1. Oh no! Hoisted by my own petard! I’m pretty certain that Clinton fixer Lanny Davis has an unwaivable conflict of interest in his representation of Trump fixer Michael Cohen. The legal ethics establishment is soft-peddling the issue because most legal ethicists apparently hate President Trump more than they like ethical lawyering, but I’ve been wrestling over whether to file a disciplinary complaint. The problem is that any complaint that has even a tinge of political motivation won’t be touched by the Bar (if prior performance is any indicator), so a complaint by me would be the proverbial lonely tree falling in the forest. The remedy would be to issue a publicity release about the complaint, but I’ve criticized that tactic as unethical right here, on more than one occasion. Rats.
It might be just as well. After the mere hint that I was defending Donald Trump (I was not) on NPR appears to have gotten me blackballed there after many years as an ethics commentator, I probably should not criticize the lawyer for the most popular sleaze in D.C. these days.
2. Neil Simon Ethics. In an alternate universe, my still operating professional theater company, dedicated to keeping unfairly buried, forgotten or unfashionable American theater works of the past in front of audiences who deserve a chance to see them, is looking at a lot of Neil Simon productions. The works of the —by far—most successful writer of comedies in Broadway history are already sneered at as sexist and “outdated,” and I can vouch for the fact that all it takes is one militant female board member with a checkbook and a chip on her shoulder to kill a production. Remember S.N Behrman? Seen any Philip Barry plays lately? How about Kaufman and Hart? Simon just died, and he’s already heading to obscurity along with those guys, and most of their plays are still funny too.
3. Here’s another topic it’s dangerous to get into…From CBS:
A pregnant Washington state woman said she was fired via text message from a sub shop where worked, with a store manager telling her “it’s not a good time to have somebody who is leaving for maternity leave in several months anyway.” Kameisha Denton told CBS Seattle affiliate KIRO-TV that she had told the manager she was pregnant and due in December, asking for maternity leave.
Denton said she realized that she hadn’t been assigned shifts at Jersey Mike’s sub shop in Marysville, Washington, so she sent a text to her manager inquiring about the hours. The response she says she received was shocking.
When Denton asked for her “updated schedule” she received something a bit different. The store manager named only as “Marcos” in Denton’s phone responded, “I am sorry to inform you but it’s not going to work out with Jersey Mikes. It’s not a good time to have somebody who is leaving for maternity leave in several months anyways. You also failed to tell me this during your interview.”
Denton posted the exchange on Facebook in a post that had garnered over 1,000 shares in just two days.
Denton told KIRO-TV, “I was just like in shock, it took me a minute to face reality — I was like this is really happening.”
I have had the infuriating experience of hiring an employee for a crucial project requiring full time attention for the next 12 months, and then having that employee tell me that she was pregnant only after she was hired. She then went on maternity leave, and I had to hire a second staffer to handle the project, when I only had the budget for one. Then I had to law off another staffer to pay for the one replacing the women on maternity leave. Fortunately he was a man, so no harm was done.
Women interviewing for and accepting jobs when they know they will be essentially unable to do those jobs in the short term is unethical unless the employer is fully informed during the interview. Employers should also have some flexibility to refuse an otherwise qualified applicant in situations like mine.
4. An ethics conflict. The Democratic Party has killed its super-delegate system, in which insiders within the party held 15% of the nomination ballots regardless of who the primary voters favored. The system was installed to protect the party from popular extremist candidates swept into the convention by hyper-enthusiastic fringe voters—candidates like George McGovern, and in 2016, Bernie Sanders. The theory is akin to why the Founders devised the Senate to keep the House of Representatives from doing serious damage when it was overwhelmed by the passions of the moment. It is sound, it works, and it’s also undemocratic to an extent, though perhaps to a necessary extent. The question is, what is a political party? I argued in 2016 that it is an institution that has an obligation to give the nation a choice for President who is qualified, responsible, and of exemplary character, as well as electable. That means the party must be able to veto and refuse to nominate a candidate who may do serious harm to the party, the nation, or its institutions…like the Republicans should have refused to nominate Donald Trump.
Given the current state of the Democratic Party’s derangement, the death of the super-delegates is likely to produce any number of horrible scenarios. Be afraid. Be very afraid
5. On civility. Fellow ethics blogger Steven Mintz, who has weighed in here now and then, has a fine essay up on his blog regarding the importance of civility. “Civility is about more than just politeness,” the professor writes. “It is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Indeed, “civility represents a long tradition of moral virtues essential to democracy. Virtues like empathy, humility, integrity, honesty, and respect for others are ideals of democratic engagement.” Without civility a society can morph into verbal, accusatory, offensive verbal attacks on one another which is the way things are headed in the U.S.”
Bloggress Ann Althouse objects to such sentiments, and even has a tag for her periodic rants on the subject, “civility bullshit. “
In one of her recent commentaries on the matter, she writes,
Calling bullshit on calls for civility—That’s something I always do. That’s what my tag “civility bullshit” means: Calls for civility are always bullshit, because the real motivation is political advantage. Usually, the civility-demander is trying to get opponents tone it down and not take advantage of whatever hot passion and energy they’ve got on their side.
Sometimes though, the civility-demander wants a faction of his own side to rein it in, because it might scare the moderates and interfere with the message that we are the sane, reasonable, smart people. When that happens, you can get some in fighting, with the supposedly uncivil people insisting that now is not the time to be civil. These people are calling bullshit.
I’m with Steven.
Ann’s argument is bullshit.