Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/15/2021: “Having A Hard Time Keeping Up” Edition

Just a housekeeping note…I am struggling to find a way to keep Ethics Alarms reasonably current and informative at a time when the ethics issues are resembling an avalanche from my point of view. Avoiding the trap of letting political matters eat the blog is also a constant chore; it has been for many years, but the problem seems to be getting worse. The daily warm-up format was developed to help me cover more issues, but it has become an amazingly time-consuming project, usually taking me two hours on most days. That’s still less than it would take to cover each of the four or five items in full posts (tagging, proofreading and completing the links now takes longer than ever, thanks to WordPress “improvements). Of course, posting 8 or 9 posts a day instead of just three or four would help traffic, which depresses me, but unfortunately, I have other responsibilities. Then there are the long-delayed but promised Part Twos and Threes that are staring at me like unpaid debts, making me feel guilty. I can’t believe the Ethics Scoreboard would have an essay a week, and sometimes not even that. I’ll figure it out….

1. Well, this makes me feel a little better...it appears that the commentariat on both Ann Althouse’s blog and the home of Professor Turley’s usually excellent analysis have also become overwhelmingly conservative as the progressives have fled except for a few determined souls. Ann and the professor are both left-leaning, but their integrity has led them to be critical of the progressive hive as well as the news media that nourishes it. Being objective is now the mark of an evil conservative, apparently, or so their critics claim. That’s a horrifying cultural development, but at least the flight of the progressives on Ethics Alarms was not an isolated phenomenon.

2. More on “Peril”...

  • The story in Bob Woodward’s latest book about Gen. Milley’s breach of the chain of command because, apparently, he was biased by several Big Lies about his Commander in Chief only rated page 16 coverage in the New York Times, behind, for example, Squaw Valley changing its name because a lifetime petty criminal was accidentally killed by a Minnesota cop. Meanwhile, this is front page, multiple op-ed stuff over at the Washington Post. It the Post’s Bob Woodward’s claims are true, then it should be a front page story in both papers. If it isn’t, THAT’s a front page story. 
  • Of course, the story may be garbage, but the Post won’t consider that. Example: in a piece by Greg Sargent called “Awful new revelations about Trump and Jan. 6 show Mike Pence is no hero,” this excerpt from “Peril” is cited as factual enough to be called an “awful revelation.” Trump and Pence are supposedly arguing about whether Pence should block the certification of the election:
“If these people say you had the power, wouldn’t you want to?” Trump asked.
“I wouldn’t want any one person to have that authority,” Pence said.
“But wouldn’t it be almost cool to have that power?” Trump asked, according to Woodward and Costa.
“No,” Pence said. He went on, “I’ve done everything I could and then some to find a way around this. It’s simply not possible.”
 
How can these quotes be believed? It was a conversation between two people. Trump wasn’t Woodward’s source, and neither was Pence. Yet we are told that these are exact quotes. Unless Woodward was there, which he wasn’t, the account is hearsay at best, and maybe third- or fourth-hand hearsay. Greg Sargent, however, believes them, and a Post editor thinks that’s enough to justify representing a fabricated conversation as real.
 

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Ethics Observations On Gen. Milley’s Alleged Secret Calls To China

Milley

According to “Peril,” Bob Woodward’s latest pseudo-journalism relying on chatty leakers and other anonymous sources to expose the inside sausage-making of our government, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark A. Milley called his Chinese counterpart before the 2020 election and again after the January 6 riots because he feared that President Trump might start a war with China. From Woodward’s employer, the Washington Post:

In a pair of secret phone calls, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, that the United States would not strike, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa.

One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that unseated President Donald Trump, and the other on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol siege carried out by his supporters in a quest to cancel the vote. The first call was prompted by Milley’s review of intelligence suggesting the Chinese believed the United States was preparing to attack. That belief, the authors write, was based on tensions over military exercises in the South China Sea, and deepened by Trump’s belligerent rhetoric toward China. “General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley told him. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”

In the book’s account, Milley went so far as to pledge he would alert his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, stressing the rapport they’d established through a backchannel. “General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”

Observations:

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Ready or Not Clinton Corruptees: Your “The E-mail Scandal Is Anything But Nonsense” Update For Today

sending email

I care about you all, I really do. Clinton Corruption is not incurable; it can be cured if detected early, slowly, with a steady intake of facts, with the  generous  application of  basic ethical values and the gradual acceptance of the concept that they matter in leadership, because ethics justify trust.

Let us being today’s session with the rantings of a CCS (Clinton Corruption Syndrome) sufferer, Washington Post’s relatively objective columnist Chris Cillizza, who shows the advanced and probably hopeless progression of Clinton corruption with his most recent column. His sad delusion: Hillary’s nomination is inevitable, it’s too late to challenge her, so Democrats, and the nation, should just accept it. This aids Clinton, or course, placing her in Clinton Nirvana, where there is no accountability. Cillizza shows the ravages of Clinton corruption when he says that “Clinton has been under fire” for her private e-mail server and her responses to the unfolding controversy. This plays the Clinton enabling game so popular in the left leaning news media, discussing the politics of the scandal, like it’s a football game, rather than honestly disclosing the obvious conclusions from it.  The episode has already proven that Clinton is unqualified for the Presidency—incompetent, more concerned with personal interests than national welfare, dishonest, arrogant, untrustworthy, and dangerous. It is a great boon to Clinton to convince the public that all of these revelations are to no effect, because there is nothing to be done. “Move on!” was the mantra of the anti-impeachment crowd  when it was shown that Bill Clinton had disgraced the office; now it’s “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Of course Democrats aren’t stuck with Hillary. Would Cillizza make this argument if she were shown to be suffering from dementia? If she were shown to have committed treason? If she killed someone? If she dies, would they put her on the ticket anyway, like El Cid leading his army post-mortem? The only reason anyone is making the Carole King argument (“It’s too late baby”) to bolster Hillary is because they think the public really doesn’t think habitual lying and lack of trustworthiness is disqualifying.

It is, and I’m betting a critical mass of Democrats understand that, or will, because of developments like these… Continue reading

American Journalism’s Integrity Death Spiral, PART II: The James O’Keefe Conundrum

The past and present of investigative journalism.

The past and present of investigative journalism.

James O’Keefe calls himself an investigative journalist, but that’s not what he is. A real investigative journalist would look for the truth, whichever political party a particular set of uncovered and inconvenient facts happened to make look bad.O’Keefe is only interested in getting dirt on Democrats and their allies.

A real investigative journalist would also follow, or know he was supposed to follow, or at least make some effort to follow, the tenets of journalism ethics, which frown on using trickery, lies and surreptitious recording to obtain stories. This is all O’Keefe does. His oxymoronically named Project Veritas uses people posing as someone they are not, spouting misrepresentations,  to obtain video evidence of corruption in the bowels of political activism…Democratic political activism, that is. Recently, O’Keefe got various supporters of and volunteers for Allison Grimes—you know, that former Democratic National Convention delegate for Barack Obama running for U.S. Senator under the banner of Democratic Party in Kentucky who refuses to say that she voted for the current Democratic President?—to opine that that the candidate’s vocal support for the coal industry was a sham. As always with O’Keefe’s stings, the dedicated Daily Koses huffed and puffed and explained why the videos were misleading (the usual excuse is that the victims “caught in the act of being themselves,” as Candid Camera creator Allen Funt used to say, were “going along” with O’Keefe’s sham. This was also the excuse of many of the Congressmen filmed taking bribes in the Abscam sting. It is not persuasive.) Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: Bob Woodward

“You’re talking about government not working, but who’s in charge of the Executive Branch? You go to the Constitution, and the President has sole responsibility for the Executive Branch. This rests on him.

You were talking earlier about kind of dismissing the Benghazi issue as one that’s just political, and the President recently said it’s ‘a sideshow.’ But if you read through all these emails, you see that everyone in the government is saying, ‘Oh, let’s not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to al-Qaida. Let’s not tell the public that there were warnings…’  One of the documents with the editing [shows] that one of the people in the State Department said, ‘Oh, let’s not let these things out.’ And I have to go back 40 years to Watergate, when Nixon put out his edited transcripts of the conversations, and he personally went through them and said ‘Let’s not tell this,’ ‘Let’s not show this.’

“I would not dismiss Benghazi. It’s a very serious issue. As people keep saying, four people were killed. You look at the hydraulic pressure that was in the system to not tell the truth, and, you know, we use this term and the government uses this term ‘talking points.’ Talking points, as we know, are like legal briefs. They’re an argument on one side. What we need to do is get rid of talking point, and they need to put out statements or papers that are truth documents. ‘OK, this is all we know.’”

—Bob Woodward, Watergate legend, on MSNBC, making the case that the altering of the Benghazi “talking points” and subsequent use of misleading statements about the origins of the attack is not, as the President has said, ” a side-show,” but rather a serious and disturbing event worthy of criticism and attention.

truth-graphic

“Quick! Let’s hide it!”

One reason I like this quote is that I feel that in the long run the Benghazi talking points scandal—for that’s what it is, a scandal—may be the most significant, if not the most egregious, of the three scandals now rocking the Obama Administration. For the reason this is true, we only have to consult Jay Carney, who incredibly told Piers Morgan yesterday that in referring to the I.R.S. targeting of conservative groups for obstructive treatment, the Justice Department’s intrusion on AP phone records and the false “anti-Muslim video” narrative,  the CNN host was “concocting scandals that don’t exist…especially with regard to the Benghazi affair that was contrived by Republicans and, I think, has fallen apart largely this week.”

Wow. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: The Washington Post Editors

“To govern is to choose. By missing Friday’s deadline for averting $85 billion worth of across-the-board spending cuts to defense and domestic programs, Congress and President Obama have chosen not to govern. Instead, each side has concluded that its interest lies in letting the “sequester” proceed as scheduled — and then trying to win the political blame game….”

—-The Washington Post, in its lead editorial today, as the sequester deadline passed.

gordian-knot1While so many other Obama supporting media organizations continue to absolve the President for any responsibility in this disgraceful episode, his hometown newspaper, blue as blue can be, has been uniquely  fair and objective on this issue. The Post’s blueness manifests itself in overly-gentle terms to describe conduct that deserves far harsher terms, much as Bob Woodward’s using the term “mistake” to describe President Obama’s claim that he didn’t propose the sequester in the first place, when the accurate term is certainly “lie.”  For example, the Post editors, later in their piece, say this: Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week, Sequester Ethics Train Wreck Division: Senior White House Advisor David Plouffe

“Watching Woodward the last 2 days is like watching my idol Mike Schmidt face live pitching again. Perfection gained once is rarely repeated.”

—  Senior White House Advisor David Plouffe, in a tweet contributing to the White House effort to undermine the credibility of journalist Bob Woodward for the crime of calling attention to some of its more unsavory maneuvers regarding the sequestration crisis.

plouffe

“I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

He owes Mike an apology too.

He owes Mike an apology too.

Maybe this is what Gene Sperling meant.  Now the White House gang is suggesting that Woodward has lost it, can’t get around on the fast ball, that his time has passed, that he is, in short, an old geezer who should be put out to pasture, like 1970’s baseball great Mike Schmidt.

Democrats are quick on the trigger to accuse adversaries of coded racism, sexism, and homophobia, but appear to have no compunction at all when it comes to denigrating opponents as old, or fat. This is bigotry, you know, from a White House that has benefited mightily from planting the myth that any criticism of its primary occupant is subject to legitimate suspicion of being motivated by prejudice. Let’s see—Woodward is 68, almost 69. Harry Reid is 74. Nancy Pelosi is 72.  Justice Ginsberg and Justice Breyer, two liberal stalwarts protecting the Presidents legal flanks, are 79 and 74 respectively. Hillary Clinton, who is being pumped up for a Presidential run in 2016, will be 66 this year, and 70 by the time she runs, if she runs.  Joe Biden is older than Woodward; so is newly appointed Secretary of State John Kerry. Plouffe tweet is a slur and a cheap shot, rank hypocrisy, and really stupid.

His message is that if a journalist dares to challenge this administration’s Machiavellian tactics, it must be because of creeping senility. Perfection is, naturally, holding Republican administrations to standards of integrity and honesty. Doing so with Democrats, however, is proof that a journalist has stayed to long at his desk.

He is a bigot, an ass, and I fear, an in-house assassin.

You know, I wouldn’t bet against Mike Schmidt still being able to hit one out.

_____________________________

Source: Instapundit

UPDATE: Spinning The Woodward-White House Dispute

Here's a question, Gene: What the hell is going on???

Here’s a question, Gene: What the hell is going on???

Now that the e-mail that apparently caused Washington Post icon Bob Woodward to feel he was being threatened has been released, several new questions and observations arise:

1. In the e-mail, at least, the senior official, now confirmed to be economic advisor Gene Sperling, never denies the central point of the Woodward column at issue: that President Obama, not congressional Republicans, was the first to propose the sequester, contrary to the statements of Jack Lew and the President himself, in contradiction to the blame narrative being pushed by the White House. This means that either the White House concedes its obfuscation, or that it chose to muddy the waters and undermine Woodward’s credibility by focusing on another aspect of his analysis where it was subject to legitimate challenge.

2. Why did Woodward feel threatened by this ostensibly “friendly” message? He is a veteran of such exchanges and presumably adept at translating Washington-speak and reading between the lines. I yield to his reporter instincts, but frankly, I don’t see it. I presume the threats in his phone argument with Sperling were more overt. I don’t know that, however. Continue reading

The Sequester Ethics Train Wreck: The White House Shows Its Dark Side To Bob Woodward

"Deja vu, Bob?"

“Deja vu, Bob?”

[ UPDATED] It is time to upgrade, or perhaps downgrade is a fairer term, Washington’s sequestration battle to a full-fledged ethics train wreck. This is one that may cause far reaching damage, and anyone, including the White House and the Republicans, who thinks it is predictable or controllable is deluded. You don’t control a train wreck; it controls you, once you are on board. The White House, and thus President Obama, are riding right up front.

Today Watergate-busting journalist Bob Woodward revealed that after he dared to interfere with the White House disinformation campaign—-designed to re-write history and assign Congressional Republicans responsibility for the introducing irresponsible, certifiable and reckless sequester device (voting for it was bad enough)—by writing in a Washington Post column that it was White House staff that initially proposed the gimmick, he was threatened by a senior White House official. “I think you will regret staking out that claim,” the official wrote to him. Woodward told both CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Politico that he regarded the statement as a thinly veiled threat, especially after the same official (now identified as Gene Sperling) had screamed at him over the phone for the cardinal sin of letting the facts interfere with the White House’s public opinion manipulation strategy. Woodward told Politico,

“‘You’ll regret.’ Come on. I think if Obama himself saw the way they’re dealing with some of this, he would say, ‘Whoa, we don’t tell any reporter ‘you’re going to regret challenging us.’ ” Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: The Washington Post Editorial Board

“…Why is Mr. Obama not leading the way to a solution? From the start, and increasingly in his second term, Mr. Obama has presented entitlement reform as something he would do grudgingly, as a favor to the opposition, when he should be explaining to the American people — and to his party — why it is an urgent national need.”

—–The Washington Post’s editors, in a spot-on editorial splitting the blame for what it correctly calls the “stupid” sequester fight equally between Congressional Republicans and the President, but pointing out the President Obama, because he is President, will be accountable for his failure to lead on the issue.

No way to run a country.

No way to run a country.

Good for the Post. I began a draft of a very similar article, and abandoned it because I have expressed my harsh assessment of President Obama’s leadership style and skills too many times here to be regarded as objective on the topic. There is nothing in the editorial I disagree with. This President’s concept of leadership has been to order the opposition to do what he wants, orchestrate deceitful  PR battles about the horrible consequences that will occur if his edict was not followed, and then to seek partisan advantage by casting all blame on his opponents when his preferred approach was rejected. His acolytes and enablers in the media have allowed him to continue this pattern: to its credit, the Washington Post has been a notable exception, particularly regarding Libya, Syria, and Iran, but also previous budget battles.

President Obama’s handling of the sequester might be his worst leadership botch yet. First he proposed the sequester. He made no effort to make resolving the issue a priority prior to the election, but falsely claimed in the third debate with Mitt Romney that it was not his idea, and that he did not propose it. Continue reading