Comment Of The Day: “Pre-Thanksgiving Day Ethics Wrap-Up, 11/27/2019”

Presidential Thanksgiving Addresses, which used to be a big deal but which have fallen by the wayside. Winston Churchill had a memorable one too, on November 23, 1944:

We have come here tonight to add our celebration to those which are going forward all over the world, wherever allied troops are fighting in bivouacs and dugouts, on battlefields, on the high seas, and the highest air. Always this annual festival has been dear to the hearts of the American people. Always there has been that desire for thanksgiving, and never, I think, has there been more justification, more compulsive need than now.

It is your Day of Thanksgiving, and when we feel the truth of the facts which are before us, that in three or four years the peaceful, peace-loving people of the United States, with all the variety and freedom of their life in such contrast to the iron discipline which has governed many other communities – when we see that in three or four years the United Sates has in sober fact become the greatest military, naval, and air power in the world – that, I say to you in this time of war, is itself a subject for profound thanksgiving.

We are moving forward in this struggle which spreads over all the lands and all the oceans; we are moving forward surely steadily, irresistibly, and perhaps with God’s aid, swiftly towards victorious peace.

There again is a fitting reason for thanksgiving, but I have spoken of American thanksgiving. Tonight here, representatives of vaster audiences and greater forces moving outside this hall, it is British and American thanksgiving that we may celebrate today. And why is that? It is because under the compulsion of mysterious and all-powerful destiny we are together.

We are joined together, shedding our blood side by side, struggling for the same ideals, and joined together until the triumph of the great causes which we serve has been made manifest.

In her Comment of the Day, on Pre-Thanksgiving Day Ethics Wrap-Up, 11/27/2019,” Alizia points us to one of Abe Lincoln’s Thanksgiving speeches:

The Proto-Fascist Lincoln wrote:

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.”

The first assertion I would make is that we now live in outcomes of the Civil conflict of the mid-1800s. Some historian, I forget who, said that the Civil War or War Between the States was the ‘defining event’ that frames everything. When I heard it, I didn’t understand. Now I think I understand better.

There are many aspects to this, of course, but the one that most strongly comes to my mind is this imperious (that is how I see it) declaration made by President Lincoln which is a rhetorical marvel but, in fact, a group of powerful lies. Did the ‘glorious being’ desire that a civil war divide a people? Did the glorious being ‘give thanks’ that 700,000 men were killed as a result of an internal war that fractured the Republic? Was the ‘glorious creator’ standing behind the North in its imperious claim to define a ‘nation’ whose identity it would control? The questions could go on & on & on… Continue reading

Whatever Day This Is Ethics Warm-Up, 11/30/2019: The Bonkers Left Thanksgiving Edition [CORRECTED]

What a week!

Until a minute ago, I had no idea what day this is, as is usual on Thanksgiving week, though it’s possible that fainting during Thanksgiving dinner and landing on my head has something to do with it. [Incidentally, before I get accused of an anti-Left bias (again), if the Right behaved half as bonkers this week as their ideological foes, I would have written about it.] 

1. What does it say about our media that two websites and a TV network feature a guy that writes things like this? What does it say about our society that he has an audience?

We stand on the precipice of losing our American character to the forces of authoritarianism and bigotry. For many people, this holiday season will be the last face-to-face encounter with family members before the most consequential election of our lifetimes. And yet, many people are desperate to pass the potatoes without starting any uncomfortable conversations.

The holidays are when your resistance is needed. Some of you have the opportunity to talk to Trump voters and assorted conservatives this weekend. Some of you will have the opportunity to talk to people who live in an echo chamber of Fox News commentary and Russian troll farms. To waste that opportunity because of your own hang-ups and Mommy or Daddy issues is criminal….You might not like conflict, but if you choose to break bread with Trump supporters and climate change deniers because you happen to be related to them, then conflict is required. Anything less is appeasement, and we’ve had far too much of that these past few years. So stiffen your spine, rehearse your talking points, and get ready to fry some turkeys in your family with your righteousness…

Take a traditional Thanksgiving Day football game. This may seem like safe, nonpolitical ground—so long as everybody agrees to not talk about Colin Kaepernick. But it won’t take long for Trump supporters in your family to say something racist, sexist, or plain nutty while watching the game. They’ll say a white athlete is just a “hard worker” while praising a black athlete’s “natural gifts.” They’ll champion a slur against Native Americans, masquerading as a nickname, on a holiday that commemorates the prelude to a continental genocide. They’ll make fun of the “egghead statisticians,” which will sound like they’re making a comment on football strategy, but actually they’re making an attack on science and math that will later fuel their climate change denier sensibilities. Or maybe they’ll just sit like lumps on the couch while women: prepare dinner, set the table, take care of the kids, clean up after dinner, serve dessert, and fetch them a beer.

In those moments, I think of the children. I think of the behavior that is being modeled for them. I think of the cultural messages they are learning as they’re being exposed to these “traditional” structures….

Who IS this lunatic? Why, it’s Elie Mystal, the race-obsessed, U.S. hating crazy who made “Above the Law” so unbearable to read that I have to go elsewhere for my big law firm gossip. Because he detests whites and the U,S, and of course the President, Ellie is now turning up on MSNBC and, of course, on “The Nation’s” site, where America-bashing thrives.He really, really thinks that white Americans, men and supporters of President Trump (Ellie is a man, but he calls himself Elie, so he has an out) are as he portrays, racist, sexist morons who must be vanquished. An equivalent stereotype for blacks would have them eating watermelon and fried chicken while they listen to the Mills Brothers sing “De Camptown Races.” The man just oozes with hate; almost as much hate as disinformation and progressive propaganda. Continue reading

Observations On The Charleston, W.V., “Christmas War” (And The Way The Mainstream Media Reported It)

There are many lessons, ethical and otherwise, to be learned from Charleston, West Virginia’s short-lived “Winter Parade.” I originally missed the story, which apparently took place over three days in October. Fox News, which has led the “War on Christmas” narratives since the days of Bill O’Reilly, covered it.

Even before Halloween, Charleston’s  new mayor (and its first female occupant of the office) Amy Goodwin sent out a Facebook announcement that “The Charleston Winter Parade will begin at the corner of the Kanawha Boulevard and Capitol Street.” For years, the city has had an old-fashioned “Christmas Parade” (you know, like they show in “A Christmas Story” ?) with Christmas-themed floats, marching bands, fire trucks, Shriners in their tiny cars and Santa Claus. Suddenly it was officially a Druid-sounding “Winter Parade” because Mayor Goodwin wanted to signal that her city embraced all faiths and cultures. “I wanted to show that Charleston is a welcoming and inclusive city,” she said.

A large number of Charleston residents didn’t welcome her unilateral decision at all. “The new mayor needs to be voted out if she does away with the Christmas parade,” read an early comment on ther Facebook post. “Christmas is all about Christ, not some winter parade.” Columnists and radio shows weighed in, almost unanimously condemning her decision. The largely white and  Christian city of 48,000 hadn’t exactly been racked with controversy over the Christmas parade, but now renaming the parade felt to many like a rejection of Christianity and tradition.

The New York Times quoted the president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce in Charleston, Steve Roberts: “The community reaction was a collective groan, It’s a cute little parade with cute little kids and can’t we just have a Christmas parade?”

The change threatened to start a chain reaction. The Times story says that Brandon Willard, a junior high band teacher, began to worry about his musical selection for his student band scheduled to march in the parade: Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.”It’s a secular Christmas tune of long-standing (they always played it at my High School Christmas assembly), but Willard became worried that he would be accused of having the band take side. Maybe parents would pull their children from the parade in protest, maybe even preventing the band from having enough musicians to march. It would be a big disappointment to the students, who march every year in Santa hats and with decorated instruments, and this year, with new  light-up necklaces he had ordered. The parade also counted toward their grade. Continue reading

Post Thanksgiving Ethics Hangover,11/29/2019: The Toilet Bowl, Mr. Peanut, And Other Embarrassments

This is always one of the strangest days of the year.

Especially strange for me: I keeled over right at the start of Thanksgiving dinner for no discernible reason. One minute I was sipping a beer and feeling oddly light-headed, and the next my son was lifting me off the floor. It must have been spectacular, because it scared the hell out of everyone but my son’s girlfriend, who assumed I was staging a gag. (She got to know me fast…) I’m sorry I missed the excitement.

Today I’ve been feeling out of it, but I can’t tell whether the cause is the fainting spell, L-Tryptophan, or something else (it has been a rough week). My wife has been following me around like a bloodhound, expecting me to go down for the count.

I’ll be seeing my doctor first thing Monday. But enough about me:

1. Tit for Tat. Three women,  Jana Solis, Natalie Sept and Nicole Vogel, accused Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, of making unwanted sexual advances toward them years ago, right after he testified as a star witness at the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Sondland appeared before Congress and gave what was  viewed by many as damaging testimony about the President’s dealings with Ukraine and the alleged “quid pro quo.”  The timing of the accusations is suspicious, and the Left has no one to blame but itself as its weaponized “believe all women” nonsense circles around like the deadly torpedo in “The Hunt for the Red October.” This was begun by Anita Hill, escalated by Cristina Blasey Ford, and soon such convenient accusations will have no power whatsoever.

Good.

2.Please remember: Hillary Cinton is (at least) as rotten a human being as Donald Trump, just a different kind of rotten human being. Journalist Ronan Farrow told the Financial Times  that Hillary Clinton cut him off him when she discovered he was investigating sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey  Weinstein. Weinstein donated tens of thousands of dollars to groups supporting Clinton’s candidacy during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Federal Election Committee data.

Though Clinton had appointed Farrow as her special adviser on global youth issues in 2011 when she was Secretary of State and he had worked with Clinton “for years,” she quickly distanced herself from him and cancelled an interview after she learned that he  was looking into Weinstein’s harassment and sexual abuse.

“It’s remarkable how quickly even people with a long relationship with you will turn if you threaten the centers of power or the sources of funding around them,” Farrow said. “Ultimately, there are a lot of people out there who operate in that way. They’re beholden to powerful interests and if you go up against those interests, you become radioactive very quickly.”

It’s not remarkable. What’s remarkable is that so many women still get misty over the fact that this cynical hypocrite who pretended to be a feminist champion while allying herself with people like Bill Clinton and Harvey Weinstein was deservedly defeated in the 2016 election. Continue reading

Yes, It’s Bizarro World—But The Mainstream Media Anti-Trump Bias Is Still Ridiculous

The President’s master-trolling display before Thanksgiving plunged us squarely into Bizarro World Ethics territory. I cannot imagine any previous President of the United States pulling a public stunt even close to as juvenile and silly as tweeting the photo above out to his followers and, inevitably, the world. I can’t imagine another President even considering it. The leader of the free world, the dignified occupant of the White House, the leader and role model of millions just doesn’t do something like that. He just…just..doesn’t, that’s all!

Yet there it was , just before 11:00 am on November 27. And like so many other seemingly vulgar and impetuous acts and statements that President Trump has authored, the deranged foes of the President managed to make it look like a brilliant stratagem. First the Washington Post—surely there must be some perceptive people working there, wouldn’t you think?—sent out this hurrumphing tweet:

Oh, it’s doctored! Good sleuthing, Post! Quick, add this to your recent list of Trump mendacities: he tried to make the public think that he’s built like Rocky under those blue suits, the liar!

And “unclear why”!!! Unclear why? How bone-headedly biased does someone have to be to not understand why Trump would tweet out a photo of himself as “Rocky” (in “Rocky 3”, to be accurate)? Has anyone on the Post staff seen “Rocky,” or is so stuffed with culturally ignorant naifs whose idea of an ancient inspirational movie is the ten-year-old “The Blind Side” that “Rocky” (1976) and its descendants are buried in their “Irrelevant films my grandparents watched” files? Continue reading

It Is With Great Reluctance That Ethics Alarms Concludes That As Generally Repugnant And Vulgar The Term “Asshole” Is, Mayor Pete Buttigieg Is One.

If this was just disgraceful pandering, grandstanding, and shameless virtue-signaling, he would only  have proven himself to be a jerk—a big jerk, to be sure,  but still just a jerk. But it is far more.

The new fad contender for the Democratic Presidential nomination is returning thousands of dollars in donations because they came from two lawyers who had the audacity to represent Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he attempted to defend himself against the contrived  ambush accusation of a sex crime, made in a Congressional hearing  on national television, a ploy designed to destroy his reputation. Buttigieg’s campaign said that it will not accept funds from people who helped secure the justice’s seat on the Supreme Court. You know. Dirty money.

Buttigieg’s campaign had received $7,200 from Alexandra Walsh, and $2,800 from Beth Wilkinson, Walsh’s law partner. Both represented Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation ordeal. As I have vowed to point out every time some ignoramus asserts that lawyesr must be punished for the character, conduct or beliefs of the clients they represent and are responsible or culpable in any way for what those clients have said or done (or NOT done), it is a core and essential principle of our legal system that such an assumption is not only wrong but dangerous. It threatens the right of every citizen to receive competent legal representation and access to our laws and other rights.

Here, once again, is my favorite ethics rule, from the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct:

(b) A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities.

Whether the target is Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Elizabeth Warren, Harvey Weinstein’s defense attorneys (also here), Larry Tribe, Gitmo defense lawyers, or Clarence Darrow, Johnny Cochran, Leslie Abramson and other defense lawyers who defend murderers and worse, the false claim that lawyers who take on unpopular, repulsive or guilty clients have done anything less than protected  the Bill of Rights and the rule of law is either rank ignorance or a deliberate effort to reduce the civic literacy of the public.

Buttigieg isn’t a lawyer, but he is very well educated and has a reasonable claim to brilliance.  Thus he knows and understands what lawyers do, but is acting as if he does not, intentionally making the public stupid (or keeping it conveniently as stupid as it already is ) for his own benefit.

Despicable.

But that’s not all. Continue reading

The Forgotten Ethics Hero: William Ruckelshaus (1932-2019)

I’m supposed to be student of American Presidential history, and even I had virtually forgotten about William Ruckelshaus, who just died. It was Ruckelshaus who, along with Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson,  rejected Ethics Rationalization #15, The Futility Illusion or  “If I don’t do it, somebody else will” when the United States of America needed a hero, and got two.

His moment of courage arrived on an October night in 1973 destined to be known in the annals of American history as  the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Ruckelshaus was then Assistant Attorney General, and President Richard Nixon, was panicked that the ongoing investigation by Special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox was closing in on his blatant obstruction of justice. A White House-triggered burglary of the Democratic National Committee’s offices at the now-famous Foggy Bottom condo complex and hotel in Washington, D.C., seemed about to bring Nixon down, so Nixon resolved to have cripple the investigation by having Cox removed.  Ruckelshaus was the second of three officials the beleaguered POTUS ordered to fire the Harvard law professor. For some reason Nixon thought this might relieve him from having to produce the  nine incriminating Oval Office tape recordings that Cox had subpoenaed.

Ruckelshaus, under Nixon the first head of the new Environmental Protection Agency,  had been named acting head of the FBI in April of 1973, replacing L. Patrick Gray III. He was soon named the top deputy to Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson. When Nixon ordered the mild-mannered Richardson to fire Cox that fateful night, Richardson shocked Nixon by refusing, and resigning immediately. That made Ruckelshaus the Acting Attorney General, and he was suddenly on the hot seat, tasked with carrying out Nixon’s legally and ethically questionable orders.

Cox had been guaranteed complete independence by Nixon and Attorney General Richardson during the prosecutor’s Senate confirmation hearings in May of 1972.  Congress directed that he could be  be removed only for “gross malfeasance” in office, and by October 20, 1973, there had been none. “I thought what the president was doing was fundamentally wrong,” Ruckelshaus said  later. “I was convinced that Cox had only been doing what he had the authority to do; what was really of concern to the President and the White House was that he was too close. He hadn’t engaged in any extraordinary improprieties, quite the contrary.” Continue reading