Greek Easter Ethics Warm-Up: Authority, Causation, Credibility And Dead Ethics Alarms

Christos Anesti!

…as my Greek-American mother used to greet us every Greek Easter morn. You were supposed to respond in kind, but my father’s Greek pronunciation was always so  hilarious that I don’t recall that he ever did.

1. Anthony Napolitano and the appeal to authority. Fox analyst “Judge” Napolitano (you’re not supposed to call yourself “judge” after you stop being a judge, but never mind) is suddenly being hailed as a definitive legal authority because he has “broken ranks” (as the liberal websites put it) to argue that President Trump obstructed justice based on the Mueller report. Virtually nothing Napolitano said or opined on prior to this was ever treated by these same sudden fans as anything but the meanderings of a crank, but “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” as someone once said in Sanskrit.

I would never appeal to Napolitano’s authority, though he is far from a crank. He was indeed a lower court judge in New Jersey, he has taught at a law school, and he has written many books. He is not a conservative or a Republican but a libertarian. Like Ron Paul and his son Senator Rand, Napolitano’s ideology is such that he arrives at positions that make it impossible for me to trust his reasoning processes. Notably, he doesn’t think Abraham Lincoln should have fought the Civil War or abolished slavery, saying that it would have been better to allow slavery to peter out peacefully without government intervention. I wonder how the slaves would have felt about that?

He also believes that human life should have full legal rights at conception, and that abortion ought to be outlawed completely. Well, both of those positions—he has others equally extreme—mean to me that as smart as he may be, I don’t know what kind of extremist bats are flying around in the man’s belfry, so while I believe his arguments  on obstruction should be judged on their objective merits, that fact that he’s the one making them do not and should not enhance their persuasiveness.

2. Trump Tweets segue...in a tweet, the President claimed that Napolitano asked him to appoint the “Judge” to the Supreme Court, and that his much-publicized obstruction claim is Napolitano’s revenge for the President refusing. Continue reading

Is The Democratic Party the Party of Anti-Semitism, Infanticide, And Socialism?

Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, told NBC’s “Meet The Press” last week that Democrats have become the party of “Anti-Semitism,, infanticide, socialism.” This wasn’t quite as inflammatory as when Samuel Burchard, speaking at a GOP pro-James G. Blaine campaign event during the 1884 race against Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland, denounced the Democrats as the party of “rum, Romanism, and rebellion,” but you wouldn’t know it from the howls coming from progressives, because, as we all know, the truth hurts. Well, that’s not quite fair: Cheney was engaging in hyperbole and being intentionally inflammatory, but she wasn’t entirely wrong.

Let’s look at the “infanticide” accusation. Obviously Democrats don’t favor killing babies as a general proposition, but Virginia’s  Democratic governor and renowned Michael Jackson impressionist described exactly how he would make an abortion-survivor “comfortable” before making the newborn dead. (Many states have laws that allowed condemned men to go free if they survived an attempted execution. Seems fair…)

Democrats in the Senate—all but a handfull—blocked a GOP bill requiring doctors to use all means available to save the life of a child born alive after an attempted abortion. They must, it said, “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child” as they would for “any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”

Senator Ben Sasse, the Nebraska Republican who authored the bill, had called it an “infanticide ban.” Rationalizing like mad, Democrats said that the bill was aimed at discouraging doctors from performing legal abortions—in other words, they were pandering to the pro-abortion extremists—and that it was unnecessary because a similar law already exists, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002.—you know, because the Democrats have always opposed redundant legislation. Continue reading

You Know, That WAS An Excellent Post On October 20, 2016!

In response to my recent question in a comment thread about when Ethics Alarms first noted that the Democratic Party was embracing totalitarian attitudes, tactics and principles, reader and commenter Zoltar Speaks tracked the post down, which, as I had speculated, was published in late October, 2016, right before the election. It was interesting, in light of having just passed the two year mark in the Trump Presidency, to review my thoughts at the time. Upon re-reading it, I conclude that there is nothing in that post I would retract, and that I wish I was as smart every day was I was on October 20, 2016. This section, however, really stood out in light of what has occurred since; the context was the last debate between candidates Trump and Clinton: Continue reading

I Break My Own Rule And Publish A Social Media Meme…

Here it is:

The Ethics Incompleteness Principle holds that ethics rules don’t always work in anomalous situations. An Ethics Alarms rule is that internet memes are simple-minded agitprop, lazy ways for the uninformed and the critical thought-challenged to circulate pre-digested talking points and partisan distortions. I hate them.

But I was actually beginning work on a flow chart of the constantly changing arguments against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, and this magically appeared. (Pointer: Instapundit)

It’s perfect, fair, and true.

Bravo.

Homeward Bound Saturday Morning Ethics Catch-Up, 9/8/2018: Not Spartacus, Not Good Citizens, Not Trustworthy

Good Morning!

1 Good job, everybody. Lots of comments yesterday despite scant new content. Thanks. I am in the process of organizing a new D.C. law firm, Bergstein, DeCailly and Marshall, PLLC. I’m the ethics partner. It shouldn’t interfere with the activities of ProEthics or Ethics Alarms, except for the occasional conflict of interest that raises its hoary head, and time, like yesterday. I was in meetings down here in Ft. Lauderdale from early morning through dinner, meeting with a large group of some of the most fascinating and diverse professionals I’ve ever been involved with. I arrived back at the hotel too fried to even consider posting anything. I have responded to some comments while I’m waking up today.

The lack of participation by those of a more liberal orientation is disappointing, and rankles me daily. I hate being rankled. I guess I should be able to sympathize with why a omitted progressive or Democrat would want to have a bag over his or her head after the last few days of self-immolation by Senate Democrats, or would be paralyzed by embarrassment at hearing Barack Obama, of all people, complain that the Republicans are divisive. The most divisive occurrence in American politics is when the previous President actively works to undermine the current one. There is a reason that hasn’t happened since Teddy Roosevelt turned on President Taft, and the result was the election of one of the most disastrous Presidents of all time, Woodrow Wilson.

2. 16 places you can retire to if you’re a lousy American. The entire attitude underlying this article, 16 countries where you can retire ‘happier’ than in the US. is selfish and irresponsible. You are an American citizen and this is a participatory democracy. I don’t care if you’re retired; you still have a lifetime obligation to contribute to society, your community, and the nation. Happier nations for the retired, according to the article, are rated according to how the happiness of retirees is trending. Of course that method shows the U.S. in a bad light: retirees are justifiably pissed off watching one party set out to rip the country in two, open borders, and undermine the Bill of Rights, the election of Presidents, and our institutions, and the other being led by an irresponsible narcissist. That doesn’t mean that the patriotic and ethical response is to leave the country that got them this far to the antifa and “the resistance.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/27/2018: Petards, Conflicts, And Bullshit Edition

Good Morning!

1. Oh no! Hoisted by my own petard! I’m pretty certain that Clinton fixer Lanny Davis has an unwaivable conflict of interest in his representation of Trump fixer Michael Cohen. The legal ethics establishment is soft-peddling the issue because most legal ethicists apparently hate President Trump more than they like ethical lawyering, but I’ve been wrestling over whether to file a disciplinary complaint. The problem is that any complaint that has even a tinge of political motivation won’t be touched by the Bar (if prior performance is any indicator), so a complaint by me would be the proverbial lonely tree falling in the forest. The remedy would be to issue a publicity release about the complaint, but I’ve criticized that tactic as unethical right here, on more than one occasion. Rats.

It might be just as well. After the mere hint that I was defending Donald Trump (I was not) on NPR appears to have gotten me blackballed there after many years as an ethics commentator, I probably should not criticize the lawyer for the most popular sleaze in D.C. these days.

2. Neil Simon Ethics. In an alternate universe, my still operating professional theater company, dedicated to keeping unfairly buried, forgotten or unfashionable American theater works of the past in front of audiences who deserve a chance to see them, is looking at a lot of Neil Simon productions. The works of the —by far—most successful writer of comedies in Broadway history are already sneered at as sexist and “outdated,” and I can vouch for the fact that all it takes is one militant female board member with a checkbook and a chip on her shoulder to kill a production. Remember S.N Behrman? Seen any Philip Barry plays lately? How about Kaufman and Hart? Simon just died, and he’s already heading to obscurity along with those guys, and most of their plays are still funny too.

3. Here’s another topic it’s dangerous to get intoFrom CBS:

A pregnant Washington state woman said she was fired via text message from a sub shop where worked, with a store manager telling her “it’s not a good time to have somebody who is leaving for maternity leave in several months anyway.” Kameisha Denton told CBS Seattle affiliate KIRO-TV that she had told the manager she was pregnant and due in December, asking for maternity leave.

Denton said she realized that she hadn’t been assigned shifts at Jersey Mike’s sub shop in Marysville, Washington, so she sent a text to her manager inquiring about the hours. The response she says she received was shocking.

When Denton asked for her “updated schedule” she received something a bit different. The store manager named only as “Marcos” in Denton’s phone responded, “I am sorry to inform you but it’s not going to work out with Jersey Mikes. It’s not a good time to have somebody who is leaving for maternity leave in several months anyways. You also failed to tell me this during your interview.”

Denton posted the exchange on Facebook in a post that had garnered over 1,000 shares in just two days.  

Denton told KIRO-TV,  “I was just like in shock, it took me a minute to face reality — I was like this is really happening.”

Continue reading

Observations On The Justin Trudeau Groping Allegation

Canadian progressive rock star and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now dealing with his own #MeToo crisis, and, as you will see, not that well. These are old allegations, first appearing in a tiny community paper called the Creston Valley Advance in 2000 An unsigned editorial related that Trudeau, then a 28-year-old teacher, groped a young, female Advance reporter covering the Kokanee Summit Festival in Creston, British Columbia. The Creston editorial did not include details of the alleged groping incident, but wrote that the reporter involved felt “blatantly disrespected” and that Trudeau allegedly apologized a day later for “inappropriately handling” her.

Nobody cared. After all, Bill Clinton had just ducked impeachment because American Democrats and the news media successfully sold the narrative that a President using his intern as a personal sex-toy was “private, personal, consensual conduct.” The story was quickly forgotten.

Then came the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, and suddenly any male in power is vulnerable to having their career and reputation undone because of a recovered or re-evaluated memory they did that everyone winked at decades ago, but is now proof positive of a dark and irredeemable soul, or something. (This is the point where, if you are Prof. Paul Butler, you shout “Oh come ON!”)  The episode resurfaced recently when popular political commentator and Trudeau critic Warren Kinsella tweeted a picture of the editorial last month with the hashtag #MeToo. His tweet was later picked up by various conservative outlets. This is suddenly a problem for liberal leader who has proclaimed his feminist credentials. He has said that he has no tolerance for any kind of sexual harassment or unwanted touching.

And now this. Observations:

  • Here was Trudeau’s response to the allegations: he initially said that he did not recall the event. Then he said, well, he remembered the event, but not the incident. “I remember that day in Creston well. It was an Avalanche Foundation event to support avalanche safety. I had a good day that day. I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all,” he said. The next day,  he told reporters that he apologized to the alleged victim for the incident he doesn’t remember “in the moment,” but said he is confident he “did not act inappropriately”…but respects ” the fact that someone else might have experienced this differently.”

Translation of this self-contradicting double-talk:

Let’s see now: He doesn’t remember the event, which he remembers well, but not the incident, though he remembers that he apologized for it, though he is certain he did nothing that required an apology, but he can certainly understand how someone might see it differently.

All righty then! Continue reading