the Clinton campaign; round the clock complaining about the Electoral College, part of the 225 year-old rules of the game the Democrats accepted when they ran a candidate in the election; unethical and futile attempts intimidate electors or convince them to violate their vows;  embarrassingly infantile laments and near-breakdowns of whining students on college campuses,; and “Not My President!” protests and riots.

The lessons are there to learn, Jonathan, you just don’t want to learn them. He actually writes—and if this isn’t denial, I don’t know what is, “It is hard to think of an election defeat more singularly absent of important lessons.”  What??? To the contrary, it is hard to think of an election that taught more important lessons than this one. Continue reading

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The 2016 Election And Ethics Zugswang

scylla-and-charybdis

In a July post I introduced the concept of ethics zugswang, described in the Ethics Alarms glossary as

From the chess term “zugzwang,” describing a board where the player with the next move worsens his position regardless of which move he chooses. Ethics Zugswang occurs when all the opportunity to choose ethical options has passed. Any course of action will have unethical consequences.

I often talk about ethics zugswang in my ethics seminars as well. It is a situation where  no ethical decision is possible, because of poor choices and a failure to play competent ethics chess, not thinking ahead, not anticipating worst case scenarios, and thereby creating a situation where  ethical options are unavailable. All that is left are options that do tangible harm. The idea is to avoid such messes by not blundering through life being governed by non-ethical considerations, emotions, rationalizations, recklessness and ignorance. Sometimes, however, despite all of one’s best efforts, ethics zugswang arrives anyway.

Such is the plight of the American citizen on Election Day, 2016. For months, thoughtful voters who care about democracy and want to participate in choosing their President responsibly have been trying to decide which of several unethical decisions is the best—the most ethical, or rather least unethical– of the available options. Being angry or indignant, or holding one’s breath until one turns blue, will not do. A decision has to be made, and refusing to make a decision is still a decision. (In chess, the most common response to ethics zugswang is to resign, to quit. But one cannot quit being a citizen in a democracy.)

In past posts, mostly in the comments, I and others have exchanged proposed analogies to describe the choice between choosing Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump to lead the country. Arguing that it was a binary choice that could best be compared to having one’s commercial airline flown by an untrustworthy pilot of questionable skill, motivations and objectives or, in the alternative, a seven-year old, a monkey or a spaniel, my position was that one choice was terrible and the other was infinitely worse, but the terrible one as at least survivable, with luck. Classical literature provides another useful analogy: the myth of Scylla and Charibdis.

In Greek mythology, they were two immortal and deadly monsters who lived on opposite sides the narrow waters in the Strait of Messina, between Italy and Sicily. Odysseus, trying to return home after the Trojan War,  faced the dilemma posed by having to choose between them in Homer’s Odyssey, Book XII. Scylla had been a lovely a sea nymph who was loved by the sea god Poseidon, but Poseidon’s jealous wife Aphrodite treacherously cursed the waters in which Scylla bathed. The god-poisoned water turned Scylla into huge and vicious monster with twelve legs, six heads on long, snaky necks, with each head having a triple row of shark-like teeth. The transformed Scylla’s loins were also covered by the heads of baying dogs. (Note to self: don’t mess with Aphrodite!) When ships passed close to her, Scylla’s six heads would each snatch one sailor, then devour them in her cave.

Charybdis was also once a nymph, a daughter of Poseidon, who angered Zeus, Poseidon’s brother. Zeus turned her into an even worse monster than Scylla. The transformed nymph lurked under a fig tree on the opposite shore from Scylla’s rock, drinking down and belching out  the sea three times a day, causing  fatal whirlpools no ship could survive. Odysseus managed to get the worst of this dual  monster dilemma, sailing close enough to Scylla to doom six of his sailors (who he never warned about the threat) and still seeing his chip wrecked by Charybdis, with him being the only survivor. The shipwrecked Odysseus barely escaped her clutches by clinging to a tree until the improvised raft that she swallowed floated to the surface again after many hours.  To be “between Scylla and Charybdis” means to be caught between two equally horrible alternatives.

As today loomed and this metaphor appeared more and more accurate, I sought wisdom from various versions of the story, only to gradually realize that I was not as certain as I once had been which candidate was which monster. Continue reading

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Yes, Yes, We Know Who You Are Voting AGAINST…But You Should Know Who And What You Are Voting FOR…

“My conscience — as an activist, a strategist — is very clear…if I had to do it all over again, I would know a hell of a lot more about cybersecurity.”

—-Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile, refusing to apologize for forwarding debate and town hall questions to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, thus breaching journalism ethics and betraying the trust of CNN, which was employing her as an analyst.

statue-of-liberty-cryingWhen you vote for Hillary Clinton—and voting against Donald Trump does not change the fact that you are still voting for Clinton—do understand what this statement, in an interview yesterday on satellite radio, really means.  It means that the Democratic Party officially embraces the anti-ethical principle that the ends justifies the means. It means that the party endorses lying and cheating, which was what Brazile did, as long as the “right” people lie and cheat. It means that the Democratic Party—-not just Hillary and her staff, who we know have the core political ethics of Lenin and Goebbels, but the entire party—agrees with Brazile. Her mistake was not cheating, but failing to get away with it, by hiding her conduct insufficiently.

She, like the party she leads, is so confident that the American public, at least the voters she and the party care about, accepts these ugly and undemocratic values that she is not even pretending to regret her actions. If it helps elect Hillary Clinton, it’s fine. It it acquires power for the Democrats, it’s fine. If it deceives the public to the “right” end, it’s fine.

The Democratic Party hasn’t condemned Brazile’s actions, and won’t condemn her smug words of endorsement of lying and cheating. It hasn’t asked her to step down, as her predecessor was made to step down after she was caught rigging the nomination process for Clinton. Thus it endorses Brazile’s  values, and openly so. President Obama also endorsed Brazile’s values, explicitly, by directing his spokesman Josh Earnest to praise her, and only praise her, as “a person of integrity and ..high character” after being asked about the first of Brazile’s cheats on behalf of Clinton (more have since been uncovered.)

Is that clear? The President of the United States publicly stated, through his agent, that an individual who lies and cheats has integrity. This is what integrity has come to mean under this leader, to his party. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

‘It Profits A Law Firm Nothing To Give Its Soul For The Whole World … But For Hillary, Thornton?’

Once again, a memorable line from the best ethics film of them all, “A Man For All Seasons,” came rushing back to me as I observed another example of professionals abandoning their ethical principles to assist the most demonstrably corrupt Presidential candidate in U.S. history, Hillary Clinton.

Not just her, however, to be fair. The Thornton Law Firm in Boston has used an illegal and unethical maneuver to circumvent election laws and give millions of dollars to the Democratic Party and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Harry Reid, President Obama and, of course, Hillary, among others.  The scheme was revealed by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Spotlight investigative team at the Boston Globe.

The firm has just ten partners, but is one of the nation’s biggest political donors. A whistle-blower sent firm documents showing that firm members have been making large donations to Democrats, only to be reimbursed by the firm days or even hours later with bonuses matching the amounts donated exactly.

Federal law limits partnerships–law firms are almost all partnerships—to maximum donations of $2,700 per candidate. This was what is called a “straw donor” plot. “Straw donor reimbursement systems are something both the FEC and the Department of Justice take very seriously, and people have gone to jail for this,” Center for Responsive Politics editorial director Viveca Novak told CBS. Continue reading

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Latest Ethics Notes On The Hillary Clinton E-Mail Scandal Ethics Train Wreck, Part 3

denial

Continuing from Part 1 and 2…

9. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign circulated a draft letter critical of James Comey to former federal prosecutors, implicitly inviting them to comment publicly.  (This is an implied but unenforceable quid pro quo. These people are good...) Eric Holder, naturally, former US attorney general Michael Mukasey and poor, disgraced former Bush AG Alberto Gonzalez heeded the dog whistle, all disgracing themselves in the process.

Not one of them are privy to the evidence involved, and for these men to be using their positions and reputations to level charges and accusations at a high-placed law enforcement official based on speculation and partisan warfare is unethical. It is unfair, and  undermines the public trust. This is always something that former officials should avoid, as a near absolute. The Golden Rule also applies. These men know how hard these jobs are, and what they would have thought about  ex-officials criticizing them. Basic professional ethics principles discourage this.

Holder, of course, is a proven Clinton hack. Gonzalez might even make Comey look better by criticizing him, so thoroughly discredited is he. (My guess is that he’s desperately attempting to fashion a new pubic image.)

Mukasey’s comments may have been the worst of all. He took the opportunity of the current controversy to attack Comey again for his decision not to recommend that Clinton be indicted. (Meanwhile, CNN used his name in a misleading headline implying that he was criticizing Comey for his letter to Congress. It initially fooled me.) Speaking of the earlier Coney statement, he said,

“This wasn’t Comey’s call. It is not his function as director of the FBI to decide who gets charges and doesn’t. It’s his function to gather evidence. And he didn’t fulfill that function very well. But it’s certainly not his function to get up and pronounce on whether charges should be brought or whether a reasonable prosecutor would ever bring them.I don’t think he should have been this fix. I don’t think he should have put either himself or the bureau or the Justice Department in this fix.”

Wrong (1): it was Comey’s call, because Loretta Lynch told the public that Justice would accept the recommendation of the FBI regarding Clinton’s possible prosecution. Did Mukasey follow the story? I guess not.

Wrong (2): Comey’s extensive public statement in July was necessary to ensure transparency and trust after Loretta Lynch stupidly allowed Bill Clinton to appear to be brokering a deal with her. Presumably Mukasey wouldn’t have done that.

Wrong (3): So Comey did notput either himself or the bureau or the Justice Department in this fix.” Obama put them in this fix, by allowing his Secretary of State to skirt security policies. Holder put them in this fix, by operating such a blatantly partisan and political Justice Department that public trust in a fair investigation of the presumptive Democratic Party presidential candidate was impossible. Lynch put them in this fix, by not resigning.

To his credit, Mukasey did dismiss Harry Reid’s and Richard Painter’s Hatch Act nonsense with appropriate disdain, saying, “That’s baloney. I mean, you know, it’s sort of an amusing talking point for three and a half seconds, but it’s not serious.”

10. The issue is not whether Donald Trump is as corrupt and dishonest as Hilary Clinton, or even more so. In trying to shift focus to Trump to allow Clinton, as usual, to wiggle out of the well-earned consequences of her own wrongdoing by distraction, confusion, and diversion, Clinton’s corrupted allies are throwing every accusation and innuendo at Trump that they can concoct or dig up. It-Doesn’t-Matter. Trump is horrible, the bottom of the barrel, UNDER the barrel, at the bottom of a long, narrow pit under the barrel. Understood. That still doesn’t make Hillary less corrupt, less untrustworthy, and less dishonest. Nor less ruthless, cynical, manipulative, venal and totalitarian.

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