Sunday Ethics Mistletoe,12/19/2021: The Kiss-Off Edition

Lots of ethics stories to kiss-off, so let’s get right to it…

1. Now THAT might dissuade corporate execs from engaging in sexual harassment! Former McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook was fired by the company in 2019 for having an “inappropriate relationship” with a subordinate. As part of his settlement, he has agreed to return $105 million to McDonald’s: the company sued him for lying to investigators at the time of his dismissal. In a message to employees, Enrique Hernandez Jr., the McDonald’s Chairman of the Board, said that it was crucial to hold Easterbrook “accountable for his lies and misconduct, including the way in which he exploited his position as CEO.” It was an allegedly consensual relationship Esaterbrook engaged in with an employee in violation of company policy, but as we all know, I hope, when the boss wants a sexual relationship, it can’t be truly “consensual.” Just as a wild example, imagine, say, a President of the United States having such a relationship with a young intern….

2. More evidence of NFL culture rot…The Jacksonville Jaguars fired their head coach Urban Meyer after just 13 games, because the team was losing and Meyer’s conduct on and off the field had been unacceptable. Among other issues, the team’s former kicker Josh Lambo revealed that Meyer kicked him at an August practice. Meyer won three college national titles as the coach for Florida and Ohio State, but he also had scandals at both schools. Thirty-one of his players were arrested when he was coaching at Florida; at Ohio State, he protected a longtime assistant with a history of domestic abuse.

Why would a team hire someone with that kind of history? Such episodes suggest serious character deficits, after all. But Meyer won titles and that’s all that matters in the NFL. I wonder if he would have been fired if his team had been 11-2 instead of 2-11. No I don’t….

3. We haven’t heard from Inigo for a while, but it’s time…

The word is “democracy.”

Jennifer Rubin, whose Trump Derangement flipped her 180 degrees from a knee-jerk conservative to knee-jerk progressive, predictably flipped out when Sen. Joe Manchin declared today that he could not vote for the Democrat “Build back Better Act,” another trillion+ dollar bill containing all sorts of far left goodies, not least among them amnesty for various illegal immigrants. Manchin also is blocking (along with Sen. Sinema) the elimination of the Senate filibuster. Rubin tweeted, hysterically, “If Manchin is no on both BBB and voting, Biden is done. Democracy is hanging by a thread. Hard to think of anyone more destructive.”

The “Democracy is imperiled if the Democratic Party’s agenda isn’t achieved” lie is fascinating; especially fascinating is the degree to which so many are willing to mouth it when it makes no sense whatsoever. Manchin and Sinema are proof that democracy is still vibrant. Manchin has blocked the federalizing of elections, the elimination of a Senate device designed to prevent the tyranny of a narrow majority, the further irresponsible explosion of the national debt, massive transfers of wealth that the public did not vote for and the debasement of the Rule of Law. All of these are opposed by most of his state’s population, and are being advanced by a party that has shown that it does not respect constitutional limits on government power, and does not regard individual autonomy a priority—and that means he is responsible for jeopardizing democracy! “War is Peace,” “Ignorance is Strength.”

Political historian and pundit Anne Applebaum wrote in “Iron Curtain” (2012) that the Stalinization of Eastern Europe depended less on force then upon the intimidation of people who felt pressured to repeat the party line, no matter how absurd. Actual censors were not always needed, because pervasive peer pressure convinced writers, journalists and everyone else to express identical positions, for they knew that dissenting meant negative social and even career consequences.

When I ask one of these peer-pressured parroting Democrats on social media to justify the “democracy is hanging by a thread” nonsense, they can’t do it. All they can do is repeat the same “democratic norms” Big Lie we have rebutted here so often, and mutter about the January 6 “insurrection.”

4. It’s an excruciatingly slow process, but finally the U.S. is doing the right thing regarding stolen art and artifacts. The Manhattan district attorney’s office seized a 2,500-year-old wine cup and six other items of similar antiquity from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. From Fordham University in the Bronx, it removed about a hundred Greco-Roman artifacts valued at $2 million. Other antiquities were seized from museums in San Antonio and Cleveland, and galleries and homes in New York City and Long Island, 75% of them tied to a single art smuggler, Rome-based Edoardo Almagià. The value of the 200 returned items delivered to the Italian consulate in New York is estimated at $10 million.

“For years, prestigious museums and private collectors across the United States prominently displayed these Italian historical treasures even though their very presence in America constituted evidence of cultural heritage crimes,” the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said in a statement. Good: it’s about time. And this was still but the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

5. Tax-payer funds at work in socialist New York City:

  • Last month NYC cut ties with one its biggest homeless shelter operators, CORE Services Group, after revelations that CORE’s chief executive, Jack A. Brown III, illegally moved millions of dollars from the city to for-profit companies he controlled, while paying himself more than $1 million a year. This is apparently business as usual in the field of services for the homeless…
  • …since last year, the city filed a suit against a nonprofit called Childrens Community Services that operated 28 shelters.  CCS defrauding New York by funneling payments to subcontractors that did not provide the supplies and services they were paid for.
  • Best of all is the tale of Ethel Denise Perry, who ran the nonprofit, Millennium Care, another homeless shelter operation. Last month Perry admitted to using money the city paid Millennium Care to cover over $1 million in her personal credit card bills. Those charges included her gym membership, car payments, and shopping at Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Ferragamo, Neiman Marcus, Manolo Blahnik, Tiffany’s and other luxury retailers. 

She also put her brother and nephew on the payroll of the nonprofit. Altogether, Perry took $2,394,169 from Millennium Care as well as her official salary. Even after the attorney general’s office cited her for failing to file taxes three years in a row, she kept defrauding the city, reporting, in just one example, $31,358 in income for 2015 when Millennium Care actually paid her over $700,000.

How could she pull it off as long as she did? The New York Times reports that “Perry was able to use the nonprofit as her personal piggy bank in part because it had no board of directors, failed to file required financial reports with the state and the I.R.S., and, according to the plea agreement, ‘carried out its business in a persistently illegal manner.’”







Ms. Perry was able to use the nonprofit as her personal piggy bank in part because it had no board of directors, failed to file required financial reports with the state and the I.R.S., and, according to the plea agreement, “carried out its business in a persistently illegal manner.”


11 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Mistletoe,12/19/2021: The Kiss-Off Edition

  1. 3. When honest historians look at the 2016-2024 era, they will find that those who cried about “saving democracy” will have actually done far more damage to democracy and will have shown far more authoritarian/oligarcic/totlalitarian tendencies than Donald Trump ever did. At what point does silence about their efforts – including what Time magazine itself claimed was the “fortification” (read: rigging) of the 2020 election – become complicity?

    4. I have just one question: What authority does the local DA in Manhattan have over a museum in Los Angeles with regards to the relics in question? Or in San Antonio and Cleveland? Even the Bronx and Long Island strike me as stretches…

      • That is a good question Vance is the Manhattan district attorney and not the US Attorney. I wonder how the County of New York has personal and legal jurisdiction over California and Ohio residents (the museums), unless there is some statute or contractual provision conferring jurisdiction on that court, perhaps because the antiquities loans were from New York museums to other museums.


  2. I can’t understand how the Anne Applebaum who wrote Red Famine could fail to understand the lessons of history and produce something so execrable as How Democracies Die (hint: by not voting Democrat).

  3. #3 All this talk about democracy in peril makes a lot more sense when you realize that by “democracy”, they mean single-party rule by the Democratic party.

  4. 5. I see Ms. Perry is a member in apparently good standing of the race that can do no wrong. I think we need a term for BIPOC privilege. In African countries it’s known as “getting over.” Ripping off governments is the national past time in most African countries. It’s a sport most anyone can play. Good to see it’s thriving in the U.S.

  5. On 3…. The only thing you need to say on this topic is one acronym: SALT.

    State And Local Tax deductions are (roughly) deductions on your Federal Returns for State and Municipal taxes. Let’s say that California has a 12% state income tax rate, well… With SALT deductions, you could deduct your state taxes from your income for the purpose of your federal tax return. This means that the Federal Government is in part subsidizing the higher taxes of (mainly) Democrat led metro areas.

    The justification for SALT deductions is non-existent. You shouldn’t have something in the tax code that benefits some states over others in the tax code based on nothing but the vagaries of malleable local law. Some states, like Florida, do not have a state tax, so the citizens of Florida are in essence subsidizing California’s spending through their federal taxes. That’s not good representation, but worse would be if every state brought in a state tax on par with California. It’s got to be a tempting scenario… But it would have system-breaking implications for the Federal Treasury.

    The other thing about SALT deductions is that they are the inverse to a progressive tax system: They disproportionately, but in terms of raw dollars and as a percentage, advantage the wealthy. This is one of those “imagine if trump did this” scenarios….

    Juxtapose for a second, the Trump tax breaks; The numbers just came out, and individuals who earned between 15,000 – $50,000 in 2020 paid between on average between 17 and 26% less than they would have without the tax reform. People in the top 1% of earners, people who earned more than $500,000 saw an average reduction of about 7%. Now… 7% of $500,000 is obviously more than 26% of $50,000 in raw numbers… But this should still be preferable to a system that benefits the wealthy both in terms of raw dollars and percentage.

    But how many progressives are talking about SALT deductions right now? How many are talking about transfers of wealth to billionaires? Who is REALLY out-of-step with rank and file Americans?

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