Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/9/2019: “Big Lie” Week !

Good Morning!

1. “Big Lie” Week coming! Hopefully today, definitely over the next week, I will begin a surprisingly long series of posts, each devoted to one of the Big Lies being used by the “resistance,” as well as the news media and the Democratic Party, to try to destroy the administration of President Trump and, if possible, remove him from office without the inconvenience of an election. I began a single post on the topic with the goal of producing a list, but it became evident that the result would be too long.

I will assemble all of the Big Lies into a single list when all the posts are done.

I should have done this earlier. The Big Lies are being thrown around more thickly than ever, nearly blotting out the sun, as Democratic Party hysteria over the failure of the Mueller Report to confirm the Russian collusion fantasy has spawned a desperate push for impeachment. In yesterday’s Times, for example, there was another screed from one of the paper’s full-time “resistance” columnists, Timothy Egan, this one proclaiming under the headline that “the president is corroding and destabilizing the institutions of democracy.” That’s on my Big Lie list, though I won’t get to it until the fourth or fifth post. I was curious: did Egan have actual evidence of such corroding and destabilizing? He did not. Here are his examples, which I have to assume are the best he could come up with: Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Smorgasbord, 6/8/2019: Yes, Double Standards Are Really Bugging Me Today

Goddagens!

1. I’ve been trying to find away to fit Reps. Ocasio-Cortez. Tlaib and Omar into a parody of Abraham, Martin and John. “AOC, Omar and Tlaib” almost works... An investigation by Minnesota’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board into Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has determined  she violated campaign finance laws dating back to when she served a single term in the State House of Representatives from 2016-2018. The report also reveals that Omar filed joint tax returns in 2014 and 2015 with Ahmed Hirsi, even though she was married to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi from 2009-2017.

Nice.

Let me know if you hear about this from any mainstream media outlet.

2. Individually, there are a lot of wonderful, funny, brilliant and admirable theater people. As a group, however, it is a cowardly, biased, intellectually lazy herd with the political sophistication of third graders.

I wrote on Facebook about the Ethics Alarms post on D.C.’s Studio Theater cancelling a production that reveals the text messages between the “FBI Lovebirds” who dished about how the Deep State would sabotage Donald Trump. The majority of my more than 400 Facebook friends are involved in theater. None of them commented on the issue. The apparent reasons are apathy, hypocrisy, or fear of being labelled a “Trump supporter” because they don’t applaud active censorship of the truth when it is inconvenient to the plots of “the resistance.” I don’t care which it is: the response is disgraceful…and typical.

Hollywood writer Christian Toto contacted 14 theaters across the country to ask their response to Studio’s actions. None of them responded. Among the fourteen were New Neighborhood and Slightly Altered States,  theatrical groups which took part in the  dramatic readings of the Mueller Report (the attending of which is a reliable indication of late stage Trump Derangement–I presume the theaters will follow up with readings of the phone book). Christian Toto writes,

“Imagine if unseen forces threatened violence against that Mueller Report reading, an event framed as critical of President Trump. Does anyone think those same 14 theatre groups would have remained silent?”

Should I ask my Facebook friends? 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

Oh, Great. ANOTHER Fake Stat That Everyone Will Cite As True For A Decade Or More: The $400 Emergency Expense Lie

“Good news, Fake Campus Sexual Assault stats, Fake Gender Pay Gap stats, Fake Gun Violence stats, and the rest of the club! You have anew member!

Senator Kamala Harris cited the stat in April, and if someone doesn’t stop her, it will become part of the pro-socialism “narrative” during the 2020 election campaign.  “In America right now today,” she said, “almost half of Americans are a $400 unexpected expense away from complete upheaval.”  Naturally the statistic appealed to Top Demagogue Senator Elizabeth Warren, who echoed Harris last month: “The gap between incomes and costs is so gaping that 40% of Americans can’t come up with $400 in an emergency.” Then there is  Bernie, or course,  who says: “Four in 10 [Americans are] unable to afford a $400 emergency expense.”

I’m sure the rest of the field will come around to using the stat too; dishonesty loves company, especially when the idea is to frighten the members of public who trust what politicians say. And why shouldn’t they? Warren was a Harvard professor—she must know what she’s talking about! She wouldn’t use a statistic like that without checking it, would she? Nah! Warren and Harris are both lawyers too, and lawyers have enforced ethics rules that say they must not lie. All three—Warren, Harris and Sanders—are U.S. Senators. Surely three distinguished Senators wouldn’t all use a false statistic to deceive us! Would they? Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Paintball Attack”

This is a record for Ethics Alarms; johnburger 2013’s Comment of the Day on the paintball shooting ethics quiz is being honored before it has gotten out of moderation. (Too many links will do that.) It’s also jumping ahead of several other COTD’s on the runway, and the reason is—in addition to the fact that I’ve been feeling lousy recently and catching up requires more time and energy than I’ve had left after trying to keep up with paying work and the daily personal catastrophes—that I find the story of the paintball siege and resulting death raises fascinating and perplexing issues that transcend easy answers in ethics and law.

Some will find jb2013’s (that’s my nickname for him; I hope it’s not presumptuous of me) post provocative. He was reacting to commenter Alizia’s speculation that such episodes are inevitably populated by citizens who are not, shall we say, the sharpest knives in the drawer. It is a topic that Americans are not supposed to talk about of think about: democracy means letting a lot of really, really, dumb, ignorant people having power over your life and influence over your culture and society. As in the short story : “The March of the Morons,” it is the duty of the minority that is not semi-literate, crude, ruled by passions and emotions and lacking the critical thinking and problem solving skills of my Jack Russell Terrier to keep the rest from hurting themselves and lousing up the country beyond repair, but to do so without infringing on their rights and liberty. In today’s dangerously polarized public, both sides regard the other as over-stocked with dolts, and both are, sadly, correct. A majority of Republicans think Barack Obama is a  Muslim. A majority of Democrats think we have just 12 years to address climate change or we are all doomed.  A majority of both believe in ghosts.Most can’t name ten Presidents, or identify half of the Bill of Rights, or tell you the significance of today and tomorrow to world history. No, I don’t think such people are qualified to vote, and the fewer of them who do, the better off we are. Sill, the Founders articulated principles that ensure them the right, and we have to respect that and do the best we can, relying on the “wisdom of crowds,” the phenomenon, unknown to George, James, Ben, Tom and the rest, that seems to make group decisions wiser that the composition of the groups would predict.

Contrary to all the Democratic Presidential candidates, Michelle Obama and others who maintain that America was never great, this has worked out rather well so far.

Watching cable TV is both educational and terrifying—just binge on true crime shows and listen to the interviews with family members and friends of the victims and perps. Observe the cretinous plots and actions of the adulterers, sociopaths, psychopaths,  and petty thieves, thugs, pugs, mugs and Methodists. I literally don’t know people like these, and never have; I’ve never had a relationship of any kind with someone who regularly uses “ain’t no..,”  or who mixes up statue and statute. That’s my bubble: I have to constantly remind myself that my mini-world is the outlier, and my responsibilities lie in the real one.

Here is johnburger2013’s comment on Ethics Quiz: The Paintball Attack:

You raise an interesting point. I live in Houston – where it is frickin’ hot and humid (PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!!!) – and I saw this story on the news. It happened in South Houston. A little bit about South Houston: Stay the hell out of there. At all costs. It is as close to a Hell Hole as one can get without actually being in a Hell Hole. It is an unincorporated area of Harris County, Texas, at the southern edge of the City of Houston. It is politically independent of the City of Houston and is a major petrochemical center in the region, with atmospherics to show for it. It is about 78% Hispanic, where Spanish is the primary language spoken. The median income is $42,615 (as of 2016). It is above the state and national averages in property and violent crimes.* Gang activity is a problem. Just for grins, read through this report from the Texas Department of Public Safety from 2018 to see what gangs operate in here. It’s a fun read. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, June 5, 2019: Ethics Corrupters In The House, The Senate, The White House, The Times….

The next morning was going to be a crucial one, but not exactly “good”…

Good Morning!

1. How to expose a demagogue. Senator Elizabeth Warren is near the bottom of my ethics rankings of the various Democratic Presidential candidates, and not just because of the way she handled her crisis of color. She’s a pure demagogue, and a particularly dangerous one, as she is a stirring speaker and apparently shameless.

It takes clarity of thought and rhetoric to expose demagogues, especially Warren’s breed, which carry the trappings of authority—after all, she’s a Harvard professor, so she must be smart (or so those who did not attend Harvard seem to think.) The President’s favored tactic of name-calling is of limited value for this purpose, but Rep. Dan Crenshaw, the veteran mocked by Saturday Night Live because of his war wounds,  is providing an ongoing seminar on how to expose Warren’s dishonesty.

When Warren tweeted this high-sounding sentiment…

…Rep. Crenshaw  zeroed in on its deception.

Note also the gently mocking imitation of Warren’s flip use of “thing,” so much more rhetorically effective than calling her “Pocahontas.”

Here is how Crenshaw eviscerated another typical bit  of Warren pandering…

Then there was this expert take-down….when Warren grandstanded with this…

Crenshaw pointed out exactly what was wrong with it…

Why, yes, that’s exactly what it is.

2. Censorship and keeping the truth from the public is not ethical, nor is it a legitimate way to address problems in a democracy. Continue reading

Eugene Robinson Provides The Ultimate Impeachment Bias And Ignorance Exhibit. Thanks, Eugene!

The Washington Post’s long-time Pulitzer Prize winning mediocrity, Eugene Robinson, actually enticed me into reading one of his Left-pandering columns with the click-bait title, “If Trump doesn’t warrant impeachment, who does?” I was genuinely curious to see if Robinson had found a real justification for impeaching the President other than some selections out of the Ethics Alarms Get Rid Of Trump Plan list, which now stretched from A to Q. Just so we are all on the same page, here is the current list:

Plan A: Reverse the election by hijacking the Electoral College

Plan B: Pre-emptive impeachment.

Plan C : The Emoluments Clause.

Plan D: “Collusion with Russia”

Plan E : ”Trump is mentally ill so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.”

Plan F: The Maxine Waters Plan, which  is to just impeach the President as soon as Democrats control both Houses, because they can.

Plan G : “The President obstructed justice by firing incompetent subordinates, and that’s impeachable.”

Plan H: “Tweeting stupid stuff is impeachable”

Plan I:  “Let’s relentlessly harass him and insult him and obstruct his efforts to do his job so he snaps and does something really impeachable.”

Plan J : Force Trump’s resignation based on alleged sexual misconduct that predated his candidacy. .

Plan K: Election law violations in pay-offs of old sex-partners

Plan L: The perjury trap: get Trump to testify under oath, then prove something he said was a lie. [

Plan M: Guilt by association. Prove close associates or family members violated laws.

Plan N: Claim that Trump’s comments at his press conference with Putin were “treasonous.”

Plan O:: The Mueller investigation  report is  justification for impeachment even though the investigation found no evidence of crimes or misconduct that could sustain an ethical prosecution.

Plan P: Trump should be impeached because he’s daring the House Democrats to impeach him.

Plan Q:  Impeach Trump to have an unquestionable right to acquire his tax returns, on the assumption that the returns will justify impeachment.

If these seem progressively more desperate to you, there’s a reason: they are, particularly the last three, which emerged after the Mueller investigation failed to accomplish what it was set up to do.

So how do Eugene Robinson’s overwhelming justifications for impeachment stack up? He writes,

Obstruct a Justice Department investigation, perhaps? No, apparently that’s not enough. What about playing footsie with a hostile foreign power? Abusing his office to settle personal grievances? Using instruments of the state, including the justice system, to attack his perceived political opponents? Aligning the nation with murderous foreign dictators while forsaking democracy and human rights? Violating campaign-finance laws with disguised hush-money payments to alleged paramours? Giving aid and comfort to neo-Nazis and white supremacists? Defying requests and subpoenas from congressional committees charged with oversight? Refusing to protect our electoral system from malign foreign interference? Cruelly ripping young children away from their asylum-seeking parents? Lying constantly and shamelessly to the American people, to the point where not a single word he says or writes can be believed? President Trump has done all of this and more.

The last sentence is a tell, of course. It tells us that Robinson is just mouthing the Maxine Waters impeachment argument: Trump should be impeached because everything about Trump drives Democrats, progressives and their allies crazy….in short, “Orange Man Bad!” But let’s examine the reasons Robinson enumerates:

  • Obstruct a Justice Department investigation.

It’s so nice of Eugene to destroy his credibility up front like this.  Reviewing the (weak) evidence that the Mueller investigation suggested might support a charge of obstructing justice, the official responsible for making the determination concluded that there was no obstruction. Even Mueller, in his unethical and Justice policy defying statement, didn’t say the President obstructed an investigation, He said that the investigation didn’t prove he didn’t obstruct it, which is legally meaningless. So we also know Robinson isn’t a lawyer.

  • Playing footsie with a hostile foreign power

This is so stupid it doesn’t deserve rebuttal. So we have moved on from the “collusion” fake crime to the even more ephemeral “playing footsie” standard? Huh. Would Obama’s infamous “more flexibility” comment to Putin caught on camera be considered “footsie”?

  • Abusing his office to settle personal grievances

Another made up offense.

  • Using instruments of the state, including the justice system, to attack his perceived political opponents?

Eugene’s link to support this false assertion is a typical Trump attack Atlantic article that claims such conduct as accusing the Justice Department of behaving unethically (which evidence increasingly shows it did) and appointing an acting Attorney General who was critical of the Mueller investigation somehow meets Robinson’s hyperbolic description.  The article also asserts that Trump wanting Hillary Clinton and James Comey to be prosecuted is an abuse of power.

  • Aligning the nation with murderous foreign dictators while forsaking democracy and human rights.

Oh, for God’s sake. It’s called foreign policy and utilitarian trade-offs, you imbecile. It would be impossible to name a President who did not do this. We can argue about when it is a prudent course,  but what a self-evidently silly statement. Obama reached out to Cuba and opened diplomatic relations without insisting on any human rights reforms at all. Was that impeachable. Eugene?

  • Violating campaign-finance laws with disguised hush-money payments to alleged paramours.

See Plan K. This is a tortured election law violation theory that will not hold water. Worse, it depends on the testimony of the Most Unethical And Unbelievable Lawyer Alive, Michel Cohen.

  • Giving aid and comfort to neo-Nazis and white supremacists?

One of the “resistance’s” Big Lies.

  • Defying requests and subpoenas from congressional committees charged with oversight.

And in the process of abusing that oversight. “Defying a request” is impeachable, eh, Eugene? The President has the same right to challenge the validity of a subpoena as anyone else, as well as a duty to protect his office and the Separation of Powers. Until the issue has been adjudicated, there is nothing improper or illegal with telling Congress to take a hike.

  • Refusing to protect our electoral system from malign foreign interference?

What? WHAT?  The 2016 election was under Obama’s watch. Does Robinson know which President he is talking about?

  • Cruelly ripping young children away from their asylum-seeking parents?

So now it’s just “resistance” talking points, is it? The President cannot be impeached for legal policies executed by executive agencies, particularly policies that were mandatory under the law, even more particularly policy that the previous administration followed as well.  For “asylum-seeking parents” read “illegal immigrants endangering their children to breach U.S. borders.”

  • Lying constantly and shamelessly to the American people, to the point where not a single word he says or writes can be believed.

More talking points and narratives. All of President Trump’s exaggerations, botched facts, misrepresentations and mistakes rolled up into one ugly ball would still not equal the dishonesty and the damage done by Barack Obama’s signature lie to sneak the Affordable Care Act by the gullible public. And no, that wasn’t impeachable, just despicable.

The answer to Robinson’s headline question, “If Trump doesn’t warrant impeachment, who does?” is this:

A President who has actually engaged in conduct the Constitution says is impeachable. As Robinson’s weak and ignorant case shows vividly, President Trump hasn’t.