Observations On Neil Cavuto’s Oddly-Timed Scolding Of President Trump

Fox News host Neil Cavuto decided to vent his frustration with President Trump yesterday, delivering a direct rebuke, addressing him in the second person. You can read the whole statement below after the commentary, or before, if you prefer.

I like Neil Cavuto. He’s a nice guy, he’s sincere, and he tries to be fair. He even had me on his show once. The format he chose, the Keith Olbermann direct address [Keith: “And why is it, SIR…”], I detest, and feel is pompous and inappropriate. Its a fake confrontation: Cavuto wouldn’t talk to the President like that if he were really in front of him, so it suggests boldness on his part that is illusory rather than real. It’s also arrogant grandstanding. Who is Cavuto to reprimand the President? He can give his opinion like anyone else, but talking to him through the camera like he was a naughty child is presumptuous.

In general, Cavuto’s point is undeniable: Trump’s constant puffery, exaggerations, contradictions, spontaneous utterances  and recklessness with the facts undermine his credibility, infuriate both allies and foes, and give ammunition to those who want to destroy him. In short, his habit is stupid. However, this was a known feature of the man’s style and character a decade ago. No, he can’t or won’t change, and that’s a weakness.  But who didn’t know this? Does Cavuto really think his tirade adds anything to the public’s knowledge? Does he think the President is going to reform because Neil Cavuto takes him to task?

In the specifics of his argument, however, Cavuto’s logic is so shaky that I wondered if he really thought his rant through, or, in the alternative, is not as smart as I thought he was. His initial sally is a non sequitur: the fact that President Trump frequently mangles the truth doesn’t make the news media  any less dishonest, incompetent and untrustworthy. Since a vast amount of the fake news polluting the public’s understanding of the issues involves fake news designed to undermine Trump, he has every right, and I believe a duty, to call it what it is.

Is Cavuto’s showboating just a member of the journalists’ club standing up for his colleagues against their adversary? It sure sounded like it.  He seemed to be mouthing the same excuse I hear from Facebook enablers of the biased media: “Yeah, well, OK, Rachel Maddow was hyping the Russian story and using dubious evidence, but Trump lies even more!” President Trump’s job is to run the country. Not being truthful can get in the way of that, but being accurate is not his job, nor is it one of his duties. Journalists, in contrast, are ethically obligated to inform the public truthfully no matter what whoppers a President may tell. The President doesn’t make the news media lie, so to say he provides the “ammunition” for fake news is nonsense. Cavuto is excusing lousy, dishonest, and divisive journalism. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/27/2019: Five Indefensible Ethics Breaches, In Approximate Order Of Harm Done [Corrected]

And it’s a beautiful day…

1. Probably the last Boston Red Sox baseball ethics note of the 2019 season…In yesterdays’ meaningless afternoon game with the Texas Rangers, the Sox, who will finish the season an incredible 24 wins or more worse than last season’s championship team despite essentially the same squad and no major injuries, faced starter Mike Minor, who was seeking to end his season with 200 strikeouts, a milestone that might earn the free-agent-to-be an extra million or so on the open market this winter.

Minor entered his last start of the season at 191 strikeouts, and began the top of the ninth inning with 199 and a solid lead. Sox catcher Sandy León flied out to left field for the first out, bringing up sub-.200 hitter Chris Owings.

[Notice of Correction: Apologies to Chris Owings fans, if there are any, for originally misstating that Owings was a minor league call-up. In fact, he had been a journeyman infielder with the NL Diamondbacks. for six seasons until landing in the AL this season.Thanks to Other Bill for setting me straight. ]

With a 1-1 count, Owings popped up a pitch  halfway down the first base line in foul territory. Rangers first baseman Ronald Guzmán appeared to let it drop, trading out #2 for strike #2, and thus giving Minor a shot at his 200th strikeout. Minor got it when routinely incompetent home plate umpire CB Bucknor called strike three on a ball well out of the strike zone.

Manipulating the game’s results so a player can fatten his stats is unethical and hurts the integrity of the game. Guzmán  and the Rangers should be fined by MLB.

2. Our unprofessional, biased and untrustworthy public schools. Watson B. Duncan Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida is investigating a teacher who included this question on a test:

Continue reading

Ethics Verdict: The Democrats Will Be 100% Responsible For The Damage The Impeachment Will Do To The nation.

Impeachment, though it is doomed to fail, will be terrible for the country in too many ways to count, and the Democratic Party, abetted by the mainstream news media, will be 100% responsible for the harm. Not 75%. Not 99%. 100%.

I know I’m going to have to write a lot in the coming months about this, and I’m already sick of it, but if progressives, the media and the Democrats had treated this President as every one of his predecessors had been treated, we would not be here. They all decided to actively search for a justification to remove this President from office without an election. The calls for impeachment and contrived legal excuses to remove him began before Trump even took office.

It is satisfying, I suppose, in a mordant way, that the Democrats somehow trapped themselves into using one of the lamest and least persuasive justifications for an impeachment inquiry imaginable, and will pay a steep, steep price for it. Even the fact that the party and the media will suffer greatly for their attack on democracy, however, does not sufficiently mitigate the damage they will have done to the nation. Continue reading

The Sequel To The “It’s OK To Be White” Stickers: “Islam Is Right About Women” Flyers

In Winchester, Massachusetts (right next to my old home town of Arlington!)  flyers reading “Islam is RIGHT About Women” suddenly appeared around the town, fastened to trees, utility polls and street signs in the familiar manner of those “lost cat” notices.

An “alarmed” woman brought two flyers to the Winchester Police Department, and officers subsequently found eight more, including one that was posted outside of an elementary school. The flyer presented multiple dilemmas. Police said the signs were not threatening and considered free speech. But because they were placed on town property, the flyers technically violated town ordinances. Yet those lost cat flyers were always allowed to remain.

Some residents were adamant that the signs should come down: one who spoke to a local TV station, Jim Leary, said, “Putting signs up that make people feel uncomfortable is unfortunate, particularly in this time and age.”

Really? Sounds like you’re not too fond of free speech, Jim!

The police took the flyers down. Constitutional law professor Eugene Volokh wrote, citing Members of the City Council v. Taxpayers for Vincent (1984), that the content of the flyers’ message  is constitutionally protected, but that the city could take down the ones that violated town law  so long as it wasn’t discriminating based on the viewpoint of the signs.  But of course it was, since the lost cat flyers were never taken down.

What’s going on here? The Professor played dumb, writing, Continue reading

Why American Colleges Are Increasingly A Waste Of Money, Time, And Minds: A Case Study From American University

American University in Washington D.C. (Full disclosure: I once taught legal ethics at the law school there) employs Ibram X. Kendi as a history prof and  Director of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center. He writes, and thus advocates, utter nonsense like this, from his recent opinion piece  in Politico:

To fix the original sin of racism, Americans should pass an anti-racist amendment to the U.S. Constitution that enshrines two guiding anti-racist principals: Racial inequity is evidence of racist policy and the different racial groups are equals. The amendment would make unconstitutional racial inequity over a certain threshold, as well as racist ideas by public officials (with “racist ideas” and “public official” clearly defined). It would establish and permanently fund the Department of Anti-racism (DOA) comprised of formally trained experts on racism and no political appointees. The DOA would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate private racist policies when racial inequity surfaces, and monitor public officials for expressions of racist ideas. The DOA would be empowered with disciplinary tools to wield over and against policymakers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their racist policy and ideas.

Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Tea, 9/26/2019: A Drunk Lawyer, A Disgraceful Congressman, Uncivil Peanut Butter And The Dolls America Needs [UPDATED!]

These trustworthy scones are divine!

1. First, the important stuff: peanut butter ethics. Now Jif, the peanut butter, has joined the detestable ranks of consumer products that deliberately evoke the vulgarity “fuckin'” in its advertising. Booking.com was the first company chided here for this particular offense against minimal civility, when I wrote,

Ethics dictates that one communicates with respect for anyone within hearing distance, and unless ugly words serve a material purpose, using them is not the mark of a good citizen, a good neighbor, or a trustworthy human being. Nor is spouting vulgarity witty, and unless you are 11, and employing obvious code words that sound like curses, epithets and obscenities isn’t especially funny either, since we pretty much exhausted the possibilities at summer camp. I have no idea why anyone would want to recast the culture as a place where professionals curse like sailors and the words “fuck” and “cocksucker” are as likely to issue from a debutante’s lips as those of a hip hop artist, but that seems to be the objective now. … TV stations happily accept money from advertisers using code words for “ass” (Verizon), alluding to sexual intercourse (Reese’s), and evoking the word “shit” (K-Mart and DraftKings).

Booking.com no longer uses this device, but Jif now pronounces itself “Jif’n good!” Fortunately, this peanut butter aficionado regards Jiff as the least of the  national brands and varieties (1. Skippy Natural 2. Skippy regular, 3. Peter Pan crunchy 4. Peter Pan smooth…and Jif, bringing up the rear.

Now I won’t even buy this peanut smutter when it’s on sale.

2. Apparently the mainstream media AND the Democrats are determined to dash what’s left of their rotting credibility to smithereens with this last ditch impeachment push:

  • Today’s “Japanese Bombs Pearl Harbor” size headline across the New York Times print edition: TRUMP ASKED FOR ‘FAVOR’ IN CALL, MEMO SHOWS.” Again, this would be really funny if it wasn’t so destructive.
  • Showing unprecedented lack of respect for the office of President (and proving beyond any doubt that no American who wants fair and objective reporting on politics should tune into MSNBC), the network’s Nicole Wallace cut off the  audio at President’s   first news conference since House Democrats opened a formal impeachment inquiry,, saying,  “We hate to do this, really, but the president isn’t telling the truth.”
  • In Congress, on TV, Rep. Adam Schiff read into the record his “paraphrase” of the transcript of the President’s phone call to the Ukraine President. Sample:

“I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good, I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand, lots of it, on this and on that, I’m going to put you in touch with people.”

“Is he just making this up?” Committee member Mile Turner (R-Ohio) asked. Indeed he was. Althouse’s commenters are having a field day on this. Ann’s readership is ideologically mixed, but you couldn’t tell that from the utter contempt Schiff’s stunt inspired. Continue reading

Still MORE From The Ethics Alarms” Res Ipsa Loquitur” Files: That “Whistleblower” Complaint

Nnnnope. not this either.

Here’s all you have to read, in my view:

In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rival ls. The President’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well.

  • Over the past four months, more than half a dozen S. officials have informed me of various facts related to this effort. The information provided herein was relayed to me in the course of official interagency business. It is routine for U.S. officials with responsibility for a particular regional or functional portfolio to share such information with one another in order to inform policymaking and analysis.
  • I was not a direct witness to most of the events described. However, I found  my colleagues’ accounts of these events to be credible because, in almost all cases, multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another. In  addition,  a variety of information consistent with these private accounts has been reported.

Amazing. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Dying Veterans Plea [Corrected]

I know my answer to this one right now, but I’m curious about everyone else, and willing to be convinced that I’m a hard-hearted meanie.

Call this one a “Good Disgraced Veteran” story, in the style of the recent spate of human interest tales designed to make us feel sorry that the law has to be enforced when those nice, noble illegal immigrants break it. In this variation, the object of sympathy is Needham Mayes, who was among the first black servicemen to be stationed at Fort Bragg following  the President Truman’s executive order desegregating the armed forces  seven years earlier. In July 1955, as a 21-year-old private, he walked into a club on the base for non-commissioned officers only.  He was quickly confronted by a sergeant; their altercation became violent, and the sergeant ended up shot and bleeding with his own gun. Mayes was arrested and led away in irons, then court-martialed. He left the Army with a dishonorable discharge.

Now in his eighties and ailing, Mayes wants his dishonorable discharge expunged so he can be buried in a national cemetery. [Notice of Correction: I erroneously wrote “Arlington National Cemetery” in the original version] His argument is that after being kicked out of the Army, he turned his life around and has been an admirable, even exemplary citizen.

In 1978, he earned a bachelor’s degree at Adelphi University, then a master’s degree. He became a social worker and therapist. He worked with organizations that fought drug abuse promoted mental health, and worked to  prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS. In 2009, when  Mayes was 75, he joined the NAACP’s Civic Engagement Committee, and began working  with young men in poor, black neighborhoods, visiting homes and jails, and also seeking out anyone who would listen at large community events. All who know him and his work acknowledge that he has changed lives for the better.

“I am a rehabilitated man,” Needham  wrote in 2017, in an appeal to have his dishonorable discharge converted to an honorable one, “and I hope to have the right to be buried in a national cemetery with my comrades-in-arms.” His request was denied. Now his lawyers are again mounting an effort to have his record cleansed, assisted by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Should Mayes’ dishonorable discharge be upgraded?

As I said above, I know my answer: no.

Stipulated: Needham Mayes has been a positive force in his community and a fine citizen; based on what I know, I have no difficulty concluding that he is an ethical, virtuous, admirable human being. Nothing he has done since his military discharge, however, alters in any way his conduct when he was in the military, or renders his court martial and discharge any less valid than they were in 1955.

What the Times, Gillibrand, Mayes’ supporters and Mayes himself are arguing for is akin to the Ted Kennedy fallacy, which goes like this: Yes, horny, drunken Ted may have contributed to the death of a young woman and participated in a cowardly cover-up, but he went on to be a hard-working and respected U.S. Senator, so all of that should be forgiven and forgotten. Wrong. Ethics and personal responsibility don’t work like that, and life shouldn’t.  Past misconduct isn’t erased by present good works. Its significance in assessing the character and personal achievements of an individual are certainly mitigated and even outweighed by what has come after, but the misconduct remains, and so should its just consequences.

The Times story adds irrelevant factors to its sympathy brief. Meyers is black; black soldiers were court martialed more frequently than white soldiers; he’s old and  dying; this is a dying man’s wish; and the man he shot back in 1955 says that he holds “absolutely no animosity toward Mr. Mayes,” and  is pleased to that he spent his life helping others. That’s all nice, but it changes nothing.

This is sentimental static designed to interfere with a clear analysis. Needham Mayes was discharged dishonorably after an incident that would have had the same consequences whether the soldier was black, white, or magenta.

Burial in national military cemeteries  is earned by a soldier’s service in the military, not by subsequent achievements in civilian life. My father (along with my mother) is buried in Arlington  National Cemetery because he served honorably and with distinction during World War II, not because he was wonderful husband and father. I’d love to know what my father would think about Meyers’ case: we once had an argument about whether a convicted murderer who was a decorated veteran should be buried at Arlington. My position was that if a veteran’s military record qualified him to be buried there, nothing he did subsequently short of treason should change that. My dad disagreed, and maybe he would disagree with me here as well.

Tell me what you think.

Incompetent Elected Officials Of The Decade: The Democratic Congress. Why? It Now Appears That They Want To Impeach The President For Following A Treaty

It’s really pretty funny, or would be, if this wasn’t such damning evidence of a party’s complete ethical disintegration.

Behold:

 

Bill Clinton signed it. Joe Biden voted for it. It is still a valid treaty. There is no exception in the treaty for “crimes that may have been committed by temporary poll leaders regarding an election over a year away, or their corrupt children who cashed in on their father’s position,” and the fact that “mutual assistance” is what the news media now calls “collusion” still doesn’t make a completely legal request authorized by treaty illegal, or, obviously, impeachable. Continue reading

Ethics Cool-Down, 9/25/19: Democracy On The Rocks

Ahhhhh…

I wish I had a martini, but since I don’t keep alcohol in the house, this will do…

1. More from the Ethics Alarms “res Ipsa loquitur” files:

The story is here.

I remember kindergarten classmates, boys and girls, frequently going on kissing sprees. Adults knew it was nothing decades ago. Had #MeToo really made people this unable to make obvious distinctions? Proportion is an ethical value.

2. Regarding today’s earlier post from the same files...Yes, I think that the transcript of the President’s call to the Ukraine, on its face, should make Democratic claims of an impeachable offense look as silly and contrived as they are. This does not, however, allow for confirmation bias, which is at fever pitch in “the resistance” with some toxic frustration and desperation mixed in. This is one reason the mainstream media keeps calling the transcript a “summary,” which implies that something material is missing, and your Deranged friends keep raising Nixon’s edited versions of White House meetings on Watergate matters, as if this has any similarity to that at all.

Calls with foreign leaders are typically not recorded, so this was a reconstructed transcript, which is as close to an exact one as we are going to get. For those who presume that everything this President does is impeachable, that’s a problem. For those who accept that he was elected President and should have the same opportunity to do his job as all the others, it isn’t, and there are too many like that in the public for this latest manufactured offense to work.

I guess this is Plan S.

I’m so, so sick of this.

3. I guess it’s time for another update:

The Complete Presidential Impeachment or Removal Plans A-S (Updated 9/25/2019)

Plan A: Reverse the election by hijacking the Electoral College.

Plan B: Pre-emptive impeachment. 

Plan C : The Emoluments Clause.

Plan D: “Collusion with Russia”

Plan E : ”Trump is mentally ill so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.”

Plan F: The Maxine Waters Plan, which  is to just impeach the President because Democrats want to, because they can.

Plan G : “The President obstructed justice by firing incompetent subordinates, and that’s impeachable.”

Plan H: “Tweeting stupid stuff is impeachable”

Plan I:  “Let’s relentlessly harass him and insult him and obstruct his efforts to do his job so he snaps and does something really impeachable.”

Plan J : Force Trump’s resignation based on alleged sexual misconduct that predated his candidacy.

Plan K: Election law violations in pay-offs to old sex-partners

Plan L: The perjury trap: get Trump to testify under oath, then prove something he said was a lie.

Plan M: Guilt by association. Prove close associates or family members violated laws.

Plan N: Claim that Trump’s comments at his press conference with Putin were “treasonous.”

Plan O: The Mueller Report proves the Trump is unfit for office even if it did not conclude that he committed any impeachable offenses. 

Plan P: Summarized here as “We have to impeach him because he’s daring us to and if we don’t, we let him win, but we can’t, but then he’ll win!”.”

Plan Q: Impeach Trump to justify getting his taxes, and then use the presumed evidence in his taxes to impeach him.

Plan R: Rep. Adam Schiff announced on July 24 that President Trump should be impeached because he is “disloyal” to the country. This desperate response to the fizzle of the Mueller Report was ignored and forgotten the second it came out of Schiff’s mouth, but it confirmed what the list above already proved: the Democrats don’t want to impeach the President for something he did; they want to find something he did to justify impeaching him.

Plan S: Trump should be impeached because his call to Ukrainian President Zelensky was really an effort to shake down the Ukraine and force it to find dirt on Joe Biden, thus “interfering” in the 2020 election even though Biden hasn’t been nominated (and won’t be), even though a President has every justification to seek evidence of a prior administration’s wrongdoing in foreign relations, and even though there isn’t a whiff of a threat of quid pro quo in the only transcript of the call.

Continue reading