Late Verdict On The Helsinki Press Conference Freak-Out: I’m Convinced. It’s Just More Unethical, Double-Standard, Anti-Trump, “Resistance” And News Media Coup-Fodder, Only Noisier And Dumber Than Usual

I don’t appeal to authority very often.

What I do occasionally do is look for someone with judgment, experience and honesty I trust whose assessment of a particular situation jibes with my ethical analysis at times when I have begun to judge my own sanity. When I started reading people writing, in horror-stricken tones,”Can you believe what Trump said at that joint press conference?,” which I initially missed because these events are always stagey, insincere, all-puffery affairs, I assumed that President Trump finally done something really over-the-top this time, like spitting at CNN reporter, or singing “The Volga Boatman” to irritate Putin. When I read what he in fact did say, and saw the videos, my brain literally couldn’t reconcile it with the hysterical claims that it was “treasonous,” or like “Pearl Harbor,” or “Kristallnacht” or warranted impeachment (Plan N). It didn’t compute, as the robot in “Lost in Space” used to say.

I know I don’t often seem like it, but I have my doubts sometimes. I write as if I am certain I am right, because that’s my style, but often within me there meet a combination of antithetical elements which are at eternal war with one another. Driven hither by objective influences — thither by subjective emotions — wafted one moment into blazing day, by mocking hope — plunged the next into the Cimmerian darkness of tangible despair, I am but a living ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms. All right, that was from my favorite exchange in “H.M.S. Pinafore,” but I’m not completely facetious. When I read almost every one of hundreds of Facebook friends writing, to universal agreement from their echo ch..freinds, that an extemporaneous statement in a Finnish press conference proves that Putin “has something” on the President, I begin to think, since I don’t see it at all, that the problem must be me. I am so thoroughly sick and disgusted at the relentless unethical and unprecedented efforts to interfere with this President, and his efforts to do the job he was elected to do, by Democrats, progressives, “the resistance” NeverTrumpers and the news media, that maybe my indignation against their dangerous, democratic institution-eroding vengeance because this odd and offensive man shattered the dreams of the Obama Worshipers and the Clinton Conned, had finally metastasized into bias, and made me impervious to something that should have me, for once, agreeing with them. For bias makes us all stupid, you know.

That is why I was so relieved to read this, the transcript of the comments of NYU Russia expert Stephen F. Cohen, a contributing editor at “The Nation,” the most extreme leftist magazine of national prominence in the country. He is clearly NOT being driven by bias, but his analysis was exactly the same as mine:

“The reaction by most of the media, by the Democrats, by the anti-Trump people is like mob violence. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. This is the president of the United States, doing what every president… since FDR in 1943 with Stalin, meeting with the head of the Kremlin. And every president since Eisenhower, a Republican by the way, has met with the leader of the Kremlin for one existential purpose: To avoid war between the two nuclear superpowers. Today, in my considered, scholarly, long-time judgment, relations between the U.S. and Russia are more dangerous than they have ever — let me repeat, ever — been, including the Cuban missile crisis. I want my president to do — I didn’t vote for this president– but I want my president to do what every other president has done. Sit with the head of the other nuclear superpower and walk back the conflicts that could lead to war, whether they be in Syria, Ukraine, in the Baltic nations, in these accusations of cyber attacks. Every president has been encouraged to do that an applauded by both parties. Not Trump. Look what they did to him today. They had a kangaroo court. They found him guilty. And then you had the former head of the U.S. CIA, who himself ought to be put under oath and asked about his role in inventing Russiagate, calling the President of the United States treasonous. What have we come to in this country? And what is going to happen in the future?”

Whew! What a relief: I thought I was going crazy. Like Cohen, except not close to matching his scholarly efforts, I know quite a bit about how past Presidents treated Russian leaders in their various summits, meetings and diplomatic encounters. Only Trump was expected to insult the Russian leader to his face. Only Trump was asked an outrageous question inviting him to insult a Russian leader to his face. (The reporter should have been ejected from the conference.) President Trump was not only criticized for behaving as every other President has and should have behaved, but was excoriated for doing so.

I wish, of course, that the President’s rhetorical skills were not so blunt and confounding, so he could defend his own conduct without resorting to “fake new!” retorts. I wish he had the nuance and sense to simply dodge such a disruptive and irresponsible question without walking into a true “when did you stop beating your wife” question that made him choose between undermining U.S. intelligence or undermining the whole reason he was at the summit in the first place. I wish that the President was not so much like Donald Trump, in other words, but unlike Anderson Cooper, George Will, Chuck Schumer, John McCain and my hysterical Facebook Friends, I regard constantly becoming more and more irrational over something that happened 19 months ago  to be civic incompetence. Continue reading

The Unexposed Ethics Outrage On The Edges Of The Trump Jr. Meeting Controversy

The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act  allows the U.S. President to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on human rights abusers who kill, torture or violate the rights of human rights defenders, as well as government officials responsible for acts of significant corruption. The law and its various amendments that expanded its reach are at the heart of the sanctions currently being enforced against Russia. It was this law, and Russian efforts to blunt its force, that apparently was the real reason that Donald Trump Jr. was induced to meet with an indefinite number of Russians, Russian-Americans, and various individuals “connected” to the Russian government, the list of which is currently expanding like the roster of women allegedly raped by Bill Cosby.

The news media doesn’t seem to feel the Magnitsky Act is anything the public needs to know, perhaps because Donnie Jr. didn’t know much about it, if anything. The stories about his aborted meeting typically mention the Act briefly and without elaboration. They really don’t elaborate on Putin’s retaliation for the Act, which was to stop U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans. (I wrote about this indefensible conduct by Russia at the time, in 2012. The post had a grand total of eight comments. Five years was too long to wait for an update, and I’m sorry. Of course, we are supposed to have responsible and competent professional journalists to keep us informed. )Russia had been one of the primary sources of foreign adoptions by childless U.S. parents before 2012, when the Russian strong man retaliated against loving U.S. parents to show his annoyance with our government and his support of corruption at home.

It’s worse than that, though. The real victims of Putin’s retaliation are his nation’s own, innocent, most vulnerable children. There is virtually no domestic adoption in Russia, because parents can’t afford the children the have. There are lots of orphans though, because parents can give up infants they can’t care for, and the government is quick to remove children it believes are abused or neglected. Unfortunately, once these children are warehoused, there is no way out. The orphanages are underfunded and over-crowded. Once the children “age out,” they are sent to live in hospitals, clinics and other Russian institutions ill-equipped to care for them, and eventually dumped out into the street, where they often are abused or turn to crime. Continue reading

As We Watch The Hillary Corrupted News Media Today Facilitate Her Campaign’s Furious And Desperate Attack On James Comey, Let Us Not Forget What The Real Threat To The Election’s Integrity Is…[UPDATED]


…and that would be the dangerous alliance between the party controlling in the White House and the organizations and individuals trusted by the public to fairly and objectively inform it sufficiently to make a responsible choice.

I’ll be covering the astounding wave of disinformation, distortions and unethical conduct by those who should know better in the ongoing effort to crucify James Comey in a bit. Meanwhile, another Wikileaks hack provides some more perspective on the perils to democracy posed by the Democratic Party’s and the Clinton organization’s belief that cheating is an acceptable way to obtain and keep power.

As Ethics Alarms pointed out, DNC Chair Donna Brazile melted into sputtering protests, denials and gibberish when confronted with the clear evidence, via a Wikileaks hacked e-mail, that she unethically used her position at CNN to pass along a question to Hillary Clinton in advance of a CNN town meeting, so Clinton could prepare an answer in advance (and pretend that she had no prior knowledge of the question. This kind of lie, and it is a lie, never makes it onto the lists when Hillary enablers claim that Trump lies more than she does.) She would never do that!, Donna postured.

Another e-mail, from the same source, shows that this too was a lie.

In the latest revelation, Brazile, still working for CNN and bound by journalism ethics, told Hillary what question was on the way, and identified the questioner:


“Rigging,” anyone? Continue reading

Hillary, Her Minions, And Scooby-Doo

Former DNC chair Howard Dean just reinforced his prominent position among the ten most loathsome figures in modern politics with this tweet regarding James Comey’s revelation that the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of her official communications via e-mail was being re-opened:


Dean’s meaning: since Russian hacks of  various e-mail accounts have provided ugly and often sinister evidence of the corrupt attitudes and practices of Hillary Clinton and her campaign, Comey’s required notification of Congress—required, mind you, by basic ethical principles and the rules of the legal profession—makes him a wrongdoer on par with those fueling Wikileaks. After all, without them, Hillary and her minions—including the outrageously complicit news media—would have succeeded in fooling all of the people all of the time. Yes, Comey, damn him, is now “on the same side” as Putin, because he is stripping away Clinton’s facade of trustworthiness.

Even before yesterday’s surprise announcement, the Democratic defense was in place that because Russia was attempting to influence the US election by revealing the filthy underside of Clinton, Inc., including, among other things…

….the inappropriate melding of Sate Department business, pay-to-play incentives, Clinton foundation fundraising and family enrichment

….discussions among aides on how to cover-up Hillary’s e-mail misadventures

….private speeches to Wall Street contradicting her public, anti-Wall street rhetoric, and most disturbing of all,

….collusion by journalists to assist the campaign

….such enlightening evidence should be ignored. This, those well-versed in the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list will recognize, is   Rationalization #55, The Scooby Doo Deflection, or “I should have gotten away with it!,” in practice. Continue reading

Update: “Ethics Quiz: Photojournalism And The President’s Meaningful, Meaningless Bowed Head”


Putin and obama2

Last weekend’s Ethics Quiz involving the photojournalism ethics of publishing a photo appearing to show President Obama in a submissive or shamed posture as Vladmir Putin passed was handicapped by the mysterious unavailability of the photo in question, which the Washington Post published at least twice but has not made available on-line, even to accompany letters criticizing it. Well, the Post published the photo, in its print edition, yet again today and still I cannot track it down on the Post website. One reason appears to be that it comes from a Russian news agency.

I have found the version above, however, taken by the same photographer a split second after the one in question. In this one, Putin has just passed the President; in the photo the Post used, he was just about to pass him. The expression and postures of everyone in the two photos are the same.

You may want to reconsider the post “Ethics Quiz: Photojournalism And The President’s Meaningful, Meaningless Bowed Head”with it, rather than what I used last week, in mind.

(And why didn’t anyone tell me that the “a” and the “l” in “photojournalism” were transposed in the headline?)


Ethics Quiz: Photojournalism And The President’s Meaningful, Meaningless Bowed Head

Putin and Obama

I am looking at a black and white AP photograph re-published from the Washington Post’s front page on September 7. It is similar to the one above, taken seconds before it, and from straight on rather than an angle. That photo, like the one above, shows Vladamir Putin, joining the other attendees at last week’s Group of 20 summit for their formal group photo, but in the one I am looking at Putin is striding across the group to the end of the line, eyes forward, as the rest look on. President Obama alone is standing head bowed as Putin passed, while the other leaders look forward. Unlike the photo above, Obama’s bowed head appears to be in reaction to Putin, but not an effort to listen to something the Russian leader is saying or has said, which is how I would interpret the photo above. The photo above seems relaxed and collegial; the one I am looking at depicts tension. [UPDATE 9/21: A much closer version of the photo is question can be seen here.]

That photograph prompted these criticisms from two Post readers over the weekend.

Mary-Anne Enoch wrote in part…

“I was upset by the photo chosen for the Sept. 7 front page, showing the assembly of the Group of 20 leaders for their traditional “family photograph.”
In that photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin is confidently striding across a stage while others are smiling and probably paying no attention to him. Except for President Obama: In sharp contrast to the rest, he appears to be subservient, shrunken and diminished. His stance reminded me of Forest Whitaker’s portrayal of a long-serving White House butler in a recent movie….it is outrageous that The Post should have selected [ the photo] to accompany an article on the very important and delicate negotiations involving the United States, Russia and Syria.”

Reader Charlotte Stokes had a similar reaction:

“Surely, the wire-service photographer took dozens of pictures, including at least one when the Group of 20 leaders formally posed. So why did The Post choose this one to grace the front page? The photo presented our president in a less-than-honorable light. Given the challenges he faces internationally, why cast doubt on his abilities by sending subliminal messages of this kind?”

[I recognize that it would be better if you could see the actual photo rather than read my description of it accompanied by one that is similar but not quite the same. Interestingly, the Post appears to have purged the picture I am writing about from its website: it does not even use it to accompany the letters about the photo, which it normally would, and which good practice would demand. The photo above, which was widely used by other sources, is the closest I could find, other than the print version that was in my Post on Saturday. If someone can find the actual photo and send me the link, I’d be very grateful.]

Here is your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz to kick off what promises to be an ethically alarming week, on the always tricky topic of photojournalism:

Was it unethical for the Post have prominently run a photograph that presented President Obama in an unfavorable, arguably subservient or weak posture? Continue reading

The Ethics Of Amateur World Leadership

Student Driver

The only rational way for any American to respond to the absurd and unprecedented bungling by President Obama and his tight circle of incompetents is sheer terror. If this was the level of care, seriousness, responsibility and professionalism employed by—oh, pick one; let’s say President Kennedy and his all-star advisors during the desperate efforts to avert nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we might all be cockroaches today. That this particular series of inept maneuvers, verbal gaffes and brain-numbing rationalizations may not be the one that sinks the United States like Titanic Jr  should not be the cause of cheering by anyone. We are stuck with this, because the news media of the United States conspired with well-meaning ideologues to place the fate of the nation in the hands of an arrogant amateur without even the ability to realize how little he knows what he is doing. Now we are awaiting what must be the most surreal Presidential speech in U.S. history—or at least we can hope it is—by a leader who has only one skill, and is once again relying on it to bail him out of a mess of his own making. Continue reading

Evil Empire Ethics: Stand Up For The Crooks By Sacrificing The Children

Putin's pawns

Putin’s pawns

Stalin would be proud.

Today Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill barring  Americans from adopting Russian children. The objective of the bill had absolutely nothing to do with American adoptions, both Russian and American analysts agree. The law is retaliation for various American measures that punished or embarrassed Russia for various human rights violations.  One of these was the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which mandated  financial and visa sanctions on corrupt Russian officials linked to the arrest and imprisonment of Magnitsky, a lawyer who discovered a $230 million tax fraud and was then arrested by the same police officers he had accused of the fraud. He was sentenced to prison and died there in 2009.

The adoption ban is itself a human rights violation. Continue reading