- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ethics of ethicist

The man hired this spring by the Alaska Personnel Board to investigate the latest rounds of ethics charges against then-Gov. Sarah Palin has a conflict of interest of his own.

“Thomas Daniel, the investigator who thinks that outgoing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin may have violated state ethics law in raising money to defend herself against frivolous ethics charges, cut a rather generous check to Democrat Mark Begich’s Senate campaign last fall summer. According to Open Secrets, he contributed $1,000 to that Democrat, the same amount he gave to John Kerry in 2004. He gave $1,800 to the DNC (Democratic National Committee) and contributed to various Democratic campaigns, but not a dime to Republicans,” wrote B. Daniel Blatt (aka Gay Patriot West) at the blog Gay Patriot.

“Don’t you think that might have some bearing on his ability to adjudicate an ethics issue involving a prominent Republican?

“If the man investigating a Democrat had supported a Republican candidate, I’d bet the AP would let us know that,” Mr. Blatt wrote, referring to an Associated Press article in which Mr. Daniel accused Mrs. Palin of breaking state ethics laws with the defense fund.

There’s more, added Dan Riehl at Riehl World View blog, linking to a Fox News report widely circulated on conservative blogs last week that reported that “the law firm where [Mr. Daniel] is a partner, Perkins Coie, serves as counsel of record for the Democratic Party and its candidates, and attorneys there recently represented [Barack] Obama’s presidential campaign.”

“Yeah, one can’t get much more ethical than that. Good grief!” wrote a frustrated Mr. Riehl.

“John Coale, a prominent Washington attorney who helped set up the [Palin defense] legal fund, which so far has accepted $500,000 in donations … accused the personnel board of being ‘either vicious or idiotic’ to hire Daniel,” Fox reported.

Gatesgate I

The reaction to the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. mostly broke along predictable left-right lines the right backing the story of the policeman dealing with an uncooperative race-baiting radical, the left pushing the narrative of the black Harvard professor being profiled by a racist cop.

However, one exception came from a black Ivy Leaguer at the generally liberal Salon Web site, who signed his article with the pseudonym “A Phantom Negro.”

Under the headline “Skip Gates, please sit down / You are suffering from what I call the ‘Ivy League Effect,’” the author accuses Mr. Gates of trying to protect his class privilege and differentiate himself from other blacks.

“He’s outraged because he was the victim of class profiling. He didn’t resent being identified as black; he resented being identified as that kind of black, the kind of black that can be hassled and pushed around by simpleton cops. How dare you hassle me? I’m Skip Gates: Harvard professor! Skip has fallen victim to the Ivy League Effect. Check out his articles you can definitely go to the Root the Web site he is editor in chief of if you want to see a repository for the whole … display. He all but says, ‘Do I look like that type of (black) person? I was wearing a blazer and a polo shirt!’ Gates is Ivy League … with a dash of black anger. Not the other way around,” the author wrote, going on to say that he does not doubt “as a person who is familiar with the Cambridge/Boston P.D.” that police wrongdoing occurred.

Gatesgate II

Another good place to look for contrarian or nonpredictable views on hot-button kulturkampf issues is among the libertarians at Reason Online. Last week, they were generally skeptical of claims of racism and racial profiling coming from liberals about the Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrest but saw instead an object lesson about police power.

At the site’s blog Hit & Run, Jacob Sullum focused on the report by Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley, the officer who arrested Mr. Gates on disorderly conduct charges. Mr. Sullum accused Sgt. Crowley of baiting Mr. Gates into committing an offense by inviting him outside while the professor was ranting at him about racial profiling.

“Notably, Crowley invited Gates to follow him, thereby setting him up for a disorderly conduct charge … instead of simply leaving, Crowley lured Gates outside, the better to create a public spectacle and ‘alarm’ passers-by. The subtext of Crowley’s report is that he was angered and embarrassed by Gates’ ‘outburst’ and therefore sought to create a pretext for arresting him,” he wrote.

In a post at the blog In the Agora to which Mr. Sullum linked, Indiana lawyer Joshua Claybourn criticized broadly drawn laws against disorderly conduct as a threat to civil liberties.

“Massachusetts defines the crime as fighting or threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior, or creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition for no legitimate purpose other than to cause public annoyance or alarm. This sort of definition is relatively similar to that found in most states, and in almost every instance it is fraught with vagaries, giving far too much discretion to police officers. In short, ‘disorderly conduct’ can easily become a euphemism for whatever a particular police officer doesn’t like. That kind of environment runs counter to fundamental ideals of the American system,” Mr. Claybourn wrote.

Clinton-era ghost

Elizabeth McCaughey, widely credited (or blamed) for helping sink Hillary Rodham Clinton’s national health care proposal in the 1990s, is back again, wading through the details of a massive health care proposal, and has made a startling claim circulated widely among conservative and religious blogs.

The bill pending before the House would require “end-of-life” counseling for senior citizens, she said in a recent interview on the Fred Thompson radio show in which the health care scholar and former New York lieutenant governor warned people to “protect” their parents from the plan.

“One of the most shocking things is page 425, where the Congress would make it mandatory absolutely that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session,” Ms. McCaughey said. “They will tell [them] how to end their life sooner.”

“Her further claim is that this mandatory counseling would include a discussion of what are euphemistically called ‘end of life’ options. As a pro-life lawyer of several decades, I know what that phrase entails,” wrote Deacon Keith Fournier in an article at Catholic Online titled “Is Euthanasia Included in National ‘Health Care’ Reform?”

“A quick search of Dr. McCaughey on the internet revealed a flurry of attacks on her claims that this National Health Reform encourages euthanasia. However, it was interesting that none of the attackers refuted her specific claims as they related to the legislation and her references to page numbers in the voluminous bill. They all sought to destroy her credibility through the use of guilt by association tactics. Therefore, the question still remains on the table. Will this National ‘Health Care’ Plan encourage our elderly to take their own lives rather than somehow become a ‘drain’ on the rest of us? … In short, is Euthanasia included in this National ‘Health Care’ Reform?” Mr. Fournier wrote.

Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.