The Damning Fake Video

During last week’s  impeachment hearings, Democratic Judiciary Counsel Norman Eisen (above, on the left) presented a video clip showing President Trump  saying: “Then I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.” Asked to comment on the video, Harvard Law School Professor Noah Feldman—you know, he’s the one who falsely told the committee and America that Nixon “sent burglars” to steal documents from the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in 1972. That guy— replied, “As someone who cares about the Constitution,” the statement “struck a kind of horror in me.”

Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, referenced the same quotation as it was heard in the clip , concluding that President Trump “believes that in his own words, ‘I can do whatever I want.’” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was referencing the same video when she said Thursday that Trump threatened  the Constitution by acting as a “king.”

Later in the week, CNN legal analyst Elie Honig twice cited the same clip.  So did MSNBC’s Chris Mathews during  “Hardball,” and  MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on “Morning Joe.” The Washington Post spread the same report about the video.

In all six cases, a video deceptively edited to misrepresent what the President was referring to was used to inflame and deceive.  Continue reading

Cultural And Societal Poison, Pumped Into Our National Bloodstream [Corrected]

When I worked for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the 1970s, I was once dispatched to an Amway convention at the Atlanta Omni  to speak to the packed arena about carious Chamber citizen activism projects. Right before I was scheduled, the Amway “Diamond” hosting the thing (it was so strange and cult-like that “thing” is the best I can come up with this early in the morning) rallied the glassy-eyed crowd with a speech the likes of which I had never heard before. Among the crazy assertions he made to cheers and  cries of “Amen!” was that Jimmy Carter, then President, was card-carrying Communist and an agent of the Soviet Union, preparing as he spoke to turn over America to the Russians He also said, Joe McCarthy-like, that he had authentic documents to prove this.

As I sat in the wings, my mind raced to determine what I should do. I did not want to endorse or support what I had just heard in any way, but I also was on an assignment from my boss, who, I was and am quite sure, would have been just as horrified by what I had just heard as I was. Amway’s founders, Jay Van Andel and Rich De Vos were Chamber board members and big contributors to the Chamber’s PAC. Nothing I was promoting there was sinister. Still, I seriously considered leaving immediately, or even using my huge radio mic to denounce what I had just heard as outrageous lies, at least until I was brought down in a hail of bullets, or torn limb from limb by the infuriated mob.

In the end, I gave a shortened version on my planned speech—the crowd was very receptive—and got the hell out of there. When I returned to D.C., I announced that I would not appear at any more Amway conventions, or, for that matter, any John Birch Society meetings or KKK rallies, and my wishes were respected. I remained disturbed by the incident, and especially by the extremist bile that was apparently circulating quietly among the public that was barely hinted at in what was then naively called the “respectable media.”

Sunday, I read a column by Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author who writes for the New York Times. In a column called Iran Is Crushing Freedom One Country at a Time,”  this supposedly mainstream and eminently respectable pundit wrote, Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/26/2019: The Pooping Engineer, Fake Newspapers, And Other Things Not To Be Thankful For

As the Happy Holidays countdown continues…

1. More trivial ethics: Watching Season #2 (2015) of the excellent Stephen Bochco procedural “Murder One,” my wife and I were stunned to hear an expert witness in the trial of one of the teenage shooters in a school bus mass murder point out, while noting that most sociopaths don’t kill people, the Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton were examples of very successful sociopaths. It’s very unusual to see favored progressive narratives challenged in television dramas. Of course, this would have been an opportunity for Trump-bashing had the show been filmed a couple of years later.

2.  Ew. Matthew Lebsack, an 18-year employee of the Union Pacific Railroad Co., defecated on a train-car knuckle three years ago, threw feces-covered toilet paper out of the locomotive window, and informed his manager that he had left a “present” for him. Lebsack’s co-workers cleaned up his droppings using bottled water and paper towels.

At the investigation hearing, Lebsack admitted the specifics of the incident and apologized for his behavior. He claimed he  was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, and his wife had just left him at the time of the incident.

I wonder why?

Yeah, that justifies throwing one’s poop around the workplace. Lebsack was fired, shockingly. His union, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division, or  SMART appealed and the matter was sent to an arbitration board.

The arbitration board found that firing “was too harsh.” That’s good to know, just in case a clueless ethics class frustrates me so much I decide to take a dump on the podium.   Lebsack’s medical and psychological issues were deemed to be sufficient mitigation that board ordered Lebsack to be reinstated once he successfully completes a physical and a psychological evaluation. Union Pacific appealed to vacate the decision and SMART sought to enforce it.

U.S. District Judge Brian Buescher ruled that, under the Railway Labor Act, he was without authority to review the merits of the board’s interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement. Buescher said the arbitration board’s decision fell within its discretion, although he admitted that he didn’t understand its reasoning. Continue reading

Mitt Romney’s Secret Twitter Account Is Unethical

It’s…..Mitt!

For some reason Ann Althouse is defending Mitt Romney’s fake Twitter feed identity. She’s wrong.

This week it was revealed that Senator Romney has been maintaining an undercover Twitter account as “Pierre Delicto,” a funny choice for a Mormon, since it sounds like a porn star name that George Costanza might have used if he discarded his first choice, “Buck Naked.” Mitt confessed that he used to account to “lurk” on Twitter and read what others were writing. If that was all he was doing, I would have no problem with the ethics of being “Pierre.”

However, those perusing his account, notably Georgetown professor Don Moynihan, who revealed his discoveries on Twitter, found  that Mitt also used his Twitter account to signal approval of post critical to other Republicans, like Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Lindsay Graham, and Marco Rubio, whose critic got a “like” from Pierre for this tweet…

Nice.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/10/19: Omar, Warren, Clinton, And Urinals

Good morning!

Yesterday I had completed a 3-hour Ethics CLE program for a distinguish national law firm’s D.C. office, aided by my sister, retired justice Dept. and HHS attorney Edith Marshall. (This time, her role was to lead the attendees in the chorus section of my legal ethics parody of “Trouble in River City” from “The Music Man.”) I knew that I should have gotten some posts done when I returned, but a) I was exhausted and b) there were two Game Five play-off games to watch. Sometimes, baseball comes first. Priorities! Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for an upset win over the Braves, whose horrible fate of giving up ten runs in the first inning I wouldn’t even wish on the Yankees. Imagine knowing you have lost before your team even gets up to bat, and that you’re in front of the home team fans who will have to suffer through three hours of slow, inevitable humiliation. Ugh. The Braves lost with as much dignity as possible in such a hopeless situation. And congratulations to the resurgent Washington Nationals, who came back from a late  deficit to tie the game in the eighth, and then won on a grand slam in the tenth. They are now headed to the seven game play-off to determine who represents the NL in the World Series, the first time a Washington, D.C. team has been this close since 1933. D.C. really needed this.

1. Should it matter? Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar, she of “The Squad” fame (or infamy)  has filed for divorce from husband Ahmed Hirsi, whom she only married last year, though he is the father of her three children. Omar’s petition for dissolution of her marriage has been posted online here. Our sole Somali Muslim House member previously was married to  Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, who appears to be her brother and whom she married to perpetrate a citizenship fraud in 2009. Omar legally dissolved that marriage in 2017. There appears to have been a period where she was married to both men. Omar has never given a straightforward explanation for her tangled domestic affairs.

Should any of this matter? These things really do constitute “personal, private conduct,” unlike the workplace misconduct that the enablers of Bill Clinton tried to defend by using that term. If Omar did perpetrate a fraud, however, or was married to two husbands, those are very relevant to her fitness to serve as a law-maker. Continue reading

Monday Ethics Musings, 10/7/2019: Questions, Questions…

Thinking…

Wait, where are my clothes???

1. When will Mrs. Q make her debut as a regular contributor to Ethics Alarms? I’m working out the details. She’s ready, I’m behind, we’ll get it done. Very excited.

2. If everything is going to be done online, is it reasonable to expect those companies who force us to interact that way to be competent? Case Study: The Boston Globe just offered me a 6 month digital subscription for a buck. But an old password connected to my email address prevented me from entering the new one necessary to accept the deal. All links went to current subscription or subscribing at the regular price. It took 40 minutes of online chats with robots and a human being (who disconnected me one) to fix the problem, which was in how the Globe set up the offer acceptance page. I ended up using a password made up by “Sherry” because I couldn’t reset my password myself. This kind of thing happens all the time. I wouldn’t have a clue how to set up a website response system, but if that was my job, I would be obligated to do better than this.

3. What good are movie critics whose opinions and tastes aren’t shared by their readers? My view: not much. The job of a critic is to let readers know if readers would appreciate the movie or not. A critic who can’t or won’t do that, and most don’t, is useless. I was thinking about this when I encountered this article in The Guardian listing the films for which audience ratings and critical ratings diverged the most.

Much of the disparity today is caused by critics who allow their ideological biases to dominate their judgment: yes, bias makes them stupid. Another problem, harder to over-come, is that the judgment of people who see hundreds of movies a year and who are often steeped in the art of film-making often has no relevance to the movie average audience member at all. Yet another is the unavoidable fact that few critics are equally qualified to review all genres. Horror movies are especially frequent victims of this problem.

Incidentally, yesterday I watched a new horror movie, “A.M.I.” that exploited the inherent creepiness of online personal assistants like Siri and Alexa. It was pretty bad, but the final scene was so ridiculous (and predictable) that it almost justified the film. Almost. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Hillary Clinton

“So get over it.”

Hillary Clinton, explaining why Joe Biden’s serial unconsented-to touching, hugging, sniffing, and other discriminatory, harassing conduct toward  women he encounters in the course of his professional activities shouldn’t matter to the “Party of Women” and the voting public generally.

This was prefaced by her saying , in response to a question about Biden’s #MeToo defying behavior,

“For goodness’ sake, I’m sorry, I have to jump in because I’ve heard a little bit about that. You could take any person who sticks their little head above the parapet and says, ‘I’m going to run for president,’ and find something that … a little annoying habit or other kind of behavior that people are going to pick apart and disagree with. But this man who’s there in the Oval Office right now poses a clear and present danger to the future of the United States. So get over it.”

The only remaining question, after that self-indicting outburst, is whether only Hillary Clinton among the Democratic leadership is a cynical, dishonest hypocrite who has no reliable core values or integrity, and whose utterances to the contrary are to be regarded as Machiavellian calculations to achieve power and nothing more.

The evidence suggests that she is not alone, but also that she is a bad as the rest of them could be.

Continue reading