Ethics Alarms wishes you the best this morning…
1. How low can they go? NBC News published a 1768-word article this week examining Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s slave-holding ancestors.
The 1850 and 1860 censuses reveal that between them, two of the Kentucky Senators’ great-great-grandfathers, James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned at least 14 slaves in Alabama.The article’s apparent objective is to suggest that Sen. McConnell’s ancestors may have influenced his policy positions, implying that he is racist by blood.
Nah, there’s no mainstream news media bias!
Asked about his ancestors in a press conference, McConnell pointed out that Barack Obama also has slave-holding relatives in his family tree. Mitch was nicer than I would have been. I yield to no one in my dislike for the Senate Leader, but this is a self-evident smear ny NBC, a blatant “guilt by association” ploy with the damning associations being with people McConnell never knew.
Have you no sense of decency, NBC, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?
In full disclosure, my father’s mother’s family, also from Kentucky, owned slaves. One of them, a housekeeper, continued to be employed by the family, and my grandmother cared for her in the woman’s old age, as a permanent guest and companion until she died.
Amazingly, this did not make me a fan of Mitch McConnell.
2. I’m STUNNED! Well, no, actually I knew this more than 30 years ago, when I oversaw a non-partisan study on the issue. From NPR:
Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would increase the pay of at least 17 million people, but also put 1.3 million Americans out of work, according to a study by the Congressional Budget Office released on Monday.
The increased federal minimum could also raise the wages of another 10 million workers and lift 1.3 million Americans out of poverty, according to the nonpartisan CBO. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 and last increased a decade ago.
The budget watchdog’s report comes ahead of next week’s vote in the House of Representatives on a bill to gradually raise the federal minimum to $15 an hour by 2024.
The minimum wage is an example of the Left’s “Don’t confuse us with facts, our minds are made up!” orientation when it comes to thoroughly debunked socialist cant. It’s pretty simple: when the compensation required for certain jobs outweigh the value of those jobs, the jobs disappear. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the author of the Raise the Wage Act, argued that the benefits in CBO’s forecast far outweighed the costs. Tell that to the restaurant owners who will have to close up shop, and the 1.3 million who lose their jobs, Bobby. All for the greater good!
Politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who push a massive minimum wage increase are counting on the public’s ignorance, as in other issues.
3. Secretary Acosta didn’t resign. He still should. Alexander Acosta, Trump’s labor secretary, used yesterday’s press conference not to resign as some predicted, but to defend his handling of a sex crimes case against sex predator financier Jeffrey Epstein over a decade ago. I was not impressed.
He said that prosecuting Epstein would have been “rolling the dice.” Maybe so, but the special conditions of the case were paramount: Epstein was a super-rich, super-connected defendant with ties to powerful figures like Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton. For him to be seen as getting a virtual rap on the wrist (“BAD Jeffrey! BAD! Sexually abusing over 40 under-age women! BAD BAD BAD! Go to your room!”) undermines public faith in the justice system, and properly so. Remember, he not only got a deal that sent him to the relatively cushy confines of Palm Beach County jail (rather than a prison) for 13 months, he was permitted to participate in a work-release program that allowed him to go to his office six days a week for up to 12 hours a day.
Responding to Acosta’s dubious defense yesterday, Barry Krischer, the former top prosecutor for Palm Beach County, said that Acosta was trying to “rewrite history” by suggesting that he approved the plea deal because he feared state prosecutors were going to be even more lenient toward Mr. Epstein. “I can emphatically state that Mr. Acosta’s recollection of this matter is completely wrong,” Krischer said in a statement. “Federal prosecutors do not take a back seat to state prosecutors. That’s not how the system works in the real world.” If Acosta believed the state deal was so terrible, he should have filed a federal indictment instead of conducting “secret negotiations,” Krischer said.
One of the impediments to a conviction in trial that Acosta cited yesterday was that the victims were afraid to testify. Adam Horowitz, a lawyer who represented some of the victims, said yesterday that the Labor Secretary was being disingenuous, and that the young women were terrified because the prosecutors had terrified them.
“The prosecutors were saying, ‘These defense lawyers are going to go through your whole personal life, dig up your bad acts and your sex life. When they heard that from prosecutors, sure, they were intimidated,” Horowitz said. “They kept saying, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’” His implication is that prosecutors were doing the all-star defense team’s bidding by undermining their own case. Spencer Kuvin, a lawyer for three of the victims, said that all three gave depositions and were “willing and ready” to testify.
Finally, there is the basic ethical issue of accountability. Prosecutors allowed Epstein’s lawyers to talk them into a ridiculously lenient plea deal with minimal prison time for a privileged criminal and sexual predator with endless resources and a high likelihood of recidivism. It was completely predictable that he would continue to harm women after his release, and the new charges against Epstein show that he did exactly as expected.
It is appropriate that someone’s head roll for this, and Acosta’s is the logical choice. [Facts: New York Times]
4. Ex-baseball pitcher and authorJim Bouton, 80, died yesterday. The Times obituary calls him “a celebrated iconoclast” who “left a lasting mark on baseball as the author of ‘Ball Four’ a raunchy, shrewd, irreverent — and best-selling — player’s diary that tainted the game’s wholesome image.”
There are two ethics points to be made here. First, Bouton betrayed his team mates by publishing their private conversations and observed conduct in a book without their permission, and profiting greatly as a result. “Ball Four” was per se unethical, no matter how entertaining it was for readers.
Second, any journalist who covered Major League baseball could have written the equivalent of “Ball Four” over many decades before Bouton did, except that they would have written it better, and they would have been doing their jobs as journalists.
Finding his career as a player winding down, Jim Bouton decided to cash in at his friends’ expense. He lived out the rest of his life as a pariah in baseball, and deserved that fate.