Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/21/18: Assholes, Frauds, And Hypocrites

Good morning!

1. “A Nation of Assholes” Update: A congressional intern, can be heard yelling, “Mr. President, fuck you!” at President Trump this week as he arrived at the Capitol for a meeting with Republican lawmakers, as heard in a video clip recorded by NBC’s Frank Thorp. Nice.  This is what “the resistance” and allied Democrats—and Robert De Niro, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert and the rest, like Peter Fonda, Jane’s younger, less talented brother, who tweeted, “We should rip Barron Trump from his mother’s arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles and see if mother will stand up against the massive giant asshole she is married to”— have produced. Hold them accountable. Hold the members of Congress who employs her responsible too: she obviously is reflecting the attitude she absorbs in the office all day long.

As that 2015 post makes clear, making someone like Trump our leader, and thus our culture’s ethics role model—yes, that’s how leadership works—does lead to this kind of disgusting, divisive and un-American conduct. However, it doesn’t justify those who sink this low. She must be identified and fired. Those rationalizing her outburst should be rebuked, just as those who tried to justify Rep. Joe Wilson’s unforgivable “You lie!” during an Obama State of the Union address should have been rebuked.

Besides, after she is fired, MSNBC will probably give her a show.

2. You know, such incidents are making it hard for me to maintain my ethical objections to boycotts. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was having a working dinner at Cocina Mexicana, a popular Mexican restaurant in Washington, DC.  Protesters from the Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America entered the restaurant and began harassing her, based on the controversy over the handling of illegal immigrant families at the Mexican border. You can read their content-free chants here; the only one that interests me is “”No borders! No walls! Sanctuary for all!”, which is signature significance for a lawless, ignorant fool. She had to leave after about ten minutes.

Why were the protesters allowed to enter the restaurant and interfere with a customer’s meal? It doesn’t matter who the diner is: the establishments duty to is treat guests as guests while they are in the establishment. Has Cocina Mexicana apologized to Nielsen? It doesn’t matter, really: that kind of abuse should not be permitted even once. Are we now going to have establishments segregated by ethnicity and sympathy for open borders?

I won’t eat there, even if someone else is paying.

3. Good. 60 organizations branded “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) will consider legal action against against the Left’s favorite smear organization. SPLC recently had to pay a $3 million settlement and render an apology to the Quilliam Foundation for its defaming the group. SPLC can opine all it wants that a group or organization is a hate groups in its judgment, just as I could. The problem is that the mainstream news media cites the Center as an authority when it joins in the smear, which is usually designed to marginalize a group with conservative views. Originally, long before it was flushed with a sense of its own virtue and power, the Center based its verdicts on conduct, usually racist actions, crimes and demonstrations. In recent years, however, SPLC has increasingly tarred groups for their political positions and viewpoints, assessed from a hard left perspective.

This is relevant to the “opinion vs fact” poll I posted yesterday.

4. Oh-oh. What do I do with “Dr. Z”? This is an ethical dilemma. I have used social scientist Phillip Zimbardo’s 20 rules for resisting unethical influences in organizations and groups in my seminars for nearly a decade, and blogged about them here.

They embody many ethical principles while being valuable in setting ethics alarms. However, Zimbardo himself has been recently exposed as being unethical himself, specifically regarding his infamous Stanford Prison Experiment, which made him a national figure and launched his career in the field of analyzing culture-based misconduct. As persuasively detailed in this Medium article, his experiment was manipulated research designed by Zimbardo to reach a desired result: a lie. Worse, he has been covering up the lie for decades while still riding the wave of the fame it provided him.

Now I have the classic problem of the valid ethical message from the untrustworthy messenger.

5. A brief note about the “family separation” issue: President Trump’s Executive Order seeking to bypass the consent decree, known as the Flores settlement, that prohibits the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention centers  even if they are with their parents for more than 20 days is exactly as much of an abuse of power and unconstitutional as President Obama’s EO declaring that illegal immigrants who were not serious criminals had nothing to fear from immigration enforcement. Of course, Trump was extremely critical of that. I’m critical of all Executive Orders that amend laws as an end-around the Constitution.

When we have laws, we should enforce them, when we don’t like how they work, we should change them as the Constitution requires—legislatively–and enforce the new laws. Presidents should not “with a flick of the pen” (Sen. Schumer) bypass process and law no matter what the justification. (And if legislators don’t do their jobs, they should be voted out of office, not allowed to stay and argue that the laws shouldn’t be enforced.)

No, I don’t expect President Trump to pay attention to such details, as I doubt that he has a passing knowledge of the Constitution, and integrity is of no interest to him at all. However, I don’t care don’t care to hear any more fear-mongering about his “authoritarian” leadership when he is being encouraged to bypass the legislature illegally. The end does not justify the means, even when your party or ideological club likes the ends. No nation can have a system wherein laws are just ignored when they are inconvenient, unpopular or create difficult problems.

“Think of the children!” drowns out any coherent discussion of process and the rule of law. Now  that President Trump has proven that children will be successful tools to lobotomize and emotionalize any substantive issue to which they can be linked,  I’m betting on the next Democratic National Convention being themed, “The War Against Children.” And the real wars against democratic institutions, elections, dissent, free speech, the Presidency, due process and the rule of law?

42 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/21/18: Assholes, Frauds, And Hypocrites

  1. Sometimes the leaders of this country truly depress me with their wet fingers in the wind. Madison was right. Mob rule is to be feared and systemically stopped.

    These days the mob mentality largely resides on the Left. But I must confess, the MAGA look the other way when Trump does wrong is just as concerning, though not quite as prevalent. (Perhaps this is just my bias showing.)

    We made the rules. Let’s follow them or change them within the system designed to protect us from mob rule.

    • Doing as you suggest will help MAGA. Enforce the laws or change them.

      The political BS that prevent solving the immigration crisis is as dangerous to the nation as the mob rule thing.

  2. #2 – I understand that the owner of this restaurant was interviewed and he said that he was glad that the Secretary was treated in this way in his establishment.

    This leads me to wonder if he didn’t contact the protesters and let them know that she was coming to the restaurant to eat so they could get their group together for the protest. I normally don’t get this conspiratorial, but it is hard to resist in this case.

  3. Phil:
    I think a SJW from the DOJ spotted her there and rallied the apparatchiks.

    As for the restaurant owner, I hope he had more reasonable patrons than the imagined when making such a statement. Revenue downturns are among the best lesson teachers.

  4. #5 I’ve heard an interesting theory, that the president expects this EO to be taken to court, which will then be covered by the media. The press coverage will reveal that there is a basis to the status quo, and it is not “Trump solely made up this policy to hurt children”. Then he can say to Chuck Schumer, I did what you asked, look what happened, can’t say I didn’t try. And then Schumer will continue to “humina-humina-humina” that it is cruel to make legislators legislate, that’s not why they became legislators in the first place, etc. Basically, the Dems are engaging in bad faith and don’t really care about fixing the issue, but just like to use it as an election campaign billy club. Can’t let a good crisis go to waste, as they say. If one were to fix it, it’d be a waste!

    • I don’t know if it was planned, but I think this is how it’s going to happen.

      Chuck said that Democrats wouldn’t work with Republicans because Trump should just flip out his pen and phone. I think that it’s cripplingly stupid for Chuck to have begged Trump to be a dictator, but it’s 2018, and we can’t possibly let common sense get in the way of hating Trump.

      If the legal challenge hasn’t already been filed, then the ink is drying on the pages, and Trump’s administration is going to be challenged on this, and lose, and then… Gee, won’t Chuck look like an ass, having said VERY publicly that this is exactly how this should have been handled. “What? You expect lawmakers to you know… Write laws! Pshaw! Pen-phoery!”

      • No matter how you slice it, then, the kids, who are indeed innocent, are being used and exploited as political hot potatoes. After a while, people are going to conclude, “Who needs this? Build a wall, damn it. No more. Keep em all out unless we say “OK.” Then the kids on the other side aren’t our problem…as they should not be.

        • If you think the parents of these kids don’t know our political squabbles and then exploit them then you are unaware of the anti-Trump rhetoric distributed on social media in Mexico. I have numerous FB friends from my travels in Mexico and I am always getting anti-Trump shares and rants from Mexican people with whom I have spent considerable time socially. Yes, the kids are innocent but their parents are evaluating the U.S. political risks associated with spending thousands of dollars to be smuggled across the border. The parents are the ones who created the situation that resulted in the traumatic experience the children are claimed to be going through.

      • There was a concept I encountered in the Army a couple of times: when faced with a ridiculous order or regulation, enforce it to the hilt. Once the repercussions of that enforcement are disruptive enough, the order will be revoked. Has Trump stumbled into doing this? Ignoring laws will not stand. Locking kids up with parents will not stand. As the disruptions continue and grow, the EO will not stand, and those who make the rules, that’s Congress, right?, will have to act, right? That would be the rational and ethical thing. Well, maybe not. There is a congressional election on the horizon, so reason and ethics will not be foremost on the minds of our politicians.

    • The Washington Post already has an opinion piece up, “Trump and Kirstjen Nielsen’s embarrassing surrender on separating families at the border”, already being shared on Facebook gleefully. They wanted action, got it, and now they’re throwing tomatoes at that too…

      If he cured cancer tomorrow, they would complain about that somehow too.

  5. Jack do you have a recommendation for material on helping the average citizen understand the workings of the Constitution? Right now I’m reading Mastering Constitutional Law by the Carolina Academic Press, but would like something that might be more “accessible” to some of my lefty friends.

    • I read the US Constitution when in HS, as part of a class on comparative history between the US and Mexico, and did not find it particularly hard to understand. There are many subtleties, but I think the main workings are pretty well spelled out in the document itself.

      • Right. However aspects like how the Bill of Rights came to be, what it means to go around the Constitution, what preceded it, and the evolution in interpretation (natural law, positive law, sociological jurisprudence) is not in the document itself. This is why I asked Jack.

        • Check out Hillsdale College. They offer free online tutorials on just what you are asking for. They walk you through the Federalist papers rather thoroughly.

          • Right. However I’m looking for a book or similar that I can just hand off. I doubt my pals will take the time to bother with a whole course. Thanks though.

  6. Jack wrote, “A congressional intern, can be heard yelling, “Mr. President, fuck you!” at President Trump this week as he arrived at the Capitol for a meeting with Republican lawmakers, as heard in a video clip recorded by NBC’s Frank Thorp. Nice. This is what “the resistance” and allied Democrats… have produced.”

    This is Monkey See, Monkey Do Hive Mindedness.

  7. 1. I don’t know if encouraging asshole behavior is making us more stupid or we are becoming bigger assholes because we are encouraging not thinking things through. The Secret Service should arrest Fonda and make him do a perp walk in full view of the cameras, just to let it be known that there are still lines and crossing them will have real consequences. That intern should be identified and publicly disgraced. The thing is, there are too many people who will laud them as heroes who spoke truth to power. MAYBE Ron Kovic spoke truth to power, although he did it in a disruptive way. It is not speaking truth to power to curse someone out or publicly wish bad things to happen to their families. This is precisely the kind of crap that led to the attempted massacre of the GOP baseball team last year. Ironically, the first thing that popped into my head is that it’s time to strike back worse, but a nation where neighbors curse each other out and assault each other on sight over political differences is nuts.

    2. Two words, Jack: liberal cred. That restaurant probably gets 10 times as many liberal bureaucrats and students as it does GOP officials, and if it had told them to take a hike, or called the police, IT would have become the target of boycotts and abuse.

    3. The SPLC is the first of the various big hard left organizations to both overreach and get sloppy, because it got to the point where it started to believe its own coverage. Now it’s going to pay the price for that sloppiness. The function of a policy advocacy organization is to analyze and advocate for policy, based on facts, not serve as a rubber stamp for any vaguely liberal journalist or blogger looking to snakebite or brand an organization or individual he doesn’t agree with.

    4. Tell the whole truth, and let the reader make his own judgment.

    5. Well, it was longtime Clinton high aide Paul Begala who gave us the memorable quote “Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool,” as Monica’s boyfriend glibly announced he’d work around Congress with a barrage of executive orders. Can’t fault Trump for using the same power to quiet what was getting pretty damn close to this nation tearing itself apart.

  8. So I have an ethical question for you (I promise it isn’t a gotcha). This week my sister in law who works for 911 took a call about a call being broken into. During the call, she learned it was her car. She had left her car in a parking lot because the key didn’t work when earlier in the day her husband accidentally left the keys in his pocket after going in the ocean. It was determined by the police the person was homeless and just looking for a place to sleep. Eyewitness reports say she tried numerous cars and choose that one because it was unlocked so I use the term loosely.

    I don’t know if this matters, but technically I own the car. I consider the car hers, but I am the one responsible for making the payments (She pays the payments, but they are in my name because she couldn’t get credit). Should either one of us press charges? I am for stopping illegal entry, but frankly, I would rather let this go.

    • What would be the point of pressing charges?

      Do you have damages? Was there vandalism?

      Does the miscreant need an object lesson? If not, is there a better way to help the person, and can I do that?

      I don’t know what the answer is. I would start with answering these questions.

    • There are times to enforce a law vigorously (or demand that it be enforced vigorously) and times when compassion is called for. Absent any other damning information about the homeless person, I would let it go.
      Your payment for this generosity is a great 911 story.

  9. 5. I feel very strongly that a temporary separation of children from parents should take place. In another life (teacher) I saw abuse – verbal/physical/sexual – excessive alcohol use, incest, a proliferation of narcotics, poor hygiene, nutritional neglect, and that is just a short list. As a mandated reporter I had to be part of some horrific custodial situations and children (12-14) would be interviewed separately. The reason is obvious since so many were programmed that what they experienced was normal. I have no idea what any of the children brought into this had experienced either from their own families or country of origin. I would hate to return an abused child right back into that situation.

  10. #2 I won’t eat at Cocina Mexicana when I’m out in that neck of the woods.

    I know that La Tolteca over in Fairfax Station has really good food, a great atmosphere, and certainly has better prices. I recommend it if you live in the vicinity, it’s on Ox Rd/Hwy 123 close to Fairfax County Pkwy. Enjoy!

    • Z.
      I wonder if a better strategy to deal with Cochina Mexicana wound be to patronize them en masse buying only the least cost item on the menu but spend alot of time discussing conservative immigration positions during lengthy meals. By crowding out the preferred patronage conservative activists will limit the restaurant’s ability to make money and will drive away the preferred clientele.

      Boycotts are old school. The better way is to invade in large numbers and consume their ability to make money.

  11. 3. It appears that the ACLU is adopting the same course the SPLC took, kowtowing to the hard left. They are backing away from their commitment to protect free speech and the First Amendment. A former board member, Wendy Kaminer, obtained an internal memo regarding this and discussed it in the WSJ. Unfortunately that article is paywalled but there is an article on Reason, Leaked Internal Memo Reveals the ACLU Is Wavering on Free Speech that covers it. The ACLU web page still declares, “The fight for freedom of speech has been a bedrock of the ACLU’s mission. . .” It seems their bedrock is shifting and in the future will be the fight for freedom of “good” speech serving the progressive cause.

  12. Regarding the Stanford Prison Experiment, I was suspicious of it’s usefulness from the first time I heard about it, since REAL prisons don’t have riots every week.

    And regarding it’s implications, that anyone can be a sadist in the right environment, are there any reliable books or articles about the average SS officer at the Nazi concentration camps? Because somehow I doubt they were all just nice guys until they were given that particular assignment.

  13. Could you clarify something… if Congress will not modify the law or fund the existing law, then ought not the President take action and issue an Executive Order? At least he is trying to do his job, eh. And it certainly indicates the failure of the Congress to act.

    As for kids at the borders, it would seem that discouraging bring the kids along is good advice. Didn’t a few (thousand) disappear and no one in US government is responsible to find them. Seems a new source for child trafficking exists right at the border, but no one is using those words. I THINK THEY SHOULD. Need to view news reports outside the media echo chamber which drives opinion without any necessity for facts.

    • “if Congress will not modify the law or fund the existing law, then ought not the President take action and issue an Executive Order?” Nope. That was thoroughly debated during the Obama Administration, because the previous President preferred unilateral decrees over compromise, which is how our system is supposed to solve gridlock. If Congress won’t pass particular legislation, then they represent the will of the people, and such a law cannot and should not exist. The President is not a dictator empowered to simply bi-pass constitutional government when he feels that it’s “necessary.” That is a very dangerous slippery slope, and one that no democracy dare travel upon.

  14. #4 really makes me angry. A lot of people have drawn a lot of conclusions from that study and its implications. Conclusions that make assumptions about a lot of people who just trying to do their jobs to the best of their abilities who are assumed to be vicious animals based on that study.

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