Category Archives: Government & Politics

Insomnia-Triggered Observations On The Blasey Ford-Kavanaugh Disaster

I don’t know if it is my usual sleeping in a hotel problem, my typical anxiety before an early morning ethics presentation, or the nauseating reality of what Christine Blasey Ford and the Democrats have inflicted on the political system and cultural norms of basic fairness and decency that has me awake writing a post at 5 am. I have my suspicions, though….

  • Judge Kavanaugh spoke to the Senate Judiciary committee via phone yesterday afternoon about the accusation of a three-decades old sexual assault while he was a prep school student. The committee Democrats refused to participate. I can’t reconcile this with a good faith effort to be fair to the nominee. Can you? It seems that the Democrats, having already made it clear that they will not vote for Kavanaugh for partisan reasons, have no compunction about making it clear that the allegation is just a convenient tool to engineer his defeat. They don’t really care about whether it is true or not.  It is simply a means to an end.

Is there any other conclusion?

  • Professor Rosa Brooks of my alma mater Georgetown Law Center (which has been embarrassing me a lot lately) pretty much sums up my position in a series of tweets. She writes:

I oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination, think senators should vote no based on his judicial record, but am uncomfortable with asserting that his behavior as a teen tells us anything about his “character” now. Yes, even if his behavior as a teen included doing exactly what Ford says he did. This is because….I don’t think teen behavior is predictive of adult behavior, and I am also skeptical of the very idea of “character” as we use the term in American politics. And……. there is a ton of solid research on the general idiocy of teenagers, especially teenaged boys, and the neuroscience that explains their general idiocy….as a lawyer I also think there are sound reasons behind statutes of limitations. After 35 years it is nearly impossible to conduct a full or fair investigation….This does not mean I consider sexual assault “excusable” or “minor.” It just means that I think the bad behavior of minors should be treated differently than the behavior of adults, and that adults should not be shadowed forever by misdeeds as children.

Bingo.

Sadly, the prof’s inner progressive asshole could not remain hidden for the duration of her tweet-storm. I emphatically do NOT concur with her final observation in the last set of tweets, in which she confirms that she is a hyper-partisan bigot who just had a brief, uncharacteristic moment of ethical clarity:

Kavanaugh’s accuser nonetheless deserves to be treated with dignity and consideration; belittling her or her motives should be considered unacceptable. If Kavanaugh responds to her accusations in a way that belittles her or other women who come forward with stories of sexual assault, THAT will definitely be relevant now. And to all who say “well yes but the GOP would draw and quarter any Dem nominee with similar accusations against him,” you’re right, but why would Dems want to do the same things the GOP does? But the GOP would not treat allegations of assault by a black teen as forgivingly,” I agree as well. But again, we shouldn’t conform to the bad behavior of others. Again, this is not because I am “defending” Kavanaugh: I’d vote NO, and for all I know he is a complete jerk and a serial sexual assaulter to boot. All I’m saying is: I am uncomfortable having the current allegation be the basis for opposing, given the above.

Why does Ford deserve to be treated with dignity and consideration? She attempted an anonymous smear job that no professional anywhere would consider fair. When it was clear that this wouldn’t accomplish her goal, she accused a man of politically-toxic misconduct with no more evidence than her own misty recalled memories. Apparently she does  not even recall what year the alleged assault occurred. Professor Brooks is just confirming her #MeToo privileges by embracing the sexist theory that women deserve to be treated differently than men. They don’t. Any man who did something like this to a female nominee would deserve to be condemned. What an air tight gotcha! for the increasingly ethics-free left: an irresponsible, unprovable attack on a mans’ reputation and career that he will be disqualified for treating as it deserves to be treated.

I’d like the law professor to explain why she holds Kavanaugh to this exalted standard of tolerance when she says she assume that Republicans would treat allegations of a black teen’s assault as damning. Now she is virtue-signaling to her colleagues, calling Republicans racists, because of course they are. This tweet would disqualify her, in my view, if President Harris or Warren or Winfrey nominated her for the Supreme Court, or any other post. She’s a bigot, her outrageous claim that he might be a “serial sexual assaulter” is contemptible public discourse.

  • Anyone who uses the fact that she took a lie-detector test  and passed it to support her claim reveals their own ignorance and intellectual dishonesty. The devices don’t work. There isn’t even any debate about it. Sociopaths can beat them, and so can the confused and deluded. There’s a reason why they are inadmissible as evidence in court. Several alleged victims of alien abductions have passed lie detector tests too.

Maybe a space alien assaulted Ford. Maybe Kavanaugh is a space alien. This fiasco is bad enough without lie detector nonsense.

  • Diane Feinstein officially qualifies as an Ethics Alarms Ethics Villain for her role in the episode, joining such disgraceful political characters as Chris Christie, and of course, Hillary Clinton. The San Francisco Chronicle laid much of it out neatly, concluding that her conduct

“..was unfair to Kavanaugh, unfair to his accuser and unfair to Feinstein’s colleagues — Democrats and Republicans alike — on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

  • Does anyone recall that DNC Deputy Chair and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison has been accused domestic abuse by former girlfriend Karen Monahan? That accusation isn’t 35 years old and didn’t involve a teenager. It has also been substantiated by others.The Democrats have done nothing about this, except to “investigate it” and allow their mainstream news media allies to bury the story, at least long enough for the current hypocrisy to escape public notice.

Imagine: I heard a female Democratic senator intone yesterday that if Republicans did not delay the vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, it would be “an insult to every woman” in the country. I regard allowing so dubious and unprovable a #MeToo accusation raised in such a blatantly political context to derail the confirmation of a qualified male candidate a threat to every American male alive. Let’s hand every woman the power to ruin any man, because in any “he said/she said” controversy, only the woman has a “right to be believed.”

Democrats are deliberately encouraging a national, cultural gender war.

More than 200 women who attended the same all-girls school as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser have signed an open letter supporting her allegations of sexual assault when they were both high school students.

The letter says the women — who graduated from the private Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Md., between 1967 and 2018 — believe California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford “and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story.”

“Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton,” the letter says.

“Many of us are survivors ourselves.”

If I thought this was typical of the female ability to reason, I’d advocate banning women from positions of authority. The believe Ford because she’s a woman! They believe Ford because someone assaulted them! They are proudly proclaiming prejudice, misandry and bias. Nobody has any factual basis for believing either Ford or Kavanaugh. Here’s my bias: any position that relies on tactics like this letter is inherently suspect.

 

 

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics

“Antogone In Ferguson”: Embedding The Lie

Mike Brown’s father during a discussion after the performance.

“Antigone in Ferguson”  premiered at Normandy High School, Michael Brown’s alma mater, in September of 2016. Now the Harlem Stage is presenting it in New York City, Off-Broadway. A play is a play and art is art; artists are going to enable juvenile, half-baked and even destructive political ideas and themes, and playwrights will turn their perceptions of reality into stagecraft that they often are far more qualified to execute than the task of making sense out of the world. This drama was conceived and directed by the activist playwright Bryan Doerries in response to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri four years ago,  overlays the structure of the ancient Sophocles Greek tragedy with a distorted version of Brown’s death and its aftermath. The goal, says the sympathetic—complicit may be a better word—New York Times, is “to open the door on the thoughts and feelings aroused by the shooting of the 18-year-old Mr. Brown by a white police officer, and by the protests that followed. ”

The play is championed by the Brown family, which means that in part it exists to perpetuate a politically useful lie and the  apparently invulnerable narrative that Brown was the innocent, sweet-natured victim of a racist cop who murdered the teen in the streets of Ferguson, and then got away with his deed because the white justice system is bent on killing young black men.

This quite simply is not what happened. The racialist Obama Justice Department was eager to be able to show that the officer was a killer, but in the end, despite the sympathetic spinning of the news media for months, the evidence did not support that conclusion, and no charges could be brought. Mike Brown, stoned and freshly off roughing up a storekeeper, resisted a lawful arrest, tried to grab a police officer’s gun, and then, when he focused his imposing 300 pound mass on charging the smaller cop who arrested him, got himself shot—stupidly, needlessly. His friend on the scene, however, quickly concocted the “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” exchange that never happened, and as that false version slowly twisted its way from slogan to protest to debunked myth, the facts of Brown’s case were neatly discarded for a narrative that advances the cause of division, anti-police bias, racial hatred, and more. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/17/2018: Serena And Kavanaugh

Not everybody’s morning, but today (and tomorrow) Paul Morella’s stirring Clarence Darrow is MY morning, along with some fortunate and ethical Virginia lawyers…

Hi!

I’m getting ready for an early morning CLE seminar on the ethics lessons from Clarence Darrow’s career, so this is going to be quick and brief.

1 Now that’s a double standard! Ann Althouse flagged an aspect of the statistics on male penalties in tennis we discussed yesterday that I neglected to mention. The men play longer matches, five sets against the women’s three. Thus there is more time on the court to commit rules breaches. She also asks why women play less. That IS a double standard, but I’ve never heard a female player complain about it. She also writes,

Look at the prison population. It’s less than 10% women. Does that mean men are held to a high standard of behavior? I think we’re comfortable with the extreme gender disproportion because we feel awfully sure that men commit many more crimes, especially the kind of crimes that deserve a substantial prison sentence. We like thinking that the prisons are confining individuals who pose a danger to the rest of us, and we think of those people as overwhelmingly male. Maybe we’re wrong, but you can see we’re pretty resistant to the idea that there’s a “double standard” that’s unfair to men.

Ann’s comparison is a bit off, don’t you think? Yes, the prison stats presumably mean that men commit more crimes, but would any female defendant, in the face of such figures, throw a tantrum in court claiming that the system in biased against women?

2. High school. High school. I just listened to several critics of the late-hit accusation by Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, as they expressed problems with the years, decades, that have passed since the alleged incident. Never mind the length of time: it was high school. The participants were minors.

Am I going crazy? First we had multiple baseball players who sportswriter were saying needed to be fined and suspended for politically incorrect tweets they made to their seven followers when they were still shaving only every other day, and now a distinguished judge, nominated to the Supreme Court, who has been cleared by six FBI background checks and assembled an unassailable career in a field, law, which makes character an entry level requirement, and an account of a drunken episode of teenage stupidity is considered relevant by progressives? In Washington state, liberals and especially feminists assembled to demand that a woman’s prior record of illegal drug dealing and gun possession be set aside as a reason to deny her a law license, and she was an adult when she was convicted and served time in prison. Are we really going to accept a new paradigm in which the mistakes we make on the way to adult responsibilities as clueless students and teenagers will be held against us forever, as if growing up doesn’t count?

I’ve been trying to think back to my high school years, my miserable dating experiences, and the dozens of stupid, wrong things I did that today embarrass me every time I’m reminded of them. Should those juvenile episodes continue to shadow my reputation and handicap my career forever? That seems to be what the latest anti-Kavanaugh strategy is arguing for. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Childhood and children, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics

Bret Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck Update: Christine Blasey Ford, AKA “Anita Hill”

Now we know the name of the author of the late, through-the-mists-of-time character assassination attempt on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Good. Realizing that her anonymous sniper attack wouldn’t be sufficient to accomplish the Democrats’ political objective, she identified herself in an interview with the Washington Post. She is Christine Blasey Ford, like Anita Hill a professor who decided to inject an ancient incident into the solemn process—well, it once was, anyway—of confirming a nominee to the Supreme Court.

The fact that the accusation is no longer anonymous changes some aspects of this latest—is it the most unethical? Probably—twist in the Kavanaugh Ethics Train Wreck saga so far. From the second the desperate Sen. Diane Feinstein—desperate to defeat a qualified conservative judge, desperate to bolster her standing with a California progressive base that finds her too moderate—released Ford’s allegation, it could be tagged “unethical” in five ways:

1 The accusation was anonymous, and thus could not be fairly confronted by the accused. UNFAIR.

2. The accusation was over 30 years old, meaning that all aspects of it, including the recollections of the alleged participants, would be inherently untrustworthy. This is why we have statutes of limitations. UNFAIR, and IRRESPONSIBLE.

3. The accusation was, and still is, unsubstantiated by anyone else. UNFAIR, and IRRESPONSIBLE.

4. The accusation was made against a distinguished public servant and family man with no documented blemishes on his record or character as an adult, stemming from an alleged incident that occurred, if it occurred, while he was a minor. UNFAIR

5. No complaint had been made against Kavanaugh by the accuser at any time in the intervening years, until his nomination by President Trump became a political rallying point for the Left. IRRESPONSIBLE.

Now there are only four. One would be too many. The accusation should not have been made, and should not have been made public. This is a simple Golden Rule equation: what innocent human being would want to be the target of an unprovable accusation like this, at a moment when a significant career advancing opportunity was in the balance? We must begin with the assumption that Kavanaugh is indeed innocent, because there is no substantiated evidence that he is not, and because as an adult, which is what matters now, he is innocent.

Do I believe Kavanaugh, who has unequivocally denied that the incident occurred? I have no reason or justification to believe or disbelieve him, and neither does anyone else. However, I would regard the incident as irrelevant to his confirmation even if he agreed that it happened. Would a report of such an incident when he was applying for bar membership be treated as sufficient proof of bad character to cause his application to be rejected? Absolutely not,  not in any jurisdiction in the nation. Would such conduct as a minor cause any adult with an impeccable record since high school to be rejected for any job or post? Are high school indiscretions that do not involve criminal prosecutions ever deemed relevant to adult employment? Never. (Well, hardly ever.) Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/16/2018: “Ozark,” Slandering Irving, And Language Showdown At Taco Bell [UPDATED!]

Good Morning!

1. Call me an old ethics fogey, but I don’t think these kinds of TV series are culturally healthy. I’ve been watching the Netflix series “Ozark,” and hating myself for it. The show is well acted and even has its ethics dilemmas, but like “Breaking Bad,” which was obviously its inspiration, there are no admirable characters, and the “heroes” are criminals. In the Golden Age of TV, there were unwritten (and sometimes written) rules that shows could not rationalize, trivialize or romanticize illegal, immoral or unethical behavior, and needed to reaffirm positive values. In “Ozark,” “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” the latter’s spin-off, as well as “House of Cards,” and “Shameless,” among others, there are virtually no admirable characters at all. I have been watching “Ozark” in part because I like the actors, in part because there’s nothing I want to watch anywhere else except baseball, and, yes, in part because of voyeurism. Still, it makes me want to take a shower, and I fell that the increasing tendency of Hollywood to portray everything and everyone as corrupt makes a “the ends justify the means” rationalization seem like a matter of survival.

2. Post-mortem slander, again. This is a recurring theme here: a famous person is deliberately misrepresented in a dramatic depiction, and legally there is nothing that can be done about it. The First Amendment protects the practice, but it is still wrong, it still leads to public misconceptions, and it still sullies the reputations and legacies of important figures in history who deserve better.

In a recent one-man show Off- Broadway about American song-wrting legend Irving Berlin, writer-performer Hershey Felder portrays Berlin in his dotage as ” a miserable fossil so twisted with rage and zonked on Nembutal that he shooed away carolers who came to his Beekman Place window to serenade him with ‘White Christmas’,”  shrieking “They don’t deserve it,”  meaning the gift of his iconic song. That’s not what happened, however; not even close, according to the Times review of the show:

When he was 95, Berlin not only let those carolers into the house on Beekman Place but also kissed and hugged them and (according to some reports) poured them hot cocoa. “This is the nicest Christmas gift I ever got,” he said.

UPDATE: I relied on the New York Times review for this comment, and not for the first time, trusting the Times to play straight may have been a mistake. Reader Eric Herrault has a very different view, and I am appending his comment here:

In a website however that discusses ethics I think it is important to call attention to the real serious problem here. The quoted “review” in the New York Times of The BERLIN piece, was some kind of personal grudge hatchet job against the performing artist. This brainless reviewer does not describe the show I saw, or in fact the show at all. This is easily provable by seeing the show itself, or having a look at every other New York outlet, major and minor. Nowhere does anyone suggest this twisted and bizarre take on Irving Berlin. The one place it is suggested however, is by the reviewer himself, as he links to and then lauds a review of the book As Thousands Cheer about Berlin, that calls Berlin terrible things and worse. And yet, somehow this neanderthal supports that utter nonsense. The show is full of joy and laughter from beginning to end, with a sad feeling lived too long and the world having passed him by. The ethics violation here is that this disturbed reviewer (for whatever reason) is allowed to write in the first place.

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, language, Popular Culture, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society, Workplace

Saturday Afternoon Ethics Titillation, 9/15/18: Yes, Virginia, It Was A Smear…

A hurricane-free hello!

…at least in Northern Virginia. We had been told by breathless media and local government since early in then week that today and tomorrow would consist of heavy rain and dangerous winds. Naturally, today dawned clear, calm and menacing. The shelves in the supermarkets, however, were picked over as if a nuclear attack were imminent. At what point are urgent warnings no longer prudent but irresponsible and fear-mongering? At what point do they undermine the ability to get the public to take warnings seriously when there is a genuine threat? This area plays Chicken Little so often  and with such speculative provocation that I don’t trust the prognostications at all any more.

And who the heck buys up all the pickles to prepare for flooding?

1. Ethics Dunce: John Kerry. But anyone who didn’t know that by now wouldn’t be convinced by me, so I’ll just include poor, sad, useless and deluded John in a Saturday afternoon potpourri that hardly anyone reads. But what a jerk. We don’t enforce the Logan Act that prohibits private citizens from mucking around in our diplomacy, but under what justification can he argue for his negotiating with Iran? There is literally no good he can accomplish (there was little good he could accomplish when he was authorized to engage in diplomacy), and now his interference does is undermine the elected President and government.

Trump’s tweet…

John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people. He told them to wait out the Trump Administration! Was he registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act? BAD!

…was predictably juvenile and superfluous, but, incredibly, Kerry’s return tweet was worse, and might as well have consisted of “Nyah nyah nyah!”

Mr. President, you should be more worried about Paul Manafort meeting with Robert Mueller than me meeting with Iran’s FM. But if you want to learn something about the nuclear agreement that made the world safer, buy my new book, Every Day Is Extra:

Wow. Begin by passing along the “resistance” myth that there just has to be some smoking gun proving the President rigged the election, follow it up with the batty theory that giving the #1 purveyor of world terrorism billions of dollars to play with “makes the world safer,” and then hint that the real reason he’s openly interfering with U.S. diplomacy is to sell his book.

Yechhh.

2. A plug for a really smart friend who debunked a Democrat smear: Senator Feinstein’s despicable desperation sliming of Brett Kavanaugh, a real “Have you no decency at all?”-worthy moment, prompted a nasty conspiracy theory yesterday.  The fact that the GOP could rapidly release a letter with 65 female acquaintances from the nominee’s high school years certifying that his anonymous accuser has described conduct wildly out of character being cited as proof that the alleged episode was already known by the administration, and thus has some basis in fact.

Virginia Hume, known to some as the politically active daughter of veteran broadcast journalist Britt Hume and known to me as a smart, clever, astute woman who worked for me 30 years ago, authored a piece for the Weekly Standard explaining how the letter came together so quickly. She knows, because she signed it.

She writes in part…

“The letter was conceived and drafted by friends of Brett’s, and it was drafted after allegations came out on Thursday. I learned about the letter from a friend and fellow signatory. Others learned about it the same way. Those surprised at the speed with which it came together should see it as yet another testament to Brett’s excellent reputation”

Elsewhere in the article are examples of Virginia’s characteristic wit. I can vouch without reservation for her honesty and integrity. I would trust her with my life. More than that, I would trust her with my dog. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Social Media

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/14/18: A Newly Christened Ethics Train Wreck!

Good Morn…ARRRGH!!!

1. As predicted…The wounded Ethics Alarms commenter who sued me for defamation is appealing the Massachusetts judge’s ruling granting my motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. His main objective, I assume, is just to waste as much of my time and money as possible. Apparently he either has posted or will post the entire transcript of the hearing and a recording of the proceedings on his website.

2. It’s official! The Bret Kavanaugh confirmation is officially and ethics train wreck. It was already a national embarrassment. Putting it over the top and on the metaphorical rails was the truly nauseating smear attempted by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Cal). Here is her statement:

“I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

This is pure innuendo with no content whatsoever, and thus dirty politics, indeed McCarthyite politics. But wait! There’s more! From the Intercept:

It purportedly describes an incident that was relayed to someone affiliated with Stanford University, who authored the letter and sent it to Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat who represents the area. Different sources provided different accounts of the contents of the letter, and some of the sources said they themselves had heard different versions, but the one consistent theme was that it describes an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school.

I’m sorry if heads are exploding, but I’m especially concerned about those who will try to rationalize what Feinstein, and the Democrats, are doing in their desperation to defeat the nomination of a completely qualified Supreme Court candidate. A second, third or fourth-hand hearsay account from an anonymous source alleging  some kind of possibly sexual misconduct (by 2018 #MeToo rules, I’m sure) was passed along to Feinstein, who announced that she was referring it to the Justice Department, and the alleged conduct of an undefined nature occurred when Kavanaugh was a high school student. Continue reading

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