Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/9/2020: Whining, Lying, Slipping, Faking, Scaring….

Good morning.

I detest that sappy Ray Stevens song, and have since the first time I heard it. But I have to try something…

1. There’s no whining in baseball! Note to MLB players: heroes and role models don’t whine.  Players have been making excuses for their flaccid play—of course, only the players who aren’t playing well are complaining—that the lack of a crowd makes it difficult to  bear down during games. The Red Sox broadcasters, including two former players, keep talking about this over and over again. Two games ago, Red Sox newcomer Alex Verdugo, in his second season, made a great catch to take away a home run, and the only cheering to be heard (I’m not including the fake crowd noises) was coming from Verdugo himself.  “In a normal game, he’d be getting  a standing ovation! A curtain call out of the dugout!” said Dennis Eckersley.

Oh, cry me a river. These guys are supposed to be professionals, and they get millions of dollars to play a game for living, one they supposedly love. I don’t believe they need crowds screaming to “get up” for big moments, and if they do, something’s wrong with them. Every kid who played sandlot baseball manged to perform at his or her best because that’s what competitors in any game do.

Then there’s Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez, who is off to a miserable start. His excuse? Part of the MLB protocols during the pandemic prohibits players from in-game use of video equipment. Martinez is used to looking at videos of his at bats during games to pick up on any flaws in his swing, so he has complained that not being able to have access to the usual devices  is contributing to his slump.

Not surprisingly, the former players in the booth have not been particularly sympathetic to his plight, having played in those dark ages when baseball players just played baseball during the games.

2. Telling us all we need to know about “Defund police,” the current Democratic Party, Minnesota,  the former co-chair of the Democratic National Committee, and the mainstream media…MN Attorney General Keith Ellison recommended last month that women not call police to report when they’ve been raped. Ellison, who coincidentally has been accused of rape himself, said,

“If you’re a woman who’s been a victim of a sexual assault, and the assailant ran away, wouldn’t you rather talk to somebody who is trained in helping you deal with what you’re dealing with, as opposed to somebody whose main training is that they know how to use a firearm? Right?”

That’s the kind of  statement I would expect from a teenage social justice warrior like David Hogg. Ellison is the top law enforcement official in the state, and his definition of a police officers is that that their main skill is using a gun? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/4/2020: Three Out Of Four Positive Items!

Good morning to you!

1. Let’s start with some good news! In April of last year, I wrote about Massachusetts judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, who  was charged with obstruction of justice, along with another court officer, for helping an illegal immigrant (and criminal) elude arrest by the ICE. The story is here. It looks like the judge is going to trial.

U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin has now denied the judge’s lawyers’ motions to dismiss in a July ruling. “After careful consideration, the motions to dismiss are DENIED because the Indictment alleges the elements of the offenses and sufficient supporting factual detail,” he  wrote . Joseph’s attorneys are claiming was that she is protected by judicial immunity, though that should only apply to actions a judge engages in under judicial authority and in the course of her duties. Instructing a court employee to help an illegal immigrant evade being taken into custody by ICE agents  after his hearing on criminal charges, including drug possession, is not known as “being a judge.” It is known as “obstructing  justice.” Even if the judge avoids punishment, her days as a judge are over.

Good.

2. What’s this? MORE good news? I have been looking for cracks in the monolithic mainstream media, with defections by individuals in the midst of the journalism’s abandonment of its duties to democracy in favor of news manipulation and partisanship. Less than a month ago, New York Timed editor Bari Weiss called out the oppressive culture of partisanship and conformity at the her paper, earning her Ethics Hero status.

Last month MSNBC producer Ariana Pekary quit the network, arguably the most unethical of all the broadcast news outlets, and yesterday she published a blog post explaining why. “I simply couldn’t stay there anymore.” She wrote:

“My colleagues are very smart people with good intentions. The problem is the job itself. It forces skilled journalists to make bad decisions on a daily basis….It’s possible that I’m more sensitive to the editorial process due to my background in public radio, where no decision I ever witnessed was predicated on how a topic or guest would ‘rate,’ The longer I was at MSNBC, the more I saw such choices — it’s practically baked in to the editorial process – and those decisions affect news content every day. Likewise, it’s taboo to discuss how the ratings scheme distorts content, or it’s simply taken for granted, because everyone in the commercial broadcast news industry is doing the exact same thing. But behind closed doors, industry leaders will admit the damage that’s being done…I understand that the journalistic process is largely subjective and any group of individuals may justify a different set of priorities on any given day. Therefore, it’s particularly notable to me, for one, that nearly every rundown at the network basically is the same, hour after hour. And two, they use this subjective nature of the news to justify economically beneficial decisions. I’ve even heard producers deny their role as journalists. A very capable senior producer once said: “Our viewers don’t really consider us the news. They come to us for comfort.”

She claims to want to be part of a solution to this dire situation. We shall see. I reached out to her in an email yesterday, offering my guidance and expertise, gratis of course.

3. On the theory that transparency is good news, it was nice to see Democratic Rep. Karen Bass, supposedly one of the top contenders to be Joe Biden’s running mate, demonstrate how dim-witted she is and unqualified to be President, though at this point even she could probably beat poor Joe Biden in a spelling bee. Over and over, on several Sunday news shows, she repeated her previous explanation for praising Fidel Castro , telling Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” for example, regarding calling the brutal dictator’s death a “great loss to the people of Cuba,” that she “wouldn’t do that again. Talked immediately to my colleagues from Florida and realized that that was something that just shouldn’t have been said.”

Astounding. She wouldn’t say that what she said was wrong, outrageous for a member of Congress and demonstrated inexcusable ignorance, but that she should have kept the opinion to herself.  Todd, of course, being one of the worst hacks in captivity, didn’t bother to press her on the point for the benefit of members of his audience who can’t recognize signature significance when it’s right in front of them.

Biden, or whoever his ventriloquist is, is officially trapped in ethics zugzwang. The only reason Bass is even being considered is that Biden has to select a black (George Floyd!) woman (#MeToo!) as his VP, and all of his remaining options are horrible by any objective standard. This will be a flaming lesson in the foolishness of placing physical characteristics over ability, experience and character, a perfect example of  why affirmative action doesn’t work and will never work. Bass is a light-weight, but Biden’s two other options are Kamala Harris ( whose ugly Ethics Alarms dossier is here), and <ack! choke! yecch! barf! gag!> the even more horrible Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s ethics-free acolyte. Her dossier is here. She would be the most sinister Vice-President candidate since Aaron Burr.

I have to poll this: Who is Joe’s best choice among this unethical trio?

I’m not going to allow “None of the above,” because I don’t think he has that option, or at least doesn’t have the integrity to insist on choosing a qualified candidate who has the wrong tint or chromosomes.

4. Finally, to end on a downer, the Unethical  Non-Trump Tweet of the week.  Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac was the only NBA player not to kneel during the National Anthem, and also refused to wear a “Black Lives Matter” warm-up like  the rest of his teammates. In Sunday’s game, he tore his ACL, a season-ending and career threatening injury. ESPN radio host Dan Le Batard then ran a poll on Twitter asking, “Is it funny the guy who refused to kneel immediately blew out his knee?” 

When the poll was pulled, about 45% of respondents said that it was funny, which tells you all you need to know about NBA fans and Black Lives Matter supporters—the genuine kind, not the grovelers. Le Batard issued a phony apology, Level 10 on the Apology Scale.

“We apologize for this poll question,”  he wrote. “I said on the front and back end of the on-air conversation that I didn’t think it was funny. Regardless of the context, we missed the mark. We took the tweet down when we realized our mistake in how we posed the question to the audience.”

Lies and more lies. They took the tweet down when it was clear they were getting slammed for it. If he didn’t think a young athlete getting injured was funny because he dared to oppose the BLM mob, why would he think anyone else would? When is someone getting hurt who has done nothing wrong and who did not do something foolish to cause the injury ever funny?

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.

 

Monday Evening Ethics Feature, 10/28/2019: Boo! Lyric Woking! Name-Calling! And Much, Much Worse…

Good evening.

1. World Series ethics observations:

  • It was little noticed, but Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole did something admirable and unusual last night on the way to dominating Washington Nationals hitters and leading his team to a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. At one point in the game, Nationals first-baseman Ryan Zimmerman laid off a tantalizing pitch just off the plate with two strikes on him. Cole could be seen saluting the batter and saying “Good take!” It is rare to see a baseball player acknowledge an adversary’s skill on the field.

I wouldn’t mind seeing such gestures more often.

  • The President not only attended the game last night, but stayed unusually long for a dignitary, who usually go to baseball games to be seen more than to watch. Trump stayed until the 8th inning, when much of the discouraged Nats fandom was streaming to the exits. I wrote last week that I hoped he would subject himself to the fans’ ugliness, and they responded as we knew they would, loudly jeering and chanting “Lock him up!” It was a black eye for Washington, D.C., not President Trump.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/24/18: Democratic Censorship, Republican Idiocy, Trump Tweets And Baseball Ethics

Good Morning!

1. Good norms, bad norms, good President, bad President…Good: the announcement that the President is “considering” terminating the security clearances of former Obama officials John Brennan, Jim Clapper, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Michael Hayden, and Susan Rice. Well, mostly good; the message that the President is “looking into it” feels suspiciously like a “Shut up or else” threat. The President should just pull the clearances immediately.

How many of you never realized that people like Comey and Brennan kept their clearances after leaving their jobs? I didn’t, and what a dumb and irresponsible rule that is. Apparently Senator Rand Paul sparked the move by tweeting that Brennan’s ridiculous “treason” accusation warranted a loss of clearance. I’d go further: the demonstrable determination of all of the named former official to assist “the resistance” and oppose the policies and very existence of the Trump administration makes ending their access to classified information mandatory.

If someone has a non-partisan, reasonable argument why the President shouldn’t just do this immediately, I’d love to hear it, especially as it applies to Comey and McCabe, who were fired.

Unequivocally bad, as in irresponsible, incompetent, undignified, unprofessional  and self-destructive, was Trump’s all-caps tweet threatening Iran after another one of that nation’s “mother of all wars” statements. Diplomacy by tweet is per se ridiculous and reckless, so saber-rattling by tweet is obviously worse. If there is a serious message to be sent, then the President should send it formally and in a professional manner. Since all-caps communications are annoying and offensive no matter where they appear, they are doubly so coming from a nation’s leadership. There is no way to interpret that Trump tweet in a way that is complimentary to the President.

2. This is one more reason my wife just told a GOP Congressional Committee fund-raising caller to never darken our phone-lines again: I really thought this story was a hoax, but unfortunately it is not. In the second episode of Showtime’s Who Is America?, Sacha Baron Cohen’s unethical “let’s humiliate people Democrats don’t like by tricking them” TV show, Cohen persuaded Jason Spencer, a Republican state representative from Georgia who apparently has the IQ of a sea sponge, to pull down his pants and scream “Nigger!” on camera.

Georgians must be so proud.

Cohen claimed to be an Israeli terrorism expert named Col. Erran Morad, and recruited Spencer for a training video on how elected officials can protect themselves from terrorists. Cohen as Morad asked Spencer to act like a Chinese tourist in order to take selfie-stick photos up a suspected terrorist’s burka, so he did.  Cohen asked  Spencer to scream the “N-word” because using the “forbidden” word would help ward off terrorists, so the idiot legislator did, and with alarming gusto. (Then Baron Cohen said, “Are you crazy? The ‘N-word’ is “noony,” not this word, this word is disgusting!”)  Morad told Spencer that terrorists are so afraid of gay people that they think they will become homosexual if you touch them with  bare buttocks, so Spencer obediently took off his pants and pressed his hindquarters against his Israeli trainer, shouting, “‘Murica!”

Not surprisingly, there are calls for Spencer to resign; he has already lost his primary. Of course he should resign; an idiot like him should never have been allowed to run as a Republican in the first place, nor should such dolts have won an election, and he won two. What Cohen does is unethical, but it does have its compensations. Spencer, for his part, whined that “It is clear the makers of this film intended to deceive me in an attempt to undermine the American conservative political movement.”

No, you irredeemable fool, idiots like you undermine the American conservative political movement, and always have. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: CNN’s John King

Things are pretty bad in the profession of journalism when a reporter can be an Ethics Hero by simply staying objective and stating the obvious, but such is the wretched state of journalism ethics in 2017.

As mentioned in the earlier post, CNN immediately avoided journalism and defaulted to partisan Obama Administration defense mode when it was revealed that Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice “unmasked” Trump campaign personnel whose conversations were inadvertently picked up in security surveillance. Rather than examining the story, objectively, factually, CNN anchors Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo declared the story, respectively, a Trump-manufactured  diversion and “fake news.” (The New York Times did its part by burying the Rice story on page A-11.)

CNN’s John King, however, bravely eschewed the company line, that line being “partisan spin.” Showing a video from last month, King began…

“This is Susan Rice a short time ago on the PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff. When asked at first, her name was not involved at first in the conversation at this point. When asked at first the House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes says there was unmasking done by Obama administration officials.”

Now he runs the tape…Woodruff’s question was, ” I began by asking about the allegations leveled today by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes that Trump transition officials, including the president, may have been swept up in surveillance of foreigners at the end of the Obama administration.”

SUSAN RICE: I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today. I really don’t know to what Chairman Nunes was referring. But he said that whatever he was referring to was a legal lawful surveillance and that it was potentially incidental collection on American citizens.

The clip ends.

KING: Uh, remember the beginning of that. “I know nothing about this.” This is the same Susan Rice moments ago on MSNBC.

He runs the second clip.

RICE: There occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to. Name not provided. Just U.S. person. And sometimes in that context in order to understand the importance of the report and assess its significance it was necessary to find out or request the information as to who that U.S. official was.

The clip ends.

KING: Not to be a jerk here but will the real Susan Rice please stand up?

Added guest Yahoo! News chief Washington correspondent Olivier Knox:

KNOX: The second part of that on MSNBC there a perfectly logical explanation on how unmasking works but the problem is the previous comment in which she denies any knowledge of it so she can’t in the same breath…

KING: Welcome to the witness list.

KNOX: Yeah, I mean, come on!

Translation: If what Rice did was innocent and unremarkable, why did she initially deny she did it? Continue reading

Case Study Of A Story News That Media And Web Bias Makes Impossible To Check: Susan Rice’s “Unmasking”

I am not going to write about the ethics issues in the latest Susan Rice controversy, but I am going to write about why I can’t get an objective enough assessment of what the story is to write about it competently.

Susan Rice, President Obama’s National Security Advisor,  sought to “unmask” the identities of members of President Trump’s campaign and transition team who were incidentally mentioned in foreign surveillance intelligence reports. This was first reported over the weekend by conservative conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, which meant that no commentators on the Left believed it, but then it was confirmed yesterday by Bloomberg’s Eli Lake.

Many conservatives treated this as confirmation of President Trump’s much-derided claim that the Obama administration “wiretapped” him. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board issued an op-ed this morning, saying,

All this is highly unusual — and troubling. Unmasking does occur, but it is typically done by intelligence or law-enforcement officials engaged in anti-terror or espionage investigations. Ms. Rice would have had no obvious need to unmask Trump campaign officials other than political curiosity.

On Medium, Mike Doran wrote,

“In late December, the administration launched an information campaign designed to depict President-elect Trump as Moscow’s Manchurian candidate. Vladimir Putin had installed Trump in office by “hacking the election,” so the argument went; Hillary Clinton, therefore, was the rightful president.

The claim that Susan Rice was unmasking merely to arrive at the ground truth of Russian behavior would be easier to swallow if the information she gleaned from unmasking had not been used to perpetrate a fraud on the American public. The leak to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius about General Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak (which I discuss in this article) is the most egregious example of a senior administration official using material gathered from illicit unmasking in order to tell a very big and very pernicious lie.”

The New York Times, sadly predictable in its knee-jerk defense of Democrats rather than resolving to get at the truth,  immediately argued that there was nothing to the story at all: 

Former national security officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described the requests as normal and said they were justified by the need for the president’s top security adviser to understand the context of reports sent to her by the nation’s intelligence agencies.

Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum mocked the story as pure conservative fantasy regarding a favorite villain:

But! Susan Rice is also a Republican bête noir, the villainess of Benghazi who LIED ON TV repeatedly and tried to get everyone to believe that the attacks were due to an INTERNET VIDEO when we knew all along they were really the work of RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS, a phrase that OBAMA WAS UNWILLING TO UTTER.Here’s what we can say about the Rice situation at this point.

Sarcasm is used by Drum here to hide the fact that Rice did lie about Benghazi, and was part of an Obama administration effort (that included Hillary Clinton) to blur the fact that it was a planned terrorist attack, not a spontaneous reaction to a video, which would have undermined Obama’s campaign assertions that he had “decimated” Al Qaeda. ( Mother Jones readers will not believe anything negative about Obama, Democrats, or progressives.)

The Federalist, meanwhile, called foul on CNN, which immediately moved to discredite the latest Rice story: Continue reading

“If That Was Transparency, Then I’m A Kumquat” And Other Reactions To Josh Earnest’s Multiple Unethical Christmas Quotes

This morning, Obama Administration paid liar Josh Earnest spoiled my Christmas mellow by telling CNN’s alleged news media ethics watchdog Brian Stelter that there’s really “no constituency in American politics for transparency in government beyond journalists,” as he deflected Stelter’s accounts of journalists complaining about administration foot-dragging on Freedom of Information Act requests. Then he really curdled the ethicist’s eggnog by saying,

“If this constituency of journalists are gonna be effective advocates for the issue that they care about, they need to remember that they have a responsibility not just to criticize those who are not living up to their expectations. Any activist will tell you that the way that you get people to support you and to support your cause is to give them credit when the credit is due, to applaud them when they do the thing that you want them to be doing.”

Finally, Earnest molded my mistletoe by claiming,  “President Obama has been the most transparent president in American history.”

Stelter, of course, being an incompetent, biased and unethical news media ethics watchdog, did not interjection with the mandatory, “WHAT??? You’ve got to be kidding! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ACK! ACK! ARRRGH! and drop dead in shock.

That statement is fake news if anything is, rivaling the news media lie that that the Obama years were devoid of major scandals. Before we begin shooting fish in a barrel and deal with that brazen-beyond-belief spin, let’s pause to consider the other stunner in Earnest’s Christmas morning performance:

1. What does Earnest mean that journalists are the only constituency for transparency? Does the Obama administration, and by extension Democrats, really believe that the public doesn’t mind being lied to? If so, that explains a lot, including the nomination of Hillary Clinton.

2. Journalists are not supposed to advocates and activists at all. They are supposed to be devoted to communicating facts and the truth.

3. Is Earnest saying that when a President generally defies a pledge of ethical conduct, he should nonetheless be praised when he doesn’t defy that pledge, and that journalists should highlight the Administration’s rare examples of  transparency while ignoring the overwhelmingly more copious breaches? It sure sounded like it.

That brings us back to the mind-melting quote that this has been a transparent administration by any definition of the word other than “not transparent at all.”

This episode from 2011 nicely encapsulates the issue:

“President Obama was scheduled to receive an award from the organizers of the Freedom of Information Day Conference, to be presented at the White House by “five transparency advocates.” The White House postponed that meeting because of events in Libya and Japan, and it was rescheduled…That meeting did take place – behind closed doors. The press was not invited to the private transparency meeting, and no photos from or transcript of the meeting have been made available. The event was not listed on the president’s calendar…Nor is the award mentioned anywhere on the White House website, including on the page devoted to transparency and good government. Were it not for the testimony of the transparency advocates who met secretly with the president, there wouldn’t seem to be any evidence that the meeting actually took place.”

That’s right: Obama wasn’t transparent about a transparency meeting. That same day, Obama went on TV  and tried to explain why he hadn’t been transparent to the U.S. Congress about his military plans in Libya.  Shortly after that, news leaked that the Fed had secretly sent billions in loans to foreign banks during the financial crisis.

Ah, memories! On his second day on the job, January 21, 2009, that…President Obama famously pledged, in one of his first memos to federal agencies

“We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

He may be right about that last part, or maybe he discovered that it was naive and impractical dream. Under no circumstances, however, can it be said that Obama’s administration was transparent. An exhaustive list is impossibly, long, but here is an incomplete  sample just from the posts in Ethics Alarms: Continue reading

Observations On The Redacted Orlando Terrorist’s 911 Call Transcript Fiasco

Lynch white House

Polls show that as citizens consider the horrors of Clinton and Trump, Obama’s approval numbers are going up. This makes sense, of course: competence and virtue are relative. I haven’t seen a poll but it would not surprise me if, after almost 8 years of Obama, Jimmy Carter’s poll numbers have risen too, as well as Herbert Hoover’s and, across the pond, maybe even Neville Chamberlain’s.

Just so we don’t get carried away with nostalgia for an arrogant and incompetent leader as we anticipate his corrupt or unhinged successor, I feel obligated to use Bon Jovi’s “turn back time” device to return to last weekend, when Obama gave us perhaps the most damning evidence yet of how cynical, dishonest, contemptuous and inept his”transparent” leadership has become. Mea culpa: I passed over it last week in my concentration on the mad flare-up of anti-gun hysteria.

As all but the most denial prone Democrats will acknowledge, President Obama has gone to ridiculous and dangerous lengths to avoid formally citing radical Islam as a terror threat, because it requires acknowledging that a large (okay, large enough) component of the Muslim population abroad and maybe here as well wants to kill us. Truth is the enemy to liars, frauds, totalitarians and the deluded: take your pick here. Either way, for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to say of Omar Mateen in a press conference, as she did Tuesday, that “I cannot tell you definitively that we will ever narrow it down to one motivation. People often act out of more than one motivation,” is an insult. This is blatant equivocation. Yes, I’m sure Mateen may have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, and maybe there were some people among the hundred or so he shot that he didn’t like, but he was a Muslim, his father was an anti-American, pro-Taliban zealot, he had pledged himself to ISIS, he launched a one -man terrorist attack, and his religion persecutes gays. Gee, what could his motive have been? I’m stumped. Are you stumped? Loretta is stumped.

No, Loretta has been told to be officially stumped.

Just two days before her transparently dishonest statement (Maybe this was the kind of transparency Obama promised in 2008?), Lynch toured all five Sunday talking head shows (ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC, CNN) to lie about the transcripts of Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen’s calls. This is known at Ethics Alarms and elsewhere as “doing a Susan Rice.[It’s fun to go back to that 2012 post and read the comments from the denial brigade, like now-self exiled far-left blogger Ampersand, who defended Rice and the administration. “For your statements to make sense,” Barry wrote, “we’d have to believe that US Intelligence had determined with certainty what had happened either while the attack was ongoing or within hours afterward, neither of which is true.” We now know both are true. Thus Hillary told her daughter shortly after the attack that it was an organized terrorist plan. Later, with the election in mind, the YouTube video cover-story was concocted, and Rice was dispatched to spread it.]

President Obama wanted to make the Orlando massacre about gun control rather than Islamic terrorism. His post attack speech did not mention ISIS or Islamic terrorism at all, but quickly pivoted into exploiting the tragedy to call for gun controls, knowing that his lap-dog, gun-hating allies in the mainstream media would let him get away with it. There was a problem, however: Mateen’s phone calls made it clear to anyone paying attention that this was an ISIS-related terrorist attack (not just an “act of terror”—the same equivocation used after Benghazi.)

Here were the redactions:

Mateen: “I pledge of allegiance to [omitted]. “I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].”

The dumbest Wheel of Fortune contestant in the world could fill in those blanks, especially after many of the news reports.

Nevertheless, our Attorney General was willing to humiliate herself trying to justify the withholding of facts from the public, saying on ABC’s “This Week”: “What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda.” How lame is THAT? Not as lame as the excuse she gave the same day on CNN’s State of the Union,  where Lynch said:“The reason why we’re going to limit these transcripts is to avoid re-victimizing those people that went through this horror.” What? I’m sure that blatantly censoring information that the public has a right to know will make the victims’ families feel much better. How do the facts that our government thinks the public is made up of gullible idiots, that the President is in denial over Islamic terrorism, that the Attorney General is willing to lie repeatedly on national television and act as a political tool, and that the administration is as transparent as slate make the victims’ families feel? It sure scares the hell out of me.

Occasionally the news media declares, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, “There is some shit I won’t eat,” or at least eat and say “Yum-yum!,” so the censorship of the obvious was roundly mocked and condemned by both the media and Republican leadership. (Oddly, no Democrats stood up for transparency. Democrats: please explain, and explain why this is fine with you.)

So the Obama Administration and the Justice Department caved the next day,  and released a full, uncensored transcript of tMateen’s 911 call on the night of the massacre, and referred to the controversy over omissions in the document “an unnecessary distraction.” (And whose fault was that?)

Omar Mateen made the 50-second 911 call in which he claimed responsibility for the terror attack and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State’s leader at 2:35 a.m., about  a half hour into the June 12 murder spree. Now, with the blanks filled in, the transcript read…

“I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.”

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