Saturday Ethics Warm-Up: “Important Ethics Stories That I Don’t Feel Like Writing A Lot About Or Am Thoroughly Disgusted With” Edition

Happy Weekend!

I hope you’re not working the whole time, like I am. However, the Red Sox have their first Spring Training game, they are playing the Yankees, and all is serene.

1. Another one of Trump’s “best people” bites the dust, or should soon.   Judge Kenneth A. Marra of Federal District Court in West Palm Beach ruled that accused serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s secret sweetheart plea deal agreed to by Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta when he was a federal prosecutor violated federal law.

The corrupt arrangement  protected the billionaire from serious jail time and also  protected his politically-connected  friends including, notably Bill Clinton, from accountability despite their visits to Epstein’s  infamous island resort via the so-called “Lolita Express,” the private plane where young girls allegedly provided sexual services to the passengers. Ick.

I wrote a post about this unfolding scandal here. At that time, last November, I wrote,

“I do not see how Acosta can remain as Secretary of Labor following these revelation, incomplete as they are. I don’t see how we can trust his judgment, and even if, somehow, he could justify the deal with Epstein on legal, technical or pragmatic grounds, I doubt that the general public would be reassured. He should resign.”

Hey, I beat Jonathan Turley by almost three months!

2. Is the media assault on Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) for being an abusive boss legitimate? I have to say, it sure looks like it. The moderate Democratic Presidential hopeful might also be the target of a leftist news media that favors her more extreme competitors, but most Americans don’t know much about Klobuchar and can’t pronounce her name. The news media needs to introduce her, but it also shouldn’t poison the well. Conservatives, who don’t like her but like her a lot better than the likes of Senators Warren, Harris or Booker, are defending Klobuchar by arguing that she is being subjected to a double standard, since so many male officials past and present have been equally unpleasant. That’s just an “everybody does it” rationalization. There are good reasons to worry about the judgment and temperament of leaders who treat subordinates disrespectfully and cruelly, as in yesterday’s Times story about Klobuchar demanding that an aide clean her comb.

The problem is that the mainstream news media is not applying similar scrutiny, at least not yet, to similarly dubious candidates like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.

3. Great. Just what we need.   “If Mueller is done, states could file their own charges — even against Trump,” says the Washington Post. So this is really the way it is: “the resistance” and its Democratic allies will continue to harass and obstruct the elected President forever, as their endless tantrum over losing the 2016 election. I have written that nothing could make me vote for someone with Donald Trump’s non-ethical approach to life as President, but I am beginning to think that only a Trump victory in 2020 will save the country from an endless cycle of partisan sabotage of Presidents, regardless of party, going forward. This unethical strategy has to fail, and fail hard.

4. Today’s Jussie Smollett note: “Empire” is dropping the actor from the rest of its season, pending a resolution of the charges against him. Of course it is: the producers were in a lose-lose situation. If he was allowed to keep appearing, the show would have been accused of exploiting his false hate crime reports for ratings, which was apparently Smollett’s motive. If he is removed, then the show will be accused of judging him guilty until proven innocent. I assume that Smollett continues to be paid, which is appropriate. I wonder if Colin Kaepertnick will start kneeling about this, since one of his justifications for his NFL grandstanding was that police in cop-involved shootings of unarmed blacks weren’t suspended without pay.

Somehow, I doubt it.

5. Yes, this is what “hoist by his own petard” means. From the New York Times:

After a scandal erupted around Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia this month over a racist photograph in his 1984 medical school yearbook, reporters at USA Today set out on an ambitious review of hundreds of college yearbooks from that time. That search of yearbooks from 120 colleges in the 1970s and ’80s found that racist imagery like the black-and-white photograph on Mr. Northam’s yearbook page — one student dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member and another in blackface — appeared on full, blatant display in dozens of the glossy publications. White students dressed up like black celebrities, smearing on shoe polish to resemble Michael Jackson, or wore Nazi uniforms to parties. In an article published on Wednesday, USA Today identified at least 200 instances of racist and derogatory images and material in yearbooks across the United States.

One example was in the 1988-89 yearbook at Arizona State University. The yearbook was edited by a 21-year-old named Nicole Carroll, who is now USA Today’s own editor in chief.

Call me cynical, but I am sure the thin national paper was searching for a Republican official to bring down, and it found—itself.

(Okay, I don’t hate this story as much as the rest…)

It looks like Northam is going to keep his job despite the photo and his horrible, obfuscating, embarrassing efforts to explain it. This is an example of the ethical thing being done for unethical reasons. Of course the Governor shouldn’t be forced to resign because of First Amendment protected conduct 35 years ago, but the only reason he isn’t is because his successor is a twice-accused rapist, and that scandal would be worse than this one. And anyone who thinks that Virginia Democrats and the Washington Post wouldn’t be demanding that Northam be removed if he were a Republican needs a brain transplant.

6. The Big Lies continue. “I think we have to be honest about what the MAGA hat has come to represent, what the MAGA symbol has come to represent — I don’t know that I would conflate these two. This is an actor, you know, allegedly feigning this whole attack, trying to get more money for his salary, that’s a separate conversation from what’s happening in society at large and the divide that’s happening in this country.” The speaker was CNN guest Tiffany Cross, somehow trying to blame Donald Trump for the Jussie Smollett hoax.

The MAGA cap hasn’t “come to represent” hate and racism. Democrats and the news media have insisted that it does represent those things as a political smear against the President and everyone who voted for him or supported him, without benefit of evidence, logic, or reality.  “Make America Great Again” is no more a racist slogan than “Hope and Change.” This is The Big Lie, with Hitler’s sinister logic: make your adversaries deny the lie, and you’ve won.

The other Big Lie is that “everyone’ is on edge and in a state of constant anxiety because of President Trump. This one is literally repeated every day, in every possible media platform. Here’s the first review in the 2/11 Times Book Review section:

“Our current presidency is more like fiction than ever seemed possible — a postmodern black comedy with a crazed protagonist hellbent on blurring all lines between fantasy and reality.”

No, the current unethical and unprecedented attacks on the current Presidency are like a postmodern black comedy with crazed anti-democratic fanatics hellbent on blurring all lines between fantasy and reality.

Here’s one-time conservative pundit, now Times Stockholm Syndrome victim, David Brooks this week:

“A crucial question of the Trump years has always been: Will our institutions hold? Will the legal, political and social institutions of American life be able to withstand the norm-destroying corruption of King Chaos? The U.S. Congress has not fared well. Many Republicans have been supine while Donald Trump has shriveled congressional authority and shredded the rules of basic democratic behavior.”

Trump is destroying norms? Democrats lectured Trump about how the opposition accepting the verdict of national elections was a core American norm, and then immediately “shredded” that norm as soon as Trump won. The Obama Justice Department, we now know, set out to find a way to remove Trump from office based on pure political animus, breached conflict of interest rules and the law, and seeded the endless Mueller investigation based on false Democratic opposition research. Trump is responsible for that “chaos”? Democratic Senators attacked a Trump judicial nominee based on her religion. They savaged a Supreme Court nominee based on a decades old recovered memory of alleged schoolboy conduct, and argued that the presumption of innocence no longer applied.

This Big Lie is that Trump is responsible for the Left’s hate-driven attacks on our core values and institutions. He made them do it, apparently by existing.


19 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up: “Important Ethics Stories That I Don’t Feel Like Writing A Lot About Or Am Thoroughly Disgusted With” Edition

  1. 3. I was a “Never Trump” who eventually voted for the geographically deficient Johnson. That has dramatically changed since two factors have switched me to Trump. The first is The Day After and that is not the movie, but the perpetual hissy fit on all things Trump. The second is the continuing shift to see who is “more socialist” in a Democratic pissing contest.

    I will say I am surprised by Trump. Personality a solid “F”, but policy I give him a “B.”

      • I am tempted, but I have some issues with environmental concerns. But the big drag is his staffing. an A on the economy, immigration, and foreign policy. I was a “Never” since I thought he was woefully unprepared and after the community organizer that was a deal breaker. I will gladly admit to being wrong.

        • Most of the border (in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, at least) is desert. Not very concerned about environmental issues given what little lives there. Flooding is a valid objection, which can be mitigated by the construction of the barriers.

          • My bad, Slick. Not The Wall (Do we now capitalize it?), but the overall issue with EPA and rollbacks. The Wall (Caps again!) is a nonenvironmental issue to me. Heard the same thing on Alaska Pipeline and Keystone. I am an – or consider myself – an environmentalist, but far from radical.

            • As a former subsistence hunter, I care about the environment: screwing that up impacts my dinner table. I still eat what I hunt.

              Did not think you were radical (as there ARE issues that need addressing environmentally when building any structure) just pointing out the practical side can be addressed.

      • Clearly, the Russians were pleased with Trump bombing their ally in Syria, and financially squeezing their ally in Venezuela. They are surely pleased that the US is no longer prohibited by treaty from developing weapons that can reach Russia without warning. The space force that could shoot Russian rockets out of the air from above is most definitely a high priority Russian policy objective.

        Indeed, Trump’s 2020 victory will be incontrovertible proof of continued Russian conclusion and meddling.

    • I made the mistake of reading this article. It ruined my day. Foaming-at-the-mouth ravings from a professor at the Georgetown Law Center who seriously imagines that we need a pledge from the military to remove Trump by force if he refuses to leave after losing the election. i read it and reflect on the fact that half of the country thinks that he’s a moderate making good-sense proposals, and I despair. There is no peaceful way to put the two halves of the country back together again.

          • Sorry Jack. I only read the first paragraph or so. This guy is a lunatic. I assumed this guy was just a run of the mill journalist spouting talking points. He cited the NYT as a factual source on Trump? Res ipsa loquitor.

            I spent well over sixty grand on my daughter’s GTown undergrad degree. Could have been worse. She finished in three years and then got her masters on them. It struck me as a pretty nice place back in the early ‘nineties.

      • There is a 1954 precedent for a scenario in which a previously elected leader loses an election but refuses to go, instead using his position to take over unconstitutionally (the mere threat of which was widely accepted as enough justification for the Glorious Revolution of 1688), leading to the leader being removed by force. In 1954 it took outside forces as the leader had interned key military officers and dismissed the legislature (for other reasons, outside forces were used in 1688 as well as inside forces). But ever since 1954 leftists have criticised that overthrow as the overthrow of a democratically elected leader, editing out the part where he lost that status and carried out his own coup.

        I refer, of course, to the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran (the only thing actually wrong with that was its aftermath, the setting up of a replacement tyranny, unlike what followed the Glorious Revolution; of course, this in no way exonerates rounds of C.I.A. destabilisation before Mossadegh lost that crucial election).

  2. Brooks was chosen by NYT as its token Republican precisely because he is spineless and not very bright. His comment highlighted in your post proves that, again.

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