Ethics Dunce: Representative Joaquin Castro (D-Tx) [UPDATED]

Well, unless he repudiates his brother, Julian Castro just earned himself a place on the next Ethics Alarms “Who’s most unethical Democratic candidate?” poll. An update on that: Warren well ahead, Harris is second, but with just half Warren’s “support,” and the rest far behind….

This is really slimy: Presidential candidate Castro’s Congressman brother, who also heads his campaign,  tweeted a list of San Antonio donors to the Trump campaign, along with the names of their employers, as well as the Twitter handles of several owners of local businesses in his district that donated to Trump. He added, “Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump. Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

Assholes like Castro are why people donate to Trump: Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/27/2019: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Good Morning!

1. Covington Catholic Students Ethics Train Wreck update. I’ve decided to cover this topic in the Warm-Ups because it will be repetitive if I don’t: this, like the Kavanaugh debacle, has signature significance. Attention must be paid and the American public’s dangerously short attention span has to be overcome. Imagine: pundits, elected officials, academics journalists and celebrities from the Left—and don’t quibble over that label, because that’s where they are, and from that source oozes the increasingly unethical values that are driving them—are deliberately denigrating and attacking a teenager by name for doing absolutely nothing wrong by any objective standard. The non-objective standards—bigotry and racism—that are being applied, however, find him guilty of supporting a President the Left hates and a cause, the rights of the unborn, they find inconvenient to think seriously about; not retreating when an obnoxious  activist began beating a drum in his face; being caught smiling in a manner they chose to link to all manner of subconscious and malign motives, being male, and being white. And, incredibly, these vicious, vicious people are being defended, when they should be, and must be, shamed and shunned. This is not a partisan or an ideological position Ethics Alarms is taking here. It is a civilized, non-partisan and ethical mandate, if we want to live in a free, decent and civil society.

  • On Friday’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO, Maher, an alleged adult operating under the protection of the First Amendment, with a weekly platform and an audience of knee-jerk hooting fools, called the randomly selected child victim of Native American activist Nathan Phillips, student Nick Sandmann,  a “prick” and a “smirkface” with a “shit-eating grin” :

I don’t blame the kid — the smirking kid. I blame lead poisoning and bad parenting, and, oh yeah, I blame that fucking kid. What a little prick — smirkface. Smirkfaces. Please, I mean, like that’s not a dick move, stick your face in this elderly man’s (face).

As anyone who watched the video knows, Sandmann didn’t “stick his face” anywhere. He left it where it was when Phillips stuck his drum in the students’ face, but then Big Lies and repeating false narratives is one of the partisan tactics on ugly display. Classy as ever,  Maher ended his attack with, “I don’t spend a lot of time — I must tell you — around Catholic school children, but I do not get what Catholic priests see in these kids.”

Here’s a definition of “punching down”: A nationally known comedian using a cable show to call a high school student names in public. I cancelled my HBO subscription in part because I refuse to support a company that tolerates conduct like that from a prominent employee. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/30/2018: A Petition, A Career-Killing Joke, And Priestley’s Play [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1. One more time...I’m really going to try to get a year-end ethics review up for 2018. In both of the last two years, I failed miserably, and The Ethics Alarms Best and Worst of Ethics Awards never posted. It is a very time-intensive exercise, and the traffic for the posts have never been substantially more than an average entry that is a tenth as long.

We shall see.

2. The Bad Guys, Redux. It’s a problem: one wants to curb the trend of demonizing political adversaries, and yet we keep seeing escalating examples of unequivocally despicable behavior that deserves to be demonized, because it is constant, self-righteous, and indefensible.

Over at GoFundMe, someone named Brian Kolfage, has posted a petition and a crowd-funding effort to pay for “the wall” if Congress won’t. He writes, “I have a verified blue check Facebook page as a public figure and I’m a Purple Heart Recipient triple amputee veteran.”

This is not encouraging. [Correction notice: I originally wrote “Facebook does not use a “blue check,” though Twitter and Instagram do, (and abuse it.)” I checked this, but my source was wrong. Facebook does give public figures “blue checks.”] I guess Kolfage is sort of a public figure. He is also a controversial one who has pushed extreme right-wing conspiracy theories. When asked why he doesn’t mention any of his controversial crusades and advocacy in promoting his crowdfunding effort, he has responded, “My personal issues have nothing to do with building the wall.” Fine: what do his war wounds have to do with building a wall?

Never mind: the appeal has raised over 18 million dollars to date, although the contributions have slowed considerably. It’s a futile effort; I suppose it has some value to show public support for enforcing immigration laws. If people want to donate their money to such a cause, it’s their money to give, though they might as well be making little green paper airplanes out of hundred dollar bills and sailing them into the wind.

Megan Fox reports, however, that someone who wants to punish anyone who doesn’t support open borders is taking names and doxxing contributors. She writes,

Did you donate money to the GoFundMe page to build the border wall? If you did, there’s a good chance this guy/gal or otherkin has doxxed your Facebook profile to millions of other nasty trolls who will now make it their business to harass and punish you with anonymous online mobs. Get ready, because your life is about to get more interesting. Based on my personal experience, once these monsters get your information and the directive to destroy you, the death threats, vandalism, obscene pornography, and harassment at work are not far behind. And the worst part is, no one will help you — not the police or the FBI or anyone else whose job it should be to stop intimidation and harassment.

Nice. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Black Swan Books Owner Nick Cooke

The “A Nation of Assholes” scenario is in full sway when an entire side of the ideological divide attacks the owner of a public accommodation for insisting that his customers are not harassed and abused. That is a fair description of the fall-out from the recent episode at Richmond’s Black Swan Books, where the owner behaved like the owner of the Red Hen restaurant should have behaved: like an American, like a supporter of diversity of view, like a believer in our political system, like a foe of bias and discrimination.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Nick Cooke, owner of Black Swan Books on West Main Street in the Fan District, said Bannon was in the bookstore Saturday afternoon and that a woman confronted him, calling him a “piece of trash.” Cooke said he called 911 and that the woman left as he made the call.

“Steve Bannon was simply standing, looking at books, minding his own business. I asked her to leave, and she wouldn’t. And I said, ‘I’m going to call the police if you don’t,’ and I went to call the police and she left,” Cooke said. “And that’s the end of the story.”

The Richmond Police Department confirmed a call was made around 3:15 p.m. Saturday for a report of someone yelling at a political figure in the bookstore and that the call was canceled before any officers responded.

“We are a bookshop. Bookshops are all about ideas and tolerating different opinions and not about verbally assaulting somebody, which is what was happening,” Cooke said.

But it was not the end of the story, because so many Democrats and progressives have taken a dangerous turn to totalitarianism and the tactics of  Lenin and the Nazi Party, seeking to harass and abuse those with whom they disagree. The antifa is no longer on the far fringes of the Left: it is creeping toward the center, or perhaps the better metaphor is that the Left is creeping toward it, and I do mean creep. These are awful people, as I’ve said before. Not because of their beliefs, but because of their conduct. Unable to produce the political dominance that they thought had been assured with the election of Barack Obama, frustrated progressives are increasingly abandoning the values and processes of a constitutional democracy to resort to political and social warfare. The attempt to exclude conservatives and Republicans from the basic rights of citizenship, such as being able to walk down a street, shop, or have dinner without being accosted and hectored, represents an escalation, and is signature significance for an ideological movement that has forsworn ethics for the pursuit of power.

( And yes, I personally think Steve Bannon is also an awful person. As is President Trump. As are Maxine Waters, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, Joy Reid, Michael Cohen, Charles M. Blow, Barry Bonds, Stephen Colbert, Howard Stern, Joe Arpaio, Omarosa, Anthony Scaramucci, Harry Reid, Scott Pruitt, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. There are many millions of arguably awful people, all well short of being criminals, in this country, and every one of them has the right to live his or her life unmolested when they are not being overtly awful. Any political party that takes the position that this statement is not true should be disqualified from holding power.)

Speaking of awful people, Philippe Reines, a top aide in Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign, tweeted out the contact information for the bookstore on Sunday afternoon, in effect doxxing her and siccing the social media mob and the Maxine Waters Brigade on the book store and its owner. Typical of the illogic employed by the self-righteous harassers was this tweet:

Woman: Steve Bannon, you’re a piece of trash!

Bookstore Owner: We are a bookstore! We tolerate different ideas!

Also Bookstore Owner: *calls police on woman to have her removed because she expressed her different ideas*

No, you lying moron, the owner called the police because the woman was harassing his customers.  Presumably Nick would have called the police on Bannon if the former Trump aide had been harassing her.

Black Swan Books  is the anti-Old Town Sport&Health Club, which I wrote about as an Ethics Dunce here.

In that 2017 fiasco, a Georgetown professor named Fair, ironically enough, harassed white nationalist Richard Spencer while he was quietly working out, no Heil! gestures or anything, and the club revoked his membership.

(Remember: awful people. Do NOT let them get power.)

I wrote—and I’m sorry for such a long self-quote, but I think I wrote it well the first time:

I’m so weary of reading about restaurants that give discounts to diners who pray, and bar owners who declare that no Democrats are welcome and Maine propane dealers who tell their customers that they can freeze to death if they voted for Donald Trump. I’m tired of pointing out what should be obvious to everyone in a pluralistic society, but suddenly isn’t, particularly, it seems, to proto-totalitarians like the Georgetown professor, who is doubtless hard at work indoctrinating her young charges into believing that those with non-conforming views should have their rights taken away for the greater good. I detest Spencer’s views, but I consider Fair and her kind the far greater threat to the nation, in part because there are so many of them.

Why? She is a greater threat because her version of society doesn’t work, and soon devolves into armed camps. As I wrote in a post called, “Americans: End This Slippery Slope Now, Before It’s Too Late,” about a Washington, D.C. restaurant that publicly apologized for letting an alt-right group to eat there,

I know, I know: Neo-Nazis are really bad. Yet I don’t want my freedom to participate in life and society to be limited by someone else’s judgments about my beliefs or politics. Listen to the rhetoric from angry Clinton supporters since the election. If you want to enforce immigration laws, you hate Latinos. If you think the unborn deserve rights, you are a misogynist. If you voted for Trump, you are a blight on humanity. Thanks to the rhetoric of Black Lives Matters and the tacit approval of some well-placed politicians, police officers have been refused service in various establishments… The argument that this group or that group is special and doesn’t deserve the same courtesy and service as other groups is simply a rationalization born of bias, like… the position that the Vice President Elect, alone among all the millions of audience members who are allowed to attend theatrical performances as part of the community, ought to be subjected to personal harassment based on his political beliefs.

If we, as a culture,  approve of this abusive treatment of the alt-right, then we are approving similar treatment when the group being discriminated against is the Democratic Party, the ACLU, a mosque, the Shriners, the Boy Scouts, NARAL, or a newspaper editorial board. Rights mean nothing if the most unpopular, most controversial, most offensive individuals and organizations cannot exercise them….This is a slippery slope that leads right to the end of the principles and liberties that make the United States an ethical nation, and perhaps a nation at all.

Well, since I wrote that, self-righteous, proto-totalitarian progressives and “the resistance” have been greasing that slippery slope.

The Richmond bookstore owner’s effort isn’t enough by itself, but at least he demonstrated how to throw sand on it.

 

 

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/30/17

Good Morning!

(I’m starting this post just a few minutes before noon, thank to a WiFi outage. I’m sorry.)

1. I finally saw “Passengers,” which most people and critics seemed to hate. I see no obvious inferiority to the over-praised and honored “The Martian” or “Gravity,” especially the latter, which bored me to tears, but never mind: it’s an ethics movie. It is also a moral luck movie, and that drove me crazy. I’ll bet so many viewers (SPOILER ALERT!) saw the film and came out saying, “She had to forgive him, because if he hadn’t awakened her prematurely to keep him company, everyone would have died!”

No, no, no! His (Chris Pratt’s) conduct toward her (that’s Jennifer Lawrence, and anyone who wrongs Jennifer Lawrence deserves the torments of Hell) was just as bad–and it was horriblewhether it turned out well by chance or not. Subsequent discoveries or unpredictable events cannot make an unethical act retroactively ethical.

2. San Francisco’s Medicaid program sends illegal immigrants this letter:

When the anti-Trump deranged argue that the President is “crazy,” my stock answer is going to be that nothing he has said or done is as “crazy” as the position that it is right and just to officially encourage foreign citizens to breach our borders, defy our sovereignty and break our laws….and the people trying to use the 25th Amendment to execute a coup are exactly the people who think the letter above is compassionate and right. (Believing that a coup is in anyone’s interest is also demonstrably nutsy-cuckoo, but that’s another issue.)

3. I am really going to be disappointed if NPR and PBS don’t get zero-ed out of the budget. I may be stuck with biased and incompetent journalism, but I shouldn’t have to pay for it.

In a segment of NPR’s “All Things Considered” this week (Yes, I generally think the show is excellent, but that’s not the point) about the “restorative justice” approach to campus sexual assault, reporter Tovia Smith quoted Columbia University graduate Emma Sulkowiczs, aka “Mattress Girl,” as a “survivor” of rape.

She’s not a survivor; she was a harasser, and Columbia just paid a financial settlement to her victim for permitting her to proclaim him as a rapist when the evidence didn’t back the claim. Columbia doesn’t believe Sulkowiczs was raped, and her accusation has been thoroughly discredited. Why in the world would NPR choose this cruel and discredited woman to profile while discussing actual campus sexual assault, and how could it be ethical journalism to still refer to her as a rape survivor?

Smith’s tweeted response to criticism was as damning as the choice of “Mattress Girl” itself:

“Sulkowicz considers herself a survivor & we ID her as such. We’ve clarified that their school found the student she accused ‘not responsible.” Continue reading

Whatever Else Can Be Said About President Trump, He Has Caused CNN To Expose Its Abandonment of Ethical Journalism. GOOD. [UPDATED]

“All the news media would have to do to have a shot at beating Trump would be to act in a measured, professional fashion. Trump has revealed that they’re incapable of that; it seems as if that option has never even occurred to them.”

Thus wrote Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, yesterday. I almost made it the Ethics Quote of the Day. The poster child for the malady that Reynolds describes is, of course, CNN. What has happened to that once respected news source in the last few weeks, and accelerated in the last few days, should, in a rational world, be reveille for the others who easily could fall into similar self-baited traps, and probably will. As we have seen, however, most of the similarly infected have either defended CNN or tried to bury its disgrace.

During the campaign for the Republican nomination, the assumption was that eventually Donald Trump would snap, engaging in some ugly conduct or rant that would sink his prospects and decimate his support. It never happened. Then in the general campaign, the same assumption reigned. He was a narcissist without ethics alarms. Goad him, frustrate him, and he would eventually crumble like Humphrey Bogart on the witness stand in “The Caine Mutiny.”  That theory worked well. Never mind: since his election, Trump has been subjected to unprecedented hostility from the news media, disrespect from elected officials, journalists and popular culture like no one before him, and a barrage of hate and insults.  Is part of the impetus behind the tactics of “the resistance,” Democrats and the news media the theory that relentless frustration and abuse will finally provoke that elusive “snap!” that results in an impeachable offense? I think it is. So far, as before, this tactic has failed. Ironically,  it is Trump’s most relentless foe, the mainstream media, that is snapping instead, driven to humiliating unprofessional and unenthical conduct by the President’s juvenile trolling. One wag recalled Wilford Brimley’s classic interrogation of Paul Newman’s character in “Absence of Malice” after Newman had maneuvered a district attorney, a federal agent and an unethical reporter into destroying themselves and their careers,

“Mr Gallagher…I seem to want to ask if you set all this up. If I do, you ain’t gonna tell me, are you?

I don’t think Trump’s sophomoric and undignified tweets were brilliant stratagems; he’s not that smart. He does, however, have the immense benefit of loathsome and inept enemies, and moral luck has been on his side. It is very possible that CNN’s over-the-top, thuggish and ugly response to the President re-tweeting a stunt GIF showing an image of him wrestling with a figure symbolizing CNN will prove to be a tipping point for both the network and the news media generally.

The network’s efforts to defend the indefensible, a senior CNN reporter intimidating and threatening to dox the ordinary web troll who made the GIF, has made it clear to anyone paying attention that CNN simply employs too many awful, unprofessional  people, prone to liberal fascism and habitual contempt for fairness and decency.  This, in turn points to a sick and unethical corporate culture, which was hinted at recently by the James O’Keefe sting videos featuring a producer mocking the concept of journalism ethics.

Today on her Twitter feed, CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers argued that Americans “do not have a right to stay anonymous” if they are expressing offensive views, meaning views that she/CNN/ progressives—you know, the good people who are always right?— find offensive.

Powers was responding to the uproar surrounding CNN’s report on the Reddit user believed to be responsible for the famous WWE meme of President Trump body-slamming the network’s logo. The CNN article included a threat to reveal the meme maker’s name if he doesn’t comply with the outlet’s demands.

The CNN commentator took issue with the people from all sides of the political aisle taking the side of the Reddit user, who goes by the pseudonym “HanAssholeSolo,” and argued he didn’t deserve any sympathy due to his past “anti-semitic racist, and anti-gay” posts. “People do not have a ‘right’ to stay anonymous so they can spew their racist, misogynist, homophobic garbage,” she added, noting that she would have published the GIF-maker’s name for all to see.

“Racism and misogyny is not an ‘opinion'” she said.

Bingo. There it is: the watermark of a leftist fascist, an anti-free speech hypocrite, and the rotting, stinking soul of CNN. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Round-Up: 7/5/17

Good morning!

1. I’ve always had ethical problems with parole hearings, and thanks to a link sent by Ethics Scout Fred, I really have ethics problems with parole hearings. This story, from New Hampshire public radio, portrays an unprofessional and chaotic process in which parole boards, made up of officials without training or guidelines, insult, bully and deride prisoners to get the answers they want. A sample:

“While they may review cases beforehand, the parole board has only about 15 minutes to speak with people convicted of charges including sex offenses, drug crimes, and domestic violence before deciding if they can live safely outside prison walls. Members receive no training and appointment requires no prerequisite experience. Most of the time, inmates who meet minimum requirements are granted parole.”

Great.

2. Crime naturally makes me think of Chicago, where, it is reported, the wise city managers, led by Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) are installing a system that requires public high school students to show that they have plans for the future before obtaining their diploma. In order to graduate, students will  have to demonstrate that they’ve secured a job or received a letter of acceptance to college, a trade apprenticeship, a gap year program or the military The Washington Post reports. Emanuel’s plan, approved by the Board of Education in late May, makes Chicago’s the first big-city system to make post-graduation plans a requirement.

“We are going to help kids have a plan, because they’re going to need it to succeed,” Emanuel told the Post. “You cannot have kids think that 12th grade is done.”

Oh, why don’t we just enlist the kids in the Social Justice Youth Corps, give them uniforms and some good progressive indoctrination, and be done with it? This is such an egregious abuse of power and autonomy, as well as parental authority, that the fact that it got a single vote indicates that the culture’s values are coming apart. I’m going to list five things that are unethical about this plan, and invite readers to some up with the doubtlessly large number of others that I missed because its early and the shock of this story fried half of mu brain:

It’s dishonest grandstanding. How are they going to enforce the “plan”? Will Chicago’s Plan Police keep tabs on graduates? Will students who don’t follow the plan be captured and thrown back into high school?

  • It is unfair, coercive. unconscionably narrow. What if a student’s plan is to continue her education by taking a year off and touring the world? What if the student plans on training for the Olympics, or a bodybuilding championship?

What if she wants to go to New York City and audition for shows?

  • The measure demonstrates myopic disregard for the original, the eccentric, the creative, the  bold, the dreamer, the non-conformist and the individualist

But then individualists make poor sheep, right?

  • It is totalitarian. It is none of the government’s business what a student chooses to do after graduation, or when that student decides to it. Here was my plan, fully backed by my parents: spend as much time figuring out what I want to do with my life as it took.

I’m still figuring.

  • It is arrogant. It is disrespectful. It is presumptuous. It is an invasion of parental authority. It is probably unconstitutional. It is wrong.

ARRRRRRRGHHHHHHH!!! Continue reading