Tag Archives: Democrats

Ethics Dunce: Attorney General Jeff Sessions

There were many good reasons to oppose Jeff Sessions as President Trump’ nominee to be the next Attorney General. One, which I focused on, was that his nomination foolishly fed into the Democratic slur that Trump and the Republicans were racists. Sessions had been successfully tarred decades ago based on some racially-insensitive comments he had made, and even though tangible evidence of any racial bias was thin, it was foolish for Trump to court a controversy when there were plenty of equally or more qualified candidates. Another reason was that Sessions had been an early supporter of Trump’s candidacy for the GOP nomination, which is signature significance for stupidity, poor judgment or recklessness. Take your pick.

Now Sessions has announced, while speaking at a National District Attorneys Association conference, that the Justice Department will issue new directives to increase the federal government’s use of civil asset forfeiture, an unethical, Constitutionally dubious practice that needs to be cut back or eliminated.

“[W]e hope to issue this week a new directive on asset forfeiture—especially for drug traffickers,” Sessions said. “With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime. Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate as is sharing with our partners.”

 

Utah’s Republican Senator Mike Lee expressed alarm at Sessions’ announcement yesterday, saying in a statment, “As Justice Thomas has previously said, there are serious constitutional concerns regarding modern civil asset forfeiture practices. The Department has an obligation to consider due process constraints in crafting its civil asset forfeiture policies.” Justice Clarence Thomas’ had written in his dissent in an asset forfeiture case last month that forfeiture operations “frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests in forfeiture proceedings.” Continue reading

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If Snopes Is Trying To Claw Its Way Back To Credibility And Respect, This Is Certainly A Good Start…

One of the most trafficked posts on Ethics Alarms in 2016 was this one, almost exactly one year ago, in which I described the deterioration of the Snopes “urban legend” website into a partisan, social justice mouthpiece that was spinning for the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton.  It recieved so many shares that Ethics Alarms was a target of Hillary’s paid online trolls, who wrote almost identical comments with the same talking points. Few posts here have ever resulted in so many banned commenters. Since that post designating Snopes as an Unethical Website, I stopped using the site, as I said I would until it repented and reformed…

With all the misinformation on the web, a trustworthy web site like Snopes used to be is essential. Unfortunately, a site that is the purveyor of falsity cannot also be the antidote for it. I’ll miss Snopes, but until it acknowledges its ethics breach and convinces me that the site’s days of spinning and lying were a short-lived aberration, I won’t be using it again.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one. Snopes’ reputation is thoroughly tarnished. Thus I can’t tell whether today’s sudden counter-partisan effort is born of sincerity or a survival instinct, but it is certainly welcome, and a shock.

The new post is titled,

The Lies of Donald Trump’s Critics, and How They Shape His Many Personas: An in-depth analysis of the false allegations and misleading claims made against the 45th President since his inauguration

I find the article somewhat meandering and scattershot, but it still constitutes an important effort to splash cold water on the anti-Trump fever. That splash should be especially effective because Snopes had established itself as such a reliable ally to those doing the lying Snopes condemns.

To my knowledge, none of the other alleged fact-checking columns have been this direct and this thorough in pointing out the phenomenon that Ethics Alarms has been discussing for more than a year. We shall see if the new entry was just a ruse so Snopes could recover lost readers and start spinning for the Left again with renewed influence. I recommend wariness. Nevertheless, this essay is much needed, and we should give credit where credit is due.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/14/17

Good morning!

1. It is a matter of constant fascination to me how all of President Trump’s personal lawyers appear to be flaming jerks, whatever their legal skills may be. Here’s an example from this week: Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal attorney on the Russia conspiracy theory investigation, was contacted by a stranger, a retired public relations professional, who had read ProPublica’s unflattering story on Kasowitz. He sent the lawyer an email with the subject line: “Resign Now.’’

Kasowitz used the 30 minutes between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. to bombard the man with threats and epithets, writing such dignified  messages as,

“I’m on you now.  You are fucking with me now Let’s see who you are Watch your back , bitch/”

“Call me.  Don’t be afraid, you piece of shit.  Stand up.  If you don’t call, you’re just afraid.” 

“I already know where you live, I’m on you.  You might as well call me. You will see me. I promise.  Bro.”

Nice.

This isn’t a legal ethics violation, though it almost certainly would be if Kasowitz were addressing an opposing counsel in such a manner. It’s just generally unethical as outrageous, inexcusable, gratuitous incivility, reflecting poorly on him, his profession and his client. A client who was minimally concerned about ethics would fire him.

2. Speaking of a minimal concern for ethics, Trump’s defense of his son’s dumb but legal meeting with the Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary included the statement that “most people would have taken that meeting.” Once again, we have evidence that Donald Trump literally doesn’t know what ethics is. Oh, his rationalizations are the same ones the average ethically-retarded citizen uses—this is why he is President. They are still rationalizations. Yes, Mr. President, and most people would accept extra money from an ATM and not tell the bank about it. And most people lie to get out of trouble. And most people do all sorts of unethical things, which doesn’t make them ethical, responsible or appropriate.

He is the President, though, and this is how we will inevitably become a nation of assholes. 

3.  And speaking of assholes, there is Nancy Pelosi. Because a female journalist was blocked from access to the House of Representative by a Sergeant of Arms who properly pointed out that she was wearing a sleeveless dress, always forbidden according to Congress’s dress code, we were suddenly subjected to the false narrative that those mean, sexist Republicans were abusing women again, as well as being typically antediluvian in their ideas about propriety. (Men can’t go sleeveless either, but never mind.) Paul Ryan was the target here, as the Speaker is officially charged with enforcing such rules. The narrative was not really about the dress code, but just part of the over-all “Get Republicans” news media strategy to make the party as unpopular as possible. Yesterday Paul Ryan plausibly said that he wasn’t aware of the rule in question, and was happy to amend it. Then Nancy Pelosi piled on, tweeting, “Glad to see [Speaker Ryan] is updating the dress code for the House Floor. These unwritten rules are in desperate need of updates.”

Pelosi was Speaker for four years, her tenure ending just six years ago. The same rule Ryan is being attacked for was in place during her entire tenure. Why didn’t she fix it herself, dedicated feminist that she is? Her tweet is such obvious hypocrisy that it calls attention to the double standards employed by Democrats, the news media and women. Pelosi could have cheered the change without appearing to duck her own responsibility for their continuation. Instead, she acted as if she was an innocent bystander.

Nancy Pelosi is a major reason the Democratic Party has become a party of assholes. Who but an asshole would tolerate a national leader like this as the face of his or her party in Congress? Are Democrats proud of this woman? Do they endorse her tactics and rhetoric? We have to assume so, don’t we? Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority [ UPDATED]

[UPDATE: The original version of this post designated the dunces as the D.C. government. This was not accurate, as reader deery helpfully pointed out. You can read about the baroque and diffuse organization and leadership of the D.C. area’s transit system…currently in bad repair and financial distress…here.  Good luck. The text has been revised to reflect the correction in the title. Frankly, the exact organization of the DC. area Metro is less central to the post than the fact wherever the leadership is, it is government, it is dominated by the local Democratic leadership, and it is censorship. That’s what matters.]

Quick, now: what controversial political position does the above Washington, D.C. area  public transit ad promote?

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the transit agency of the local  and state governments in and surrounding the nation’s capital,  has pulled ads for controversial right-wing speaker Milo Yiannopoulos’ self-published memoir after determining the ads violated the transit system’s policies banning issue-oriented, political and other advocacy advertising.

An independent contractor sells and installs ads across the system, but ultimately Metro’s leaders have the final say…providing that they follow the Bill of Rights. This appears to be a problem for them.

The relevant Metro policies  restricting advertising content include:

  • “Advertisements intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions are prohibited”
  • “Advertisements that are intended to influence public policy are prohibited”

There is no argument here about what the banning of the book ad is: the Transit Authority is engaging in censorship.  This is especially obnoxious for an agency that represents the locality that hosts of the national government, and where the Constitution is on display.  It is also ignorant. Read the damn thing, you politically corrupt dolts. And it is arrogant. The District’s population, stuffed with Democrats like no other jurisdiction, with a majority African-American and conservative-loathing populace, figures to revile a right-wing troll like Milo, and the reliably Democratic riders served by the Metro in Northern Virginia and Maryland are hardly more tolerant of hard-right trolls. But Milo’s name and book cover by no stretch of the imagination are advocacy or efforts to “influence” anyone regarding public policy or “an issue.” Like all ads, here’s the position that it advocates: “Buy this!”

Milo Yiannopoulos is an ugly and cynical right-wing provocateur, but he does not forfeit the protection of the First Amendment because of who he is. When did liberals and Democrats lose their comprehension of this basic democratic concept? What ever the origin of their confusion, it makes them untrustworthy, sinister, and almost as revolting as Milo.

He’ll probably sue the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for infringing his rights, which it has. He will win. Keep it up, Democrats! Keep indulging that inner totalitarian just screaming to get out.

See what happens.

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Ethics Alarms Poll: And Speaking Of Crazy Tweets And Incompetent Elected Officials, What Should We Make Of This From Rep. Waters?

Hmmmm.

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What IS This? Ethics Dunce? Unethical Quote? Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month? Or Just A Congressman Inadvertently Exposing The Logical, Legal And Ethical Bankruptcy Of The Pro-Illegal Immigration Position?

I think we have to conclude that the latter is the case.

Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.)—that’s him above—  condemned the anti-sanctuary city bill passed yesterday by the House of Representatives. H.R. 3003 would reduce sanctuary cities’  and states’ “eligibility to receive certain Department of Justice or Department of Homeland Security grants” when the cities or states were  “determined to be in violation of federal law.”

Espaillat thundered at the Democratic press conference yesterday on Capitol Hill that H.R. 3003 would have a “chilling effect” in local communities:

“People will go into hiding. People will not come forward to report crimes, and if we begin to deny funding to cities across the United States, a city like New York, who experienced 9/11, which has been the safest biggest city in the country since 9/11 because of the federal funding that we got to combat terrorism, providing for training, equipment, overtime pay for law enforcement, we will be allowing terrorists to come in and attack us again…So this is a travesty. This is a lie. We’ve been hijacked and bamboozled by Donald Trump and we should all stand up against this.”

Then Espaillat described sanctuary cities—that is, cities that encourage and endorse illegal immigration by announcing that they will protect illegals from any consequences of their breaking immigration laws—as compassionate communities that allow families to stay together regardless of immigration status without “fear,” using the false dichotomy that the proposed bill unfairly treated sanctuary cities as places that harbor illegal immigrants with criminal records.

“It is a safety net for people that are part of our family – they take care of our children, they wash our dishes, they take care of our elderly, they pick our crops…I’m not saying all of his followers are racist, but all of the racists in the country follow him and they have peddled this erroneous vision that immigrants are criminals. We all oppose any violent criminals not being arrested. We want them to be arrested and do their time in jail and go back to wherever they came from.”

Columnist George Will often follows a statement or quote that he believes is screamingly obvious nonsense by beginning his next paragraph with an arch and contemptuous,  “Well.” Seldom have I read or heard a more “Well”-deserving speech as Espaillat’s demogoguery.

Well. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/29/17

1.  The GOP’s travails as it tries to fix, replace or repeal Obamacare continues to be mocked in both the conservative and liberal media, and by the Democrats who caused the crisis in the first place. Ethically, the party is behaving like a responsible party should with major legislation: not moving in lockstep, with sufficient members of Congress withholding support until the new law appears to be competent and an improvement of the current one. The damned if you do/damned if you don’t game Democrats and the media are playing is wildly dishonest and calculated to win political points at the expense of getting a better system than the festering mess called the Affordable Care Act (irresponsibly passed with public misrepresentations and parliamentary tricks by the other party.)

True, many of the balking Republicans are basing their opposition to the current law less on principle than on polls, which now show a majority of citizens don’t like the proposed bill. On matters of complexity and national importance, polls should play exactly no role in legislation at all. How many of those polled have read the bill or understand it? A tenth of a per cent? Less? Uninformed opinions based on hearsay, ignorance and propaganda are worthless (and after the 2016 election, polls may be as well) ; this is why we have representative democracy and not a direct democracy. Legislators and executive who use polls as crutches are either incompetent, dishonest, cowards, or all three.

2. Especially in light of the despicable tactics of Democrats who are accusing Republicans of killing people by reforming Obamacare, the proper Republican response, which would have the advantage of being both fair and politically smart, would be to announce, through the President:

The failure of the Affordable Care Act is now no longer debatable. Projections for 2018 show massive premium increases. Insurers are pulling out of many markets. The optimistic CBO projections, which critics correctly called absurd at the time, have been decisively shown to be wrong. This law was passed by one party only, using public disinformation,  dubious methods and dirty politics. It has made health care for the public as a whole less affordable, and done nothing to lower health care costs or improve health care quality.

It is now clear that the Democratic Party’s strategy is to shift responsibility for this fiasco to Republicans, by viciously attacking any attempts to fix Obamacare while also preparing to condemn the party if the current law leads to disaster, as it almost surely will on its current course. The Democrats, in short, are placing political considerations over the nation’s health and welfare. Therefore, as of today, the Republican Party will not seek to pass, nor will I sign into law, any health care insurance law or any revisions of the current Affordable Care Act that does not originate from Congressional Democrats, and that Congressional Democrats do not accept accountability for in every respect. The Republican Party will support any such bill, reserving of course the right to suggest additions and changes, but only if there is no question regarding the Democratic Party’s ultimate responsibility for its drafting, as an admission that their original law was fatally flawed.

In the absence of such a bill, I and the Republican Congress will allow the  this “signature legacy of President Obama” to continue, with the understanding that its failure is a Democratic failure, and the lack of a timely fix is entirely due to the cynical tactics of the party that created it.

3. Unethical Quote Of The Day That Is So Predictable That It Isn’t Worth Posting As The Unethical Quote of the Day: Salon

This will be a short break, a one-day experiment: June 27 will be Trump-Free Tuesday here on Salon.

We’ve been thinking about this for a while, and it seems like the right moment. There are so many other things to talk about and think about, in politics, culture or our daily lives. We are stuck with this guy for the foreseeable future, which is a difficult truth for many of us to handle. If we cannot dislodge him from the White House anytime soon, maybe we can start to deflate the outsized role he plays in our national psychology. This is a baby step in that direction.

How will Trump-Free Tuesday work? We have established some rules for ourselves — which we are prepared to break under certain circumstances we have tried to define in advance. (Those circumstances seem unlikely. But who knows what counts as likely anymore?)

We will not publish the president’s name on Tuesday or use his picture. We will not cover his outrageous Twitter utterances or deride his surrogates for whatever stupid things they may or may not say on television. (We try not to do that the rest of the time, too.) We’re certainly going to cover American politics and the United States government, but we will avoid focusing on the dominant personality at the top of the pyramid. We will strive to focus on issues and policies and how they are likely to affect the lives of our readers.

Note the smoking-gun line “If we cannot dislodge him from the White House anytime soon…” Continue reading

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