Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/9/18: The Speech! The Slur! The Secret Laws! The Shameful Dance!

Good Morning!

1 What a shock: A standard, typical, Oval Office speech. The monster! Ann Althouse has nicely covered the expected biased media reaction to President Trump’s speech last night, noting in part…

I’m reading Washington Post columns this morning, drawn or repelled by headlines. I was repelled by “Trump’s nothingburger speech.” That’s Jennifer Rubin, who I guess, was expecting Trump to do something drastic and planning to rage about it, then stuck with normal, and much less to chomp on… “Trump tried to play a normal president on television. The result was very strange.” … also, obviously, aims to make something of normal… It’s Alyssa Rosenberg:

“Given the hype, it was disconcerting to hear a speech that, at least for the opening minutes, could have been delivered by any normal politician….Those very gestures of presidential normalcy revealed how futile it was for anyone to wish that Trump would start talking like that all the time. Trump may have told more blatant falsehoods about immigrants and crime over the course of his speech, but to watch him mouth these platitudes is to witness a more insidious and disorienting kind of lying….Watching Trump’s flat delivery of sentiments that he can’t possibly believe was the inverse of comforting. Instead, the address had the queasy effect of a serial killer’s mask in a horror movie: It was a failed attempt to look normal that concealed something even more terrifying underneath….”

But the WaPo readers probably love this sort of thing…

I’m sure they do. Isn’t that great journalism? “We know he doesn’t believe what he’s saying.” The presumption of dishonesty and racism.

More Althouse:

I’ve now watched the Pelosi/Schumer response. I observed my emotional reaction, and I can tell you for sure that the line that reached me was “The fact is: the women and children at the border are not a security threat, they are a humanitarian challenge – a challenge that President Trump’s own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened” (spoken by Pelosi).

The word with emotional resonance for me was “humanitarian.” So I went back to the text of Trump’s speech, and I see that he used the word in his first sentence:

“My fellow Americans: Tonight, I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.”

And, to skip ahead to the 6th paragraph:

“This is a humanitarian crisis — a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul….”

It is not the job, obligation or responsibility of the United States to solve the humanitarian problems caused by citizens of other nations trying to enter our country illegally while imperiling children in the process. It does have an obligation to make it crystal clear that trying to make the problem ours will be futile.

Pelosi’s argument boils down to “Think of the Children!”

2.  And speaking of rationalizations: This dumb blog attempted to defend US congresswoman Rashida Tlaib uncivil and unprofessional vulgarity (“We’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherfucker!”) by listing celebrities who have used the same insult: rappers, comedians, non-Americans, incorrigible left-wing Hollywood jerks like Spike Lee, and actors like Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson, who in his movies calls everyone and everything a motherfucker, so he really shouldn’t count. this doesn’t even work as an “Everybody Does It” excuse. The issue isn’t the vulgarity, it’s the speaker, a member of Congress, and the ethical standards one accepts when entering that institution. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“If people want to really blow up one figure here or one word there, I would argue that they’re missing the forest for the trees. I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.”

—Socialist Democrat and Progressive rock star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in response to “60 Minutes” interviewer Anderson Cooper’s question about her many gaffes and mistatements.

Bingo. There it is, the smoking gun. Proof that Ocasio-Cortez is so self-involved and eager to talk that she isn’t paying attention, even to her own party’s narratives and talking points. Proof that she is ethically ignorant. Proof that she cannot be trusted. Proof that she is a charming demagogue whose passionate assertions can’t be believed or trusted. Writes the Washington Post’s  Aaron Blake, whose orientation is “Please, please don’t make mistakes like this, because we need you to be successful!”,

“She’s practically saying, ‘Well, maybe I was wrong, but at least my cause is just.’”

She isn’t practically saying that; she is saying that. She’s also saying that the ends justify the means, and if the ends are sufficiently righteous, what’s a little bit of fudging on the facts? This is classic “truthiness,” the term invented by Stephen Colbert to mock conservatives and the Bush Administration in 2005 (he has, oddly, never used the word to tweak Democrats, and won’t use it against Ocasio-Cortez, I guarantee…because, as he has now proven, Colbert has no integrity, and is only interested in advancing an ideology, not in even-handed satire). Continue reading

WOW! New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Scores TWO “Ethics Dunce” Designations In A Single Day!

Yes, it appears that the freshman New York House member bids fair to become the Babe Ruth of Ethics Dunces, blowing away the previous record-holder for Ethics Dunce designations, Bill Clinton, and all other contenders. This is her second Ethics Dunce in a single day, something no other public figure has ever accomplished. Her first is here.

On December 22, the media darling issued  successive tweets, signaling her virtue,

 Next time we have a gov shutdown, Congressional salaries should be furloughed as well. It’s completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision….(Spoiler alert: most members of Congress are already wealthy!) Speaking as a working class member-elect, I think it’s only fair. It would also cause members who actually depend on their salary to think twice about leadership and take a shutdown vote more seriously.
Five N.Y. members of Congress are giving up their salaries until the government re-opens: U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13); U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY-18); U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-NY-11), who will donate any pay during the time; U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-01); and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21). So has U.S. Rep. Dr. Mark Green (R-TN), who sent a letter U.S. House of Representative’s Chief Administrative Officer, Philip Kiko, requesting his salary be suspended until a deal is reached and the partial government shutdown ends, as The Tennessee Star reported. Green voted to fund the border wall.Ocasio-Cortez? She has not refused her paycheck. The New York Post reported on Thursday that Oscasio-Cortez ran away when asked about her salary: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

I anticipate a whole bushel of these awards in the next two years, since the young, callow, naive and broadly ignorant “new face of the Democratic Party” possesses the unfortunate combination of a non-stop mouth,  poor education, certitude of her own brilliance, a seal-clapping rookery of blindly fawning supporters who swoon at any of her doctrinaire pronouncements, and a Mainstream media that hasn’t yet figured out that publishing her every word is doing Ocasio-Cortez no favors.

This example could stand as a template for an Ethics Dunce- mandating performance. Showing that she has the back of her equally cocky and clueless colleague, freshman Congress woman Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, lately infamous for gleefully crowing, “We’re going to impeach the motherfucker!” to a “resistance” crowd after she was sworn in, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted,

“Republican hypocrisy at its finest: saying that Trump admitting to sexual assault on tape is just ‘locker room talk,’ but scandalizing themselves into faux-outrage when my sis says a curse word in a bar. GOP lost entitlement to policing women’s behavior a long time ago. Next.”

This is both unethical and cretinous. Let us count the ways: Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/5/19: Bait And Switch, Inconvenient Honesty, Fake News

Oh, good morning, I guess…

1. Once again: this should be illegal, because it is unconscionable. Recently re-elected Rep. Don Marean, a multiple term Maine state legislator from York County, announced that he was leaving the Republican Party to become an Independent.  In a Friday text message last week, he said that “out of respect” for House Republicans  he would not  comment on the resaon for his decision and would let it “speak for itself.”

It does speak for itself; it tells us that Marean is an unscrupulous, liar who gained election to office fraudulently. Elected officials who betray voters this way have an ethical obligation to resign from office and run again under the party affiliation they will stick to.

2. Keep it up! Please! The freshman Democratic House members, in a single day, managed to strip away the mask of the Democratic Party and expose more of the ugliness beneath than the party veterans deemed wise. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) refused to be sworn in with her hand on the traditional Bible,  and insisted that a law book be used for the purpose instead. She is a member of the party that has been questioning whether Catholics are fit to be federal judges, and the message that one party is openly hostile to religion is becoming clearer and clearer. The Bible is a moral/ethical document, and accepting it for the purpose of a binding oath should not be a problem for anyone unless they are trying to make a point. Using a law book is no more appropriate or meaningful than using a Harry Potter novel: oaths are declarations of duty, honesty and integrity, not law. Continue reading

Mourning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/5/2018: Fredo, Tom Arnold, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Hirono, Fredo, Joe Biden, And Camille Paglia—Who Doesn’t Belong In This Group?

Good Afternoon…

1 A Big Lie is born!  The fact that Tom Arnold married Rosanne Barr tells me all I need to know about his intelligence and judgment, though it did get him a single good movie role in “True Lies,” which I never could completely enjoy because the her husband’s abuse of Jamie Lee Curtis’s character seemed so cruel and offensive, but was still played for laughs. That movie is decades old, but Arnold is still holing on to shred of celebrity by being a full-time President Trump troll,  thus getting him the love and fealty of thousands of like-minded Twitter users. 250,000 of them.

Last week, he tweeted that “80% of gun owners shoot themselves or members of their own families.” His tweet was shared all over social media, and not entirely by those who used it to demonstrate beyond the shadow of a doubt that Arnold is a moron. Thus it will believed by many Americans, quoted by the anti-gun addled, and generally make Americans even dumber on this topic than they already are.

2. When will they ever learn?  Or un-learn? The University of Montana is now featured as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE) “Speech Code of the Month.” It earned the honor by declaring in its Student Code of Conduct’s ‘Statement of Responsibility’  that all members of the campus community “have the personal responsibility to promote an atmosphere of civility,” and that discussions “should never become mean, nasty or vindictive.”

Of course, since the administrators of a committed left-biased institution will decide what is “mean” or “uncivil,” both subjective standards, you can guess whose speech will be chilled by this.

When did freedom of expression stop being a liberal value? Presumably it began when progressives stopped being able to defend their most extreme conduct, positions  and beliefs…

Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up. 11/3/2018: Cohen Does What He Does, Ocasio-Cortez Mongers Hate, And Hoggett Goes Rogue

I’ll give you a morning golden and true…

1 .Regarding Michael Cohen. The news media, Trump-haters and “the resistance’ are all giddy over Michael Cohen claiming that President Trump made racist comments in his presence. Lawyers who say such things about clients get disbarred. They get disbarred because it is proof that they lack the honesty, trustworthiness and integrity to be trusted professionals.There is no reason whatsoever to trust Michael Cohen, so relying on his account of anything is just an exercise in confirmation bias. He is not a reliable source, and what he says at this point should be taken for what it is: the latest effort by a desperate crook to somehow survive the consequences of his own low-life ways.

2. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez easily makes my list of the dozen most unethical candidates seeking election next week; I hope to get that up soon. Here is the fundraising email the New York socialist sent out:

“Six days from now, we can defeat the brutal white supremacist forces of anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant nativism, and racism.We can hold accountable the cold-hearted monsters who have repeatedly attacked our health care. We can send a message to the bigots and billionaires that this country belongs to all of us. We can win if we show up on November 6. We must end Republican control of Congress and begin to reclaim our nation. A Democratic majority will not bring back the eleven Jewish people in Pittsburgh, massacred while they prayed. Or the two Black people gunned down days before at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky. It won’t fully stop the relentless attacks against immigrants in America. But on Sunday evening, Pittsburgh mourners—angry and broken-hearted like us—chanted ‘Vote! Vote! Vote!’ They understand the magnitude of the midterm election six days from today: that it affords us the chance to forge a powerful bulwark against Donald Trump’s hate and hold accountable the Republicans who have been complicit in every step of his toxic, self-serving, and destructive agenda. We must offer a path out of the darkness….This is our chance to take action in solidarity with everyone whose lives are threatened by the hate-filled policies of Trump and the GOP,” she says. “Our chance to push back against white supremacist forces across our nation, against the xenophobes who are militarizing the border, against the bigots who seek to erase our transgender families, against the apologists for sexual assault and the Islamophobes who sow hate to divide us.”

I considered doing an ethics audit of this screed—remember, she’s supposed to be a rising star of the Democratic Party—but decided that any objective reader here is more than capable of doing so without any help from me. Res ipsa loquitur.

How should we characterize someone who would vote to give power to a candidate willing to sign such a message?

3.  By all means, let’s believe all female accusers...Judy Munro-Leighton, who as “Jane Doe” accused Brett Kavanaugh of rape in an email to Senator Kamala Harris, was treated as a credible accuser and caused the Judiciary Committee to question the SCOTUS nominee about her claims. Now she admits that it was all a partisan-driven lie.

Who suspected that?

She confessed to Committee investigators that she “just wanted to get attention” and that “it was a tactic.” She said she had called Congress during the Kavanaugh hearing process before the Blasey-Ford  accusation multiple times  to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination. Regarding the false sexual-assault allegation sent to the Committee through Harris, she said: “I was angry, and I sent it out.” Asked  whether she had ever met Judge Kavanaugh, she said: “Oh Lord, no.”

Her false rape allegations against Kavanaugh had exactly as much corroborating evidence as Blasey-Ford’s: none whatsoever. Yet, still, to this second, an astounding number of smart, reasonable Democrats, especially women, argue, and presumably believe, that such an accusation–in Blasey Ford’s case, one that is three decades old and dates from high school— should disqualify a man with an unblemished adult and professional reputation from high office. And they are indignant about it, too.

I don’t get it.

Reportedly, the Senate received over a thousand claims from women claiming that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted or harassed them.

The Senate has asked for criminal sanctions against Munro-Leighton.

Good. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Reflections, 8/12/2018: Division And Divisiveness

What time is it? I’ve lost track…

1. Keep being intentionally divisive, and eventually you’ll get division…I trace the irresponsible efforts to divide the nation and unravel the bonds of society to the 2000 election, and the false partisan claims that Bush’s was a “stolen Presidency.” Divisive rhetoric became an 8-year strategy of the Obama Administration, with blacks, Hispanics, illegal immigrants, Muslims, LGTB citizens and women being accorded special status as victims and groups in need of special consideration, while whites, men, straight citizens, wealthy citizens, Christians, and, naturally, conservatives and Republicans were consistently demonized and marginalized.  Critics of the first black President were racists, critics of illegal immigration were xenophobes, critics of Hillary Clinton were sexist, and opponents of gay marriage were bigots. The resentment over this long-term and cynical strategy bore misshapen fruit in the election of Donald Trump, and now, says a Zogby Analytics survey, 39 percent of the country support states breaking away from the national government and country, with 42% of Democrats, who have continued to escalate the divisiveness by refusing to accept the election of President Trump as  legitimate, leading the way.

This was where we were headed in 2000, and those who have been reading the Ethics Scoreboard and Ethics Alarms since then know I said so as forcibly as I knew how. Now we are at a point where one party’s leaders are calling for members of the opposing party’s administration to be harassed in public, an attitude that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

In the latest example , Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Houston last week and dines at two Mexican restaurants. The general manager of one of them posted on Facebook,  “We had the honor to serve Mr. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.” The post attracted such an angry reaction that it had to be taken down. [Pointer: Neil Dorr]

2.  Of course! Why else would anyone not love Nancy Pelosi? The news media and its various pundits is deeply complicit in the unraveling of the bonds holding American together, as exemplified by the Washington Post’s jaw-dropping column claiming that Republican opposition to Democratic House leader Pelosi is entirely based on misogyny and sexism—you know, the same reasons I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. Paul Waldman wrote,

“Can we stop treating this lie seriously once and for all? We all know what’s really going on. The Republican attack on Pelosi is about conservative identity politics, full stop. It’s partly the same kind of ugly misogyny that has driven conservatives for years, and that comes out whenever the prospect of a woman wielding genuine power rears its head. Women who display ambition are judged harshly, particularly by conservatives; it’s no accident that Bernie Sanders, whose policy ideas are much more opposed to conservatism than Pelosi’s, inspires nothing like the venomous loathing on the right that Pelosi and Hillary Clinton do.”

Oddly, I have found many reasons despite her gender to regard Nancy Pelosi as an unethical menace, and I haven’t come close to covering all of them. Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/28/18: Expired Ethics, Sleeping Fact-Checkers, Ghosts, The Dumbest Ethics Train Wreck Of Them All…

It’s a beautiful morning!

1. When “Everybody Does it” isn’t just a rationalization. I was asked by a law firm to render an opinion as to whether particular conduct was a violation of the legal ethics rules.  A legal ethics opinion—bar associations issue these periodically to cover gray areas– in the jurisdiction said that it was, but the opinion was over 20 years old. The reasoning given in the opinion for declaring the conduct unethical was that the practice was “new to the jurisdiction” and might mislead or confuse the public.

Today, however, my research showed, the conduct is commonplace in that jurisdiction. Many, many law firms engage in it. What was new two decades ago is new no longer, and the reasoning for the opinion’s conclusion was based on conditions that no longer exist. Moreover, no firm has been punished for the conduct, and won’t be.

The firm was concerned that the legal ethics opinion had not been over-ruled or withdrawn. I said that it didn’t have to be. “Everyone” was engaged in the conduct it forbade, the bar had allowed “everyone” to do it, and if an issue was raised now, I am 100% certain that the old opinion would be withdrawn as no longer reasonable or germane.

2. One more human feature that makes ethics harder: the ability to simultaneously hold two contradictory and mutually exclusive beliefs.

I was watching one of the apparently inexhaustible supply of cable shows about haunting and paranormal investigations with my wife. This one climaxed in a session with a Ouija board, and the love of my life uttered, within seconds of each other, these two statements:

  • “It’s amazing how many otherwise intelligent people really believe in ghosts and demons.”
  • “Ouija boards! I wouldn’t allow one of those things in the house. I’m not taking any chances.

I have heard many other friends and acquaintances endorse both of these positions as well.

3. It is the study of how one discerns the truth, after all. Who needs it? They no longer teach ethics in our education system, and now apparently philosophy is on the way out. Claremont Graduate University in California will be closing the PhD program in philosophy and terminating two tenured faculty. Apparently the move was dictated by budget and “market considerations.” The Claremont colleges in Southern California are a distinguished and growing batch consisting of Pomona, Scripps, Harvey Mudd, Claremont-McKenna, and Pitzer. They still have a philosophy faculty, but I wonder for how long.

I was tempted to check the curriculum of these schools to see what kinds of courses were deemed worthy of support while a graduate degree in philosophy was not, but I decided that it would make my head explode. Continue reading

Incompetent UNelected Official Of The Month: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The new darling of progressives and Democrats, New York Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is uninformed and currently, if not permanently, unqualified for office, and not just because she embraces the proven fraud of socialism. Two recent quotes suffice to make the case:

“Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs. Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their family.”

This is redolent of Yogi Berra’s famous line about nobody going to a famous restaurant any more because it was too crowded. Does she really think that if one person worked 327 million jobs, the stats would show full employment? Apparently so. Aw, unemployment, underemployment, what’s the difference? Capitalism BAD!

Now this ominous exchange… Continue reading