Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/20/18: Sad Scam, Old Movie, New Rules, Idiotic Emails, And Dead Dinner

Good Morning

Items of note…

1. The Johnny Bobbitt scam story continues...That heartwarming story I highlighted in an Ethics Hero post last year continues to deteriorate. Kate McClure, who conspired with homeless vet Bobbitt to persuade old softies to give over $400,000 to a GoFundMe campaign apparently blames her complicit boyfriend for the debacle.  In a recording shared with “Good Morning America”  by her lawyers, McClure is heard telling her now ex- ( I assume he’s now an ex…) Mark D’Amico,  “You started the whole fucking thing, you did everything! I had no part in any of this, and I’m the one fucking taking the fall!”

I don’t understand the reasoning of people who make this kind of argument. McClure went on TV to tell her phony story, which was about her getting stranded and being rescued by Bobbitt. How can she accuse D’Amico of “starting the whole thing”? Even if the plot was his idea, all she had to do was say “no.” “He made me do it” was always a lame excuse, and when women use it to duck accountability today it is lamer than ever. Did D’Amico hold a gun to her head? Have her parents bound and gagged as hostages? Absent those forms of coercion or something equivalent, she has no argument for avoiding accountability.

2.  “Sixteen Candles” ethics: Why didn’t anyone show this scene during the Kavanaugh hearings?  Since I’ve been wiped out with my Three Year Killer Cold, I’ve been watching all sorts of strange things on TV. Late last night it was the John Hughes 1984 classic “Sixteen Candles,” now a special target of the Officially Offended and the Political Correctness Police. Ah, those golden, halycon days when a film could get laughs with a goofy Chinese character named Long Duc Dong who could be introduced with a gong sound  every time he appeared and who inexplicably dived out of a tree shouting (in Japanese) “Bonzai!”  Cringe-producing though it is, the film still provides valuable cultural perspective.

I had forgotten the scene in which awkward, scrawny, horny young teen Anthony Michael Hall jumps Molly Ringwald not once but twice in rapid succession, misunderstanding, somehow, her friendly demeanor as a come-on. She effortlessly pushes him away both times, he is abashed, she shrugs it off, and they continue talking. Hall’s actions nonetheless would be described by many today as a sexual assault, when in the film they were originally intended to represent—and did— a typical embarrassing experiment as a maturing child explores sexual norms.

I imagine that the “attempted rape” described by Dr. Blasey Ford might well have looked just as ridiculous if it had been filmed. I also imagined Ringwald’s character, now flushed with progressive fervor and “woke,” deciding decades later to reframe the absurd encounter all those decades ago as something it was not, and crashing a now mature Anthony Michael Hall’s reputation and career to the applause of the progressive echo chamber.

Anthony Michael Hall is just three years younger than Brett Kavanaugh. Here is what he looks like now, and how he appeared when he covered Molly Ringwald like an octopus in “Sixteen Candles.” . The time frame of the film is approximately the same as the alleged Kavanaugh-Ford incident.

How can anyone seriously—not just seriously, but self-righteously and angrily— argue that the conduct of the child in a completely different cultural context is relevant to the trustworthiness of the adult?

3.  New Rules? The White House has now officially enumerated “new” rules for reporter conduct during presidential press conferences:

(1)    A journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists;

(2)     At the discretion of the President or other White House official taking questions, a follow-up question or questions may be permitted; and where a follow up has been allowed and asked, the questioner will then yield the floor;

(3)    “Yielding the floor” includes, when applicable, physically surrendering the microphone to White House staff for use by the next questioner;

(4)    Failure to abide by any of rules (1)-(3) may result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass.

“Should you refuse to follow these rules in the future, we will take action in accordance with the rules set forth above. The President is aware of this decision and concurs,” the White House warned habitual miscreant Jim Acosta in a letter.

These rules were always the traditional and acknowledged norm at press conferences, and were universally observed before the news media, in lock-step with its partisan allies, decided that Donald Trump did not deserve the same institutional respect as prior Presidents.

4. Wait…WHAT? How hard is this????  For once, a CNN headline says it all: “Ivanka Trump used personal account for emails about government business.”

Idiot. There is no excuse for this. Thank-you, James Comey, for not “throwing the book” at Hillary Clinton (whose version of the offense was far worse), so now Trump administration personnel have a permanent pass to behave illegally and irresponsibly, not to mention outrageously, lazily and stupidly, given the degree to which the President criticized Clinton’s conduct.

The Washington Post reported that the White House confirms that the First Daughter, a Trump advisor,  used her personal email address for much of 2017 to email Cabinet officials, White House aides and assistants. The Presidential Records Act requires all official White House communications and records be preserved. No, she didn’t set up a secret server, making it clear that she was avoiding official record-keeping. No, Ivanka hasn’t, as far as we know, destroyed some of the emails, and she isn’t head of an agency. All true, and all #22 rationalizations. She broke the law. She knew about Clinton’s violations and their seriousness. There is no excuse for this, and there is no justification for excusing it.Until someone in a high office is seriously sanctioned for such conduct, the technologically inept and arrogant will keep doing it.

Lock her up.

5. “DEAD as we know it.” GOOD. The White House Correspondents’ Association announced yesterday that for the first time in 15 years, no comedian would crack bipartisan jokes (sorry, I couldn’t even write that without snickering) at its annual black-tie dinner in April.  Ron Chernow, the historian and biographer of Alexander Hamilton and John Rockefeller, will speak on the First Amendment. The association had a good thing going as long as they held to the tradition of putting away the knives for a night and allowing the event to highlight professionalism and collegiality. Then it gave Presidents a chance to poke fun at themselves as well as deliver some muted barbs at journalists. The event was healthy for the country, the culture, and Washington, D.C. But it could not survive the news media’s open disrespect and contempt for President Trump, which mandated the President’s absence from the last two dinners. Then, last year, hard-left comic Michelle Wolff predictably crossed all lines of decorum and civility, using her appearance to savage the President, his family and staff as journalists hooted like summer campers. The President pronounced the event “DEAD as we know it” on Twitter, and he was right. Well, they did it to themselves.

Even now, they can’t play it straight. Chernow was vocally critical of Trump during the 2016 campaign, and his Hamilton biography was the basis for the hit musical where Vice President Pence was harassed last year. He’s hardly a neutral figure.


14 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/20/18: Sad Scam, Old Movie, New Rules, Idiotic Emails, And Dead Dinner

  1. I loved Chernow’s “Alexander Hamilton” and his latest, “Grant”. It’s possible he would be entertaining and balanced in this hosting gig.

    We can hope, right?

  2. There is a theme in my comments here. See if you can figure it out…

    1. Lock her up! And both of her co-conspirators. Heck, Bobbitt might enjoy ‘three hots and a cot’ given he is (still) homeless…

    2. Lock her up!! Ford knowingly bore false witness before Congress. Prosecute HER and this sort of shit will end.

    3. Lock her up!!! Progressives have talked about criminal assault charges for the the intern (?) who tried to get the mic from Acosta, as in ‘she made him afraid’ of losing his free speech rights, or something.

    Now we have the rules written down for all to see, so progressives will have to find another way to harass Trump during these press conferences. My preference would be to no longer allow ANY press onto White House grounds, until they police their own. Simply dry up the source of their self aggrandizing power.

    4. Lock her up!!!! Then go after Hillary. If the President is willing for the law to be enforced against his own daughter, then Hillary is fair game. Sends all the right messages, including to Trump and his cronies: play by the rules, you nitwits!

    5. Lock her up!!!!! Michelle Wolff should be locked up for her role… just kidding. (That would be what would happen in one of those countries Mr. Miller would have America emulate)

    Trump still won’t attend, and I wonder if anyone else in his Administration will, given how staffers were treated last year. The dinner should be a dead letter, cast upon the ash heap of history, because TRUMP! or something.

    6. Lock HIM up!!!!!! Jack did not deliver a number 6, being laid up with a hang nail or something.

    (Just kidding, Jack. You are too hard on yourself and your work ethic makes me cringe in shame!)

  3. While agree that attempts to bypass the Official Records Act should be punished, it’s unclear to me why Ivanka Trump’s communications would necessarily fall under that. Is she on the White House payroll as an adviser, or is she advising her father in a personal, but non-governmental, capacity? Are all of her communications official business, or merely those with Federal officials?

    (This may sound snarky, but I mean the questions in all seriousness. If President Trump were to decide that Jack’s advice would be useful and regularly seek it out, that wouldn’t automatically make his every Email fall under the Official Records Act.)

  4. Having investigated the matter a little further, the email thing is not a ‘thing.’ Fake news, at best. Intentional propaganda at worst.

    The Post acknowledged later in its story that Trump’s actions “could have” broken that law, after initially citing officials as saying that she had in fact violated federal rules.

    To address misinformation being peddled about Ms. Trump’s personal email, she did not create a private server in her house or office, there was never classified information transmitted, the account was never transferred or housed at Trump Organization, no emails were ever deleted, and the emails have been retained in the official account in conformity with records preservation laws and rules,” Mirijanian said.

    That last is important. Private emails have a time limit to be forwarded into the official record. This was done.

    concerns were raised in the press 14 months ago, Ms. Trump reviewed and verified her email use with White House Counsel and explained the issue to congressional leaders.” Mirijanian told the Post that Trump had used a personal account prior to being briefed on ethics rules.

    Old news to boot, just now being harped upon for political reasons.

    This story is bullshit.

    • But its not. There is no excuse for using personal email for official work. None. It’s not secure. It violates policy. Again, it’s not as bad as Hillary, but that’s “it’s not the worst thing.” Ivanka, of all people, should follow the rules and law strictly.

      • Not necessarily true. I have five e-mail accounts: one I do not trust at all (AOL), one I KNOW is rigged to be recorded (gmail) and do not use…ever. Two more are moderately secure and I occasionally use them, and a final one I have secured, myself. I don’t use it very often because I have no real need to, but it is somewhat more secure than a government site.

  5. Regarding #1: Do her lawyers really think this recording proves anything? If she was the one making the recording, of course she’s going to steer the conversation in such a way to shift the blame onto the other guy as much as possible. And I’m sure there’s a verifiable chain of evidence on this recording, to ensure it hasn’t been edited or altered in any way, right?

    I admit to being a person who finds great amusement in watching co-conspirators frantically climb over each other in hopes of escaping their fate, like crabs in a bucket. It’s a personal failing I’m doing nothing to alleviate.

    • I have a friend who is in perpetual financial trouble. It is extremely frustrating to “lend” money, only to see spent on some dire essential other than the dire essential it was lent for. I had no faith in Babbits claim of being defrauded, as he had every motivation to lie if D’Amico and McClure’s claims of drug use and squandering the money were true. I really sympathized with McClure and D’Amico, thinking they had gotten way over there heads trying to help someone who lacked the basic competencies necessary for self-sufficiency.

      It was McClure blaming D’Amico that convinced me it was all a scam. McClure was the central figure “helped” in time of desperation from the beginning. For her to blame her boyfriend for the scam concedes her role, while blatantly and fruitlessly trying to deflect blame away from her. Only if the couple stuck together would they have had any credibility.

      • My theory of the crime is that the division of the spoils was contested. they planned to defraud their victims (willing as they were) with malice aforethought, and when the ‘proceeds’ exceeded their expectations someone got greedy (perhaps all of them?)

  6. Hillary’s been called to answer questions on her server in Federal Court. “She’s doing it, too” is the perfect distraction.

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