Tag Archives: ThinkProgress

“Gotcha!” Ethics (Or The Absence There-Of): The Solicitor General Misspeaks

“Boy, what an idiot!”

Immediately, the shameless agents of “the resistance” in the blogosphere, cyberspace and the mainstream media leaped on the gaffe with the enthusiasm of jackals encountering  fresh carrion. Here is a typical example, from ThinkProgress:

“In Francisco’s defense, this is probably a slip-up. He probably meant to say that Trump has praised Islam as one of the greatest religions of the world. But still, it’s a slip-up that seems more likely to happen if you truly believe that Muslims are all the same. “

Now the accusation is that Francisco thinks “all Muslims are the same”? Morons! The Solicitor General doesn’t argue his personal beliefs or positions, but the government’s. Moreover, Francisco isn’t “Trump’s lawyer” as this consistently dishonest and rapidly partisan cyber-rag claims, but the United States of America’s lawyer. This is ThinkProgress taking the typical, current, Angry Left position that anyone who works for the Administration must also hold the parody of its alleged beliefs the “resistance” claims in its propaganda and fearmongering. ThinkProgress has no idea what Noel Francisco thinks about Muslims or Islam. Lawyers are not their clients, Francisco isn’t Trump, and Trump never said that Islam is “one of the greatest countries of the world.” What he said, in a 2017 speech in Saudi Arabia that was intentionally conciliatory to Islam,

“The Middle East is rich with natural beauty, vibrant cultures, and massive amounts of historic treasures. It should increasingly become one of the great global centers of commerce and opportunity.This region should not be a place from which refugees flee, but to which newcomers flock. Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest sites in one of the world’s great faiths…”

Francisco’s mistake in oral argument was absolutely meaningless, trivial, and without consequence. No Justice corrected it, because they all knew what Francisco meant to say, and also because most of them have probably done worse.  The actual quote he referred to was probably in his brief. Yet this arrogant and vicious cabal of progressive scolds nonetheless piled on, to embarrass Francisco, to attack the President, to throw their petty tantrum because they are going to lose on this issue, as they should , as they always should have. Now they will move on to their next effort to make governing as difficult as possible for the elected President, and as painful as possible for those who serve the nation along with him.

As I just wrote to a commenter on Ethics Alarms who debased himself by raising Francisco’s slip of the tongue, an oral argument before the nation’s highest court is incredibly stressful. The most brilliant, most prepared, most composed lawyers frequently stumble and stutter when they are under that microscope. Anyone who mocks a lawyer who makes a mere verbal miscue while broiling under a harsh professional spotlight with such massive stakes—as all Supreme Court cases have–is displaying ignorance, being a jerk, or both. Continue reading

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December 8, 2017, When Our Old And New News Media Proved Beyond A Doubt That They Were Untrustworthy And If Not Completely Useless, Close Enough For Horsehoes

I am marking down today to cite the next time someone tells me that the news media isn’t disastrously biased, or that President Trump is threatening the First Amendment when he tweets about “fake news” or untrustworthy journalists.

Or perhaps, as an alternative, I will hurl myself into a woodchipper.

Democracy cannot survive, must less thrive, without an informed citizenry, which can only be achieved with an objective, independent, competent journalism sector.

We no longer have one. Behold the nauseating developments of today: Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/7/17: Election Day Edition

Good Morning!

1 It’s a rainy election day in Virginia, and the Democrats must be worried, since they are in full race-baiting mode. I know it was click-bait, but I check out the political sites and news aggregators on the right, hard right, middle, left and hard left, and here was ThinkProgress’s headline: Explicit racism is on the ballot today: If Ed Gillespie wins, the GOP’s transformation into a Trumpian racist party will be complete.

Read the post. If this is the way mainstream Democrats are thinking these days, either the country is doomed or the Democrats are. The essay shows that progressives have learned nothing, literally nothing, from Hillary Clinton’s defeat, especially the part of it that emanated from her express contempt for anyone who doesn’t cheer for the au currant leftist cant. If you don’t vote Democratic, you are deplorable—a racist, a sexist, a mouth-breathing moron. Such dehumanization of political and ideological opponents is anathema to democracy; its is the beating heart of totalitarianism. “You are unworthy of making decisions that affect us, the wise and virtuous, but don’t worry, we will use our power over you  for the greater good.” Now voting for unremarkable conservative  Ed Gillespie is explicit racism.

Just like Donald Trump. You see Gillespie wants to enforce immigration laws—this means he is xenophobic. He objects to NFL players making incoherent, revolving topic protests during the National Anthem, which means he’s anti-black, though many of the Kneelers aren’t black—but then Michael Brown was black, and had his hands up. Or something. All right, maybe he’s not the best person to be protesting over. Ask Colin Kaepernick to explain it. He’s Rosa Parks. Finally, Ed Gillespie opposes tearing down statutes of 19th Cnetiry historical figures because the increasingly radical Left wants to veto the nation’s history as part of its indoctrination strategy. This means, says ThinkProgress, that he’s pro-slavery, you know, just like John Kelly.

Barack Obama and his party were so effective at demonizing political opposition by calling critics racists and sexists that this malignant, democracy-curdling tactic is now a reflex with Democrats. It is unethical, dishonest and destructive. If Ed Gillespie wins, it might just show that smart, principled people are sick of being denigrated for having the ability to resist political correctness groupthink.

2. It’s also election day in New Jersey, where the almost certain election of a new Democratic governor puts an exclamation point on the fall of Chris Christie. A moderate conservative Republican with brains, guts (stop it), and communications skills, Christie might have shown how a balanced governing philosophy built on bi-partisan cooperation and compromise could work in a famously unethical state, and, with success, have led the national Republican Party away from divisive politics and toward responsible leadership. (Bill Clinton once had the same opportunity from the Left.) Christie, however, failed miserably, and it was largely (I said stop it!) a failure of ethics and character, culminating in his unforgivable alliance with Donald Trump. I marked him then as an Ethics Villain, and so he is.

In the end, civilizations flourish or  fall based on able and remarkable people rising to challenges and bringing the best of themselves to public service. I’m trying to think of the last time the United States benefited from one of those people. It’s been a while.

3. Now that Koigate has been debunked as fake news, unconscionable confirmation bias, and a new low of manufactured anti-Trump bile from the mainstream news media, the competition is on to top it. Here’s Mediaite on a “juicy” story from a former Trump bodyguard and aide Keith Schiller, quoting Politico:

“…when the White House kitchen staff couldn’t match the satisfaction of a quarter-pounder with cheese (no pickles, extra ketchup) and a fried apple pie, it was Schiller, bodyguard and Trump whisperer, who would head down New York Avenue to McDonald’s on a stealth fast food run.”

Headline: “Trump Bodyguard Went On McDonald’s Runs for POTUS Because WH Chefs Couldn’t Replicate Quarter Pounders.” I’m sure Maxine Waters, Charles Blow, Larry Tribe and Richard Painter will soon explain why this is impeachable. Abuse of power. Bad taste. If Trump owned MacDonald’s, it would be self-enrichment.

The post also has a fat joke about Chris Christie. Continue reading

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Arrgh! They Made Me Defend Sean Spicer!

Yes, he’s an idiot. Still...

The latest Sean Spicer controversy was so, so stupid that I swore—swore I tell you!—that I would not lower myself to write about it.

The Trump Administration spokesman, making the dumb assertion that Assad is even worse than Hitler because Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” was absurdly—gleefully?— attacked as a Holocaust denier.ThnkProgress, which I am going to have to place on my “never trust these hacks” list, wrote that Spicer “argued that the Nazis never used chemical weapons during the Holocaust,” which is a lie, flat out. Spicer didn’t mention the Holocaust at all. Then The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect released a statement saying,

“On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive form of fake news imaginable, by denying Hitler gassed millions of Jews to death.”

This is perhaps not quite a lie, since the combination of confirmation bias and paranoia could make this organization see Holocaust denial behind every rock, but it is no less ridiculous, inflammatory and unfair. Then some of my 2016 election-deranged friends—I now picture them wrapped in tin foil, wearing Groucho glasses and spreading DDT around as they sit cross-legged in a teepee with a flaming penguin on their heads—began citing the Anne Frank Center slander with approval, and garnishing likes from a lot of people who I usually like and who once had brains larger than marbles.

So now I have to defend Sean Spicer. Yecchh.

Observations:

1. Everyone is calling for Trump to fire Spicer. Of course he should fire Spicer. He should have fired Spicer  months ago. Sean Spicer is incompetent, bumbling, inarticulate and gaffe prone. He is even more incompetent, bumbling, inarticulate and gaffe prone than Robert Gibbs, who was the most incompetent, bumbling, inarticulate and gaffe prone press secretary I ever had the pain of watching. (Obama’s subsequent press secretaries were just liars.). Spicer is much worse than Gibbs, though he doesn’t say uh-uh-un-um-um-um as much. I wish he would: they would be an improvement over what he does say. Spicer looks stupid and sounds stupid, so he represents the President and his entire administration as stupid WHICH THEY MIGHT BE, but his job is to place both in the best light possible. He does the opposite. This Hitler botch was just the most recent example.

2. Trump promised to appoint and hire “the best people,” so having one of the worst people imaginable representing his Presidency to the news media and the public leaves “incompetent” in the dust as “suicidal” takes over. This is especially true since the President knows that the news media is actively hostile to his leadership and is actively allied with the Democrats to bring him down and cancel out that damned election by any means possible. Trump’s situation screams out for a spokesman with the credibility, suave and wit of the late Tony Snow or the fierce intellect and articulateness of the very much alive Laura Ingraham. The fact that Trump can’t see that, and that his advisors haven’t threatened to walk out and join an anti-Trump rally if he refused to fire this clod and send him back to the Budget car rental desk or wherever he came from is really ominous. If “best people” means people like Spicer…well, I don’t like to think about it. And if the “You’re fired!” executive won’t fire someone who performs as horribly as him, who will he fire?

3. The Hitler statement was, no question, idiotic. At best, it was the most egregiously warped use of Rationalization # 32. The Unethical Role Model imaginable: Spicer was really saying, “why couldn’t Assad be more like Hitler?”! At worst, it  was like walking into the buzz-saw of the Trump-hate narrative that the President and his team are virtual Nazis and secret anti-Semites. It was so dumb that the fact that Spicer didn’t physically try to stuff the words back into his mouth as they started coming out is signature significance that the man belongs in a home. Continue reading

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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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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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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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