Tag Archives: scandals

“Fuck Donald Trump!”

I was bemused to see a Sunday New York Times front page story described the White House as beset with “scandals.” Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with anything that qualified as a “scandal” applying the prior standards of ethical journalism, and especially if one considered the standards the news media applied to the Obama Administration. For reference purposes, the Obama White House manipulating the facts of the Benghazi raid to avoid accountability was not a scandal, it was a “nothingburger.”  The IRS, an executive agency under the authority of President Obama, deliberately and illegally sabotaging conservative groups to assist in Obama’s re-election wasn’t a scandal,  it was just “rogue employees.” Obama’s Justice Department surveilling a Fox journalist in defiance of the First Amendment wasn’t a scandal, because Fox News.

“Fast and Furious” wasn’t a scandal because the Attorney General who oversaw it said it wasn’t, and besides, the Justice Department was investigating itself, so all was well. Barack Obama repeatedly lying about what was in the health care bill that we had to pass to know what was in it wasn’t a scandal, it was just a slip of the tongue, over and over again. The same slip. Secretly trading five terrorists for a deserter whom the administration first described to the public as a soldier who “served the United States with honor and distinction” wasn’t a scandal because the mainstream media gave it a pass…and so on.

Firing someone a President has the power and right to fire and who was objectively untrustworthy  is not a scandal, nor is it a “crisis,”  no matter how many times reporters say it is. Alleged statements made by a President leaked by anonymous sources are not scandals, because they are alleged statements made by a President leaked by anonymous sources. A news media—led by two rival national newspapers trying to top each other by publishing breathless accounts of hearsay as if that is ever  evidence of anything—that has openly abandoned all ethical journalism standards and allied itself with a partisan effort to undermine and remove an elected President is a scandal, as well as a crisis. More on that one later.

The other scandal and crisis is the complete abdication of reason, responsibility, civility and sanity by the Democratic Party as it commits to satisfying the blood lust of its most hard-core and irrational supporters, by trying to unseat the President of the United States without the inconvenience of having to win an election. The latest ugly proof that this scandal is real came from California, where the state Democratic Party convention climaxed with outgoing party Chair John Burton extending two middle fingers in the air and leading a cheering throng in the chant,  “Fuck Donald Trump,” as Nancy Pelosi laughed it up in the crowd (as you can see in the photo.) Continue reading

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From The “Saint’s Excuse” Files:The Catholic Church, Penn State, and Now Choate…What Have We Learned?

Protect the hive. Always protect the hive…

The renowned private boarding school school Choate Rosemary Hall, alma mater of such luminaries as John Dos Passos, Edward Albee, Glenn Close, multiple Kennedys and dozens more of the rich, famous and powerful, , just revealed that at least twelve former teachers had sexually molested, and in one case, raped, students without the crimes being reported to police. The pattern continued over decades. In some cases, teachers were allowed to resign after being confronted with evidence of abuse, and administrators wrote still letters of recommendations for them after they were fired. The predators then went to other schools, sometimes in positions of power and authority.

After the similar institutional conduct revealed by the Catholic Church and Penn State, does anyone believe that this is a rare occurrence in institution, including the most prestigious—and virtuous!—ones? The lesson is that established, powerful, iconic institutions are programmed to protect themselves above others, and regard their own missions and continued vitality more precious than any single individual, even a child.

Revisiting one of the most important of the Ethics Alarms’ 92 rationalizations:

13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

This rationalization has probably caused more death and human suffering than any other. The words “it’s for a good cause” have been used to justify all sorts of lies, scams and mayhem. It is the downfall of the zealot, the true believer, and the passionate advocate that almost any action that supports “the Cause,’ whether it be liberty, religion, charity, or curing a plague, is seen as being justified by the inherent rightness of the ultimate goal. Thus Catholic Bishops protected child-molesting priests to protect the Church, and the American Red Cross used deceptive promotions to swell its blood supplies after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Saint’s Excuse  allows charities to strong-arm contributors, and advocacy groups to use lies and innuendo to savage ideological opponents. The Saint’s Excuse is that the ends justify the means, because the “saint” has decided that the ends are worth any price—especially when that price will have to be paid by someone else.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Education, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Religion and Philosophy

It’s Presidents Day! Our Special Guests: the 22nd and 24th Presidents, Grover Cleveland [UPDATED]

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Grover Cleveland has all sorts of unusual distinctions among the Presidents. (No, he wasn’t “normal,” either.)  He was one of several Presidents to drop a more prosaic first name for his less common middle one (like Grant, Wilson,  and Eisenhower). He was the second biggest President at over 250 pounds, and had the largest collar size. Despite his reputation for being a tough guy, Grover ended a string of Civil War heroes elected President by being the only POTUS who had paid a poor man to take his place in the Union army. That was legal, but it was not especially admirable.

Cleveland was one of only two bachelors elected President, and was the only one married in the White House (to a 21-year old beauty, the Melania of her day, who was less than half his age). Grover also lost the Presidency when he ran for re-election despite winning the popular vote, in the most similar election (1888) to our last one. This set up his most famous distinction, serving split terms, as he came back to beat President Harrison in 1892.

My favorite Cleveland tale is how the President pulled off the amazing feat of having part of his jaw removed and replaced with a rubber prosthetic without the public learning about it, by secretly having the operation performed on a yacht.

Ah, but all of these pale compared to his central role in the worst scandal ever to strike in a Presidential campaign, which he survived, incredibly, by telling the truth.

Or so we have been told.

Maybe not.

On July 21, 1884, a bit more than three months from the Presidential election, , the Republican Buffalo Evening Telegraph broke a story that seemed like it would determine who was to be President. Ten years earlier, a Buffalo woman named Maria Halpin had given birth to a son with the surname Cleveland, and then been taken to a mental asylum while the child was adopted by another family. The mother claimed that former Buffalo mayor and current New York Governor and Democratic Presidential nominee Grover Cleveland was the father.

In a remarkably quick display of candor, then or now,  Cleveland admitted that indeed he and  Halpin had been “illicitly acquainted,” and the son might indeed be his. As the only unmarried man among several Cleveland friends who, the campaign implied, may have “known” the woman,  Cleveland had claimed paternity and helped Halpin place the boy with a caring family. Still, this was the Victorian era, and the clergy, in particular, was disgusted.  “It seems to me that a leading question ought to be: do the American people want a common libertine for their president?”  wrote a preacher from Buffalo to the editor of the Chicago Tribune.

While Cleveland, whose nickname was “Grover the Good,” had sex problems, Maine Senator James G. Blaine, the Republican candidate, had been caught taking bribes. Why he was nominated with such a record of dishonesty and influence peddling, I will never understand. (No modern political party would do something that stupid, fortunately.) being able to use the catchy mocking anti-Cleveland chant, “Ma, ma, where’s my Pa?” was a godsend for the struggling Blaine campaign.

To make things worse for Grover, reporters tracked down Halpin, and her version of the relationship differed from the candidate’s in unpleasant ways. Days from the election, the Chicago Tribune quoted her as saying, darkly, “The circumstances under which my ruin was accomplished are too revolting on the part of Grover Cleveland to be made public.”

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The Trump Administration Is Treating The Mainstream Media As “The Opposition Party”? Good: That Is Exactly How It Has Been Behaving.

post-biasPresident Trump refused to give  MSNBC’s reporter a question  during yesterday’s press session with Benjamin Netanyahu,  so MSNBC’s Peter Alexander complained on the air later that the conservative journalists the President did call on didn’t ask “real questions” like he would have.  Of course, if anyone can find a single instance of Obama-bootlick MSNBC ever asking critical questions of President Obama, please pass it along.  MSNBC’s coverage of Trump’s presidency  began with dead-eyed Rachel Maddow intoning to her Angry Left audience that no, the election returns weren’t a nightmare, they were real. On  Inauguration Day, Maddow compared Trump’s election to “Hitler’s rise.”  Chris Matthews called the new President’s inaugural address  “Hitlerian,” and compared his family to the Romanovs. Nice.

The tone hasn’t softened. Yesterday, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” announced that Kellyanne Conway was banned from the show. Conway is an embarrassing and untrustworthy shill, but similar conduct did not provoke any news organization from banning,say, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose penchant for Jumbos in defense of the Obama administration should have guraranteed employment with Ringling Bros.

CNN reporters were similarly indignant. “In the last three news conferences, Wolf, all of the questions to the American news media have been handled by conservative press, and I think, Wolf, there’s no other way to describe it but the fix is in,” said Jim Accosta. What he means is the  mainstream media’s fix is being foiled, but never mind, Jim, stick to the battle plan. His network  ran a report about a pure rumor that the President had used the services of a prostitutes during a trip to Moscow. Actions have consequences.

Over at ABC,  Matthew Dowd  made the legally incompetent argument that by not calling on the news organizations that have declared war on his Presidency, embraced fake news and Big Lies, Trump is “shutting down” the First Amendment. ABC permitting outright false and misleading claims like that from its pundits is reason enough to stick it in the “junk journalism” pile. ABC, CNN, MSNBC and the rest are as free as birds to continue broadcasting their slanted coverage designed to bolster the Left’s efforts to frighten and anger the public and undermine the elected President. But no Bill of Rights provision requires the government to support the myth that biased journalists are trustworthy.

The media’s coverage of the Flynn resignation  was a disgrace for the mainstream media, a true orgy of bias and Trump paranoia.  MSNBC’s Hardball guests Tim Weiner and Malcolm Nance equated the speculated ties between the Trump administration/campaign and Russia to “the most politically charged counterintelligence investigation since the Soviets stole the secret of the atomic bomb.”Nance opined,

“I think that this scandal is unique in all of American history. This would be the equivalent of the British, you know, running Abraham Lincoln or actually funding Jefferson Davis to take over the United States. This is — there has never been anything like this!” 

Chris Matthews just nodded along. Even though this was an opinion (from guests he recruited to give it), a responsible host has an obligation to say, “I’m sorry, but that is a ridiculous and unfair comparison.” Matthews, back when he infuriated Democrats by occasionally being non-partisan, used to throw guests off his show for such fact-free slander. Continue reading

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The Flynn Fiasco: Flynn Doesn’t Understand That Ethics Thingee, And That’s Reason to Fire Him All By Itself

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From The Daily Caller:

In the final hours before his resignation, now-former White House National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn said he “crossed no lines” in his discussion with Russia’s ambassador, but ultimately he was most concerned about the steady stream of leaks to reporters based on classified information.

“In some of these cases, you’re talking about stuff that’s taken off of a classified system and given to a reporter. That’s a crime,” Flynn told The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group during a telephone interview from his White House office on Monday.

“You call them leaks. It’s a criminal act. This is a crime. It’s not just a wink and a nod,” Flynn said.

Signature significance: any time an official under fire claims that he”crossed no lines,” he or she is asserting The Compliance Dodge, Rationalization #6 on the list:

5. The Compliance Dodge.

Simply put, compliance with rules, including laws, isn’t the same as ethics. Compliance depends on an individual’s desire to avoid punishment. Ethical conduct arises from an individual’s genuine desire to do the right thing. The most unethical person in the world will comply if the punishment is stiff enough. But if he can do something unethical without breaking the rules, watch out!

No set of rules will apply in all situations, and one who is determined to look for loopholes in a set of laws, or rules, or in an ethics code, so that he or she can do something self-serving, dishonest, or dastardly, is likely to find a way…

In an earlier version of #6, this was called the Al Gore Dodge, in honor of then Vice-President Gore, who had been caught engaging in some of the slimy Clinton administration fundraising machinations, and  justified his conduct by arguing that “no controlling legal authority” prohibited what he did, which was to raise campaign funds  from his office in the White House. Flynn lied to the  current Vice-President and attempted to cover-up his conversation with the Russian ambassador. The FBI was spying on him at the time, which raises other issues. But even if the FBI’s surveillance was a part of a rogue operation by Sally Yates to take over the government and make Barack Obama King, it doesn’t change what Flynn did, or make his conduct any more acceptable. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Observations On The Michael Flynn Resignation

flynn

We woke up this morning to this…

Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, resigned on Monday night after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Flynn, who served in the job for less than a month, said he had given “incomplete information” regarding a telephone call he had with the ambassador in late December about American sanctions against Russia, weeks before President Trump’s inauguration. Mr. Flynn previously had denied that he had any substantive conversations with Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak, and Mr. Pence repeated that claim in television interviews as recently as this month.

But on Monday, a former administration official said the Justice Department warned the White House last month that Mr. Flynn had not been fully forthright about his conversations with the ambassador. As a result, the Justice Department feared that Mr. Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.

Ethics Observations:

1. Good. Good because it was evident from the beginning that this was a questionable appointment by Trump. Flynn is a hoax news addict and a well-established loose cannon.  Good also because  his removal was fast.

2. Naturally, the news media spin, since the idea is always to make the President look as bad as possible,  is that this is a record for short tenure. The previous administration stuck with demonstrably incompetent, corrupt or untrustworthy officials for months, years and in the case of Eric Holder, more than a full term after they had shown that they were liabilities. There is no honor in giving power to someone who is unqualified and unworthy like Flynn, but it vastly compounds the breach of duty to hesitate to fire them as soon as their disqualifications are known. In this respect, at least, the President’s CEO habits, and his fondness for saying, “You’re fired,” served him, and the American people, well.

3. Next up: learn to deal with such unpleasant situations without making them worse with lies, obfuscation and transparent deception. Kellyanne Conway yesterday said that Flynn had the President’s “full confidence,” an obvious lie from the second the words left her mouth. (Conway would be a good candidate for the next hook. Or Reince Priebus. Or Sean Spicer. Or Steve Miller. Or Rudy Giuliani….) Then Trump denied that he was aware of Flynn’s deceptions, even as contrary news reports were flashing. This is just incompetent, and there is no excuse for it. Admittedly, this President has no reputation for truth to shatter, but these Jumbos (“Elephant? What elephant? “) make a leader look stupid or contemptuous of the intelligence of the public. Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Jumbo, Leadership

Let Us Praise The Even-Handed Fact Checker

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Glenn Kessler, as I have noted before, tries. The primary Washington Post fact checker leans to the left, and often his biases get the better of him, but he tries. His bias showed up recently when he balked at directly calling the oft repeated propaganda that Obama had an administration that was “historically free of scandal,” the falsehood that it is, but I give him credit for touching the issue, which has become cant in his world of partisan loyalists. Kessler refused to give the claim a rating, saying that there were arguments for and against the proposition.

Kessler brushed up against reality when he wrote, “One thing that is apparent is that Obama has benefited from the fact that the independent counsel law lapsed in 1999, since in another era some of the controversies that have enveloped his administration might have resulted in an independent prosecutor.” Right. And that’s because there were many scandals—the IRS, Fast and Furious, Clinton’s e-mails, the Bowe Bergdahl exchange, the  pay-off for Iran hostages and its cover-up, the VA—that a complicit press didn’t pursue, and a political Justice Department allowed to fade away. Kessler’s job is to debunk false partisan narratives, and that’s is a whopper of one. He blinked.

He did come through last week with a post on Obama’s biggest lies, Four Pinocchios in Kessler-speak. And today, Kessler chose one of the many, many absurd assertions made at the Women’s March, by one of the truly embarrassing members of Congress. Maxine Waters (D-Ca), who said regarding Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos,

“What about that Betsy DeVos? A billionaire who he is picking to head Education who has never seen the inside of a classroom. She has no experience, she has no background. That’s dangerous for our children.”

Kessler takes the gloves off and not only festoons Waters with Pinocchios, he calls her statement “ridiculous,” which it is. Continue reading

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