Tag Archives: ThinkProgress

Ethics Dunce: ThinkProgress Editor Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani

A Milo protest at UCLA followed by a bomb threat that shut down his speaking appearance.  You'd think they'd want him to have a book published so they could burn it...

A Milo protest at UCLA followed by a bomb threat that shut down his speaking appearance. I’d think they’d want him to have a book published, so they could burn it…

Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani, an editor at progressive website ThinkProgress, epitomizes a real problem for progressives, and society’s ability to trust them with political power. She, like increasing numbers of others espousing her ideology, believes that citizens expressing opinions she doesn’t agree with should be prevented from doing so.

Her post is titled “We live in a world where white supremacists get lucrative book deals,” and her argument is that the “white supremacist” in question (though he isn’t one), inexplicably popular professional asshole Milo Yiannopoulos, shouldn’t be able to get a book published or be paid for writing it.

Yiannopoulos’s act is that he is forcefully and often obscenely politically incorrect, particularly regarding feminism. If he’s a white supremacist, he’s a very odd one, having a gay partner who is black. Yiannopoulos has been banned from Twitter, which regards his harassment of a black actress ban-worthy but the harassment of white male conservatives just desserts, and he has also sparked several episodes on campus last year where his scheduled speeches were cancelled by cowardly college administrators after students complained that the threat of his likely comments being made to others caused them to feel “unsafe.”

He got a book deal because he is famous in some circles, a culture war combatant, and a sometimes amusingly inflammatory writer. He got a book deal because enough people are likely to buy his book that his publisher expects to make money. He got a book deal because enough people in a free country want to read what he has to say. Varkiani believes this is scandalous, and if she and her fellow censors had their way, he wouldn’t be able to get paid to speak or write. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Comey’s Letter Ignites A Public Seminar On Spin And Disinformation

comey_letter_0_1477662300

From the New York Times (Note: the officially declared Trump  reviling/Clinton-favoring  Times is still a solid source on the matter of Hillary’s e-mails, because it broke the story about her private server in the first place.):

WASHINGTON — The presidential campaign was rocked on Friday after federal law enforcement officials said that emails pertinent to the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server were discovered on a computer belonging to Anthony D. Weiner, the estranged husband of a top Clinton aide.

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said the emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, which law enforcement officials said was an F.B.I. investigation into illicit text messages from Mr. Weiner to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. Mr. Weiner, a former Democratic congressman from New York, is married to Huma Abedin, the top aide.

Mr. Comey’s letter said that the F.B.I. would review the emails to determine if they improperly contained classified information, which is tightly controlled by the government. Senior law enforcement officials said that it was unclear if any of the emails were from Mrs. Clinton’s private server. And while Mr. Comey said in his letter that the emails “appear to be pertinent,” the F.B.I. had not yet examined them.

That’s it, as of this morning. Anything else, at this point, is speculation or disinformation. However, this is undeniable: whatever was found on the computer was considered relevant enough to the question of whether Hillary Clinton knowingly violated federal law and endangered US security in her machinations to avoid FOIA scrutiny of her private dealings to mandate re-opening the investigation, which had been, as the Times notes, closed.

It seems fair to assume that this is all we will know until the election, which means that Hillary Clinton will face the verdict of voters while under FBI investigation. That isn’t good for her, but boy, does she (and the Democrats) deserve it. The Clinton way, as we learned from Whitewater and the other controversies during Bill’s administration, is that when one of their seamy deals provokes suspicion, the game plan is to deny, deny, stonewall, confuse, muddle the story, muddy the water, barely cooperate with authorities, count on the “friendly journalists” to assist, run out the clock, and wait for the public to become so frustrated and bored that the cry of “Let’s move on!” is effective. We have seen this time and time again, because it has worked. This time, her lies and delaying tactics backfired, and left the sword dangling over her head for all to see far too long. Now everyone will have to wonder if Clinton will be declared a felon while in the White House. I’d say that’s extremely unlikely, but you never know, especially with this bizarre election script.

What’s going on here?

What’s going on here is that James Comey played it by the book, and by book I mean the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct governing the ethical conduct of all lawyers within its borders, including Comey.

Rule 3.3 in all jurisdictions (except California, but it has an equivalent rule) requires  lawyers to correct any material representations of fact or law that they have presented in a “Tribunal,” which is defined as an “ajudicative body,” usually a court. Congress and congressional committees are not adjudicative bodies for the purposes of 3,3. However, the most obscure and infrequently cited rule in all of legal ethics, Rule 3.9, says this:

Rule 3.9 Advocate in Non-adjudicative Proceedings

A lawyer representing a client before a legislative or administrative body in a nonadjudicative proceeding shall disclose that the appearance is in a representative capacity and shall conform to the provisions of Rules 3.3, 3.4(a) through (c), and 3.5.

I have met few lawyers in the government or out of it that have ever read this rule. I know for a fact that lawyers who testify before Congress almost never “disclose” that. However, lawyers—ethical ones, anyway—will correct misleading testimony as Rule 3.3, though 3.9, requires. That’s what Comey did.

It is disgraceful that the FBI’s investigation into a matter bearing on the fitness of a Presidential candidate was closed prematurely and that its recommendation to the Justice Department in the matter was based on incomplete evidence, resulting in the current uncertainty. Nonetheless, once new evidence was uncovered that agents felt could change the results of that investigation, the Bureau had no choice. It had to investigate, and Comey had to correct his testimony that the investigation of Clinton’s conduct was over. It’s not.

Now Democrats, partisan agents of the Clinton campaign and corrupted journalists are giving a spectacular public seminar on how they spin, and, if we pay attention, a demonstration of who is interested in truth and whose function in life is to mislead the public. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Wonkette Writer Rebecca Schoenkopf

juanita

I can absolutely see Bill Clinton doing this (then, not now) and not even thinking of it as rape, but thinking of it as dominant, alpha sex. I can see a LOT of men doing that during that time period, before we started telling them in the ’80s, “hey, that is rape, do not do that.” I can see YOUR NICE GRANDPA doing that, back then…I think good men can rape, and be sorry, and not do it again. This is very bad feminism…To sum up, I think Bill Clinton could very well have raped Juanita Broaddrick; that it doesn’t make him an evil man, or irredeemable (I’m Catholic; we’re all forgiven, if we’re sorry, and Broaddrick says Bill Clinton personally called her up to apologize). It doesn’t even necessarily make him a bad feminist — you know, later, once he stops doing that.

  Rebecca Schoenkopf, writing in the progressive blog Wonkette, talking about Juanita Brodderick’s rape accusation against Bill Clinton

Broaddrick’s claims are back in the news, now that it was noticed that the Hillary Clinton website quietly pulled its statement about the victims of sexual assault having “the right to be believed,” Clinton’s jaw-dropping assertion—given her despicable role in silencing and discrediting Bill’s various victims—that Ethics Alarms discussed when it was first made.

I awoke to multiple rightish blogs, and Ann Althouse, who is dead center, going bonkers over this piece, and rightly so. My initial query is, why only right wing and moderate blogs? Is the left this corrupted by Bill and Hillary? (Okay, that’s rhetorical: the answer is “Damn right they are.”) When did it become progressive to argue that “good men can rape”?

I thought that was a misogynist pig position scrawled on the walls of a troglodyte’s cave.

Good men do NOT rape. Ever. Rape—do I really need to say this?—is signature significance. It was in the 80s, it was in the 60s, it has always been. If you rape (and if you defend rape), you’re not good, you’re not ethical, and you’re not trustworthy. And–do I really have to say THIS?–you’re not just a bad feminist, you’re a phony feminist. (By the by way, you gotcha-masters out there: I am not saying that there is anything wrong with a lawyer defending an accused rapist, like Hillary Clinton did. That is not defending rape itself.)

So why aren’t the indignant, politically correct, feminist, war-on-women-deriding left-leaning web sites, commentators and bloggers collectively retching at the Wonkette post? Explain that to me, someone. Explain why it isn’t evidence that integrity hasn’t died in their skulls, and is stinking up their ethics like a dead rat under the floor-boards. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Politico

experience

“This is the fundamental tension of being Clinton’s chief speechwriter: How do you write effectively for a policy-driven candidate who is allergic to campaign-speak? …But it’s also deeper than just a speechwriting problem: It’s about how the most experienced person to ever run for the White House continues to struggle with one of the most basic parts of the job: committing to a message that helps establish a general sense of affection from the electorate.

—-Annie Karnie in Politico, in a post called “Has Hillary finally found her voice?”

The news media has become so biased, so incompetent, so arrogant and so dishonest that I could fill this blog every day with only posts aimed at exposing the horrific and damaging “profession” of journalism. The increasing boldness with which reporters and editors aim to manipulate public opinion and government policy by intentional disinformation is staggering. In focusing on Politico’s Big Lie about Hillary’s credentials, I chose not to write about several others, such as, for example, Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Jessie Balmert, who wrote that the number of murders in the U.S. last year was 15 times higher than it actually was. Another candidate was liberal website ThinkProgress, which headlined a story “GOP Platform Proposes To Get Rid Of National Parks And National Forests.” (It proposes nothing of the sort, but ThinkProgress’s false headline operates as both clickbait and confirmation bias fodder for its readers.)

I chose Politico’s bland statement as fact what is not a fact, but rather easily disprovable pro-Hillary propaganda, because this technique is so insidious. The  biased news media repeats falsity over and over again until it is accepted as truth. No, Trump did not say that “Mexican immigrants were rapists.” No, equally qualified women do not get only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. Those two examples however, have some arguments, however unfair and warped, to justify them. By no possible interpretation can it be claimed that Hillary Clinton is “the most experienced person to ever run for the White House.”  It is an unequivocal falsehood, perpetuated by the news media out of incompetence and ignorance, or in order to intentionally mislead the public. Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership

ThinkProgress’s Intentionally Dishonest Headline

Muslim protester

I have said it before, and will undoubtedly have many more opportunities say it: If you can’t find fair and factual ways to discredit Donald Trump, you really shouldn’t be in the journalism profession. Walmart beckons.

Today’s disgrace is ThinkProgress. I know that progressive reporters have long accepted the anti-journalism ethics philosophy of their “by any means necessary” political heroes, but even by the dismal standards of recent years, Judd Legum and his editors really abandoned all respectability with this one. The headline:

Muslim Woman Gets Kicked Out Of Donald Trump Rally For Being Muslim

This isn’t even deceit. The headline is an outright lie. The woman, Rose Hamid, was warned as she entered a Trump campaign event in South Carolina that any demonstration or disruption would be met with ejection. Nevertheless, she and a companion, complete with message t-shirts and symbolic yellow stars protesting Trump’s position on Muslim immigrants, stood up in their seats behind the GOP frontrunner while he was speaking. As promised, they were escorted out.

Hamid was not kicked out “for being Muslim.” She was kicked out for violating the rules of a private event. She stood up as a protest. It wouldn’t matter if she  was dressed in Islamic garb, in a Franklin Pierce costume, or in Scout’s ham outfit from “To Kill A Mockingbird.” She was protesting. Out. That was the deal. The headline is deliberately false.

So was Legum’s first sentence, though it directly contradicted the headline: “A Muslim woman was kicked out of a Donald Trump rally on Friday night for no apparent reason.” Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, The Internet

Fair vs Fair: Ethics and the “No-Tip” Restaurant

You know, this looks like a place that would believe that dishwashers deserve as much pay as waiters...or as bankers, for that matter.

You know, this looks like a place that would believe that dishwashers deserve as much pay as waiters…or as bankers, for that matter.

William Street Common is a new restaurant in Philadelphia, and is getting publicity for, we are told, experimenting with a different and (maybe?) fairer compensation model. Owner Avram Hornik  pays all of its employees, from the servers to the dishwashers, at least $15 an hour plus paid sick leave and health insurance benefits. There is a 20 percent service charge for drinks, and that goes into a common fund that makes that  $15 an hour wage affordable. Money left over at the end of a pay period is divided up among employees based on a point system related to various factors.

Hornik came up with this structure, he says, to deal with the well-debated problems of tipping. “Some people just tip the same amount, but some people base it on how quickly the food was there, whether we were out of something, whether the server was there when they wanted them to be,” he says. “So much of that is out of the control of the individual server… So why would it be fair for the service employee to be responsible for the poor decisions of management?”

Hornik argues that his model “essentially creates a guaranteed floor. But we’re also capping the ceiling,” he points out, because the tipping gets shared equally with all employees. “We didn’t think it was fair [that] in some places you have dishwashers earning 10 dollars an hour and the bartender earning 30 dollars an hour.” He also is convinced that the customers will benefit.  “That atmosphere among the employees, a sense of community and empowerment and happiness with the job, is going to translate into a better environment for customers,” he said. “By having happy staff customers are going to be happier too.”

Is this system really fairer than the current one? Progressives are cheering it, because it represents a “living wage,” or at least something close to it. OK, but it would be nice not to feel hyped: ThinkProgress, for example, had headlines that the William Street Common “got rid of tipping” and writes “tips aren’t mandatory.”

Inept reporting or lies, take your pick. A 20% “service charge” is a mandatory tip, so tips ARE mandatory. The reports don’t explain how voluntary tipping has been eliminated, or whether a server would be prohibited from keeping a ten-dollar bill that a diner hands him, saying, “You know, the food was lousy, but you were so gracious and accommodating that you single-handedly made the evening bearable. Thank you. If I ever come back, it will be because of you.” If so, is that fair?  I don’t think so. In fact, it’s exactly as unfair as a diner not rewarding excellent service, and tipping a dime. Continue reading

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No, There’s No Comparison Between Bill Cosby And Woody Allen And No “Double Standard”

One of these things is not like the other....

One of these things is not like the other….

Newspapers should make us more informed and smarter, not less informed and dumber. Thus a Washington Post feature this morning qualifies as journalism malpractice, incompetence exemplified. Its theme: “Gee, why is Woody Allen signing a new deal to do a streaming comedy series for Amazon, while Bill Cosby lost his deal with NBC?” The print edition sub-heads: “Crisis responses may explain…”

No, they don’t. This is a false comparison based on superficial similarities: two comics who initially peaked in the same era, both in their seventies, shadowed now by sex scandals. The effort to use one to question the treatment of the other is either intellectually dishonest or so analytically unsound that it should forfeit the authors’ privileges of being assigned to write anything for mass consumption (the Post piece is by Stephanie Merry and Amy Argetsinger, and shame on them). The question of why Allen and Cosby are being treated differently in the court of public opinion isn’t worth asking, but since they asked, here are the obvious answers:

1. Woody Allen’s art, comedy, and persona have never had anything to do with virtue, stable families or being any kind of a role model. As a performer, he has presented himself as perpetually horny, neurotic, obsessed with sex and masturbation, prone to lying, and open to adultery, betrayal, stealing friends’ lovers; in “Manhattan,” he happily romanced a virtual child. In real life, he says things like “The heart wants what the heart wants,” which is a  rationalization for any act unethical or illegal, involving sexual or romantic desire. If you were ever a fan of Woody Allen after the age of 13, you were so because he was funny, accepting the fact that he is at best a sexually obsessed, maladjusted creep.

None of this is true of Cosby, who has always aimed his comedy at innocence, functional families and traditional virtues, and represented his own values as consistent with these when speaking for himself. Sex was not any part of Cosby’s art or image. He was an iconic good guy. Continue reading

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