Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/1/2017: The New York Terror Attack, Indictment Hype, A New Statue Makes My Head Explode, And Jack Russell Ethics

Good Morning, November!

[Programming Note: My original and stated (in the comments) intention was to devote the whole Warm-up to the jaw-droppingly dishonest and contrived media outrage over John Kelly’s completely accurate and reasonable comments regarding the The Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck yesterday. You know, Kelly’s critics should realize when political correctness and false narratives literally require them to argue the opposite of the facts they are using to support their false arguments, that should set off an ethics alarm—but don’t get me started now: I’m going to do the next post on this. There is too much going on not to use the Warm-Up to clear the jam.]

1 I was just nauseated by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s fatuous remarks at the press conference regarding yesterday’s terror attack. Essentially he channeled Michael Moore’s disgraceful riff after 9-11: terrorist attacks are just little bumps in the road that we have to get used to, there’s nothing to be done, it’s a tragedy, but nothing to freak out over, New Yorkers are resilient, the attack failed because the Halloween parade went on as planned, and he’s so proud of the city’s residents  for going on with business and pleasure without submitting to fear and intimidation. Then Governor Cuomo seconded him.

This isn’t the London during Blitz, or Tel Aviv under daily assault by Palestinian scuds. The United States doesn’t have to shrug away terrorists and terrorism. De Blasio’s attitude is politically calculated to undermine serious efforts to stop terrorists from entering the country.  I, for one, do not accept that the future of the United States includes accepting an unacceptable probability that I am going to be blown up, shot or run down by someone, heaven knows why, screaming, “Allahu akbar!”

2. The original sub-title of the Warm-up was going to be, “Now the Left is really starting to scare me.” That title would be appropriate to describe my reaction to yesterday’s tweet by increasingly deranged Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof, who wrote (Remember, Twitter is an invention of Satan to make people destroy their credibility);

“The NYC terrorist had a pellet gun and a paintball gun. Good thing that in NYC he couldn’t buy assault rifles, or the toll would be higher.”

How shameless and obsessed does an anti Second Amendment fanatic have to be to use a terrorist attack employing a truck (to kill 8 and wound 12) as a platform for gun control hectoring? Kristof’s  point was willfully dishonest and ignorant. The pellet gun and paintball gun were irrelevant to the attack. Terrorists are not dissuaded by laws; if Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov had wanted to use a gun in the attack, he could have acquired one. Moreover, New York’s gun laws weren’t involved: Saipov was from Florida, where he could have legally have bought all sorts of deadly firearms.

3. Jack Russell Ethics: last night, for no discernible reason, my dog decided to bark furiously to go outside at 2 am, 2:30, 3: 10, 3:25, 3: 48, 4: 12 and again around 5 this morning. This on the first night in over a week when I wasn’t plagued by insomnia. Twice he issued a high-pitched, sharphysterical bark that I have never heard before: Rugby has a large and eloquent repertoire of yips, barks, wheezes, snorts, quacks, purrs, growls and other noises yet to be named; I know what they all mean, but this one was indecipherable.  When Rugby was outside, he didn’t relieve himself; he was in full alert, guarding mode.

I have no idea what was going on. I was finally able to calm him down by curling up on top of the sheets with him, and talking to him quietly about the World series while he happily licked my hands. Eventually the dog fell asleep. I, however, never did. Today is officially wrecked.

Why, Rugby? WHY???

4. The misleading news media reporting on the Special Counsel indictments are another smoking gun example of how untrustworthy and biased our journalism has become. The Manafort-Gates indictment literally had nothing to do with obstruction of justice or the Russian collusion theory, but to listen to broadcast news reports and commentator bloviation on the topic, one would think that the President is minutes away from being frog-marched out of the White House in cuffs. Naturally, the President is annoyed by this. I don’t blame him. Everyone should be annoyed by it.

Ken White of Popehat, a former federal prosecutor, summed up the indictments this way:

“The Manafort/Gates indictment is a fairly standard “kitchen sink” white collar indictment that illustrates the wide array of tools available to federal prosecutors, as well as the power prosecutors have to use an investigation to provoke further federal crimes as leverage against the foolish.”

That nicely describes what happened to the third individual, an obscure Trump campaign advisor who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conduct that wasn’t illegal by any definition. Ken’s entire post is worth reading, as well as linking for your clueless, ranting Facebook friends.

5. This story makes me glad I have the Warm-Up to cover awful things like this without devoting a full post to it, because I would have to devote a full post to it, and the disgust might kill me. Even this short report made my head explode, however. KABOOM.

The District of Columbia, through  the Executive Office of the Mayor,  the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) and the Marion Barry Commission, is going to spend $300,000 to have an eight foot statute of Marion Barry erected outside the John A. Wilson Building along Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation’s capitol. It is scheduled to be unveiled in for March 6 of next year, Barry’s birthday.

I shall not mince words. I would fall down on my knees and sacrifice a virgin in front of  a statue of Robert E. Lee before I would voluntarily gaze respectfully at a statue of Marion Barry. His most memorable act was getting caught on video smoking crack cocaine with a former mistress, while he was mayor and making regular speeches to inner city school children about the evils of drugs. He openly cheated on his wives while serving as mayor, “catting around” the District late at night, looking for “fun.”. Later he was indicted for failing to pay his taxes, year after year, while serving as an elected official.

As a city councilman after spending time in prison, Barry used tax-payer money to hire his girl friend for a job she was completely unqualified for, then argued that since there was no law against doing that, it was ethical. There is a rationalization named for him on the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List:

4. Marion Barry’s Misdirection, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical.”

The late D.C. Mayor and lovable rogue Marion Barry earned himself a place in the Ethics Distortion Hall of Fame with his defense of his giving his blatantly unqualified girlfriend a high-paying job with the DC government. Barry declared that since there was no law against using the public payroll as his own private gift service, there was nothing unethical about it. Once the law was passed (because of him), he then agreed that what he did would be wrong the next time he did it.

Ethics is far broader than law, which is a system of behavior enforced by the state with penalties for violations. Ethics is good conduct as determined by the values and customs of society. Professions promulgate codes of ethics precisely because the law cannot proscribe all inappropriate or harmful behavior. Much that is unethical is not illegal. Lying. Betrayal. Nepotism. Many other kinds of behavior as well, but that is just the factual error in the this rationalization.

The greater problem with it is that it omits the concept of ethics at all.  Ethical conduct is self-motivated, based on the individual’s values and the internalized desire to do the right thing. Barry’s construct assumes that people only behave ethically if there is a tangible, state-enforced penalty for not doing so, and that not incurring a penalty (that is, not breaking the law) is, by definition, ethical.

Nonsense, of course. It is wrong to intentionally muddle the ethical consciousness of the public, and Barry’s statement simply reinforces a misunderstanding of right and wrong.

As mayor, he hired cronies, crooks and con men to high ranking posts; many of them eventually went to jail. The D.C. government has never recovered from the culture Barry established. It is still dogged by corruption top to bottom; the last mayor barely avoided a conviction, but seemed pretty clearly guilty of paying off a political adversary to get elected. Barry is a hero to many because he openly, unapologetically, used his office to hire as many blacks as he could, often in complete defiance of any standards or qualifications. Hiring based on race is also called “discrimination.” He used the city payroll as a social welfare program, with the result that the city ran up crippling deficits and debt.

Honoring a corrupt public official as a hero in the District is a catastrophic decision, ensuring that the toxic cultural values that plague the black community in D.C. will not only persist, but that their advocates will have a champion and role model to help them persist. Yet if this community insists that Marion Barry should be honored, crook, rogue, hypocrite and sociopath that he was, that choice should be respected, and respected forever. I would never advocate tearing down Barry’s statue, though if I were a really big pigeon, it would be in my bomb-sights at every opportunity. Indeed, it is important to remember that such a cynical, corrupt leader was regarded as a hero, and why.

Heeeeere’s MARION!



42 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/1/2017: The New York Terror Attack, Indictment Hype, A New Statue Makes My Head Explode, And Jack Russell Ethics

  1. 1. DeBlasio is cruising to reelection and possibly becoming a national figure, he doesn’t want to upset the applecart. No, this isn’t the Blitz, 9/11 is the closest the Big Apple ever got to that very dark time. It COULD be headed for Belfast during the Troubles, though.

    2, (shrug) This is to be expected.

    3. Can’t help you there, sorry.

    4. This is all about drawing more people in, tripping them up, and leveraging them in the hopes of getting bigger and bigger fish, possibly the biggest fish of all. However, I think that down in his heart of hears Mueller knows that the President didn’t get to be president by being stupid, and he’s unlikely to find a smoking gun. The best he can hope for is to justify this long probe by getting people to say embarrassing things and sending a few lambs to be sacrificed.

    5. It’s one thing to put your guy’s statue up after you won a war, even if the other side called him names. The British called John Barry and John Paul Jones pirates, Michael Collins a criminal, and Tantia Topi a savage, but after independence, there they all stand. It’s another to put up a statue to honor someone who broke your own laws and thumbed his nose at the system. It’s bad enough that political villains who stopped short (in some cases JUST short) of being criminals are memorialized by statues. To put one up to an actual criminal with one hand, while knocking down statues to Confederates with the other, is yet more double-standard-ism at work.

    • Everyone knows Marion Barry can’t be a racist because he’s a POC, and POC have no power in our white supremacist society. In demonstration whereof, everyone knows if Marion Barry had been white and pulled the same stunts in office, there’d already be a statue of him!

  2. Have New Yorkers ever consider a statue to Boss Tweed?
    As far as I can recall, commemorative statues such as the one for Marion Berry are usually financed with public and private funds.
    Now I hear that the DC Gov wants to spend $300,000 in honor of a mayor who was so stingy and inept that the police stations had to buy their own toilet paper.

    • It took me a LOT of digging to find something approximating a news source that touched this, maybe they’re figuring our a way to show the statue without showing the plaqued inscription of “Bitch Set Me Up”.

      But I found this:

      ““The impact that Marion Barry had on the District is invaluable,” said Council member Vincent Gray. “Washingtonians continue to benefit from his efforts as mayor, a council member, civil rights activist and an incomparable leader.”

      Council members discussed the memorial during a committee meeting Thursday and heard from executive director Arthur Espinoza with the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the agency heading up the $300,000 project.

      “We believe that we are in step with meeting our target deadline,” said Espinoza. “The clay bust was completed and approved in August and, along with the full model completed last week, was sent to the foundry to create a mold and for bronze casting.”

      The whole process of creating the statue and putting on the finishing touches will take four-and-a-half months, according to Espinoza.

      When the entire statue is completed, it will be installed outside the John A. Wilson Building along Pennsylvania Avenue.

      The unveiling is set for March 6, which is Barry’s birthday.

      “I look forward to the day when there is a dedication of this statue to commemorate somebody who made such an important contribution to this city,” said Gray.”

      It’s lies. But then, he’s the mayor of DC.

  3. The statue makes The Honorable Mr. Barry look like Idi Amin in civvies. Sounds as if he ran D.C. the way the late Mr. Dada did Uganda.

    • Didn’t have anyone killed, though. Not Marion’s style.

      My favorite Barry quote: “Outside of the killings, D.C. has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.”

      Second favorite, after the Mayor was busted smoking crack: “Bitch set me up!”

      • My favorite is from his wife, Effi: “Am I never to accept a gift from a friend because they might have some involvement with the city? Most people I know have some involvement with the city government.”

          • And speaking of his style, as I recall, if Hizzoner was anything, he was stylish. I bet there was a line item in the District’s budget for his suits and another for his shirts and ties and another for his cuff links and another for his shoes and another for his hair cuts. He always looked good for the ladies.

  4. Re: No. 1 and 2

    I can’t find much outrage for either one, because both are de riguer for the left.

    Yes, both DeBlasio and Kristoff are ethically ignorant and blatantly boorish. But the left feels free to politicize everything, and criticize the right when they politicize anything. In other words, predictable to the point of being invisible from my radar. Trump stuck it in their eye by politicizing the tragedy himself to assail Chuck Schumer.

    That’s certainly nothing to be proud of, but part of me has a hard time hating a guy who fights back not only with the weapons of his opponent, but is shamelessly immune to “it’s wrong to politicize anything if you’re a Republican.” He took Obama’s admonition to “punch back twice as hard” to heart. To bad he spends way too much time punching down.

    Re: No. 3:

    Dogs. What’cha gonna do? Pepe has done the same kind of thing to me probably double-digit times. Then again, he is 16 years old, so that’s not all that many percentage-wise…

    Re: No. 4:

    This almost belongs under 1 and 2 above, it’s such typically biased, dishonest wishful thinking. Anyone in Trump’s orbit who gets charged with even a misdemeanor is going to be portrayed as the footsteps of doom for his presidency. Because Russia.

    Re: No. 5:

    Now, this one really angered me for exactly the same reasons as you. Honestly, for all the world it looks like a bunch of racist black people got together and said, “What can we do to utterly piss in the Cheerios of every white person in the District? I know — a statue of Marion Barry! That oughta do it!”

    My outrage is less, perhaps, living far away from DC, but I can see how anyone living there with even a modicum of level-headedness would be profoundly disturbed.

  5. Re: Rugby.

    Halloween night is Lucky’s least favorite night of the year…after the Fourth of July, that is.

    Is it possible that Rugby was on guard against more trick-or-treaters? Or maybe older kids were running around outside that only his high-powered ears could discern? Or maybe it was a ghost.

    I’ve heard dogs are better at sensing that…

    • Yet Rugby LOVES Halloween. He alerts us to kids coming up to the door with his not-alarmed alert bark, then runs out to greet each kid, many of which know him. Last night, he tried to leave with one large group, and a boy led him back.

      For a while I thought he was just excited and wanting to check for new friends. But we didn’t have many trick or treaters at all. Something spooked him, though.

      • Rugby is much more tolerant than Lucky, then.

        Maybe a stray animal was running around. There’s a stray cat that thinks it should be allowed to sun itself on our deck. Lucky’s not having any of that.

        A dog or a cat or some other critter could have been hanging about and got picked up by Rugby’s doggie sense.

        Weird that it happened in the middle of the night.

  6. There are few things in life more disconcerting than a dog going into high-alert mode over something you can’t see or hear. There’s something going on (dogs generally don’t play mind games, that’s what cats are for), but you don’t know what it is. I’ve had dogs for decades, and that is the one behavior that always creeps me out. It’s a great way to totally wreck a night’s sleep.

  7. Of all the comments, I am worried about N0.3 the most.
    With your recent legal issues with a commenter, your dog alerting, at the times you described, would make me very concerned.
    Be careful. Just because you don’t see anything outside doesn’t mean nothing’s there. Trust your dog.

    • Then again, one of our dogs was losing it’s mind once. Barking like it’d never barked before, with the mean, I’m gonna tear you up growl. She was upstairs in our bedroom, we were down.

      I went to investigate. Nothing, but she calmed down, until I went back down.

      Lost her mind again. Like there was literally an intruder in the house. Checked on her again. This time I cleared the whole upstairs.

      Nothing. Went back down.

      This occurred a few times more. Finally, I crept up slowly so she didn’t know I was coming, peeked my head around the door.

      Her hackles fully up, teeth bared…she was pacing in a semi-circle, growling and barking.

      At my brand new pair of work boots that were sitting by the bed where the old pair of work boots used to sit.

      She wouldn’t settle down until she’d seen me put them on and take them off.

      Sometimes dogs are just bonkers. In Rugby’s case, I’d be curious why he didn’t continue to lose his mind once he got outside. My guess…something in the air we can’t smell.

  8. Non sequitur, but this speech by GWB was just brought to my attention, and I have no idea why it took this long. It was a really good speech… I kinda wish he’d shown this kind of character when he was in power.

      • Needless and cheap dig.

        This is below ethical discourse.

        Without any substantive discussion built on deeper contemplation to back up this claim, this is unbecoming of a member of this blog’s commentariat.

        But, I bet it made you feel better.

        • So you’re just going to ignore the part where I defended Bush and focus only on the dig, which was no worse than Humble Talent’s dig, all so you can clutch your pearls.

          I bet that made you feel better.

          • Yes, I’ll ignore Humble’s because it’s uncharacteristic of him. And that’s a rationalization appealing to his, by the way.

            And your comment is still a needless cheap dig. Your opening “defense” was mere pablum for your main effort.

            • No, the main effort was to defend Bush’s character. I hadn’t even planned on bringing up Bush’s faults originally, but did so to be fair to Humble.

              I’m really surprised you’re objecting to my characterization of Bush. It’s hardly a controversial one.

              • I hate to bite, but the characterization of Bush as a dolt is just typical partisan smearing. Conventional wisdom and simplistic assessments are frequently widely accepted, and are just as frequently wrong.

                In general, the trope is that almost GOP Presidents and candidates are dumb (Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Trump)and all Democrats are brilliant (Stevenson, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Obama). It’s nonsense. Leadership is a very special form of intelligence, and those who simplify it don’t understand it. Based on my training and study of Presidential leadership, I’d rank Bush II, Reagan and Ike, of course, well ahead of the brilliant Carter and Obama. We tend to base judgments on moral luck: JFK—brilliant!—nearly blundered us into nuclear war. Nixon may have been smarter than all of them. Brilliant Clinton nearly sunk his Presidency because he never grew up. Truman was a plodder, but he knew how to make a tough decision.

                • This is pure contrarianism. Trump is regarded as dumb because he is, as you know, not because he’s a Republican. Romney and McCain weren’t criticized on their intelligence. I don’t think Bush Sr. was either, though that’s before my time. Bush Jr. made enough funny gaffes that it became conventional wisdom that he was, at least, inarticulate. My critique was more on his lack of judgment. His primary legacy is and always will be the Iraq War, which was undeniable the result of poor judgment.

                  I’m not sure what you’re basing the idea that he was a better president than Obama on. Some subjective notion of “strength?” Bush’s approval ratings were much lower, though that isn’t the end-all-be-all. We ended Bush’s tenure in a global recession, though that isn’t his fault, and ended Obama’s tenure with as close to full employment as we’ve been in decades.

                  I half-fear that by the end of Trump’s term, you’ll declare him a better president than Obama.

                  • McCain? McCain has frequently been criticized based on his intelligence or lack thereof (and often with justification.). They settled on a different smear or ten for Romney: he was a heartless capitalist who paid no taxes (Harry Reid) and a racist Mormon who wore “magic underwear” (Charles Blow.)

                    There are two componants to being President: the maintennance of te office and its power as a symbol and role model, and the nuts and bolts of governing. Trump already flunks the first part, and it isn’t going to change. Obama’s handling of that aspect was an A-, but I’m a tough grader.

                    Surpassing Obama, an astoundingly weak and feckless President, on the second part is so easy Trump can easily do it. He’s close already.

                    • Hm. I’m honestly surprised that you rank Obama so highly on maintaining the office’s power as a symbol and role model, given your objections to him speaking out about things like Trayvon Martin—I’d think that would mark him down in that category. So that’s refreshing.

                      But…Trump is better at the nuts and bolts of governing? On what basis other than the ability to sign executive orders? Trump can’t get his own party to unite to pass a healthcare bill…I’m not saying you’re wrong on this, I just don’t know what you’re basing it on.

                      Most of the criticisms of McCain’s intelligence I’ve seen have come from Republicans, but that could be a more recent phenomenon. During the campaign I remember Democrats were so focused on calling Sarah Palin stupid—which she was, and is—that McCain looked very smart by comparison. But maybe I missed him being called an idiot prior to his selection of Palin.

  9. If you treat people differently based on their religion, you’re a bigot.

    I not the left is hell-bent on separating radical Islam from Islam. They want to deny a connection. OTOH, they actively link the KKK and abortion clinic bombers into Christianity. If the bigot shoe fits….

  10. Your topics are numbered 1 2 3 4 5 4

    On the first #4 topic, the second lesson is that you never talk to law enforcement without a lawyer present unless it is as a witness to an event you are in no way involved in.

    This was Scooter Libby’s mistake in the Pluame investigation.

  11. # 3 Trump?

    # 5 Reminds me of a high-performing (read: kicking everyone’s @$$) NCAA D-1 FB program (Auburn?) a while back.

    Harshing their mellow was the small matter that they were currently under investigation for:

    A- Malfeasance innocently conducted by fervently committed alumni and/or

    B- Recruits and…um…misunderstandings involving [pick ’em] hookers, fluffers, haberdashers, car dealerships, no show jobs, no-show classes, test stand-ins, term paper assistance, no-pay-back-loans, impermissible benefits for family, gratis tats/piercings/shoes/drinks/meals/airline tickets/booze/drugs, or sundry other verboten spiffs, was asked if it should be allowed to be in the National Champion conversation.

    When asked if, despite all this, the team should be even considered in the National Championship conversation, the coach (Terry Bowden?) said, with a timeless smirk, something like:

    “If Marion Barry can be reelected Mayor of Washington D.C., then (Auburn) can be National Champ.”

  12. What the statue of Barry tells me is that it’s more admirable to many people to be on the “right” side and have zero integrity than to be on the “wrong” side and have plenty.

    We already knew that, but this is the most blatant display of it I’ve seen. People don’t respect the process of being a good person because they think they already know what the results are supposed to be.

  13. #2 Jack, I’m going with Jeff and Scott on this (being sure you would notice if Rugby had a psychiatric problem — “normal” dogs are notoriously OCD). I don’t know how urbanized your neighborhood is but I think you have described a sub-urban environment with what passes for today’s wilderness: back yards. We’ve all heard the occasional stories of wildcats in LA, black bears in Denver; even deer (efficient destroyers of property, no Bambis these) in and around most cities west of the Mississippi, coyotes in Queens, stucco-eating giant snails in Florida, manually dexterous raccoons everywhere . . . it’s not just a Sunday supplement story anymore. They’ve been moving on in for some time now, predators following the expansion of easy prey (rats tunneling by the millions beneath our feet), joining the already growing population of feral animals so very familiar with human habits and their environs: the abandoned pets. A dog like Rugby, whose language you have lovingly deciphered or at least understand, as a parent does a newborn, the general meaning of an amazing variety of sounds, has already told you all about the usual visitors, friend, foe or black & white with a wonderful stink. If he’s using a new word, especially if he’s expressing it in a new tone, he’s telling you there’s something new in the neighborhood — equal in size or maybe a little bit bigger (not big enough to cause a whine or whimper but still threatening) — that’s hanging around his family. He doesn’t know exactly what it is but, to him, it is dangerous. If he names that animal again, I would report it.

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