TGIF Ethics Celebration, 1/10/19: Plenty Of People Who Need Firing or Something Close…

I don’t know why I’m celebrating a weekend: in a home business, there are no weekends…Maybe I’ll just celebrate the flowers that bloom in the Spring!

1. Poll: The firing of Mary Bubala. As you may know, the mayor of Baltimore got caught red-handed in a self-dealing scheme, tried  to take a leave of absence instead of resigning (thus preserving her salary), and finally had to resign anyway. Discussing the events on the air on Baltimore TV channel WJZ, news anchor Bubala asked  Loyola University Maryland Professor Karsonya Wise Whitehead,

“We’ve had three female, African-American mayors in a row.They were all passionate public servants. Two resigned, though. Is this a signal that a different kind of leadership is needed to move Baltimore City forward?”

Bubula is white. The station was bombarded with complaints that her question was racist, and the station quickly fired her, saying in a brief statement,

“Mary Bubala is no longer a WJZ-TV employee. The station apologizes to its viewers for her remarks.”

Well-respected conservative pundit Mark Tapscott called this “newsroom fascism,” writing, “I’ve never met now-former Baltimore TV local news anchor Mary Bubala, but I am outraged as an American and a journalist over her firing for a question that clearly wasn’t remotely related to the fact the city’s two most recent (corrupt) mayors were both Black and women.”

I would have fired her. There are two good reasons. First,  the question sure sounds  like “After three female black mayors who have either been corrupt or unsuccessful, do you think a white man might be worth a try?” to me. What else could it mean? Do you think it might be time to elect a GOOD mayor? Why mention their race and gender at all if it isn’t part of the question? Second, if the question wasn’t racist, she should be fired because she’s too inarticulate to have that job.

Tapscott concludes, “Either this …ends or liberty isn’t long for anybody in this country except those with approved opinions.”

Let me ask you, then…

2. This isn’t hard, Kellyanne… Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed a complaint alleging that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act again. That’s the law that forbids any federal official or employee from using their position for partisan campaigning. (The news media keep calling CREW a “non-profit watchdog,” but somehow it manages to spend 90% of its time complaining about Republicans. That doesn’t necessarily make CREW’s complaints wrong, it just means that they are lying about being non-partisan.) Conway went on multiple TV news shows as President Trump’s advisor to attack Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and others.

That’s a Hatch Act breach, all right. CREW complained to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in a letter yesterday.

The Hatch Act is difficult to enforce, but it is still an important law. I heard some MSNBC commentators intoning about how this was a “serious crime”—they are ethically estopped from saying that since they all completely ignored Hatch Act violations by Obama officials, including at least two Cabinet officials, and we never heard about any discipline following those.

President Trump should be responsible and take this matter seriously (as Obama did not) and discipline Conway as well as announce what that discipline is. Lower level Federal employees get in serious trouble for Hatch Act violations; if she skates on this, it is the King’s Pass.

3. Good. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee,  is alarmed  that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has refused to guarantee that the President will  consult with Congress before intervening militarily in Venezuela. Young wants Senate the Foreign Relations Committee, where he is a member, to schedule an immediate hearing to get answers from administration officials regarding the possible use of military force in South America.

“Look, I acknowledge that there is a brutal socialist regime that the Venezuelans have been suffering under,” Young said in an interview. “I commend them and want to be supportive of Venezuelans for standing up for their freedom and for their basic human rights. But I think that it is the responsibility of the administration to explain their thinking as it relates to any plans to deploy U.S. forces to Venezuela….I have read a couple of my colleagues’ statements as it relates to this issue in the press. They don’t seem to align perfectly with my own views related to the need for Congress to fully vet any potential military action, but I have not had conversations to get clarity with respect to their thinking. … Most importantly, I’ve read the Constitution.”

This is being presented in the news media as some kind of anti-Trump rebellion. No, it is called “being a responsible Senator.”

Young was one of seven Republican senators who voted for the resolution to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-backed war in Yemen, which was the first time Congress has ever invoked the War Powers Act to cease military action. Trump vetoed the resolution, and the Senate failed last week to override it. The real issue is pulling back on the constantly expanding Presidential power to use military force without Senate approval, as, for example, Obama did in Libya.

Bravo for Young.

4. Well, the divided Red Sox visited the White House yesterday and...the White House misspelled “Red Sox” on its website and YouTube channel:

Talk about cultural illiteracy.

5. Yes, I believe that this judge should be asked to begin pursuing a new professional path…A coalition of organizations has called for the censure of Shelby County (Tennessee)  Criminal Court Judge Jim Lammey.  On April 5, he posted an article by an infamous Holocaust denier  and wrote on Twitter,

“In a perfect world, these rabbinical Rain Men would finally get the fuck over the Holocaust and end their war of hostility against the West. They’d see that whites are no longer the enemy, but indeed the opposite. They’d see that importing foreign mud to mold golem after golem in traditionally white regions of the U.S. is bad strategy.”

I’m not sure what that means exactly, except that I sure wouldn’t want my case presided over by the judge who wrote it.

Let’s see: the Tennessee judicial code says in part…

“Judges should maintain the dignity of judicial office at all times, and avoid both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in their professional and personal lives. They should aspire at all times to conduct that ensures the greatest possible public confidence in their independence, impartiality, integrity, and competence.”

and

CANON 1A JUDGE SHALL UPHOLD AND PROMOTE THE INDEPENDENCE, INTEGRITY, AND IMPARTIALITY OF THE JUDICIARY, AND SHALL AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY.
…RULE 1.2 Promoting Confidence in the Judiciary
A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.
and
Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by improper conduct and conduct that creates the appearance of impropriety. This principle applies to both the professional and personal conduct of a judge….A judge should expect to be the subject of public scrutiny that might be viewed as burdensome if applied to other citizens, and must accept the restrictions imposed by the Code.
That’s enough for me. He shouldn’t be sanctioned. He should be sacked.
Lammey argues that he has a right to free speech and that his social media posts have nothing to do with his ability to serve the courts with fairness and objectivity. The point of those provisions of the judicial code is that what matters is whether the public believes that he is fair and objective, and a Twitter post like that undermines such belief.

14 thoughts on “TGIF Ethics Celebration, 1/10/19: Plenty Of People Who Need Firing or Something Close…

  1. Jack,

    I’m not usually one to get anxious over typos, but this one made me grin:

    President Trump should be responsible and take this matter seriously (as Obama did not) and disciple Conway as well as announce what that discipline is.

    I’d say Conway is indeed well on the path of following Trump’s lead in spouting of whatever she feels like regardless of the setting.

    And it is May, not January…

  2. Bubala had to be fired. The phrasing of the question was racist and sexist. She’s no rookie, it was not a slip of the tongue, and she has been in Baltimore long enough to appreciate the racial climate there. It does not speak well of WJZ that the firing was four days later; the station was acting based on the backlash, not on the unacceptably offensive phrasing of the question.

  3. Re: #1. I can’t even think of a way to interpret that as not blatantly racist and sexist.

    Granted, I am still a registered Democrat, but I didn’t think i had gone over the wall yet.

    • When I heard it, I interpreted it as “We elected the last 3 mayors because they were black women.” That may be because I have heard “We need a woman of color” invoked over and over for the last few years and it is a pretty good bet that most of the reason they were elected was their skin color and sex. If the strategy was ‘elect a black woman’ for the last 3 elections and the city got significantly worse, then perhaps a different strategy is in order. Maybe consider competence…

      Of course, this could be because I aggravates me that electing someone because they are ‘a woman of color’ is not considered racist, but pointing out that they were elected because they were ‘a woman of color’ is considered racist.

  4. I disagree. Unless there a pattern of behavior it is wrong to fire her.
    Yes she has been a fixture on WJZ for probably close to 20 years. During that time she covered many mayors. She could have been thinking of Kurt Schmoke, a successful black male mayor and now President of Univ of Baltimore.
    The last white male mayor of Baltimore, former presidential candidate and rain tax governor Martin O’Malley was barely competent and he was no William Donald Schaeffer. Schmoke is a pragmatist and O’Malley is a hack.

    Here is the issue. Had Baltimore had 3 white male mayors, two of whom had resigned in disgrace and one proving to be incomptetent would the same question scream racism and sexism as has been alleged. If not, then it should not be seen as racist and sexist now. How many candidates for president are saying it women and especially women of color are due to have their place in tbe white house.
    If a reporter asks a female candidate about needing a change in leadership style is that grounds for dismissal. If white reporters cannot cover local political figures who are non white due to racial backlash when the non white audience get mad then what will CNN do about Don Lemmon and other non white reporters that push the race card.

    • Here is the issue. Had Baltimore had 3 white male mayors, two of whom had resigned in disgrace and one proving to be incomptetent would the same question scream racism and sexism as has been alleged. If not, then it should not be seen as racist and sexist now.

      That’s reverse whataboutism. However it would be seen, that statement would be racist, and I would advocate the same result.

      • It does not matter if the mayors were wonderful, honest straight shooting white males or horrendous bastards who were also white males. We currently have pundits making the statements that white males are somehow less qualified because it is time for a change. Bigotry is bigotry. I don’t care how it is cloaked. If one event, innocent mistake or not becomes the norm to condemn and economically destroy someone by classifying it as racist we are all going to hell.

        If you cannot determine if Trump had a corrupt purpose in obstruction you cannot state with any certainty that racism was Bubala’s intent.

        Any number of television personalities ask this question all the time about the need to change the demographic to give others opportunities to push an alternative agenda.

        Now, assuming you cannot prove the statement was racially motivated you don’t simply dump a valued employee because of a single mistake. No one has considered that the question might have been an unfortunate mashup of two distinctly different thoughts as the question was being developed.

        This woman had a career at WJZ for at least 20 years. Is that how good management treats a loyal and productive person. I believe in evaluating the situation and the totality of the work (not a kings pass) produced. I am not rationalizing when I say people make mistakes. They did not fire Bill Buckner.

        I do agree you would be consistent as you suggested but I disagree that summary discharge was the only option.

        • I just watched a clip of CNN’s Alyson Cammerato ask the question to a panel is it time for a woman president. Should she be fired or does simple sexism not rise to termination. I say no.

          • Nonetheless, the question is moronic and offensive, and yet only half as bigoted as the racial AND gender bigotry question in Baltimore. Yup, I’d fire Camerota too. She is free to be a bigot and advocate bigotry, but not as a news anchor.

        • If you cannot determine if Trump had a corrupt purpose in obstruction you cannot state with any certainty that racism was Bubala’s intent.

          WHOA! Bad analogy alarm! Obstruction is a crime, in which intent is mandatory. Saying things on TV that professional broadcasters should not say is res ipsa loquitur, literally. If she said it, and a rational listener would interpret it as bigoted, then it doesn’t matter what she meant She said it. (I still haven’t heard anyone, including her, give a plausible example of what she meant that isn’t racist and sexist.

          Any number of television personalities ask this question all the time about the need to change the demographic to give others opportunities to push an alternative agenda.

          1) “Everybody does it.” 2) If they ask, “Since the evidence is piling up that black women are crooks or incompetents, shouldn’t we move in another direction?” they should be fired. Also if another group or group is slandered. The fact that some may get away with being racist or sexist against non-sactified races and genders is a separate problem.

          Now, assuming you cannot prove the statement was racially motivated you don’t simply dump a valued employee because of a single mistake. No one has considered that the question might have been an unfortunate mashup of two distinctly different thoughts as the question was being developed.

          My reaction: “Wow, we sure were lucky for 20 years. Well, at least now we know she’s an idiot.”

          This woman had a career at WJZ for at least 20 years.

          Irrelevant. There are per se, no-tolerance firing offenses. This is one.

          Is that how good management treats a loyal and productive person?

          If they risk harming the company’s reputation, survival and level of trust in the community, yes.

          I believe in evaluating the situation and the totality of the work (not a kings pass) produced. I am not rationalizing when I say people make mistakes.

          I acknowledge that. On the other hand, balancing is sometimes neither appropriate nor possible, and it’s a trap that leads right to the King’s Pass. I let long-time readers and commenters get away with momentary breaches of commenting rules that would get others banned, but not all such breaches.

          They did not fire Bill Buckner.

          Missing a ground ball is not malum in se. The analogy in baseball would be a player doing something that embarrasses the whole team and alienates the fan base, like being caught, once, taking steroids. Unfortunately, union and league rules prohibit firing such players. Absent those, that’s what should be done. (The current rookie sensation for the Red Sox, Michael Chavis, was banned for 80 games last year in the minors for PED use, and I wrote then that he should be fired.)

          I do agree you would be consistent as you suggested but I disagree that summary discharge was the only option.

          I never said it was the only option. It’s just the right option.

  5. Is this a gotcha and just Joe being Joe, or should Biden be fired?

    “When Biden was asked by The Washington Post about the discrepancy in school performance in Iowa compared to schools in Washington, D.C., the Democrat cited the high population of African-Americans and other minorities in the D.C. area.

    There’s less than one percent of the population of Iowa that is African American. There is probably less than four of five percent that are minorities. What is in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you’re dealing with

  6. From an article by Seth Bartee “Paul Gottfried and Paleoconservatism”

    Although the conservative movement in America could could date it’s beginnings only to the immediate post Second World War years, the new conservatives, according to Gottfried, we’re destroying vital intellectual elements of the traditionalist wing of the Right. These necessary elements included the Right’s capacity to argue from history, or within a tradition, without having to rely on the progressivism of the American left. This might include an American Southerner’s right to defend the privacy of the antebellum southern culture without being labeled a big it or racist, Gottfried is troubled by the fact that conservatives have adopted and modified identity politics for their purposes, which also means that they now are no different from the leftist politics of the Democratic Party.

    My endeavor is — has been – to identify the strand of thinking that is common on this blog, and the political and social philosophy and orientation of Jack as a conservative commentator and those who are attracted to this blog, many of whom seem to be of the same ‘school’. The best I can come up with today is that this thinking is a branch of neoconservatism likely getting its strongest influence from the Reagan period and, I am supposing, through the influence of WF Buckley.

    But Buckley, according to my understanding, *gutted* American conservatism. He became a gate-keeper and dismissed from consideration a group of (more authentic) conservatives, and of course of more philosophically-oriented Conservatives. Buckley’s ‘conservatism’ has the feel of someone who serves the State and its apparatus, not so much the Constitution in a spiritual sense. And not ‘the people of the United States’ but rather, as is fitting, the ‘propositional Nation’. Buckley served a New America and is, in many ways, a reconstructed conservative who has come to sing in Progressivism’s choir. His CIA connections link him to the postwar State and, to use a Heideggerian term, its machinations as part of the Americanopolis. Distinctly different from serving Americans and even democracy. Buckley then represents the machinations of the corporate-military State which best defines ‘what America is today’.

    The battle going on in our present has a great deal to do with that State and what supports it.

    The result of a Buckley-style ‘conservatism’ (it requires quotation marks because it is ‘fake’ conservatism, according to my view) … has contributed to and resulted in the ‘perversions of our present’. It is these people who, in different ways and coming from different angles, have contributed the lunacy of the present, a present so strange, so surreal really, as to make description of it difficult.

    Modern America ‘conservatives’ serve almost all of the same goals and objects as Progressives. What distinguishes them, then? They seem essentially to long for a different outcome than what they have contributed to and built alongside traditional and common Progressives. “No, no! it shouldn’t have turned out like this!”, they lament. But Progressivism and the variously-strained disease of acute Leftism did indeed ‘turn out like this’, and if this malevolent entity is a genii it will not go back into its little bottle. It took form a hundred years ago and slowly evolved into what it is today, a Golem.

    Against this background — as the reader might have guessed! — it is quite appropriate that a news personality, a white newscaster, is ‘cast into the outer darkness’. This is totally fitting in our present dispensation. Maybe she meant what she said (and it is likely true what she then is suggested as having said) and maybe it was simply a mistake in the order of syntax. It doesn’t matter: the Golem of Today rose up and slew her. There is a logic, naturally, in the firing. The station is a business (… Mr Beale…) and its market is a broad population of American Units. How could it, if a sector among the Masses it sells to, rightly or wrongly, heard something they did not like, refuse to have acted against her?

    This seems — from a Progressive perspective of course — to be a good move. But I suggest that it is strategic. Because Mrs Bubala and many people who see the same world she does and resent what is happening in their city and state; people who have really made efforts to accommodate it (this New America); who have bent over backwards to do so, and have made a tremendous number of concessions toward it, will now stew in her resentment. Thousands, hundreds of thousands, will ‘see the writing on the wall’ and will not like what they see.

    And this is what must happen. Keep pushing then!

    They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind, as the saying goes.

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