Friday Ethics “Kung Fu” Reflections, 9/13/2019: “Seek Not To Know The Answers, But To Understand The Questions.”

Welcome, Ethics Grasshoppers!

Come to think of it, grasshoppers are not particularly ethical. Does anyone even recognize references to “Kung Fu” and Master Po any more?  It had a Caucasian actor (David Carradine) playing an Asian hero, so I guess it’s considered racist now.

Never mind.

I need a drink…

1. One more note about last night’s debate...I was listening to NPR’s efforts to spin the debate this morning. A Democratic consultant, who hardly could have been surprised by the question, was asked “Who won?” He paused, stammered and said, unconvincingly, “The Democratic Party?”  Exactly! As conservative wag Stephen Kruiser wrote today,

They don’t want you armed and able to protect yourself.

They don’t want you taking care of your children.

They don’t want you making your own decisions about your healthcare.

They want you to pay more in taxes for the privilege of losing your freedoms.

What’s not to like?

2.  The new book “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement” reveals more details about the efforts by lawyers David Boies and Lisa Bloom (the victims advocate and daughter of Gloria Allred) to protect Harvey Weinstein from having his predations on women revealed. In one memorable memo the book shows to the world, Lisa Bloom wrote to Weinstein in December 2016 laying out a multistep playbook on how to intimidate accusers or represent them as liars. Regarding actress Rose McGowan, who claims to have been raped by Weinstein and who has since become a visible activist regarding his conduct and that of other Hollywood figures, Bloom wrote,

“I feel equipped to help you against the Roses of the world, because I have represented so many of them….We can place an article re her becoming increasingly unglued, so that when someone Googles her this is what pops up and she’s discredited.”

Not surprisingly, McGowan is furious, and said of Bloom, “Her email is staggering. Staggering! …This woman should never work again. Lisa Bloom should be disbarred. So should David Boies.”

Both Boies and Lisa Bloom were involved in various social and business relationships with Weinstein which could have interfered with their independent judgment as lawyers, but the profession’s ethics rules surrounding this likely unethical conduct are vague.  Bloom’s statement about how her representation of other clients—victims of the kind of conduct Weinstein was dealing out—would give her more credibility as she worked to shield him is despicable and slimy, but not a professional ethics violation either, unless it involved a direct conflict of interest (as if, for example, she was representing an alleged Weinstein victim). Discrediting an individual to assist a client isn’t a crime even if it rises to the level of defamation, and in most cases, lawyers who engage in this kind of conduct can still argue successfully that it is only zealous representation.

Now, Lisa Bloom is a terrible lawyer and a habitual ethics dunce. She should be disciplined, but not for what she did on behalf of Harvey, but what she did to him. Bloom has publicly revealed privileged and confidential information about at least two high-profile clients, Kathy Griffin and Weinstein.

Boies nicked and scarred several ethics rules in his work for Weinstein, but none would ever be sufficient to have him disbarred. Like most non-lawyers, McGowan can’t grasp that lawyers are allowed to try to help disgusting people avoid legal consequences of their acts, and can go to some extreme lengths in their efforts. For example, while a direct, unequivocal lie about McGowan authored by Bloom would be sanctionable, framing the image of an actress  most vividly remembered on screen as the hottie who used an automatic weapon as her artificial leg as a wacko would be completely within the rules.

3. Quick…who has read about this in the mainstream media? The Washington Free Beacon reviewed internal documents from the Clinton Presidential Library, including secret DNC communiques, confidential state party documents, and executive memorandums for the President that showed that the Democratic party developed an elaborate, multi-year operation in the 1990s to train and use more than 4,000 operatives in at least 23 states to lie about their identities while attempting to influence public opinion using talk radio.

The DNC, in conjunction with the Clinton White House, launched the Talk Radio Initiative (TRI) ahead of the 1996 campaign.The operatives were instructed to call in to radio shows and to broadcast Democratic talking points while posing as ordinary listeners.

“Volunteers must be able to keep the project confidential so as not to create the image of a ‘Democratic conspiracy’ to infiltrate Detroit area talk radio shows,” a 1995 TRI guide prepared by Michigan Democrats said. “Democratic performance in the 1996 elections will no doubt be affected by the success or failure of this initiative….If you are afraid that producers are beginning to recognize your name and are weary of allowing you on the air, use an alias,” the Michigan Democrats’ TRI guide read. “For example, be Carol today, Sue tomorrow, and Debbie on Friday!”

Luckily, there no reason to believe that the Democrats would be doing the same thing today on social media. Whew!

4. How many refugees is the United States ethically obligated to accept?

From the New York Times: “The White House is considering plans to slash refugee resettlement numbers to a fraction of historic levels or even to zero, all but ending the program. The modern refugee system emerged after World War II, when the United States and its allies resettled hundreds of thousands displaced by fighting. Since then, it has played a central role in American foreign policy, drawn from the lesson that mass displacement can provoke even graver crises.

Refugee resettlement operates differently than other kinds of immigration. It is designed to maximize benefits to refugees and the communities that host them while minimizing burdens and risks. The process is tightly controlled, with refugees undergoing a screening process that can take years before they are allowed into the United States. It focuses on keeping families together, as well as placing them in communities that want to take them in and are equipped to do so. Refugee flows peaked in 1980, with over 200,000 resettled that fiscal year. Since then, annual caps have hovered around 70,000. The Trump administration, after slashing that limit to an all-time low of 30,000, is considering proposals to cut it to 15,000, 10,000 — or zero.”

Part of the impetus to reduce the cap on refugees is the increased use of phony asylum claims at the Southern border to facilitate illegal immigration. Maybe the President wants to use refugees as bargaining chips to force Democrats to accept enforcement of the immigration laws. That seems like something he would do, but I’m just speculating.

I have no idea what is the ethical level of refugee resettlement the U.S. should permit.

5. Idiot vs Idiot. After Beto O’Rourke announced during last night’s debate,  “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” Texas state delegate  Briscoe Cain tweeted: “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis.”

O’Rourke responded to Cain’s post, which was taken down by Twitter, writing, “This is a death threat, Representative. Clearly, you shouldn’t own an AR-15—and neither should anyone else.” Cain tweeted back: “You’re a child Robert Francis.”

O’Rourke said today that his campaign staff had contacted the FBI and Twitter regarding Cain’s tweet. “I mean, anytime you have somebody threatening to use violence against somebody in this country to resolve a political issue, or really for any reason, that’s a matter for law enforcement,” O’Rourke told CNN. “But it really drives home the point better than I could have made. Rep. Briscoe Cain is making the case that no one should have an AR-15 that they can hold over someone else in this country — say, ‘Look, if we disagree on something, let me introduce you to my AR-15.’ Absolutely wrong.”

Cain’s tweet was stupid and juvenile, but it simply meant, “Bring it on.” All threats of gun confiscation should and will get that response. Cain was a fool to put it in such provocative terms, but for O’Rourke to treat the tweet as a true death threat was equally foolish, and disingenuous as well.

Moreover, saying “no one should have an AR-15” is like saying no one should have an abortion. The Constitution and the laws of the land say that any citizen who wants an AR-15 and obeys the law to acquire the weapon should be able to get one.

[Today’s “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” note: Politico called Cain’s tweet a “death threat.”]

 

15 thoughts on “Friday Ethics “Kung Fu” Reflections, 9/13/2019: “Seek Not To Know The Answers, But To Understand The Questions.”

    • I was thinking it sounded like actual Cold War KGB tactics. You’d expect to hear that sort of thing decoded from a message to the CPUSA in the 40s.

      But, same thing, different terms.

  1. Re: #4. “The modern refugee system emerged after World War II, when the United States and its allies resettled hundreds of thousands displaced by fighting. ” Unless, of course, you were a Jew, fleeing Nazi murder camps. Truman (D) refused entry to Jewish immigrants more than once.

  2. One thing that stands out to me: why isn’t Beto’s pledge to come “take” other people’s lawfully and peacefully owned property by force considered a threat? That’s the threat here, not the suggestion by one of his targets that he’s inclined to resist.

    • I read Cain’s comment as, “you can have my AR-15 when you can pry it from my cold, dead fingers.” Dumb, maybe unethi . . wait. It is not unethical or dumb. In fact, Cain understands the nation a whole lot better than Bobby O.

      Beto is a child, talks like a child, and acts like a child, and by using the FBI to investigate this incident shows that he will force compliance by using government police powers. While Bob’s “he’ll, yes . . .” was frightening for its simplicity and honesty, the explosion of applause from the audience was even more disturbing. Imagine what would have happened if, say, Ted Cruz had said, “he’ll, no, you can’t have an abortion.” Cue the howls of outrage and contempt.

      The audience demonstrated how effective the Left has been in changing the fabric of the nation over the last 50 years. What it shows is that the Left believes that fundamental rights are granted by government fiat and are not liberties recognized by natural law as has been understood by Locke, Hobbes (and Calvin), Rousseau, and social contract theorists influencing Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Hamilton (and not the stupid musical), and Washington. That belief undercuts what made the US what it is, which is why it is the envy of the world.
      What the supporters of the Left don’t comprehend is that the same government that grants indivdual liberties by fiat is the very same government that can and will take them away by the very same power of fiat.

      People claim Trump is a racist and fascist. I ask them to show me what Trump has done to justify that he is a fascist. They point to his use of executive orders. But, I point out, he has used executive orders to cancel Obama-era executive orders. If Trump oversteps his Constitutional authority by revoking St. Obama’s actions (DACA) then, by extension Obama had little Constitutional authority to issue the very same executive order. Likewise, I ask if Trump has suspended habeas corpus, issued bills of attainder, or declared martial law. The usual response is “Muslim ban” or “children in cages”. To which I respond, ” well, Trump simply suspended travel from seven problematic countries identified by the Obama Administration as hotbeds of terrorism, and the ‘children in cages’ mess is the result of the Flores decision/agreement, also of Obama fame.” Blank stares.

      Therein lies the problem.

      jvb

  3. 3. Like I said. When the Left accuses the Right of something, they are already engaging in it, or plan on engaging in it soon.

    Who accused conservatives of a “vast right wing conspiracy”?

  4. “Seek Not To Know The Answers, But To Understand The Questions”

    See, in design, as in most problem solving, we have a saying:

    “A Problem well defined is half Solved”

    I think it’s corollary here is:

    “A Question well stated is half Answered”

    Experts are not good at solving problems…experts are good at *fully* defining problems. Because, for the most part, once all the aspects of a problem are known, when compared to the desired end state, solutions tend to present themselves quite on their own. The same goes, in my opinion, with much of ethics. It’s not that we can’t solve ethical problems…it’s that we don’t define them well enough, nor are we full acquainted with our own value sets to define a good end state.

  5. Cain was saying come and take it (if you can) in the Texas historical taunt..

    O’Rourke’s plan is a real threat to the US Constitution.

  6. #3 I am reminded of what Rush Limbaugh refers to as “Seminar Callers”. They all have the exact same talking points. Not so crazy after all.

  7. The Washington Free Beacon reviewed internal documents from the Clinton Presidential Library, including secret DNC communiques, confidential state party documents, and executive memorandums for the President that showed that the Democratic party developed an elaborate, multi-year operation in the 1990s to train and use more than 4,000 operatives in at least 23 states to lie about their identities while attempting to influence public opinion using talk radio.

    The DNC, in conjunction with the Clinton White House, launched the Talk Radio Initiative (TRI) ahead of the 1996 campaign.The operatives were instructed to call in to radio shows and to broadcast Democratic talking points while posing as ordinary listeners.

    So why is it wrong when the Russians do it?

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