Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/1/18: Ethics Is Like Making Hamburger…[UPDATED]

Hello September!

1. More fake news, future news, and “if you hate Trump, you’ll like this” news. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

Ann Althouse performs an expert take-down of an inexcusable piece of hackery by Megan McArdle in the Washington Post titled “Poll by sinking poll, Trump inches toward impeachment.”

[The wrong link to Althouse was up yesterday: it’s fixed now.]

How I love it when other do my work for me: Ann has been getting increasingly eccentric, but here she is at her best. Read both McArdle’s trash and Ann’s defenestration of it, but here are some key points from Althouse:

  • “what made me want to blog this is the first line of the column, “By any metric, Trump is in trouble,” which is followed by:

A poll out from The Post and ABC on Friday shows that 60 percent of voters disapprove of the job he’s doing as president, a new low. But that’s just one poll; the polling average at statistician Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight shows Trump with a mere 53.4 percent disapproval rating, which is better than its 56.8 percent peak last December.

So there’s an obvious “metric” — the famous Nate Silver metric — by which Trump is doing better than last December, but “By any metric, Trump is in trouble”?!

  • But a presidency is not in good shape when the best spin on the new poll is “It’s an outlier! Only 53 percent of the country thinks the president is terrible.” The poll is especially ugly for Republicans with midterms looming in two months.

No. 53 percent didn’t say “the president is terrible.” They said “disapprove” when asked whether they approve of disapprove. And they might disapprove of other options too, such as impeachment or even (if it could be magically possible) Hillary for President.

  • More McArdle:

It’s all too easy to imagine a similar scenario for Democrats intent on impeaching Trump as they come up short looking for Republicans to help them make it across the finish line. But it’s not entirely impossible to picture a few Republicans going along….

We’ve gone from “by any metric” to “it’s not entirely impossible.” Come on! Were we not supposed to read this far into the column? WaPo is all headlines and first lines these days. Get your hit, and maybe you can face another day with Trump as President.

Ann’s last line is spot-on, and describes exactly what social media is like these days. Oooo! Trump flew the White House flag full-mast a couple of days early! What a monster! …What? People say Trump doesn’t like Jeff Sessions’ accent? He’s horrible!Hey! The Trump Administration is doing pretty much exactly what the Obama administration did, but it’s Trump, so now it’s wrong!”

2. More Aretha Franklin Ethics. Even a funeral of a beloved pop star can’t proceed without manufactured outrages, controversies and PC offenses. Bishop Charles H. Ellis, III, felt that he had to apologize for touching singer Ariana Grande like this after she performed during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin…

The funny thing is that this could indeed constitute sexual harassment in a workplace setting, if the singer decided that the touch—unconsented, arguably a mini-grope–was “unwelcome.” So the Bishop had to grovel, which he did, saying,

“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. … I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,” Ellis said. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize….I hug all the female artists and the male artists. Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That’s what we are all about in the church. We are all about love. The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin.”

Hmmmm. A. The Bishop is married, and apparently— since who am I to disbelieve a bishop?—has never touched his wife’s breast, and B. Don’t kid yourself, Bishop:  Nothing isn’t about gotcha’s and politics any more. Case in point:  another controversy emerged  over whether CNN and MSNBC were intentionally deceiving their audiences when they showed this version of a photo from the service…


Instead of this one, cropped a bit differently…

I’ve heard there’s yet a wider shot where Satan is standing next to Farrakhan…


3. Update on this depressing story...

From The Daily Beast:

A couple who raised over $400,000 on GoFundMe for a homeless man has been ordered by a judge to turn over the remaining funds after they refused to give it to him, CBS Philadelphia reports. Johnny Bobbitt sued Mark D’Amico and Katie McClure for mismanaging the donation money meant for him after the couple refused to give him roughly half of the remaining cash. Officials say that D’Amico and McClure “mixed the GoFundMe money with their own,” and Bobbitt’s attorney claims that the couple only gave Bobbitt $75,000—rather than the $200,000 the couple say they gave. The money will be put into a trust where it will be “in limbo… until the case is sorted out,” and the couple has been ordered to “give an account of exactly how the money was spent” within 10 days.

4.  The despicable boycott as ideological coercion tactic backfires because of yummy hamburgers!

This is one more unethical political trend I am sick of writing about. Journalist Gabe Schneider this tweeted a filing from the popular burger joint In-N-Out Burger showing a $25,000 donation to the California Republican party.  $80,000 In-N-Out has donated to a liberal PAC over two years was not mentioned. Many companies give to both parties to hedge their bets, but apparently this is no longer pure enough for the totalitarians on the Left. Following Schneider’s revelation, California Democratic Party chairman Eric Bauman called for a boycott, tweeting:

“Et tu In-N-Out? Tens of thousands of dollars donated to the California Republican Party… it’s time to #BoycottInNOut – let Trump and his cronies support these creeps…  perhaps animal style!”

What a jerk. What an undemocratic jerk. Boycotting a business for political expression and action. Punish a business for not doing your bidding. Nice.

The results were hilarious. In-N-Out Burger has flourished, with Republicans flocking to the place and broadcasting their enjoyment on social media. The public has generally disapproved of an effort to make them choose toxic politics over delicious burgers. “The stomach overrules the mind,” Jaime Regalado, emeritus professor of political science at California State University, Los Angeles told the LA Times. “A cheap, good-tasting burger is hard to dismiss politically.” Now the Democrats are distancing themselves from Bauman’s boycott, with a spokesman saying that Bauman’s tweet was “just his personal view,” and that the official California Democratic Party was not involved.


May all attempts to punish businesses and citizens for their political views and actions backfire just as spectacularly.

14 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/1/18: Ethics Is Like Making Hamburger…[UPDATED]

  1. Chick-fil-A became one of our favorite fast food places (not that we eat fast food much) in part because of the so-called anti-gay controversy. My wife had never been to one & we were driving through Montana suddenly hungry. The staff looked at us saw our obvious “gayness” & not only didn’t bat an eye but upon hearing we were from Oregon the manager came out to greet us and ask if we needed anything. From then on we were hooked. Plus they have the best breakfast biscuit sandwich.

    If it hadn’t been for the screeching from the TQBGL+ lobby (put in order of whose in charge of it these days) we wouldn’t have even known about the chain. We visit one 30 min away and they always treat us well. An In-N-Out Burger is coming soon but will be 45 min away. We look forward to going.

    • My daughter told me this morning she could use some Under Armor running shorts. I asked why Under Armor, and the 16 year old said “Because we are not buying Nike any more.”

      She is paying better attention than I thought.

  2. People did some measurements on the White House flagpole and the flag was quite a bit below the halfway mark. I am pretty sure Trump was snickering to himself over that ‘coup’. That guy…

  3. Well that explains why we cold hardly get a parking space at In-N-Out yesterday in National City, an almost completely Latino and Filipino San Diego community. We were thankful to eventually Ana a table, albeit outside and one of the ones without a shade. Worth it.

  4. Trump was right in one thing – he really could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and his supporters would still support him. Including at least 1/3 of the Senate. No matter what the facts, he is literally if not figuratively unimpeachable.

    • 1. You know that’s not true, so you shouldn’t say it.
      2. So far, all Presidents have been unimpeachable, in terrms of conviction. Nixon would have been convicted, probably, but no President has been removed from office.
      3. I see no evidence that the President has committed a single legitimately impeachable offense, and none has been put forth, just the presumptions of people who have been dedicated to overturning a legal election.
      4. No matter what the facts, a ridiculous number of either ignorant, misled, or unscrupulous people think the President should be impeached. Ethical and fair people should condemn and oppose them.

      • The modern thinking is that an impeachable offense is whatever the House says it is. Therefore, “legitimately” doesn’t enter into their thinking. There is no “illegitimate” impeachment.

        But lest you doubt me, Tom Steyer has thoughtfully listed all the impeachable offenses for Trump on his website:

        1. Obstruction of justice
        2. Emoluments
        3. Conspiracy
        4. Advocating violence and undermining equal protection
        5. Abusing pardon power
        6. Engaging in conduct that endangers peace
        7. Directing law enforcement to investigate opponents
        8. Undermining freedom of the press
        9. Cruelly imprisoning children and their families.

        See, there are impeachable offenses right there. Never mind that at least six of them can’t even be crimes, let alone high crimes – 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9. The last one is especially hilarious, since there is no doubt that cruelty, even if one could establish that enforcing the law is cruel, cannot be a crime absent a statute criminalizing it. I am unaware of any other than cruelty to animals.

        The remaining three – 1, 3, and 7 – could be crimes if there is sufficient evidence to support them, and I would argue that if so, they could constitute a basis for articles of impeachment. The problem is, I haven’t seen any evidence of obstruction (firing Comey, for example, cannot be obstruction since it didn’t affect any active investigation against the president, his party or administration). I have seen no evidence anywhere of Trump using law enforcement against his enemies. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence Obama did that with unapologetic gusto, just for the sake of comparison.

        Conspiracy? I doubt this could be a high crime unless the underlying illegal conduct can be proven. A conspiracy to defeat your political enemies by legal means is what Steyer wants to charge Trump with, and if we can impeach for that, no president is ever safe.

        • I think even rabid anti-Trumpites are embarrassed by that guy.

          1. Obstruction of justice: Only the most extreme and unsupportable theories of this can be argued. Richard Painter territory
          2. Emoluments: Bogus, and the legal consensus is that its a dead letter.
          3. Conspiracy. Total supposition.
          4. Advocating violence and undermining equal protection. Criminalizing politics.
          5. Abusing pardon power. Can’t be done!
          6. Engaging in conduct that endangers peace. Oh. This alone marks the list as nonsense.
          7. Directing law enforcement to investigate opponents. Wait, does he mean Hillary? During the campaign?
          8. Undermining freedom of the press. Fantasy.
          9. Cruelly imprisoning children and their families. Also known as “following the law and Obama Administration precedent.”

      • On the bright side, it provided for a rather tour of Ann’s postings for the last few days, many most interesting and informative. I burned a lot of “midnight oil” on those, reading most, before I found the ?one”. 🙂 File this one under “Its truly an ill wind that blows no man good.”

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