The Democratic National Convention Presents The Most Unethical Use Of Mothers Yet

Mothers

The Republicans exploiting the grief of Patricia Smith, the mother of a young man slain in the 2012 Benghazi attack, by putting her on the party’s convention program was irresponsible and ethically revolting, especially from a party that (correctly) labelled Cindy Sheehan a grief-addled nuisance when she was protesting the Iraq War. Smith’s emotional rant against Hillary Clinton was pure grief porn, and expanded the sensationalist  trend in the news media (and legislative hearings) to use the most conflicted and biased figures imaginable—the loved ones of victims of tragedy—to frame a controversial issue in complex events.

Naturally, the Democratic Party’s allies in the media returned the hypocrisy many-fold. Maureen Dowd of the Times, who had pronounced Sheehan as someone with “absolute moral authority”—because having one’s son killed instantly makes you an authority on foreign affairs, at least when a Republican President is in office—was silent about Smith’s moral authority as she was attacked by critics, including the Washington Post, Chris Matthews, and a GQ writer who wrote that he wanted to “beat her to death.”

Foolishly, I took these attacks as  a hopeful sign that the Democrats and progressives were maturing ethically, and had rendered the proper ethics judgment that by prioritizing emotion over reason, it was unfair, misleading, exploitive and irresponsible to use grieving mothers this way. No, it wasn’t hypocrisy. It was ethical growth. Democrats, unlike Republicans, now knew this was a cheap and tawdry tactic, and they would no longer stoop so low.

Boy, am I gullible.

It was hypocrisy, and the Democrats wouldn’t stoop as low as Republicans, they would stoop much, much, much lower.

Among those who appeared on the Hillary Clinton coronation stage last night were members of Mothers of the Movement, an offshoot of Black Lives Matter. Though the message spoken by these women appeared to be about police brutality, unjustly killed black men and the need to ban guns, their commonality was only this: all of them were mothers of African Americans who died violently, and all of them blame whites, police, guns, the justice system or the United States of America, regardless of evidence, the findings of juries, and investigations. That is a fair description.

Let’s look at the women who appeared on stage: Continue reading

New Hampshire Reflections: Let’s Leave Aside The E-Mail And The Lies For Now: Hillary’s Reaction To Adversity Shows She Is Unfit To Lead

I freely admit that it is unfair to use unflattering photos like this, which Drudge is featuring today. But it made me laugh, and maybe it will brighten someone else's day.

I freely admit that it is unfair to use unflattering photos like this, which Drudge is featuring today. But it made me laugh, and maybe it will brighten someone else’s day.

Preface: I’m not going to bother pointing out the obvious about Trump and his supporters, nor harp on the fact that the man used both “fuck” and “pussy” in recent speeches. Nothing has changed regarding the national embarrassment of his ugly candidacy, nor the utter idiocy of anyone who would be willing to have him by the face of the United States of America. If there are any readers here who support him, they have the good sense to sit silently in the Ethics Alarms cellar with Justice Scalia’s metaphorical bag over their heads. This post remains the verdict on Trump here. It’s five months old, and nothing has changed. Please circulate it to your dumbest friends.

Most of the Ethics Alarms posts about Hillary Clinton’s atrocious ethics and untrustworthy character have focused on her influence peddling, her conflicts of interest, her hypocrisy and her dishonesty. I keep hearing and reading desperate Democrats nonetheless rationalizing their supporting Clinton because of her alleged competence. We are seeing, right now, how she responds to adversity, stress, competition and crisis. What we are seeing isn’t competence by any definition.  Hillary is showing the nation  that under pressure and in crisis, she becomes angry, stonewalls, jettisons principle and ethics, and makes panicky, ill-considered statements and decisions, and defaults to “the ends justify the means.”

Exhibit #1: The Wall Street Speeches Defense.

We won’t know unless they turn up, but it’s pretty clear to everyone—isn’t it?— why Clinton’s $600,000 speeches to Go9ldman Sachs are a problem, and why she hasn’t turned over the transcripts. Companies don’t pay that kind of money to have their employees told that they are evil and their business is a blight on humanity. They do pay money to curry favor with a woman then assumed to be on an unstoppable path to the White House. The Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza connected the dots…

“My guess is that in the speeches, Clinton acknowledges her various friends and acquaintances at Goldman Sachs (and other Wall Street firms) and praises them for the work they are doing. “You guys get a bad rap but . . .” Yes, it’s standard-issue small talk. But it could look really, really bad in the context of the campaign. Imagine a transcript of Clinton speaking to some big bank or investment firm, thanking a litany of people she’s “been friends with forever” and praising the broader enterprise for “all you do.”

Of course. Cilizza minimizes it, saying that it “would look bad,” but in fact it is bad. Hillary can’t make the sweeping statements she has (in order to imitate Sanders) about how she will be tough on Wall Street villains, when she not only accepted huge speaking fees from the same people she says she will fight, but also fawned all over them when they were face to face. Already one attendee of a Goldman Sachs speech has supported Cilizza’s thesis. Maybe he’s wrong, and there’s exactly one way to find out. A confident, honest, competent and transparent leader would release the speeches, and explain the discrepancy between what she told the Wall Streeters then and what she says now, being ready and to answer the obvious question, “If you’ll lie to them, why wouldn’t you lie to us?”

Instead, Clinton sent her #1 surrogate,Bill, to make the hilarious accusation that Sanders was hypocritical to attack her Wall Street speaking fees. After all, Bill told one New Hampshire audience this week, Sanders, has given paid speeches too! This is the level of respect with which President Clinton, the female one, would treat the public. In 2013, Sanders received speaking fees totaling  $1,500, which he donated to charity as required by federal law. In 2014, he got $1,850 for paid speeches. Hillary Clinton made and kept over $21 million during the same time period.

A competent President has to be able to spin better than this. That aside, this shows us that a Clinton Administration would be, if possible, even less transparent than the current one.

Exhibit #2: Race-baiting and Division Continue reading

Ethics Exercise: What’s Ethically Wrong With Sybrina Fulton’s Endorsement Of Hillary Clinton?

Author above...

Author above…

Sybrina Fulton is Trayvon Martin’s mother. Here is the entire article, published on CNN’s website:

Today, throughout many communities of color, our young people go about their lives feeling as if they are a target in their country. It’s become a sad fact of life that senseless gun violence can strike with little or no warning, either from neighborhoods that have become flooded with firearms, or police who are too quick to resort to deadly force.

Gun violence is an epidemic that kills 33,000 men, women, boys and girls every year. On top of those needless deaths, law enforcement agencies in America kill more people in a month than many other countries’ police forces kill in years. When those precious lives are taken, it forever tears apart the lives of thousands more — the friends and families who loved them, and who always will.

Losing a child is any parent’s worst fear. As a mother who has had to live that horrible nightmare in a very public spotlight, I hope that by speaking out, it will help focus some of that light onto a path that can help our nation find its way out of this darkness.

Last week, President Barack Obama took some important steps that included strengthening the background check system for purchasing guns without diminishing our Second Amendment rights. I was glad to see these actions put in place, and was moved by the tears of not just our President but of a father who clearly understands my anguish.

But next year we will have a new president. And everything Obama has done — even common-sense reforms that a majority of gun owners agree with — will be overturned if that president is a Republican. In fact, the Republican candidates have vowed to roll back all of these sensible measures. And many of them have shown open contempt for the simple notion that Black Lives Matter.

With so many of our children’s lives on the line or taken, we simply can’t afford to elect a Republican who refuses even to acknowledge the problem of senseless gun violence. The rising generation of our young people need a president who will stand up to inaction from Republicans and indifference from the National Rifle Association.

I believe that person is Hillary Clinton.

I know Clinton is tough enough to wage this fight. I’ve seen her do it for years. As first lady, she advocated for the Brady Bill and convened meetings on school violence. As a senator, she voted to extend the assault weapons ban and against an immunity law that protects irresponsible gun makers and dealers from liability.

In spending some time with her in person, I also found a mother and a grandmother who truly heard me, and understood the depth of my loss.

She knew all the statistics. But like so many, I’ve long since grown numb to the numbers. So instead, we talked about Trayvon and other families who have lost a loved one to gun violence. We talked about all of the wishes and hopes we had for their lives. And knowing we can never get them back, we discussed how to prevent more moms from losing their sons to gun violence.

Clinton will uphold President Obama’s recent executive actions, and then she’ll go even further. Her plan focuses on reforms that would help keep more guns out of the hands of criminals. It would finally close the gun show loophole, and the outrageous provision that allowed someone with an arrest record to buy the gun used to shoot and kill nine parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

I agree with the President: We should only support leaders that fight for common-sense gun reforms. Clinton passes that test.

Just as importantly, Clinton also wants to address the larger, systemic problems. She has a plan to begin to heal the distrust and divide that too often exists between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

She has called for key reforms — from better training for officers to eliminating racial profiling and investing in body cameras for every police department. She sees what I see: a criminal justice system that is not always just. A system that has contributed to creating a reality where just selling cigarettes, playing loud music, looking at a cop the wrong way or walking home from the store are now activities that can get you killed.

If you look at the numbers, America is missing 1.5 million men of color — lost to a system of violence and mass incarceration that seems to have long since forgotten them, but we haven’t.

Not only am I missing my son, but too many other moms like me are missing their sons — Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Laquan McDonald, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Tamir Rice. As their mothers, we must do more than just cry. And all of us must do more than speak out, protest and march.

We must vote!

Ethics fouls: Continue reading

The Tamir Rice Fiasco And “Ethics Zugzwang”

Gun comparison

There are circumstances in which all ethical options have been eliminated by poor choices and bad luck. Henceforth Ethics Alarms will refer to this dilemma as ethics zugzwang, zugzwang being a chess term for the situation where a player must make a move, and any move will worsen his position.

By the time the killing of Tamir Rice got to the grand jury, it was ethics zugzwang. The grand jury’s decision not to charge the two officers involved is troubling, and a decision to charge would have also been troubling. To get anything out of this utter and fatal fiasco, a lot has to change, and we have to recognize what in order to make those changes occur. It won’t be easy. I think it may be impossible.

There is no way that the justice system can do its job objectively and well when every police shooting involving a black victim is instantly labelled racist and murder by vocal activists, pundits and and social media, with the implied threat of civil unrest. If an indictment is handed down as in theFreddie Gray matter in Baltimore, it appears as if mob passions are manipulating the system, and, in the Gray case, it was. Such a result, in turn, makes it more difficult for the next accused cop to get justice. It estranges the police force from the government entity it serves, and makes police wary and less likely to assume the risks associated with their vital and inherently dangerous  job.

These considerations create their own impetus making a failure to indict more likely. A city cannot afford to be seen as not supporting the police, even when they make a deadly mistake in judgment. District attorneys are on the same team as police, and automatically share their perspective; it is important that the police recognize that. The police receive the benefit of every doubt, and the deserve that. Yet a failure to indict, especially now that police shootings have become high profile matters that every blogger and pundit prejudges according to their own biases and agendas, will inevitably be used to indict the system instead. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: The Democratic National Committee

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“[T]he DNC joins with Americans across the country in affirming ‘Black lives matter’ and the ‘say her name’ efforts to make visible the pain of our fellow and sister Americans as they condemn extrajudicial killings of unarmed African-American men, women and children.”

—-The Democratic National Committee, in a resolution passed last week endorsing #Black Lives Matter”

You think that having Donald Trump running (temporarily and momentarily) as a front-runner in the race for the 2016  Republican Presidential nomination is embarrassing for Republicans? That’s nothin’! The official endorsement of the racist, violence-promoting, anti-police and anti-rule of law movement Black Lives Matter ought to disqualify the Democratic Party as a trustworthy political organization until it stops pandering and apologizes for this statement.

Black Lives Matter is a racist, anti-white, hate-fueled organization that considers any law enforcement involving black criminals presumptively racist. The movement continues to rely on false and discredited media and activist narratives (“Hands up! Don’t shoot!”), citing “victims” like Michael Brown as the justification for its existence, presuming guilt in cases where the facts are uncertain or in legitimate dispute (Eric Garner was not “choked to death,” nor was he intentionally killed; Sonny Gray’s death is still unexplained; there is no evidence that Tamir Rice’s death was related to race). The primary result of the group’s efforts so far have been to increase racial tensions, to spark deadly attacks on police officers, and to cause a catastrophic rise in urban murders as police avoid proactive methods and stops involving black suspects to avoid becoming the next Darren Wilson. Continue reading

Suggested Journalism Ethics Rule For The Washington Post: If You Want To Publish Race Hate, Anti-American Op-Ed Pieces,At Least Insist That They Don’t Misrepresent The Facts.

Is that too much to ask?

Sunday last,  the Washington Posts’s Outlook section included an anti-American diatribe against police and whites by a California public defender named Raha Jorjani. I know there are black racists that see the world, law enforcement and government as he does, and there is nothing wrong or irresponsible in the Post allowing such screeds to see the light of day in its pages—all the better to expose them. I would feel better if the equivilent racist bile from the white side was not treated differently, but I tire of pointing out this double standard, at least right now.

But no editor should allow such a piece to include factual distortions on the scale of the opening paragraph, which begins,

Suppose a client walked into my office and told me that police officers in his country had choked a man to death over a petty crime. Suppose he said police fatally shot another man in the back as he ran away. That they arrested a woman during a traffic stop and placed her in jail, where she died three days later. That a 12-year-old boy in his country was shot and killed by the police as he played in the park.

Suppose he told me that all of those victims were from the same ethnic community — a community whose members fear being harmed, tortured or killed by police or prison guards. And that this is true in cities and towns across his nation. At that point, as an immigration lawyer, I’d tell him he had a strong claim for asylum protection under U.S. law.

What if, next, he told me he was from America? Black people in the United States face such racial violence that they could qualify as refugees.

The short and well-earned response to his last sentence is “Bullshit.” Before one can even get to his offensive and absurd (and paranoia-seeding: the lawyer must regard it as good for business) thesis, the utter dishonesty of his premises disqualify the op-ed for serious consideration, as well as raise question about the way this guy would practice law. If that is how he represents facts in court, he won’t be a lawyer long: Continue reading

“Black Lives Matter” Is Unethical, And So Are Politicians Who Pander To It

black-lives-matterThat’s the tipping point for Ethics Alarms. “Black Lives Matter” is unethical, and those who use it are unethical. And politicians who grovel to those who criticize them for not embracing it are contemptible.

The Martin O’Malley embarrassment over the weekend clinched it for me. Demonstrators interrupted the former Maryland governor, mounting a pathetic campaign against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, as he was speaking at the Netroots Nation conference. When they shouted, “Black lives matter!” a rallying cry of protests that has superseded “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” because that one was eventually exposed as a lie,  O’Malley—the naive, racist fool!!!!— responded: “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.”

The activists  responded by jeering him and refusing to let him speak. .Later in the day, O’Malley, “showing the firm commitment to leadership in the face of adversity that we expect in a presidential candidate,” as one wag put it on Jonathan Turley’s blog—apologized, saying…

“I meant no disrespect. That was a mistake on my part and I meant no disrespect. I did not mean to be insensitive in any way or communicate that I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue.”

I bent over backwards to defend Smith College President Kathleen McCartney when she apologized for using the phrase “all lives matter” in December of 2014. I wrote:

If an activist says to me, “too many children go to bed hungry!” and my retort is, “Too many people go to bed hungry!”, the unspoken argument is “So stop acting like children are a special problem!” If I say, “We need peace in Syria,” and a friend’s response is “We need to end war, period!”, I view that as an effort to minimize my concerns by launching it from the realm of a specific issue into vague, generic territory.  “Black Lives Matter!” in the context of recent police episodes where African Americans died under circumstances that many believe show police callousness and excessive force against blacks is a distinct assertion that suggests that the law enforcement and justice systems do not currently function as if black lives matter as much as white lives. It is true that “All Lives Matter” includes the larger subset “black lives matter”; it is also true that it blurs the issue at hand, and dilutes the protesters’ point. It is not inappropriate for  President McCartney to apologize in this context…unless, of course, she intended a rebuttal, in which case she is indeed spineless.

I still believe that made sense in December, but “Black Lives Matter” means something very different now, after six police officers were charged with murder to quell a Baltimore mob after Freddie Gray’s death, and after President Obama decided that the merciless shooting of a  young white woman in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant wasn’t worthy of the same attention he has given other deaths when it was a black life that had been lost. Continue reading