Anna Sorokin—Fick, Ethics Corrupter, And The New York Times Thinks She’s A Victim

A New York jury this month found Anna Sarokin guilty of grand larceny in the second and third degrees and other charges that  netted her a sentence of 4-12 years in prison. In previous years before being caught, she posed as “Anna Delvey,”  a fictional German heiress with a trust fund, and parlayed her scam into a luxury life-style  of long stays in boutique hotels, a closet full of  designer clothes, and late-night parting  with Manhattan’s glitterati.

 Sorokin, 28, was really an attractive  Russian immigrant with brass. She ducked bills, conned the trusting, , and once tricked  a bank employee into giving her $100,000 she never intended to pay back. She couldn’t have done any of this for so long or as successfully if she weren’t young and comely, and also a stone-cold sociopath. I’d guess her story will soon be made into  at least a Lifetime cable movie, if not a big budget vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence.

Anna is also a fick, that rare species chronicled on Ethics Alarms that openly revels in unethical wickedness. In two interviews with the New York Times, she made it clear that she’s a shameless predator, telling the paper yesterday after her sentencing,

“The thing is, I’m not sorry. I’d be lying to you and to everyone else and to myself if I said I was sorry for anything. I regret the way I went about certain things.”

She’s still playing her con.  Anna says she always intended to pay back the  hotels, a private jet company and the banks she said,  which she cheated  out of more than $200,000. She just missed  bilking  a hedge fund into giving her a $25 million loan.

Well, yes, if you want to get technical about it,  she had falsified some bank records, but only because she was in America and has big dreams. Don’t all Americans? She wanted to start a $40 million private club, and potential investors pushed her to open it before they  put up their own money. If you think about it, it all was really their fault, not poor Anna’s.

Sorokin said was always fearful that she was vulnerable to men who would “cheer me on” and then seize control of her vision for the club, which she called the Anna Delvey Foundation.  “My motive was never money,” she said. “I was power hungry.”

Oh! Well that’s all right, then!

If her friends thought she had millions of dollars, it was just a misunderstanding. She said she never told anyone she had that kind of money. If they just jumped to conclusions—well, how is that her fault?

At least she has some self-awareness, telling the times, but unapologetically,  “I’m not a good person.”

Yet the Times published a long essay sympathetic to Anna Sorokin, a head-exploding piece (for me, so be careful if you read it) titled in the print version—I warned you—“Women Take The Cosmic Fall For Male Greed.” It is a solid contender for the most unethical feature of the year, with rationalization-stuffed statements like these:

  • “Real justice,” in this instance, is the prospect of more than 15 years in prison for defrauding wealthy acquaintances and financial institutions of $200,000, the sum of which would barely allow you to buy a studio apartment in Queens. “She stole from banks,” one of the prosecutors argued during the trial as if to suggest she had taken oatmeal from the mouth of a baby. “She tried to steal from a hedge fund.”Setting aside the dubious rhetorical gambit of soliciting sympathy for banks and hedge funds, Ms. Sorokin was clearly going to take a fall even if so many other white-collar villains still had their freedom.”

(I confess: after reading that idiotic paragraph a week ago, I stopped and filed the article to return to when my cranium had healed.)

  • “Here is where we might recall that only one financial executive in the country, Kareem Serageldin, was ever sent to prison in conjunction with the collapses of moral judgment that caused the undoing of the global economy in 2008. Accused of concealing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses of mortgage-backed securities, to inflate his bonus at Credit Suisse, he also faced real justice. He was sentenced to 30 months.”

All of which has nothing to do with Sarokin, or gender. Sarageldin made a plea deal, and got one because there was not a clear route to convicting him under existing laws. Sarokin’s crime, in contrast, was as old as the hills, and she embraced it with gusto.

  • Increasingly, it seems, the law has provided an able hand to a culture that takes perverse, outsize pleasure in spectacles of female desperation. Like many young women, Ms. Sorokin had an insatiable desire to be something that she wasn’t: in her case, someone other than the daughter of a Russian HVAC salesman. She had come to New York without the pedigree or capital that buoys you in a city poisonously obsessed with status. New York is a transactional place, and Ms. Sorokin had nothing to trade, so she made herself into a rich, clubby, entrepreneurial German and lied and cheated a system already allocating so many unfair advantages….”

If you are keeping count, just these three paragraphs employ all or whiffs of these rationalizations from the Ethics Alarms list, with more to come:

1. The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it”
2. Ethics Estoppel, or “They’re Just as Bad”
2 A. Sicilian Ethics, or “They had it coming”
6. The Biblical Rationalizations
“Judge not, lest ye not be judged,” and “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
13A The Road To Hell, or “I meant well” (“I didn’t mean any harm!”)
19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.”
22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
23 A. Woody’s Excuse: “The heart wants what the heart wants”
38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!”
48. Ethics Jiu Jitsu, or “Haters Gonna Hate!”
55. The Scooby Doo Deflection, or “I should have gotten away with it!”
63. Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is”
68. The Volunteer’s Dodge, Or “You Don’t Pay Me Enough To Be Ethical!“

The hopelessly muddled ethics of the writer, regular Times columnist Gina Bellafonte, is independently valuable as a throbbing example of how woke sensibilities distort and rot basic concepts of justice and the rule of law. She is, in fact, more of an ethics corrupter than the smug sociopath heading to jail. Bellafonte is telling Times readers that a predator is really a victim, because of her gender.

I wonder how many people believe her?

_________________________________

Source: New York Times

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/26/19: Character is IN Again, What Real Obstruction Looks like, And The Biden Follies Open

Wow, THAT week went by fast...

1 It’s the economy, stupid, except when the news media and Democrats want to overthrow the President…The Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter rolled in at 3.2%, considerably higher than the 2.5% predicted by “experts.” This is good news and big news, but because it’s favorable to Trump news, you can’t find it on the front page of today’s Times, or in the headlines at HLN. I’m an economics dummy—that’s one reason I majored in American Government, because I didn’t have to take major Economics course—but I worked at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce long enough to learn that all sorts of good things flow from a healthy GDP, which averaged well under 3 for the entire, benighted, protected and over-praised Obama administration.

There is no question that similar news—there was similar news in 2015—early in the Obama administration would have been heralded as cheer-worthy proof that Obama’s economic stimulus monster, derisively nicknamed “Porkulus” by critics, was working (it was an expensive failure), and that he was leading us out of the Wilderness, just as he had promised. Similarly, when Bill Clinton was running for re-election in 1996, his smug and slimy ways (“Where is the outrage?” asked poor Bob Dole) were already a matter of record even before Monica Madness, but the liberal news media and Democrats mocked the very idea that Presidential character should matter to voters.

That very year, my old theater company revived Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man,” a Sixties political satire on Presidential election politics. The play centered on an idealist candidate’s ethical dilemma of whether to release damning information on a competing candidate for the nomination, violating the good candidate’s ethics (the alleged scoop was that his competitor had dabbled in homosexual relationships in the army, not that there’s anything wrong with that: Gore Vidal certainly didn’t think so)  to win the nomination for himself and save the nation from the bad candidate, even though the Army rumors had nothing to do with why he was bad—the man was a Machiavellian right-wing monster (Gore believed all conservatives were monsters). The Washington Post reviewer panned the play, mocking the script as ridiculously outdated. “Who believes that character matters in choosing a President any more?” she asked. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/29/2019: Good Kool-Aid, Bad Kool-Aid

Good morning!

1. No, it’s not yet clear what happened in the Jussie Smollett debacle, just that  whatever it was, it was unethical as hell. Smollett is no less guilty of faking a hate crime than he always was; the evidence is just as overwhelming; and the fools lining up to support him are asking for trouble. For example, the writers for Smollett’s show (it seems likely that it is no longer his show, and the producers would be certifiably mad to let him back on the air) seem to be under the delusion that charges were dropped against the African-American actor because there wasn’t evidence to try him. That is not what happened, whatever happened. But here is “Empire” writer Cameron Johnson  tweeting to a Chicago-based reporter  who has been covering the case since it first broke in January.

No, in fact everything reported about Smollett—that he faked the attack, lied to police and the news media, and that the two men he recruited and paid to carry out the hoax with him have fingered Smollett—appears to be true. Meanwhile, the NAACP is going forward with Smollett’s nomination for an award for his work on Empire. I wouldn’t put it past them to let him win, meaning that they would be applauding a divisive–but woke! And gay! And black!—hate crime hoaxer.

So again, what’s going on here? The former chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama had contacted Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx about the case on behalf of a member of Smollett’s family.  Foxx is an openly racialized African-American prosecutor whose past words and conduct suggest that she might adopt the Sharpton-like theory that the fact that a hate crime is a hoax is less important than the fact that it could have been true. Also, prosecuting Smollett could have sent another black man to prison, and Foxx is on the record as wanting to do everything she can to avoid that result as often as possible.

Dismissals after grand jury indictments when there is no new exculpatory evidence usually require a defendant to accept responsibility, stay out of trouble for at least six months, and make restitution. None of this happened. Smollett not only denied responsibility, he again proclaimed his innocence . He was required to forfeit his bond, which would never be required if he was actually innocent based on the evidence. The state’s attorney’s office cited 16 hours of “community service” as a mitigating factor, but again, if he is innocent, why would that matter? Smollett did that work volunteering at the headquarters of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Then Smollett’s lawyer denied that any community service was required as a condition of the dismissal of his charges.

Prosecutors announced preemptively that the record in the case would be sealed, and there is no precedent for immediately sealing a criminal case involving an adult, even if a defendant is found not guilty. Defendants usually have to file a motion to seal their case, and the police are given the opportunity to contest the motion.

The Associated Press is reporting that the city will seek $130,000 from “ Smollett to cover the costs of the investigation into his hoax, which means that police are still certain that he is guilty.

It almost feels like this is a deliberate parody of the Mueller Report fiasco, designed to suggest that the situations of Smollett and President Trump are similar: both guilty, and both “exonerated” falsely.

The Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association has released a statement condemning the whatever -it-was in the strongest terms.

2. How do we get the news media and the public to stop paying attention to celebrities and actors when they are off script? These people are, as a group, neither especially informed, well-educated, or trained in critical thinking. Yet they have outsized metaphorical bullhorns, and influence fans to adopt unethical practices and irresponsible ideas. Here is “Captain America” star Chris Evans telling an interviewer that if Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a supporter of the President of the United States, he will “cut ties” with him, whatever that means. His attitude means, however, that he would have American society divided into warring camps that never speak to each other. In a fawning profile by the New York Times, we get the diminutive actor’s policy wisdom in comments like this, in which he explains why  he will campaign for Bernie Sanders, as he did in 2016:

“If you look back on that election, a lot of his progressive ideas are accepted now. Like free college education. I didn’t go to any college. Forgive the debt, so people can live their lives and not feel they’re under a wet blanket. Let’s let the sun shine. We have a beautiful country. We got a lot of resources. You know, Medicare for all. What’s the big deal? Why not open that up?”

Yes, he’s a moron….and a moron that the Times is encouraging trusting citizens to take seriously.

3.  Scary, if even half-accurate. Over at the Epoch Times, Jeff Carlson (who is an accountant, and apparently a diligent researcher) lays out the whole case for a  “deep State” effort to try to stop Donald Trump from being elected President, and then to overthrow him once he was. It begins,

“Efforts by high-ranking officials in the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice (DOJ), and State Department to portray President Donald Trump as having colluded with Russia were the culmination of years of bias and politicization under the Obama administration.”

Some of his case is the Kool-Aid I was accused of drinking when I reported (accurately) the implications of the irregularities in the FISA warrant process used to plant an informer in the Trump campaign. It is extremely ironic that the same people who threw tantrums here over fact-based suspicions regarding the “resistance” efforts within the government were guzzling the vile Kool-Aid that Donald Trump had conspired with Russia. I was right, they were wrong, and they were insulting while being wrong. If they had any courage and integrity, they would come back here and admit it.

I misjudged them, and their character.

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/2/2019: Road Trip Epiphanies…And The Washington Post’s “Note” On The Covington Fiasco

Hi, everybody! It’s good to be back home!

I was torn whether to mention in this morning’s post that I would be Northern Virginia-bound from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area (Washington County) for most of the day. Who knows what banned and lurking commenters would seize on that intelligence to raid the forum here while I was unable to moderate, as occurred yesterday?

1. I wonder if most lawyers have the same reaction… The Pennsylvania lawyers I spoke to all seemed to share the same impression of the Michael Cohen testimony that I had. Why would anyone believe someone like that? What is the point of Congressional testimony by a convicted liar and disbarred attorney? No one disagreed that Cohen couldn’t be a witness in any proceeding, not would his testimony be admissible. How could anyone see this as anything but a transparent and  base effort by Democrats in Congress to try to smear the President with ad hominem slurs and unprovable allegations by someone obviously trying to somehow improve his own, self-made, miserable position? The lawyers are also concerned Congress is weakening the crucial attorney client privilege by encouraging a witness to breach it.

2. Ethics Corrupter: Nancy Pelosi. How dare the speaker of the House insult the President before the public by saying, “Do the country a favor, don’t run in 2020?” The democratic Congress continues to lead the effort to strip the President and his office of all the respect and basic deference they both must have for the government to function. Her snide condescension is unprofessional and nauseating….as well as bizarre, coming after the Trump-led economy just had its best month of growth in a decades—just as he promised it would. Given the state of her own party right now, a plea of “Do Democrats a favor, don’t run in 2020” would be more logical.

3. Engineering ethics. My GM rental car was keyless. It’s cool and all, but why? Congress is trying to pass new safety regulations because keyless cars are killing people. Drivers leave them running without realizing it, and sometimes poison themselves or other with carbon monoxide. They also may be easier to steal.

What, exactly, is the problem that keyless ignition was needed to solve? The “improvement” adds to the cost of cars, and appears to be a classic example of fixing something that ain’t broke, just Americans like gadgets. I have attacked the “if it saves one life” idiocy of the anti-gun lobby, but that’s because guns have very valid uses. If a completely gratuitous change in engineering and technology kills anyone without conferring some counter-balancing advantage, then that change is irresponsible and reckless.

4. Not good enough—not even close. The Washington Post, which is being sued by lawyers for 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann for its role in focusing partisan hate on a student who had in fact done nothing wrong, issued an “Editor’s Note” on the episode late yesterday. Here it is in its entirety: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/21/18: BREAKING! Bill Clinton Harassed Women!

Good morning!

Me? I’m thankful that I’ve had the Warm-Up to fall back on when I’m too busy trying to sleep off this ^$$@!#^& endless chest cold, so I can at least keep a little bit current on Ethics Alarms. Today, the hell with it! Mind over matter, exhaustion be damned, I’m going to work, shop, make delayed client calls and research until I drop, literally. Time to stop being a weenie. Then tomorrow I can be thankful that I’m still alive.

1. Do not let the Clinton defenders off the hook.  For me, this is head exploding: the New York Times is crediting an A&E series about “The Clinton Affair” with suddenly, remarkably, making it possible to see that Paula Jones, as well as Katherine Willey and Juanita Broaddrick, were not just “right wing conspiracy”- primed bimbos weaponized to bring down Bill Clinton. Ah! Now, through the sudden clarity provided by the #MeToo movement, the Times and the rest of the mainstream media feels that the truth, so impenetrable all those years ago,  has been revealed! Jones was credible! Willey and Broaddrick were (and are) credible! What a shock! Who knew?

Excuse me if I barf. I knew, and, I submit, so did the New York Times et al,, including my hypocritical feminist lawyer friends at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, where I worked during the Clinton years. “I believe Anita Hill!” boasted the button worn by the association’s first female President. “Really?” I asked her? Then why didn’t you believe Paula Jones? Clinton has had a history of sexual harassment and predator allegations; Clarence Thomas hasn’t.” Her answer was, to paraphrase, “Humina humina humina…’ She had no answer. She knew she had sided with a powerful man against a powerless woman for purely political reasons, and credibility and justice had nothing to do with the calculation. So did the New York Times. All of the defenses of Clinton were rationalizations—all of them, every one. I argued, and I taught at the time, that the Lewinsky affair was classic workplace harassment where the disparity of power made true consent impossible, even as such feminists as Gloria Steinem denied it, because, you see, Bill supported abortion rights. Of course he did. I’ll bet those rights served him well at one or more junctures in his rise.

Now, though, the realization of what Clinton was really doing has come into focus, as if it wasn’t deliberately blurred by the same forces now proclaiming it. In her essay for Vanity Fair earlier this year, Monica wrote that #MeToo had given her a “new lens” for seeing her own story, writing “Now, at 44, I’m beginning (just beginning) to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between a president and a White House intern.”

Well, you’re slow, Monica, but at least you have an excuse. The New York Times is simply covering up a lie. It has no new lens: it was just pretending, along with the Democratic Party and most of the news media, that it didn’t know what was obvious to anyone with a neutral perspective. Bill Clinton was a serial harasser and sexual predator. He used his power in office to abuse women, and then to cover up his misconduct. Hillary Clinton was his accomplice, for her own gain. The President lied under oath in the Jones suit, a genuine, proven, “high crime.” It was not personal conduct, but professional, official, workplace misconduct, by well-accepted standards in the employment law field. That other Presidents, notably Kennedy, hasalso been sexual predators was not an valid excuse or a defense. The Democratic Party’s alleged feminism and dedication to women’s rights has been pure hypocrisy and cynical misrepresentation as long as the Clintons were embraced as allies and icons, a situation which existed right up through the 2016 election.

How dare the Times pretend all of this was unfathomable before 2018? Are Times readers really this corrupt and gullible? I know I especially resent it, because everything the paper says is suddenly, amazingly “in focus” was clear to me 20 years ago, and I got the same sneering condescension from my left-corrupted friends then that I get from them now, though on different topics. I’m thankful for the Clinton Ethics Train Wreck, because it started me writing about ethics on-line. But I am not letting these liars and hypocrites off the hook. Neither should you. Continue reading

Presenting Two (Terrific) Baseball Ethics Comments Of The Day By Slickwilly

I apologize for combining these two deserving comments into a single post, but the baseball season is over, and as much as I try to make the case that readers who are tragically immune to baseball’s charms should still read and ponder the ethics posts this most ethically complex of sports inspires, most don’t, and I also have a backlog of Comments of the Day that feels like a 400 lb monkey on my back.

First is Slickwilly’s Comment of the Day on the Halloween post, Unfinished World Series Ethics Business. He is discussing this iconic moment, when a crippled Kirk Gibson limped to the plate as a pinch-hitter against the best closer in the game at teh time, Dennis Eckersley:

Used a clip from one of your posts to teach my kids last night: Game 1 of 1988 World Series last at bat.

The mental aspect of Baseball was NEVER more apparent than in that at bat. The names and teams are irrelevant. Dangerous runner at first as the tying run, two outs, bottom of the ninth inning. Crippled power hitter is substituted to bat for the bottom of the lineout, in hopes of a base hit.

Pitcher, a professional at the top of his game, has not allowed a home run since late August: a powerful matchup indeed!

First two pitches are fouled away. Pitcher starts messing with the batter by throwing to first (where there was no chance of an out.) Two more foul balls and the count is still 0-2. Pitcher continues to throw to first, where the runner is taking progressively larger leads.

Batter hits almost a bunt down the first base line: foul. However, we see how badly the batter is hurt: he is almost limping and could never reach first base on an infield hit. Indeed, he is so banged up he did not take the field during the warm ups: a sign that the manager never expected to play him. (One suspects that a pinch runner would be used, should a base hit occur.)

The mental game continues with the pitcher, way ahead in the count, throwing hard-to-hit pitches in an attempt to make the batter strike out. The batter gets a hold of a pitch: foul ball. Pitcher throws outside again. Now the count is 2-2. More throws to first, and the runner is a legitimate threat to steal second as the count evens up.

The pitcher throws way outside, and the runner steals second, getting into scoring position. Now the count is 3-2, and the advantage goes to the batter: a base hit can tie the game!

The batter hands some of the crap back to the pitcher: calls time out just as the pitcher has his mental focus for the deciding pitch. The batter takes his stance, and HIS focus is unshaken: you can see it in his stance, how he holds his head, how he holds his bat, everything. This man suddenly exudes confidence, and the pitcher can see it. Everyone in the ballpark can see it!

Sometimes, in Baseball, a thing is meant to be. I cannot explain it, but there are moments where you know you are about to see greatness, where all of the little factors are lining up to produce a great play. There is a feeling in the air at such times, and it is palatable even on video and across decades of time. For those who worship at the altar of Baseball, these are the moments that make the game great.

Pitcher throws a low slider (betting on a junk pitch!) and as a result, hangs out what Baseball fans affectionately call ‘red meat’ for the batter, who gets EVERY BIT OF THAT PITCH AND SENDS IT ON A TOUR OF THE RIGHT FIELD BLEACHERS!

The second of Slickwilly’s CsOTD came in response to Question: You Are Offered 300 Million Dollars To Do What You Want To Do Where You Say You Want To Do It For The Next Ten Years. Why Would You Say, “No”? Continue reading

Question: You Are Offered 300 Million Dollars To Do What You Want To Do Where You Say You Want To Do It For The Next Ten Years. Why Would You Say, “No”?

This, we recently learned, is exactly what Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, 25, did when his team, the Washington Nationals, made him such an offer at the end of the 2018 season.

Harper has frequently stated that he loves playing in Washington, and would like to continue his career there. He is also regarded as the most valuable baseball free agent since Alex Rodriguez entered free agency almost 20 years ago and received a record contract. (You know what happened to him, right?) His agent, Scott Boras, has said in the past that a realistic target for Harper on the open market is $400,000,000, and most experts thinks Boras is nuts.

I see only three possible explanations for Harper turning down the Nationals offer: 1) He’s an idiot, 2) he is getting irresponsible and conflicted advice from his agent, or 3) he was lying when he said he wanted to play in D.C.

If your answer is “4) He’s greedy,” I submit that this is indistinguishable from #1. I defy anyone to explain how their life is enhanced in any way  by making 40 million a year rather than 30 million. Harper has no children, but since “I’m doing this for my kids” is the default rationalization used by players when they accept the highest bid,  I also defy anyone to explain how his theoretical children would have significantly better or different lives if Daddy makes an extra 100 million over the next 10 years—especially since another mega-million dollar contract will probably come into play after that. Continue reading