Tag Archives: “The Compliance Dodge”

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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Trump, Master Of Rationalizations, Scores A Perfect #4 AND A Perfect #5!

Former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry attends a news conference on the steps of Washington's city hall Monday, July 6, 2009. At the news conference Barry's attorney Frederick Cooke said Barry vehemently denies the allegation by Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, and that he's confident the stalking charge will be dropped. Barry, 73, stood behind Cooke but said nothing. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Somewhere, Marion Berry is smiling…

This is juuuust the beginning…

I have noted before that our President Elect never expresses any ethical awareness, and uses rationalizations exclusively to explain and justify his conduct. This is typical of say, 12-year-olds, but is less common among professionals in responsible positions.

Trump just authored a classic example, following the expression of concerns about his conflicts of interest, which are massive, unavoidable, and which should have been addressed seriously long ago, like in a Presidential debate, and at length. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton and various journalists felt it would be more helpful to their cause to spend time talking about what Trump had said about an over-weight Miss Universe and in a private conversation with Billy Bush. How did that work out for you, guys?

Now various lawyers and ethics experts are saying that Trump “must” sell off his business holdings because his company’s myriad business entanglements will cast many White House decisions under a cloud. The President Elect has a neat answer for them, to wit:

“The law’s totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”

— Donald Trump, interview with the New York Times, Nov. 22, 2016

Bravo! This is a perfect expression of Ethics Alarms Rationalizations #4, and #5

4. Marion Barry’s Misdirection, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical.”

The late D.C. Mayor and lovable rogue Marion Barry earned himself a place in the Ethics Distortion Hall of Fame with his defense of his giving his blatantly unqualified girlfriend a high-paying job with the DC government. Barry declared that since there was no law against using the public payroll as his own private gift service, there was nothing unethical about it. Once the law was passed (because of him), he then agreed that what he did would be wrong the next time he did it.

Ethics is far broader than law, which is a system of behavior enforced by the state with penalties for violations. Ethics is good conduct as determined by the values and customs of society. Professions promulgate codes of ethics precisely because the law cannot proscribe all inappropriate or harmful behavior. Much that is unethical is not illegal. Lying. Betrayal. Nepotism. Many other kinds of behavior as well, but that is just the factual error in the this rationalization.

The greater problem with it is that it omits the concept of ethics at all.  Ethical conduct is self-motivated, based on the individual’s values and the internalized desire to do the right thing. Barry’s construct assumes that people only behave ethically if there is a tangible, state-enforced penalty for not doing so, and that not incurring a penalty (that is, not breaking the law) is, by definition, ethical.

Nonsense, of course. It is wrong to intentionally muddle the ethical consciousness of the public, and Barry’s statement simply reinforces a misunderstanding of right and wrong.

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Four Supreme Court Decisions: Abortion, Guns, Affirmative Action, Corruption…And Ethics. Part 2: McDonnell v. United States

Virginia Governor McDonnell shows off the luxury watch he got as a gift from a businessman he barely knew who expected expected nothing in return...

Virginia Governor McDonnell shows off the luxury watch he got as a gift from a businessman he barely knew who expected expected nothing in return…

Governor Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s Republican governor from 2010 to 2014, was charged with using his office to assist businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., who, often with Mrs. McDonnell as a conduit, gave his family wedding receptions, loans, vacations and jewelry worth more than $175,000. I wrote about this scandal here, here, and here. The gifts were legal, thanks to absurdly lenient Virginia ethics laws, just as they were obviously unethical, except perhaps to the clueless McDonnells.

Governor McDonnell arranged meetings for Williams and attended events with him. My favorite part of the criminal trial was when McDonnell claimed that he never dreamed that Williams expected anything in exchange for all of his gifts, and then Williams said that of course he expected some favors in return. The jury found that McDonnell’s actions amounted to corruption and a quid pro quo exchange amounting to bribery. A federal appeals court upheld the conviction.

The Supreme Court’s 8-0 decision this week to vacate the conviction upholds the principle that even if someone has done something obviously bad, there has to be a law against what was done before the act occurred in order to convict him. It’s a rather narrow decision. The Court points out that the law McDonnell was convicted of breaking requires “official acts” to be bought and sold for the law to be breached, but that all McDonnell did was hand out political favors to his “friend”: setting up meetings, communicating his favor, greasing the wheels, essentially. (Much is made of the fact that Williams didn’t benefit very much from any of this, which is just moral luck. It doesn’t make what the governor did any less sleazy.)

Wrote Chief Justice Roberts in his opinion for the unanimous Court: Continue reading

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Update: More Abortion Advocate Struggles With Ethics In The Midst Of The Planned Parenthood Videos Revelations

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As the pro-abortion lobby has rushed to defuse the ticking time bomb of comprehension that might make lazy and inattentive American think. “Wait, that’s what happens in an abortion?,” its dishonest, desperate, and unethical arguments have been as revealing as the videos themselves, and as damning.

Frankly, I’ve been surprised: they really don’t have much that makes ethical sense, just “it’s legal!” and “It’s Our Bodies And We’ll Kill If We Want To!” (a little known B-side flop by the recently departed Leslie Gore.)  I recently wrote about their defenses in the posts Planned Parenthood Videos Surprise: Forced To Defend Abortion Ethics Acknowledging The Existence Of A Second Human Life In The Equation, Advocates Run Out Of Arguments (Part One) and Part Two: Bad Analogies. As I wrote in the latter: “If an advocate has persuasive, honest, strong arguments not based on fallacies and rationalizations, I assume that those would be the ones he or she would use.”

More evidence that they don’t possess them and also don’t care to have an honest debate recently came to light.

The most bizarre was an article in the Washington Post ostensibly about the ongoing drama at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The female panda there gave birth to twins (“Awwwww!”) then abandoned and neglected the smaller one (“OH NO!!!”) which soon died. Before the little panda’s demise, those clever abortion advocates of the Post saw an opportunity, and had a female reporter, Sarah Kaplan, author an article which the Post titled “The perfectly sensible reason why panda mothers and other creatures selectively abandon babies.”

If you want to think it’s a coincidence, go ahead. I don’t. To Kaplan’s credit, she avoided any overt analogies to human beings, and played it straight, as she always does. (She’s a terrific reporter.) Still, there is that headline. It’s sensible to “abandon” babies that will be too difficult for the mother to care for, “abandon” in the wild being the equivalent of “kill.” This points to  Rationalization #51—the latest on the Ethics Alarms list-–as a defense for abortion: “It’s natural.” Continue reading

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Planned Parenthood Videos Surprise: Forced To Defend Abortion Ethics Acknowledging The Existence Of A Second Human Life In The Equation, Advocates Run Out Of Arguments (Part One)

The Center for Medical Progress released a trailer yesterday promoting its yet to be released eighth undercover investigative video, this one, like the last, focusing on StemExpress, a biotech company in northern California, that has worked with Planned Parenthood to obtain aborted fetus tissue to be used in research. In the clip, StemExpress CEO Cate Dyer explains that her company receives “intact” aborted fetuses from the abortion clinics they work with.

“Oh yeah, I mean if you have intact cases – which we’ve done a lot – so we sometimes ship those back to our lab in its entirety,” Dyer says on the trailer.

Later, she jokes about shipping little aborted heads. “Tell the lab its coming,” she chuckles. “They don’t want to open the box, go, ‘Oh God!’”

I can’t wait.

Undoubtedly the allies of abortion-on-demand feminists and progressives will attack this video as they have the rest, focusing on anything and everything but the single powerful issue it raises that the abortion movement has successfully obscured, denied and obscured since Roe v. Wade and before. These are small, helpless, innocent human beings being killed, chopped up and distributed like prime beef, and the adults doing it and insisting on it have devolved into callous, cold-eyed mutants incapable of considering what their conduct is. They have not had the courage or integrity to confront the ethical conflicts that abortion raises. These videos are making that avoidance increasingly difficult. As I wrote yesterday, bravo for the The Center for Medical Progress and their allies, who are finally forcing the passive public and cynical political class to consider the issues.

The most fascinating revelation is how weak the case for abortion appears to be, once its advocates are required to stop pretending that there is only one human being—the mother—involved. We know it is weak because the attacks on the videos have largely not addressed the ugly fact on display in them—that human, unborn babies with beating hearts and functioning organs are being killed—nor found a persuasive justification for it.

They haven’t had to do either since Roe v. Wade. “It’s my right!” has been enough, though this is a rationalization that does not address the question of right and wrong. Meanwhile, by adopting the deceitful and misleading label “pro-choice,” aided by lazy and sympathetic journalists to facilitate a deceptive framing of the issue (we are seeing the same process now as “immigrant” is substituted for “illegal immigrant”), the pro-abortion lobby has warped all policy debates into a discussion of the effect of an unwanted pregnancy on women, and never about the effect of ending those pregnancies on the women’s’ off-spring. (They die.)
Suddenly, the videos have made the existence of other human beings in the abortion dilemma is unavoidable, so what are the pro-abortion advocates and their allies doing? Let’s survey them; I’m not going to rehash all the earlier deflections of the videos by Planned Parenthood and pundits (“All medical procedures are hard to look at!”) and the usual hyperbolic accusations of evil motives (“This is a war on women! They want to control our bodies!”). I’ve covered them before, and they should be self-rebutting anyway.

“The videos are illegal!”

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Bad News For Hillary: Someone At CNN Told Carol Costello To Stop Helping Her, And Clinton’s Talking Points Are Wearing Thin…OK, THINNER

This was fascinating. I was trying to decide whether to post today about the latest spin tactics by Hillary’s minions and her dwindling but still formidable media allies  in light of Clinton’s awkward press conference where she insisted that she didn’t do anything “wrong” regarding the mishandled State e-mails. Earlier in the day the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, a usually decent journalist whom it is sad to see succumbing to the  Clinton Corruption Virus (you would think there would be a vaccine by now!), had used this same talking point—and it is a campaign talking point. In a column that could be used in a public service announcement, Cillizza seriously wondered why Hillary was in trouble. Gee, he mused, maybe Hillary just isn’t very good at campaigning! What else could possibly explain why she isn’t cruising to the nomination?

In other words, the fact that she has lied constantly, used her foundation to profit from influence-seeking foreign powers, was a flop as a Secretary of State, put U.S. security at risk and destroyed potential evidence so she could avoid getting caught in her complex political/financial machinations—Allegedly! Allegedly!—wouldn’t matter at all to Democrats, voters or Chris if she was just better at fooling the public. Darn!

“This is Chris, and this is the tragedy of Clinton Corruption Syndrome. Won’t you help?”

Then he wrote, “The appearance here — even if Clinton did nothing wrong (and there is no proof she did at this point) — is terrible.”

What? WHAT? Of course she did things that were wrong. Isn’t lying like crazy wrong, Chris? Isn’t paying people to throw the media off the track and confuse the public using deceit and misrepresentations wrong, Chris?  Isn’t the tactic of smearing the messengers wrong, and sending out statements like the infamous “nonsense” letter wrong? Is intentionally breaking your own Department’s policies wrong? Is sending and receiving sensitive information in a manner that makes it vulnerable to hacking by foriegn governments wrong, Chris? Do you even know what wrong means any more, Chris?

That’s when it hit me, and that’s why I decided I had to post, again, on the Hillary Clinton E-mail Ethics Train Wreck, which is really just part of the The Hillary Clinton Presidential Candidacy Ethics Train Wreck. The Clinton campaign’s current strategy is now to make the public understand right and wrong the way the Clintons do. If it isn’t illegal, it isn’t wrong. (This is on the Ethics Alarms Rationalization list, incidentally: #4. Marion Barry’s Misdirection, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical.” Marion Berry went to jail.)

Talk about waving a red flag in front of an ethicist! Continue reading

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“You Know I Can’t Hear You With All Those Ethics Alarms Ringing”: Hillary Clinton’s CNN Interview

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The frightening thing—it should frighten Democrats more than anyone, but if they have let Hillary get this far, they may be beyond frightening—is that Hillary Clinton had a long time to prep for this interview—her first substantive one since announcing her candidacy, about five or six scandals ago—had a hand-picked, friendly interviewer, was not pressed to clarify any of her non-answers, obfuscations or incomprehensible blather, and she still came off looking defensive, evasive, and basically like Tommy Flanagan in drag.

Ethics Alarms were ringing so loudly that the interview was almost inaudible. My observations in bold….

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Secretary Clinton, thank you so much for talking to us today.  You’re here in Iowa for a couple of events.  You’re the front-runner in this state but we’re also seeing Bernie Sanders attract a lot of attention.  He has had big crowds here, 10,000 people in Wisconsin last week, 7,500 people in Maine last night. Why is it, do you think, that someone who is a self-described Democratic socialist is really attracting this organic interest that your campaign seems to be struggling a little bit with?

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE:  Well, first of all, I always thought this would be a competitive race.  So I am happy to have a chance to get out and run my campaign as I see fit and let other candidates do exactly the same.

Non-responsive. Also a lie: Clinton has always assumed she could get the nomination by just showing up.

I feel very good about where we are in Iowa.  We are signing up thousands of volunteers, people committed to caucus for us.  We have a committed supporter in every one of the 1,600 precincts.  And one of the things that I learned last time is it’s organize, organize, organize.  And you’ve got to get people committed.  And then they will follow through and then you bring more people.

Non-responsive.

So I feel very good about where my campaign is.  It’ll be three months and a few days that we’ve been at this.  I think I’ve learned a lot from listening to people in Iowa.  And it’s actually affected what I say and what I talk about on the campaign trail.

Non-responsive.

So I couldn’t be happier about my campaign.

Non-responsive. Pretending to open yourself to a candid question and answer session and then refusing to answer the very first question while pretending you did: Dishonest. Disrespectful.

KEILAR:  Senator Sanders  has talked about how, if he’s president, he would raise taxes.  In fact, he said to CNN’s Jake Tapper, he would raise them substantially higher than they are today, on big corporations, on wealthy Americans. Would you?

CLINTON:  I will be laying out my own economic policies.  Again, everybody has to run his or her own campaign.  And I’m going to be telling the American people what propose and how I think it will work and then we’ll let voters make up their minds.

“I refuse to answer on the grounds that I might incriminate myself actually let voters know what I stand for. After all, I’m a vagina. That’s what really matters.”

KEILAR:  Is raising taxes on the table?

CLINTON:  I’m going to put out my policies and I’ll other people speak to their policies because I think we have to both grow the economy faster and fairer so we have to do what will actually work in the short term, the medium term and the long term.  I will be making a speech about my economic proposals on Monday.  And then I look forward to the debate about them.

If Clinton made a speech Monday (July 7) about specific economic proposals, she did it in her closet, because all anyone actually heard was this.

KEILAR:  I’m wondering if you can address a vulnerability that we’ve seen you dealing with recently.  We see in our recent poll that nearly six in 10 Americans say they don’t believe that you’re honest and trustworthy. Do you understand why they feel that way?

CLINTON:  Well, I think when you are subjected to the kind of constant barrage of attacks that are largely fomented by and coming from the Right and –

The vast right wing conspiracy again! Ironic, because one very good reason people shouldn’t, and  many sane people actually do not, trust Hillary is when she made teh same accusation on the Today Show to Matt Lauer, claiming that the Monica Lewinsky scandal had been “largely fomented by and coming from the Right,” when in fact she knew otherwise and was lying for her husband.

KEILAR:  But do you bear any responsibility for that?

CLINTON:  – well, I – you know, I can only tell you that I was elected twice in New York against the same kind of onslaught.

“I got away with it before, didn’t I?” Continue reading

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