Tag Archives: Democratic National Committee

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/18/17

It’s an All-Fred Morning!

Every day, Ethics Alarms head scout Fred sends me multiple suggestions for posts from he finds heaven-know-where. Even when I can’t fit them in, they often serve as references and always are enlightening.

1. I suspect this belongs in the Polarized Nation of Assholes files: For two years, since he returned from service combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lieutenant Commander Joshua Corney, has kept his promise to salute his fallen comrades in arms by playing a recording of Taps every evening before 8:00 p.m on his five-acre property in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania. It takes 57 seconds. It does not exceed volume limits. My dog barks longer that that every night after midnight when we put him out. Nonetheless, some of Corney’s neighbors have filed objections with the  borough. Now Glen Rock, which allows church bells to ring, among other sounds, ordered Corney to limit the playing of taps to Sundays and what it termed “flag holidays.” Each violation of the borough’s order would bring a criminal fine of 300 dollars. But the borough’s enforcement action involves two big constitutional no-nos: the heckler’s veto and content-based censorship. The borough is relying on a nuisance ordinance that prohibits sound that “annoys or disturbs” others, and just one individual annoyed by the somber Civil War era bugle solo is enough to deliver a “heckler’s veto.’

The ACLU is on the case, and backing Corney as he fights the action. It writes,

“If a “heckler” could shut down anyone who said or played something that annoyed or offended them by complaining to government officials, freedom of speech would be no more. For more than 75 years, it has been black letter First Amendment law that the government cannot censor speech simply because it is not universally appreciated.

Moreover, the borough cannot use its vague nuisance ordinance to single out only Lt. Commander Corney’s musical expression for censorship from the range of sounds that are part of the borough’s regular sonic landscape. The borough has not ordered Lt. Commander Corney to lower the volume of taps or claimed he has violated a noise-level ordinance.

And it could not claim such a violation because the recording neither exceeds any established noise levels nor is it as loud as many other sounds the borough tolerates — including many sounds that do not communicate a message, like lawnmowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, and vehicles. Censoring clearly protected expression, like taps, for being too loud, while allowing louder sounds that carry no constitutionally protected message turns the First Amendment on its head.”

Bingo. It is in cases like these that the American Civil Liberties Union shows how essential its role is in protecting the freedoms here that are so frequently under attack.

2. I was surprised when I learned some time ago that undercover police officers used to routinely have sexual relations with prostitutes before arresting them (homosexuals too, when they werebeing persecuted and  prosecuted). Just two months ago, Michigan became the last state in the U.S. to make it illegal for police officers to have sexual intercourse with prostitutes in the course of an under-cover (or covers) sting. Now Alaska wants to go an additional step, banning “sexual contact” with “sex workers” entirely. This could be mere touching or kissing. Advocates of Alaska’s House Bill 73 and Senate Bill 112 argue that police catching sex workers in the act by engaging with them sexually is a human rights violation, and Amnesty International has made an official statement supporting that claim: “Such conduct is an abuse of authority and in some instances amounts to rape and/or entrapment.” Police, quite logically, point out that the bill would make  successful undercover investigations impossible, which is, of course, the whole idea.

“[The prostitutes] ask one simple question: ‘Touch my breast.’ OK, I’m out of the car. Done. And the case is over,” Anchorage Police Department Deputy Chief Sean Case told the Alaska Dispatch News in a hypothetical example. “If we make that act (of touching) a misdemeanor, we have absolutely no way of getting involved in that type of arrest.”

Ethics Alarms is anti-prostitution. As with recreational drug use and probably polygamy, prostitution, which harms families and the young women and men exploited and abused to support it, is almost certainly on the road to legalization. Government won’t protect vital society ethics norms, but it will order you to buy health insurance because it’s for your own good. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Round-Up: 7/7/17

Good Morning!

Well this has been the deadest week of traffic Ethics Alarms has seen for a long time. Thankfully those who have visited have kept the quality and quanity of comments high. Thanks, everybody.

1. I am pretty sure that if Donald Trump delivered the oratorical equivalent of the Gettysburg Address, most of the media would find some way to find it offensive and worthy of mockery. On Vox there is an essay titled “Trump’s speech in Poland sounded like an alt-right manifesto.” Sarah Wildman found President Trump’s  call for “family, for freedom, for country, and for God’” ominous, and was especially bothered by his rhetorical question of  “whether the West has the will to survive.”

This is where the Left is heading, apparently. Appealing to Western values and endorsing “family, for freedom, for country, and for God’ makes you a crypto-fascist. Add this to the list of  reasons Donald Trump is President of the United States. Again I ask, how do people like Wildman grow up here and end up like this, and more amazing still, have a widely read forum?

By the way, the odds of President Trump delivering an oratorical equivalent of the Gettysburg Address are about the same as the odds of Flipper singing The Major General’s Song. Continue reading

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Ethics Verdict: Hillary Clinton Is The Worst Loser In US Presidential History (PART II)

You read PART I here.
As I was saying…
Following Clinton’s invention of a fake reason for her defeat for New York Magazine readers, she told Wellesley grads,

“When people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society,” Clinton said. “That is not hyperbole, it is what authoritarian regimes throughout history have done.”

OK, technically Hillary is not in power, even though she says she won the election. Nonetheless, she is throwing around alternative facts like confetti. The news media was biased against her. “Voter suppression” cost her Wisconsin. My personal favorite was when she gave the cheering, indoctrinated Wellesley fems the alternative history that Richard Nixon was impeached. No, Hillary, your husband was impeached. Nixon had the requisite respect for the office to resign.

Yet I was willing to let bygones be bygones and let all of this go, until yesterday’s head-blowing interview. At Politico, another Hillary booster during the campaign, it was written that while Hillary “made a point to say that she took responsibility for her campaign and ‘every choice’ she made,” she then proceeded to blame everything and everyone else for her fate. This has been her pattern since the Benghazi hearings. Clinton uses some bizarre definitions of “accountability” and “responsibility” that allow her to believe she is being accountable while maintaining that nothing was her fault.

I’ll highlight her most outrageous statements yesterday, noting that neither of her interviewers had the professionalism or integrity to say, “Wait, WHAT???”

“[T]he use of my email account was turned into the biggest scandal since lord knows when. And you know, in the book I’m just using everything that anybody else said about it besides me to basically say this was the biggest nothing-burger ever. It was a mistake, I’ve said it was a mistake, and obviously if I could turn the clock back, I wouldn’t have done it in the first place, but the way that it was used was very damaging. Well, if you went all the way back, doing something that others had done before was no longer acceptable in the new environment in which we found ourselves. And there was no law against it, there was no rule, nothing of that sort. So I didn’t break any rule, nobody said, “Don’t do this,” and I was very responsible and not at all careless. So you end up with a situation that is then exploited, and very effectively, for adverse political reasons. And it was maddening, because in the middle of a hard-fought campaign, it’s hard to stop and say, “Wait a minute, what you think you know about this is not accurate, let me tell you.”

KABOOM!

Speaking of Big Lies…Clinton is even lying about her lies, and going back in time to repeat her false denials when the secret server story broke in 2015. I’m not going to re-hash why her e-mail machinations were unethical and incompetent, how we know that they violated her own department’s policy, and how the “it was done before” and “it was just a mistake” are transparently false. I made myself nauseous writing about it: you can look up the posts and all the supporting links if you have a masochistic streak. But for Clinton still to be selling this spin to misrepresent her deliberately endangering U.S. security so she could hide her personal schemes from the Freedom of Information Act is an act of self-parody.

“The other side was using content that was just flat-out false, and delivering it in a very personalized way, both sort of above the radar screen and below. And you know, look, I’m not a tech expert by any stretch of the imagination. That really influenced the information that people were relying on. And there have been some studies done since the election that if you look — let’s pick Facebook. If you look at Facebook, the vast majority of the news items posted were fake. They were connected to, as we now know, the 1,000 Russian agents who were involved in delivering those messages. They were connected to the bots that are just out of control. We see now this new information about Trump’s Twitter account being populated by millions of bots. And it was such a new experience. I understand why people on their Facebook pages would think, “Oh, Hillary Clinton did that, I did not know that. Well that’s going to affect my opinion about her.” And we did not engage in false content. We may have tried to put every piece of information in the best possible light, and explanations, but we weren’t in the same category as the other side.”

What fake news items on Facebook caused people not to vote for Hillary? The Russian hacks, if they were Russian, merely reveled the ethical rot within the DNC, Hillary’s campaign, and the Clinton Foundation. These were not “lies.” They were inconvenient truths, like the fact that Donna Brazile was using her position at CNN to give Hillary debate questions in advance.

I get the nomination. So I’m now the nominee of the Democratic Party. I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. I mean it was bankrupt, it was on the verge of insolvency, its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it …Donald Trump, who did nothing about really setting up any kind of data operation, inherits an RNC data foundation that, after the Republicans lost in 2012, and they thought they had a very good operation with the setup that Romney did called ORCA, they thought that was really state of the art, they lose.

So they raised — best estimates are close to a hundred million dollars, they brought in their main vendors, they basically said, “We will never be behind the Democrats again,” and they invested between 2012 and 2016 this hundred million dollars to build this data foundation. They beta tested it. They ran it … somebody was able to determine about 227,000 surveys to double check, triple check, quadruple check, the information.

So Trump becomes the nominee and he is basically handed this tried and true, effective foundation.”

The GOP also thought their data system was sound in 2012, too. No Presidential election data foundation is “tried and true” until it works in the election. Meanwhile, Clinton is blaming her party for her loss, though her campaign vastly out-raised and out-spent the Republicans.

“Seventeen agencies, all in agreement, which I know from my experience as a Senator and Secretary of State, is hard to get. They concluded with high confidence that the Russians ran an extensive information war campaign against my campaign, to influence voters in the election. They did it through paid advertising we think, they did it through false news sites, they did it through these thousand agents, they did it through machine learning, which you know, kept spewing out this stuff over and over again. The algorithms that they developed. So that was the conclusion. And I think it’s fair to ask, how did that actually influence the campaign? And how did they know what messages to deliver? Who told them? Who were they coordinating with, or colluding with?…so the Russians — in my opinion and based on the intel and the counterintel people I’ve talked to — could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided…Guided by Americans and guided by people who had polling and data information.”

This is pure conspiracy theory ranting. The most damaging information that came out were the actual e-mails showing the DNC’s and Clinton’s campaign’s corruption, and the transcripts of Hillary’s speeches pandering to Wall Street. Any idiot could see that these things would be damaging to Clinton without “polling and data information.” How much polling does one need to know that corruption, lying, influence peddling and cheating are bad?

Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: The Russian Cyber-Attack Report: Observations And Questions

putin

Ethics Alarms is grateful to reader Greg, the author of this first Comment of the Day of the New Year, for supplementing the recent post here, and providing a critical and more detailed assessment of the intelligence community’s much ballyhooed report on its conclusions regarding Russian cyber-attacks during the 2016 election, with the alleged purpose of defeating Hillary Clinton.

I am particularly relieved that he shares my own reaction to the report, which simply did not deliver on what was promised by James Clapper in the hearings earlier in the week. Oddly, the news media and almost everyone I know miraculously seem to think it did.  The two key issues I, and I assume everyone, wants clarified is 1) whether Russia was indeed trying to elect Donald Trump, as opposed to generally gumming up the works, embarrassing the likely President (Clinton, of course), undermining public faith in the democratic system, and basically making everyone involved look like fools, knaves, and boobs (Note that Trump appeared to be handling his side of that task all by himself) , and 2) did their efforts in fact have any effect on the results? Answering the first clearly and decisively is essential to understanding the second: to most people, if Russia’s actions were designed to make Trump President, and in fact Trump did shock the world by becoming President, this creates a rebuttable presumption that in fact the Russian Government, and Vladimir Putin in particular, did affect the results of the election. That millions of people regard the matter in this way is certain, because we know that millions of people are desperately searching for some conspiracy or sinister outside agency to explain an event that shattered their expectations and world view.

We also know that the false belief that the sequence Conduct  A is intended to cause Result B, A occurs,  B occurs after A, ergo A caused B, is widely accepted, because public school  teachers are too busy teaching that the United States oppresses minorities  to get around to logic.  Now, that sequence is utter crap, validating, among other things, superstitions and rain dances, but never mind most people think that way.

Yet the report provides no evidence to support the intelligence community’s conclusions in either matter. I find that incomprehensible, and also irresponsible. What the report does  say, in essence, is, “Trust us, we’re experts,”  and leaves the rest to confirmation bias. Could the authors not have provided some evidence to support these conclusions? If not, why not?

Here is Greg’s Comment of the Day on the post, The Russian Cyber-Attack Report: Observations And Questions:

This so-called “25-page report” is almost entirely padding and filler. I read it and I don’t see anything in it that adds to what we knew before the report was issued. Continue reading

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The Russian Cyber-Attack Report: Observations And Questions

The first page of the Joint Analysis Report narrative by the Department of Homeland Security and federal Bureau of Investigation and released on Dec. 29, 2016, is photographed in Washington, Jan. 6, 2017. Computer security specialists say the technical details in the narrative that the U.S. said would show whether computers had been infiltrated by Russian intelligence services were poorly done and potentially dangerous. Cybersecurity firms ended up counseling their customers to proceed with extreme caution after a slew of false positives led back to sites such as Amazon and Yahoo Inc. Companies and organizations were following the government’s advice Dec. 29 and comparing digital logs recording incoming network traffic to their computers and finding matches to a list of hundreds of internet addresses the Homeland Security Department had identified as indicators of malicious Russian intelligence services cyber activity. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

From The New York Times today:

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed a vast cyberattack aimed at denying Hillary Clinton the presidency and installing Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office, the nation’s top intelligence agencies said in an extraordinary report they delivered on Friday to Mr. Trump.

The officials presented their unanimous conclusions to Mr. Trump in a two-hour briefing at Trump Tower in New York that brought the leaders of America’s intelligence agencies face to face with their most vocal skeptic, the president-elect, who has repeatedly cast doubt on Russia’s role. The meeting came just two weeks before Mr. Trump’s inauguration and was underway even as the electoral votes from his victory were being formally counted in a joint session of Congress.

Soon after leaving the meeting, intelligence officials released the declassified, damning report that described the sophisticated cybercampaign as part of a continuing Russian effort to weaken the United States government and its democratic institutions. The report — a virtually unheard-of, real-time revelation by the American intelligence agencies that undermined the legitimacy of the president who is about to direct them — made the case that Mr. Trump was the favored candidate of Mr. Putin.

The Times story is a mostly fair, if incomplete, description of the report itself, which is a provocative, disturbing and infuriating document. Damning? I don’t know about that. Anyone can damn something, but to be sure the damning is just requires evidence.

Observations and Questions:

1. The report isn’t evidence of anything. It just isn’t, and anyone or any source that states otherwise is misleading us. It would not be admissible as evidence if Russia or Putin were on trial in the U.S. for trying to influence the 2016 election. The document is a statement of opinions after analysis of material and sources we are not allowed to see. At the beginning, the report goes to great lengths to explain why this is, and the explanation is sound. Unless, however, the position we are supposed to take is that the intelligence community is to be assumed to be 100% correct, uninfluenced by bias, and  ought to be believed without reservations despite the presence of hard evidence, the declassified report is a statement by experts of an analysis based on experience and study, of exactly what, we don’t know.

2.Regarding the Times story: the intention of the news media to undermine the Trump Presidency and bolster Democrats who want to blame their candidate’s defeat on anything but her own weaknesses and conduct  appears to be on display in the Times story. For example, we have this statement:

“The Russian leader, the report said, sought to denigrate Mrs. Clinton, and the report detailed what the officials had revealed to President Obama a day earlier: Mr. Trump’s victory followed a complicated, multipart cyberinformation attack whose goal had evolved to help the Republican win.”

The leaping to the logical fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc (“after this, therefor because of it”) is both a human tendency to be avoided and well-known. This statement appeals to it, intentionally, or incompetently. The fact that Trump’s shocking victory came after the cyber-attacks does not mean or even suggest that the attacks were responsible for that result. The Times immediately, in the next sentence, even states that “The 25-page report did not conclude that Russian involvement tipped the election to Mr. Trump.” Well, those are mixed messages. Do I, based on the uninterrupted anti-Trump attitude of the Times in its headlines, placement of stories, tone and pitch of news reports, op-eds and editorials, conclude that the mixed message is intentional or sparked by negligence seeded by bias?

I do.

3.  Much further down in its story, the Times admits, Continue reading

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The “Russian DNC Hacks”: Who Do You Believe, And Why Should You Trust Them?

russia-sign

Here at Ethics Alarms, the starting point for ethical analysis is the question, “What’s going on here?” It’s impossible to reach a fair and useful conclusion about where any conduct falls on the right/wrong scale unless one has a clear picture of what the conduct is--what happened and why. The still percolating saga of the  hacked Democratic National Committee e-mails so far defies ethical analysis, because so many of the key facts are in doubt, so much of their impact is a matter of speculation, and virtually all of the participants, sources and advocates for one interpretation or another are untrustworthy.

I have never seen anything like it.

“What’s going on here?” I really have no definitive answer, but lets slog though the muck:

I.   Some of what’s going on here is that Democrats, progressives and Clinton bitter-enders are making a concerted effort to use the fact that troubling DNC e-mails were released to the news media and the internet late in the Presidential campaign to prove the theory that Russian interference with the election was responsible for the victory of Donald Trump. This, they argue in turn,  justifies regarding Trump as an “illegitimate President,’ thus justifying ignoring the election results, defying the election results, impeaching Trump immediately, blocking his swearing in, treating him in discourse and conduct as if he had just been convicted of beastiality rather than elected President, “doing something” to “stop him,” and obstructing anything he tries to do to govern.

Another way of putting it is that Democrats want to throw the nation into something perilously close to a Constitution crisis, a revolution, a civil war, and the unraveling of the nation itself because they couldn’t manage to win an election that should have been a breeze, and they refuse to accept accountability.

2. This, I can say without restraint, is unethical beyond question, and despicable as well.

3.The Russian hacks theory is the fourth wobbly leg of the Democratic Party’s  “We refuse to accept the results of the election because Trump is unfit to be President as shown by the fact that he said he might not accept the results of the election” position. The other legs: 1)  the Electoral College isn’t a legitimate way to choose a President, even though it would have been if it elected Hillary Clinton, and should be retroactively repealed, discarded or defied 2) Trump was elected by morons, racists, xenophobes, woman-haters and morons, while the virtuous, intelligent Americans voted for Hillary, and they know best, and 3) The head of the FBI, who saved Clinton’s candidacy by a very generous interpretation of her highly suspicious conduct after a strangely informal interrogation, thus causing Republicans to question his independence and integrity, intentionally sabotaged Clinton’s coronation by keeping his public promise to Congress that he would alert it if there were any new developments.

Since these are 1) ignorant 2) anti-democratic and 3) ridiculous, all adding up to pathetic and desperate, the weight of the whole effort now rests on Leg #4.

4. Much of the mainstream news media is bolstering that leg by short-handing the story in headlines and print as Russian “hacking of the election.” This characterization is a lie. The ongoing Ethics Alarms Fake News Project, which is dedicated to settling on what “fake news” is (another “What’s going on here?” inquiry) questions how this is any less fake news than “Pope Tells Followers To Support Trump.” Both are intentional lies, designed to confuse and mislead, with the mainstream media lie far more insidious, since only microcephalics are even a long-shot to buy the Pope story, whereas the Democratic Deranged, unhinged by confirmation bias and an inexplicable trust in journalism, are eager to accept the Russian lie. Fact: nobody, anywhere, has alleged that the Russians “hacked the election.” The only way an election gets hacked is when there is interference with the vote totals. “The claim that the ‘election was hacked’ is a bit of a misnomer,” writes former CBS reporter Sheryl Atkinson. “There’s no standing allegation by U.S. officials that the Russians (or anyone else) “hacked” into our elections system or altered vote counts.”

No, the term “bit of a misnomer” is a misnomer for “lie.” I would describe Atkinson as a hack by engaging in such equivocation to shield her colleagues, but that might confuse people. Continue reading

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Are Democrats Deceiving Their Supporters, The Nation, Or Themselves?

Wave

I don’t want to pick on the Democrats in their hour of crisis, but I can’t let this pass.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair the Democratic National Committee, sent a video message to party loyalists stating in part,

“Your dedication is at the heart and soul of who we are as a party — but our party has a problem. We know we’re right on the issues. The American people believe in the causes we’re fighting for. But the electoral success we have when our presidential nominee is able to make the case to the country as a whole doesn’t translate in other elections. That’s why we lost in 2010, and it’s why we lost on Tuesday. We’ve got to do better.”

What???

1. “A problem”?

2. How can anyone “know they are right” on “the issues” ? All issues? It is enough that advocates believe they are right. Saying one knows one is right presumes a level of omniscience that is the mark of the arrogant and immodest—no wonder the parties won’t compromise with each other. The opponents of the religious right mock those who base their opposition to evolution, abortion and same-sex marriage on unshakable certainty based on faith. What’s the Democratic faith that justifies similar certainty?

3. “The American people believe in the causes we’re fighting for.” This is just factually false. The majority of the public thinks climate change is a crock. The majority wants tougher immigration enforcement, not less of it. The majority wants litigation reform, which the Democrats fight to preserve trial lawyer fees. Obamacare is wildly unpopular. So is affirmative action. The majority of the public thinks that there is an I.R.S. cover-up. The majority thinks Barack Obama is a weak and feckless President. The majority of Americans think there should be some limitations on abortion, and don’t want to pay for other people’s birth control. Six in 10 American think guns make homes safer, rather than, as the Democrats see it, endangering children.

Yes, the public is in favor of raising the minimum wage, and always is. It will be in favor of raising the minimum wage one minute after the minimum wage is finally raised. The public doesn’t understand the minimum wage, and never has, which is why it is always low hanging fruit for Democrats. If that is the “cause” Schultz is referring to—and since the President mentioned it first among his priorities in multiple speeches, who knows? It might be—see #1 above—then this really is a low ebb in Democratic fortunes. I just heard a liberal radio talk-show host talk about how progressives should be excited that some states approved a higher minimum wage. That’s not “progressive,” that’s traditional. Continue reading

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