Ethics Round-Up, 12/18/2019: The Day Before An Invasive Procedure Edition [UPDATED]


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:





18 thoughts on “Ethics Round-Up, 12/18/2019: The Day Before An Invasive Procedure Edition [UPDATED]

  1. 2. But it’s different, don’t you know? TRUMP nominated him. It’s different when they have ties to Trump!

    3. If this information had been known in 1974, I wonder what the impact would have been on public reaction to the Saturday Night Massacre?

  2. #1. The ‘OK’ hand signal has been used by the military since, I’d guess, before Abram took his men to try and recover Lot and his lot when they were captured and abducted as recorded in Genesis 14! Scuba divers and snorkelers use the same symbol. Workers on construction sites and farmers on tractors use it. Everyone on the planet who has need to confirm either ‘I’m OK’ or ‘Yes’ and who isn’t a complete blithering idiot uses it and, I trust, will continue to do so!

    #2. War on Christmas, Naaaah, not much! I can’t remember a Christmas when we haven’t had ‘documentaries’ that purport to show that Jesus never actually existed; a claim you won’t get any History Professor on the planet to support, by the way. Then it will be backed up by a whole bunch of ‘Santa Claus is real’ movies.

    #5. I know Jack hates LOL, So, in the spirit of ever lengthening alphabet soup acronyms, I’ll go with LMAOUMSFOAIDMT. Laughed My Arse Off Until My Sombrero Fell Off And I Dropped My Taco!

  3. Jack,

    You imply an endoscopy. Within the last month, I had BOTH ends ‘scoped (blessedly at the same time: that stuff they make you drink is RIDE!)

    My mother died of Stage 4 colorectal cancer a decade ago. Irony: she was an RN who assisted in such procedures… and neglected to get one in the decade it too for the disease to advance to stage 4, the only stage that is incurable.

    My father died of esophageal cancer this year. This one is aggressive and insidious: most do not notice it until is is too late. (Having difficulty swallowing is a clue)

    Thus I fasted 43 hours, wished I had a seatbelt on the toilet (images of the Space Shuttle at lift off are appropriate) and endured the indignities involved at the surgical center.

    I remember laying on my side, IV inserted, and reading what the lit up buttons on the machine closest to me indicated. Then I remember looking at those same lights and thinking, “Oh, look at the pretty lights!”

    I woke up a couple of hours later, and had no complications whatsoever. My first meal was a Whataburger with chocolate shake. I deserved it, I thought.

    The results a week later were quite boring. Doctor said “See you in 5 years.”

  4. Yeah, Jack, all the best to you.

    I also got both ends in 2014 (I got to start a little early, lucky me), then got my back side scanned again two months back. The prep stuff I had to take wasn’t too bad – two 12-ounce bottles of loosener with two 12-ounce glasses of water for each. It was, without question, far more ethical and humane than the gallon of Go-Lite (I think that’s the name) that my wife had to endure. Slickwilly, you’re spot on, you have no dignity through any of the process.

    The doctor asks me what I’m having done, so I usually come up with something like, “My wife told me I was getting a haircut, so this seems a bit excessive.”

    Hang in there…lots of people will be thinking of / saying a prayer for you.

    • The doctor asked, while they were preparing me, if I had any requests.

      I asked for a note to my wife certifying once and for all that my head was NOT up my ass.

      He gave her the note (from a Rx pad, no less!)

      She immediately asked for a second opinion.

  5. 1: The upside down hand symbol had been a gotcha that allowed the flasher to punch the viewer definitely before Malcom in the Middle made it popular. That’s the most insidious use of the upside down ok symbol on record until 4chan very successfully trolled the left to think it was a racist symbol.

    5. The leftist media was all for the Dynamax decision and the laws that followed until it threatened their livelihood. A lesson to always consider all possibilities before endorsing or condemning something.

    As an aside, good luck with your medical checkups. Hope they don’t find anything concerning.

  6. 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…

    Why do I suspect that the set of people who accuse the cadets of being racist and the set of people who support impeaching President Trump are virtually identical?

    Here is our white supremacist President flashing this white power symbol.×360

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