Michael, who also just made a “Comment of the Day”-worthy point regarding the recent post about schools banning homemade lunches for students (you can read it here), makes an important point about reports that dismiss allegations of government misconduct as “unsupported.” There is an obvious parallel with the public’s misinterpretation of verdicts finding the likes of O.J. Simpson (who did kill his wife and Ron Goldman) and Barry Bonds (who did lie to a Federal Grand Jury) “innocent” because the government prosecutors did not meet their burden of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Here is Michael’s Comment of the Day on the post, Finis: The New Black Panthers Voter Intimidation Affair: Continue reading
Finis: The New Black Panthers Voter Intimidation Affair
The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, a careful, professional, non-partisan group charged with reviewing allegations of U.S. Government attorney misconduct, released the report on its investigation of the contentious Civil Rights Division handling of the case of two paramilitary-clad members of the New Black Panthers, one carrying a club, who appeared to be at a Philadelphia polling place in November 2008 for the purpose of intimidating voters. The men were videotaped, and the YouTube video of them standing at the polling place was provocative, to say the least.
To briefly recap: Voting Rights Act prosecution was initiated by the Bush Justice Department, and subsequently scaled down by the Obama Justice Department. Two career Civil Rights Division attorneys resigned over the handling of the incident, alleging that political appointees within the Obama Administration had pushed a policy of not prosecuting African-Americans under the Act—in other words, race-based enforcement. Continue reading
Unethical Quote of the Week: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
“When you compare what people endured in the South in the 60s to try to get the right to vote for African-Americans, and to compare what people were subjected to there to what happened in Philadelphia–which was inappropriate, certainly that—to describe it in those terms I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all, for my people.”
—-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, testifying in a Congressional hearing regarding allegations of race-based enforcement in the Justice Department, and taking issue with Rep. John Culberson, who was questioning Holder about the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case. Culberson quoted a Democratic activist who called the incident the most serious act of voter intimidation he had witnessed in his career, prompting Holder’s statement.
I am willing to give the Attorney General the benefit of the doubt and regard this is a slip of the tongue. It would be unfair to conclude, based on this statement, that Holder is biased. But his use of the term “my people” certainly raises the question of bias. As the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder is obligated to regard all American citizens as “his people.” Suggesting otherwise undermines his credibility and the people’s trust, and is at best careless, and at worst suspicious.
[Thanks to WSJ blogger James Taranto for flagging the quote.]
Verdict on the New Black Panther Voter Intimidation Controversy: Race-Based Enforcement At DOJ Is Real
The Washington Post, to its everlasting credit, has published a thorough and excellent piece of investigative journalism examining the continuing controversy over the Obama Justice Department’s reluctance to follow through on the prosecution of two paramilitary clad Black Panthers, one brandishing a club, who menaced voters at a Philadelphia polling place. You can, and should, read the whole piece here…especially if you were one of the throng claiming that the story was a trumped-up “conservative media” fabrication. It is true that the conservative media kept the story alive, but that is because the mainstream media inexcusably ignored or buried it, for due to a blatant bias in favor of shielding the Obama Administration from embarrassment, no matter how ell deserved.
It remains a mystery to me how opposing polling place intimidation of any kind, by any group, in favor of any candidate, and insisting that the enforcement of the laws against such conduct be administered without respect to race or politics, could possibly be attacked as a “conservative” position. Or, for that matter, how excusing race-based enforcement could be described as a “liberal” position, or a responsible, fair or ethical one. But they have been, repeatedly, which is why the report by the Washington Post, as one of the media groups that initially ignored the story (and was criticized by it independent ethics watchdog for doing so) is so useful and important. Continue reading
Despite Evidence, Obama’s D.O.J., Democrats and News Media Stonewall Black Panther Case
The bizarre conduct of the Obama-Holder Department of Justice in refusing to to fully prosecute a 2008 instance of blatant voter intimidation at the polls by members of the New Black Panthers in Philadelphia has been denied by D.O.J. (despite a video that proves the Voting Rights Act violation ), ignored or buried by most major news sources (despite Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander chiding his own paper for failing the public with inadequate coverage of the story) and attacked as manufactured by Republicans by partisan Obama defenders (despite the fact that, well, it just isn’t.) It is both disturbing and depressing that this conduct persists, long after the event itself, months after one Justice Department Civil Rights attorney quit to expose the episode publicly, and while the non-partisan U.S. Commission Civil Rights holds hearings on the case.
At issue is racial bias in Attorney General Erik Holder’s Civil Rights Division, which the Obama Administration must not permit, tolerate or excuse, but appears to be anyway. Continue reading
The Left’s New Black Panther Rationalizations
“All looks yellow to the jaundiced eye” (Alexander Pope, 1711) could have been written about the media handling of the New Black Panther voter intimidation case. To conservatives, it is ominous proof of race-conscious law enforcement in the Obama Justice Department. To liberals, it is more proof that the Right is determined to stir up racial suspicion about Barack Obama’s administration.
I don’t think the incident proves anything conclusively at this point, except this: liberal journalists and commentators are embarrassing themselves and misinforming the public by arguing that the case is trivial, and employing intellectually dishonest arguments to do it.**
Whatever the case is, it isn’t trivial. Voter intimidation isn’t trivial; it strikes at the core of our system of government. I would argue that the government should be unequivocal, strict and unyielding regarding the prevention and punishment of it, by white or black, no matter how manifested. If you don’t think so, then I challenge you to explain why. If there is any conduct that should receive no tolerance by law enforcement, this should be it. There is no excuse for it.
Nevertheless, supposedly respectable commentators like columnist E.J. Dionne feel compelled to make excuses for the Justice Department’s actions while intentionally or incompetently misrepresenting the facts. Continue reading
Sunday Ethics Round-Up: Cynical Fines, Drunk Norwegians, Lazy Newsmen and Pitiful Ballplayers
Here are some ethics issues to ponder from the recent news and around the Web:
- Who says it pays to be ethical? The astounding insistence, under oath, by Goldman Sachs executives that they had done nothing wrong in selling admittedly “crummy” investment products to clients while using the company’s own money to bet that the same products would fail will not be sufficiently punished or contradicted by the S.E.C.’s cynical cash settlement of its suit against the firm. For a $500 million penalty, Goldman Sachs is off the hook for the equivalent of four days’ income, as the Obama Administration claims to the unsophisticated public (“Isn’t $500 million a lot of money?”) that it is “getting tough” with Wall Street. The fact is that Goldman Sachs’ unethical maneuvers paid off handsomely, and nothing has happened that will discourage it from finding loopholes in another set of regulations and making another killing while deceiving investors legally and, by the Bizarro World ethics of the investment world, “ethically.” You can read a perceptive analysis here. Continue reading
The Washington Post: Embarrassed into Covering the News
Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander wonders why it took his paper so long to cover a story with obvious importance and disturbing implications: the seeming race-based decision of the Obama Justice Department to avoid pursuing a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panthers, even though a YouTube video showed persuasive evidence that an offense was real and substantial. Ethics Alarms, for example, wrote about the story more than two weeks ago.
Alexander is to be saluted for raising, though his conclusion is unsatisfying and more than a little weaselly. Continue reading
The Justice Department’s Voter Intimidation Cover-Up: The Blue Line Breaks
The Holder-Obama Justice Department’s efforts to impose racial bias on its enforcement of the voting rights laws are no longer in the shadows, protected by the “blue line” of liberal leaning news media. Finally, after a week of ignoring a story that should have been reported immediately, the media’s efforts to confine the accusations of former Justice Department Civil Rights attorney J. Christian Adams to conservative blogs and Fox began to crack. Today the New York Times and CNN reported the story, and will have a little easier time explaining away their tardiness as something other than naked political bias than the Washington Post, the major networks, and others.
But not much easier. Continue reading
Ethics Outrage and Cover-Up: Racial Bias At the Justice Department
The story told by former Department of Justice attorney J. Christian Adams is shocking in many ways. It shows an abject refusal of Attorney General Holder’s D.O.J. to enforce the law equally with black and white. It shows sympathy within the Obama Administration for, of all, groups, the Black Panthers, a racist organization. It details perjury by high-ranking officials, and a hard breach of President Obama’s pledges to uphold the rule of law, embrace transparency, and to embody a post-racial philosophy. Finally, it shows the same kind of manipulation of law enforcement by ideological zealots that stained the Bush Department of Justice. Continue reading