Friday Ethics Catch-Up, 10/18/2009: Hillary Snaps, And More Evidence That Everything Is Spinnng Madly Out Of Control

I am totally fried, and wondering if it is responsible to post in this condition. But ethics waits for no man…

1. Last chance to see my presentation at the Smithsonian, “Courtroom Drama:The Art of Cross-Examination.” Details here. There will be a lot of ethics discussed, as you would expect, plus some Clarence Darrow, Atticus Finch, F.Lee Bailey, Perry Mason, Cousin Vinny, and “You can’t handle the truth!,” among other highlights. I’m doing the two-hour program with my younger sister Edith, who, unlike me, has actually done cross examinations.

2. Whoa! Tell me again what an honorable, trustworthy woman Hillary Clinton is. Here’s Hillary, actually calling Jill Stein and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the lone moderate in the Democratic Presidential nomination race—well, the lone moderate who doesn’t habitually grope women—“Russian assets” in a podcast:

And brava to Gabbard, who didn’t mince words on Twitter in her response to the smear: Continue reading

Ten Observations On The Latest Democratic Candidate Debate

If you have no life, you can watch the whole debate here. This is the transcript.]

1. I find the debates, all of them, profoundly depressing, much as I found the Republican debates in 2015.  These are not impressive people. A great nation needs great leaders, and it is increasingly clear that whatever great leaders the U.S. may have are not in politics. Is this group clearly less inspiring than Jeb Bush, Huckabee, Chris Cristie, Rubio, Carson (ugh), Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Cruz, and Trump? No. The Republicans had no Demagogue Extraordinaire at Elizabeth Warren’s level, or a babbling, doddering candidate on the uncomfortable cusp of senility like Joe Biden. The Democrats don’t have a bomb-thrower like Trump, either, unless you count Bernie, but Yang and Steyer cover the “outsiders who have no business running for President” niche covered.

The ethics takeaway? The political parties are incompetent at doing their job, which is training, recruiting and vetting competent leadership for our Republic.

2. Given what the recent James O’Keefe hit on CNN revealed, I question whether such a biased network should be allowed to host officially sanctioned debates.  Debate moderator Anderson Cooper, who only evades being designated as a hack because there are so many worse hacks working with him (Cuomo, Lemon), framed a question to Joe Biden this way:

“The impeachment inquiry is centered on President Trump’s attempts to get political dirt from Ukraine on Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter. Mr. Vice President, President Trump has falsely accused your son of doing something wrong while serving on a company board in Ukraine. I want to point out there’s no evidence of wrongdoing by either one of you.”

Hackery.

  • “Political dirt” is not reporting; it is a partisan characterization and misleading. “Dirt” means facts that the American public has a right to know, and in this case, evidence of high-level corruption and influence peddling by the Obama administration, which is absolutely a legitimate area for the White House to seek foreign assistance in exposing.
  • Of course Hunter Biden did “something wrong.” He did something wrong by accepting benefits from an entity seeking special considerations from the U.S. government when his father was a primary figure and power-broker in the administration in power. His position created a conflict of interest and the appearance of impropriety for Hunter’s father.
  • Joe Biden then told Cooperthat he never “discussed a single thing with my son about anything having to do with Ukraine. No one has indicated I have.” Hunter has indicated that he did. Did Cooper challenge Biden on this seeming contradiction? No. Did any of the other candidates? No.

3.  How can someone not be bothered by Biden’s rambling, mostly incoherent answers? (And yes, I was constantly bothered by Trump’s rambling answers last time around.) Continue reading

No, I’m Not Dead, Just Teaching Ethics…

So this is what happens when you try to get 3-4 ethics posts and over 2000 words  up every day!

I come back after 48 hours in which it was functionally impossible to get a competent ethics post up (though it is true that I have managed to do so under similar duress, though not when traveling with my ProEthics partner and wife), and find numerous emails inquiring about my health, and similar speculation in the comments.

I’m fine, just exhausted from 10 hours of driving in that span, along with six and a half hours of very intense and interactive seminar facilitation, and the stress that accompanies not fulfilling my self-imposed obligation to get at least a post up a day. I think that has happened six times in ten years.

Jeez…Ken White used to go weeks without a post on Popehat, and nobody thought HE was dead!

I’ll be in full catch-up mode tomorrow, though I have quite a few paying tasks to work on too. I know I have to look at the Democratic candidate debate, among other pressing issues.

Thanks for the concern, everybody. It makes me feel guilty, but it is  still nice to know I was missed.

Let’s Try To Remember Diahann Carroll, Shall We?

The problem is that when it comes time to honor those who have made a positive contribution to our country and culture, nobody remembers who they are. I confess, it drives me nuts. Today a medical technician revealed that she had no idea what “Ben-Hur” was. No chariot race, no galley slave scene. Well, she’s a drag on the culture. Catch up.

Actress and singer Diahann Carroll, 84, died on October 4, and her death received small and momentary notice. Yet she was another one of the brave, trail-blazing African Americans whose intelligence, charm, talent and willingness to take risks helped move the stubborn needle toward racial conciliation and away from bigotry. Of course, she was remarkable–unusually gorgeous, unusually talented, unusually intelligent. It never seemed like she set out to become a civil rights and cultural icon, but somehow the  position just found her. Most important of all, when she was given the chance to make white people think differently about black people, she did it. She also made it look easy. Continue reading

Ethics Villains Of The Impeachment Coup, Part II

Is it really a coup attempt? Ethics Alarms has been calling the assault on the Trump Presiency that for quite a while. The reflex reaction I get from the Facebook Borg and others  is to deflect the accusation by sneering about “Fox News talking points.” I don’t use talking points. I almost never watch Fox News. A lot of intelligent, knowledgeable people know a coup when they see one; it isn’t hard. I suspect many of the Trump-Hate Brigade that ridicule that diagnosis know it’s a coup too. And they want one.

That means that they have abandoned the idea of American democracy. They may be the most important villains of the attempted impeachment coup.

With a recent essay, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi identified himself as one of the very few progressives with the integrity to call out his side of the ideological spectrum for what it is doing to the nation. He wrote in part:

I’ve lived through a few coups. They’re insane, random, and terrifying, like watching sports, except your political future depends on the score. The kickoff begins when a key official decides to buck the executive. From that moment, government becomes a high-speed head-counting exercise. Who’s got the power plant, the airport, the police in the capital? How many department chiefs are answering their phones? Who’s writing tonight’s newscast?

…We have long been spared this madness in America. Our head-counting ceremony was Election Day. We did it once every four years.

That’s all over, in the Trump era.

On Thursday, news broke that two businessmen said to have “peddled supposedly explosive information about corruption involving Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden” were arrested at Dulles airport on “campaign finance violations.” The two figures are alleged to be bagmen bearing “dirt” on Democrats, solicited by Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman will be asked to give depositions to impeachment investigators. They’re reportedly going to refuse. Their lawyer John Dowd also says they will “refuse to appear before House Committees investigating President Donald Trump.” Fruman and Parnas meanwhile claim they had real derogatory information about Biden and other politicians, but “the U.S. government had shown little interest in receiving it through official channels.”

For Americans not familiar with the language of the Third World, that’s two contrasting denials of political legitimacy.

The men who are the proxies for Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani in this story are asserting that “official channels” have been corrupted. The forces backing impeachment, meanwhile, are telling us those same defendants are obstructing a lawful impeachment inquiry.

This latest incident, set against the impeachment mania and the reportedly “expanding” Russiagate investigation of U.S. Attorney John Durham, accelerates our timeline to chaos. We are speeding toward a situation when someone in one of these camps refuses to obey a major decree, arrest order, or court decision, at which point Americans will get to experience the joys of their political futures being decided by phone calls to generals and police chiefs.

…My discomfort in the last few years, first with Russiagate and now with Ukrainegate and impeachment, stems from the belief that the people pushing hardest for Trump’s early removal are more dangerous than Trump. Many Americans don’t see this because they’re not used to waking up in a country where you’re not sure who the president will be by nightfall. They don’t understand that this predicament is worse than having .a bad president.  

“The people pushing hardest for Trump’s early removal are more dangerous than Trump.” Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 10/15/2019: Farrow, James, Biden, And Another Diploma Bites The Dust…[CORRECTED]

Great.

Now there’s a tidal wave of too many ethics stories and issues to cover…

…and more than ever, I feel that an impeachment information and analysis website is essential, a civic  obligation, and likley to foce me to live out of a cardboard box. I also need to get Mrs. Q’s featured column launched. Naturally, I leave on another ethics seminar road trip today.

If the Red Sox were in the post-season, I’d have to shoot myself…

1. The up-side of the NBA’s cowardly pandering to China and its suppression of basic human rights…we learned what a shallow hypocrite LeBron James is. Of course, many of us knew this when James did his grandstanding champion of social justice act and  extolled Colin Kaepernick’s useless and incoherent protest.  “I stand with anyone who believes in change,” the B-ball superstar said, as if that means something.  It was still enough to attract excessive praise from the sports media. Last week, however, as the Los Angeles Lakers  returned home from a week-long tour of China, James said,

“Yes, we do have freedom of speech.  But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others, when you only think about yourself. I don’t want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke.”

Morey, the Houston Rockets GM who tweeted support for the Hong Kong protesters resisting China’s iron boot, only lacked education on how venal and without principles his league was, including stars like James. Morey was “thinking of others”: he was thinking of the people of Hong Kong desperately trying to hold on to as much liberty as they can. No, he wasn’t thinking about James’s giant paycheck, which is clearly all LeBron cares about.

He can take solace in a victory in the NBA’s “It’s not the worst thing” sweepstakes. San Farncisco Warriors coach Steve Kerr, when asked if he’d ever been confronted about human rights abuses on earlier trips to China, Kerr replied, “No. Nor has (America’s) record of human rights abuses come up either… People in China didn’t ask me about, you know, people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall.”

That’s right, Steve, there is obvious moral equivalency between China’s 30-65 million mass murders and its current oppressive government, and the United States of America. Continue reading

Give Beto Credit For Integrity, At Least. That’s Something.

I wrote about Beto O’Rourke’s grandstanding pledge at the CNN “town hall” that President O’Rourke would punish  religious institutions that opposed  gay marriage  by ending lose their tax-exempt status.“ “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone … that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us, and so as President, we are going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans,” Beto preened. Naturally, CNN’s left-wing, Bill of Rights averse audience cheered.

The devil is in the details, however. I assume Beto knows—or someone told him— that absent a leftist dictatorship, Americans cannot be punished for what they believe. Thus the rock star Presidential candidate had to face reality on the Sunday talk shows over the weekend when he explained what he meant by “denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us.” See, he didn’t mean “denies” literally.

Whew!

“To be clear, you are free to believe anything that you want to in this country. To associate with whom you please, to practice your faith as you best see fit,” O’Rourke told MSNBC. “But you are not allowed to discriminate against people in this country, to violate their civil rights or their human rights. To be specific, the way that you practice your religion or your faith within that mosque or that temple or synagogue or church, that is your business, and not the government’s business. But when you are providing services in the public sphere, say, higher education, or health care, or adoption services, and you discriminate or deny equal treatment under the law based on someone’s skin color or ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation, then we have a problem.” Continue reading