Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/14/19: Tlaib And Kavanaugh.

Good morning,

I hope…

1 Social Q’s ethics. I’m whomping the advice columnist in the Ethics Alarms poll regarding whether complimenting someone on weight loss can be reasonably taken as offensive by the object of praise. Looking at the same column, I have decided that Mr. Gallanes was just having a bad day. Another inquirer complained that he sleeps with her bedroom window open, and is often awakened in the morning when the next door neighbor takes his dog out for a 5 am walk, a ritual, she says, that is always preceded by his “disgusting” coughing. The advice columnist suggested that she ask him to do his disgusting coughing inside. Yeah, THAT will go over well. If you insist on leaving your window open, you have no standing to protest sounds that would not be heard if you kept it closed. Given the choice between waking one’s spouse with the morning hacking that most men of a certain age can identify with, and getting all the morning phlegm up while walking the dog, the latter is the wiser and more ethical choice.

2. Supreme Court ethics and pro-abortion fear-mongering.

a.) Somehow it was reported as news akin to squaring the circle that Justice Kavanaugh joined with the four typically liberal justices in a 5-4 ruling yesterday that left Thomas, Gorsuch, Roberts and Alito licking their wounds. This is non-news. It was a dishonest partisan smear on Kavanaugh to suggest that he would be a mindless puppet in lock-step with conservatives on every issue. Justices consider cases in good faith, and the fact that their judicial philosophies make some decisions predictable doesn’t mean, as non-lawyer, non-judge, political hacks seem to think, that they will not judge a case on its merits rather than which “side” favors a particular result.

b) Kavanaugh did join the conservative justices in a ruling that overturned a 1979 case in which the Court had allowed a citizen of one state to sue another state. This decision, being a reversal of an older case, immediately prompted the publication of fear-mongering op-ed pieces warning that the evil Court conservatives, having re-read and enjoyed “The Handmaiden’s Tale,” were slyly laying the ground for a Roe v. Wade reversal with a case that had nothing whatsoever to do with abortion. Don’t you see? Stare decisus is the SCOTUS tradition that older cases will generally not be overturned by later Courts, lest Constitutional law be seen as unstable and too fluid to rely on. Garbage. Stare decisus has never been an absolute bar to reversing a wrongly decided case, so no new affirmation of that fact is necessary. In addition, the case overturned yesterday was a relatively obscure case that seldom comes into play, exactly the kind of case in which a reversal is minimally disruptive. Roe, on the other hand, has become a foundation of supporting law and social policy. That doesn’t mean it can’t be overturned, but it does mean that the protection of stare decisus is strong. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/13/2019: Oh, All Sorts Of Things…

A rainy good morning from Northern Virginia!

1. Weekend Update: I’d like to point readers to two posts from the weekend, recognizing that many of you don’t visit on Saturday and Sunday. I think they are important.

The first is” I Hereby Repudiate My Undergraduate Degree, As My Alma Mater Has Rendered It A Symbol Of Hypocrisy, Ignorance, And Liberal Fascism” about Harvard’s shocking punishment of a college dean and Harvard law professor for defending Harvey Weinstein. There was more to the story than I knew when I posted about it (thanks, Chip Defaa! ). Ronald Sullivan’s  wife is also being stripped of her position as a dean—Harvard now designates both spouses as “deans” when they lead residence Houses. It’s not exactly  “guilt by association,” since she also only had the job by association, but she still lost her job and cpmpensation. Ronald Sullivan had quit his position as a defense attorney for Weinstein the day before Harvard announced he would not be dean of Winthrop House for the next school year. That’s not very admirable on his part, but I sympathize with his dilemma.

The other is this multi-lateral ethics break-down, which I am upset about now and will continue to be. It demonstrates how far gone rational ethical decision-making is in  some segments of our society, and honestly, I don’t know what to do about it.

2.  Here’s one of the many little ways the “resistance” is undermining the President (and in so doing, our democracy.) The Children’s Hospital Association paid for a full page ad last month in the New York Times, thanking “Congress and the Administration” for passing the Advancing Care  for Exceptional Kids Act (ACE  Kids). This is pandering, partisan, ungrateful cowardice. Laws are passed by Congress and the President, who must sign legislation into law. “The Administration” has no Constitutional role in passing laws. This pusillanimous association was afraid of backlash if it dared to publicly thank Present Trump for making their bill law.

Presidential policies, words and actions that the “resistance” can complain about are over-publicized; accomplishments that they can’t find fault with are ignored or attributed to someone else.

Here’s another example, from this week’s Times book section. In a review of a book about the decision to fight the Iraq war, the reviewer refers to “Trumpian malpractice.” That’s just an unsupported and gratuitous slur, assuming that readers believe that the President’s name is synonymous with incompetence, or trying to embed the idea that it is. Continue reading

DC’s “Ethics Subway Train Wreck,” A Tragedy In Six Acts

…or, “A Streetcar Named Stupid”…

This is a Nation’s Capital, drama my friends…an ugly ethics mess, in

ACT I

Eating on a Metro train is a criminal violation in Washington, D.C., but the transit authority seems to think that enforcing laws is icky, or something, so Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik sent out an order on May 8, telling officers to “cease and desist from issuing criminal citations in the District of Columbia for fare evasion;  eating; drinking; spitting, and playing musical instruments without headphones until further advised.”

Telling officers not to enforce laws is per se incompetent and irresponsible. If you want to repeal the law, fine. An unenforced law, however, is an invitation to chaos. If the directive to ignore it is secret, then the public that sees scofflaws unimpeded assumes that law enforcement isn’t doing its job. If the public knows that the law won’t be enforced as a policy, then it will begin engaging in the conduct the law was made to prevent.

This is idiotic.

ACT II

Local author Natasha Tynes saw a Metro employee eating on a train,  and reported the woman to transit officials by tweeting a photo of the woman, in uniform, eating on the Red Line. She also tweeted that when she confronted the woman for breaking Metro rules, the woman replied, “Worry about yourself.” “When you’re on your morning commute & see @wmata employee in UNIFORM eating on the train,” Tynes tweeted. “I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable.”

She’s right. It’s unacceptable. Telling Metro officials that they should not ticket violators of the law does not mean that Metro employees are free to violate the law. This is a predictable result of Pavlik’s unethical order. Tynes, however, was engaging in responsible citizenship.

ACT III

In response to the tweet, the head of the MTA workers’ union stated that the employee had “done nothing wrong.”

This is ethics ignorance. There is a law against what the worker did, and the fact that violations (stupidly) weren’t being enforced doesn’t alter the wrongness of the conduct one iota. This is Ethics 101. Teach ethics in school!

Morons. Continue reading

I Hereby Repudiate My Undergraduate Degree, As My Alma Mater Has Rendered It A Symbol Of Hypocrisy, Ignorance, And Liberal Fascism

No, I’m not kidding.

I probably should have done this much earlier, as when Harvard announced that it would defend its policy of discriminating against Asian-American college applicants in exactly the same fashion that it discriminated against Jews well into the 1960s. I would also have been justified in tearing up my alumni card when the College announced that it would punish students for belonging to single gender off-campus clubs, a decision that was their choice to make and that concerned the school not at all. An analogous policy would punish students for supporting Republican candidates, which I now realize may be Harvard’s next step.

When that off-campus club policy was announced (students are suing, and GOOD), I rationalized that this was a short-term problem resulting from a regrettable (and soon departing)  college President, feminist Drew Faust, who regarded enforcing progressive agenda items at metaphorical swordpoint as a greater priority than such minor matters as giving students the liberal education they were paying for. Now I see that it was the canary dying in the mineshaft. How I wish I had been giving a lot of money to Harvard (which needs money like Hawaii needs sunshine) so I could now stop.

This is the final straw:

Harvard’s Dean of the College, Rakesh Khurana, has announced that he is firing Winthrop House faculty dean, Ronald Sullivan, because he is defending Harvey Weinstein against his New York prosecution, and the Winthrop House students are upset about it, poor dears. (I wrote about this controversy here.)

Also upset is Dean Khurana, who, shockingly, joined a sit-in in protest of a Harvard lawyer doing exactly what ethical lawyers are supposed to do: give all citizens access to the best legal representation possible. To be clear about how serious this is, by firing Sullivan, Harvard is endorsing and engaging in liberal fascism and directly opposing core democratic values, and even more revolting for an alleged “prestige institution of higher learning”, this is really, really stupid.

Lawyers don’t endorse the acts, beliefs or opinions of the clients they represent. I’ll publish this for the umpteenth time, from the Massachusetts Bars’ ethics rules… Continue reading

Anna Sorokin—Fick, Ethics Corrupter, And The New York Times Thinks She’s A Victim

A New York jury this month found Anna Sarokin guilty of grand larceny in the second and third degrees and other charges that  netted her a sentence of 4-12 years in prison. In previous years before being caught, she posed as “Anna Delvey,”  a fictional German heiress with a trust fund, and parlayed her scam into a luxury life-style  of long stays in boutique hotels, a closet full of  designer clothes, and late-night parting  with Manhattan’s glitterati.

 Sorokin, 28, was really an attractive  Russian immigrant with brass. She ducked bills, conned the trusting, , and once tricked  a bank employee into giving her $100,000 she never intended to pay back. She couldn’t have done any of this for so long or as successfully if she weren’t young and comely, and also a stone-cold sociopath. I’d guess her story will soon be made into  at least a Lifetime cable movie, if not a big budget vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence.

Anna is also a fick, that rare species chronicled on Ethics Alarms that openly revels in unethical wickedness. In two interviews with the New York Times, she made it clear that she’s a shameless predator, telling the paper yesterday after her sentencing,

“The thing is, I’m not sorry. I’d be lying to you and to everyone else and to myself if I said I was sorry for anything. I regret the way I went about certain things.”

She’s still playing her con.  Anna says she always intended to pay back the  hotels, a private jet company and the banks she said,  which she cheated  out of more than $200,000. She just missed  bilking  a hedge fund into giving her a $25 million loan.

Well, yes, if you want to get technical about it,  she had falsified some bank records, but only because she was in America and has big dreams. Don’t all Americans? She wanted to start a $40 million private club, and potential investors pushed her to open it before they  put up their own money. If you think about it, it all was really their fault, not poor Anna’s.

Sorokin said was always fearful that she was vulnerable to men who would “cheer me on” and then seize control of her vision for the club, which she called the Anna Delvey Foundation.  “My motive was never money,” she said. “I was power hungry.”

Oh! Well that’s all right, then!

If her friends thought she had millions of dollars, it was just a misunderstanding. She said she never told anyone she had that kind of money. If they just jumped to conclusions—well, how is that her fault?

At least she has some self-awareness, telling the times, but unapologetically,  “I’m not a good person.”

Yet the Times published a long essay sympathetic to Anna Sorokin, a head-exploding piece (for me, so be careful if you read it) titled in the print version—I warned you—“Women Take The Cosmic Fall For Male Greed.” It is a solid contender for the most unethical feature of the year, with rationalization-stuffed statements like these:

  • “Real justice,” in this instance, is the prospect of more than 15 years in prison for defrauding wealthy acquaintances and financial institutions of $200,000, the sum of which would barely allow you to buy a studio apartment in Queens. “She stole from banks,” one of the prosecutors argued during the trial as if to suggest she had taken oatmeal from the mouth of a baby. “She tried to steal from a hedge fund.”Setting aside the dubious rhetorical gambit of soliciting sympathy for banks and hedge funds, Ms. Sorokin was clearly going to take a fall even if so many other white-collar villains still had their freedom.”

(I confess: after reading that idiotic paragraph a week ago, I stopped and filed the article to return to when my cranium had healed.)

  • “Here is where we might recall that only one financial executive in the country, Kareem Serageldin, was ever sent to prison in conjunction with the collapses of moral judgment that caused the undoing of the global economy in 2008. Accused of concealing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses of mortgage-backed securities, to inflate his bonus at Credit Suisse, he also faced real justice. He was sentenced to 30 months.”

All of which has nothing to do with Sarokin, or gender. Sarageldin made a plea deal, and got one because there was not a clear route to convicting him under existing laws. Sarokin’s crime, in contrast, was as old as the hills, and she embraced it with gusto.

  • Increasingly, it seems, the law has provided an able hand to a culture that takes perverse, outsize pleasure in spectacles of female desperation. Like many young women, Ms. Sorokin had an insatiable desire to be something that she wasn’t: in her case, someone other than the daughter of a Russian HVAC salesman. She had come to New York without the pedigree or capital that buoys you in a city poisonously obsessed with status. New York is a transactional place, and Ms. Sorokin had nothing to trade, so she made herself into a rich, clubby, entrepreneurial German and lied and cheated a system already allocating so many unfair advantages….”

If you are keeping count, just these three paragraphs employ all or whiffs of these rationalizations from the Ethics Alarms list, with more to come:

1. The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it”
2. Ethics Estoppel, or “They’re Just as Bad”
2 A. Sicilian Ethics, or “They had it coming”
6. The Biblical Rationalizations
“Judge not, lest ye not be judged,” and “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
13A The Road To Hell, or “I meant well” (“I didn’t mean any harm!”)
19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.”
22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
23 A. Woody’s Excuse: “The heart wants what the heart wants”
38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!”
48. Ethics Jiu Jitsu, or “Haters Gonna Hate!”
55. The Scooby Doo Deflection, or “I should have gotten away with it!”
63. Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is”
68. The Volunteer’s Dodge, Or “You Don’t Pay Me Enough To Be Ethical!“

The hopelessly muddled ethics of the writer, regular Times columnist Gina Bellafonte, is independently valuable as a throbbing example of how woke sensibilities distort and rot basic concepts of justice and the rule of law. She is, in fact, more of an ethics corrupter than the smug sociopath heading to jail. Bellafonte is telling Times readers that a predator is really a victim, because of her gender.

I wonder how many people believe her?

_________________________________

Source: New York Times

Be Honest Now: Does Anyone Believe The Latest Explanation For Why The Democrats Want The President’s Tax Returns?

I guess it is kind of funny, when you think about it…

On the old Ethics Scoreboard, I had a monthly feature called The David Manning Liar Of The Month Award, “honoring” utterly transparent lies from prominent organizations and people that they obviously didn’t expect anyone to believe. The subpoena issued yesterday by Representative Richard E. Neal (D-Mass) to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Charles P. Rettig, the I.R.S. commissioner would get this month’s award if I was still giving it out.

Quick, now: why do Democrats want the President’s tax returns? Is there any doubt whatsoever? Have they been ambiguous about it in the least? They are convinced, because, as we all know, the Orange Man is BAD, that somewhere in his returns is sufficient evidence of serious wrongdoing—that the IRS never noticed nor flagged, mind you, and that occurred before Donald Trump became President—that they can use to concoct a viable impeachment case, or at least use to embarrass and attack him in the coming election.

For a long time the theory was that the returns would provide decisive evidence that the President was involved in an election-stealing plot with Russia, but since that phony premise was thoroughly exploded, Democrats had to find another excuse. The current theory is that since he refused to reveal the returns during the 2016 campaign, he must have something nefarious to hide. This is the totalitarian’s approach to justice, of course. That the Democratic Party and its supporters so easily resort to it ought to give everyone pause.

So we all know why the Democratic House majority is trying to get the President’s returns. The problem is that Donald Trump has the same right of privacy as every other taxpayer. The fact that he broke with recent tradition by not releasing his returns, if Occam’s Razor means anything to you, is best attributed to the fact that no other Presidential candidate of a major party since income taxes were introduced has been an international businessman, with the extraordinary number of transactions and tax maneuvers such status inevitably requires. Pop Quiz: Did H. Ross Perot, when he was running his third party challenge to Bush and Clinton in 1992, release his tax returns? Continue reading

TGIF Ethics Celebration, 1/10/19: Plenty Of People Who Need Firing or Something Close…

I don’t know why I’m celebrating a weekend: in a home business, there are no weekends…Maybe I’ll just celebrate the flowers that bloom in the Spring!

1. Poll: The firing of Mary Bubala. As you may know, the mayor of Baltimore got caught red-handed in a self-dealing scheme, tried  to take a leave of absence instead of resigning (thus preserving her salary), and finally had to resign anyway. Discussing the events on the air on Baltimore TV channel WJZ, news anchor Bubala asked  Loyola University Maryland Professor Karsonya Wise Whitehead,

“We’ve had three female, African-American mayors in a row.They were all passionate public servants. Two resigned, though. Is this a signal that a different kind of leadership is needed to move Baltimore City forward?”

Bubula is white. The station was bombarded with complaints that her question was racist, and the station quickly fired her, saying in a brief statement,

“Mary Bubala is no longer a WJZ-TV employee. The station apologizes to its viewers for her remarks.”

Well-respected conservative pundit Mark Tapscott called this “newsroom fascism,” writing, “I’ve never met now-former Baltimore TV local news anchor Mary Bubala, but I am outraged as an American and a journalist over her firing for a question that clearly wasn’t remotely related to the fact the city’s two most recent (corrupt) mayors were both Black and women.”

I would have fired her. There are two good reasons. First,  the question sure sounds  like “After three female black mayors who have either been corrupt or unsuccessful, do you think a white man might be worth a try?” to me. What else could it mean? Do you think it might be time to elect a GOOD mayor? Why mention their race and gender at all if it isn’t part of the question? Second, if the question wasn’t racist, she should be fired because she’s too inarticulate to have that job.

Tapscott concludes, “Either this …ends or liberty isn’t long for anybody in this country except those with approved opinions.”

Let me ask you, then…

Continue reading