Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/28/2017: Late For My Ethics CLE Seminar Edition!

 

GOOD MORNING!

1 Incredible! The stupid NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck is still dominating the newscasts this morning. Now football fans are organizing boycotts and burning NFL merchandise. Meanwhile, I heard a quick exchange this morning where an advocate for “The Knee” insisted that “it’s not about the National Anthem” and the retort was, “If it’s not about the National Anthem, why is the protest during the National Anthem?” Good question. The Ethics Alarms Protest Checklist could have prevented this whole mess. That, or the simple responsible act of the NFL telling its players that they were free to make whatever political statements and protests they chose, out of uniform and as private citizens, but when they attempted to do so on the NFL’s time, on the field, the they were doing harm to the team, the league and the game.

2. Speaking of tribalism, what can you call Michelle Obama’s statement encouraging gender bias (as long as it is favor of the right gender) with her statement that “Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice”? I’ll give the former First Lady credit, though: she has always been a hard left demagogue, but for the most part completely avoided venting these views while her husband in office. That was prudent, appropriate and wise.

3. Why does the President keep saying that the U.S. is the most heavily taxed nation in the world? This has been debunked over and over. Has no one told him?

4. Conservative news sources and blogs are thrilled that ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame, the central figure in a false Democratic narrative concocted to embarrass the Bush Administration, embarrassed herself by tweeting anti-Semitic sentiments. Alan Dershowitz explains her conduct in excruciating detail here, but Plame is a non-entity. The Right’s obsession with is story is pure revenge. She’s not important, the Plame Affair is not only old news, but also an event that not one in 10,000 Americans could explain if their lives depended on it, and the fact that one woman whom Democrats tried to make into a martyr over a decade ago for partisan gain is a bigot just isn’t news.

5. Ugh—late for my seminar!

 

KABOOM!! Dana Milbank’s New Record For Flagrantly Dishonest Punditry

Exploding head

I am through with Dana Milbank, and also with anyone who quotes him, relies on him, believes him or—take note, Washington Post—employs him. There must be some level of insulting, dishonest, toadying, intentionally misleading punditry that qualifies as intolerable, and Milbank’s latest column for the Washington Post—syndicated elsewhere so the maximum number of weak minds can be polluted—defined it. I’m not going to reprint a word of it for fear that it will poison the blog, or cause your head to explode like mine just did—but I can describe its thesis. Get this: Milbank decries a “crisis of the week political culture” in Washington, and blames the news media, Republicans and Congress for the shifting attention. I am suppressing a scream as I write this.

There is a “crisis of the week” political culture because the incredibly inept and incompetent President of the United States has mismanaged every conceivable aspect of the government’s policies, domestic and foreign, while maintaining incompetents and political hacks in key positions and sending the message that there will be no accountability for abject failure, and because, despite pledging unprecedented transparency, the standard operating procedure for this group of ideologically doctrinaire and skill-challenged group has been to posture, obfuscate, stall, mislead and lie until various ugly chickens come home to roost, and then to rely on the news media to accept absurd excuses, explanation and blame-shifting theories, chaos has been percolating beneath the surface in dozens of vital areas—oh yes, more bad news is coming—and the full measure of various disasters are finally becoming known.

There is a crisis of the week mentality because a new catastrophe caused by the epic incompetence of this Administration is being uncovered every week, and sometimes every day.

And Dana Milbank blames the political culture, as if it is making this stuff up.

And he expects readers to agree with him.

And a lot of them will.

Kaboom.

Continue reading

KABOOM! Wait, Head, Why Did You Explode When Nothing About This Story Should Come As A Surprise?

Wait, this shouldn't be happening...

Wait, this shouldn’t be happening…

As I once again pick my brains and skull fragments off the walls and ceiling and get the Crazy Glue, I am decided annoyed at my head for exploding at this latest blatant example of the White House screwing up in amateurish and damaging fashion, and a respected (not by me, but you know what I mean) member of the news media taking blatantly unethical steps to try to assist in damage control. After all, the Ethics Alarms KABOOM! designation is supposed to be reserved for ethics news so outrageous or beyond the realm of plausibility that it causes rational brains to overload and blow. This story, in contrast, is typical of what has been going on for the last six years. It perfectly illustrates the destructive sequence we have seen since 2008, with evidence of Obama administration incompetence and media seeing its responsibility not as informing the country so it can make informed decisions about its government, journalism’s ethical duty, but protecting the President it worked so hard to elect. I need to solve this mystery, because head explosions are bad for my heath, not to mention the decor. Let’s look at the story, and then come back to “The Mystery Of Jack’s Exploding Head.”

From the Washington Post yesterday, in a story by reporters Greg Miller:

The CIA’s top officer in Kabul was exposed Saturday by the White House when his name was inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama’s surprise visit with U.S. troops. The White House recognized the mistake and quickly issued a revised list that did not include the individual, who had been identified on the initial release as the “Chief of Station” in Kabul, a designation used by the CIA for its highest-ranking spy in a country. The disclosure marked a rare instance in which a CIA officer working overseas had his cover — the secrecy meant to protect his actual identity — pierced by his own government. The only other recent case came under significantly different circumstances, when former CIA operative Valerie Plame was exposed as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband, a former ambassador and fierce critic of the decision to invade Iraq.”

As I have pointed out, again, just recently, this isn’t an isolated incident but rather the inevitable result of the top-to-bottom incompetence in the administration assembled by Barack Obama.There are undoubtedly thousands of gaffes and botches like this, big and small, with long-term consequences and short, all over the government, all the time. Some get people killed, some will, some will help countries be ravaged by despots, some waste millions, or billions of dollars. There is so much incompetence that an outrageous amount of time, manpower and effort is being diverted to covering up the messes or trying to make sure they don’t become outright catastrophes, and this government is incompetent at that, too. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: ABC’s “This Week” Sunday Roundtable

Take note, young medical students: this is the horror of Beltway Blindness.

For the second consecutive Sunday, the politically-diverse group of pundits who make up the “roundtable” on ABC’s “This Week” pooh-poohed the Sestak scandal, noting that this is politics, everybody does it, everybody has always done it, and Republicans are foolish to try to make an issue out of old-fashioned horse trading. This is the cynicism and ethics rot that working in and around politicians will breed.

Consider: Continue reading

What’s Wrong About the Sestak Caper

The Sestak-White House “Please Force Pennsylvanians to Keep Arlen Specter as Senator” story has officially cracked wide open, and reports are coming out fast and furious while the White House is spinning faster than Kristi Yamaguchi on speed. It began with Rep. Sestak making himself look determined and incorruptible by telling a radio talk show host on the air that the White House had promised him a plum job if he didn’t challenge Specter in the primary. Once Sesatk won, Rep. Issa of the Republican Truth Squad began demanding that Sestak reveal who made the offer, since it would be a Federal crime (as Sestak had described it) and another Federal law requires Sestak to report Federal crimes committed by government employees. The details will be clarified, corrected and spun some more over the next few days, but the following is clear: Continue reading

Rep. Sestak and That White House Bribe…

Can anyone remember another series of elections in which the winners found themselves in so much ethical hot water so quickly? First we have a U.S. Senate convention nominee in Connecticut (Blumenthal wasn’t really elected, just chosen by delegates) revealed having misrepresented his military record multiple times. Then the victorious Republican Senate nominee in Kentucky goes on TV and radio to prove that he cares more about being true to what the New York Times calls “textbook libertarianism” than its real world human and societal costs. Now Rep. Joe Sestak is being caught in an ethical quandary. Is he going to finger members of Obama’s White House, cover up a Federal crime, or admit he was lying? Continue reading

Proof of Dead Ethics: Attacking Your Adversary’s Family

It is a standard threat in movies about the Mob and TV dramas about thugs: “Do what I tell you, or your family’s dead.” The tactic of going after loved ones as a particularly awful form of revenge is a calling card of the truly despicable. That is why the Valerie Plame scandal so damaged the Bush Administration’s popularity, even though it was never clear (and still isn’t) that anyone there really did try to “out” Plame’s CIA status to get even with her obnoxious husband’s fueling opposition to the Iraq invasion. Just the plausible suggestion that Vice President Cheney’s gang may have committed such an ethical outrage was too much to bear.

You would think, then, that those who most revile Cheney’s no-holds-barred approach to political combat would be the least likely to emulate him. You would be wrong. Continue reading