Ethics Quote Of The Month: “Election 2020 Grassroots Canvas Report”

maricopa-county-election-center-20200826

“It is obvious to anyone that voting by mail is ripe for fraud. The US Mail is not meant to be a secure transactional system. We have all known since we were children that you don’t send cash through the mail –our voting rights are far more sacred than cash. Bipartisan and Democrat Voter studies and commissions have found vote-by-mail to have the highest risk of fraud1 and most first-world democracies, such as Germany, either ban Vote-by-Mail outright or place very heavy restrictions on its use. Banning Vote-by-mail is a very simple solution to a huge problem for our Country. We cannot give up our fundamental right to vote, upon which America was built, simply because we are too lazy to go cast a vote in person.”

—– Liz Harris, in the Executive Summary to the just issued “Maricopa County “Election 2020 Grassroots Canvass Report.”

An independent canvas of the 2020 election in Maricopa County claims to have found over 260,000 “lost” and “ghost” votes, according to a report released last week. This effort is independent of the audit being done by the state legislature, and was the work of the Voter Integrity Project, founded by Liz Harris. The canvas only visited about 12,000 voters in Maricopa county, so the estimates reported, frequently misleadingly, are extrapolations of the data actually obtained. The report is here.

What the group claims to have shown is that there were “an estimated” 173,104 “missing or lost” votes in a county that essentially gave the state’s electoral votes to Joe Biden. Of course, Donald Trump is crowing about this, and of course the mainstream media is ignoring the canvass as the work of crazy “Trumpists.” However, Harris’s opening statement to the report is, or should be, undeniable. Her assessment is identical to what others were saying before the election, in which Democrats in states across the country successfully used the combined hysteria over George Floyd’s death and the pandemic to push through relaxed voting procedures that were an open invitation to manipulation. Republicans and honest civil libertarians were caught flatfooted and were too late in reacting, so the election went forward with millions of mail-in ballots that changed hands untold times before being recorded (if they were recorded).

It was a fait accompli. There was no way to prove that the election had been “stolen” or even that a substantial number of votes had been changed, harvested, lost or faked, not in time to do anything about it. Faced with a rigged election—that it was rigged doesn’t mean it was stolen, but it was rigged—that resulted in a personal defeat, then-President Trump was obligated by his office, tradition and basic ethical principles of leadership and character to accept the results, allow a peaceful transfer of power, and allow others to determine what happened. But Trump posses no basic ethical principles of leadership and character, at least in sufficient quantity, so he claimed instead that he won the election, and even hired a bunch of incompetent lawyers to try to overturn the results without sufficient hard evidence to do so. (Now many of them are being disciplined by bars and courts.)

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Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/12/2021: It’s The Great Stupid, Charlie Brown!

Gypsy moth

1. Incompetent Elected Official of the Month: Guess who! Yes, of course it is VP Kamala Harris, and this would be a stand-alone post if I hadn’t begun the day with another Kamala story. You may have heard about this one, if you don’t depend on mainstream media.

The Vice President suggested during an interview at the end of last week with BET News that voter ID laws will make it unacceptably difficult for rural voters who do not live near Kinko’s or OfficeMax to cast ballots. “In some people’s mind, that means you’re going to have to Xerox or photocopy your ID to send it in to prove who you are. Well, there are a whole lot of people, especially people who live in rural communities, who don’t — there’s no Kinkos, there’s no OfficeMax near them,” she warned. “Of course people have to prove who they are, but not in a way that makes it almost impossible for them to prove who they are.”

Naturally the interviewer, the historically unobjective Soledad O’Brien, who was the worst talking head at CNN before the whole network went to Journalism Hell, just smiled and nodded as if Harris had said that the world was round. Elsewhere, Kamala’s idiotic statement got the reaction it deserved. Harris had managed to insult rural America and show her own ignorance in one single gaffe. Kinkos hasn’t existed for several years; it’s called FedEx Office now. Wrote PJ Media’s Bryan Preston, his tongue piercing his cheek,

“Rural Americans have access to these things called ‘smartphones,’ which they can use to scan and send their IDs if they need to. They also have access to these things called ‘scanners,’ ‘printers, and these amazing devices that can scan,  print, and even digitally transmit information wirelessly. It’s like magic, really. Rural Americans also have this amazing communications tech called ’email.’ They also have various means of getting their information from where it is to where it needs to be — in physical form! There’s even a whole government service dedicated to moving physical pieces of paper and even packages from place to place called the ‘U.S. Postal Service.’ We truly live in an age of miracle and wonder.”

One Tweeter writes, “She’s so misinformed and so ridiculous. It’s absurd.” Yes, It’s that trademark Harris smug laziness, all right. If she is going to keep up the dishonest Democratic talking point that voter ID is racist and a means of “voter suppression,” it would be prudent to check some facts. Harris doesn’t do that very often. The episode was reminiscent of President Bush the Elder expressing amazement at a grocery store checkout scanner, causing widespread mockery in the media over how out of touch he was. Yet I can’t find any mention of Harris’s telling botch outside of the “conservative media.” Gee, why is that? When poor Dan Quayle was VP, the fact that he misspelled “potato” was news for a week. Harris shows that she thinks of rural America as a primitive wasteland, and it isn’t newsworthy at the Times, Washington Post, CNN, CBS and the rest.

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Wednesday Ethics Windstorm,11/11/20: Liars, Knaves, Fools And Birds

Great Tit

1. Incompetent headline dept. Someone at a newspaper has to be alert enough to catch a risible headline like this:

Great tits

A Great Tit is the pretty bird above.

2. Who believes that MSNBC didn’t know this? (I don’t.) MSNBC was shocked—shocked!—to discover that the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jom Meacham, who had been a regular on MSNBC’s 24-7 anti-Trump barrage, never told them that he was working for the Joe Biden team. on speeches, including his victory address. Meacham appeared on MSNBC following the speech to comment on the speech he had written but didn’t disclose to viewers that the speech he loved cane from his own laptop as he said,  “Tonight marks — the entire election results mark — a renewal of an American conversation where we’re struggling imperfectly to realize the full implications of the Jeffersonian promise of equality,” said Meacham. “It’s taken us too long, our work has been bloody and tragic and painful and difficult and, Lord knows, it is unfinished, but at our best we try.”

MSNBC announced that due to this “discovery. Meacham would no longer be a paid contributor, but he would be welcome to appear on future panels, thus showing the high regard for integrity for which the network is famous. If Meacham lied to MSNBC and its viewers while withholding a crucial conflict of interest, why would he be allowed back on the air in any capacity? Why would anyone trust him?

I believe that MSNBC knew that Meacham was working for Democrats while he was bashing Trump. And this is yet another example of how unprofessional the profession of historian has become.

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As If Another Was Necessary, Here’s Smoking Gun Evidence Of Politically-Motivated News Media Distortion

I am not certain any more which is more infuriating: the increasingly brazen abdication of American journalism’s duty  to inform the public fairly, objectively and without distortion and manipulation, or the refusal of members of the public whose personal political objectives are served by the abdication to acknowledge that it is occurring.

Yesterday, the New York Times carried a front page story headlined Kentucky Vote Drew Out Trolls In 2020 Omen. It contained numerous ethics alarm-ringers, such as…

A few hours after polls closed in Kentucky last Tuesday, a Twitter user writing under the handle @Overlordkraken1 posted a message to his 19 followers saying he had “just shredded a box of Republican mail-in ballots”…..just in case anyone missed the significance of the destroyed-ballots claim, @Overlordkraken1 added a final touch to his tweet: “Bye-Bye Bevin,” he wrote…Within hours of @Overlordkraken1’s tweet, as it became apparent that Mr. Bevin was trailing in the vote tally, hyperpartisan conservatives and trolls were pushing out a screenshot of the message, boosted by what appeared to be a network of bots, and providing early grist for allegations of electoral theft in Kentucky. High-profile right-wing figures were soon tweeting out their own conspiracy theories about the election being stolen — messages that were in turn pushed by even more trolls and bots — and the Bevin campaign began talking about “irregularities” in the vote without offering any specifics or evidence.

Yes, there we have an excellent example of how social media and the speed and reach of the internet can start rumors and facilitate disinformation, as well as serve the sinister objectives of those seeking to benefit from seeding untruths and distrust. Except..1. The Times has no idea whether or not the tweet was “trolling” and 2., The Times and other supposedly accurate news sources have been responsible for disinformation of their own that also started rumors and spread disinformation.

The Times also noted with approval that Twitter suspended the account, though there is no way Twitter could have determined that an anonymous poster had not shredded ballots. Never mind: the news media and social media are self-appointed guardians of the truth, at least the truth as they want it perceived.

Then we got this: “Kentucky is shaping up to be a case study in the real-world impact of disinformation — and a preview of what election-security officials and experts fear could unfold a year from now if the 2020 presidential election comes down to the wire.”

The message is insidious, implied but clear—Republican disinformation. We are told that…

“…allegations of irregularities echo the Trump playbook. Mr. Trump has sown doubts about a “rigged election” system since before his own election, including openly questioning the mail-in ballot process in Colorado. He then contended that fraud had lost him the popular vote (which Hillary Clinton won by 2.9 million votes). And he has amplified similar theories while in office, tweeting at least 40 times about unfounded voter fraud allegations, according to an analysis by The New York Times, including a claim after the midterm elections last year that “many ballots are missing or forged” in Florida.”

Then we get the pious lecture:

“Such divisive rhetoric after close elections has always risked shaking public faith in essential democratic institutions. But in a profoundly polarized country where narrow margins are hardly uncommon, sophisticated networks of social media users — human and bot — can quickly turn partisan rancor into grave threats, rapidly amplifying disinformation and creating an initial veneer of vast discord that can eventually become self-fulfilling….While the Kentucky election, held in an off-year, remains a sideshow to most people outside the state, election security experts see in it a worrying sign of what Americans may be forced to contend with next November.”

Damn Republicans. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/8/17: Hybrid Topics! CNN, Hillary, DACA And More…

Good morning, all.

1 The Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative non-profit public interest group that focuses particularly on voting issues, claims to have data suggesting that Hillary Clinton’s narrow win in New Hampshire in the 2016 election—about 2,700 votes gave her the state—may have been achieved by fraud. A study showed that more than 6,000 voters in New Hampshire had used the state’s same-day voter registration procedures to register and vote.  The current New Hampshire speaker of the House, Shawn Jasper, sought and obtained data about what happened to these 6,000 “new” New Hampshire voters who showed up on Election Day. Most of them are no longer in the Granite State. Only 1,014 have ever obtained New Hampshire driver’s licenses. Of the 5,526 voters who have not, just 3% have registered a vehicle in New Hampshire.  70% of the same-day registrants used out-of-state photo ID to vote in the 2016 presidential election in New Hampshire and to utilize same-day registration.

All of which suggests that it would be prudent if a group other than a right-wing advocacy organization did an unbiased and objective study.  Since Democrats won several top races last year along thin margins, notably Maggie Hassan defeating Kelly Ayotte in the U.S. Senate race by 1,017 votes, some Republicans are claiming that out-of-state voters illegitimately tilted the election. Of course, for all anyone knows, the same-day voters may have voted Republican. The episode does compel three conclusions:

  • Same day registration is a recipe for chicanery. I am suspicious of any elected official or activist who supports it.
  • The Democratic/ mainstream media cant that there is no voter fraud is incredible on its face, and manifestly dishonest.
  • The nation’s lack of eager, objective investigators without partisan agendas is crippling. I don’t believe what conservative sources and pundits conclude about the New Hampshire vote, and I find the lack of interest the liberal national mainstream news media seems to have in the story— on Google, I see New Hampshire sources and conservative sources like Breitbart, BizPac, Fox and the Washington Times—gives the story more credibility, not less.

2. For those who are still having trouble accepting that the DACA was an illegal measure as executed by President Obama, I highly recommend the article by Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, who explains why he regarded it as “a flagrantly legislative act by President Barack Obama.”  So did I, but he’s a legal scholar and I’m just a lawyer. From an ethics perspective, my area of expertise, I’m still disturbed at the attitude of the supporters of this Obama’s end-around the Constitution (and others). which can be summarized as, “Let’s see if we can get away with it, because we like the results.” It translates into “the ends justifies the means,” and epitomizes the drift of the Left toward totalitarian methods and philosophy. Continue reading

Illegal Immigrant Ethics Do’s And Don’ts

DON’T do this:

A customer’s cell phone video caught  a  7-Eleven clerk on Tampa, Florida screaming at a customer and asking about his immigration status after the customer used the Spanish word for ‘green’ to ask the clerk for a specific brand of cigarettes. The clerk demanded Hernandez speak English, and is is heard saying, “Are you here legally? Do you have papers? Do you have papers?”

This isn’t the clerk’s job, and if the company has not directed that all customers should not be treated with dignity, courtesy and respect, no employee should be going free-lance ICE on anyone.

A spokesman for the 7-11 owner  wrote, “Every customer is important. The statements made by the sales associate were inappropriate and offensive. We are investigating the matter and will ensure it is handled appropriately.”

“Appropriately” means firing the clerk. In addition to acting ultra vires, the clerk is also making the store unpleasant and unwelcoming for other customers, risking an escalating confrontation, and being a jerk while representing the enterprise. Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

However…

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OK, Voter ID Opponents, Here’s An Integrity Test: Is This A Smoking Gun Or An Amazing Coincidence?

Wow! Just a handful of fraudulent voters in the whole country for years, and one of them just happens to be captured for terrorism! What are the odds?

Wow! Just a handful of fraudulent voters in the whole country for years, and one of them just happens to be captured for terrorism! What are the odds?

Those opposing voter ID requirements as a thinly-veiled Republican effort to suppress black voting maintain that there is no need for identification at the polls because voter fraud doesn’t exist. Last week, discussing the controversy,  I flagged a New York Times editorial  titled, The Success of the Voter Fraud Myth.

It argued in part,

As study after study has shown, there is virtually no voter fraud anywhere in the country. The most comprehensive investigation to date found that out of one billion votes cast in all American elections between 2000 and 2014, there were 31 possible cases of impersonation fraud. Other violations — like absentee ballot fraud, multiple voting and registration fraud — are also exceedingly rare. So why do so many people continue to believe this falsehood?

Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, wrote in U.S. News & World Report in 2012  that voter fraud didn’t exist:

“Voter fraud would be a real problem if it actually happened. It’s a serious crime, and one that can undermine our democracy. Fortunately, it’s a crime we have largely figured out how to prevent.”

Huh.

Well then, what does this mean?

From King5 TV (NBC):

The Cascade Mall shooting suspect, Arcan Cetin, may face an additional investigation related to his voting record and citizenship status.

Federal sources confirm to KING 5 that Cetin was not a U.S. citizen, meaning legally he cannot vote. However, state records show Cetin registered to vote in 2014 and participated in three election cycles, including the May presidential primary.

Cetin, who immigrated to the United States from Turkey as a child, is considered a permanent resident or green card holder. While a permanent resident can apply for U.S. citizenship after a certain period of time, sources tell KING his status had not changed from green card holder to U.S. citizen.

While voters must attest to citizenship upon registering online or registering to vote at the Department of Licensing Office, Washington state doesn’t require proof of citizenship. Therefore elections officials say the state’s elections system operates, more or less, under an honor system.

“We don’t have a provision in state law that allows us either county elections officials or the Secretary of State’s office to verify someone’s citizenship,” explained Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “So, we’re in this place where we want to make sure we’re maintaining people’s confidence in the elections and the integrity of the process, but also that we’re giving this individual, like we would any voter, his due process. We’re moving forward, and that investigation is really coming out of the investigation from the shootings.”

The penalty for voting as a non U.S. citizen could result in five years of prison time or a $10,000, according to Secretary of State’s Office.

The options are: Continue reading

Voter IDs And The “Don’t Lock The Barn Door Because The Horse Hasn’t Escaped Yet” Argument

horse-in-barn-door

There are some political and partisan controversies in which I just cannot comprehend, from an ethical perspective, why there is any serious disagreement. Illegal immigration is one of them. Of course we need to control immigration; of course it is madness to encourage illegal immigrants to enter the country; and of course we have to enforce our laws. The arguments against these obvious and undeniable facts are entirely based on rationalizations, emotion, cynical political strategies and group loyalties. The advocates for illegal immigrants have  one valid argument that only applies to those who currently live here: it’s too late and too difficult to get rid of them now. I agree, but that doesn’t mean it is responsible to keep adding to the problem.

Voter identification requirements is another one of those debates. Of course it makes sense to protect the integrity of elections by requiring valid IDs. The last time the Supreme Court visited the issue, an ideologically-mixed court found a voter ID requirement reasonable, necessary and constitutional. Writing for the 6-3 majority in 2008, Justice Stevens (who in retirement has become something of a progressive icon), wrote,

“The relevant burdens here are those imposed on eligible voters who lack photo identification cards that comply with [the Indiana law.] Because Indiana’s cards are free, the inconvenience of going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, gathering required documents, and posing for a photograph does not qualify as a substantial burden on most voters’ right to vote, or represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting. The severity of the somewhat heavier burden that may be placed on a limited number of persons—e.g., elderly persons born out-of-state, who may have difficulty obtaining a birth certificate—is mitigated by the fact that eligible voters without photo identification may cast provisional ballots that will be counted if they execute the required affidavit at the circuit court clerk’s office. Even assuming that the burden may not be justified as to a few voters, that conclusion is by no means sufficient to establish petitioners’ right to the relief they seek.”

Of course.  Our government is entirely dependent on elections. Nobody questions the reasonableness of requiring IDs to buy liquor, open a bank account, rent a car or check into a hotel, yet we’re going to rely on the honor system for our elections? The idea is madness, though, to be fair, two current members of the Court, Justice Ginsberg and Breyer,  argued that avoiding “disparate impact” justified allowing a gaping vulnerability in the integrity of elections to go unaddressed. Breyer wrote:

“Indiana’s statute requires registered voters to present photo identification at the polls. It imposes a burden upon some voters, but it does so in order to prevent fraud, to build confidence in the voting system, and thereby to maintain the integrity of the voting process. In determining whether this statute violates the Federal Constitution, I would balance the voting-related interests that the statute affects, asking “whether the statute burdens any one such interest in a manner out of proportion to the statute’s salutary effects upon the others (perhaps, but not necessarily, because of the existence of a clearly superior, less restrictive alternative)…”

Justice Breyer concluded that the alleged “burden” to some groups outweighed the integrity of the democratic system, thus embodying the current delusion of modern liberalism: race is more important that anything else, especially when that race is a reliable and uncritical source of power for Democrats.

It wasn’t until several political and judicial factors changed that the Ginsberg-Breyer rationale became politically weaponized, among them the increasing employment of the dubious “disparate impact” doctrine, the Democratic party strategists’ realization that painting Republicans as racists was an excellent way to get minorities to the polls; the growing tendency of African Americans to automatically vote a straight Democratic ticket regardless of who the candidates were and what they had accomplished; an aggressively political and partisan Justice Department and, yes, the realization that all those illegal immigrants here who are counting on keeping the borders as porous as possible might somehow find ways to vote, that requiring IDs became controversial.

Do some, even many, Republican legislators and conservative pundits promote state voter ID laws because they believe there would be a disparate impact on Democratic voting blocs? Absolutely; I have no doubts whatsoever. Does responsible and necessary legislation become magically irresponsible and unconstitutional because unethical motives merge with the ethical ones in passing it? Again, of course not. It is a principle of ethical analysis discussed here many times: many actions have both ethical and unethical motives, but the ethical nature of the conduct must be judged on its intended purpose, reasonably anticipated results, and effect on society as a whole. In the case of voter identification, the obvious and reasonable approach is to pass legislation to protect the integrity of the system and then seek to mitigate any inequities by separate means. In an ethical, reasonable system where one party didn’t see itself gaining power by allowing loose enforcement of voting requirements and the other party didn’t similarly see happy side-effect of enforcing them vigorously, this wouldn’t be a partisan issue at all. Of course we should have laws making sure that voters are who they say they are. Of course we should make sure that every citizen has access to such identification.

The current ascendant argument against voter ID laws is articulated by the New York Times in an editorial today titled, The Success of the Voter Fraud Myth.  Continue reading

KABOOM! There’s nothing else to say, really…My head is all over the room…

Voter fraud

Melowese Richardson, a poll worker who was convicted of multiple counts of voter fraud and just released on probation from a five year prison sentence, was brought up on stage  to rousing applause as Rev. Al Sharpton joined State Representative Alicia Reece at a rally to kick off the drive for an Ohio “Voter’s Bill of Rights” amendment.

My head is scattered all over my hotel room, so I am struggling to be articulate, restrained and calm.

The cynicism of Democrats on the voter fraud issue approaches…oh, hell, I can’t do it!

HOW DARE THEY? Continue reading

Case Study In How Bias Rots Integrity: Washington Post Columnist Harold Meyerson

You see, Harold, this is your brain on bias. Yes, I know it looks yummy...

You see, Harold, this is your integrity on bias. Yes, I know it looks yummy…

Back in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, I exchanged some e-mails with Harold Meyerson, the left-est of the Post’s op-ed liberals. He had been condemning the Bush administration’s decision to go to war against Iraq—we were technically still at war with Iraq, since no peace terms had ever been agreed upon from the previous war, and Saddam was blatantly violating the terms of a cease-fire, but never mind—saying, among other things, that this was the first time in American history that the nation had embarked on a “war of choice” rather than necessity. This was a popular, and ignorant, “talking point” used by the anti-war critics at the time, and I was thoroughly sick of it being shouted in CNN debates without any objective participant protesting that it was a lie. I pointed out to the columnist that this was historical fantasy clothed as fact, and that he owed his readers better.

Most U.S. wars have been “wars of choice,” I wrote, and presumably Meyerson knew this. Arguably only the War of 1812, World War II and Afghanistan didn’t fit that description. The Revolution wasn’t a “war of choice”? Of course it was….most of the country would have been happy to stay subjects of the Crown. The Mexican War was not merely a “war of choice” but a war of “let’s trump up a reason to take away all this land belonging to Mexico” war.  Lincoln certainly didn’t have to oppose the secession of the Southern states and start the Civil War; indeed, the best Constitutional analysis is that he was acting beyond his authority to do so.The Spanish-American War? World War 1? Korea? Vietnam? Granada? Desert Storm? What country was Meyerson talking about?

To my surprise, Meyerson replied, politely and, I thought, a bit sheepishly. Yes, he said, of course you are right, but this war is more of a war of choice than those were. Translation:I oppose this war, and the party of this President, so I’ll say whatever is necessary to get people to agree with me, and I’ll convince myself in the process.” I’ve never taken a Meyerson column seriously since. His reasoning process, like so many on the ends of either side of the political spectrum, is to frame reality in the way that most comfortably supports his ideological objective, and then to allow that warped reality to become part of his own world view. I think this kind of thought process by confirmation bias should disqualify any infected media pundits from commentary, as much as habitual dishonesty, dementia or insanity.

Today, Meyerson once again shows how his biases rot his reasoning and integrity. Continue reading