Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/8/18: “Unconscionable, Despicable, And Indefensible”

Good morning!

1. The Hader Gotcha strikes again. Let me be clear: this is unconscionable, despicable, and indefensible. (Aside: Do you like that trio? In “Perry Mason,” the lawyers always objected that a question was “incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial,” because it sounded nifty. I’ve never heard that objection made in a real trial, or read it in a transcript.) To remind you all, during the baseball season, beginning with young All-Star pitcher Josh Hader, multiple baseball players were embarrassed when someone with ill intent searched their old Twitter feeds to search for tweets that could be deemed racially offensive, hostile to gays, or disrespectful of women. I dubbed this miserable practice as “The Hader Gotcha.“All of the players had to grovel apologies to their team mates and the public, as “woke” sportswriters condemned them and lobbied for MLB to punish them for impulsive social media comments made before they could vote, before they were celebrities, and when their followers consisted of fourteen or so pimply-faced jerks. The same basic principle was employed to smear Brett Kavanaugh, the unfair and factually false preemption that conduct and attitudes displayed by minors indicate what their character is in adulthood.

Well, I guess it’s nice to know that not only whites, baseball players and conservatives are victims of this crap. Mere hours after winning the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s outstanding college football player, Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray had to apologize today for anti-gay tweets he made in 2011-12 , when he was 14 and 15 years old.

In case you are keeping score, because I am, the culprits here are an irresponsible, vicious news media, totalitarian-leaning leftists who want to police thoughts and intimidate the public into ideological conformity, and social media lynch mobs.

2. Sure, Donald Trump is the fear-monger. The increasingly hysterical and hyped warnings and soothsaying by various climate change-promoting bodies are either causing over-sensitive, scientifically ignorant and gullible members of the public to descend into despair, or members  of the news media are deliberately trying to cause fear and panic—at least based on the broadcast lament of MSNBC’s Katie Tur. The anchor told her audience that life was meaningless without a mass effort to combat the horrors of the warming planet. Discussing a New Yorker article on the topic, she said,

“I read that New Yorker article today and I thought gosh, how pointless is my life, and how pointless are the decisions that I make on a day-to-day basis when we are not focused on climate change every day, when it’s not leading every one of our newscasts?”

Unconscionable, despicable, and indefensible? No, just irresponsible, unprofessional, and stupid. And they wonder why so many people can’t take these hysterics seriously…

3. And the winner is…Plan K? Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy thinks that the sentencing statement on Michael Cohen means that the President is very likely to be indicted on a charge of violating federal campaign finance laws  by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who has openly been pursuing a “get Trump” campaign. The theory would be election law violations in the pay-offs to Stormy Daniels, even though paying off a kiss-and -tell threat is usually legal, and even though election law violations are typically handled with fines, not indictments. McCarthy writes,

When it was discovered that Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was guilty of violations involving nearly $2 million – an amount that dwarfs the $280,000 in Cohen’s case – the Obama Justice Department decided not to prosecute. Instead, the matter was quietly disposed of by a $375,000 fine by the Federal Election Commission.

Yes, but Obama’s Justice Department’s mission was to run interference for the President, and there was not an ongoing effort to find some way to undo a presidential election.

4. I love this! Hugs! In an open letter to the board of British  fashion retail chain Ted Baker, more than 2,000 members of the store’s staff and customers “have called on the firm’s founder and CEO, Ray Kelvin, to alter his behavior, including ‘inappropriate touching,’ which they say is part of a culture that leaves harassment unchallenged. Baker has institutionalized hugging in the workplace.

There are lots of organizations and industries where hugging as a greeting is virtually mandatory, and sometime kissing as well. Nobody seems to be able to imagine that pressure to hug creates a hostile work environment…well, nobody who isn’t from Boston. (“Seinfeld” had an episode about this—you know, back when jokes were allowed.)

5. It’s quashed, not “squashed,” you idiots! If I hear one more character on a legal show or cop she talk about a subpoena or an indictment being “squashed,” I’m running amuck with machete. The writers should do their homework and learn the proper term. The actors and directors should be better educated.

6. “All the news that’s fit to print when we get around to it.” The New York Times just this week published the obituary of Paul Gregory, a major film and theater director whose theories and methods greatly influenced, among other directors, me. Gregory died in 2015. Good work there, newshounds!

28 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/8/18: “Unconscionable, Despicable, And Indefensible”

    • Keep praying Valk. You’ll get Trump or Jack or both eventually. (Hope not.)

      Perjury about behavior while in office might be just a bit different than paying off a porn star with campaign funds when not in office.

      To be clear, I, too, think the Clinton impeachment was a farce. But you’re hunting big game just as the dumb ass Republicans were back then. Enjoy your occupancy of, more or less, the same space.

          • Found to? Or tried and convicted of?

            (Cheap shot: never affected Ted Kennedy.)

            A murder conviction while president, even if the act occurred decades earlier, would have a substantial effect on one’s ability to fulfill the duties of the office.

            However, it would really bug me if the press did not do its job in bringing such issues to light.



          • You might find this interesting. The fourth article of impeachment against John Pickering who was impeached by the house and convicted by the senate in 1804.

            ART. 4. That whereas for the due, faithful, and impartial administration of justice, temperance and sobriety are essential qualities in the character of a judge, yet the said John Pickering, being a man of loose morals and intemperate habits, on the 11th and 12th days of November, in the year 1802, being then judge of the district court in and for the district of New Hampshire, did appear on the bench of the said court for the administration of justice in a state of total intoxication, produced by the free and intemperate use of intoxicating liquors; and did then and there frequently, in a most profane and indecent manner, invoke the name of the Supreme Being,to the evil example of all the good citizens of the United States; and was then and there guilty of other high misdemeanors, disgraceful to his own character as a judge and degrading to the honor of the United States. And the House of Representatives, by protestation, saving to themselves the liberty of exhibiting at any time hereafter any further articles or other accusation or impeachment against the said John Pickering; and also of replying to his or any answers which he shall make to the said articles, or any of them; and of offering proof to all and every other articles,impeachment, or accusation which shall be exhibited by them as the case shall require, do demand that the said John Pickering may be put to answer the said high crimes and misdemeanors; and that such proceedings, examinations, trials, and judgments may be thereupon had and given as may be agreeable to law and justice.

      • Next question. What did it feel like when Watergate was still going on? Most of us here weren’t born yet, we could use the perspective.

        • I’ll try to answer from a 13 year old’s perspective who later learned a lot more. Nixon was deemed by my leftist, union organizing household as a bad guy who almost defeated Saint John Kennedy in 1960 who then defeated beatified Hubert Humphrey in 1968. With that context, Nixon was apparently being tried for attempting plausible deniability for his minions doing and/or attempting to do illegal things. From a boy’s perspective, someone like that shouldn’t be allowed to continue to be President of the United States. I kept the newspaper when he resigned. Still have it.

          Later, in 1975, I think, I read Blind Ambition and felt better informed.

          Nixon was a paranoiac who hid his issues well from the public, until Watergate demonstrated the depth of them and how they manifested themselves in stupidly fearing the hapless George McGovern campaign.

        • Or you could ask me about the 1971 World Series.

          Watergate involved an undisputed crime, aimed at subverting the election, which a sitting President actively worked to cover up. There was no ongoing fishing expedition to try to undermine the Nixon administration: he did it all be himself. Democrats and Republicans conducted themselves professionally, and the news media, though biased, was mostly fair and accurate.

          The Clinton Follies were closer, since a special prosecutor was investigating alleged crimes by the Clintons before Bill was elected President. That SP also stumbled into a sex scandal, except that the Presidential misconduct that was uncovered occurred while Clinton was President, and involved illegal conduct by the President (workplace harassment) being covered up by lying under oath.

          In short, there’s no comparison.

          • Non-responsive and the gratuitous attack on Clinton makes you look like a jerk.

            I didn’t ask what happened I asked what it felt like. What were people saying to each other? What was the chatter between people? Anxiety? Anger? Despair? The whole thing took quite some time to play out. When did you stop defending Nixon? Those around you?

            What it felt like to watch the 1971 World-Series isn’t useful to me. I know what watching a World Series is like, I even know what it’s like to see the Cubs win a World Series, something my grandparents lived their whole lives without seeing once. I don’t know the man on the street view of Watergate as it played out, my mother was too young and never a big follower of politics, my grandparents are gone. You’re old enough to remember

            • It’s not a gratuitous attack on anyone. There have been two pre-impeachment scenarios in the last hundred years. You asked about the least relevant one.

              I guess I was too subtle for you. My point about the 1971 Series is that it has nothing to do with anything going on today, and neither does how people felt during Watergate. Your question just demonstrates bias, malice and confusion.

              Calling a completely factual description of Clinton’s conduct without characterizations beyond what happened an “attack” is signature significance for partisan delusion.

              I decided Nixon had to be impeached based on John Dean’s testimony. The tapes were just icing on the cake.

  1. 4. I think it was during the ’90s that hugging became a thing. I resisted at first, preferring handshakes. But men were told to become touchy feely. It’s the manly thing to be feminine. Now hugging is verboten. Whatever you say girls. I can take directions as well as the next guy.

    • “Now hugging is verboten.”

      Not out here in WESconsin, it ain’t!

      I did a $#!T-Load of it at my 45th HS Reunion (Go JMM Spartans!) 4 months ago, across Chromosomal Unit spectrum, and still no allegations/repercussions.

      ‘Course that could all change when my reelection bid for 4800-4900 Sherwood Road Block Captain kicks into gear.

      What IS frowned upon, and for good reason, would be the administering of Atomic Wedgies…

  2. 4) Hugs, I have aspergers, as such I do not like to be touched unless I have prepared my self for it. But I have found I enjoy it when it is someone I trust! Ok that is a short list. But I have worked places where expected for me it was a nightmare as I have a hard enough time interpreting social cues, which has created A life lone study of them. Which I use in my work as a director. I look at my self as the Dion Fosse, of social interaction. I am always lurking trying to figure it out.
    7) Oh dear I didn’t even know Paul had died. Took a workshop with him once. That is shameful.

  3. On point 3. Did the many Congressmen that used taxpayer funds to quietly settle sexual harassment claims violate FEC law or the Hatch act to prevent embarrasment to influence their own election chances? I believe Trump has a long history of paying women to go away dating back to the 70’s. Do these Congressman have the same history of such payments?

      • I agree. The purported felonies the pundits are trying to hang on Trump are not felonies at all if the other settlements are perfectly acceptable

        • Totally weird and amazing that Cohen plead guilty to a campaign finance violation on those facts. Why didn’t he contest it? The prosecutors must have given Cohen something to induce him. It just seems like such a PR move.

          • Cohen admitted to certain acts and pled guilty to a crime. Those acts do not actually constitute that crime, or any crime at all. The prosecutor, Cohen’s lawyer and Cohen himself all know this. Cohen didn’t contest it because, in return for his pleading guilty to this non-crime, so that the prosecutors could score political points against Donald Trump, they gave him a sweet deal on his real crimes.

            Here’s a question for Jack: The judge overseeing the Cohen case is Kimba Woods, who is reputed to be smart. She therefore probably recognized that the acts didn’t equal the crime and, in addition, understood perfectly well that the prosecutor was motivated by anti-Trump politics. Was it ethical for her to approve the plea agreement?

  4. I still think it’s a shame that touching briefly (holding, hugging) young children who need comforting or reassurance – or even a celebratory pat – of the same age as would receive such from their parents and would welcome it [Rip], are nowadays forbidden to do so. Yes, I know the world is chock full of abusers and rapists and perverts of all kinds who go into the profession just so they can get their filthy hands on innocent tots, but … oh put in cameras and be done with it folks. It was pretty rare. When going to preschool or kindergarten means having to spend a big chunk of the day without physical contact with an adult, it should be no surprise that children only know how to fight or yell at their peers and be wary of all adults.

    And yes, I know it’s impossible to turn back that particular clock. Busybody-Heaven, followed by an epidemic of lawsuits. It’s a breach of trust and a shame, nonetheless.

  5. #5. And when war movies have a lieutenant or sergeant order his men to “hold your positions!” when the enemy turns to attack.

    Thanks moron screenwriters. A soldiers’ first general order, which means they are obligated to follow those orders at all times, is to “hold your position”.

    A soldier who has been given a position WILL hold it unless told *otherwise*.

    The ubiquitous Hollywood noise of “Hold Your Positions” is redundant and incompetent and in real life would sow a lack of confidence in soldiers and leaders.

  6. “The increasingly hysterical and hyped warnings and soothsaying by various climate change-promoting bodies are either causing over-sensitive, scientifically ignorant and gullible members of the public to descend into despair, or members of the news media are deliberately trying to cause fear and panic…”

    Soothsaying; now there’s a term that’s rarely used, rare indeed. I love the word, it’s totally appropriate to describe our modern “news” media outlets.

    From what I’ve heard in the media, especially since the election in 2016, most (if not all) of the media have become soothsayers. Heck CNN tells us what “will” happen all the time, they are obviously the keepers of all of tomorrow’s newspapers so they can report on them today. Just three days ago they put as their first paragraph of an article “In a pair of highly significant court maneuvers, the special counsel is expected to unveil new details of his investigation Friday that will make life even more uncomfortable for President Donald Trump and his inner circle.” Notice the subtle use of the propaganda word “will”. Then CNN chose to tone that particular statement down a lot and changed it to “special counsel Robert Mueller… work could make life in the Oval Office even more uncomfortable.” and buried it three sentences into the piece. This morning the first sentence/paragraph in the exact same piece reads, “Donald Trump is beside himself with fury ahead of what could turn out to be one of the most pivotal days yet in the Russia investigation.”, that should stir up some emotions from loyal sheep; at least they used the word “could” but I’ve seen it literally dozens of times, that word “could”was probably “will” yesterday or the day before. I keep saying that these media outlets are intentionally hyping things as absolute truth and fact with soothsaying propaganda to fire up emotions and then they tone down the rhetoric a day or so later after their propaganda has done its psychological damage. They are literally changing their stories at will and they don’t tell the reader that they’ve changed them and they do not give you a history of what it used to be – they are INTENTIONALLY lying to you to fire up your emotions and then change it and act as if it never happened.

    Saying the sooth sells to ignorant people and lazy partisan sheep.

  7. Jack Marshall wrote, “Watergate involved an undisputed crime, aimed at subverting the election, which a sitting President actively worked to cover up. There was no ongoing fishing expedition to try to undermine the Nixon administration: he did it all be himself. Democrats and Republicans conducted themselves professionally, and the news media, though biased, was mostly fair and accurate.”

    I completely agree with Jack’s assessment.administration: he did it all be himself.

  8. 3. My family is frequently entertained by my murmuring outbursts at “cop shows” and “true crime” shows for their blatant legal procedural errors, inaccurate language/terminology and generally low production values that show officers wearing uniforms improperly, handling weapons carelessly, ignoring basic crime scene protocols or other gross technical errors. After 40 years wearing the badge it is infuriating to see so little attention paid to basic accuracy in storytelling.

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