Furious Ethics Catch-Up, 1/4/2022: “I’m Not Dead!” Edition

Well, there I was last night, showing my wife my favorite “Schoolhouse Rock” segment (“Interjections,” a Grammar Rock episode) and getting ready to post an evening ethics potpourri when the Disney Channel, which I only have because I wanted to see the “Get Back” documentary, kicked out. The snow storm’s aftermath had caused an outage in our phone and internet connection (at least we had power, and weren’t stuck on I-95 like hundreds of motorists in Northern Virginia were last night), and Comcast didn’t get everything back up until a few minutes ago. A totally lost day for ProEthics and Ethics Alarms, but the sage words of my friend Tom Fuller kept echoing in my brain like all the Tara lines coming back to Scarlet after Rhett walks out on her. “When you have no options, you have no problem,” Tom always says, and this was a classic example. We were snowed in, and had no communications (not even a newspaper since the second); might as well relax: Snow day!

I was able to get a head start on some items, at least. I apologize for the void…and for any comments marooned in moderation (as well as the inevitable mermaidmary comment unjustly spammed).

But at least I’m not dead.

[That’s the correct Mark Twain quote above, incidentally. He also said, “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”]

Continue reading

The Clinton Foundation’s Confession, (or) “Is The Public Really As Stupid As The Clintons Think It Is?”

stupidity1

Bill Clinton said last week that the Clinton Foundation would no longer accept foreign or corporate money and also that he would resign from its board should Hillary Clinton win the Presidency.

The logic of this, one assumes, is to allay any fears that President Hillary Clinton would allow access and influence to be purchased by foreign powers by contributing to a foundation that exists substantially to line the pockets of the three and to provide a foundation...but the other kind, not the non-profit kind—for Clinton power-brokering, career advancement and mutual back scratching.

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Allow me to pause for a brief expansion on that…

The New York Times, which really is good at telling the truth while deceiving its readers anyway, describes the Clinton Foundation as working “globally to combat AIDS/H.I.V., malaria, childhood obesity and climate change, and promotes women’s rights and other causes.” This is true, but it is also lying by omission, because it intentionally omits the shady side of the story. Here is how Jonathan Chait, as full-throated a Clinton booster as you can find in the pundit ranks, describes the Foundation:

“The purpose of the Clinton Foundation is to leverage Clinton fame into charitable donations. That purpose has important positive effects — shaking loose donations for AIDS prevention and training African farmers and other worthy causes. But it also has the unavoidable side effect of giving rich people a way to curry favor with a powerful elected official.”

Exactly. Perfectly stated, except that “giving rich people a way to curry favor with a powerful elected official” is a euphemism for “quid pro quo,” or better yet, bribery. It is unethical, and also illegal if you can prove it, which is generally hard to do, especially when the “contributions” are designated for worthy causes, though much of them somehow end up paying for the Clintons’ regal lifestyle. Chait’s uncritical assessment of this per se corruption is stated thusly:

“There’s a reason the term politician is synonymous with lying, calculation, and ambition — these are common qualities for politicians. The Clintons are common politicians, motivated in general by a desire to implement policy changes they think will make the world a better place, but not immune to trimming and getting rich in the process. None of their behavior is disqualifying, given the number of elected officials, presidents included, who have done the same”

Translation: “Everybody does it, but the Clintons are just better at doing it and getting rich in the process. Stop bitching.”

That Chait says that behaving this way isn’t disqualifying explains everything, including why the metastasizing  ethics rot in our government will slowly but surely result in the predatory elected official conduct common in Africa if the public doesn’t insist that it is disqualifying, and start recognizing ethically-hollow opinion makers like Chait for what they are…enablers and courtiers.

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Parenthetical discourse over; thank-you for your attention. Continue reading

Tales From The “Bias Makes Us Stupid” Files: Is It Possible That The News Media Really Thinks That Donald Trump’s Latest Stupid Blather Is More Newsworthy Than Hillary Trading State Department Favors For Foundation Contributions

Media bias

In a statement that is mindblowing for its shameless ethics ignorance, Slate editor Josh Voorhees wrote,

“The latest batch of State Department emails from Hillary Clinton’s tenure, released Tuesday, further highlights the occasionally overlapping interests between the agency and the Clinton Foundation. The messages, which don’t directly involve the Democratic nominee herself, aren’t going to overshadow Donald Trump’s ongoing self-immolation—nor should they—but they are worth a closer look.”

“Nor should they?”

Nor should they?

By what possible set of warped values could the latest inanity from a Presidential candidate who constantly says silly, inarticulate and ultimately meaningless things the second they pop into what we generously call “his brain,” be more worthy of public attention than revelations that the other candidate for President used her position in the State Department for the enrichment of herself and her family?

The former is a well-established idiot free-associator idiotically free-associating with the same results he always gets. Why is this news? It is only news because the news media, knowing well that Trump just utters  jokes, ad-libs, random observations, musings, insults and all sorts of other things that adults never say in public because his confused and disoriented fans enjoy them, intentionally treats them as serious statements of a serious person, when they know very well he is not. The latest of these is the Trump assertion that Obama is “literally” the “founder of ISIS.” It is as newsworthy as if Trump said “Obama is literally a tree frog.” OK, everyone knows this isn’t true, and that Trump is a babbling fool. Got it. Next? Yet this non-story gets absurd attention: like at ABC News, The National Memo, Business Insider, Fox News Insider, Politicus USA, Washington Post, Raw Story, The New Civil Rights MovementDaily Kos, The Times of Israel, CBS New York, RT, Balloon Juice, New York Magazine, Guardian, Independent Journal Review, Mother Jones, NBC News,and Mediaite.

Before that, it was media hysteria over Trump’s bizarre “Second Amendment people” crack being a crime, which Popehat neatly debunks here. Ken White’s  opening statement is also enlightening: “Donald Trump, against all advice and rumors of pivot, will continue to be Donald Trump.”

Exactly. Which means his continuing to say stuff that mature and responsible people don’t say is not legitimate front page news.

Ah, but it provides an excuse not to explain to the public how stunningly corrupt Hillary is and has been. That is the objective, and an biased and unethical objective it is. Continue reading

A Good Reason To Question Chris Christie’s Ethics

Thank you for that completely voluntary and generous contribution to the new ethics center at  my alma mater! You can leave your cell now."

Thank you for that completely voluntary and generous contribution to the new ethics center at my alma mater! You can leave your cell now.”

In a long report published in the Washington Post a week ago, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s conduct as a federal prosecutor was examined, under the headline, “Chris Christie’s long record of pushing boundaries, sparking controversy.” This is euphemistic, to say the least. What the report describes is clear-cut, undeniably unethical practices by Christie. They were arguably legal and technically permitted at the time (though no longer), but never mind: they were unethical, and would quickly set off the ethics alarms of any ethical lawyer or politician. For Christie, they did not.

I’ll focus only on the main practice in question. The Post’s Carol Morello and Carol D. Leonnig write,

“As the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey, Chris Christie struck an unusual deal with Bristol- Myers Squibb. In exchange for not charging the drugmaking giant with securities fraud, Christie’s office would require it to fund a professorship at Seton Hall University’s law school — Christie’s alma mater.The $5 million gift, one component of a larger agreement between the company and prosecutors, was hailed by the school, in South Orange, N.J., as a cornerstone of its new center on business ethics.”

Now there’s irony for you: a center on business ethics funded with an unethical gift from security fraudsters. For the passage above just as easily, and more accurately, might have read: Continue reading

The Not-So-Baffling Mystery of the Missing Ethics Rule

ABA  Model Rule 7.6: Political Contributions To Obtain Legal Engagements Or Appointments By Judges
A lawyer or law firm shall not accept a government legal engagement or an appointment by a judge if the lawyer or law firm makes a political contribution or solicits political contributions for the purpose of obtaining or being considered for that type of legal engagement or appointment.

That’s pretty clear, is it not? The American Bar Association, in its Model Rules of Professional Conduct, now followed (in various, eccentric forms, to be sure) by 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, emphatically declares that “pay-to-play” arrangements are unethical for lawyers even in states where the sleazy practice might be legal. “Pay-to play” is, after all, classic corruption, older than Mayor Curley, Richard Daley, Boss Tweed and Mister Potter. Lawyers contribute big bucks to the campaign funds of state and local powerbrokers, including Attorneys General and judges, and get big state contracts in return. It is indefensible ethically, although you can find plenty of people who will defend it, their tongues crossed tightly behind their backs all the while. Continue reading