Category Archives: History

Ten Ethics Observations On The Democratic National Convention

Khan DEM

1. The unrestrained cheer-leading from the news media in contrast to its week-long sneer at the Republican is so shamelessly biased that American journalism risks crippling its ability to use its giant megaphone to sabotage Trump. They might at least pretend to be fair and objective. I get it: I find it horrifying that Trump is running too. The immediate and unrestrained effort to go stop him, however, is so openly unprofessional, and shows how far the news media’s ethics have deteriorated just since 2008.

2. We could see and hear, during the course of the convention, how Donald Trump’s boorishness and propensity for ad hominem attacks and personal insults have degraded both parties and political discourse generally. And to think, in 1988, Ann Richards was criticized for her George H.W. Bush attacks at the Democratic Convention, and her famous jibe that Bush was born with a “silver foot in his mouth.” The Democrats could have taken the high road, and would have benefited, as well as done the culture a favor. Nah.

3. The most unethical aspect of the convention was the party’s tacit embrace of Black Lives Matters, while the BLM protesters outside were directing white journalists  to “stand in the back” while covering its protests, around the country police officers were facing increasing abuse, and in Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby was graphically illustrating BLM’s attack on the rule of law.

Democrats deserve to pay a high price for this, and I am confident that they will.

4. I owe Senator Eugene McCarthy an apology. I was among the many young  supporters of the rebellious anti-war Democrat who felt betrayed when McCarthy refused to address his beaten troops at the 1968 Convention. He stayed in his Chicago hotel room, angry and resentful of how the party had steam-rolled him and his movement. I thought it was cowardly and selfish. Now, after thinking ill of Clean Gene  all these years, I realize he might have been right after all. Being gracious isn’t ethical when you are required to become a symbolic pawn  to the same dark, unethical forces that you have been telling your throngs to resist and battle despite long odds. If you pull a Cruz instead of a Sanders, you look like you are trying to torpedo your own party. Better, perhaps, to do what Gene did. His integrity told him that the best response was to neither to capitulate, nor be petulant, but just to retreat to fight another day.

I’m not sure he was right, but  I’m no longer sure he was wrong.

I’m sorry, Senator. Continue reading

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Is It Fair To Question The Democratic Party’s Values When It Has No American Flags Visible During Its National Convention?

Yes.

Of course yes.

One of these things, is not like the others...

One of these things, is not like the others…

Opening night of the Democratic National Convention—that gathering of the historic institution created by Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson to facilitate democracy by fulfilling the idealistic vision of the Founders, who bravely led the original colonies, represented by thirteen red and white stripes, to rise up against a hereditary monarchy and through courage, sacrifice and enterprise create the most successful and humanist nation ever seen on earth…you know, that Democratic National Convention?—showed no American flags on the stage, no red, white and blue symbolism, and an apparently flagless crowd.

Was the American flag actually banned from the convention? That can’t be…but it certainly looked like it.  The absence of any flags can’t be an accident, or unintentional.

What’s going on here?

Nothing good.

Nothing healthy.

In the eight years since Barack Obama was nominated…by the way, here is the scene of his second nomination, just four years ago…

Obama Accepts Nomination On Final Day Of Democratic National Convention

…the Democratic Party has morphed into an organization that is increasingly dependent on the pleasure and approval of anti-American groups. The supporters of illegal immigration, some of whom advocate returning the Southwest to Mexico; angry black liberation movement activists, who regard the United States as a racist nation and culture; radical internationalists, who believe the United States should not only behave like “other first world nations,” but allow itself to be governed by them; progressives whose view of the United States, nourished by indoctrination in the public schools and colleges dominated by far left faculties, is relentlessly negative; growing numbers of socialists, anti-capitalists, anti-law enforcement activists and fans of soft totalitarianism—-these are increasingly the voting blocs that the professional politicians who  run the Democratic Party feel they must pander to and satisfy. Continue reading

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For The Donald Trump Files: Now THIS Is Signature Significance!

trumpence 60 minutes

I confess that I started to watch the Leslie Stahl “60 Minutes” interview with Donald Trump and his newly-named running mate Mike Pence, but I abandoned ship almost immediately. It was too horrible. Watching Trump (I have a similar reaction to watching Hillary) just makes me depressed, furious, and confused. As John Adams sings at the musical climax of 1776, does  anybody see what I see?

Well, I know millions do, but not nearly enough, soon enough. This Republican National Convention is a part of a national tragedy. The only question is how great the tragedy will be.

Now that I have read the transcript, I realize that I bailed shortly before the smokiest smoking gun of the many in the whole interview. This exchange, more than any other in the segment, compels the question to any Trump supporter: How can you possibly want to hire a guy like this to be your leader?  Perhaps it is more appropriate  to pose a different question, to pose it to the staggering party gathering in Cleveland to nominate this fool: How could you allow this to happen?

I wouldn’t hire someone who speaks and reasons like this to work for me in any capacity, however lowly, requiring trust, judgment or intelligence. It is signature significance as a whole, and in its parts. An intelligent, trustworthy, ethical person could never give such an interview, not in private, not in public, certainly not on national TV.

Here is the jaw-dropping exchange; I’ll mark the important sections A-K for exposition: Continue reading

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Baseball Ethics: Revealed At Last! Extraordinary Cheating By The 1975 California Angels

Dick Williams, cheat...but a successful and creative cheat, you have to admit.

Dick Williams, cheat…but a successful and creative cheat, you have to admit.

Yesterday on the New England Sports Network broadcast of the Red Sox-Yankees game, Sox color man Jerry Remy was discussing how some teams doctor their home fields for tactical advantages. The Yankee Stadium infield grass, for example, is kept long, slowing down ground balls so the infielders have a better chance of getting to them before they scoot into the outfield for hits. The current Yankees team hitting, such as it is, tends to be fly ball oriented. Jerry expounded on how teams that bunted a lot would sometimes have groundskeepers slant the dirt around the foul lines toward fair territory. “In 1975, when I played for the Angels,” he said, “our home baselines were like gutters. A bunted ball almost couldn’t roll foul.” Such customization is considered fair gamesmanship, because the rules don’t specify ground conditions in sufficient detail.

Then Remy revealed an example of  baseball cheating in the extreme. Also n 1975, Remy said, during his rookie year with the California Angels, manager Dick Williams realized that speed on the bases was one of his few assets on a weak roster. (The ’75 Angels would finish  last in the AL West with a 72-89 record) Remy, Tommy Harper, Mickey Rivers and Dave Collins were all accomplished base-stealers, so Williams had groundskeepers move second base six inches closer to first base, thus shortening the distance a base-runner attempting to steal second would have to cover.

“It was that way all year,” Remy said. “Nobody ever noticed.” Continue reading

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Fourth Of July Ethics: The Signers, Snopes, And Fact-Checking

stone.tif

I received  this inspiring bit of Americana from an old friend, a Marine and lawyer with a love of history. It’s a screed of unknown origin that has been circulating the internet since the 20th Century. Maybe you’ve seen it too:

The Price They Paid

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.

Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well-educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKean was so hounded by British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him – poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted properties of Ellery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge, and Middleton.

At Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson,Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his  gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots.  It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.

Remember: freedom is never free! We thank these early patriots, as well as those patriots now fighting to KEEP our freedom!

I hope you will show your support by sending this to as many people as you can, please. It’s time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more MEANING to it than beer, fireworks, HOT DOGS,  and picnics……

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The purpose and primary message of the post is irrefutably true. Those who signed the Declaration did so at great personal risk and sacrifice. Had the new nation failed in its revolution—and really, it is amazing that it didn’t—all of them would have been hanged as traitors. It was an act of principle and courage, and what happened later is entirely moral luck. The signers would have been no less honorable, remarkable and heroic if every single one of them, by various strokes of good fortune, had become wealthy, powerful, prospered in everything they did and died in advanced years, like Franklin, Adams and Jefferson. Unfortunately, most citizens lack the education, acumen and tools to figure this out, so we get stuff that equates random and uncontrollable misfortune with enhanced virtue. Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of This Day, July 2: The Inscription On the Monument To The First Minnesota Regiment At Gettysburg National Battlefield Park

first-minn-fort-snelling

 “On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Sickles’ Third Corps, having advanced from this line to the Emmitsburg Road, eight companies of the First Minnesota Regiment, numbering 262 men were sent to this place to support a battery upon Sickles repulse. As his men were passing here in confused retreat, two Confederate brigades in pursuit were crossing the swale. To gain time to bring up the reserves and save this position, Gen Hancock in person ordered the eight companies to charge the rapidly advancing enemy. The order was instantly repeated by Col Wm Colvill. And the charge as instantly made down the slope at full speed through the concentrated fire of the two brigades breaking with the bayonet the enemy’s front line as it was crossing the small brook in the low ground there the remnant of the eight companies, nearly surrounded by the enemy held its entire force at bay for a considerable time and till it retired on the approach of the reserve the charge successfully accomplished its object. It saved this position and probably the battlefield. The loss of the eight companies in the charge was 215 killed & wounded. More than 83% percent. 47 men were still in line and no man missing. In self sacrificing desperate valor this charge has no parallel in any war. Among the severely wounded were Col Wm Colvill, Lt Col Chas P Adams & Maj Mark W. Downie. Among the killed Capt Joseph Periam, Capt Louis Muller & Lt Waldo Farrar. The next day the regiment participated in repelling Pickett’s charge losing 17 more men killed and wounded.”

On July 2, 1863, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 262 Union soldiers in the First Minnesota Regiment rushed—which apparently specialized in desperate fighting-–to throw themselves into a breach in the Union line at Cemetery against a greatly superior force, knowing that they were almost surely to die. 215 of them did, but the regiment bought crucial minutes that allowed reinforcements to arrive.

It is perhaps one of the most inspiring of the many acts of courage that day, the second day of the battle that changed the course of the Civil War. I first wrote about the sacrifice of the First Minnesota five years ago, here.

Let’s try to remember.

(A recommendation: Sometime between July 1 and the Fourth ever year, we always watch Ted Turner’s excellent film, which also has one of my favorite film scores.  It  helps.)

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Gene Autry Misinformation Update: Believe It Or Not, It Happened Again!

"Wild Bill" Donovan, who should have had nothing whatever to do with my ethics seminar today, but did anyway...

“Wild Bill” Donovan, who should have had nothing whatever to do with my ethics seminar today, but did anyway…

Yesterday I wrote about a lawyer in a legal ethics seminar interrupting me with a revelation about Gene Autry that was completely false.

Today I taught another legal ethics seminar, this time for a government agency. I was discussing was the various government ethics dilemmas in “Bridge of Spies,” the story of how lawyer Jim Donovan helped secure the release of downed U.S. flyer Francis Gary Powers in a famous incident during the Cold War. Many of the issues covered in my presentation were explored in this Ethics Alarms post.

As the film portrays it, Donovan, an insurance lawyer, does such a tenacious job defending an accused Soviet spy from U.S. government prosecution that the CIA recruits him to broker the trade of his now-former client, convicted and in prison, for Powers. In discussing the classic government lawyer dilemma of “who is the client?,”  I noted that the CIA agent who recruited Donovan told him that he would have no client. “Why did the CIA trust Donovan?” I asked socraticly. “Why did Donovan, an insurance lawyer, think he was qualified to engage in this kind of representation, it it was a representation?”

For the second time in nine days, an attendee piped up with an amazing piece of information.

“I suspect some of the answer to both questions is that James Donovan was the son of “Wild Bill” Donovan, who is considered the father of the Central Intelligence Agency,” he said. Continue reading

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