Which Rationalization Will Apologists And Enablers Of The Biden Administration Settle On To Spin The Afghanistan Disaster?

georgeclooney

The nominations are all in, and boy, there are a lot of them! Before we open the envelope, here are the contenders:

#1A. Ethics Surrender, or “We can’t stop it.”

#1B. The Psychic Historian, or “I’m on The Right Side Of History”

#2A. Sicilian Ethics, or “They had it coming”

#8A. The Dead Horse-Beater’s Dodge, or “This can’t make things any worse”

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

#13A  The Road To Hell, or “I meant well” (“I didn’t mean any harm!”)

#15. The Futility Illusion:  “If I don’t do it, somebody else will.”

#18. Hamm’s Excuse: “It wasn’t my fault.”

#19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.”

#19 B. Murkowski’s Lament, or “It was a difficult decision.”

#22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”

#23. The Dealer’s Excuse. or “I’m just giving the people what they want!”

#25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!”

#28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”

#29A  The Gruber Variation, or “They are too stupid to know what’s good for them”

#31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now”

#36. Victim Blindness, or “They/He/She/ You should have seen it coming.”

#37. The Maladroit’s Diversion, or “Nobody said it would be easy!”

#38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!”

#40. The Desperation Dodge or “I’ll do anything!”

#41. The Evasive Tautology, or “It is what it is.”

#49. Ethics Jiu Jitsu, or “Haters Gonna Hate!”

#50. “Convenient Futility,” or “It wouldn’t have mattered if I had done the right thing.”

#51. The Apathy Defense, or “Nobody Cares.”

#51A.  Narcissist Ethics , or “I don’t care”

#52.  The Underwood Maneuver, or “That’s in the past.”

#54. Tessio’s Excuse, or “It’s just business”

#58. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!”

#60. The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do”

#64. Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is”

#69. John Lyly’s Rationalization, Or “All’s fair in love and war”

Some of these have been evoked by Joe Biden directly, others by his desperate defenders. I will not hold you in necessary suspense: the Unethical Rationalization settled upon by the defenders of the completely botched abandonment of Afghanistan, all of its people who relied on our commitment to their sorrow, and the so far undetermined number of Americans currently trapped in the country is…

50. “Convenient Futility,” or It wouldn’t have mattered if I had done the right thing.”

The description on the list reads,

“One of the more pathetic excuses incompetent and negligent individuals try to employ when they have made bad decisions with disastrous results is to argue that a better decision would have not made any difference, so, by implication, it wasn’t such a bad decision after all. It may or may not be the case that the irresponsible or incompetent decision wasn’t the only reason for the related harm, or that other decisions would have turned out just as badly.  That, however, is convenient speculation. If the decision was demonstrably careless, ill-advised, poorly reasoned or foolish and bad consequences follow, the decision-maker is accountable.

“#50 is the reverse of hindsight bias, in which a decision is second-guessed by critics based on information the decision-maker couldn’t have had when the decision was made. With Convenient Futility, the argument is that unknown and untested approaches to the problem or situation other than the one that was used couldn’t have been any more effective. It’s an air-tight, all purpose excuse, reflecting back on Rationalization #8, “No harm, no foul,” as in “OK, it was a bad decision, but since everything would have fallen apart no matter what, it’s no big deal!”

“The rationalization confounds law and ethics. I was once on the jury for a medical negligence lawsuit in which a woman was suing a doctor for causing her to go blind by giving her an incompetent diagnosis. The doctor’s defense was that she would have lost her sight anyway because she didn’t follow the treatment prescribed by another doctor. That defense worked: he wasn’t legally responsible for her blindness due to an intervening cause. Nevertheless, the doctor was still an incompetent, dangerous doctor. He was just lucky that his ineptitude didn’t blind her.

“It wouldn’t have mattered because the same thing might have happened even if I was competent‘ is still an admission of incompetence.

“Like many of the rationalizations on the list, #50 is sometimes fair and true. Those in charge are often held responsible for events that nobody could have foreseen or prevented. That, in part, is what makes the rationalization so useful for a failed decision-maker desperately searching for an excuse.”

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So The New White House Press Secretary’s Pledge To Bring “Truth And Transparency Back To The Briefing Room” Lasts One Day!

Jen Psaki

In her very first press conference, new Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that when Joe Biden asked her to do the job, they talked of the “importance of bringing truth and transparency back to the briefing room.” Later she added, “If the president were standing with me here today, he would say he works for the American, I work for him, so I also work for the American people. So his objective and his commitment is to bring transparency and truth back to government, to share the truth even when it is hard to hear, and that is something I hope to deliver on as well.”

What a nice speech! And I would be shocked if a single member of the press corps didn’t know it was utter, complete, transparent bull shit. It did give various news sources an opening for another cheap shot against President Trump, because HIS press secretaries were always spinning and obfuscating. Not Jen! SHE worked for an honest President, so she will always be honest.

This was a stupid, stupid thing for Psaki to say. As Ethics Alarms has noted through two administrations and seven Presidential mouthpieces, these are paid liars. That’s their job. It’s a somewhat easier job when the news media is devoted to giving the boss a pass, as it was with Obama and now again with Biden, but even then, press secretaries are seldom transparent and often untruthful. All of them. In fact, Psaki was lying when she said she was going to be transparent and truthful, so she broke her pledge on Day One.

Day Two, however, was hilarious, or cruel, or perfect, depending on your orientation.

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Evening Ethics Exorcism, 12/2/2020: Boy, I Hate Thinking About This Stuff Before Bed…

pazuzzu

1. This is too stupid to devote a post to, but too stupid to ignore. Some group of wackos calling itself the We the People Convention is advocating that President Trump invoke “limited martial law” and hold a new election by fiat. The group somehow scraped up the money to call for this in a full page Washington Times ad, not that the Times is a particularly prominent newspaper, but it is a conservative one, which I guess is why they thought it was okay to accept money for such junk. It isn’t.

As for the WTPC’s argument, it is based on bad history, bad law, and bad thinking. The press release “explains”:

The Ad compares the Extraordinary Executive actions implemented by President Abraham Lincoln in his efforts to save the Union during the Civil War and the literal civil war that is dividing our nation today. Without full confidence that our courts or Congress will indeed follow the 12th Amendment of the Constitution and defend our electoral process, the ad calls upon President Trump, like Lincoln, to exercise the Extraordinary Powers of his office and declare limited Martial Law to temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections in order to have the military implement a national re-vote that reflects the true will of the people.

Cue “Murder by Death”:

What the ad and petition are arguing for is wildly unconstitutional. Lincoln’s various excesses were also unconstitutional and among the most serious abuses of Presidential power in our history, but at least he had an actual Civil War to deal with. There is not, obviously, any “literal” civil war today. If something as unprecedented and nationally disrupting as a voided election and a do-over is going to happen (it won’t), it would have to occur through the courts, which is to say, through the rule of law.

The ridiculous, offensive, reckless and foolish suggestion would have probably received the scant attention it deserved had not, if what I have seem reported is correct, recently-pardoned Mike Flynn and pro-Trump lawyer Linn Wood, who looks and sounds more like Michael Avenatti every day, publicly endorsed it. (Wood is not a member of the Trump legal team, incidentally, though I keep seeing that reported.)

Well, shame on them both, but Flynn is a notorious loose cannon, and Wood, well, is Wood. Their approval won’t make the petition any less ridiculous, and their poor judgement reflects badly on nobody but themselves.

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Great: Watching TV Made My Head Explode TWICE, And It’s Not Even 10 AM Yet…

Head explosion #1: On HDL, Robin Meade happily (she says everything happily) told us that there were peaceful demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin yesterday…although some buildings were set on fire in the evening, and police tear-gassed “demonstrators.”

KABOOM!

  • I don’t know who thought up the “mostly peaceful” demonstration deceit, but any protest or demonstration that results in attacks on police, looting, rock-throwing or arson is a riot. Calling a demonstration that involves law-breaking and violence “mostly peaceful” is like calling Jack the Ripper “mostly law-abiding.”

It’s spin instead of reporting.

  • Oh! It was those horrible police who were violent!  The implication that tear gas is per se proof of police brutality is an old Alinskyesque trope going back to campus riots in the Sixties, and is, to be blunt, garbage. Tear gas  is a riot control tool, and “mostly peaceful demonstrators” without permits who do not obey police orders to disperse should be gassed, ideally before they start setting fires.

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Addendum: “Now THIS Is “Condign Justice”: The Democrats’ Hypocrisy And Bill Clinton’s Massage”

The Clinton spin machine is already trying to minimize the significance of the photo of Bill Clinton being massaged by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex slaves, which surfaced just as Clinton was about to speak at the  virtual Democratic National Convention. That spin machine is damn good—after all, it was taught by the best. The narrative, however, is the equivalent of throwing dust in the eyes of observers while they are being blasted by a fog machine.

Here is the current “it depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is” deceit from Clinton’s lackeys, which was kindly provided by a commenter:

  • The woman who was giving him the massage in the photo was 22 years old at the time, not underage.
  • She really was a trained massage therapist.
  • The photo was taken in a public place — an airport — during a trip to Africa for a humanitarian mission, not to Jeffrey Epstein’s pedophile island.
  • Clinton was in the company of several celebrities “who have never been accused of wrongdoing” who believed they were taking part in a genuine charitable event.
  • According to the masseuse, Clinton was charming and sweet and did nothing inappropriate during the trip.

I wrote the following in response, which Zanshin, another veteran commenter, proprly suggests should be buried in the comments, which, sadly, a lot of readers ignore. I’ve edited it slightly: Continue reading

Senator Kaine’s Slavery Speech: A Farce In Four Acts

ACT I

During Senator Tim Kaine’s remarks yesterday on the Senate floor (actually, since this post concerns the use of words and accountability thereof, I guess I should clarify: he wasn’t speaking about the floor. Nobody talks about the floor in the Senate) as the Virginia Democrat addressed the issue of police department accountability , he uttered this remarkable passage:

“The first African Americans sent into the English colonies came to Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619. They were slaves. They had been captured against their will. But they landed in colonies that didn’t have slavery. There were no laws about slavery in the colonies at that time. The United States didn’t inherit slavery from anybody. We created it. It got created by the Virginia General Assembly and the legislatures of other states. It got created by the court systems in colonial America,We created it.”

“We” did not “create” slavery. There is no rational dispute on this point. Even if Kaine was  saying that Virginia, his state, created slavery, that’s not true either. The colony of Virginia is not “we”: it is not the state of Virginia, and it is not the United States of America. “We” used here is transparent white guilt peddling by Kaine, and it is inaccurate.

That transgression, however pales by contrast to the head-scratching statement that “we” created slavery. Of course the United States didn’t create slavery: slavery existed before the United States did. (Nor did slavery create the United States, which is the discredited and intellectually dishonest thesis of the New York Times’ “1619 Project.” which somehow won a Pulitzer Prize for its “creator,” Nikole Hannah-Jones , who, like Kaine, was just making stuff up.) The United States certainly did inherit slavery from somebody (that makes two words in this bizarre passage that Kaine either deliberately misapplies or doesn’t know what they mean): the U.S. inherited slavery from the colonies, which had inherited them from Great Britain.

In the 17th century, the British colonists (and the colonists of other European nations)  used African slaves in North America rather than  European indentured servants. Althoughit didn’t “create” slavery either, Spain, not “we,” probably deserves credit for introducing (but still not “creating”) the commerce of slavery in the Americas. (Native Americans practiced slavery long before Europeans arrived.) Historians estimate approximately 6 million to 7 million enslaved people were taken to North America before the United States’ founding. Inherit, the description that Kaine rejects, is an apt word: the colonies inherited slavery from its European owners.

It’s not unfair to expect a U.S. Senator from Virginia to be familiar with the Declaration of Independence. Why did Thomas Jefferson, who authored the first draft of the the founding document,  condemn King George III over England’s participation in the slave trade if his own colony “created it”? Tom wrote,

“He has waged cruel War against human Nature itself, violating its most sacred Rights of Life and Liberty in the Persons of a distant People who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into Slavery in another Hemisphere. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain.”

After intense debate, the Second Continental Congress removed Jefferson’s passage condemning slavery, thus setting up the conflict that metastasized into the Civil War, but allowing the Declaration to receive the indispensable support of the slave-holding colonies, which were, like the other colonies then, part of the British Empire.

Conclusion: Senator Kaine’s statement that the United States “created slavery” was untrue by any historical and linguistic measure. It was either dishonest, stupid, or ignorant, and there is no defending it. He was engaging in U.S. bashing, because that’s what the George Floyd mob’s purpose is, and his Party is along for the ride.

ACT II Continue reading

Susan Rice Again, Part 2

Continuing with the observations regarding this remarkable document…

4. I was once involved in an anti-trust lawsuit triggered when all of the competitors of the company I was working for gathered together and conspired on ways to sink my employer’s business. Before the minutes of the meeting, the group’s lawyers prepared a statement that that the group absolutely intended to obey all anti-trust laws, and the meeting would embody the ideals represented in those laws. Then they went ahead and, based on a recording of the meeting, planned ways to conspire against our business in direct violation of the laws they claimed to hold in such high esteem.

It was really comical; these idiots though that by having everyone sign a statement that they weren’t doing what they obviously were doing, this would provide some plausible deniability.

5. We now know that Rice’s bizarre memo was written upon the advice of the White House Counsel’s Office. Rice says she waited 15 days because it was her first opportunity to do so, since she had been so darned busy. It would be a more likely srory if Rice had any credibility at all, which she does not.

6. Let’s let Andrew McCarthy try to explain what’s going on here. The anti-Trump news sources will never give him a forum, so he’s related to Fox News, but McCarthy was spot-on in predicting the course of the Mueller investigation, as is as knowledgeable on the machinations of the Deep State as anyone. He explained in part,

How amusing to find President Obama’s national-security advisor, Susan Rice, suddenly calling for public release of the Flynn–Kislyak conversation intercepted by the Obama administration in late December 2016. I called for its release nearly three-and-a-half years ago. Dr. Rice, in a familiar pattern for her, has spent the ensuing years saying things that were obviously untrue only to reverse herself once the paper trail starts to dribble out.

….Rice has gone from claiming to have had no knowledge of Obama administration monitoring of Flynn and other Trump associates, to claiming no knowledge of any unmaskings of Trump associates, to admitting she was complicit in the unmaskings, to — now — a call for the recorded conversation between retired general Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to be released because it would purportedly show that the Obama administration had good reason to be concerned about Flynn (y’know, the guy she said she had no idea they were investigating).

Naturally, we have now learned that Rice was deeply involved in the Obama administration’s Trump–Russia investigation, including its sub-investigation of Flynn, a top Trump campaign surrogate who was slated to replace Rice as national-security advisor when President Trump took office.

Regarding the memo, McCarthy writes, Continue reading

Susan Rice Again, Part 1

Of the many important ethics developments waiting for me to get out of bed and for my brain to start functioning, I think this one is the most important right now. I’m going to have to finish it in installments, since I can only last about 30 minutes before having to rest. I apologize for the inconvenience.

What you see above is the finally completely-declassified Jan. 20, 2017 memo  Susan Rice sent to herself via email documenting a January 5 Oval Office meeting with then-President Obama and others.  January 20 was the official end date of the Obama administration, because President Trump was sworn into office that day.

[What a coincidence!]

The memo was declassified by Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell and transmitted to the Justice Department. Republican Senator Ron Johnson’s office, representing Wisconsin, released the memo to the news media.

Observations:

1. It was ridiculously difficult to find a complete copy of the entire memo. Almost ever source wanting describe it, when I prefer to read such things, because I don’t trust journalists or pundits, and neither should anyone.

2. Let’s refamiliarize ourselves with Susan Rice. Rice was Obama’s National Security Advisor when she wrote the email, but previously she had been named the Ethics Alarms Liar of the Year for 2014, and that wasn’t even her worst year for lying. In 2014 she earned the title for going on ABC to tell America that Bowe Bergdahl “…served the United States with honor and distinction…” Bergdalh, you may recall,  was in fact a deserter, who left his troops in Afghanistan and walked into a Taliban camp. He was eventually obtained in trade for five terrorists, all ready to kill again, in what the Obama administration regarded as a good deal.

Since Obama never had any scandals and the non-Obama-worshiping media was questioning the logic behind this, Rice was dispatched as Obama’s favorite spin-merchant to quiet the controversy her usual way, by lying, and not very convincingly either. Remember, she had already disgraced herself on September 16, 2012, when she was U.N. Ambassador and Obama sent her to all the talk shows to lie about Benghazi, since the truth was problematic and it was an election year. Rice kept repeating the script that the attack on the compound was spontaneous, was not a terrorist action, and was caused by an anti-Muslim YouTube video.

Her ABC statement about Bergdahl was too self-evidently ridiculous for even the mainstream media to swallow, so Rice was later dispatched to CNN to “walk back” her ridiculous comment, which I reacted to at the time by being glad my army veteran father hadn’t lived to hear it, since it might have killed him. On CNN she “explained” to Jim Acosta,

“…what I was referring to was the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That, in and of itself, is a very honorable thing.”

This only could have meant,  1) “I think you, as a member of the boot-licking pro-Obama media, will accept this, because you pretty much accept anything if it protects The Great One,” or, 2) “We think the American public has the IQ of wood chips, and will think this makes sense,” or 3) “I, Susan Rice, have the IQ of wood chips, and really believe what I just said. Doesn’t it make you sleep soundly at night knowing that someone like me is the National Security Advisor.”

Don’t rule out #3, but #1 didn’t quite work, even with a partisan hack like Acosta, who couldn’t resist asking, “Honor and distinction?”But he allowed Rice to change the subject, and she pivoted to talking about the presumption of innocence.

I wrote at the time what a competent journalist not willing to enable such deception should have responded:

“What? Wait a minute, Ambassador Rice, you didn’t say Bergdahl was honorable. You said he served with honor and distinction. Enlisting is honorable and admirable to be sure, but service is what an enlistee does after volunteering for service. Are you saying that the act of enlisting makes a soldier’s service honorable whatever he does on the field of battle? So the soldier who went rogue and shot several of his comrades would still be, by your definition, honorable? Do you really believe that we should honor any soldier, even a deserter? A traitor? Is there anything in your definition of honorable that a soldier could do after volunteering for service that forfeits that honor?

“You also said that Bergdahl “served with distinction. “How is that covered by the mere fact of his enlisting? Do you mean “distinction” literally, as in, “not every soldier walks away from his post and gets himself captured by the Taliban”? For I agree—that’s certainly distinctive—thank God—but how is it honorable?“

Rice, I am quite certain, would have embarrassed herself with whatever huminahumina babble that direct question would have provoked, because she just isn’t that bright, which raises the questions of what Obama had her in important positions, and why she was his designated liar. Even Hillary was a better liar.

That interview got worse, believe it or not. For mere seconds after flagrantly spinning her false characterization of Bergdahl as a soldier who served “with honor and distinction,” she said,

“I’m upfront with the American people and I always do my best on behalf of my country and I do my best to tell the facts as I know them.”

That’s Susan Rice!

More to come.

 

Selective Censorship, Manipulation, Spin And Omissions By The News Media And Social Media: You Know It Will Only Get Worse

1.  Twitter has expanded its “hate speech” prohibitions, and not, I assume, for the last time.

Twitter announced that it has expanded its “hate speech’ policies to include tweets that make “dehumanizing remarks,” defined as remarks that treat “others as less than human,” on the basis of age, disability, or disease. These additions further enlarge on the company’s polices made last July that said Twitter would remove tweets that dehumanize religious groups. Before that, in 2018 , Twitter issued a broad ban on “dehumanizing speech” to compliment its existing hate speech policies that cover protected classes like race and gender.

This is the nose of a very dangerous camel entering the metaphorical tent. As always, the problem with “hate speech” prohibitions is that the “hate” is always  matter of subjective judgment. Censorship of any kind constrains expression, and as we head into a political campaign,  Twitter’s creeping policing of words and metaphors is ominous. You cannot trust these people to be even-handed, to make close calls, or to avoid acting on bias.

2. The threat is made worse because social media platforms allow both parties to “work the umpire,” encouraging  them to demand that Twitter, YouTube and Facebook take down tweets and posts that one or the other doesn’t like. Continue reading

Seven Ethics Observations On The Chaotic South Carolina Democratic Candidates Debate.

CBS hosted the debate, and its transcript is here.

1. Well that was embarrassing. I tried to find a YouTube clip of all the candidates simultaneously shouting,  talking over each other and waving their arms; I couldn’t, but I’m sure there are several, and I’m sure they will be used in Republican campaign ads. This group is objectively horrible even when they are coherent and well-behaved, but as I watched this debacle, I thought, “Boy, Facebook is really going to be cranky tomorrow.”

2. It’s not just the candidates who are to blame, of course. The story of the night was just how incompetent the CBS moderators were: timid, unprofessional, passive. In a situation like that, you have to blow a whistle, stop and warn everyone. You tell the group that if they don’t behave, there won’t be any more questions. You cut their mics if necessary. The moderators have a duty to do whatever is necessary to keep order, because the debate, which is supposed to help voters decide who our next President should be, is literally useless unless there can be an orderly and audible exchange of ideas.

Once again, the inept Gayle King was at the center of a televised mess. Oprah Winfrey’s “gal pal” <cough> has her job for one reason, and it’s her connections <cough>what is this in my throat?–and no other good reason. She’s a local TV news mediocrity elevated  beyond her merits, an example of the Peter Principle in action with a the ugly element of unethical influence added.

Usually the impact of King’s  glaring lack of ability is minimal, but in a case like this it does actual damage. Ann Althouse picked up on one example last night that annoyed me as well. Late in the debate, the moderators again asked the seven candidates to take a break from shouting over each other, and Joe Biden said, “Why am I stopping? No one else stops. It’s my Catholic school training.”

…Gayle King responds, “Vice President Biden, you’re a gentleman. Good home training. Thank you, sir.” But Joe Biden doesn’t want to be Gayle King’s good little boy. He says, “Yeah, gentlemen don’t get very well treated up here.”

 Good home training. Ridiculous. Biden was making a criticism — “Why am I stopping? No one else stops. It’s my Catholic school training” — a justified criticism, and Gayle King understood or pretended to understand that to be supportive of her and justifying her bonding with Biden, like the 2 of them are well bred and polite, but he cut her off.

“Gentlemen don’t get very well treated up here” — that’s superficially polite, not telling King she’s not doing her job, but the treatment in question is from the moderators.

He’s saying: I have been polite and gracious, but you’ve presided over an event where rudeness wins. Catholic school may have taught me good behavior, but you, Gayle King, are teaching bad behavior.

… it’s interesting that King changed “Catholic school training” to “home training.” She cleaned the religion out of it for him. She erased his Catholic identity. And if it’s home training, the implication is domestication by a woman.

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