Morning Ethics Warm-Up, “Happy Birthday George Washington!” Edition

Good Morning!

1 The Indispensable Man...This is George Washington’s birthday, and every American alive and dead owes him an unmatched debt of gratitude. A useful assessment of why this is true can be found here.

Not only was Washington indispensable as the military leader who won the Revolution, he was also, it seems likely, the only human being who could have navigated the impossibly difficult job of being the first President of a new nation attempting an unprecedented experiment in democracy. The precedents he set by his remarkable judgment, presence, wisdom, character and restraint continue to be a force today. Washington was also perhaps the most ethical man who has ever been President. The principles that guided him from his youth and that resulted in his being the only man trusted by the brilliant but often ruthless Founders who chose him to lead their new country can be reviewed here, but two of them tell us what we need to know about Washington’s ideals…the first,

Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.

…and the last,

 Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

Revoltingly, the average American is largely ignorant regarding the great man whose face adorns the one dollar bill. For example,  a recent YouGov survey asked respondents who was the best President in U.S. history. 16% of Americans selected Ronald Reagan, and 16% selected Barack Obama. Abraham Lincoln took third place with 15%. Washington finished fourth,but only 10% of those surveyed named him as the best President,  14 percent of Republicans, and only six percent of Democrats. I assume that Reagan, and I hope even Obama, would find these results ridiculous. They tell us that citizens can not distinguish politics from virtue. They tell us that the schools teach neither history nor critical thought effectively. They tell us that Democrats regard the fact that Washington was a slaveholder more notable than the fact that he made the United States possible. They tell us that the nation is losing a connection to its origins, heroes and values. It tells us that most of the public is ignorant of things that competent citizens must know.

It tells me that when an advocate cites a poll that says, “Americans want this,” the proper response is “Why should anyone trust their judgment? They think Regan and Obama were better Presidents than George Washington.”

2. Children’s Crusade update: Both CNN and HLN are flogging the high school student protests virtually to the exclusion of any thing else. The total commitment to aggressive and emotional advocacy on the part of the mainstream news media was disgraceful after the Sandy Hook school shooting, but this is worse; just when I think our journalism has hit the bottom, it finds a way to go lower.

This morning on HLN, I was greeted by an extremely articulate Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivor who said,  confidently and radiating certitude, “These episodes are completely preventable.” Putting such nonsense on the air, even when spoken by an attractive, sympathetic, youthful idealist who perhaps cannot be blamed for not knowing what the hell she’s talking about,is irresponsible and incompetent. It is no different from saying “The Holocaust never happened,” Barack Obama was born in Kenya” or “The world is ruled by the Illuminati.” “These episodes are completely preventable” is, from the mouth of anyone qualified to be on television talking about gun policy, a lie, and from someone like this young woman, as naive as professing a belief in Santa Claus. Such statements should not be presented in a news forum as a substantive or serious position. A news organization has an ethical obligation either to correct the misinformation, or not to broadcast it without context, like “Here is the kind of arguments these child activists are making, making serious and coherent debate impossible.”

When the crawl across the bottom of my screen added another argument from one of the activist students—has there ever been a time when the policy analysis of people lacking high school diplomas has ever been given so much media attention and credibility?—that read, “Student protester: “People are buying guns who don’t need them,” I switched to the Cartoon Network

Right, kid, let’s pass laws that prohibit citizens from buying what the government decides they don’t need.

3.  And yet he’s a brilliant lawyer! And a terrific dog-walker! “PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A prominent Pittsburgh attorney has been charged with dozens of counts of sexually abusing his dog. According to a police report, witnesses say they heard Ivan DeVoren engaging in sexual activities with his dog, Snoopy, on several different occasions. Witnesses described hearing sex sounds coming from DeVoren’s apartment on numerous occasions. They kept records of the alleged incidents, including sounds of a dog whimpering, creaking furniture and inappropriate language”….Back in 2014, DeVoren spent five months volunteering at Humane Animal Rescue as a dog walker….”

Observations:

  • This is the second story in less than a year about a lawyer abusing a dog named Snoopy. In the earlier case, the lawyer was disbarred. I posted about that case, which was worse—the lawyer stomped that Snoopy to death; in this case they found DeVoren and his Lab smoking cigarettes  and looking dreamy—and said that the lawyer’s disbarment, which is supposed to be based on conduct showing that he is not trustworthy to practice law…

“looks like an Ick Factor case to me. The abuse of poor Snoopy is so viscerally repulsive that the bar and the courts can’t keep their ethical priorities in order. It is also, as particularly ugly discipline cases often are, a matter of public relations and self-preservation for the legal profession. The bar association knows that not banning a lawyer like Pastor—one hopes there aren’t many–signals to the public that the bar welcomes brilliant advocates who may be monsters in their spare time. That is a dark and dangerous road the profession would rather avoid.”

  • Under the legal ethics rules, unethical non-law based activity, even some crimes, may not be just cause for disbarment if it doesn’t indicate that the lawyer can’t be trusted as a lawyer.This is why John Edwards was never disbarred…who, by the way, I would trust a dog-rapist over on any day of the week…

DeVoren is a prominent environmental lawyer

  • I’m curious: What is “inappropriate language” when someone is having sex with a dog? Is there appropriate language under those conditions?

4. Coming to Ethics Alarms soon: I was going to include a discussion of last night’s horrific CNN town meeting regarding gun control in the Warm-up, but it needs a free-standing post. This was one more example of signature significance for American journalism having abandoned all professional standards.

5. Finally, an everyday ethics complaint: For the second time in three months, an obligation by a contractor has been delayed to the point of hardship for us with the excuse offered that “there was a death in my family.” These were not 24 hour delays, but delays of many days. It is supposed to be compassionate and good manners to just nod at this, and accept whatever time schedule the mourning individual requests or, in most cases, just imposes.

This is unethical and unprofessional. I’ve had many deaths to deal with, and never imposed on my business and professional relationships for more than a single day. “Sorry, I didn’t get around to mailing you that large check that is weeks overdue because there was a death ion my family” is not an acceptable explanation. You don’t have a right to make your problem my problem. I’ve got enough. problems of my own,

 

 

57 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Animals, Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Professions

57 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, “Happy Birthday George Washington!” Edition

  1. Rich in CT

    I think it is telling that 33% of Democrats think that Obama was the greatest President, while 36% of Republicans think Regan was.

    It is also interesting that 15% of each agreed that Lincoln was the best. Lincoln was also perhaps the closest we ever had to Machiavelli as president.

    • Esther Xie

      Lincoln was a Machiavellian? Is it that more and more Americans see him this way or is this view still firmly minority?

      • That’s a little strong, but not much. He was a ruthless politician and leader when he felt he had to be. Americans who know their history understand and accept this.

      • Esther asks: “Lincoln was a Machiavellian? Is it that more and more Americans see him this way or is this view still firmly minority?”

        It is important to point out that when you use the general term ‘Americans’ you mean, I suppose, mass-America, or ‘the average American’. At least up until the relatively recent present I think it is fair to say that ‘most Americans’ saw America through the lens of what Robert Bellah called ‘the tenets of the American civil religion’. That is perhaps best expressed in a popular movie like ‘Mr Smith Goes to Washington’.

        To see *around* or perhaps *through* such mystifications to catch a glimpse of ‘the real Lincoln’, and the real political and social conditions and ‘what really happened’, and then the will of those who built the post-Lincolnian ‘propositional nation’, is a difficult feat of *seeing* and interpretation.

        I think it is safe to say that American identity, and American self-description, and self-understanding, is in a state of deep crisis. Obviously this is one of my main points and areas of interest. This is what happens when ‘constructed identities’ collapse: it leads to tremendous social chaos and periods of revision. It is very painful in fact.

        • Esther Xie

          Apology if I offended you. I can’t grasp the intricacies between different races of America.
          American society does look chaotic, not only between different skin colours, but also between different age groups, social standing, wealth, sexualities, and genders. you name it…
          .

    • I’d give that prize to FDR, with Jackson a close second. Lincoln third.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        I always put Lincoln and Washington up top as the savior and founder of the US system. FDR follows. Others who rate highly include Jackson, Jefferson, Reagan, TR, and Polk. Harrison and Garfield don’t rate because of their brief tenures. Bottom of the heap is Carter (incompetent) Harding (corrupt and ineffective), Buchanan (did nothing in the face of the Civil War), and Grant (great general, no good as an administrator). I think the current president and the two before him are a little too recent to judge for the ages. This is judging them just on their effectiveness, achievements, and crisis handling, though. If we’re going to judge them on their character, that’s another story.

        • Pretty much tracks with my ratings as well.

          • JRH

            Hmm it’s been my opinion that virtually everything wrong in the US today tracks directly from Lincoln & the Civil War. Lincoln’s actions fractured the Constitution (suspending rights, etc) and set the stage for the large, boated Federal Bureaucracy. The suppression of State’s Priority (rights) changed the very character of the Republic. Granted there was a serious moral wrong to be righted, but in doing so it changed the fundamental character of the Republic and has resulted in the overbearing, overreaching Federal Government.

            • Civil Wars do bad things, and ethics within them are impossible.

              Would the US be better today off if Lincoln had allowed the South to leave? Anything is possible, but my guess the result would be a vastly weakened US, and probably Hitler taking over the world, followed by many more wars.

              Lincoln was lucky: a lot of questionable decisions worked out better than doing nothing would have.

              • Steve-O-in-NJ

                Arguably a lot of issues today track from FDR. If he had stepped aside after 2 terms then he would not have filled the SCOTUS with his own people (8 justices) and it might not have been so liberal, so long, although we wouldn’t have avoided the liberal curmudgeon William O. Douglas, nominated in 1939.

            • JRH writes: ”Hmm it’s been my opinion that virtually everything wrong in the US today tracks directly from Lincoln & the Civil War. Lincoln’s actions fractured the Constitution (suspending rights, etc) and set the stage for the large, bloated Federal Bureaucracy. The suppression of State’s Priority (rights) changed the very character of the Republic. Granted there was a serious moral wrong to be righted, but in doing so it changed the fundamental character of the Republic and has resulted in the overbearing, overreaching Federal Government.”

              This is actually my view. I did not come to it by reading it in this digested form, but came to it after a close reading of Richard Weaver (The Southern Tradition at Bay). I began to sense that something telling happened then but I was not able to understand what.

              Jack wrote: ”Would the US be better today off if Lincoln had allowed the South to leave? Anything is possible, but my guess the result would be a vastly weakened US, and probably Hitler taking over the world, followed by many more wars.”

              It is interesteing to me because once I head a similar view but it was expressed differently. It was expressed through a speculation about Providence. That these things had to happen, and did happen, all as part of preparations by Providence to defeat Hitler and secure a peaceful world. It fits into the notion of America as the Providential nation and also into notions of ‘manifest destiny’.

          • Yossarian

            I am not sure if anyone here follows the Rubin Report, but Dave Rubin is doing a five day event for Presidents Day interviewing different professors about 5 different Presidents. So far he has uploaded Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, and JFK. I haven’t had a chance to watch them yet (they are all roughly an hour long) so I can’t speak to the quality of these specific interviews but I think they will be both interesting and informative!

          • Esther Xie

            How about JFK?

      • I like Jackson for the title, but confess that FDR was taught to a school age slickwilly in such glowing terms that my emotions conflict with my analysis.

  2. Esther Xie

    Good morning.
    This website is very interesting. People are thoughtful, balanced and rational. A lot for me to learn from.

  3. Right, kid, let’s pass laws that prohibit citizens from buying what the government decides they don’t need.

    Or prohibit people from marrying those they do not need to marry.

    Now, those states at issue in Obergefell v. Hodges did not even give same-sex couples chance to prove that they need to marry.

    But what about a law that only allows same-sex marriage if the couple demonstrated a need to marry, distinct from the general population. Would that be consistent with Obergefell.

  4. Steve-O-in-NJ

    1. I’ve been saying for a while that the left wants a monopoly on honor, and Washington’s falling popularity is indicative of that. I grew up learning about Columbus and the conquistadors and the pilgrims and the Revolution and so on in a fairly straightforward manner. These days all you hear is what rotten people these dead white European males are and how we have to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day, the Founding Fathers were slaveholders and this nation didn’t start to straighten up and fly right until it elected Barack Obama.

    2. They are going to keep flogging this from here to November. Dammit, the Democrats are going to take Congress, or at least the House, by all means, fair or foul, and if that means parading weeping teenagers before the public and saying the GOP has children’s blood on their hands, that’s what they’re going to do. It might just work.

    3. Ewwww.

    4. OK, we’re waiting with baited breath.

    5. Wait a minute here, Jack. A single day for a death is a pretty tough standard. In public employment here, you get three bereavement days for the death of a parent, child, sibling, or spouse, but only one for most other folks, although it can be extended to three to cover the situation where someone else raised you. I was pretty angry at one attorney who refused to adjourn a deposition the morning of my mom’s wake (which was delayed a week to allow relatives to return, in a staggered manner, from a trip to Alaska) because “we really need to get this done,” and, afterwards, I pulled him aside and let him know in no uncertain terms what I thought of how he had handled the situation and what I thought of him personally, something to the effect of his mom being of the canine persuasion. It’s one of the few times I have seen another lawyer crumple and mumble an apology when I yelled at him. But for the fact that one of the other lawyers involved in the proceedings (actually a woman) heard me yelling, told me it was time to leave, and could she buy me some coffee, things might have gotten a lot more unpleasant.

    • That’s an employer’s standard. That means the employer voluntarily consents, either by policy or by negotiation. I paid a roofer 500 bucks to complete repairs on a roof withing a set time period. He skipped on appointment, then another, then was impossible to reach for two weeks. The reason? His father died. He didn’t make alternative arrangements. He didn’t delegate. He just took as long as he felt he needed, while my roof leaked.

      I had an ethics seminar to teach the day after I found my Dad dead in his chair, on my birthday. I gave the seminar. I was damn good, too.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Two weeks is too much, and someone should have told you what was going on asap. My mom died over the weekend (2 AM Sunday). I didn’t make it in on Monday, because I didn’t have anything scheduled and my dad, brother and I needed to meet with the funeral director. Had I been scheduled to answer the trial call, though, I would have gone, and explained the situation to the presiding judge. Hopefully he would have been understanding.

    • 5) Ethical contractors who cannot fulfill a contract due to unexpected events are obligated to contact another contractor (likely a competitor) in whom they trust to have equal quality to their own and ask if that other contractor could fulfill the contract in time.

      • (and if the contractor cannot find someone they’d comfortably approve of, then the contractor would be obligated to refund any money already paid, offer apologies and a list of other contractors and bid the client good luck in finding an alternate)

  5. Former President Obama after Charleston: “Let’s be clear: At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,”

    Former Sen. Harry Reid: “The United States is the only advanced country where this kind of mass violence occurs,”

    Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CN): “This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America.”

    Pretty damning stuff, am I right? Is it true?

    Not exactly.

    “a study of global mass-shooting incidents from 2009 to 2015 by the Crime Prevention Research Center, headed by economist John Lott, shows the U.S. doesn’t lead the world in mass shootings. In fact, it doesn’t even make the top 10 , when measured by death rate per million population from mass public shootings. (bolds mine)

    Tops? “Norway is, with an outlier mass shooting death rate of 1.888 per million (high no doubt because of the rifle assault by political extremist Anders Brevik that claimed 77 lives in 2011). No. 2 is Serbia, at just 0.381, followed by France at 0.347, Macedonia at 0.337, and Albania at 0.206. Slovakia, Finland, Belgium, and Czech Republic all follow. Then comes the U.S., at No. 11, with a death rate of 0.089.

    One’s compelled to note: aren’t some of those countries Socialista replete with National Health Care, etc.?

    And pandering Lefties claim they’re neither ”developed” nor “advanced?”

    Doesn’t matter, let’s move on.

    ”That’s not all. There were also 27% more casualties from 2009 to 2015 per mass shooting incident in the European Union than in the U.S.”

    https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/sorry-despite-gun-control-advocates-claims-u-s-isnt-the-worst-country-for-mass-shootings/

    It gets worse!

    ”There have been about 34 mass shootings since 2000. Forty-seven percent — 16 — were committed by first- and second-generation immigrants,” (bolds mine)

    Say what? Nearly half weren’t wearing MAGA hats/t-shirts, or were southern, Ricky Bobby Y-Chromosomal Unit types wavin’ the Stars-n-Bars?

    http://humanevents.com/2018/02/21/amazing-new-breakthrough-to-reduce-mass-shootings/

    Talk about yer Inconvenient Truths.

    • Jp

      Lotts work is often dismissed by members era of the left.

      • ”Lotts work is often dismissed by members era of the left.”

        Now there’s a shock!

        Obama, Reid, Murphy, et al. are spreading hyper-bullshit that is so easily disproved it’s pathetic.

        How easily? Just a couple of clicks & voilà.

        How pathetic? They’re counting on the MSM to ignore it while pushing hysterical pap on its useful idiot base.

        But that begs a larger question; how fucking stupid do they think their base is?

      • Chris

        That’s because it’s biased and terrible.

    • In fairness, these kinds of comparisons shouldn’t just be of mass *shootings* but of any mass casualty event in which a single actor or two seeks to inflict maximum damage on an indiscriminate crowd. This is far more revealing about trends and problems. Furthermore, all such characteristics SHOULD be broken down into native perpetrators and foreign perpetrators.

      In fact, I think this fairer set of evaluations makes America an infinitely safer nation in which to live.

      But at the end of the day, these “other nations have equal or exceeding levels of violence” comparisons are weak arguments for 2nd Amendment advocacy because I don’t care if other nations are wretched…we do have an obligation to weigh our values here and see if we can mitigate any misery here that ostensibly touches on our core principles without violating those core principles. That being said, comparisons to other nations becomes a strong argument if the angle comes from “humanity has evil actors in it and a certain level of evil conduct is going to be expected” and it merely becomes one of those things where we, without becoming numb to the tragedy, need to recognize that bad people in a free society are more likely to be able to act out their badness and it indeed does need to be seen as something we should be used to. Groan.

      • (oh and it IS a strong argument when it’s used to rebut the incessant claims that rates of school shootings make America some sort of out lying horror of a nation to live in…because those arguments rely entirely on the fallacies that claim school shootings are some special kind of violence compared to other mass casualty violence or other violence in general)

    • Somewhat related, and possibly interesting to you, Mr Paul Schlecht

      [https://youtu.be/h3Zyo8J-AsI]

  6. luckyesteeyoreman

    4. I couldn’t bear watching 5 minutes of that CNN brain-fart-fest cum Democrat Party campaign rally (complete with white whipping-girl!) last night. I worked late, and tuned in around 90 minutes after its advertised start time. I turned off the TV at the point where the Mom of one of the murdered students started off with something like, “Please hold your applause till the end,” then, instead of asking a direct question to Dana Loesch (representing The Boogey Per-…daughter, aka the NRA), commenced a prefatory sermonette with “Wake up, America!” Bye. I’m “woke,” thank you, grieving exploited Mom – see you at the ballot box. And screw you, CNN; you should have your broadcast license revoked for violating RICO statutes, or for election campaign finance “irregularities,” or something else felonious, for posing yourselves as a non-partisan medium, when you are as naked an outlet for the propaganda of the Democrat Party as the New York Times.

  7. Laurent Canup

    Uh Jack, it’s Cartoon Network not Cartoon Channel. Your mistake now gives me the right to ignore any solid talking points you had.

    Just kidding. I love what you do and I visit this site daily. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

  8. Chris

    This morning on HLN, I was greeted by an extremely articulate Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivor who said, confidently and radiating certitude, “These episodes are completely preventable.” Putting such nonsense on the air, even when spoken by an attractive, sympathetic, youthful idealist who perhaps cannot be blamed for not knowing what the hell she’s talking about,is irresponsible and incompetent. It is no different from saying “The Holocaust never happened,” Barack Obama was born in Kenya” or “The world is ruled by the Illuminati.” “These episodes are completely preventable” is, from the mouth of anyone qualified to be on television talking about gun policy, a lie, and from someone like this young woman, as naive as professing a belief in Santa Claus.

    I think your comparison here is far more nonsensical and hysterical than the statement “These episodes are completely preventable.” The comparisons you bring up can all be easily disproven. Whether mass shootings are preventable isn’t a lie, it’s an opinion, and there is evidence for and against it. It can’t really be disproven or called objectively false.

    • Again, you are intentionally distorting what I wrote. The young woman was not lying; she’s naive and ignorant. YOU would be lying if you said that. CNN would be lying.
      These episodes cannot possibly be “completely preventable.” It is impossible to prove a negative, but nothing involving human agency is completely preventable, as engineers and statisticians will assure you and anyone else.If your argument is going to be along the lines of “we could eliminate the human race, schools and weapons,” or “we can stop THAT school from being shot up again: just tear it down!” I advise against it.

      That is is easy as a law or two to prevent mass shootings and gun violence is an anti-gun myth. CNN had an obligation to correct this misleading and ignorant statement, and by promoting what they knew was untrue, were spreading lies.

  9. John Glass

    It was a great day & turnout (many young people) to honor our first president on his 286th birthday at Mt. Vernon. OK it was free, so we felt doubly fortunate! One of the staff remarked that George Washington’s greatest legacy to the country was turning down efforts to make him a monarch or president for life & presiding over the orderly transition of power. As he made clear: “The Constitution is the guide I never will abandon.”

  10. Here is a comment on another blog.

    https://agingmillennialengineer.com/2018/02/15/fuck-you-i-like-guns-2/comment-page-22/#comment-4538

    Why is that even the point? What are you even talking about?

    We’re not gonna ask them to give up their guns because they’re criminals. We’re going to ask you to give up your guns because you’re (hopefully) not criminals.

    It’s not a complicated idea.

    it is just a stupid idea.

  11. Chris posted above, regarding Lefty not being too keen in acknowledging Inconvenient Truth ( a story as old as time itself):

    ”That’s because it’s (the work of John Lott/Crime Prevention Research Center) biased and terrible.”

    Chris has been quick to extol the virtues, with withering condescension, of “Google,” on occasions too numerous to mention, when he believes his search results vindicate his contention.

    Funniest thing; he hasn’t done that in this instance.

  12. Cynical John

    1. The Florida massacre could have prevented by the system in place if the people who were in place to perform certain tasks had done their damn jobs.
    2. What changed this country more than anything else was the constitutional amendment providing for the direct election of senators. One the senators were no longer beholden to the state legislatures for appointment, then they had to start pandering to every special interest group and lobby in Washington.

  13. I agree with the Senator thing: this needs to change back.

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