The Unethical Candidacy Of Evan McMullin

evan_mcmullin_ballot_access_2016-svg

From Wikipedia:

“McMullin will likely not appear on enough ballots to win the necessary Electoral College majority of 270 electoral votes. However, McMullin hopes to deny a majority of the electoral vote from either of the two major party candidates. In such a scenario, under the the terms of the Twelfth Amendment, the House of Representatives would select among the top-three electoral vote winners. McMullin hopes that he could win the presidential election by finishing among the top-three electoral vote winners, and then winning the contingent election in the House.”

Reportedly, Evan McMullin also hopes to some day be able to burrow to China, like a mole, so he can see the terracotta warriors without paying airfare and going through Customs. (All right, I made that up.)

How ridiculous do  a Presidential candidate’s “hopes” have to be before they disqualify him to be President? Whatever the answer is, Evan McMullin has lapped it. Either he is dangerously detached from reality, or he’s exploiting deperate voters by lying to them. On the chart above, only the orange states have McMullin on the ballot. The yellow states allow write-ins, which mean he is on the ballot exactly as I am, or Donald Duck, Batman, and Britney Spears. In the rest, you can’t vote for him at all.

McMullin didn’t even announce his candidacy until August 8. Why the rush, Evan? This is like the joke about Poland’s greatest comedian being asked what the secret to comedy is, and before the question is completed he shouts, “Timing!” Timing is essential to effective leadership too, as the dithering style of Barack Obama has shown in many tragic ways. [I expect him to give an eloquent speech about the dangers of racial distrust and attacks on the rule of law —as, for example, in this fiasco—sometime in 2018. Probably on a golf course.] It was clear to anyone paying attention that the U.S. was going to be stuck with a Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton binary hell-choice by the end of May, when the Libertarian Party demonstrated to the world that it is a joke. Was McMullin not paying attention? That’s a bad sign, don’t you think?

The U.S. Presidency is important, and elections are important. One of the first times I wrote a post critical of Donald Trump was when he first floated the idea of running for President several cycles ago, and it was clear—then— that he was doing it as a publicity stunt.  This was signature significance, I wrote.  Only a massive jerk (I already knew Trump was a massive jerk, of course) with no concern for his country sets out to confuse and confound the easily confused and confounded American voter by throwing random pollution into the Presidential campaign. After the 2000 election, where the twin ego-driven campaigns of Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan probably changed the identity of the next President by sheer chance, it was obvious that nobody should put themselves on the ballot unless there is a very good reason related to the nation’s welfare. Building a credible third party option over time is a good reason, or can be if the party doesn’t try to do it by nominating an incompetent. Running for President for vanity, or to sell merchandise, or to get speaking gigs, is not a good reason. It is unethical. Continue reading

Sanctioned Race And Gender Bias In Tort Compensation?

For its next witness, the defense calls the distinguished  forensic economist...

“For its next witness, the defense calls the distinguished forensic economist…”

I was going to make this an ethics quiz, but there really is only one answer. The practice is ethically indefensible, and noxious too. The only question is how and why it is still occurring.

One reason may be that not enough people know about it. I certainly didn’t. Kudos to the Washington Post for shining light on a terrible, and terribly unethical, practice.

The American tort system frequently uses race and gender statistics to calculate the damages victims or their families should receive in compensation after someone is catastrophically injured or killed by another individual’s negligence or misconduct. Experts are allowed to testify regarding what a particular victim might have achieved and earned during their lives, were they not dead, or brain-damaged, or paralyzed. Race and gender are among the factors allowed into that calculation.

Writes the Post:

As a result, white and male victims often receive larger awards than people of color and women in similar cases, according to more than two dozen lawyers and forensic economists, the experts who make the calculations. These differences largely derive from projections of  how much more money individuals would have earned over their lifetimes had they not been injured – projections that take into account average earnings and employment levels by race and gender.

Continue reading

Donald Trump Is Bouncing Back In The Polls….Why?

trumpstar

Ann Althouse writes in horror that the Bloomberg poll, a poll that polling guru Nate Silver marks as one of the best, has Donald Trump making up most of what was a 9 point lead just a week ago. “How is it possible?” she asks?

Here is how it’s possible. Americans deeply, deeply resent the tactics and unethical methods of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, as well as, and even especially, the biased news media that has, it was just reported, been 91% negative regarding Donald Trump. Althouse anticipated this backlash back in September, when she quoted journalist/author Robert Wright, who said he was concerned that the media would be so “ham-handed” in its pro-Clinton/anti-Trump bias that “it wouldn’t work.”

In the competition of who is more unfit to lead, Trump wins in a landslide. However, Clinton’s supporters, staff, minions and party have earned the “Most Unethical, Undemocratic, Totalitarian” prize, by at least as large a margin:

1. On CNN’s “State of the Union” last week,  Jake Tapper grilled Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, about Robert Creamer and Scott Foval, the  Democratic operatives who were caught in a Project Veritas video sting talking about instigating violence at a Trump rally.

TAPPER: Have you looked into whether or not Democratic operatives paid by the Democratic National Committee were actually instigating these horrific actions, these violent actions we saw at Trump rallies? That’s — I’m sure you would agree, if that’s true, that’s really offensive.

MOOK: Well, violence is unacceptable. These individuals no longer have a relationship with the DNC. They have never had a relationship with the Clinton campaign. And my understanding is that the events that are referenced happened, I think, in February of last year. They didn’t have a contract with the DNC until June.  But, putting that all aside, this was, again, a video that was leaked out for the purpose of damaging the campaign. It’s edited, so we don’t know what the full context is. And there is — there’s no evidence whatsoever that we have been able to find that anyone ever did anything like this when they were working for the DNC.

Wait, what? Mook just admitted that the DNC hired these Nixonian thugs after they disrupted the Trump events. Before that, they were doing this stuff for free? They were only fired after the video was released.  How does the fact that they aren’t under contract any more serve as a defense of their activities? White House logs show Creamer visiting the White House hundreds of times.  Why?

Mook’s “They have never had a relationship with the Clinton campaign” is such a weaselly line. How about an unequivocal denial that the campaign knew about or coordinated with these cheats? Where is that? Then he defaults to attacking the methods by which these operatives were exposed, just as Clinton’s mouthpeices, like Donna Brazile, have tried to blame Wikileaks for what the Wikileaks leaks show.

Do Democrats just shrug off this kind of anti-Democratic activity as standard “by any means necessary” tactics? What kind of leader obtains power this way? I guarantee that independents, conservatives and uncommitted voters are frightened and disgusted by it. If voting for Trump is the only way to register that disgust, then he’ll be the beneficiary of the backlash.

2. Yesterday “Dilbert” cartoonist Scott Adams, who is a Trump supporters, posted this:

I’ve been trying to figure out what common trait binds Clinton supporters together. As far as I can tell, the most unifying characteristic is a willingness to bully in all its forms.

If you have a Trump sign in your lawn, they will steal it.

If you have a Trump bumper sticker, they will deface your car.

if you speak of Trump at work you could get fired.

On social media, almost every message I get from a Clinton supporter is a bullying type of message. They insult. They try to shame. They label. And obviously they threaten my livelihood.

We know from Project Veritas that Clinton supporters tried to incite violence at Trump rallies. The media downplays it.

We also know Clinton’s side hired paid trolls to bully online. You don’t hear much about that.

Yesterday, by no coincidence, Huffington Post, Salon, and Daily Kos all published similar-sounding hit pieces on me, presumably to lower my influence. (That reason, plus jealousy, are the only reasons writers write about other writers.)

Joe Biden said he wanted to take Trump behind the bleachers and beat him up. No one on Clinton’s side disavowed that call to violence because, I assume, they consider it justified hyperbole. 

Team Clinton has succeeded in perpetuating one of the greatest evils I have seen in my lifetime. Her side has branded Trump supporters (40%+ of voters) as Nazis, sexists, homophobes, racists, and a few other fighting words. Their argument is built on confirmation bias and persuasion. But facts don’t matter because facts never matter in politics. What matters is that Clinton’s framing of Trump provides moral cover for any bullying behavior online or in person. No one can be a bad person for opposing Hitler, right?

I admit to having no respect for Trump supporters (as opposed to Never Hillary Trump voters), just as I have no respect for the tactics Adams describes. He exaggerates in the last section, but otherwise, he is accurate. Never before has a political party and its followers, aided by the news media, tried to “otherize” a major party candidate, and to make it dangerous in schools and workplaces to express support of a candidate. That’s not democracy. Continue reading

Sorry, Steve Bartman, But It’s Impossible To Leave You Alone

As the Chicago Cubs plowed their way to the World Series and a possible end to their 108 year failure to win a World Series, numerous sports writers, including some I thought were smart enough to know better, set out to prove their compassion, sensitivity and gooey caramel centers by arguing that the news media and fans should “leave Steve Bartman alone.” Bartman, for those of you who have lived in a bank vault since 2003, was the hapless young Chicago Cubs fan who unintentionally interfered with a foul ball that might have been catchable by Cubs outfielder Moises Alou in the decisive game of 2003 National League Championship Series. In a perfect display of the dangers of moral luck, Bartman’s mistake—it didn’t help that he was wearing earphones and watching the ball rather than the action on the field—began a chain of random events  that constituted a complete collapse by Chicago in that very same half-inning, sending the Miami Marlins and not the Cubs, who had seemed comfortably ahead, to the Series. Bartman, who issued a sincere and pitiful apology, was widely vilified and literally run out of town. He then became part of Cubs and baseball lore, one more chapter in the sad saga has been called “the Billy Goat Curse,” the uncanny inability of this team to win it all.

Over time, even Bartman’s tormenters came to see that holding him responsible for the team’s failure was cruel consequentialism at its worst. Alou, who had sicced the Furies on Bartman by angrily pointing at him after the incident from the field and later told everyone that with the interference, he would have caught the ball, even came out ten years later–five years!—to say that he wouldn’t have caught the ball, and Bartman wasn’t to blame. (I wrote about that epic example of barn-door locking here.) Now, NBC’s Craig Calcattera and many others are beating a new drum: nobody should write about or talk about Stave any more, because it’s so unfair. Continue reading

Irony: The Self-Proclaimed Child Advocate Who Will Become The First Woman President Will Be Preventing The First Child President….

Superman vs Batman is isn't...

Superman vs Batman is isn’t…

Donald Trump’s ridiculous, embarrassing—but typical!—“let’s see if we can lower the shameful level of rhetoric in this campaign even lower” statement at a campaign stop in Florida yesterday:

“Did you see where Biden wants to take me to the back of the barn? Me. I’d love that. I’d love that. Mr. tough guy. You know, he’s Mr Tough Guy. You know when he’s Mr. Tough Guy? When he’s standing behind a microphone by himself.”

He’s a child.

The news that the Affordable Care Act is falling apart exactly as it’s Republican opponents predicted would be potent ammunition for any competent and focused Republican candidate. Instead, he blathered briefly and inaccurately about the program, and allowed himself to be drawn into a silly hypothetical. time-travel fisticuffs challenge from Joe Biden.

Peggy Noonan observed last week that a sane Donald Trump—speaking of hypotheticals—would have beaten Hillary Clinton in a landslide, but that unfortunately the one who is running is nuts. Here we had another demonstration of that. In a real campaign, the looming collapse of the Affordable Care Act, passed without bipartisan support, sold with lies, and taken to the finish line using Parliamentary tricks, would have been a major issue in the campaign, dominating the debates, and providing a crisis for Democrats with this late campaign development. This was, after all, supposedly the “signature accomplishment” of the Obama administration: an irresponsibly complex law that its supporters didn’t understand or even read, triggering much of the middle class anger that created Donald Trump’s disastrous candidacy. Never mind. Trump, as always, didn’t bother to do his homework or get his facts straight, wouldn’t think through his comments sufficiently to be coherent, and finally couldn’t resist reacting the goading by Biden, who had said he wishes he was in high school so he could take Trump “behind the gym.” Thus Trump handed  the media yet another excuse to focus on something other than the real issues, and the failure of Barack Obama.

Well, I guess the fact that the GOP’s candidate for President is an idiot qualifies as an issue, but there are others.

I look forward to “fact-checkers” pointing to the Trump “lie” that Biden said he wanted to take him to “the back of the barn,” when he really said “gym.” That’s got to be worth at least four Pinnochios, right?

A Hopeful Ethics Note

rugby2

Here’s at least one example of the culture getting more ethical. It might not seem like much, but ask a Jack Russell Terrier, and you’ll understand.

Gradually, dog owners and breeders are stopping the practice of docking—that is, cutting—the ears and tails of puppies so they conform to arbitrary breed standards. The reason is simple: it is cruel and pointless, and the dogs look just as good, indeed better, the natural way.

I first noticed this trend years ago when I saw this breed at a dog show:

great-dane

I had no idea what it was. I asked, was told it was a natural example of the breed I was used to seeing this way…

dane-clipped

Yes, it’s a Great Dane. In recent years, fewer and fewer owners are opting for the ear operation, allowing the breed to keep the ears that reflect its English Mastiff ancestry.

This beautiful, loving, smart breed dog usually has both its tale and its ears cropped, the tail down to a nub:

Continue reading

Chilling Speech And Expression At Smith: The Scariest Thing About This Is Not The Story Itself, But That Alarm Over It Is Not Bi-Partisan

phone-call

Students at Smith College now have access to an anonymous 24 hour bias hotline and online portal for reporting what the complaining caller regards as bias, discrimination, and harassment. These offenses can be whatever a student thinks it is.

The service will be run by EthicsPoint, a  service used by prestigious institutions like Amherst College, Tufts University, and Brown University. The conduct being reported doesn’t have to be illegal,  Smith says,  only “unfair,” “uninvited,” or “unwelcome” as well as what someone regards as “bigotry, harassment, or intimidation.”  Expressing support for the Republican nominee for President, for example, risks being called “bigotry.” A forceful argument that it isn’t bigotry might be taken as intimidation.

According to the EthicsPoint reporting portal, misconduct can include “but is not limited to, slurs, graffiti, written messages, or images.” A Smith College spokeswoman  told Campus Reform that “Smith has adopted EthicsPoint—a service used by more than 800 higher education institutions around the world—as a supplement to, not a replacement for, existing in-house options.”

This is an “everybody does it” excuse for the inexcusable, indeed, for the totalitarian. Since the reporting portal does not require a login, anyone, regardless of whether they are students or affiliated with the college, can report a student for being “offensive.”  Articles about this Orwellian development express concern that it might lead to self-censorship and chill free speech. Gee, do you think so? Of course this “report your classmates for non-conforming ideas that offend you” system chills speech. It is intended to chill speech. After four years under such a system, a typical Smith student should be completely conditioned never to speak or, better yet, think non-progressive thoughts. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Bob Dylan

As everyone knows by now, the Nobel folks awarded iconic folk/rock troubadour Bob Dylan its prize for literature, setting off an international debate and also cementing Dylan’s status as a cultural giant, whatever you decide to call him.

Dylan, however, has not deigned to respond to the committee, or to acknowledge the honor in any way other than a brief reference on his website (“Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature”) that he  removed once it was noted in news reports.

What a jerk.

Dylan fans are making excuses for him—he’s shy, he’s always been strange, he doesn’t like honors, it’s a mark of integrity, and so on—-but there is no excuse for such rude and gratuitously arrogant behavior. All they really want to  do, Bob, is be friends with you.

You could say “thank you.”

Unethical Donald Trump Quote Of The Day

smoking-gun

“Oh, I’m sure she’s never been grabbed before…”

—-Donald Trump,  responding to the most recent accusations of sexual assault, in this case from Jessica Drake, a porn star who became the 11th woman to claim Trump assaulted her in a press conference over the weekend.

I suspended the Ethics Alarms Unethical Donald Trump Quote of the Day, or UDTQOTD,  feature a couple of months ago when I realized that pretty soon there would be no room for anything else. This one, however, is special, and can’t be ignored. It perfectly encompasses so much of what is fatally wrong with Trump, his character and his campaign.

Here and elsewhere, desperate Trump rationalizers have defended voting for him over the horrible  Hillary Clinton by reducing his abundant deficits of character to a couple of adjectives, essentially representing him as acceptable by strategic omission. As I recently replied in part to a commenter who argued that Trump may be “narcissitic and crude” but...gotta love that equivocal “may”:

“And no, you cannot get away with “narcissistic and crude” here. …Take out crude and narcissistic, and that still leaves ignorant, lazy, corrupt, arrogant, a fantasist, a liar, a misogynist, a fool, a political incompetent, a terrible delegater, a poor judge of character, lacking in any relevant experience, literally unable to comprehend what ethical conduct is, governed wholly by rationalizations, unaccountable, feckless, incompetent, cruel, mean-spirited, devoid of common sense, self-control, prudence, compassion and decency, and, on top of all of that, inarticulate and dumb as a brick. No responsible voter can risk making such an individual President, and doing so is indefensible.

Let’s see…18, 19, 20…today’s quote embodies 21 of the characteristics on that impromptu list, and in only seven words, which is impressive. Continue reading

Presenting Rationalization 21A: The Criminal’s Redemption or “It’s Just A Small Part Of What I Am!”

I have to get this one in before I forget.

"See? The bad part is that little light blue section at the top! What are you making a big deal about it for?"

“See? The bad part is that little light blue section at the top! What are you making a big deal about it for?”

In the interest of non-partisanship and fairness, I resisted the temptation to call 21A “The Planned Parenthood Excuse.” It was a close call, for it was a Planned Parenthood debate that made me realize that this rationalization was missing from the list.

Opponents of Planned Parenthood who want to see the organization defunded believe that abortion is morally and ethically wrong. In 2013-2014, Planned Parenthood performed 327,653 abortions. Arguing that this should not cause even abortion opponents to seek to defund the organization, its defenders inevitably argue: “Abortions are just a small part of what Planned Parenthood does.”

The Washington Post’s factchecker examined various claims about what proportion of Planned Parenthood’s activities involve abortions, which misses the ethical point entirely. If abortion is wrong, indeed unnecessary homicide in most cases, then it doesn’t matter what else an organization does in addition to 327,653 abortions, or what proportion of its total activities taking 327,653 innocent human lives is. “Abortions are just a small part of what Planned Parenthood does” is a ridiculous defense, except to those who believe that abortions are nothing to get upset about, and the equivalent of removing a polyp. That is not, however, the perspective of those who oppose abortion, so the argument isn’t an argument at all.

For someone who accepts that abortion is a legal but unnecessary and therefore unethical taking of life, “Abortions are just a small part of what Planned Parenthood does” is a pure rationalization: a lie that makes people feel better about their own wrongdoing, or the wrongdoing of someone else.

In the interests of not getting social policy mixed up with the rationalization, however, we’ll describe the new entry without reference to abortion.

Rationalization 21A. The Criminal’s Redemption, or “It’s Just A Small Part Of What I Am!”

Continue reading