Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Hero: Robert F. Smith”

So much has happened since I designated the African-American mogul an Ethics Hero for spontaneously  announcing that he would pay off an entire graduation class’s college debt that I almost forgot  about Leslie’s provocatively contrary Comment of the Day. Triggered by the backlash against Oprah Smith’s generosity provoked, Leslie launched a critical barrage against Smith, or what his gift symbolizes. She backed down a bit in a later comment on the thread, but her original post is thought-provoking.

In addition, Leslie gets special credit for the Mansa Musa reference. I would include the Mali ruler in the cultural literacy list except for the fact that our culture almost completely ignores major Islamic historical figures.

Here is her Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Hero: Robert F. Smith:

Don’t belittle Oprah– she bought everybody KFC. Robert Smith isn’t even feeding anybody. Robert Smith isn’t even teaching anybody how to fish in order to feed themselves for a lifetime.

I’m sure he means well, but I don’t think that paying off somebody’s college loans is helping that person become independent and self-reliant. They’re getting out of the contracts they signed in order to finance their careers. Maybe they’ll remember that and pass the favor on and the world becomes a better place.

Or maybe the college education market will be thrown into MORE disarray with a flood of copycat donations the way it was thrown into disarray by government subsidies and the cost of education will go up AGAIN because students are not responsible for the cost of their education. When Mansa Musa passed through Cairo, he gave away so much gold that the economy collapsed and the next time he passed through, he had to buy it all back to restore the economy. If he wanted to do some good, he should have just helped some poor people. That’s the nice thing about poor people– giving your money to them is fairly harmless. Continue reading

Ethics Heroes MSNBC Hosts Ari Melber And Chris Matthews, And The Post I Didn’t Have to Write [UPDATE]

Oh, this feels so good.

Just as I am always pleased when someone like Bill Clinton, a bona fide Ethics Corrupter, can he justifiably honored here for an Ethical Quote, or when a reliable ethics alarms punching bag like HBO’s  Bill Maher earns ethics kudos as he did when the snide HBO host condemned Facebook’s banning of Alex Jones recently, saying, in words that apply with equal force to YouTube’s recent ban on “Triumph of the Will”:

“If you’re a liberal, you’re supposed to be for free speech. That’s free speech for the speech you hate. That’s what free speech means. We’re losing the thread of the concepts that are important to this country. If you care about the real American s*** or you don’t. And if you do, it goes for every side. I don’t like Alex Jones, but Alex Jones gets to speak. Everybody gets to speak.”

It gives me hope; it reinforces the ethics tenet that very few people are 100% wrong, destructive, or irredeemable.  In today’s case, it is especially welcome because it saves me from having to fill out an ethics violation ticket that I was disgusted that I should have to  issue.

I was nauseated—yes, I think that’s the right word; certainly not “surprised”— to learn that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said of the President, in a conference with her Democratic colleagues, “I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison.” This crosses a line that should not be crossed in a democracy, and frankly, I did not relish having to explain what I believe is an example of res ipsa loquitur.

If you don’t comprehend why attempts to criminalize politics strike at the core of American values and the viability of democratic government, then you should go back to school, frankly.  We’re adults here; I have a Stupidity Rule for commenters. Whenever possible I try to avoid posts that explain why something any citizen of reasonable education and intelligence should immediately know is unethical is, in fact, unethical. Such posts are boring, and that’s really not what this blog is for.

Yet in chronicling the horrible carnage of the Post 2016 Election Ethics Train Wreck, I could hardly ignore Pelosi’s new low, any more than I could ignore Rep. Tlaib’s disgusting  “We’re gonna impeach the motherfucker!” boast.

So, just as I sat down at the keyboard, weary and ill at ease, and my fingers wandered idly over the sticky keys, I discovered that two veteran, hate-flinging, Trump-smearing, journalism ethics-defying MSNBC social justice warriors  had explained to their viewers exactly what I was preparing to write.

Whew! Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/1/2019: Ethics Is Busting Out All Over! Mostly BAD Ethics…

Happy June!

1. Boycott/extortion update! Let’s see if Georgia has as much guts and principle as Alabama, and tells Disney to go fly a kite.

Hugh Culverhouse, Jr., the University of Alabama’s largest donor,  called for a boycott of Alabama , both the University and the state , because of Alabama’s defiant, anti-Roe  abortion ban, recently signed into law. The university’s law school was renamed Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law last September 2018 after the Florida businessman pledged  $26.5 million to the university. In response to Culverhouse’s boycott call, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John recommended to the Board of Trustees that it return the $21.5 million  the law school it has actually received from Culverhouse, and restore the name to “The University of Alabama School of Law.”

Good. That’s exactly how states should respond to attempted extortion by individuals and corporations to control their lawmaking and bend the state to their wills rather than the decisions of voters. The whole story is at TaxProf Blog.

2. Nah! A reverend like, say, Martin Luther King would never engage in the kinds of sordid acts his biographer claims! They are men of God!

Bobby J. Blackburn, the pastor of Elevate Church in Prestonsburg, Kentucky,  was arrested this week and  charged with the prohibited use of an electronic communication system to procure a minor to commit a sex act. Blackburn is also the owner of Giovanni’s, a pizza restaurant in Prestonsburg. A girl who worked there showed a police sergeant images of an iMessage conversation she had with Blackburn in which he asked the minor to engage in a “threesome” with him and another girl, also a minor. He also made other sexually explicit requests.

Rev. Bobby tried to weasel out of his mess by bringing a third young woman to the police station and having her claim that she sent the incriminating messages from his phone. It didn’t work: under questioning, she admitted that she was lying and that Blackburn ordered  her to make the false claim under threat of losing her job.

I hear he’s one heck of a pastor, though! Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Year: U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr

“One of the ironies today is that people are saying it is President Trump who is shredding our institutions. I really see no evidence of that. From my perspective, the idea of ‘resisting’ a Democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him, and really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this president. That’s where the shredding of our norms and institutions is occurring.”

—The Attorney General, on CBS This Morning today.

Exactly. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Robert F. Smith [UPDATED]

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If your reaction upon seeing the headline above was “WHO?” then it is fair to say, is it not, that that the mainstream news media has not sufficiently publicized the news made by Smith of late to permeate your consciousness. After you have read about him, it would be prudent to ponder why this might be.

The reason Smith is an Ethics Hero is this: He was the  Morehouse College  class of 2019 Commencement speaker, and after receiving his honorary degree, announced that he would pay off the entire class’s student debt.

The gift to the all-male, “historically black” college in Atlanta appears to to be worth about $40 million, and will affect nearly 400 students. It is the  largest individual donation to a historically black college or university. [ Not to inject a sour note, but if previously racially exclusive white colleges cannot continue their discriminatory ways by designating themselves “historically white colleges,” then the “historically black college” dodge to encourage and justify racial discrimination in both admissions and institutional marketing ought to be retired permanently. The so-designated colleges now have a collective student body that is about 22% white. ] Continue reading

Family Ethics: Three Kennedys Choose The Public Good Over Family Loyalty. Excellent.

Three members of the fabled Kennedy Clan, that of Joseph P. and Rose, JFK, RFK and Ted, Caroline and the Late John-John, and all the rest, have publicly rebuked their vocal anti-vaxxer family member, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in a statement signed by his siblings Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Joseph P. Kennedy II, as well , Maeve Kennedy McKean, who is the executive director of Georgetown University’s Global Health Initiatives, and calls RFK jr, “Uncle Bob.”

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the former lieutenant governor of Maryland and the former chair of the Global Virus Network. [Full disclosure: she was also a resident in my undergrad House, Lowell House,  while I was in college, and we knew each other a little bit] and Joseph P. Kennedy II, a former member of Congress from Massachusetts, is the chairman and president of Citizens Energy Corporation.

Beginning with an overview of the harm caused by  Americans avoiding vaccines, including the current measles outbreak, the three write in Politico,

These tragic numbers are caused by the growing fear and mistrust of vaccines—amplified by internet doomsayers. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—Joe and Kathleen’s brother and Maeve’s uncle—is part of this campaign to attack the institutions committed to reducing the tragedy of preventable infectious diseases. He has helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.

We love Bobby. He is one of the great champions of the environment. His work to clean up the Hudson River and his tireless advocacy against multinational organizations who have polluted our waterways and endangered families has positively affected the lives of countless Americans. We stand behind him in his ongoing fight to protect our environment. However, on vaccines he is wrong.

And his and others’ work against vaccines is having heartbreaking consequences. The challenge for public health officials right now is that many people are more afraid of the vaccines than the diseases, because they’ve been lucky enough to have never seen the diseases and their devastating impact. But that’s not luck; it’s the result of concerted vaccination efforts over many years. We don’t need measles outbreaks to remind us of the value of vaccination.

It is impossible to overstate what a stunning departure this joint essay (titled “RFK Jr. Is Our Brother and Uncle. He’s Tragically Wrong About Vaccines”) is from the traditions and practices of the Kennedy Family. It, they, all of them, have guarded the Kennedy name and legacy like Cerberus at the gates of Hell. They have intimidated historians, artists, government officials, prosecutors and others from actions and revelations that would expose the ugly (ugly, oh-so ugly) side of  many of the family’s most celebrated members.

I directed the first professional production of a drama about the Cuban Missile Crisis that avoided or debunked the various myths carefully embedded in the official narrative to make President Kennedy the hero of the event, when he most definitely was not.  The play had been blocked by the Kennedys twice. Continue reading

Alan Dershowitz’s Mueller Report “Introduction,” And Yes, He’s An Ethics Hero [UPDATED]

For anyone who actually cares about what the Mueller report means, I highly recommend the Alan Dershowitz “Introduction” to the report, which can be purchased for Kindle for about 7 dollars. I purchased it this morning, and just completed reading it. (The report without the intro is on-line, free, all over the place.) Dershowitz voted for Hillary, is a registered Democrat, was marinated in the Leftist hive that 99% of Harvard has become, and is hardly a “Trump supporter,” which is the now reflex “Shut up!” response to any attempt to break through the “resistance” coup mindset that has become a plague on the web and elsewhere. Dershowitz is pleading anyone who will listen that he deserves plaudits rather than condemnation (one twitter follower calls him a “monster”) for trying to be objective and non-partisan, and  I feel his pain, but his protests are unseemly, and undermine the real ethical service he has performed.

The famous Harvard professor states clearly what the news media and Democrats have intentionally tried to obscure: there was no collusion, no crimes related to collusion, and the investigation report says so unequivocally. The report presents “no evidence of any criminal behavior by President Trump or his campaign with regard to Russia,” he writes. Correct. He also remind us, as few media reports have, that this is a one-sided case. There was no cross-examination of witness or challenges to the conclusions of prosecutors, and the document should be read in that light.

As I expected, Dershowitz make an irrefutable argument that the whole process was tainted by conflicts of interest, since Asst. AG Rod Rosenstein, charged with overseeing the investigation,  was both a key witness and a potential defendant.

On the more confusing matter of obstruction, he clarifies that as well, particularly by knocking down the theory that a  President can be found to have committed a crime by doing something he has clear Constitutional power to do. Dershowitz (and others) have been making this point since the hypocritical uproar over the Comey firing, and he has case law (which you can see from the excerpt above) and legal tradition to back it up. The professor cites the ancient legal principle of Nulla poena sine lege ( “no penalty without a law”, which olds that one cannot be punished for acts not prohibited by law. This is codified in modern democratic states as a basic requirement of the rule of law, and has been described as “one of the most widely held value-judgement in the entire history of human thought.”

Yeah, but we want to impeach Trump!

Continue reading