Morning Ethics Expectoration, 4/15/2021: I’m In A Really Bad Mood (And Ethics Is Just A Part Of It…)

Let’s see what revoltin’ developments we have accumulated, shall we? But first, some positive news…

1. Bernie Madoff has died in prison. Good. If there was ever a case for using capitol punishment for crimes other than murder and treason, Bernie is it. He was convicted of orchestrating the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history and was serving a 150-year sentence that he managed to escape by dying in prison of natural causes at age 82. He was a stone-cold sociopath who destroyed his family, foundations, charities and lives, all out of greed. On the plus side, his exploits did spawn two excellent dramatic portrayals, one by Robert De Niro and the other by Richard Dreyfuss. I liked Richard’s better, but after his disgusting conduct during the Trump years, Robert is permanently unwelcome to my eyeballs.

So much for the good news…

2. Don’t tell me again how poor Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Pete was the second Ethics Dunce of them all, way back in 2004, here. Knowing well that baseball had an iron-clad, one strike and you’re out forever rule forbidding players, coaches and managers from betting on games, he did it anyway (as a manager) because, see, he is Pete Rose, and the rules don’t apply to him, but mostly because he’s an idiot. So he got banned from the game and the Hall of Fame despite being the all-time hit leader, ahead of Ty Cobb. He’s a walking, talking ethics corrupter, prompting fans and writers to resort to rationalizations to explain why he should be forgiven.

Now we have this:

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Ethics Hero: University of Vermont Professor Aaron Kindsvatter

Disgusted with the anti-white racism running amuck on his campus and elsewhere do to the blind (or manipulative)support of “critical race theory, University of Vermont professor Aaron Kindsvatter created this video entitled “Racism and the Secular Religion at the University of Vermont:

He calls the the thinking that informs “critical race theory” crude, and notes that the condemnation of “whiteness” “speaks so eloquently to our tribal impulses,” the same logic, he says, that “can easily find its way to desperate persons who need a group to hate and who will adopt the suppositions that inform whiteness towards their own ends.” As he closes, the professor says that the pressure to adopt the racist propaganda (my words, not his) of Ibram X. Kendi and his ilk is making him sick.

Hey, me too!

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Rainy Day Ethics Puddles, 3/24/2021:

1 Shut up or be funny. For some reason, the fact that Monday’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers’ included a gratuitous and facile lecture by the host about gun control legislation was plastered all over the progressive news media as if he had begun speaking in tongues or channeling the ghost of Emily Dickinson. I hate to be a spoil sport, but who cares what Seth Myers thinks about gun control? He’s a comedian and a comedy writer, and has been nothing but since college. Again, he has no brief to lecture anyone on that topic: he has his job to be funny, and the show he hosts is, theoretically at least, a comedy show. Did Julia Child ever lecture her PBS audience about U.S. nuclear policy while explaining how to cook an omelette? No. Did Walter Cronkite ever break into knock-knock jokes during The CBS Evening News? Never. Did Andy Williams ever pause in the middle of “Moon River” to deliver his analysis of a Presidential campaign? Absolutely not.

Myers has a right to his opinion, as sophomoric and echo chamber-nourished as it may be (he was pimping for “common sense gun laws,” which is what people say when they have no idea what laws will stop the criminal use of guns, but want us to “do something”), but it is arrogant and presumptuous to perform a bait and switch on his audience, which doesn’t come to his show for public policy wisdom. If they do, he has an ethical obligation to make it clear that they shouldn’t. As far as I can tell, Myers knows zilch about law, guns, government, or the Constitution, yet he presumes to use a vehicle awarded to him only because of an alleged gift for topical humor (personally, I don’t see it) for political advocacy.

Be funny, get educated, run for office, or shut up, Seth. And incidentally, there are not mass shootings “three or four times a week” and never have been. In a single atypical week, there were two mass shootings, and no Constitutional gun laws are likely to have stopped either of them.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/23/2021: Shots

This morning served as a perfect example of how the news is now automatically politicized and prioritized for partisan ends. On CNN, a panel was discussing the mass shooting in Boulder. Colorado, and instantly transforming the segment into gun-control mass rant. On Fox, the crisis of the day was the chaos at the border, where the virtual open-borders policies everyone—including those planning to be illegal immigrants—knew would come in along with the Biden administration is having the predictable effects. That segment was a diatribe against the wink-wink, nudge-nudge Democratic enabling of uncontrolled immigration.

CNN wins in the closely contested dubious ethics category by having “contributor” Andrew McCabe on the panel. McCabe epitomized the FBI’s corrupt and partisan efforts to injure the Trump Administration from within; he leaked information to the media and lied about it; he was fired, and deserved to be. McCabe’s high-profile anti-Trump conduct was sufficient to get him a gig on CNN, where being part of “the resistance” is all one needs to endear oneself to the Trump Deranged.

McCabe should have lost his law license, as any attorney who leaks confidential information should, and personally, I wouldn’t trust him to walk my dog.

1. You want to be paid $15 an hour for doing a job this poorly? This morning, having been forced to get up and move my car at 7 am, I decided to drive to the local McDoanld’s for my favorite guilty morning pleasure, a sausage biscuit and some hash browns. For once I could understand the heavily accented woman on the intercom, and I made a clear and distinct order. But given false security by this unusual development, for the first time in a long while I didn’t check the bag—this McDonald’s bats about .500 in getting orders right—and sure enough, when I arrived home, I found an Egg McMuffin instead of a sausage biscuit. I hate Egg McMuffins.

This isn’t brain surgery. I know it’s a crummy job, but it is what they are being paid for. Don’t tell me someone who is that inattentive deserves “a living wage.” Pay them for not working, if you foolishly want to treat them as charity cases; at least then they aren’t getting rewarded for doing a job badly.

2. Why can’t McDonald’s work this efficiently? My experience getting my first Wuhan virus vaccination (in Alexandria, Virginia) was excellent. The elaborate process, staged at a middle school about five minutes from my home, was well-planned, cheerful, and quick, even on a Saturday with long lines. I must have personally thanked ten volunteers.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/2021: The Sarcasm Edition

First appearance in 2021 of my favorite Ethics Warm-Up intro. Maybe that’s why 2021 ethics has gotten off to such a rotten start…

In addition to its significance in the siege of the Alamo, yesterday’s date of February 24 has other important ethics markers, perhaps some more important than Travis’s iconic letter. Perhaps the most impact on U.S. history was this date in 1803, when Chief Justice John Marshall (no relation that has been shown to my satisfaction) handed down the landmark decision in William Marbury v. James Madison, Secretary of State of the United States, establishing the legal principle of judicial revie. That’s what gives the Supreme Court the authority to limit Congressional power by declaring legislation unconstitutional. I doubt very much that the United States would still exist as a free republic had not that case been decided as it was, yet the result was probably dictated more by partisan politics than philosophy.

Marshall, in his majority opinion, declared that acts of Congress in conflict with the Constitution are not valid law and therefore are non-binding on the courts, and that the judiciary’s first responsibility is always to uphold the Constitution. And if two laws conflict, Marshall wrote, SCOTUS has the responsibility of deciding which law applies in any given case. Periodically members of Congress, pundits and even academics have criticized the decision, but there can be little doubt that had Marshall not led the Court to make this stand, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would have been quickly shredded.

This is particularly relevant now, when the Democrats in Congress have signaled that they want government authorities to decree what is factual and what is “disinformation,” while they also seek to weaken Second Amendment rights. Incidentally, there is a prominent statue of Marshall at the Supreme Court, and a recast in John Marshall Park, near Judiciary Square, also in D.C. Another recast is in Philadelphia. Marshall owned hundreds of slaves, which is entirely irrelevant to his essential influence on our government and values. Clearly, many, perhaps most, of the college students in the U.S. would prefer that a non-slave owner had headed the Court, even if it resulted in a nation that slipped into allowing the virtual slavery of all citizens to a national government that “knew what was best.”

1. Oh, sure. Why not? We all know that committees are so effective at leadership. A letter signed by three dozen House Democrats urge Joe Biden to relinquish full control over the country’s nuclear weapons in favor of a committee of legislators. “…Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks,” states the letter, inspired by Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California. “Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment.While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so,” the letter adds. “The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”

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Ethics Hero: Jodi Shaw

Jody Shaw

Instead of apologizing, instead of prostrating herself and her principles to remains in good graces within an oppressive culture, Jodi Shaw sounded an alarm instead. Now she needs our support, but more than that, she must be seen as a role model for anyone else, of any political stripe or ideological tilt, who believes in the values the United States was founded to nurture.

Shaw has courage. Courage is what is desperately needed, and as has been written here too often already, it is what has so far been lacking.

I first wrote about Shaw, then a Smith College administrator, last December. Shaw, had criticized the college’s critical race theory-based “sensitivity training” required of all staff members and posted her own YouTube videos on the issue. The president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, issued a formal statement against Shaw that said in part:

This past week, an employee of the college posted a personal video to express their concerns about the college’s programming to promote racial justice….This employee does not speak for the college or any part of the college. Further, we believe the video mischaracterizes the college’s important, ongoing efforts to build a more equitable and inclusive living, learning and working environment.

You should know that the employee has not violated any college policies by sharing their personal views on a personal channel. The National Labor Relations Act protects employees who engage in concerted activities, including speech, with respect to workplace conditions. All members of any workplace, including Smith College, have the freedom to criticize the policies and practices of their employer.

Nevertheless, I am writing to affirm that the President’s Cabinet and I believe we have a moral responsibility to promote racial justice, equity and inclusion at Smith College. To the people of color in our community, please know our commitment is steadfast. And especially to our students of color, please know we are here for you always.

I learned about the latest chapter in Shaw’s ordeal from another Ethics Hero, Bari Weiss. who resigned as the staff editor for the opinion section of the The New York Times with a searing letter revealing the cultural oppression faced by anyone on that staff who did not conform to the mandatory progressive cant. I wrote at the time, in July of last year, “Maybe Weiss’s bold and unquestionably true letter is the metaphorical slap in the face of the mainstream media that will make journalists realize that they have squandered their credibility.” Boy, I’m a gullible Pollyanna sometimes! The Times has, if anything, gotten worse, and the Left’s institutions have become, if anything, more brazen in their efforts to punish and crush dissenters. But Weiss, like other refugees from the ideological purges like Glenn Greenwald, now has a platform at substack, where you can subscribe to support the rebels. I think of it as the metaphorical hills of Greece, where my relatives waged guerilla war on the invading Nazis in WWII while trying to protect the cradle of Western thought and philosophy.

Weiss introduces Jodi and her moment of truth by writing in part,

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Midnight Ethics Terrors, 2/17/21: Trump Attacks! Fake Law! Fake News! Fake Science!

nightterrors-orig-crop

Okay, I started this at midnight, then got the night terrors, and waited until (almost) daylight to finish…

1. Who didn’t see this coming? Yesterday, Donald Trump unloaded with both metaphorical barrels on Mich McConnell as no President, former or otherwise, has ever attacked his party’s Senate leader before. McConnell asked for it, got it, and deserved it. His post impeachment trial acquittal was a foolish attempt to turn the President’s vindication into a defeat, and a pretty transparent example of the “now that the guy who was never one of us is out of power, we can strike at him with impunity” syndrome. Is McConnell really that deluded and incompetent? He must be. He apparently doesn’t understand the cognitive dissonance scale. Amazing. See, Mitch, nobody really likes you. You have the charisma of a scrub brush. As controversial as Trump is, he’s so much higher than you on the scale…

Cognitive Dissonance

… that attacking him just drags you lower still. Don’t you get that? Now Trump has double the effect. Some prime excerpts:

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The Unethical And Divisive Nomination Of Kristen Clarke [Updated]

Biden tweet4

Well so much for THAT pledge.

Seeking to avoid the politics of division and the to restore respect for the rule of law, President Biden (or someone pulling his strings) has, ironically, nominated Kristen Clarke to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. In January, with this post, Ethics Alarms urged fairness after a letter surfaced from Clarke’s college days espousing anti-white racist attitudes:

….that letter to the Crimson from 27 years ago should not, by itself, disqualify Clarke for national service. Students say and write a lot of foolish stuff in college; that’s part of what it is for. Student presidents of niche campus groups like BALSA are expected to say extreme things….However, that letter is pure black supremacy, and thus racist. In the hearings on her fitness to lead the Civil Rights division, which requires no bias for or against any race, she must be asked about the letter and, under oath, rebuke its assertions to the satisfaction of all.

Now we know, however. That letter was not just young, raw, still-learning Kristen Clarke. That is Kristen Clarke. The career NAACP lawyer has a history of opposing civil rights prosecutions of black defendants. She criticized the Justice Department for bringing a complaint against an African-American party boss in Mississippi who worked to suppress white votes.

A federal judge found that political boss Ike Brown violated the Voting Rights Act by suppressing white votes in a rural Mississippi county where whites are the minority, directing election workers to count deficient absentee ballots from blacks but disqualify ballots from whites. Brown also was shown to have held biased and manipulated caucuses in the homes of friends and supporters.

According to 2010 testimony from Justice Department official Christopher Coates before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Clarke “spent a considerable amount of time criticizing the [civil rights] division and the voting section for bringing the Brown case.” He described Clarke as a civil rights litigator who believes “incorrectly but vehemently that enforcement of the protections of the Voting Rights Act should not be extended to white voters but should be extended only to protecting racial, ethnic, and language minorities.” Like, for example, her.

President Biden nominating such a racially biased individual to lead a civil rights division that must serve all Americans is an audacious and defiant example of doing the opposite of what one claims to be. It is a good time to recall this tweet:

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Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/28/20: Happy Birthday, Woodrow Wilson!

2020 end

As 2020 staggers to a conclusion, Ethics Alarms wants to express its gratitude to the core of devoted Alarmist commentators who kept the dialogue going during what is always an annual cratering of blog traffic. I appreciate it. I also appreciated the many kind holiday wishes, in what has been a muted Christmas for the Marshalls for a number of reasons I won’t bore you with.

In case you were among the missing, I draw your attention to…

…among other hopefully edifying and entertaining posts.

1. After signalling otherwise or perhaps just trolling, President Trump signed the truly awful pandemic relief and omnibus spending bill, really sending the national debt into orbit. One theory is that doing so was necessary to avoid a Democratic sweep of the two Senate seats up for grabs in Georgia. I will file the event as one more car on the Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck, and one that will do more damage in the long run than most of them.

2. In Nevada, Gabrielle Clark filed a federal lawsuit against her son’s charter school last week for refusing to let him opt out of a mandatory class that promotes anti-white racism. It claims that Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus forced William Clark “to make professions about his racial, sexual, gender and religious identities in verbal class exercises and in graded, written homework assignments,” creating a hostile environment, and subjecting he son’s statements ” to the scrutiny, interrogation and derogatory labeling of students, teachers and school administrators,” who are “still are coercing him to accept and affirm politicized and discriminatory principles and statements that he cannot in conscience affirm.” The lawsuit includes nearly 150 pages of exhibits documenting the curriculum in the graduation requirement “Sociology of Change,” which promotes intersectionality and critical race theory, in breach of what was promised when the Clark’s first sent their son to the school.

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Sunday Ethics Decorations, 12/20/20: I’m Sorry, This Stuff Is All Depressing

1. So it’s come to this...the #1 post on Ethics Alarms over the last 365 days is this one, which has been up for less than a month. The bulk of it isn’t even my work. I guess I should be writing a poetry review blog.

2. From the “What were they thinking?” files: David Werking, a Michigan man who was temporarily living in his parents’ home after a divorce, sued them for destroying his pornography collection of videos and magazines worth an estimated $29,000. US district judge Paul Maloney ruled that his parents had no right to throw out his collection. “There is no question that the destroyed property was David’s property,” Maloney said. “Defendants repeatedly admitted that they destroyed the property.”

Werking’s parents said they had a right, as his landlords, to toss out his collection. Where they got taht crackpot idea, I do not know. I would consider the lawyer who took their case unethical, and sanctionably so. Not many cases breach legal ethics Rule 3.1 prohibiting frivolous litigation, but this seems like one to me.

“Defendants do not cite to any statute or caselaw to support their assertion that landlords can destroy property that they dislike,” the judge said. I’m not surprised, since there are none.

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