WordPress doesn’t let me embed any videos but those on YouTube, so you will have to click on the link to see Bill Clinton, being grilled on “The Today Show,” access a basket of rationalizations to minimize his wrongdoing in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Co-author James Patterson (Bill is the latest neophyte novelist Patterson is teaming with for one of his cookie-cutter thrillers) even jumps in to add one.
I think I’ll leave it at that, and challenge Ethics Alarms Readers to identify the rationalizations Bill grasps at here. NBC’s Craig Morton should be commended for asking the tough questions, and not lobbing the softballs Bill expected.
The segment is here.
The Rationalization List is here.
*“The thing speaks for itself.”
(I am grimly soldiering on, despite the horrifying Red Sox loss to the Yankees last night. Duty calls...)
1 From the “Facts don’t matter to Trump, and facts don’t matter to Trump enemies” files:
1) The New York The Times reported that Secretary of State Pompeo was absent from Washington when Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of the nuclear deal with Iran, and framed it as a gaffe, headlining the story, “At a Key Moment, Trump’s Top Diplomat Is Again Thousands of Miles Away.” The paper knew why Pompeo was absent, though: he was heading to North Korea make sure that three imprisoned Americans got released and returned home without a hitch. The story under the accusatory headline said so. Pompeo also went to North Korea to arrange a date and venue for Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un. And, of course, Pompeo arriving with some of the benefits of Trump’s tough policy toward North Korea was an excellent backdrop for the Iran announcement.
Ethics verdict: bias and misrepresentation.
2) Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti included transactions by one or more Michael Cohens who have nothing to do with Donald Trump in a report Avenatti released about the President’s personal fixer’s alleged banking transactions. There are already questions being raised about how the lawyer acquired any banking records before legal discovery, but this is just rank incompetence.
3) Yesterday the President tweeted,
“The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success w”e are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?
Wow. What a mess that tweet is! Continue reading
Gloria Steinem + Bill Clinton+ Monica Lewinsky=Sauce Bearnaise, at least to me.
When I read that Gloria Steinem had boarded the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck —which she had helped start rolling when she tossed her alleged principles into the crapper to make excuses for Bill Clinton ; my favorite was when she shuffled off her previous position on inequalities of power making genuine consent impossible to say that every boss has a right to hit on a female subordinate once—I really didn’t want to revisit the topic. Her defense of Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal almost literally made me ill, and you know how Sauce Bearnaise syndrome works. (Don’t you?)
The aging feminist icon told The Guardian that she would not write the infamous May 22, 1998 New York Times column today, but that she does not regret writing the column then, because “What you write in one decade you don’t necessarily write in the next. But I’m glad I wrote it in that decade.” Translation: Outrageous hypocrisy you can get away with in one decade won’t always fly later.
Especially when it enabled two decades of sexual harassers, abusers and rapists with power who brutalized countless women, right, Gloria?
But Gloria’s credentials as an ethics corrupter needs to be renewed, and I am grateful to Jonathan Turley for taking the time when my queasy stomach couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t say it any better than the professor, who wrote in a blog post today (read the whole thing, here): Continue reading
Good Morning After…
1 Damn First Amendment! I’m hoping that everyone was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and missed it, but yesterady’s New York Time front page had very strange headline above the fold: “Using Freedom To Lead Attack On Gay Rights.” The online version was more descriptive of te tone of the article: “Fighting Gay Rights and Abortion With the First Amendment.” The article seeks to paint the Alliance Defending Freedom, which opposes policies that its members believe infringe on their right to live according to their religious beliefs, as sinister. By emphasizing the fact fact that the guarantees of the First Amendment aid and abet the dastardly objcetives of these horrible people, the Times appears—to me, anyway–to be questioning the First Amendment itself. Don’t all advocacy groups “use freedom” to argue for their positions? Doesn’t the New York Times fight the Republican Party and Donald Trump “with the First Amendment”? Yes, we have free speech in this country, at least until progressives acquire sufficient power to limit it, as their rhetoric increasingly portends. Where is the Times headline, “Progressive Use Freedom to Lead Attack on Liberty”?
From the article:
“We think that in a free society people who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman shouldn’t be coerced by the government to promote a different view of marriage,” said Jeremy Tedesco, a senior counsel and vice president of United States advocacy for the group, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz. “We have to figure out how to live in a society with pluralistic and diverse views.”
But civil liberties groups and gay rights advocates say that Alliance Defending Freedom’s arguments about religious liberty and free expression mask another motivation: a deep-seated belief that gay people are immoral and that no one should be forced to recognize them as ordinary members of society.
Oh, no doubt, the civil liberty groups are correct about that, but so what? Motives have never been the criteria whereby legitimate use of the First Amendment is measured and limited. Whether religious groups believe that LGBT individuals should not have the same rights as other citizens because they have been condemned by God, or whether they just think they are inherently icky, or whether they are inherently icky because they have been condemned by God, or whether they have been condemned by God because God thinks thet thinks they are inherently icky, part of the First Amendment states that they have a right to their beliefs, and another part says that they have a right to argue for those beliefs without government interference. Yup: they are dead wrong about gays (though not necessarily about abortion), just as the Times is wrong about many, many things. But implicating the First Amendment while attacking Alliance Defending Freedom’s positions is a dangerous game, and one more bit of evidence that a large swathe of the ideological Left regards the nation’s core principles of freedom or speech and religion as problems rather than blessings. Continue reading
This is the graphic the Times used above the Lewinsky op-ed. You didn’t know that the whole Clinton-Lewinsky scandal was staged by Roger Ailes, did you? Yes, it was all his fault. Really. And since he’s dead, this is the perfect time for the Times to say so.
In an New York Times op-ed prompted by the death of Fox News founder Roger Ailes, Monica Lewinsky demonstrates that she sees herself as a pathetic victim, and blames others for what happened to her after a President of the United States decided to indulge himself and use a star-struck White House intern as his sex toy. Yet Monica’s others barely include Bill Clinton (he is mentioned just once in her screed), who did victimize her. Instead, she is accusing Ailes and Matt Drudge, who committed the sin, Lewinsky implies, of preventing the mainstream news media from burying the story, as it was in the process of trying to do.
Monica’s attack on Ailes is just the latest in the hate-fest from the Left in reaction to his death. His primary crime, in their eyes, was interfering with the left-wing media’s ability to spin the news to recruit the public in uncritical and ignorant support of all things liberal. Many of the vicious tweets from reporters (When Al Sharpton stands out for being fair, you know something is amiss) focused on Ailes’s sexual harassment, but it is fair to assume that Clinton, another serial harasser, will not be memorialized by these critics in the same way. Ailes was a sexist, power-abusing pig, but these people work with and cover and vote for sexist power-abusing pigs all the time. They revile Ailes because he broke up their monopoly.
The Times can only have decided to publish Lewinsky’s jaw-droppingly obtuse and self-serving column as part of its own post-mortem smear of Ailes, even though it makes Monica look deluded and juvenile. Yes, she is being used again.
She writes in part: Continue reading
Former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers (D-Ark) has died at 90, and his obituaries respectfully note his successful political career that led him to the Arkansas State House as well as Washington, D.C. His death is nicely timed with the re-emergence, thanks to Donald Trump and Bill Cosby, of scrutiny of Bill Clinton’s proclivities as a sexual predator. Bumpers played a key role in not only allowing Clinton to escape accountability for that reprehensible conduct and other conduct required for him to continue it, but also in corrupting the Presidency, the public and the nation.
Good job, Senator. Sorry you’re dead, but now, while you are briefly back in the public eye, is the time to be clear about your legacy.
On January 21, 1999, late in the Clinton impeachment proceedings on the Senate floor, recently retired Senator Dale Bumpers took center stage to defend his fellow Arkansas Democrat as he fought for his political life. The fact that Bumpers was allowed to make such a speech proved that the proceedings were rigged, and were nothing but partisan theater. I don’t think Chief Justice Rehnquist, who supposedly presided over the impeachment “trial,” should have allowed Bumpers to speak; maybe the Chief Justice had to: I am unclear on whether he could have acted like a judge if he wanted to. Bumpers was not then a member of the body, and he introduced no evidence. Indeed, his entire function was to mischaracterize the issues, confuse the public, and remind his Democratic colleagues that their first duty was to the party rather than the nation.
That being the case, he did his job well.
Reading the transcript of his speech again for the first time in over a decade, I was struck at how terrible—cynical, misleading, dishonest—it was. The speech essentially distilled all of the rationalizations and excuses, repeated ad nauseum by Lanny Davis and others on cable TV since the Monica Lewinsky scandal had broken, into a credible imitation of a sincere, non-partisan appeal by an elder statesman. Masterful it was; it was also rotten to the core. Continue reading
Jethro Gibbs, the hero of CBS’s long-running hit procedural drama NCIS, enlightens his charges with “Gibbs’ Rules.” As I have mentioned before, I like Gibbs’ Rules, but one of them is almost always dead wrong. The most cited of the rules is #6: “Never apologize — It’s a sign of weakness,” a rule that Gibbs and the show’s writers borrowed from John Wayne’s character in “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.” ( “Never apologize, mister, it. It’s a sign of weakness.”). Sincerely apologizing for genuine harm, mistakes or misconduct is not weakness, but a sign of character, accountability, honesty, courage, respect and fairness.
Hillary Clinton doesn’t believe in accountability, honesty, courage, respect and fairness, so it’s not surprising that she never apologizes. Neither does Donald Trump. It’s a clanging, earsplitting ethics alarm for anyone seeking a leader, for this means that they do not have the integrity or decency to admit genuine wrongdoing, and seek instead to maintain the illusion that they are infallible. It is even possible that they are in the throes of Rationalization #14, Self-validating Virtue, the mark of narcissists. Refusing to apologize is a terrible sign for a leader, a manager, even a friend.
Out of this ominous character flaw has come one of the most remarkable non-apologies in decades. When prompted by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell to apologize for her mishandling—her intentional mishandling, remember— of the e-mails she sent and received while Secretary of State, the Remarkable, Astounding, Ethics-Defying Candidate Hillary Clinton told her…
“At the end of the day, I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions, but there are answers to all these questions.And I take responsibility, and it wasn’t the best choice.”
Sound the trumpets and summon the sculptors! That is an unethical non apology for the ages: Continue reading
Under that bus is Monica Lewinsky, and it wasn’t Matt Drudge who threw her there.
It truly pains me to have to write anything negative about Monica, who was exploited and humiliated by a President of the United States, and had her life permanently derailed because she trusted and even loved a rogue who regarded her as little more than an animated sex toy. Her re-emergence now, however—yes it is sad and desperate and makes me furious at Bill Clinton all over again—in the new guise of a “cyber-bullying” victim is intolerable, a delusion on multiple levels, despicable blame-shifting, and a welcome weasel-out of-accountability-free card for the Clintons. Yeccch.
I’m sorry for what happened to you, Monica, but you’re 40 now: it’s time to start seeing life more clearly—especially your own and the reasons why you are in the mess you are.
“Overnight, I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one. I was Patient Zero,” Lewinsky said in a speech Monday to Forbes’s Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia. “The first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet.”
It has to take a near-fatal injection of self-serving historical air-brushing for the ex-intern to say this with a straight face, and it tells us volumes about the audience that it didn’t start throwing tomatoes:
- She wasn’t a “completely private figure.” She was a woman having a sexual affair with the President of the United States while he lied about it—to his wife, his staff, and under oath (I haven’t covered all of the lying, either.) That makes her an individual who is engaged in conduct with tremendous public and official consequences who is only “private” because a powerful official is using his power to make it so. The proper term is “inevitable public figure waiting for the dam to break.”
- The reason for her humiliation was and is William Jefferson Clinton, and no other. He is the one who described her as “that woman,” while denying what was true. He is the one who made his relationship with her part of a legal record while he was trying to avoid the consequences of another “bimbo eruption,” as his long-time “fixer” liked to call them.
One of the Washington Post’s rare conservative columnists has a solution for GOP candidates and office holders whose views on some subjects are likely to make them targets of furious criticism: refuse to express them. She writes in her latest column:
“Not everything is a political issue, nor one on which politicians have any particular insight. Candidates are not asked their views on divorce, for example. Each state has laws on the topic, and one’s religious views aren’t a topic for public debate. It is not (and shouldn’t be) asked of nor answered by politicians…Creationism? Unless you are running for school board and intend to be guided by your religious convictions, it does not matter. Born again? None of my business.
“…[Q]uestions about creationism, gay marriage, the nature of homosexuality and other value-specific questions serve no purpose other than to provide targets for faux outrage. These questions are designed to divide the population into believers and nonbelievers, between those who share the same cultural touchstones and those who differ.
“If a topic has no relevance to public policy or character or fitness to serve, why ask the question and why answer it? We aren’t electing pastors, family counselors or philosophers; we’re electing politicians whose job description and qualifications don’t include a great many topics. If we are heading for a more tolerant society, we have to agree to disagree on some issues and to respect some realm of private opinion and faith. For Republicans running in 2016, I would suggest a simple response to the sort of question intended to provoke divisiveness over irrelevant topics: “I can’t think of a single instance in which [creationism/the origin of homosexuality] would be relevant. I’m not here to sow division or take sides in faith-based debates. Let’s talk about something germane to the presidency.”
Incredibly wrong. Continue reading
In a—oh, hell, I’m out of adjectives to describe “This is so ridiculous it makes me want to throw myself into a woodchipper”—move that will transform U.S. culture, the White House has pioneered a new and refreshingly simple way for wrongdoers and law-breakers to take responsibility for their misconduct.
Just say, “I forgot to obey the law. Sorry!” Let’s call it the “Oopsie!” Doctrine.
Yes, this is how the White House bravely owned up to intentionally violating the statute, the National Defense Authorization Act, that requires the Executive Branch to alert Congress of the pending release of prisoners from Guantanamo at least 30 days in advance. Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken called Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to officially say that the White House was sorry it failed to alert her, and therefore Congress, in advance of a decision to release five Taliban prisoners from the prison in Guantanamo in exchange for American deserter, and quite possible traitor, Bowe Bergdahl. The Obama Administration is calling this “an oversight.”
That’s right. The White House breaking the law is an oversight. Never mind that the President was well aware of this particular law, having stated that he regarded it as unconstitutional when he signed it. It was an oversight! None of the foreign policy experts and advisors, neither the Secretary of State or Defense or all their little deputies, nor the hoards of lawyers that Defense, State and the White House employ, remembered that there was a little matter of a relatively recent law that had to be followed in cases like this one. They all missed it, had a brain fart, whiffed, were day-dreaming, took their eye off the ball, goofed, tripped up, pulled a boner. It can happen to anyone! Continue reading