Category Archives: Government & Politics

Plan J From Outer Space, And Related Scary Tales

All right, all right, “Plan J” is not really from outer space.  It’s really from the ever fertile mind of Democrats and the resistance, who are now dedicating their efforts on a new, weird, cultural theory to get rid of Donald Trump, one that has its dark routes in Salem, Massachusetts. Plan J—that’s my name for it, not theirs, as I explained here—isn’t quite as bizarre as the Ed Wood camp classic the headline evokes, “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” (If you’ve never seen it, shame on you: you can become culturally literate here) but it’s a lot scarier.

As it has been recently defined, Plan J holds that if  women, who must be believed, accuses a man of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, no matter how long ago the alleged offense occurred, whether or not it relates to the accused individual’s current psoition,  whether there is any supporting evidence, whether the alleged incident or incidents were a criminal or a civil violation, regardless of how serious they were and regardless of whether the alleged offender denies the allegations or whether the accusations were known to those who placed him or her in their current position, the targeted individuals must be shunned, punished, and forced into virtual exile, if not erased from the culture entirely.

By establishing the new due process-bypassing, proportion-defying and fairness-erasing  social norm, those who have seen their Plans A through I (also enumerated here) either fail miserably or founder have new hope that they may  yet force the President of The United States to resign, thus bypassing those messy and inconvenient things called “elections.”  In order to set this bold new social norm, every celebrity or powerful person who even vaguely fits a Trumpish template regarding accusations of sexual misconduct must be hounded, attacked, derided or shamed.

It’s really remarkable. Of course, Plan J only became feasible as a result of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and the subsequent rush of #MeToo-ers to see who they could take down, rightly or wrongly.

There is a certain perverted brilliance to Plan J. Sexual harassment is a filthy, unethical perk of the powerful that had been allowed to harm too many for too long, and was an accepted feature of too many cultures, like government, business, and show business.  Thus the pent-up fury sparked by the revelations about Weinstein was justified. But as with The Terror that followed the French Revolution, the legitimate anger and determination to reform the culture also created a different kind of power that corrupted the reformers. The ability to destroy with a pointed finger is intoxicating.

In many cases, the results have been beneficial: the identification of corrupt cultures and the unmasking of genuine workplace predators like Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Matt Lauer. In other cases, the fates of the accused have seemed wildly disproportionate to the offenses, although often the reaction of the accused have hastened their demise. The tally of individuals taken down by this frenzy now totals 97 men and one woman—Wait! Make that 98 men: Jerry Richardson, the owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, announced that he was selling his team hours after the NFL announced that it would be investigation sexual misconduct claims against him.  Thus Plan J was born: Hey! Why not President Trump?

If due process and sufficient evidence weren’t required to destroy so many others who once had power and influence, surely Sen Kristin Gillibrand’s insistence that as long as she and enough Trump-hating journalists found his accusers “credible,” the fact that none of the alleged acts were criminal, that they did not occur while he was in office and could not possibly be impeachable, and the fact that he was elected with the public’s full knowledge of the allegations were no longer a bar to an effort to force him to resign.

Plan J!

It

Just

Might

WORK!

There are logical and ethical problems that have to be steamrolled in the process, however, if “the resistance’s” dream is to come true. For the principle that any alleged sexual misconduct that a elected official may have engaged in before being elected to become the rule, a lot of lesser figures have to be sacrificed, along with a lot of tenets of basic fairness. For example: Continue reading

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The Unprepared Judicial Nominee

 

Matthew S.] Petersen, a lawyer serving on the Federal Election Commission, was one of five President Trump judicial nominees to be questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Senator John N. Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, subjected Petersen to questions regarding basic litigation law, such as the Daubert standard, which has to do with qualifying expert witness testimony, the definition of a motion in limine, and several other bits of information a junior litigator would have to have in his memory banks. The potential judge told the Senator that he had never tried a case or argued a motion in court. He said he last read the Federal Rules of evidence in law school. “I understand that the path that many successful district court judges have taken has been a different one than I’ve taken,” Petersen said.

Naturally, being a Trump nominee, Petersen is being widely mocked in the news media and by Democrats. Some legal experts have been more sympathetic, like Judge Wayne R. Andersen, who was a federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois for nearly 20 years. He told reporters  that there was a continuing debate within the legal profession about the qualifications required of a trial judge, saying, “Anyone who steps to the federal bench lacks a huge amount of federal experience necessary to do the job,” and that Senator Kennedy’s questions, while fair, “would eliminate 80 percent of the nation’s lawyers and many of the most talented lawyers.”

Lawyer/Blogger John Hinderaker wrote in part,

The lawyers who have the most thorough understanding of substantive areas of the law–real estate, taxes, corporate governance and so on–are generally not litigators. Do we really want to say that all of these non-litigators–the majority of lawyers–are unfit to be trial judges?…does it mean that one of my non-litigator partners would be disqualified from such an appointment, no matter how good a lawyer he or she might be? I don’t think so.

… Newly-appointed judges attend “judge school,” where they are taught the finer points of the rules of evidence….Most lawyers who are appointed to the bench in both federal and state courts have backgrounds in litigation. No doubt that is appropriate. However, it is by no means rare for non-litigator lawyers to be appointed, or win election, to the bench. In my opinion, that is a good thing. I don’t see why a minority of lawyers–litigators–should have a monopoly on the bench. I don’t know whether Matthew Petersen will make a good judge or not. But in my view, he doesn’t deserve to be ridiculed because his highly-successful law career has been conducted outside of the courtroom.

I agree; he shouldn’t be ridiculed for that. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/17/2017: Sick Of Train Wrecks, Sick Of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside!,” Sick Of Being Lied To. Merry Christmas!

Good Morning, And Merry Christmas!

(and no, my tree isn’t decorated yet. As usual, there were complications…)

1 “You’re one of THEM, aren’t you?” Curse everyone on all sides of the political spectrum who have, by shear repetition, turned the mere act of saying “Merry Christmas!” into a presumptive partisan greeting. A recent study indicates that about 90% of the public celebrates Christmas, not some amorphous holiday, either in its religious or secular form on and around December 25th. There should be nothing malign about the salutation at all, and yes, the polite and pleasant response to “Merry Christmas!” is “The same to you!” or “Merry Christmas!” Yesterday, I received a silent glare and a scowl from a merchant to whom I gave the happy wish, and he was selling Christmas tree stands!

2. Not AGAIN! This is one of those periods during a year when the same ethics issues hang around like a bad odor, and I am faced with the choice of intentionally avoiding them, even though they continue to make news and to be the topic of conversation online and on TV, or to keep covering them no matter how bored I get. In fact, all of 2017 feels that way. Every day now, I have to face a new swerve of the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, and its cultural, ethical, and political implications. (Chris Matthews! Rep. Bobby Scott!). The news media disgraces itself daily in its partisan hatred of the President of the United States. “The resistance” and Democrats (but I repeat myself) continue to unethically push the nation into a constitutional crisis as their remedy for the longest loser’s tantrum in recorded history, and, yang to their yin, President Trump continues to be as unpresidential in his manner, words and actions as I thought he would, but hoped he wouldn’t, feeding the flames of division.

3. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside!”  Here is an article protesting the movement to “ban” (figuratively, not literally), the seasonal duet “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”  for “being insufficiently PC in the sexual assault/harassment realm.” Ethics Alarms called the song “date-rapey” two years ago, so while I don’t exactly want to ban the thing, I am sick of hearing it on Christmas playlists. On Sirius-XM’s “Holly” station, I’d estimate that over 50% of the “Holiday songs” have to do with sex (none have to do with the religious holiday, by design), and I blame “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which on the alternative Christmas channel, “Traditions” —where every song is sung by someone who is dead, with the exception of a few hangers-on like Tony Bennett and Johnny Mathis, either of whom could drop any second—“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is played every hour, sometimes more than once. Pearl Bailey (dead), Steve and Eydie (dead and dead), Sammy Davis Jr, and Carmen MacRae (both dead), Dean Martin (dead). Writes the blogger, Continue reading

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Ethics Note To News Media: Rumors Aren’t News, And It Is Unethical To Report Them

Item (The Hill): Democrat: Rumor is Trump could fire Mueller before Christmas

Item (The Washington Examiner): Democrat cites ‘rumor’ Trump will fire Robert Mueller before Christmas

Item (The Daily Banter): Rep. Jackie Speier: Trump is Waiting for Congress to Leave Washington DC to Fire Robert Mueller

Item (The Inquisitr): Trump To Fire Mueller Before Christmas? Explosive Remark By Congresswoman Could Lead To Trump’s Impeachment

There are many more.

When did mere rumors become newsworthy?  The answer is never. Anyone can start a rumor. The speculated substance of the rumor isn’t news, nor is the fact that there is a rumor worthy of reporting, and the report itself makes the rumor real even if it was not. Starting rumors and reporting them as real is exactly what the Russians are being investigated for. It is what the disgusting right-wing conspiracy-mongers who claimed that Hillary Clinton was running a sex-slave operation out of a D.C. pizza joint did.

The public can’t distinguish between rumors, which are not news, and statements of alleged fact by anonymous sources, because the latter might be news and the reporters aren’t supposed to report them unless they have verified the tip, which they may do or they may not, since so many reporters are hacks. Journalists, however, are supposed to know the difference, which is, in its simplest form, you never report rumors, because they can’t be verified by definition.

Rep. Speier is unethical for spreading a rumor, and the news item, if any, should be “Democratic Congressman Trying To Unsettle the Public By Spreading Rumors.”

This is how low news reporting has descended.

As low as it can go.

(Note: Two of those headlines above are also lies. Can you tell which?)

 

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/16/ 2017: A Kiss, A Blacklist, A Mystery, And President Frog

Good Morning!

It’s tree decorating day!

1 Fact. Last night, TCM was showing “Holiday Affair,” starring Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, and Wendell Corey. After the film, as is his wont, host Ben Mankiewicz returned with some inside trivia. He said, “Janet Leigh was not prepared at this point in her career to be on a set with such pranksters as Mitchum and Corey. At the point in the film where the actress was supposed to be kissed by Mitchum, Leigh wrote in her autobiography, instead of getting the expected movie kiss, she got a genuine Robert Mitchum kiss while the cameras rolled. The script called for her character to react with surprise, and there is no doubt that’s what audiences saw!”

This was exactly what Al Franken’s first accuser alleged he did to her in a skit rehearsal a decade ago. Now, was that “prank kiss” sexual harassment? Since that kind of “prank” by male movie stars was hardly uncommon, Mitchum was a bigger star at that point than Leigh (who was 22), and he was considered a dreamboat, and this was 1949, Leigh was a good sport about it, and presumably wasn’t uncomfortable for the rest of the shoot. Yet if the film was in made in 1999, she could hold a press conference today and accuse Senator Mitchum of sexually harassing her, and there would be evidence on film.

She could do this a) if she had shrugged the off then as an initiation to the World of Bob Mitchum, but newly “woke” realized it was sexual assault; b) if her career was flagging and she needed to get back into “Variety” headlines; c) if she had been seething all these years and waiting for a chance at revenge; d) if Senator Mitchum were a pro life conservative and her liberal daughter Jamie Lee Curtis called her up one day and said, “Mom, you know that story about Robert Mitchum slipping you a tongue during “Holiday Affair”? You can take that right wing SOB down with that!”

And there would be nothing Senator Mitchum could do about it.

Go ahead, Prof. Butler. say “Come ON!” I dare you.

2. On the other hand...Yesterday, director Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Hobbit,” “King Kong”), told reporters how Harvey Weinstein, he now realizes, made good on his threats to exact revenge on young actresses who didn’t “cooperate” with him:

“I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women [Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino] – and as a direct result their names were removed from our casting list…My experience, when Miramax controlled the Lord of the Rings… was of Weinstein and his brother behaving like second-rate Mafia bullies.”

Sorvino tweeted in response, Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/15/ 2017: Wonder Woman, Plan J, and Concussions? What Concussions?

Goood Morning, Wonder Woman!

(You might want to skip item #3…)

1  How the NFL defines good leadership..The news today that the most recent result of  examinations of deceased former football players’ brains shows 99% of them with CTE puts an especially harsh light on the NFL’s new contract with Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was promised hundreds of millions of dollars  to serve in the same role he has botched for another seven years. Well, botched is a relative term, I suppose. True, Goodell has made it clear that his league is the least ethical, most venal, and most brutal sports organization on earth. Over his 11 year tenure so far, he proved that the league only regards its star behemoths beating up women after there is a public outcry, then tosses away due process to levy illegal punishments for show. Goodell first denied that the science showing that his game’s routine and unavoidable concussions were deadly, then had his lawyers negotiate an unconscionable low-ball settlement with the desperate families of former players his modern day gladiatorial combat had crippled (it was declared so by a judge, and thrown out), and now says the league is addressing the problem, which it isn’t. Meanwhile, every game, play by play as fans cheer, more young men are  sent on their way to a premature, drooling death by brain damage.

Goodell’s biggest star, Tom Brady, and most successful coach, Bill Belichick, are smug cheaters. For the last year, fans paying three figures a game for their seats have had to watch their National Anthem marred by various player protests about..something. Ratings and attendance have fallen; polls show that the NFL is the most disliked sport in America, which it should be, since it kills people,  promotes felons and cheaters as heroes, and abuses its fans. But this isn’t considered a botch by the Commissioner, says the New York Times, because “during his tenure as commissioner…Goodell has helped team values skyrocket, and the owners are betting that will continue under his leadership.”

That sentence explains everything, doesn’t it?

2. Welcome to “the resistance” Plan J.  Review: Plan A was to reverse the election by hijacking the Electoral College. Plan B was pre-emptive impeachment. Plan C was the Emoluments Clause. Plan D was “collusion with Russia” (The New York Times, to give credit where it is due, actually created a chart to explain this one, and if it isn’t obvious to you how pathetically weak the case is, you played NFL football…), Plan E is”Trump is disabled because he’s a narcissist and a Republican, so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.”, Plan F, the Maxine Waters plan, is to just impeach the President because she really, really doesn’t like him, Plan G is “The President obstructs justice by firing incompetent subordinates,” Plan H is “tweeting stupid stuff is impeachable,” Plan I is “Let’s relentlessly harass him and insult him and obstruct his efforts to do his job so he snaps (see E) and does something really impeachable.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand unveiled Plan J, since the others are absurd, when she demanded that the President should resign now for unproven allegations of non-crimes, when none of the misconduct occurred during his tenure as Presidency.  This is impressive, because it is just as ridiculous and desperate as the other plans, and I thought they had exhausted the possibilities. At a Congressional hearing examining Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein  Texas Democratic Rep Sheila Jackson Lee insisted that women who accused non-President Trump of sexual harassment can report it to the FBI.  That’s right: now the FBI should be investigating illicit kisses, “groping,’ and my personal favorite, walking into a Miss USA dressing room where the contestants might be in various states of undress.

These aren’t crimes, they aren’t prosecutable, and they aren’t even close to the FBI’s mission and duties. Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz Of The Day: The Two-Way Peanut Butter Treat…Ick Or Ethics?

Described in news reports as a “baffling oversight,” Canada only bans bestiality if it involves penetration. This means that there is a lot of oral sex going on between humans and moose, or something, so while reminding her colleagues that a Canadian sex freak  used this very loophole to escape conviction last year, Calgary MP Michelle Rempel has introduced Bill C-388 to add one line to the Criminal Code defining bestiality as “any contact by a person, for a sexual purpose, with an animal.”

This of course, would mean that doing business with Harvey Weinstein would be illegal in Canada.

Said Rampel in a statement, “I am disturbed that the government has not yet corrected this glaring void in our criminal code….This is a non-partisan issue.”

Ah, but is it a stupid issue? Or an ethics issue?

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this vital question:

Is it unethical to spread peanut butter on your genitals and then encourage your pet Newfoundland to lick it off?

Continue reading

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