Tag Archives: hypocrisy

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/16/18: Big Lies, Bad Precedents, And Good Bias (Apparently: I Guess I Just Don’t Understand)

Good Morning!

(You can tell I’m starting to feel better, because the morning warm-up is actually appearing before noon… I had an unavoidable early morning conference call, and I’m hoping to get the post up before I crash.)

1. Regarding the hypothetical Hillary pardon briefly discussed in the previous post…An esteemed commenter corrected me in the comment thread when I stated incorrectly that the object of a Presidential pardon couldn’t refuse the gift: the 1915 SCOTUS case of Burdick v. US says otherwise. The case is one more example of how a bad decision can become settled law. From the New York Times:

The story behind the 1915 case is little known but very relevant today. It involved the city editor of The New York Tribune, George Burdick, who…flatly refused to testify before a federal grand jury about his sources for an article on fraud in the United States Custom House in New York. He said he might incriminate himself in his testimony. The federal prosecutor saw a quick pardon as the answer to this problem, and President Woodrow Wilson agreed.

Wilson gave Burdick “a full and unconditional pardon for all offenses against the United States” he might have committed in connection with the article and for any other matter the grand jury might ask him about. That would seem to have let Burdick off the hook, but he still didn’t want to testify. He refused to accept the pardon, and was locked up for contempt.

The case went to the Supreme Court, which held that Burdick was within his rights and ordered him discharged. In doing so, the court embraced Chief Justice John Marshall’s 1833 definition of a pardon as “a private, though official” act of grace whose validity depended on its acceptance: “It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.”

Marshall’s pronouncements, in United States v. Wilson, were pure dicta — nonbinding observations — but the courts treated them as gospel. In the Burdick case, the court likewise held that “a pardon, to be effective, must be accepted” because it “carries an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it.” This made Marshall’s view the law of the land.

The problem is that both Marshall’s definition and the court’s 1915 reinforcement of it were bad history and tortured logic. Acceptance of a pardon should not be a confession of guilt, especially if there is documentation of innocence. The “imputation of guilt” would disappear if acceptance of a pardon were not required. If one has no choice but to take a pardon, it would become like a grant of immunity, and thus would be noncommittal.

There is nothing in the Constitution that gives a person the prerogative to turn down a pardon, and strong support in the Constitutional debates for the president’s having an unfettered power to grant one. “The benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist No. 74. Even more to the point, the framers turned down an effort to limit the power to pardons “after conviction” because they wanted to make it useful for law enforcement. That is, of course, exactly what President Wilson tried, and was told he couldn’t do, in the Burdick case.

So Hillary could turn down a Presidential pardon for her crimes related to flouting the law regarding classified material.

2. Run, Kamala, run! One of the awful alternatives the Democrats have as they paint themselves into the requirement of nominating a woman as their candidate in 2020, California Senator Kamala Harris, highlighted her awfulness while questioning Ronald D. Vitiello, the acting director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as he appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee as it weighed his nomination to become permanent ICE director. She deliberately compared ICE to the KKK in this exchange:

Vitiello: “The Klan was what we could call today a domestic terrorist group,” said

 Harris: “Why? Why would we call them a domestic terrorist group?”

Vitiello: “Because they tried to use fear and force to change the political environment.”

Harris: “And what was the motivation for the use of fear and force?”

Vitiello: “It was based on race and ethnicity, ”  responded.

Harris: “Right. And are you aware of the perception of many about how the power and discretion at ICE is being used to enforce the law and do you see any parallels?”

There are no parallels between the KKK and ICE, and Harris’s assertion that “many” see such parallels is one more example on the growing list of Big Lies being wielded by the Left to spread fear and misinformation. I heard Geraldo Rivera say this morning that Harris was “too smart” to make such a comparison, which he characterized as slander. Obviously she is not too smart to make the comparison, since she made it. She’s too smart to believe that the comparison is fair, but unethical and irresponsible enough to suggest it anyway.

3. Here’s one reason why I don’t have more Ethics Heroes. I’ve already written twice about the deteriorating saga of the kind homeless veteran  and the woman he helped who raised money to let him turn his life around.. It began as a heartwarming Ethics Hero saga, then rotted into a tale of greed, ingratitude, betrayal and exploitation. By August of last year, this was the suddenly depressing story…

Johnny is back living under a bridge, panhandling for change. GoFundMe is investigating whether McClure and her live-in boyfriend absconded with most of the donations, which eventually amounted to about $400,000. Johnny claims that his once grateful benefactor and friend have been spending the money that was supposed to ensure, in Kate’s memorable words, that “his life can get back to being normal….”

Now the story is worse still:

The New Jersey couple who became famous for raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a homeless man after he helped with their disabled car — as did the homeless man himself — will all face charges for allegedly providing a false story in order to raise money for themselves, a source familiar with the case told NBC10. Mark D’Amico, Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt Jr. will face charges including conspiracy and theft by deception, according to the source. A complaint obtained by NBC10 alleges that the three conspired with one another to make up a false story in order to raise more than $400,000.

Sigh.

4. Now that’s acceptable gender bias discrimination. Somehow. I guess. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said Wednesday that a congresswoman besides Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should be the House Speaker.  “There’s plenty of really competent females that we can replace her with,” Ryan told reporters, before listing people such as Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) as potential candidates, The New York Times reported. I dare anyone to try to explain what one’s sex organs and chromosomes has to do with being a capable Speaker of the House. Bias not only makes you stupid, it makes you ridiculous and hypocritical. As for Marcia Fudge: oh, GOOOOOD choice there, Tim!

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

Rationalization 32 B: “The Comforting Accusation,” Or “You Would Have Done The Same Thing!”

It’s been a long time since the last new rationalization joined the list. This one, “The Comforting Accusation” or “You would have done the same thing!“, follows #32. The Unethical Role Model: “He/She would have done the same thing,” and #,32A. Imaginary Consent,  or He/She Would Have Wanted It This Way.”

32 B adds the nasty little element of alleged hypocrisy to the mix, making it especially effective. How can someone criticize your conduct if they couldn’t or wouldn’t resist the same thing? Thus the author of an unethical act deflects his or her own accountability by making someone else the target of an accusation, albeit based on assumption rather than fact. The rationalization attempts to transform the wrongdoer into the judge’s reflection.

There are four problems with #32. First, it may be that the assumption that someone else would have taken the same unethical course is wrong, and, of course, it is just speculation anyway. Second, it doesn’t matter: this is just a personalized fractal of the hoariest rationalization of them all, Numero Uno, “Everybody does it.” Unethical conduct is not cleansed because it has company, or, as in this case, might have company.

Third, it’s a sneaky evocation of #14. Self-validating Virtue, in which an act is judged by the perceived goodness the person doing it, rather than the other way around. Most people, because of bias, automatically think of themselves as the most ethical person they know. The Comforting Accusation recruits the cognitive dissonance scale to elevate an unethical act by attaching it to something deep in the positive end of the scale for just about everyone: themselves. #32B is ultimately an appeal to bias.

Most important of all, the fact that I may have done what you did under similar circumstances doesn’t make what you did less wrong, It only means I have some sympathy for you, and am more likely to apply the Golden Rule if I am assigned the responsibility of holding you to account—which I should apply anyway.

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Election Day Ethics Warm-Up, But Mostly What Yesterday’s Warm-Up Would Have Been If My Whole Day Hadn’t Spun Wildly Out Of Control…

Good Morning, Voters!

1. From the “bias makes you stupid” files. Yesterday two smart, once reasonable Massachusetts lawyers of the female persuasion debated me regarding the appropriateness of Dr. Blasey Ford’s late and unsubstantiated hit on Brett Kavanaugh. They were obnoxious about it, too, rolling their eyes and giggling to each other at my position, with one saying that I sounded like her “Southern friends.” I like them both, but a better example of how bias makes you stupid could hardly be devised. Their primary reason why Blasey Ford’s suddenly recalled trauma from the distant past should have been allowed to smear a qualified nominee for the Supreme Court in nationally televised hearings was this: women and girls in those les-enlightened days had good reason not to report rape and sexual assault, as they often were not believed and because a “boys will be boys” attitude prevailed in the culture. Moreover, they said, almost in unison, women still have good reasons not to report sexual assault. “Do you have daughters?” they asked, “gotcha!”-style.

To anyone whose ethics alarms are in good working order and who recognizes the difference between an emotional argument born of gender and partisan alliances and a good one, the rebuttal is obvious and comprises a general ethics principle:

One person’s misfortune, no matter how tragic or unjust, never justifies being unfair or unjust to somebody else.

Accusing anyone of anything three decades after the alleged incident is unfair.

Publicizing an allegation that cannot be verified and for which there is no supporting evidence is unfair.

Using alleged misconduct as a minor to impugn the character  of an adult and a professional with an unblemished record of good conduct is unfair.

Dispensing with a presumption of innocence under any circumstances is unfair.

Dispensing with due process under any circumstances is unfair, because due process is itself fairness. (The two lawyers kept saying that this was not a trail so due process was not involved. The argument is either disingenuous or ignorant. Due process just means procedural fairness, in any context.)

Punishing one individual male for the fact that other males have escaped accountability for sexual misconduct is unfair-–and illogical.

Giving special considerations to one individual female because other females have been unfairly treated regarding their allegations is unfair—and illogical.

The two female lawyers kept saying that my position is a conservative one. It is not. It is not an ideological position in any way, though their position certainly is. May they regain intellectual integrity soon. And I forgive them for being so utterly insulting during our debate.

2. This is essentially a Big Lie argument from Vox: Ezra Klein, Vox creator, tweeted,

I don’t think people are ready for the crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority. After Kavanaugh, Trump, Garland, Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, etc, the party is on the edge of losing faith in the system (and reasonably so).

An esteemed commenter recently accused me of being unfairly dismissive and insulting when a commenter dissents. That’s occasionally true but not generally true, and one circumstance where I may become dismissive and insulting is when a position is indefensible, like this one. It is either dishonest or so obtuse that no one capable of writing it down should be trusted again. Continue reading

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Saturday Ethics Warm-Up. 11/3/2018: Cohen Does What He Does, Ocasio-Cortez Mongers Hate, And Hoggett Goes Rogue

I’ll give you a morning golden and true…

1 .Regarding Michael Cohen. The news media, Trump-haters and “the resistance’ are all giddy over Michael Cohen claiming that President Trump made racist comments in his presence. Lawyers who say such things about clients get disbarred. They get disbarred because it is proof that they lack the honesty, trustworthiness and integrity to be trusted professionals.There is no reason whatsoever to trust Michael Cohen, so relying on his account of anything is just an exercise in confirmation bias. He is not a reliable source, and what he says at this point should be taken for what it is: the latest effort by a desperate crook to somehow survive the consequences of his own low-life ways.

2. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez easily makes my list of the dozen most unethical candidates seeking election next week; I hope to get that up soon. Here is the fundraising email the New York socialist sent out:

“Six days from now, we can defeat the brutal white supremacist forces of anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant nativism, and racism.We can hold accountable the cold-hearted monsters who have repeatedly attacked our health care. We can send a message to the bigots and billionaires that this country belongs to all of us. We can win if we show up on November 6. We must end Republican control of Congress and begin to reclaim our nation. A Democratic majority will not bring back the eleven Jewish people in Pittsburgh, massacred while they prayed. Or the two Black people gunned down days before at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky. It won’t fully stop the relentless attacks against immigrants in America. But on Sunday evening, Pittsburgh mourners—angry and broken-hearted like us—chanted ‘Vote! Vote! Vote!’ They understand the magnitude of the midterm election six days from today: that it affords us the chance to forge a powerful bulwark against Donald Trump’s hate and hold accountable the Republicans who have been complicit in every step of his toxic, self-serving, and destructive agenda. We must offer a path out of the darkness….This is our chance to take action in solidarity with everyone whose lives are threatened by the hate-filled policies of Trump and the GOP,” she says. “Our chance to push back against white supremacist forces across our nation, against the xenophobes who are militarizing the border, against the bigots who seek to erase our transgender families, against the apologists for sexual assault and the Islamophobes who sow hate to divide us.”

I considered doing an ethics audit of this screed—remember, she’s supposed to be a rising star of the Democratic Party—but decided that any objective reader here is more than capable of doing so without any help from me. Res ipsa loquitur.

How should we characterize someone who would vote to give power to a candidate willing to sign such a message?

3.  By all means, let’s believe all female accusers...Judy Munro-Leighton, who as “Jane Doe” accused Brett Kavanaugh of rape in an email to Senator Kamala Harris, was treated as a credible accuser and caused the Judiciary Committee to question the SCOTUS nominee about her claims. Now she admits that it was all a partisan-driven lie.

Who suspected that?

She confessed to Committee investigators that she “just wanted to get attention” and that “it was a tactic.” She said she had called Congress during the Kavanaugh hearing process before the Blasey-Ford  accusation multiple times  to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination. Regarding the false sexual-assault allegation sent to the Committee through Harris, she said: “I was angry, and I sent it out.” Asked  whether she had ever met Judge Kavanaugh, she said: “Oh Lord, no.”

Her false rape allegations against Kavanaugh had exactly as much corroborating evidence as Blasey-Ford’s: none whatsoever. Yet, still, to this second, an astounding number of smart, reasonable Democrats, especially women, argue, and presumably believe, that such an accusation–in Blasey Ford’s case, one that is three decades old and dates from high school— should disqualify a man with an unblemished adult and professional reputation from high office. And they are indignant about it, too.

I don’t get it.

Reportedly, the Senate received over a thousand claims from women claiming that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted or harassed them.

The Senate has asked for criminal sanctions against Munro-Leighton.

Good. Continue reading

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Jake Tapper, Julia Ioffe And The Anatomy Of An Ethics Train Wreck

I can’t even keep track of the subordinate ethics train wrecks and sub-train wrecks emanating from the Biggest Ethics Train Wreck of  Them All, the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, wherein the furious defeated Democratic Party/progressive/NeverTrump/news media collective set out to undermine the new Presidency, and to overthrow the Presidency if possible. This forms the backdrop, wrote Liz Shield yesterday, for

“every aspect of public discourse on Trump and Trump-related matters..the news on the Pittsburgh synagogue slaughter falls into this category and the strongest narrative on the tragedy is that Trump inspired this/is responsible because he hates Jews/is antisemitic/didn’t condemn the white supremacists or whatever flimsy excuses the resistance needs to blame Trump. In reality, Trump is probably the most pro-Israel president the U.S. has ever had…Those of us who are not in the #resistance are getting lectured on toning down our rhetoric from left-wing hysterics shouting all kinds of slanderous and intemperate accusations…So I am supposed to believe that calling Trump supporters Nazis, white supremacists, sexists, and homophobes is just the right thing to do but Trump’s rhetoric is pouring gasoline on a burning fire of crazy activists? Or perhaps violence in the name of the leftist agenda is just fine? I think that’s it.”

I agree. That’s it indeed. The same is obviously true of the level of rhetoric. Violent, hateful, extreme rhetoric has been coming from the anti-Trump news media for two years, and there are a lot more of them than there are of him, which is one. It takes an immense amount of journalism gall and the assumption of public  gullibility for the news media to argue that the President has created a culture of hate. Says Fox’s Lone Conservative Comic Greg Guttfield, “You want hate? You spend two years calling a guy Hitler, a racist, a traitor, and insane — then you blame him for violence cuz of nicknames?”

No previous President has been attacked using such extreme rhetoric or would have, and no President who was would have survived it without defending himself while calling his critics what they were.

[ A brief digression on “enemy of the people.” President Trump once again described the news media as the enemies of the people. I have, reluctantly, concluded that the label is accurate and justified, and that the President is right in affixing it. This has horrified many here. I agree that calling a crucial democratic institution a public enemy is extreme and dangerous. However,

…More dangerous to a democracy still is a crucial democratic institution perverting its professional and institutional obligations and using its public trust to attack and undermine the democracy it exists to serve;

…That is what the mainstream news media has chosen to do, rejecting objectivity and independence for a hard partisan alliance, depriving the public of a fair and truthful account of events and developing issues;

… The absence of a trustworthy and functioning journalistic establishment will, in the long run and if uncorrected, render our democracy dysfunctional and inoperable, to the detriment of the American public and the world.

…Therefore this deliberate, reckless course threatens the people, and since there is no unbiased Fifth Estate to warn them, it falls to the only remaining democratic institution with the ability to do so to assume the task, the Presidency.

….”Enemy of the people” is a shocking and damning accusation, and its full power is essential if journalists are to realize that they are on a destructive oath.]

This adversary position does place any ethical journalist left standing in peril of perishing in the crossfire, and being run down by the various careering trains despite his or her best efforts. On CNN’s “The Lead With Jake Tapper”this week,  GQ magazine correspondent Julia Ioffe was joined by David Urban, Symone Sanders (who is a documented idiot and bigot) and Mona Charen on a panel to discuss the effects of combative rhetoric, primarily the President’s. CNN’s Don Lemon’s statement that “The president of the United States is racist,” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough assertion that “Even Albert Einstein may have ended up in a Nazi concentration camp with Donald Trump’s viewpoint on immigration,” and MSNBC’s Donnie Deutsch’s smear that “If you vote for Trump, then you the voter, you – not Donald Trump – are standing at the border like Nazis going ‘you here, you here!,” among others, were not discussed. Ioff, best known perhaps for being fired from Politico for suggesting that the President was having an incestuous relationship was his daughter (or in her words, was “fucking” Ivana), decided to compare the President of the United States to ISIS.
Continue reading

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How Can Anyone Honestly Defend Harvard’s Discriminatory Admissions Practices? Especially Harvard?

The federal trial that began last week in  Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, featuring  America’s oldest college being accused of discriminating against Asian-American applicants should, if there is justice in the world, both finally kill the lingering bigotry of college affirmative action policies and expose the U.S.’s most prestigious educational institution, and the ideological philosophy that has captured it, as the hypocritical and fraudulent entity that it is.  Does Harvard discriminate on the basis of race? Why yes, it does. There is no valid argument that it does not. Evidence shows that the college ties itself into logical knots concocting ways to justify not admitting Asian-American applicant who would sail into freshman classes were not their race used to undermine their candidacy. The plaintiffs cite reports that Harvard itself conducted  in 2013. The reports, by Harvard’s Office of Institutional Research, found that being Asian-American was negatively associated with being admitted. Harvard claims that it must consider race in order to have a “diverse” student body, which is important, it says, to the quality of education one can obtain there. “Diversity,” however is and has always been a rationalization for discrimination. No matter how affirmative action is framed, the fact is that it is a zero-sum game: for each individual whose race benefits their quest for admission, there is another individual whose race is used as a justification to reject him or her. There is no way of getting around this inconvenient fact, yet Harvard and other elite institutions persist in denying it.  Continue reading

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Observations On The Kanye West Episode

Writes Professor Turley:

“In one of the most bizarre (and frankly demeaning) moments for the White House, President Donald Trump invited Kanye West into the Oval Office for what became an unhinged and profane rave sessions in front of the world’s press. As with the high-level visits with a Kardashian to talk policy, these sessions have a freak show quality more fitting a reality show than the Oval Office. For anyone who reveres that office, West raving about how he is a “crazy motherf***er” is an utter disgrace.”

Meanwhile, back in the land of “nah, there there’s no mainstream media bias,” CNN was being pretty disgraceful itself. Leading up to the visit, Don Lemon hosted a segment on CNN Tonight that declared West to be “mentally ill,” ” the token negro of the Trump administration” and an “attention whore” showing the perils of  “what happens when negroes don’t read.”  Then, after West’s performance, Lemon went on Wolf Blitzer’s show and demonstrated what he considers a good rant:

“What I saw was a minstrel show him in front of all these white people — most white people — embarrassing himself and embarrassing Americans, but mostly African Americans because every one of them is sitting either at home or with their phones, watching this, cringing. I couldn’t even watch it. I had to turn the television off because it was so hard to watch. Him sitting there, being used by the President of the United States. The President of the United States exploiting him and expl — I don’t mean this in a disparaging way — exploiting someone who needs help, who needs to back away from the cameras, who needs to get off stage, who needs to deal with his issues and if anyone around him cares about him, the family that he mentioned today or whomever, his managers, maybe some other people who are in the music business who know him, they need to grab him, snatch him up and get Kanye together because Kanye needs help. And this has nothing to do with being liberal or a conservative. This has to do with honesty and we have to stop pretending, sitting here on these CNN panels or whatever network panels, and pretending like this is normal and let’s have this conversation about Kanye West. Who cares? Why are you sending cameras to the Oval Office for Kanye West? Did you send cameras to the Oval Office and carry it live when Common visited the White House? Common visited the White House and did a beautiful poem, spoken word, talked about how black people are kings and queens, how we need to rise up and do better. He didn’t disparage anybody. He didn’t speak in non-sequiturs. He didn’t do anything awful and, you know, the only people who criticized him, the only people who really covered it were Sean Hannity and his band of hypocrites who are now — who are now applauding Kanye West, the same people that many in that group called the n-word because of Taylor Swift and because of George Bush and now all of a sudden, he is the person who represents the African-American community? He doesn’t. We need to take the cameras away from Kanye and from a lot of this craziness that happens in the White House because it is not normal and we need to stop sitting here pretending that it’s normal. This was an embarrassment. Kanye’s mother is rolling over in her grave. I spoke to one of her friends today or texted with one of her friends today from Chicago. Donda’s friends. I used to live there. I know him. She said Donda would be — would be embarrassed by this. She would be terribly disturbed by this and Kanye has not been the same since his mother died. He kept talking today about oh, “I put the hat on and the hat made me feel strong and wearing a cape.” He needs a father figure. He needs someone to help him and to guide him and he needs a hug more than anything. Kanye, back away from the cameras. Go get some help and then come back and make your case. Nobody — if you want to be conservative, if you want to support Donald Trump, that is your business. But as you’re doing it, have some sense with it. Make sense. Educate yourself.”

Believe it or not, calling West a “token negro” and referring to his appearance as a “minstrel show” was not the lowest that CNN could go. After showing video of West animatedly discussing a variety of issues in the Oval Office (Note”: Fox News played only West’s coherent moments, CNN played exclusively his most bizarre), the CNN anchor went to its reliably unprofessional correspondent April Ryan, who was standing on the White House lawn. She immediately referred to singer Ray J during her analysis, saying, “I talked to someone who is very familiar with the Kardashians, or used to be, text messaging with Ray J. You know who Ray J is, he was once close with Kim Kardashian.”

Nice. The only reason anyone knows Ray J is because he made the infamous sex tape with West’s now-wife, Kim Kardashian, that launched the whole Kardashian phenomenon.

Asks Turley, “Is this seriously what CNN considers responsible journalism?”

Observations: Continue reading

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