Even the satisfaction of knowing that the President reads Ethics Alarms, or at least thinks like I do…wait, that came out wrong. Anyway, today I expect to be uncomfortable, hungry and distracted, so who knows what might appear here today?
You were warned.
1. The Ethics Quote of the Day comes from ex-Marine and TV talk show host Montel Williams (who was very nice to me when I was on his show), on the “scandal” of some cadets flashing the dreaded “OK” sign during the Army-Navy Game:
“Both West Point and Annapolis are investigating, and it strikes me as defamatory that some in the media have branded these young people as racists without a shred of evidence. I understand that a handful of racists (perhaps living in their parents’ basements) attempted to co-opt the ‘OK’ sign as a symbol of white power … but that is not evidence that these kids were motivated by racial animus. We owe these young people, who had the courage to sign up to be part of the 1% who defend this democracy, better than this,”
I would say that we owe them better than even investigating such trivia. A ambiguous gestures are ambiguous, and no student, in a military academy or anywhere else should have to defend or explain them. The students are entitled to the benefit of the doubt. As with the “It’s OK to be White,” flyers, the rational, responsible approach by administrators is to ignore them, rather than to make a scandal out of nothing.
When will we see the first “It’s OK to make the OK sign” flyers? Heck, I may put some up myself…
2. Nah, there’s no progressive “war on Christmas,’ and there’s no mainstream media bias, either. And CNN’s Brian Stelter isn’t the most incompetent and absurd “media critic” since the term was coined! Imagine: Stelter asked on Twitter,
“Justice Neil Gorsuch is on “Fox & Friends” right now. The Q: How is it appropriate for a Supreme Court justice to try to goose sales of his three-month-old book by chatting on one of the most partisan shows on TV?”
More “Q’s”: Would it be appropriate for Gorsuch to chat on another network, like, say, CNN? Would “wtachdog” Stelter bitch about that? What does the level of partisanship of a show have to do with whether a Supreme Court Justice should appear there? Is there any rule or precedent holding that it is unethical for a sitting Justice to promote a book? (I’ll answer that one: no.)
Stelter’s whining wasn’t close to the most contrived objection to Gorsuch’s visit to the Fox and Friends couch, though. This was:
Admittedly, Vanderpool is a minor progressive mouthpiece, but still: “Merry Christmas” is now a talking point and a “Republican narrative”? How do people like Vanderpool get this way?
UPDATE: From the Freebeacon:
CNN legal analyst Asha Rangappa asked on Tuesday why Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch was doing an interview on television, seemingly unaware justices have done television interviews over the years.
“Uhhhhh why is a Supreme Court justice doing a TV interview,” Rangappa wrote on Twitter.
Not only have justices been interviewed before, but Gorsuch sat for an interview with Rangappa’s CNN colleague Ariane de Vogue just three months ago. Also, CNN extensively interviewed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for its heavily promoted movie RBG, a documentary that chronicles her rise to “superstardom.”…Ginsburg appeared on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show in 2015 and did a 2018 interview with CNN anchor Poppy Harlow. Justice Clarence Thomas was interviewed by Fox News host Laura Ingraham in 2017. Justice Stephen Breyer sat down for an interview with Wolf Blitzer back in 2015. In 2013, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was interviewed on CBS’s 60 Minutes.
Justices have also done interviews on programs outside the realm of television news, including late night comedy shows. Justices Sotomayor and Breyer appeared on CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in 2018 and 2015, respectively. Both were promoting their new books. Sotomayor was also interviewed on The Daily Show in September of this year.
3. Whoa! Impeachment nostalgia is bringing out all sorts of things….Geoff Shepard spent five years on President Nixon’s White House staff, including being deputy counsel on his Watergate defense team. In the American Spectator, he reviews the entire impeachment investigation and hearings, but adds some very disturbing revelations, such as…
When meeting with Nixon Project archivists, I discovered that the special prosecutors’ records — all the WSPF files that had survived — also were kept at Archives II. This was like coming across, some 30 years later, the coach’s playbook from the team that had beaten you in the state championships. You knew your team and your own game plan, but now you could see theirs. All you had to do was submit FOIA requests. There was a whole lot of material I was eager to review. I’ve now been at this for 15 years, and what I’ve discovered changes everything I thought I knew about Watergate:
There is documented proof of a series of secret meetings between Chief Judge John Sirica and Watergate prosecutors. I don’t know which is the bigger surprise: that they were secretly meeting to resolve issues in advance of trial or that they were documenting their agreements in memos to their files. The mother lode of these documents, improperly removed in 1974 when Jaworski left office, first came to light in 2013 in response to my FOIA requests….At one point,[Special prosecutor Archibald Cox] became so worried about the sustainability of Judge Sirica’s one-sided rulings in favor of the prosecutors that he feared their conviction verdicts would be overturned on appeal. He secretly approached Chief Appellate Judge David Bazelon to explain how the judicial panels could be stacked to maintain Bazelon’s slim one-vote liberal majority. Sure enough, each of the 12 appeals from Sirica’s criminal trials was heard by the full nine-judge appellate court, sitting en banc — a circumstance unprecedented in any federal appellate court anywhere in the country, before or since.
In case it isn’t obvious, such ex parte meetings with judges by one side of a dispute are spectacularly unethical, and a judge is unethical to allow them.
So much for Cox’s reputation as an ethics icon. This is very discouraging.
4. Hallmark: Ethics Dunce, and just a plain old dunce, too. Why is this basic principle so hard to understand? There is no such thing as a neutral action one you have abandoned the status quo. You can’t go back.
Hallmark apologized over the weekend and reversed its decision to pull four television ads showing brides kissing each other that had run on its channels.
Morons. As one Facebook Friend wrote, “Too late.” Hallmark acted like it was pandering to bigots, which it was. Then, when the backlash surprised them, they looked like they were pandering in the other direction. Some core ethics principles would have prevented this mess, but like almost all corporations, Hallmark has none.
5. And speaking of principles, res ipsa loquitur: