Once Again, Unethical Sentencing Using “He’s Suffered Enough”: That’s Not The Message That Needed To Be Sent

Collusion2

In August, former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty in federal court to making a false statement in the first criminal case arising from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation of the of the irregularities surrounding law enforcement actions regarding allegations of”collusion” between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign, a manufactured charge used to delegitimize and undermine the Trump Presidency. Clinesmith’s guilty plea was to “one count of making a false statement within both the jurisdiction of the executive branch and judicial branch of the U.S. government, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.”

Clinesmith admitted that in June 2017, he had sent a deliberately altered email to an FBI agent falsely indicating that Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, was “not a source” for the Central Intelligence Agency. The email was used by the FBI to apply for a third extension of a FISA warrant justifying surveillance on Page. Paige had, in fact, been a source for the CIA. Clinesmith’s defense was that he had mistakenly thought the altered assertion in the email was correct, and he only altered it to save himself the trouble of getting a another email from the CIA.

If this doesn’t remind you of Dan Rather’s rationalization for using a forged document to accuse President George Bush of going AWOL while he was in the National Guard, it should. But Rather was just a journalist, albeit a one who carried the public trust. What he did was unethical, but what Clinesmith did was unethical and illegal. He knowingly manufactured evidence offered by the U.S. government to violate the Fourth Amendment Rights of a citizen, knowing that the warrant being sought would be used to spy on the Presidential campaign of the party opposing that of the sitting President, Barack Obama. The Trump Presidency was permanently sabotaged from its very start as a result of Clinesmith’s actions along with others in the Justice Department and FBI. Although the Mueller report found no evidence that any American anywhere, not just in the Trump campaign, coordinated with Russians to affect the 2016 election, the lie that Clinesmith facilitated constituted a deliberate effort by law enforcement officials to subvert a Presidential campaign and a President.

Yeasterday, Clinesmith was sentenced. U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia James Boasberg, an Obama appointee, delivered the proverbial “slap on the wrist.” He sentenced him to 12 months probation and 400 hours of community service. He will serve no jail time.

My son, 18 at the time of his offense, was given five years probation and spent six months in jail for a traffic violation, just to provide some basis for comparison.

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Columbus Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 10/10/2020: Dumb Tweets, Rigged Reviews, Insane Academics, And Police Conduct Worth Protesting

Is it that time again already? Great, now we have to listen to more Statue Toppling rants from anti-Columbus zealots who don’t think changing the world unquestionably for the better and setting in motion the chain of events that allowed the United States to exist is worthy of a day of recognition.

1. I confess. Although I bailed out of following baseball this “season” when MLB’s groveling to Black Lives Matter became too much to bear, I do check the scores now and then, and thus am taking some pleasure in the fact that the New York Yankees were eliminated in the best of five Divisional Play-offs by the Tampa Bay Rays, making it eleven straight years since the Bronx Bombers got to the World Series.

2. Idiotic tweets that did not come from the White House. Whether one believes the Doomsday Polls or not, it is beyond question that President Trump’s prospects this November would be far brighter were he able to resist sending out dumb tweets, many of which I have highlighted here. (There is a Trump Tweets tag, if you want to reminisce. Like so many of his regrettable proclivities, this one is apparently contagious. Powerline recently flagged three head-exploders:

  • From Washington governor Jay Inslee:

Inslee tweet

  • From former CIA director and Deep State Trump saboteur John Brennan:

Brennan Tweet

Those who visit here often know that by Ethics Alarms standard, quoting “Imagine” as if this infantile doggerel by John Lennon is profound automatically wins any “Dumbest” competition.

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The Vegan Parents: No, They Haven’t “Suffered Enough”

Review: “I don’t recommend this formula. It killed my baby.”

The vegan parents of a baby girl they condemned to a lifetime of brain damage pleaded guilty to negligently causing serious injury, thus avoiding jail time. They will  have to perform 12 months of community service, and will also have to undergo mental observation and treatment.

Talk about locking the barn door after the horse has escaped.

Having ignored all legitimate health advice regarding the nutritional needs of infants for a full year, the parents took their 12-month-old baby girl to an emergency clinic in August 2018 with her suffering from extreme malnutrition, open wounds, rashes, bruises, discoloration of her skin, internal bleeding and blood in her stool. Her condition, doctors said,  resembled those of babies being raised in countries during famines.

A week before, the father had sought the help of an online vegan website, writing,

“Hi my 1-year-old has stopped wanting to drink/eat and when she does, it’s not staying down or she starts to cough,” he reportedly wrote in the email. “What can I do to help her keep it down and allow her to drink? She doesn’t have a temp. She is on a fruit diet. Please help asap.”

The recommended solution: “stomach tea.” The parents had decided that they didn’t trust doctors after being told  told that their baby required more than the coconut water and health store powders that they began feeding her after she stopped breast-feeding. Continue reading

Ethics Outburst, 7/15/2020: An Execution, An Exoneration, A “Never Mind!” And More Freakouts…

1. Least surprising ethics revelation of the day: Kanye West is an asshole.  After posting this,

..sending the news media into a frenzy, setting off speculation about how much of the crucial black vote his candidacy might siphon off from Joe Biden, exciting all of those who inexplicably take the man seriously after ample evidence over the years that he is emotionally unstable, West has decided a mere eleven days later that he doesn’t want to run after all. His organization had hired 180 people who trusted him.

If there is a more irresponsible celebrity alive, I don’t want to know about him. Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms “Everything Is Seemingly Spinning Out Of Control!” Files, Legal Ethics Division

This story first came to the attention of the legal community in February, when a plaintiff in an employment discrimination suit against Chevron filed a Motion for Sanctions against Chevron’s Houston-based attorney, Dennis Duffy. It began by stating that Duffy had engaged in “a campaign of abusive and intolerable conduct that began with profanity-laced conversation” and escalated to “discriminatory slurs.” Then she alleged, things got really bad. The motion further alleged, Continue reading

Introducing Rationalization 38B: Excessive Accountability, or “He’s Suffered Enough.”

This is a new 38B, requiring the old one, Joe Biden’s Inoculation or “I don’t deny that I do this!”, to be relabeled 38C. I was tempted to call it “The Lost Rationalization,” because while Ethics Alarms has frequently rejected the argument that he, she or they have “suffered enough,” and even called it a rationalization, it never made its way onto the Rationalizations List.

“He’s suffered enough” is a very close relative of #38 A.“Mercy For Miscreants”:

The theory behind this sub-rationalization is that it is only fair to assign a criticism quota to groups and individuals: at a certain point, no more criticism is allowed, because nobody should have to be criticized that much. It is so darn mean to keep heaping abuse on someone, even if they deserve it.

But while 38 A focuses on criticism, 38 B is about limiting punishment. The “he’s suffered enough” rationalization has arisen most notably in the tragic cases where a parent has negligently allowed an infant or small child to perish in a locked car. Local prosecution of such individuals is strikingly inconsistent, and when no legal consequences follow, the justification is usually Rationalization 38 B.

What I wrote the first time I analyzed these cases, in the 2010 post  Ethics, Punishment and the Dead Child in the Back Seat thatI also quoted extensively here, encompassed a thorough description of the rationalization. (I also re-posted yet another essay on this topic from 2014 just last July).

Upon checking, I discovered that in yet another post from 2012, I referred to “he’s suffered enough” as a common rationalization without putting it in the list. Reviewing that post and the earlier one, I have arrived at this description of the latest rationalization. Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/22/18: The All Fark Edition!

GOOD MORNING!

On a day when Ethics Alarms finally passed its high-water mark for followers, I thought it appropriate to plug Fark, one of the legion of sources I check every day to find ethics topics. It’s a facetious news aggregation site that links to both serious and obscure stories with gag intros, like this week’s header on a story about a recent study on Alzheimers: “The number of Americans with Alzheimers is expected to double in the next 40 years. That’s horrible, but did you hear that the number of Americans with Alzheimers is expected to double in the next 40 years?”

My dad loved that joke, and the older he got, the more often he told it, and the more ticked off my mother would be. An all-Fark Warm-Up is a good way to avoid (mostly) politics for a while.

1. I have no sympathy for this guy. Is that unethical? This is Mark Cropp:

He has “Devast8” tattooed on his face. He says that his brother did it when they both were very drunk, as if he was a non-participant.  “Once it was started, I thought, I can’t go back on it now,” he has said. “I wish I had stopped while the outline was there to be quite honest.” Good, Mark. This is progress.

Cropp has been complaining for a year that his face tattoo has kept him from being hired. Would you hire him? I wouldn’t. Such high-profile self-mutilation is signature significance for a person with terrible judgment and life skills, or, to be brief, an idiot. Would you hire someone with “I am an idiot” tattooed on his forehead? Same thing.

Apparently he has been arrested and is facing charges in New Zealand, where he lives. Psst! Mark! Don’t have “I am guilty!” tattooed on your face while you are awaiting trial.

2. No sympathy, Part 2. I also have almost no sympathy for Beverley Dodds, who once looked like this…

…until decades of slathering herself  in Coca Cola and baby oil while sunbathing and broiling herself on tanning beds caused her to have to  battlethe effects of skin cancer for two decades, and has the skin of a reptile. (You don’t want me to post a photo of her skin. Trust me.) Like Mark above, this is self-inflicted mutilation. How sorry should we feel for someone who hits themselves in the head with a hammer every day who complains of headaches? Few public health issues have been so thoroughly publicized as warnings about long-term skin damage from excessive exposure to the sun and tanning beds.

3. No sympathy, Part 3.  24-year-old Michael Vigeant of Hudson, New Hampshire, a Red Sox fan on his way home via subway from Yankee Stadium after the Sox had lost to the Yankees (they won the next night though, thus clinching the division, and eliminating New York. Go Red Sox!)  died when he tried to climb on top of a moving Metro-North train and was electrocuted by overhead wires. The resulting chaos trapped hundreds of riders more than two hours. His brother did it too, but was luckier, and train personnel got him down. Michael touched a catenary wire and was electrocuted, said MTA officials.

Now watch his family try to sue the city.  I put “Don’t try to subway surf on moving trains,” “Don’t get huge tattoos on your face” and “Don’t repeatedly broil your skin” in the same category: lessons an adult should learn and has an obligation to observe. Not doing so suggests a general responsibility and commons sense deficit that is a menace to everyone, not just them. Continue reading

For Once, To “Move On” Concerning Clinton Scandals Is The Right Thing To Do

No.

No.

Ethics Alarms didn’t want to make heads explode all over American by designating the President Elect an Ethics Hero, for that would go too far. Still, his statement to the New York Times that he won’t recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton, adding that she has already “suffered greatly,” is a welcome one as well as the ethical course to take.

The news, shocking to some of Trump’s more vindictive followers and also to those who, for some reason, believed that anything Trump has said, promised, pledged or mused about isn’t subject to reversal at any time, was revealed in tweets from New York Times reporters Mike Grynbaum and Maggie Haberman, who attended a meeting between the President-elect and reporters and editors at the paper. The reporters tweets were confirmed by Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway.

One of the Clintons’ prime strategies when they are caught in misconduct is to deny, deny, deny while delaying and stalling, throwing up smoke, confusing the issues, boring most of the public stiff and making their accusers seem like Inspector Javert from “Les Miserables.” Then, before there is any resolution and the investigations seem as stale as last year’s Halloween candy, the Clinton Corrupted, on cue, begin saying that it’s time to “move on, ” which translates into, “Let the Clinton (one, the other, or both) get away with it.” The perpetually juvenile far-left activist group Move-On.Org was launched by that mantra during Bill Clinton’s impeachment travails.

It is an infuriating tactic since it has worked so often, but for once, the argument dovetails with ethics. The United States political process, much as hyper-partisans would enjoy it to be otherwise, must not descend into the ugly practices of lesser nations, where leaders and politicians who fall out of power face show trials, imprisonment and even execution. If there has ever been an incoming President who might be expected to push us in that undemocratic and divisive direction it is Trump, who appears to be historically ignorant and has only rudimentary ethical instincts at best. During the presidential campaign, Trump pledged to appoint a special prosecutor to re-open investigations of  Clinton’s possible security breaches and possible influence peddling while at State. He happily joined his throngs as they chanted “lock her up!,” and in one debate  muttered to Hillary that if he were President, “you’d be in jail.” Continue reading

One More Time As A Child Finds A Gun And Kills: Prosecute the Parents

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This time the locale was Elmo, Missouri, and it was a five-year old pulling the trigger. The victim was a 9-month-old boy, but it’s basically the same tragic, stupid story….just like in the Idaho Walmart, where the two-year-old shot his mother, or the Albuquerque motel room where another toddler shot both of his parents, who were just lucky and lived. (They have been charged with child abuse. Good.) A gun owner negligently, recklessly, criminally leaves a firearm, loaded, where  young children are and a tragedy results.

Alexis Widerholt, the mother of the children, called 911, and when emergency crews arrived they found that her the baby had been shot in the skull with a .22-caliber magnum revolver.

Somebody has to go to jail for this, maybe several people. Authorities say the gun belongs to a relative, but not the mother. If she knew the gun was in the house, she’s accountable. Anyone responsible for putting the loaded gun where a kid might find it is accountable. Charge them with manslaughter, convict them, send them away. Unless the mother didn’t know about the gun (she originally told the police it was a paint gun, either out of panic, confusion, or ignorance), she needs to lose the right to parent them, at least for a while. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “How To Raise An Irresponsible and Dangerous Child”

“I know my precious angel crashed her car, but it’s her own fault: she left the keys in it!”

Michael, who is the reigning champ in the Comment of the Day Division, scores another with this comment, a rebuttal of ampersand’s plea that a mother’s efforts to deflect blame from her joy-riding teenager, now in a coma after causing a high speed police chase and an accident that closed down a major highway, shouldn’t be held against her. “The mother’s statement was stupid,” ampersand wrote, “but… if there’s any time when we should refrain from attacking people for saying stupid, regrettable things, it’s right after their 14 year old son has been in a terrible, tragic car accident. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to give this woman the benefit of the doubt, and suppose that how she acts on the worst day of her life might not be a representative sample of how she generally acts.”  I’m generally in favor of the benefit of the doubt, although I personally doubt whether any responsible parent would try to blame joy-riding on the owner of the car her son stole, or would try to minimize the offense by suggesting that “maybe he wanted to go farther than he felt like walking.”  I cannot imagine any tragedy that would have made my parents say something that absurd.  Still, I acknowledged that the context of the mother’s comments should be taken into consideration. Michael was tougher, and makes a powerful case that he should be. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post How To Raise An Irresponsible and Dangerous Child.

“I think ampersand is exactly wrong. So much that is wrong and wasteful is done because of this kind of sentiment. She should be confronted about this, because the alternative is to go along with it. She said it, it was published. It must be refuted. Not refuting it, publicly, leads to this being considered a valid opinion. Considering this a valid opinion means possibly arresting and convicting the owner’s boyfriend. It also means that it is OK to “borrow” someone’s car (however you have to) if you are tired of walking.

“Some examples of what happens when you go along with it because you don’t want to confront someone who has suffered the loss or injury of their child: Continue reading