Mark Of The Demagogue: The Ignorant And Dishonest Appeals To Emma Lazarus

Friends and followers: Don’t let anyone get away with this. Using “The New Colossus,” the 1883 poem that appears on the Statue of Liberty as authority in any current debate over national policy is either fatuous, ignorant, dishonest, stupid, or a cynical effort to appeal to the emotions of those who have no grasp of history or logic.

There is are periodic outbreaks of silly Lazerus worship every now and then, and we’re in the middle of another one. Indignant memes showing Lady Liberty and some or all of Emma’s one hit poem are popping up all over social media. Anyone who posts one is either an ignoramus, a liar, or shamelessly trying to suck up to progressive friends who are dishonest and ignorant, hoping that nobody will notice. I notice, and so should you. Call them on it. Appealing to the words of “The New Colussus” is approximately as  valid as extolling the words of “Imagine,” “Jabberwocky,” or “Me So Horny.” Anyone who tries it should be mocked and shamed.

The Trump administration issued a final rule yesterday empowering federal officials to deny green cards to legal immigrants who have received certain public benefits or who are deemed likely to do so in the future. Good. This is sensible and responsible policy, and while polls are inaccurate and the public doesn’t understand what it says it approves or disapproves of much of the time, it is also policy about 3/4 of the public seems to agree with.

Of course, Democrats are calling it “racist,” since anything that the Trump administration does is racist. The negative stereotype of the immigrant who dashes to the welfare office the second he becomes a citizen has been around for decades…

but Americans don’t find the behavior funny, and should not. Expecting new Americans given the privilege of using our individual liberties to succeed to the extent their abilities, creativity and diligence will take them to be self-sufficient is completely reasonable and responsible. It also is 100% consistent with the expectations when Emma Lazarus wrote her poem. There was no welfare, public housing, food stamps or other public assistance waiting for those  tired,  poor,  huddled masses yearning to breathe free. There was just the air to breathe free, and the opportunity to succeed or fail. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Virginia Democratic Lieutenant Governor Candidate Ralph Northam

Democratic Party candidate Ralph Northam cannot possibly lose the Virginia Lieutenant Governor race today; in fact, he should win by a landslide. His Republican opponent, African-American minister E. W. Jackson, is so conservative he makes his running mate, gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, look like Saul Alinsky, and I’m only exaggerating a little bit. From the pulpit, he has made statements that sound like they were ghosted by Pat Robertson in one of his crazy moods, like when he seemed to be suggesting that children with birth defects were being punished for their parents sins. Jackson doesn’t believe in evolution, thinks that government programs have done more harm to blacks than slavery, and could fairly be described as homophobic.

Still, he is a citizen, a candidate and a human being, so when he offered his hand to his soon-to-be victorious opponent Northam following a TV debate, there was only one decent, civil, ethical, statesmanlike response for Northam: take it, and shake it. That is traditional, civilized, and polite, and for Northam to do what he chose to do instead—ignore Jackson and his hand and snub the Republican, refusing even to look him in the eye—on live TV, no less!— shows him to be an arrogant, unmannered, uncivil jerk of the breed that has brought American politics, government and discourse to a new low. Continue reading

The Associated Press And The Scandal That Wasn’t

It was tough giving my dog the bad news that the AP had screwed up...

It was tough giving my dog the bad news that the AP had screwed up…

Over the local evening news came a stunning report: Terry McAuliffe the Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia, where I vote and make my home, had been accused in federal documents of lying to investigators checking the facts behind a Rhode Island death benefits scheme. Confirmation bias being what it is, I had no trouble giving the report full credence ( I long ago concluded that McAuliffe is sleazy and will lie whenever there is a perceived up-side for him, though I never thought he was stupid), and informed my dog, Rugby, for whom I am organizing a write-in campaign, that his chances of being Governor were looking up. Then, less than two hours later, I was preparing to write about this latest development in the most ethics-free governor’s race in the country, and checked online for more details. I discovered only this:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) The Associated Press has withdrawn its story about documents in a federal fraud case alleging that Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe lied to a federal official investigating a death benefits scheme. The indictment did not identify McAuliffe as the “T.M.” who allegedly lied to investigators.

Wait…how could this happen? How could the Associated Press, the nation’s premiere news agency, essentially accuse a candidate for high office in a highly contested election of a felony less than a month before votes are cast, just in time for the story to be the lead story all over the state in question, and then withdraw it shortly thereafter? Don’t tell me about “mistakes”: the AP and the profession of journalism have standards and procedures of long-standing that, if followed diligently, ensure that this never happens. Facts must be checked and confirmed by reliable sources. Supposition must not be stated as truth. Here is the AP’s distillation of its ethical framework: Continue reading

Vote Rugby Marshall For Governor Of Virginia: It’s The Right Thing To Do!

That's Rugby on the right...

That’s Rugby on the right…

Periodically,  the same contentious argument breaks out on Ethics Alarms after I assert my position that voters should support the candidate who is the most honest and trustworthy–the one with the most ethical character—regardless of his or her policy positions. My argument is bolstered when someone like Anthony Weiner—and fortunately there aren’t many candidates like him—  runs for office on the extreme opposite concept, that even demonstrably horrible character and dubious trustworthiness are irrelevant as long as a candidate holds the right policy views. He was just clobbered in his quest for NY mayor, getting just 5% of the vote, every one of them cast by a lunatic, porn star, mental defective or ethics dunce.  I doubt that his wife voted for him. Client #9. Eliot Spitzer, also lost in his race for Controller…and he is like Weiner.

My position is shaken when faced with a fiasco like Virginia governor’s race, where a proven huckster, Terry McAuliffe, is carrying the Democratic banner and Ken Cuccinelli is the Republican choice. (I live in Virginia.) That McAuliffe is corrupt to the core, like his pals, the Clintons, there is no doubt. He is pure Machiavelli, and worse, he is gleeful about it, like his pal Bill, but without the charisma. I learned all I needed to about McAuliffe’s character when I learned that he tried to bribe Ralph Nader to drop out of the 2000 Presidential race, but that was hardly the only evidence. Virginia Democrats disgraced themselves by nominating him. I wrote about his public dissembling here and here; I didn’t even go into his dubious financial dealings andthe strange way —well, if you think cronyism is strange— he got rich investing in Global Crossing—as I said, the sliminess of his character has never been in doubt.

Cuccinelli, however, is worse: he’s just unethical in different ways. Continue reading

Wanetta Gibson, Elizabeth Paige Coast, Chaneya Kelly, Cassandra Kennedy and the Alkon Formula: How Should We Punish False Rape Victims?

Coast: How much compassion does she deserve?

Coast: How much compassion does she deserve?

Commenting on the case of Elizabeth Paige Coast, a Virginia woman who finally came forward last year to confess that in 2008 she had falsely accused Johnathan C. Montgomery, a former neighbor, of raping her in 2000 when she was 10 years old and he was 14, advice columnist and blogger Amy Alkorn proposes this sentencing formula:

“I feel strongly that those who falsely accuse someone of rape should spend the amount of time incarcerated that the person they falsely accused would have.”

Coast’s victim was convicted of rape and  spent four years in jail as a result of her lies. As for Coast, she was recently sentenced by Hampton Circuit Court Judge Bonnie L. Jones to only two months in jail, plus being required to pay Montgomery $90,000 in restitution for de-railing his life. The judge suspended the rest of a five-year sentence, and is allowing Coast to serve the remainder on weekends so not to unduly disrupt her life.

Coast’s lawyer had argued any jailing would send the wrong message to others who lie about false rapes. The prosecutor, agreeing with Alkon, asked for a 10-year sentence with six years suspended so she would serve the same length of time as Montgomery. It seems the judge agreed with the defense more than Alkon. I think Alkon is closer to the mark, but if we make the punishment for recanting rape accusers too severe, it is probably going to mean that some in Coast’s position will choose to let their victim rot and just live with a guilty conscience. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Jonathan Montgomery: Victimized By An Unethical Tag Team Of A Vicious Teenager And An Officious Attorney General”

catch-22Reader John Robins provides additional, and depressing, perspective on the Montgomery case, discussed in today’s post, Jonathan Montgomery: Victimized By An Unethical Tag Team Of A Vicious Teenager And An Officious Attorney General. Here is his Comment of the Day:

“It gets worse than this, actually. Although everybody acknowledges that Montgomery is innocent, he must still report to a probation officer and must register as a sex offender until the Virginia Court of Appeals grinds its way through the Petition for Writ of Actual Innocence, which may take several months, and is being handled by the Innocence Project out of D.C. I know what went on in this case and what happened because my office was involved in the defense. Continue reading

Jonathan Montgomery: Victimized By An Unethical Tag Team Of A Vicious Teenager And An Officious Attorney General

What now qualifies as a rising star in the Virginia GOP.

Atty. Gen. Cuccinelli: What now qualifies as a rising star in the Virginia GOP.

Jonathan Montgomery was recently pardoned by Virginia Governor Bob McDonald for a rape he never committed. This inherent contradiction—“We know you’re innocent, and we forgive you” —was made necessary by a sequence of events that could have been devised by Kafka, Stephen King or Mel Brooks, but unfortunately really happened. They happened because of two individuals who were absent the day basic ethics were handed out.

First and foremost in this wing of the Hall of Ethics Shame was Elizabeth Paige Coast, from the Tawana Brawley school of sociopathy.  When she was a teenager in 2007, her parents caught her surfing internet porn. To deflect their anger and avoid punishment, she concocted a story about how her sex drive had been addled as a result of being sexually molested when she was ten by a neighbor hood 14-year-old, Montgomery. She thought, since his family had moved away, that nothing would happen to him. Wrong. He was arrested and she testified against him to avoid telling the truth to her parents, putting him in jail for four years before she finally decided to recant her accusation. We are told that she has been charged with one count of perjury, and was fired from her job with the police department. Not enough, not by a long shot.

Then Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli decided to pick up where Coast left off. Continue reading