Tag Archives: Hanlon’s Razor

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/12/17

Good morning, all!

1. I can’t keep writing the same post repeatedly as the politically correct, the historical censors, the Soviet-style Left and the gallactically stupid continue to tear down statues and eliminate honors to significant Americans who are predecessors deemed worthy.  Just hunt for the “airbrushing history” tag here and you’ll find too many already. We should note, however, how the cognitive dissonance scale is coming into play to the benefit of the unethical airbrushers.

In Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, this weekend will witness thousands of white nationalists and neo-Nazis demonstrating to protest a plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee  from a city park, because, Lee’s sub-21, infinitely wise undergrads insist, erasing Lee from history will undo the legacy of racism, or something. Of course, for the Racist Right to be the ones protesting makes this position look reasonable. White supremacists organizing the protests unjustly associates Lee with their cause, making his statue mean something it never did, and attaching him to  cause that was not his. The protests against tearing down Lee’s statue–UVA’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, will be next on the non-person list, or close to it—should be coming from historians, scholars, liberals, believers in fairness, nuance, and integrity, and those who are literate enough to understand that the life of Robert E. Lee has much to teach every child and American about loyalty, hubris, hard choices, tragic choices, hypocrisy, courage and more. Why aren’t they protesting? Two reasons, now: they don’t want to be shoulder to shoulder with the scum of the earth, and they are too timid to stand up for crucial ethical principles, unlike the censors of Charlottesville, who don’t understand them, and the Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, who don’t have them.

2. And speaking of historical airbrushing and censorship: Last year, I designated the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C as an Ethics Dunce for omitting the second African American SCOTUS justice, Clarence Thomas from mention while devoting an exhibit to his unsubstantiated accuser, Anita Hill.  Now the museum has announced plans to honor Jim Vance.

Come on, you all know who Jim Vance is, don’t you? (D.C. area residents: shut up!) Jim Vance, who transformed America for blacks? Give up? Vance was a long-time popular local D.C. television news broadcaster, with a nice screen presence and a casual delivery.  He just died, and he was black. The museum’s founding director, Lonnie Bunch, said the broadcaster “symbolized that it was really important that America was changing and his presence was a symbol of that change.” Right, sort of….although Vance was hardly the first or the most prominent black newscaster in D.C. Clarence Thomas, however, was the first conservative black justice…which is, of course, why is being shown such disrespect by the “Nation’s Attic.”

I haven’t visited the huge, striking new museum on the mall yet, and I won’t until its shows signs of being am objective chronicler of history rather than a tool of interest group propaganda. Continue reading

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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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In The Latest Episode Of “As The News Media Disgraces Itself,” Chris Cuomo Reveals Himself As An Incompetent Fool

The public cannot trust what the star lawyer-anchor of a morning news program on a major news network says about the law with utter certainty.

The public cannot trust the major news network to correct the false information so conveyed in a timely fashion.

The public cannot trust that major news network.

Unproven hypothesis: The public cannot trust any news network.

Never mind the hypothesis, however. Let us just deal for now with the lawyer/host/news anchor, Chris Cuomo, his inattentive network, and this ridiculous statement he uttered as authoritative fact last week:

”Also interesting is, remember, it’s illegal to possess these stolen documents. It’s different for the media, so everything you’re learning about this, you’re learning from us.”

What?

“So everything you’re learning about this, you’re learning from us” would appear to state that it’s illegal for the public to even read the hacked e-mails, which anyone can do here. That can’t be right, and of course is nonsense: anyone can read anything that is available on the web. It is also a sinister theory, claiming that we have to rely on the interpretation, selective reporting, spin and biased analysis of media hacks like Chris Cuomo, because the law says we can’t download or read such material ourselves. Where did  Cuomo, a licensed lawyer, get a crack-brained idea like that? More important, why couldn’t he figure out it was ridiculous using common sense? A law degree is hardly necessary, if one thinks for a few seconds.

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Stupid Cops Matter

Perfect match.

Perfect match.

In a case where Hanlon’s Razor (“Never assume malice is the explanation if stupidity will suffice”) applies but one can’t really blame a mother for thinking otherwise, police in Newark  inexplicably mistook an innocent pre-teen black boy for an adult robbery suspect and chased him through a Newark neighborhood with guns drawn. This is stupidity, not racism. Well, who knows: there could be racism mixed in there too, but what jumps out is the jaw-dropping incompetence.

Legend Preston, just ten years old, was fetching a basketball that had rolled into the street when he looked up and saw armed cops running towards him as if they meant business. So he ran.

“I was scared for my life,” Legend told reporters. “I was thinking that they were going to shoot me.” Good thinking, kid. If these cope were inept enough to get a ten-year-old  confused with Casey Joseph Robinson, a 20-year-old, dreadlocks-sporting perp with facial hair (he was arrested in the next block), who knows what they might do?

Legend was quickly surrounded by neighbors  who emphatically pointed out to the police that they were chasing a child, as the officers stammered that he “fit the description” of the criminal. Well, sort of. Okay, okay, now that we’re up close, we see that he’s under five feet tall, dressed like a kid, doesn’t have dreadlocks or facial hair, and looks nothing like the guy, except that he’s black, which means we also could also mistake him for Bill Cosby, Jesse Jackson, Morgan Freeman, or LeBron James. Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz: “Advertising” Safe Zones

illegal crossing sign

Interesting.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) includes information on its website about “Sensitive Locations,” which is CBP-speak for “Places where we won’t arrest you if you are an illegal immigrant.”  In careful, oh-so-delicate and respectful language, the agency explains that immigration laws are not to be enforced at  designated “sensitive locations”  so that illegal aliens can be “free” to live their lives “without fear or hesitation.”

It reads in part…

“The policies provide that enforcement actions at or focused on sensitive locations such as schools, places of worship, and hospitals should generally be avoided, and that such actions may only take place when (a) prior approval is obtained from an appropriate supervisory official, or (b) there are exigent circumstances necessitating immediate action without supervisor approval.  The policies are meant to ensure that ICE and CBP officers and agents exercise sound judgment when enforcing federal law at or focused on sensitive locations, to enhance the public understanding and trust, and to ensure that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so, without fear or hesitation.”

“This policy is designed to ensure that these enforcement actions do not occur at nor are focused on sensitive locations such as schools and churches” without meeting special exceptions, the  ICE Sensitive Locations Policy states.

Locations covered by  Sensitive Locations Policy  include, but are not limited to:

  • Schools, such as known and licensed daycares, pre-schools and other early learning programs; primary schools; secondary schools; post-secondary schools up to and including colleges and universities; as well as scholastic or education-related activities or events, and school bus stops that are marked and/or known to the officer, during periods when school children are present at the stop;
  • Medical treatment and health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities;
  • Places of worship, such as churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples;
  • Religious or civil ceremonies or observances, such as funerals and weddings; and
  • During public demonstration, such as a march, rally, or parade.

“The enforcement actions covered by this policy are (1) arrests; (2) interviews; (3) searches; and (4) for the purposes of immigration enforcement only, surveillance,” the ICE  further explains.

The CBP  “FAQ” answers are accompanied by a Spanish translation, and the CBP website  provides a toll-free number and email address so aggrieved illegal aliens can report immigration that violate these policies.

As I said…

Interesting.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is this a responsible, competent and ethical exercise of government power?

Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On FBI Director Comey’s Statement Regarding The Clinton Investigation

James Comey

The transcript of FBI Director James Comey’s full remarks on the Clinton e-mail probe follow. I will highlight important sections in bold, and in some cases, bold and red. My  observations will follow.

Good morning. I’m here to give you an update on the FBI’s investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail system during her time as Secretary of State.

After a tremendous amount of work over the last year, the FBI is completing its investigation and referring the case to the Department of Justice for a prosecutive decision. What I would like to do today is tell you three things: what we did; what we found; and what we are recommending to the Department of Justice.

This will be an unusual statement in at least a couple ways. First, I am going to include more detail about our process than I ordinarily would, because I think the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest. Second, I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say.

I want to start by thanking the FBI employees who did remarkable work in this case. Once you have a better sense of how much we have done, you will understand why I am so grateful and proud of their efforts.

So, first, what we have done:

The investigation began as a referral from the Intelligence Community Inspector General in connection with Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail server during her time as Secretary of State. The referral focused on whether classified information was transmitted on that personal system.

Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.

Consistent with our counterintelligence responsibilities, we have also investigated to determine whether there is evidence of computer intrusion in connection with the personal e-mail server by any foreign power, or other hostile actors.

I have so far used the singular term, “e-mail server,” in describing the referral that began our investigation. It turns out to have been more complicated than that. Secretary Clinton used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send e-mail on that personal domain. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways. Piecing all of that back together — to gain as full an understanding as possible of the ways in which personal e-mail was used for government work — has been a painstaking undertaking, requiring thousands of hours of effort.

For example, when one of Secretary Clinton’s original personal servers was decommissioned in 2013, the e-mail software was removed. Doing that didn’t remove the e-mail content, but it was like removing the frame from a huge finished jigsaw puzzle and dumping the pieces on the floor. The effect was that millions of e-mail fragments end up unsorted in the server’s unused — or “slack”— space. We searched through all of it to see what was there, and what parts of the puzzle could be put back together.

FBI investigators have also read all of the approximately 30,000 e-mails provided by Secretary Clinton to the State Department in December 2014. Where an e-mail was assessed as possibly containing classified information, the FBI referred the e-mail to any U.S. government agency that was a likely “owner” of information in the e-mail, so that agency could make a determination as to whether the e-mail contained classified information at the time it was sent or received, or whether there was reason to classify the e-mail now, even if its content was not classified at the time it was sent (that is the process sometimes referred to as “up-classifying”).

From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.

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Loretta Lynch-Bill Clinton Meeting Aftermath: Hillary Drops An Unethical Hint, And My Head Explodes

pulling strings

According to the New York Times, “Democrats close to Mrs. Clinton say she may decide to retain Ms. Lynch, the nation’s first black woman to be attorney general.”

Wait, what?

WHAT????

WHAT???

kaboom

The woman’s department is currently involved in a criminal investigation of Clinton. Lynch has refused to recuse herself from the investigation despite the taint of the meeting with Bill Clinton, which was apparently engineered by one or both Clintons. Though she has said that she will accept the recommendation coming out of the FBI investigation, she is not obligated to do so. Thus she is still a participant in the process and a decision-maker who has significant power and influence, as of this moment, over Hillary Clinton’s political future.

And yet Clinton allows her camp to send the message to Lynch—through the New York Times— that there may be a job waiting for her in the Clinton Administration….as long as, well, you know. This goes beyond the mere appearance of impropriety that Bill’s trick created for Lynch.

The dangling of a potential high-profile job creates an actual conflict of interest. After all, Lynch can’t continue as Attorney General is Hillary isn’t elected, and Hillary’s election prospects are likely to be significantly diminished if she’s in the Big House.

What is this? A flat learning curve? Complete arrogance and open corruption? Stupidity? Are all of Clinton’s advisors and staff as ethically obtuse as she is, just as Trump’s advisors and staff appear to be as inept as he is? How could Clinton let this happen?

If Lynch wants to guarantee that the public does not assume that this is yet more proof that the Clinton’s are rigging the investigation, she needs to declare, right now, that under no circumstances will she consider or accept any post in a Clinton administration. Failing that. she needs to resign.

Writes Ann Althouse:

Sometimes the prosecutor offers the accused a deal and, on rare occasions, the accused offers the prosecutor a deal. But offering it right out in the open like that? It’s as ballsy as a former President strutting across a tarmac in 107° heat, fueled by a raging desire to talk about his grandchildren.

I don’t know if this was really “ballsy.” Having just written at length about Hanlon’s Razor, I’m more inclined to think that Clinton and her camp are just stupid and incompetent, which, if true, calls into question one of the few clear advantages she supposedly has over Donald Trump.

 

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