Hello, Ethics Alarms, Good-bye January…
Between the nauseating impeachment charade and baseball’s cheating scandal (and the largely ethically ignorant commentary regarding it), the bias of the mainsteam media reaching critical mass in episodes like this and the Don Lemon panel’s mean girls mockery of those dumber than dumb Trump supporters, mounting evidence that Democrats are going nuts based on the rise of a superannuated Communism fan in the race for the party’s Presidential nomination, and, of course, my wife doing a face-plant into some asphalt, it was a not a happy 31 days at The House of Ethics.
Amazingly, it has been a very good month for the President, becoming the first POTUS to unequivocally endorse the anti-abortion movement by appearing at the March for Life, cutting a partial deal with China, ridding the world of Qasem Soleimani (and in doing so, prompting his domestic foes, including the news media, to publicly sympathize with a terrorist and a nation that habitually calls for America’s destruction), releasing a Mid-East peace plan that is garnering support everywhere but from Iran, the Palestinians, and, of course, the U.S. media, and seeing economic figures so good even the New York Times has been forced to acknowledge them, all while being called every name in the book and an existential threat to democracy on C-Span by the Democratic House impeachment managers.
1. “Dolemite Is My Name” We finally watched “Dolemite Is My Name,” (on Netflix), Eddie Murphy’s homage to comic Rudy Ray Moore and his 70s Blaxploitation film “Dolemite.” So much for my proud claims of cultural literacy: I never heard of Moore or his film, which is apparently a genre classic. Moore is regarded as the Father of Rap; how did I miss this for so long? Murphy’s movie tells the mostly true story about how a group of complete novices, led by Moore, made an exuberantly idiotic movie (faithful to Moore’s formula for success with black audiences: “Titties, funny, and Kung-Fu”) for $100,000 that grossed 10 million.
The movie is fun as a black version of “Ed Wood” (same screenwriters, I discovered later) and won some awards. For it to be make any 2019 Ten Best lists, however, is blatant race pandering by critics.
2. Life Imitates “Law and Order.” A couple of days ago I watched a 29-year-old episode of “Law and Order” about a man who kicks a large cardboard box in an alley out of frustration and is murdered by the homeless man living inside the box. Later, a controversy arises over the warrantless police search of the abode of a second homeless man involved in the killing, another box in Central Park. Does the Fourth Amendment protect a box on public land from unreasonable searches? Can there be a reasonable expectation of privacy when your home is a cardboard box in a public place?
In New York City right now, there is a current controversy over Joseph Matos, a homeless man who builds his shelter on the East Side every night by placing several cardboard boxes on the ground for cushioning and then linking together a half dozen others. In October 2018, a college student walking by with a friend kicked Matos’s house of cardboard, thinking it was empty. Matos, thinking he was under attack, grabbed a knife and wounded both men. The issue in the upcoming trial: since New York’s “castle doctrine” holds that a person has a right to protect his home with deadly force if he reasonably believes another person is entering without permission and is seeking to commit a crime, was Matos justified? Once again: is a cardboard box on public property a home under the law?
Here is one lesson we can all learn right away: Never kick a large cardboard box in New York City.
3. By dying, Michael Karkoc escaped justice or obsessive revenge, depending on your point of view. Michael Karkoc, whose death at 100 last month was recently revealed, was a retired Minnesota carpenter whose identity as a former commander of a Nazi-led unit that was accused of atrocities in World War II was uncovered in 2013. From then on, he was investigated in Germany and Poland. German prosecutors announced in 2015 that they had shelved their case because Karkoc was 96 and not fit to stand trial, but Polish prosecutors announced in 2017 that they would seek his arrest and extradition. Upon learning of Karkoc’s death, Efraim Zuroff, now the top Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, complained that United States did not move more aggressively to expedite extradition. “They seem to have handled this case with a lack of urgency,” told the New York Times.
More evidence that President Trump is a Nazi, I see.
I really see no reason for a man in his late 90s to be the target of a wholly symbolic and ethically dubious prosecution. The concept of war crime is highly dubious and hypocritical one to begin with. Karkov’s alleged crime was ordering an attack on a Polish village in 1944, killing dozens of women and children, in retaliation for the death of an SS officer. Yet how does a nation that participated in the fire-bombing of Dresden justify prosecuting an old man now for ordering a smaller version of the same act?
4. I have boycotted the impeachment trial in the Senate, but I must admit, I wish that I had seen this. As the Senators were permitted to ask questions yesterday,. Elizabeth Warren submitted a characteristically obnoxious and unethical one.
“The question from Sen. Warren is for the House managers,” Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, began, and read,
“At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the Chief Justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican Senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution?”
This was a deliberate misuse of the question process, having no substantive application to the issues being considered by the trial. It was grandstanding, and misleading the public, which is Warren’s specialty. The statement was also a collection of lies. The GOP majority allowed evidence—the same evidence that the House Democrats felt was sufficient to impeach the President. If it wasn’t sufficient for conviction, which it obviously is not, that is not the Senate trial’s job to correct. No witnesses were called in Clinton’s impeachment trial, and no one suggested that this somehow impugned Chief Justice Rehnquist.
Moreover, the Chief Justice’s constitutional role in an impeachment falls far short of that of a judge in any real trial. Most scholars agree that the Constitution gives the Senate ultimate say over all critical matters at trial including the ability to overrule the presiding officer with a simple majority vote. The Senate makes the rules, not the Chief Justice: it is a legislative branch matter, not a judicial one. Nothing that occurs could fairly”contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution,” but the deliberate misrepresentations of a Machiavellian and integrity-free demagogue might.
I know I’m repeating myself, but boy is Warren awful. Those who genuinely support her for President should hide their heads in brown paper bags.
5. More diversity madness: what do you do with people who think like this? CNN’s Brandon Tensley complained that the Trump adminsitration task force on the Coronavirus wasn’t sufficiently “diverse” based on a photo of the group:
Who are these experts? They’re largely the same sort of white men (and a couple women on the sidelines) who’ve dominated the Trump administration from the very beginning. By contrast, former President Barack Obama’s circle of advisers in the face of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was hardly so monochromatic. Neither was it so abysmal in terms of gender diversity.
Insanity. Who cares? The only basis on which to judge such a taskforce is whether it successfully ensures the safety of the public. If it doesn’t, no one in their right mind will say, “True, millions of Americans died, but wasn’t that a marvelously diverse task force?” If it does, no rational individual should care if everyone on the task force were clones.
Tensley’s complaint is proof of pathologically confused priorities.