Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/7/2019: The Duke’s Revenge, Biden’s Integrity, The VA’s Incompetence, And A Teacher’s Cruelty [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

Last night we managed to watch both “The Longest Day” and “Saving Private Ryan,” which especially amused me as I recalled the places my father shouted at the screen. Especially after “The Longest Day,” the complete absence of any sense of what the D-Day invasion was about or why we were fighting at all is particularly irritating, but then that’s Spielberg all over.

I also recalled the story about John Wayne’s participation in “The Longest Day.” (The Duke is really good in it, though if there is a star of “The Longest Day”, it is Robert Mitchum as  Brigadier General Norman Cota, Assistant Commander, 29th Infantry Division, the man who was also a primary hero of D-Day itself. )

You who else is surprisingly good? Paul Anka, in his small role. He was only in the movie because he wrote the title song, but the singer shows a genuine talent for projecting his character on screen.

[Correction note: I originally wrote, “As far as I can determine, it was Anka’s only film appearance.” Wrong, Ethics Breath!  Reader VinnyMick points out that Anka has several other, less successful, screen appearances. I regret the error.]

This was a passionate,  emotion-and-patriotism- driven project by Darryl F. Zanuck, and he was betting everything on its success: the studio, his personal finances, his love life (Zanuck’s girlfriend at the time had the only female role in the movie), everything.  The producer realized that he had to have Wayne in the film for credibility, as the Duke had been  the Hollywood face of the American fighting man in World War II.  Wayne knew it too, but was angry with Zanuck, who had mocked Wayne’s equivalent project of the heart, “The Alamo.”

He refused to do the film for scale (then $25,000) like the many other Hollywood stars in the film, and insisted on receiving $250,000 as an expensive crow-eating exercise for Zanuck. (That was what Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger, Red Buttons, Richard Burton, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert,  Jeffrey Hunter, Robert Wagner and Robert Ryan received combined. ) Even though the producer had Charlton Heston lined up to play Wayne’s role if no deal could be struck, he agreed to the punitive fee, as well as giving Wayne special billing in the credits, an out-of-alphabetical order “and John Wayne” at the end.

Yes, that was revenge…but Zanuck didn’t have to agree to it. The lesson is worth remembering: don’t spite anyone gratuitously, or make an enemy casually. You never know when you might need them.

1. Biden flip-flops, but at least he flipped in an ethical  direction. Joe Biden is not modelling a lot of integrity as he desperately tries to appease the radical Left in his party so they might hold their noses and vote for an old, sexual harassing white guy to run against President Trump. His latest reversal was to repudiate the Hyde Amendment, which he had once supported and indeed voted for in the Senate. That’s the law that forbids any taxpayer funds from being spent to fund abortions.

The Hyde Amendment never made any sense. If abortion is a right, and it has been one for decades, then government support for access to that right ought to be no less a requirement than with any other right. The Hyde amendment stands for the proposition that if enough Americans don’t agree with government policy, they should be able to withhold financial support of it. That, of course, wouldn’t work as a universal principle, so the Hyde Amendment is an ethical and legal anomaly. I doubt Joe’s flip-flop is one of principle rather than expediency, but it’s still the right position to have.

2. Nevertheless, Joe’s not going to make it. The New York Times—it wants someone else to get the nomination, so it is reporting negative things about Biden that it might bury with another candidate—revealed once again that Biden repeatedly lied about participating in 1960s civil rights marches,  despite being warned by aides not to do it. Such straight-out falsehoods are debilitating for a candidate who will be claiming to be the champion  to elevate the Presidency beyond the incessant petty lies of Donald Trump; this was one reason Hillary Clinton was unable to exploit candidate Trump’s mendacity. She’s a habitual liar too.

So is Joe. It happens when you will say anything to get elected. Continue reading

Political Fundraising Frauds And Scams, PART I: The Democrats

There’s nothing much  lower and making your iconic ,84 year old, women’s rights advocate on the Supreme Court look like she’s breached multiple judicial ethics rules, but the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is up to the challenge, A current DSCC fundraising letter, forwarded to me by a friend, does this AND lies to its supporters in the interest of separating them from their money.

  • No, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg” does not “have a powerful message” about this topic. She made that statement more than 20 years ago, before she was “Justice Ginsberg,” when she told Senators that.

I assume that Justice Ginsberg neither gave her permission to be misrepresented  in this fraudulent manner, nor knew the DSCC was planning on making her a party to a scam. She’s old, but she’s not THAT old. Continue reading

What A Fine, Fine Role Model This High School Principal Is…If The Idea Is To Graduate Short-Cut And Rationalization Addicted Students Who Try To Tap-Dance Their Way Out Of Trouble!

 

Abby Smith, a graduating student at Parkersburg High School in West Virginia, noticed something vaguely familiar about  the speech given by the school’s principal, Ken DeMoss, at her graduation last week. Later, she went home and looked for a video of a speech actor Ashton  Kutcher (formerly the goof on “The 70s Show,” the goof who succeeded Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men,” and the guy who took over froim Bruce Willis when Demi Moore decided she wanted a husband with hair) gave at the 2013 Kid’s Choice Awards. Then she edited DeMoss’s speech and Kutcher’s together, and posted them on YouTube.

There’s no doubt about it, as you can see above. The principal ripped off the speech.

Some might say that what Smith did was mean and unnecessary. No, it was responsible, essential, and gutsy. Students are taught in school, or are supposed to be,  to do their own work, a lesson especially hard to convey when the internet makes plagiarism  easy to do and hard to detect. The distinction between being inspired by another person’s creative output, using it as a foundation for an original work, borrowing phrases and ideas (with attribution), and, in contrast, stealing intellectual property and presenting it as your own, is a crucial one for students to understand. When a role model, a school administer, flagrantly does what the school must teach students not to do, and worse, does this  in front of students, and even worse than that, does it in the course of a speech about the virtues of hard work, such cynicism, laziness, and cheating must not be allowed to pass unnoticed, and I hope, unpunished.

After he was caught, “Kenny” issued this epicly horrible statement, incorporating rationalizations, unethical apologies, multiple logical fallacies, a Jumbo and, of course, lies: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Insensitive Exam Question”

 

I am hopping slickwilly’s answer to the ethics quiz about “Above the Law” editor and social justice warrior taking offense at a Georgetown Law Center prof’s exam question over several other languishing but equally deserving Comment of the Day. The main reason is that it’s witty and mordantly funny, and it made me laugh out loud.

Yes, it qualifies as a rant, and I know there’s a line of long-standing in the Comment policies that says “political rants are not welcome.” However, as readers here know, every rule has exceptions, and several apply to slickwilly’s work. To begin with, any literary form, if executed well, is worthy of respect. Second, Ethics Alarms bestows special privileges on regular commenters here, who add so much to the content and quality of the blog. Finally, I have to concede that sometimes only a rant will do.

The astounding hypocrisy, dishonesty and Orwellian tactics of the “resistance” appear to be immune from rational, traditional analysis. When, for example, Mr Trump’s enraged and hateful foes accuse him of being a fascist while they encourage their supporters to physically intimidate anyone who supports the President, or say that Trump endangers democracy as they attempt to undermine public trust in the President and the nation’s institutions, dispassionate arguments fail to have much impact—it is, as I have said at various times, like arguing with lunatics or toddlers. Rants can provide special clarity by crystallizing the frustration and anger created by trying to engage ethically with a shamelessly unethical adversary. I don’t want rants to become the currency of the realm here, but this one is timely and skillful.

Here is slickwilly’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz: The Insensitive Exam Question”:

“Was the professor’s exam question unethical, as in irresponsible and uncaring?

Hell, no!

Color me surprised that a progressive hack found something to be offended by.

What, President Trump not taken to Twitter lately? Was this a slow news day in Mystal’s neck of the woods? Weren’t there pygmies in Africa with acne to write about? No pictures of swimming polar bears denoting some perceived deficiency with their habitat, undoubtedly caused by evil man?

‘Snowflake’ is an apt term for what academia and progressives are indoctrinating students into becoming.

If you cannot stand up to the adversity of life, cannot even hear a point of view not dictated by your progressive masters;

If you cannot stand to be reminded that the thing you are outraged about TODAY was the thing you endorsed YESTERDAY;

If the mere presence of a designated ‘deplorable’ on campus sends you fleeing to a room with coloring books and puppies;

If the term ‘safe’ implies a space and not a condition of a runner in Baseball;

If you believe in violence against those who disagree with progressive cant, yet self defense by those attacked is not a natural and correct response;

If you believe that everyone should pay ‘their fair share’ yet complain when YOU have to pony up;

If you believe that Roe-v-Wade is written in stone, yet Heller-v-District of Columbia should be reversed upon a whim; Continue reading

The SAT’s Racial Prejudice By The Numbers

Bribing administrators  and having people take tests for your kids is one way to cheat in college admissions. Another way is to have the College Board cheat for you.

I should have written about this days ago, I know. I haven’t been feeling well, though, and this story literally makes me sick.

The SATs are adding a so-called “adversity score” that will artificially raise the test scores of some students beyond what they actually deserve on a level playing field competition. This is, we are told, “to help colleges and universities account for the various educational and socioeconomic factors that may negatively impact students’ scores.”

Let me translate: this is a cynical and dishonest device to give cover to colleges and universities as they try to base their admissions on race and ethnicity while avoiding legal prohibitions on discrimination based on race and ethnicity.  That is all it is, and exactly what it is. Continue reading

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

The ABA Shuts Down Comments On The Articles In The ABA Journal

Now that’s ironic. Like so many other publications and websites that prefer one-way communications of ideas, the official publication of the American Bar Association has announced that it will no longer allow readers to comment on its content. Yes, a profession that is all about rights and advocacy finds advocacy in response to legal opinion and analysis too inconvenient to deal with, and its readers free expression of ideas too burdensome to countenance.

The ABA Journal’s announcement was filled with disingenuous statements and half truths as bullet-pointed reasons for the move:

  • The tone of the comments has become rancorous and uncivil, with substantive commentary being drowned out by partisanship and namecalling that violate the ABA Code of Conduct.”

Wait: how does “partisanship and namecalling” in the comment section of a website “violate the ABA Code of Conduct?”

What an embarrassing claim: the ABA doesn’t understand its own Model Rules! The word “partisanship” doesn’t appear anywhere in the rules, and the argument is hilarious anyway, since the ABA itself, an allegedly non-partisan non-profit, is extremely partisan, as a brief perusal of the various public positions it has taken on matters that really should be none of their business would make obvious. (Guess which party! Come on, guess!) Extreme namecalling under certain  circumstances during the practice of law may occasionally involve a sanctionable ethics breach for lawyers, but not for non-lawyers, retired lawyers and many other readers. The larger problem is this: the ABA Rules are just guidelines. They don’t officially apply to anybody, not even to ABA members. You can’t literally “violate” them, like they are rules or laws.

  • “Our existing commenting system is vulnerable to trolls.”

Then fix your system, but only after defining “trolls.” It is often a lawyer’s job to make trouble, stir the pot, and create productive friction.

  • “Moderating the comments has become an unsustainable burden on our staff.”

I guess the ABA Journal is incapable of running a website, then. Moderating comments, which as far as I can determine involves fewer comments per article than the typical Ethics Alarms post, cannot possibly be that difficult or time-consuming. It’s a staff-member, and not a highly paid one. This sounds like cover for a financial decision.

  • “We have fielded a number of complaints from members about individual comments and the tone of the comments as a whole.””

Oh! Complaints! Well, we all know how much lawyers hate complaints! (Who wrote this?)

  • “With our large social media presence, there are a number of platforms for readers to engage with and discuss our journalism.”

“Now, you  folks can’t eat here, but there are some real nice places down the road a piece…”

I would write a searing comment about this, but the ABA Journal won’t allow it…