Tag Archives: arrogance

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/6/17: Comey’s Premature Draft, Obama’s Golden Rule Breach, Newspapers “Protecting Us,”And Thank-You, Boston Red Sox

 

1 I want to sincerely thank the Boston Red Sox for giving me, the sole baseball ethicist on the web who also devotes a disturbing amount of his time, energy and passion to following the team, the challenge and opportunity to address a major cheating scandal involving the organization and institution I love. Seriously, guys, thank you. This is exactly what I needed to face after staying up past 1 AM watching the Sox pull out a 19 inning, 6 hour game on Hanley Ramirez’s bloop single to center.

I’ll cover the issue in the next post. Ugh.

2. Ironically, just as the anti-Trump news media was hyperventilating over the fact that the Special Counsel was examining a draft letter by the President regarding his reasons for firing James Comey (draft letters have minimal probative value if any, but you know: Trump), it came to light that in May of 2016, Comey had drafted a statement declining to charge Hillary Clinton or her staff in the State Department e-mail scandal, months before key witnesses (like Clinton herself) had been interviewed or much of the evidence had been reviewed. President Trump, of course, tweeted that this proved there was a “rigged process,” but Comey’s draft is no more incriminating that Trump’s draft. (Now, Loretta Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton might suggest a rigged process, but that’s another story.)

Supreme Court Justices have drafted opinions before oral argument; that doesn’t mean they can’t change their minds. It is certainly odd that Comey would have drafted a statement that Clinton would not be indicted so long before the investigation was completed. It is odder still that Hillary’s interview was not under oath, that it wasn’t videotaped, that there was no transcript, and that she was allowed to have representing her as an attorney at the session a top aide who was also a potential witness.

Professor Turley, in a column at The Hill, agrees that the early draft doesn’t implicate the integrity of the investigation, but raises a related issue:

While I am inclined to accept assurances from Comey that he did not finally decide on charges until after reviewing all of the evidence, the details from the Clinton investigation hardly support a view of a robust and dogged effort in comparison to the type of investigation of people like Paul Manafort.

In pursuing Manafort, special counsel Robert Mueller has now enlisted an army of investigators, reached a cooperative relationship with staunch Trump critic New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and actively pursued tax and financial dealings far afield of the original Russian collusion allegations. He also ordered a heavy-handed (and unnecessary) “no knock” search in the middle of the night on Manafort’s home.

The Clinton investigation looks like Club Fed in comparison. Clinton and her staff refused to cooperate with State Department investigators seeking confirm any damage to national security. Key laptops were withheld and only turned over after Comey’s staff agreed to destroy the computers after their review, despite the relevance of the evidence to congressional investigations. Comey then cut five immunity deals with key Clinton staff members, including former State Department staffer, Bryan Pagliano, who set up a server in Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, N.Y., and worked for her at the State Department.

Pagliano refused to cooperate after invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and destroyed evidence after being given a preservation order. Those deals raised the concern over a type of prosecutorial planned obsolescence, making a viable case less likely.

The amusing part is that all of this circles back to Comey’s firing, which was justified by his handling of the Clinton investigation regardless of any other factors.

3. The New York Times today reviews a festival play called “___hole.” That’s not really the title, however, although “___hole” was printed twice as the play title before the Times made this clear. A comment by the reviewer noted that the real title couldn’t “get past the editors.” Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Popular Culture

The Ohio State Fair Accident: Thanks, TV News, But I’LL Decide What I Should See

From ABC News:

Eighteen-year-old Tyler Jarrell, of Columbus, Ohio, was killed Wednesday evening when the Fire Ball ride he was on at the Ohio State Fair broke apart in mid-air, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said. Seven people were also injured in the incident…The victims were transported to local hospitals and at least three are in critical condition.

On all the news channels I saw, including CNN, HLN, ABC, Fox and CBS, video taken by an onlooker was frozen at the moment the ride broke apart. As HLN’s  cheery Robin Meade put it, “We’re not going to show the rest of the video, because it’s graphic and disturbing.”

Wait, Robin: YOU saw it. The producers saw it. Why don’t I get to see it?

I posted the unedited video above. It’s not any more graphic than this…

 

…and people paid to see that scene. But never mind, the silly hyper-protectiveness isn’t the ethics issue.

The ethics issue is that this is how journalists convince themselves  that they can withhold information, or distort it, change it or spin it for our own good. No, I don’t grant them that privilege, or the role. The job of the news media is to let us know what happened, as thoroughly as they know it. Today it’s some people flying off of a malfunctioning fair ride, yesterday it’s that a President of the U.S. might have raped someone. Tomorrow it might be, oh, I don’t know, this story, which had barely nicked the news networks as of yesterday.

I don’t trust these people to decide what it’s healthy for me to watch. If they want to give warnings, fine. I want the news, the whole news, and nothing but the news. Continue reading

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The Unethical, Un-American, State Travel Bans

Recently various states have decided to punish their fellow members of the United States of America for daring to adopt laws of which they do not approve. The method: bans on government employees traveling to those states on business and the state dime, with the hope that the state’s lead will discourage private travel as well. Why are they doing this? Oh, many reasons, I suppose, all of them insufficient to justify the conduct, which is unethical.

Some of the state legislators who pass these bans, and the governors who sign them, want to place economic sanctions on the other states, even if the effects are limited. After all, they can’t stop the citizens of the states from traveling, only government employees. But pressure is pressure, and the limited measures are an attempt to meddle in the democracy of those other bad states. Another reason is virtue-signalling, as a state seeks to show that it supports a group that is politically strong in that region against another state’s policies that displease it. A third reason is the related motive of grandstanding. Finally, a state might use a travel ban to strike back at another state that is banning state travel there. An eye for an eye, a voucher for a voucher.

Yes, this will end well.

I wish I didn’t have to say this, because I know everyone thinks I pick on liberals, progressives and Democrats, but it’s the Democratic majority states that are using this weapon, especially…well, can you guess? Oh, come on, guess. Yes, the major offender is California. Others are New York, Minnesota, and Washington state.

“Our country has made great strides in dismantling prejudicial laws that have deprived too many of our fellow Americans of their precious rights,” says the public statement of California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California, who has been instrumental in getting the Golden State to limit trips to Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. You know, those conservative bad places, where people with sub-normal IQ’s cling to their guns and Bibles. His quote is a classic of arrogant, doctrinaire, narrow-minded, elitist self-righteousness. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority [ UPDATED]

[UPDATE: The original version of this post designated the dunces as the D.C. government. This was not accurate, as reader deery helpfully pointed out. You can read about the baroque and diffuse organization and leadership of the D.C. area’s transit system…currently in bad repair and financial distress…here.  Good luck. The text has been revised to reflect the correction in the title. Frankly, the exact organization of the DC. area Metro is less central to the post than the fact wherever the leadership is, it is government, it is dominated by the local Democratic leadership, and it is censorship. That’s what matters.]

Quick, now: what controversial political position does the above Washington, D.C. area  public transit ad promote?

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the transit agency of the local  and state governments in and surrounding the nation’s capital,  has pulled ads for controversial right-wing speaker Milo Yiannopoulos’ self-published memoir after determining the ads violated the transit system’s policies banning issue-oriented, political and other advocacy advertising.

An independent contractor sells and installs ads across the system, but ultimately Metro’s leaders have the final say…providing that they follow the Bill of Rights. This appears to be a problem for them.

The relevant Metro policies  restricting advertising content include:

  • “Advertisements intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions are prohibited”
  • “Advertisements that are intended to influence public policy are prohibited”

There is no argument here about what the banning of the book ad is: the Transit Authority is engaging in censorship.  This is especially obnoxious for an agency that represents the locality that hosts of the national government, and where the Constitution is on display.  It is also ignorant. Read the damn thing, you politically corrupt dolts. And it is arrogant. The District’s population, stuffed with Democrats like no other jurisdiction, with a majority African-American and conservative-loathing populace, figures to revile a right-wing troll like Milo, and the reliably Democratic riders served by the Metro in Northern Virginia and Maryland are hardly more tolerant of hard-right trolls. But Milo’s name and book cover by no stretch of the imagination are advocacy or efforts to “influence” anyone regarding public policy or “an issue.” Like all ads, here’s the position that it advocates: “Buy this!”

Milo Yiannopoulos is an ugly and cynical right-wing provocateur, but he does not forfeit the protection of the First Amendment because of who he is. When did liberals and Democrats lose their comprehension of this basic democratic concept? What ever the origin of their confusion, it makes them untrustworthy, sinister, and almost as revolting as Milo.

He’ll probably sue the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for infringing his rights, which it has. He will win. Keep it up, Democrats! Keep indulging that inner totalitarian just screaming to get out.

See what happens.

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Rights

The New York Times’ Smoking Gun Op-Ed

Robert Leonard is the news director for the radio stations KNIA/KRLS. He wrote a jaw-dropping op-ed yesterday, one that only could be written and voluntarily made public by someone completely committed to the idea that the news media should decide what the public thinks, and who should run the government. That the New York Times would publish this unethical, biased and anti-democratic screed is signature significance. If the Times editors had any respect for the nation’s democratic processes or the proper boundaries of journalism, it would have regarded the column as risible and an embarrassment to its profession. Instead, the Times published Leonard’s piece in the prime left-hand column of its op-ed page.

Let’s begin with the creepy headline: “Want to Get Rid of Trump? Only Fox News Can Do It.”

No, you arrogant jerk, only democratic elections can “do it.” The entire premise of Leonard’s essay, and it is the premise that the mainstream media now believes, though won’t admit, is that journalists have the power and the obligation to take down a government they don’t approve of. That is what it is trying to do, and that is what the Times is trying to do in concert with the rest. If this was not the case, the Times would not allow such an incendiary headline in its paper.

The op-ed begins with a lie, at least a lie by the kinds of standards applied by the Times in assessing what constitutes “lying” by the President:

“President Trump’s administration is in crisis, consumed by fears of what Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russia’s meddling in the election, might find. Everyone’s lawyering up — even the lawyers have lawyers.”

The Trump Administration isn’t in a crisis according to any facts in evidence. It’s a crisis because the news media wants it to be in crisis, and keeps publishing whispers from leakers  trying to undermine the administration as it says so. Everyone is “lawyering up” is a pejorative phrase intended to imply guilt: in a government investigation, anyone likely to be questioned or come under scrutiny gets legal representation, and this partisan hack knows it. Nevertheless, he is making an innuendo suggesting guilt. Nor does he have any justification that the Trump administration is “consumed by fears of what Robert Mueller might find.” That assumes there is something incriminating to find,  a false assumption, and thus a false statement.

Normally, I would stop reading at that point. This is an incompetently cooked stew of partisan, anti-Trump propaganda, not worth my time, written to appeal to the Times’ “resistance” subscribers. I continued however, because I sensed a vivid illustration of how estranged from objectivity, moderation and responsible writing the Times has become.

The op-ed continues… Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/22/17

1.  I’m trying to get this up while I prepare for a new legal ethics seminar, teaming once again with the brilliant D.C. actor Paul Morella who has toured the country in the Clarence Darrow one-man-show he and I collaborated on more than a decade ago, using Darrow’s career and courtroom oratory to analyze modern legal ethics.  Readers here have encountered a lot of those Darrow-related discussions already. For once, I’m grateful most lawyers don’t frequent this blog.

2. This now viral photo of the faces of CNN’s talking heads and analysts at the moment they realized that the Democrats had lost the Georgia Sixth District special House election that was hyped to be the beginning of a surge to the Left rejecting Donald Trump…

…and this one…

…are more than just gags. They are smoking gun evidence of the stunning lack of professionalism in journalism, and especially CNN. If there was any sensitivity or commitment to ethics on that set or in that production chain of command, every one of these arrogant hacks would have been told, “I want poker faces up there at all times. Objective and fair news reporting includes body language and facial expressions. Your attitudes warp your reporting. If anything about your demeanor betrays your personal preferences or political biases, you’re getting suspended. Got that? This isn’t a cheerleading squad.

3.  This warrants its own post, but today will be a squeeze, so I’ll focus on the astounding chutzpah of  that race’s loser here and now. Losing Georgia Six Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff was interviewed by NPR’s Rachel Martin, and this exchange resulted: Continue reading

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Scouting Ethics: The Cookie Thief And The Loathsome Left

1. Now THIS is an unethical troop leader!

Law enforcement authorities in Kentucky are are currently looking Leah Ann Vick, 26, a Girl Scout troop leader who appears to be on the lam after picking up a large order of yummy Girl Scout cookies for her Wilderness Road chapter as well as, it is believed, orders belonging to other troops in Pikesville, Kentucky.

Vick was supposed to pay for the cookies once they had been sold—their value is $15,000— but she never returned, nor did she drop off her troop’s cookies with her scouts. She has disappeared, apparently taking the cookies with her. She has been indicted by a Pike County grand jury on a charge of “felony theft by unlawful taking.” Vick faces up to ten years in prison if convicted

This will not end well. I fear that she will finally be caught, weighing 300 pounds with incipient diabetes, wedged in a revolving door as she desperately stuffs the last Thin Mints into her mouth….

2. The Insufferable Arrogance of “The Resistance”

The New York Times gleefully described a satirical one-night-only “documentary drama” assembled from edited transcripts of the Senate confirmation hearings for members of President Trump’s cabinet. Titled “All the President’s Men?,” produced by the Public Theater and London’s National Theater, it featured such actors as the politically objective Alec Baldwin as Rex Tillerson and Academy Award Winner Ellen Burstyn as that heroic figure, Elizabeth Warren. This event was, of course, progressive Trump-hater masturbation, and the Times reports that the “liberal audience laughed and groaned and occasionally whooped…then rose for a standing ovation.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, the fact that David Remnick, editor in chief of The New Yorker, was one of the performers tells us all we need to know about that alleged journalistic enterprise’s ability to be fair and objective about the President, as well as how blatantly journalists now proclaim their anti-Trump bias as virtue-signalling.

The Times also observed this:

“It’s unlikely that the real Mr. Tillerson paused for a laugh after championing his honesty by saying, “You are aware of my longstanding involvement with the Boy Scouts of America.”

This is signature significance, showing us the utter loathsomeness of Mr. Baldwin and also the audience this production pandered to. Tillerson deserves nothing but praise for his work with the Boy Scouts of America. Continue reading

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