Tag Archives: Elizabeth Warren

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/15/18: Money, Massacres, Mudd And More

Good morning.

1. Another mass shooting, another explosion of demagoguery. Reading various rants from usually smarter Facebook friends after one of these mass shootings—there is now literally no difference in the reactions or the rhetoric; it’s like a TV show re-run—is just boring and annoying at this point. I wrote to one, a lawyer, who had immediately erupted into furious insults hurled at the NRA, Republicans, and the President, followed by lots of “likes’ and near identical blather, in the wake of the Parkland shooting yesterday:

“Anyone making the anti-NRA argument is obligated to articulate exactly what regulations not already in existence would have stopped the Florida shooting. Banning guns and confiscating guns are not going to happen, can’t happen and shouldn’t happen, and anyone who claims they can is being ignorant or dishonest. The reflex response of anti-gun advocates is to appeal to anger and emotion every time, usually, as in this case, without even knowing all the facts. So they get tuned out, and deserve to get tuned out, as do grandstanding demagogues like Sen. Christopher Murphy. “Do something!” is not a policy, and removing rights from law-abiding citizens because crazies and criminals abuse those rights is neither just nor practical.”

I’ll report if he or any of the “Do something!” and “Think of the children!” hysterics respond with something constructive.

Murphy was, as usual, on his feet and making his time-tested facile argument about how “this happens nowhere else” before the full information regarding what had happened was available. Yes, Senator, this happens more often in the United States because this country values individual liberty more than other nations, and because, so far, at least, we don’t take away individual rights because we know rights will be abused. We also don’t lock up people who act and talk crazy based on mere words because we think they might commit a horrible crime. THAT was a civil libertarian-led reform and a noble one, back when the Left believed in the rights of individuals, unlike now. Once, when people like the Parkland shooter started scaring people, we just committed them, and they could spend decades or a lifetime  loaded-up with Thorazine and locked  away in padded rooms. My great uncle was such a man. After about 50 years, the doctors decided that he had never been crazy after all, but by then he couldn’t function outside the institution, so they let him stay. He never shot anyone, though, so there is that.

I have a suggestion to Murphy and his colleagues, however, as well as to the mainstream news media that is revving into its usual anti-gun act.  The most productive thing they could do might be to reduce the hateful, angry, fear-stoking rhetoric that they have bombarded the nation with for over a year. I believe that the atmosphere of constant conflict and uncertainty, along with non-stop accusations and allegations of dark forces lurking and preparing to pounce may make some unstable people more likely to snap and adopt the Sweeney Todd philosophy, in the words of Stephen Sondheim:

They all deserve to die.
Tell you why, Mrs. Lovett, tell you why.
Because in all of the whole human race
Mrs. Lovett, there are two kinds of men and only two
There’s the one staying put in his proper place
And the one with his foot in the other one’s face
Look at me, Mrs Lovett, look at you.

No, we all deserve to die
Even you, Mrs. Lovett, Even I.
Because the lives of the wicked should be made brief
For the rest of us death will be a relief
We all deserve to die.

2. Mudd doesn’t deserve to die, just to be fired. CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd broke down on the air sobbing last night while discussing the school shooting on CNN, blubbering,

“I have 10 nieces and nephews. We’re talking about bump stocks, we’re talking about legislation. A child of God is dead. Can not we acknowledge in this country that we cannot accept this?…I can’t do it, Wolf,” he then said to his host, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “I’m sorry, we can’t do it.” Blitzer then cut away to a different analyst.

If you can’t do it, you self-indulgent hack, then stop appearing on television. It’s called “professionalism.” Professionals are supposed to be able to do their jobs without being incapacitated by emotion. News professionals are obligated to be able to inform the public about tragedies without falling apart. That wasn’t analysis. That was virtue-signalling and grandstanding. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/23/17

1. When I am forced to be away from Ethics Alarms for a long time, as was the case yesterday, it often renews my musings about whether I respond too much to reader comments. Everyone generally does just fine when I’m silent, and sometimes I find that fascinating and unexpected new topics have not only sprung from whatever ethics fertilizer I left behind,  but have grown and flourished like bamboo.

Unfortunately, I have also noticed that there have been a lot ( as in “too many”) of extended arguments between commenters that not only extend beyond reasonable limits, but also explode into personal attacks. I admit that Ethics Alarms is, for a moderated blog, unusually tolerant of this phenomenon. One reason for that is that sometimes such epic confrontations are both entertaining and enlightening, as when liberal commenter and Ethics Alarms immortal tgt and uber-conservative commenter Steven J. Pilling engaged in the Ethics Alarms equivalent of the Lincoln Douglas debates, only occasionally snapping and calling each other names.

However, while the occasional emotional outbursts are excusable, they should be rare. Reprimanding a commenter for  commenting style and habits is certainly fair, but doing it repeatedly is boring; and I want to remind everyone that while it is often frustrating, allowing someone to have the last word is not capitulation, especially when that last word is not particularly persuasive.

We also owe ourselves and everyone else self-awareness. When a commenter finds himself or herself repeatedly embroiled in long, heated exchanges, that commenter should consider the possibility that he or she is the problem.

The general principle is that we should strive to have all comments contain substance that advances the discussion. “You’re an asshole” is occasionally justified (when a comment has objectively revealed a commenter to be an asshole, and even then is not mandatory), but rarely.

2. When President Trump issued his trolling tweet about James Comey and the possibility that there were “tapes” of their conversations, I wrote that it was the President’s dumbest tweet to date. (I think he has made worse ones since, but at this point any tweet by the President is evidence of crippling stubbornness, impulsiveness and bad judgment). I did not think that what was obviously a bluff without substance would still be considered a headline-worthy issue many weeks later. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Research and Scholarship

Ethics Q & A On Obama’s Speaking Fees

Former President Barack Obama received a $400,000 speaking fee for an appearance at an A&E Network event  yesterday, just as controversy was building over Obama accepting the same fee to appear at a Wall Street firm’s conference.

What’s going on here?

The ex-President is cashing in, that’s what’s going on here. This has become standard operating procedure for former POTUSes, beginning with Gerald Ford, who was showered with criticism by Democrats and the news media for signing with the William Morris agency and picking up what was at the time considered obscene speaking fees from corporations and foreign governments. Ford’s fees are dwarfed by Obama’s, but then Barack is a much better speaker than the late President Ford was. (Almost anyone is.)

Jimmy Carter showed admirable restraint by not devoting his post-Presidency to enriching himself off of his years in office, but Ronald Reagan took some mega-fees to speak abroad. The Clintons, as we know too well, instantly went from rags to riches by selling their celebrity, an exercise that was especially dubious because Hillary was on the rise. Obama’s speaking fees are just one more step along the cashing-in path that both he and Michelle had already begun traveling with the astounding 65 million dollar deal the couple signed to write their biographies.

Some questions and answers on the ethics of Obama’s payday:

1.  Is Obama ‘s acceptance of all this money ethical?

In a vacuum, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t. He set a fee, and someone is willing to pay it. Hillary’s fee was $250,000; if she can get that much for her dry-as-toast delivery as a former Senator, Secretary of State and First Lady, Obama’s a bargain at $400,000. As a private citizen, he has the same right any of us do to sell his books and speeches at whatever the market will bear.

I, for example, get $37.56 for an hour long speech, and am glad to get it..

2. But it isn’t in a vacuum, right?

Right. Obama still has power and influence; he still promises to be a voice in the Democratic party. He’s not exactly a private citizen, and no ex-President is. Taking such a large payment from a Wall Street firm, after all of Obama’s rhetoric (and that of Bernie Sanders, the non-Democrat now being paraded as a leader of the Democratic party) condemning Wall Street has the decided whiff of hypocrisy about it. Not only, that, but as with Hillary Clinton and Bill, the payment of such jaw-dropping amounts for minimal service natural raises questions of pay-offs. Obama’s administration famously sought no criminal sanctions for Wall Street executives despite their  role in what Obama called “driving the economy into a ditch.” How do we know this wasn’t part of an installment payment to Obama for services already rendered, a quid pro quo? We don’t.

It is also hard to make sense out of those fees if they aren’t paying for something more than an hour long speech.

3. So these fees create “the appearance of impropriety?” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Finance, Government & Politics, Leadership

Ethics Quiz: The Fate of Rachel Dolezal

dolezaltoday

I hope you remember Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP branch president who falsely claimed to be black, double-talked and lied about her racial origins, and was defended by the “race is just a social construct” crowd on the left, as part of the same ideological fantasy that holds that a man can be a woman by just deciding that she is one. Ethics Alarms discussed her strange story here, here, and here.

Following her 15 minutes of fame, Rachel was somehow unable to manage a book contract or a speaking tour, perhaps because she is a walking, talking Achilles heel for several beloved progressive myths, Now she’s jobless and living on food stamps, and facing foreclosure and expects to be evicted next month.

“There’s no protected class for me,” she told The Guardian. “I’m this generic, ambiguous scapegoat for white people to call me a race traitor and take out their hostility on. And I’m a target for anger and pain about white people from the black community. It’s like I am the worst of all these worlds…I do think a more complex label would be helpful, but we don’t really have that vocabulary. I feel like the idea of being trans-black would be much more accurate than ‘I’m white.’ Because you know, I’m not white.”

Of course, she is.

Dolezal says she’s been rejected for  over 100 jobs. She has had offers on the freak show circuit,  in porn and reality TV. But Dolezal is not uneducated or dumb. Surely there are many jobs that she could perform, and well.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day is this…

Would you hire Rachel Dolezal?

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Government & Politics, Quizzes, Race

Wells Fargo Ethics: The Unethical Demagoguery Of Elizabeth Warren

warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), picks her adversaries so well that she gains popularity and unearned credibility through the power of cognitive dissonance. Listen closely, however, and you will hear the ranting of a class-biased demagogue.

Joining in on the bipartisan and well-deserved roasting of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf before the Senate Banking Committee hearing this week, Warren accused Stumpf of profiting from the mass scam in which over 5000 bank employees signed up customers for services they hadn’t requested, without their knowledge. The bank collected fees for these accounts, cards and services, and the employees got bonuses.

He probably did profit, since the bank did more business and his stock holdings increased in value. Was he aware of the scam, or even behind it? There is no evidence of that yet. Warren also said he should resign. She’s sure right about that. He is accountable as the CEO, and he failed his duty of oversight. It is, as Warren said, typical and wrong that all the firing so far have avoided the executive suites.

But Warren seems to be oddly unaware of her double standard regarding management and leadership accountability. The standards that she was railing at Stumpf for not meeting should also apply to Barack Obama’s accountability for a corrupt IRS, a rogue NSA, a drunk Secret Service, a politically-biased Justice Department, a horrifically incompetent Office of Personnel Management, a criminally negligent VA, and, of course, a technically-challenged State Department that was operated as cash-cow for its Secretary’s personal foundation.  Elizabeth Warren’s application of standards are driven by class bias and partisanship, not conduct or principle. She has enables an administration that has avoided assigning accountability or accepting it for multiple fiascos. The most recent? From Fox News:
Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Ethics Heroes: Five Democratic Economists

Senator Warren, who is always right.

Senator Warren, who is always right.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass)  was annoyed that Robert Litan, a nonresident and unpaid economics fellow at the reliably liberal Washington think tank, the Brookings Institute, dared to author a study critical of financial advisor regulations being pushed by Warren and the White House. Thus she sent a letter to Brookings last week, challenging the independence of the study and the integrity of Litan, since the study was, as Litan states up front, “supported by the Capital Group, one of the largest mutual fund asset managers in the United States.”

Warren called the report “highly compensated and editorially compromised work on behalf of an industry player seeking a specific conclusion.”

You know, unlike the various donors to Warren’s political war chest, who are not trying to buy specific policies and votes from her.

Literally hours after receiving the letter, Brookings, knowing which side of the bread its butter was on, dutifully forced Litan to resign.

The issue isn’t whether the policy Warren wants is a good one or not; personally, I tend to agree with Warren on the need for the regulation, which would make 401(k) and 403(b) advisors as well as other compensation-related retirement plan advisors be subject to fiduciary duties. the issue is Warren’s embrace of the increasingly popular tactic from the Left of dealing with adversaries by silencing them. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Research and Scholarship

“If Caitlyn Jenner Can Identify As Female And Be Cheered For it, Why Is White NAACP Leader Rachel Dolezal Wrong To Identify As Black?” And Other Ethics Musings On A Really Strange Story

NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal, before she decided to be black.

NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal, before she decided to be black.

Rachel Dolezal, a prominent civil rights activist, the leader of Spokane’s NAACP chapter, chairwoman of the city’s Office of Police Ombudsman Commission and a professor in the African Studies Program at Eastern Washington University, has been falsely representing herself as black for years. When someone is asked if he or she is really black, and the answers he or she comes up with includes “That question is not as easy as it seems,” and “We’re all from the African continent,”  it’s fair to say the jig is up.

Or is it? Although Dolezal’s mother has spoken out about the 37 -year-old’s background, noting that there is no black ancestry that they know of in the family and that Rachel’s self-identification as black seems to arise out of the fact that she was raised with adopted African-American siblings—you know, like Steve Martin in “The Jerk”?—she may well sincerely believe she is black. Then what?

Dolezal’s actual race, if there is such a thing in her case since she sometimes identifies herself as “white, black, and American Indian,” has suddenly become an issue because she has reported alleged instances of harassment and hate crimes. An inquiry has also been opened at Spokane City Hall. “We are gathering facts to determine if any city policies related to volunteer boards and commissions have been violated,” Mayor David Condon, who appointed her to the city oversight board,  and Council President Ben Stuckart said in a joint statement. “That information will be reviewed by the City Council, which has oversight of city boards and commissions.”

Stuckart said the council will meet soon to discuss the developments and that he didn’t want to speak for the group until then. “But if this is true I’ll be very disappointed,” he said..

Is Dolezal credible? Is she courageous? Is she deluded? Is she nuts? Or is being black just, as Gore Vidal said about Truman Capote’s death, a good career move?

Some ethics musings:
Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Race