Tag Archives: elections

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/18/18: “The Show Must Go On” Edition

Here we are.

After a brief recovery Friday the 16th, an early morning seminar for D.C. Bar admittees yesterday crashed me entirely, which is why there were no posts. I almost didn’t make it to the end of the program, which surprised and alarmed me; the last few minutes were excruciating. But I have never cancelled a seminar, and when I do, it will be because my metaphorical chips are about to be cashed. Those who know my theatrical history will recall that I damaged my lungs in college staging and performing a professional dinner theater show six days a week (during final exams)  while I was suffering from a serious bronchitis attack; that I refused to cancel in-door performances of The American Century Theater (RIP) during snow storms, and one out-door performance during an electrical storm. Not being able to do my job and fulfill my responsibilities due to illness or injury absolutely crushes me (like many of my obsessions, this one is partially Dad’s fault: he refused to take sick days), and keeping Ethics Alarms current is the least burdensome of my responsibilities.

Once again, I apologize.

1. More apologies, Arlington High School Dept.: My ill-timed illness is also keeping me away from my 50th high school class reunion. I intended to make it, and wanted to make it: I had a wonderful time in high school, and met many of the best people I have ever known while I was there. Past reunions have been somewhat depressing for me: seeing people I remember vividly as young, vital and full of excitement for the future looking as old as they are and often feeling defeated by life makes me feel old, and the inevitable sad cases who feel he or she has to boast about successes and wonderful kids caused me stress as I barely controlled the urge to tell them off. Nonetheless, I regard attendance at such milestones as an obligation to the past, a demonstration of respect for where we have come from and the people and institutions that got us to where we are. And, of course, the more old friends who attend, the better the experience is for everyone. I wish there was a way to let my classmates know that I still think about them and care about them. This blog isn’t it.

2. Who made bad losers in politics respectable? When public trust in democratic institutions reached some yet-to-be-determined tipping point, a democracy is finished. Once, not too long ago, the tradition in American politics was that the defeated candidate—the office didn’t matter, nor did the margin of victory—conceded the race in a timely fashion, congratulated his or her opponent, and vowed to help and assist the victor as much as possible.  This not only modeled graciousness and good sportsmanship, but also protected the system. Now every election shows this healthy model being further pushed into cultural obscurity, with a new low being established in Georgia last week, when the loser of the governor’s race, Stacey Abrams, blamed her loss on a failure of democracy, refused to officially concede while admitting that she had lost, and announced a lawsuit alleging that Governor-Elect Brian Kemp and Republicans had tampered with the election without offering any proof or evidence. Well, maybe this wasn’t the new low; it would be hard to top Roy Moore.

3. The new Title IX rules. The Education Department finally released new guidance on how  Title IX, the federal statute that forbids sex and gender-based discrimination in public schools and colleges, should be enforced. This was desperately needed after the Obama Administration had muddled and corrupted the process with blatant gender bias and its infamous “Dear Colleague” letter, creating a culture that undermined free expression and due process on college campuses and due process rights for students accused of sexual misconduct. Continue reading

20 Comments

Filed under Education, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Rights

BREAKING NEWS: Hollywood And Broadway Declare War On The Presidency, Elections, Democracy, Decency And Civility. NOW What?

“I’m just going to say one thing. Fuck Trump! It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump.’ It’s ‘fuck Trump!’”

—Actor Robert De Niro on live TV at the Tonys last night.

Then he pumped both fists in the air, as a large contingent of the crowd of Broadway glitterati at Radio City Music Hall stood and gave him a standing ovation, endorsing the gutter insult.

I believe such un-American conduct creates an ethical obligation on the part of fair and reasonable American to demonstrate their contempt and opposition, in as strong and decisive a manner possible.

What that means is beyond my ability to suggest right now. I don’t like to write when I am angry, and I am angry. But this must not stand.

Yesterday, commenting on the unethical Tony Awards scheduling  of De Niro, who has used other appearances to make vulgar, hateful, ad hominem attacks on the President, I wrote in part,

“If you invite Robert De Niro, you are deliberately announcing that your event is going to be politically divisive and include an attack, probably uncivil, on the President—and while he will be engaged in crucial international negotiations. The President has nothing to do with the Tonys, nor does politics—the main contenders for top musicals are “SpongeBob” and “Mean Girls,” for heaven’s sakes—nor does De Niro, who is just one more movie star being used by Broadway to attract a larger TV audience.”

Naturally, CBS allowed this to go forward, because it was in search of ratings for the perpetually viewer-starved awards show. The network either knew or should have known that this meant that it would be broadcasting some kind of ugly episode. The network was accused of  conspiring with Janet Jackson to flash her breast during the supposedly family-friendly Super Bowl half-time show—you know, back in those halcyon days when games didn’t include NFL players symbolically calling the US. racist as a prelude?—and swore that it had no idea anything inappropriate was going to happen. Well, it can’t make that claim now about De Niro. De Niro’s outburst is like the breast-bearing if Jackson had been flashing at every public appearance. CBS knew he was going to insult the President. It wanted him to insult the President. Continue reading

92 Comments

Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, language, Popular Culture, Quotes, U.S. Society

Comment Of The Day: “Ten Ethics Observations On The Nunes Memo”

I think this is the shortest Comment of the Day yet, a single sentence with an introduction, but it is a brilliant one. I am abashed that I didn’t think of it, but no one else has either, as far as I can determine. Circulate it widely, especially to your Facebook friends who are horrified that anyone would try to impugn a spotless American Institution like the FBI.

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ten Ethics Observations On The Nunes Memo

You may have missed one glaring observation…

Comey, pundits, and Democats decry the Nunes memo as a smear on the FBI, attempts to sully the reputations of our premier agencies but have no problem casting doubt on our electoral process, smearing a bothersome but duly elected person to the high office of president, and telling the world of his transgressions.

50 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quote Of The Month, Terrifying Thoughts Division: Daniel Greenfield”

Conservative journalist David Greenstein made a provocative speech before a Tea Party group in which he posited a “civil war,” defined by him as when a political party rejects a lawful Presidential election and refuses to accept the legitimacy of any government it does not dominate. I admit that offering up such inflammatory analysis for comment is the pedagogical equivalent of tossing a hand grenade in a room, but there is method to my madness, beginning with my conviction, documented here since  November 2016, that much of the Democratic Party is denying the legitimacy of the last Presidential election, and is actively working to find a way to remove President Trump without having to defeat him in the next one.  I believe that this is among the most damaging and dangerous political developments, and ethics outrages, in U.S. history, and one that has been intentionally covered up by an unethical news media with the same agenda.

Greenstein’s speech placed the matter front and center, and I guessed, correctly, that it would get a lot of attention, though the speech has been largely ignored by progressive commentators, even as numerous Democrats, announced that they would boycott the State of the Union message, a traditional yearly symbol of a unified people.  I also assumed that it would pose an interesting challenge for readers here, specifically the challenge of keeping bias out of their  analysis, since, as we all know, bias makes you stupid.

Chris Marschner did an especially good job of this, and here is his excellent Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quote Of The Month, Terrifying Thoughts Division: Daniel Greenfield:

 After listening to his speech I came away with a completely different take on the overall message. To me, he was chastising professional governance. I do not consider it irresponsible demagoguery but an merely the idea that we have gotten away from citizen governance and allowed our governing bodies to be overtaken by a ruling elite that uses its power to obtain more power. In doing so, they have created a civil war that rages within our society which helps them retain power.

Given that the speech was being delivered to a South Carolina Tea Party group his ideas would be readily accepted; and why not? Nationally, Tea Party groups were disparaged by the I.R.S, Anderson Cooper with his vulgar teabagger comments, the Congressional Black Caucus, and left leaning political commentators. Typically, they were characterized as racists, rednecks, rubes, and others that cling to their guns and religion. We know who made the clinger statement. Disparagement and ridicule is the modus operandi of power seekers and those with few abilities or achievements. It works because they know that if someone challenges them the challenger will become the target of ridicule; it becomes psychological extortion.

If asked whether I agree with the statement that the paramount objective of Mueller’s investigation is to remove the President I would have to answer that I don’t know. I do know that current evidence would lead someone to believe that a criminal charge is the objective. I made the point several days ago that seeking an obstruction charge without having the ability to prove an underlying charge of conspiracy is prima facie evidence of not seeking justice but merely to obtain a conviction. This is especially believable given the coordinated efforts to find multiple avenues for removal from office. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, U.S. Society

Ethics Quote Of The Month, Terrifying Thoughts Division: Daniel Greenfield

“The Mueller investigation is about removing President Trump from office and overturning the results of an election. We all know that. But it’s not the first time they’ve done this. The first time a Republican president was elected this century, they said he didn’t really win. The Supreme Court gave him the election. There’s a pattern here. Trump didn’t really win the election. Bush didn’t really win the election. Every time a Republican president won an election this century, the Democrats insist he didn’t really win. Now say a third Republican president wins an election in say, 2024. What are the odds that they’ll say that he didn’t really win? Right now, it looks like 100 percent. What do sure odds of the Dems rejecting the next Republican president really mean? It means they don’t accept the results of any election that they don’t win.

“It means they don’t believe that transfers of power in this country are determined by elections.

“That’s a civil war.”

—–Writer and journalist Daniel Greenfield in a speech he delivered last week.

Oh-oh.

I don’t want to believe Greenfield is right, though I have written essays noting the same phenomenon, and long before “the resistance” tried to take down Trump. This is essentially the reason I decided late in the 2016 campaign that I could not vote for Clinton even though I would not vote for Trump. Since the election, my analysis has been confirmed, though I spend time each day wrestling to the ground the inevitable conclusion that follows, because I don’t want to believe it, so I don’t. Greenfield, however, declares it outright in his next section, saying,

There’s no shooting. At least not unless you count the attempt to kill a bunch of Republicans at a charity baseball game practice. But the Democrats have rejected our system of government.

This isn’t dissent. It’s not disagreement.

You can hate the other party. You can think they’re the worst thing that ever happened to the country. But then you work harder to win the next election. When you consistently reject the results of elections that you don’t win, what you want is a dictatorship.

Your very own dictatorship.

The only legitimate exercise of power in this country, according to the left, is its own. Whenever Republicans exercise power, it’s inherently illegitimate.

The attacks on Trump show that elections don’t matter to the left.

Continue reading

169 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Rights, U.S. Society

Do Good Friends Let Friends Publish Garbage On Social Media? The Duty to Knock Down Irresponsible Opinions

“Stop quoting Maxine Waters!”

I just arrived at Virginia Beach Double Tree after a four hour plus drive in the dead of night. This gave amble time to obsess to the point of madness on Facebook post I saw from a friend. This is a smart, educated person; published in fact. Yet the post was (I am paraphrasing):

“I don’t understand Republicans. They must prefer Pence to Trump: why won’t the join Democrats in impeaching the orange bastard? I don’t get it.”

This post garnered many likes in the Facebook echo chamber, and several theories.

Now, this is not just an uninformed opinion. It is a dangerous opinion. It misinforms everyone who reads it and who has reason to trust and respect the writer. It is written in complete ignorance of the Constitution, and an irresponsible misinterpretation of what American democracy is.

I shouldn’t have to explain this further, but what the hell: if the Founders intended for our system to be a modified parliamentary arrangement where the public can try to elect a President but if Congress decides it prefers someone else, like the Vice-President, it can veto the election with a sufficient majority, then Madison, Mason et al. would have made that clear. Instead they made it clear that an elected President can only be impeached upon a guilty verdict in a Senate trial for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which means unequivocal, serious and substantive wrongdoing, usually criminal. Yet a frightening number of progressives, driven to fantasy by listening to irresponsible and incompetent elected demagogues like Maxine Waters, actually embrace an imaginary version of our government that, if real, would render democracy a cruel fraud. Continue reading

23 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Citizenship, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Social Media, The Popeye

20 Ethics Observations On The President’s Charge That Obama Tapped His Phones

In the first week of March, in the midst of the over-blown flap regarding Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ two meetings with the Russian ambassador, President Trump issued arguably his most explosive  tweet yet:

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!.

Later, he  tweeted,

“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

It has been more than a week, and we know only a little more about what prompted this extraordinary accusation than we did then. However, there are some relevant ethics point to be made. Here we go…

1.  It is irresponsible and unpresidential to issue tweets like this. It is also unfair. If the Trump administration wants to make a formal complaint, charge or indictment, or announce an investigation, it should be made through proper channels, not social media. That stipulated, he will not stop doing this, and at some point we will have to accept it. Is this how Presidents communicate? It is now.

2. Thus the tweet is unethical even if it is true. However, the fact that it is unethical, or that Trump the Liar sent it, doesn’t mean it is untrue. An astounding number of pundits and journalists have made exactly that assumption, proving their bias against the President and their knee-jerk defensiveness regarding former President Obama.

3. The tweet cannot be called a “lie,” and anyone who does call it a lie based on what is known is revealing their confirmation bias.

4. One more point about the tweet itself: the fact that it has a typo and the level of articulation of the average 9th grader is itself an ethics breach. The President should not sanctify carelessness, or seem to embrace it. He is a role model.  Nor should a significant charge be written in haste, as this obviously was.

5. There seems to be a significant possibility that the President was trolling. Having had enough of the months long, absolutely evidence-free news media and Democrat innuendos that his campaign was coordinating election tampering with the Russians, he may have decided to make a sensational, unsubstantiated charge of his own to get the Russian hacking speculation off the front pages. If it was trolling, it was excellent trolling. The McCarthyism purveyors  deserved it; the accusation was a deft tit-for-tat,  one of the President’s favorite rationalizations.

6. As an example of what Trump has been and is being subjected to, we have Rep. Keith Ellison, vice-chair of the DNC.  He told Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s “New Day last week,”

“This is stunning when you think about it. Far worse than Watergate, when you believe a hostile foreign power engaged in an attempt, and with the collusion of the sitting administration to manipulate an election.”

By sheerest moral luck, Camerota that day was feeling ethical, so she actually corrected a Trump-basher from her own party, said, “Well you don’t know that,” and pointed out that there is no evidence of collusion.

“I’m not saying there was collusion, I’m saying those meetings indicate that there could be, and I think that needs to be investigated,” Ellison then said, immediately after saying there was collusion.

These are awful, vicious, conscience- free people who subcribe to total political war and the ends justify the means. They are trying to bring down an elected government without winning an election. Even that does not justify treating them unethically, BUT… Continue reading

49 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Social Media