Tag Archives: firing for cause

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/26/17

1. I am puzzled that no respected journalism source—assuming arguendo that there is one—hasn’t taken on the New York Times’ alleged list of President Trump’s “lies,” which was in my Sunday Times and released on-line earlier. I will do it today, but it shouldn’t fall to me, or other similarly obscure analysts. Why, for example, hasn’t the Washington Post taken this golden opportunity to prove how biased, dishonest and incompetent its rival is? Because, you see, the list is disgraceful, and smoking gun evidence of the Times’ abdication of its duty to its readers, except its own perceived duty to give them around the clock Trump-bashing.

The other thing I’m puzzled about is why I continue to subscribe to the New York Times.

2. One possible reason: The Sunday Times is now a weekly collage of the various derangements, false narratives and  obsessions of the Left, and worth reading just to witness how 1) bias makes you stupid and 2) how unmoored to reality one can be and still be judged worthy of op-ed space. Here, for example, is “Black Deaths, American Lies” (the print title), a screed by Ibram X. Kendi, a professor of history at American University in Washington, D.C. (Disclosure: I was also a professor at American University. But I was an honest and apolitical one.)

The first line is, “Why are police officers rarely charged for taking black lives, and when they are, why do juries rarely convict?” This is deceit: an honest scholar wouldn’t have written it, and an ethical editor wouldn’t have allowed it to get into print. The sentence implies that officers are less rarely charged and convicted when they take white lives, and this is not true. In the print version, the article is headed by a touching photo of a street memorial to Mike Brown, whom we now know got himself shot. The Black Lives Matter narrative that Brown was murdered is still carried on by racist activists, ignorant members of the public, cynical politicians  and unethical figures like Kendi, who lend their authority to divisive falsehoods.  Kendi then focuses on the Philandro Castile shooting, as if its facts support his thesis. They don’t. First, the officer was charged, though he shouldn’t have been. Second, we have now seen the video, which clearly shows that after telling the officer that he had a gun, Castile reached into his pocket and began pulling out his wallet as the obviously panicked officer shouted at him not to pull out his gun. Just as the video proves that the officer was unfit to be a cop, it shows that he was in fear of his life and why. He could not be convicted of murder on that evidence. Never mind: The professor writes, Continue reading

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Sought: An Ethical Reason Why This Professor Should Not Be Fired Immediately, And Never Hired For A Teaching Position Again, Anywhere

 

Meanwhile, for Trinity College, the countdown has started.

After Professor Johnny Eric Williams, associate professor of sociology at Trinity College in Hartford, approvingly posted a Medium article titled “Let Them Fucking Die” on Facebook, he went on to endorse the article’s thesis ( potential rescuers like those who helped Rep. Steve Scalise should let imperiled white people die as a form of combating white supremacy) in his own Facebook posts:

The Medium article concluded with this advice regarding one’s responsibilities as a citizen and a human being when a white person is in mortal peril… Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/22/17

1.  I’m trying to get this up while I prepare for a new legal ethics seminar, teaming once again with the brilliant D.C. actor Paul Morella who has toured the country in the Clarence Darrow one-man-show he and I collaborated on more than a decade ago, using Darrow’s career and courtroom oratory to analyze modern legal ethics.  Readers here have encountered a lot of those Darrow-related discussions already. For once, I’m grateful most lawyers don’t frequent this blog.

2. This now viral photo of the faces of CNN’s talking heads and analysts at the moment they realized that the Democrats had lost the Georgia Sixth District special House election that was hyped to be the beginning of a surge to the Left rejecting Donald Trump…

…and this one…

…are more than just gags. They are smoking gun evidence of the stunning lack of professionalism in journalism, and especially CNN. If there was any sensitivity or commitment to ethics on that set or in that production chain of command, every one of these arrogant hacks would have been told, “I want poker faces up there at all times. Objective and fair news reporting includes body language and facial expressions. Your attitudes warp your reporting. If anything about your demeanor betrays your personal preferences or political biases, you’re getting suspended. Got that? This isn’t a cheerleading squad.

3.  This warrants its own post, but today will be a squeeze, so I’ll focus on the astounding chutzpah of  that race’s loser here and now. Losing Georgia Six Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff was interviewed by NPR’s Rachel Martin, and this exchange resulted: Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/8/17

[I have been pondering doing this for some time now. Literally every day there are issues and stories that arise that are either too minor for a full post, or crowded out by other issues. Often I never get to them. Also my various issue scouts (especially Fred) have been burying me with excellent candidates for discussion and analysis, and I never get to most of them, frustrating all of us. So I am going to see if I can begin every day with a set of short notes about these topics, reserving the right to expand some of them into full posts later.]

1. Stacy Lockett, a teacher at Anthony Aguirre Junior High, has been fired after she gave out facetious awards to students such as “Most likely to become a terrorist” and “Most likely to blend in with white people.” Good, I think. These are too sensitive issues to expect middle-schoolers to laugh at, and the ‘awards”  show terrible judgment. Still, I am thinking back to comments made in class by some of my favorite 7th and 8th grade teachers, some targeting me. I thought they were funny, and the teachers knew I would think so. All of them would have been fired today, according to the Lockett Standard (Pointer from Fred)

2. By not disciplining Reza Aslan, the host of its “Believer” program who called President Trump a “piece of shit,” “an embarrassment to humankind” and a “man-baby” CNN has made it clear that it has abandoned any vestiges of professionalism or regard for journalism ethics. Well, perhaps “even more clear” is more accurate. CNN allowed Carol Costello to gleefully mock Bristol Palin for getting emotional over being battered; it has allowed Don Lemon to get smashed on the air two New Year’s Eves in a row, and shrugged off Anderson Cooper speculating about the President taking “a dump on his desk,” to give just three examples. Its excuse for Aslan was especially weird, claiming in a statement that he was a host but not an employee. Aslan apologized, but it was a dishonest apology, claiming that the tweets were impulsive and “not like me,” but in another tweet on May 9, he wrote,

“Oh the joy when this lying conniving scumbag narcissistic sociopath piece of shit fake president finally gets what’s coming to him.”

It’s sad to see what CNN has become since Trump’s election. I am embarrassed for the network. but more than that, I am in sorrow for the public. It is not being served by this kind of amateurish, biased and unprofessional journalism.

3. I finally decided that this law suit was too stupid to write about: a ridiculous woman named Holly O’Reilly has found some lawyers—not just any lawyers, either, but the First Amendment Institute at Columbia University—-willing to file a lawsuit claiming that President Trump cannot block her on his Twitter account because doing so is a First Amendment violation of her rights of free speech. The institute’s executive director, Jameel Jaffer, said in a statement that Mr. Trump did not have a right to exclude his critics from engaging with his posts. Does anyone think this is anything but nonsense? Anyone but the New York Times, that is, which wrote, ” The request raises novel legal issues stemming from Mr. Trump’s use of his Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, to make statements about public policy,” and the Washington Post, which published the woman’s silly  op-ed .

When did “novel” come to mean “absurd”? The President blocking a Twitter user on the social media platform isn’t “government action” any more than not taking her phone calls or not reading her letters. She can still say anything she wants on Twitter. Next she’ll sue because she isn’t allowed to ask question at White House press briefings. Columbia University should be embarrassed, but when the anti-Trump  hate virus melts your brain, embarrassment is often the first casualty. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured Crisis: The Comey Firing Freakout”

With so much loose talk about impeachment going around (and by “loose” I mean “inexcusably ignorant”), texagg04’s review of the Constitutional standard for the removal of a President is a gift to readers of Ethics Alarms, and one of the most interesting and informative comments ever to appear here.

He was reacting to a New York Times op-ed, cited by another commenter,  by political scientist Greg Weiner (no relation) titled, “Impeachment’s Political Heart,” in which the author concluded,

“The question is by what standards they should conduct this work, and that question provides an opportunity to correct the mistaken assumption according to which presidents can forfeit the public trust only by committing what the law recognizes as a crime. That is a poor bar for a mature republic to set. It is not the one a newborn republic established. And that is why the idea that the conversation about impeachment is simply a political persecution of a man who is technically innocent of a literal crime not only jumps the investigatory gun. It misses the constitutional point.”

Having studied the issue myself, I immediately rejected Weiner’s analysis (which still is worth reading in its entirety) on the ground that a constantly evolving standard of what is a “high crime and misdemeanor” simply means that Presidents can be impeached for behaving, or governing, in ways that enough members of Congress, the news media and the public don’t like. That is what is being advocated now, and that approach would undermine our democracy, the power of elections, and the office of the President.

My gut response, however, is wan and insubstantial compared to tex’s masterful historical review and astute analysis, which (whew!) reaches a similar conclusion.

Here is texagg04’s fascinating Comment of the Day on the post, “Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured “Crisis”: The Comey Firing Freakout”…I’ll have one brief comment afterwards:

[Weiner] is making an argument from the same source material I mentioned, chiefly the Federalist papers. I still haven’t found Madison’s own specific arguments regarding it, but I think the source is irrelevant as the body of work published by the Founders (“Federalist” and “Antifederalist” alike) should be read as a single work documenting an internal dialogue, to be used as clarification when and where the final adopted documents possibly contain ambiguity. This could very well be one of those cases. That being said, the body of work by the Founders which may aid in revealing their intent or at least how they believed their philosophy of our political system out to be enshrined in the constitution, isn’t the only body of work used to interpret their intent. There is precedence and tradition, which the author of this article disregards when he says “Our tendency to read the impeachment power in an overly legalistic way, which is ratified by 230 years of excessive timidity about its use, obscures the political rather than juridical nature of the device.”

He’s right in nothing but that many of the earliest drafts and proposed language of the impeachment standards were very vague, such as (not an exhaustive list):

Continue reading

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Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured “Crisis”: The Comey Firing Freakout

1. When this ridiculous episode is recounted in history books, if it is, it will only be as an example of how the news media worked in tandem with Democrats to undermine the President of the United States, and deeply wounded American democracy and the public trust as a result. I suppose if it is recounted, it will either be as one of the many factors that led Americans to express disgust for both the news media and the Democratic party, forcing the first to shape up and the latter to re-invent itself, or, under the worst case scenario, to explain how the United States lost its Constitutional government.

2. A President of the United States fired an FBI director who deserved to be fired, and everything else is political warfare and public disinformation. A President firing someone he had the power to fire and that most Americans rightly believed should be fired cannot be a scandal, a crisis, or anything else worthy of the hysterical coverage this story has received. The coverage of the story is the antithesis of the journalism ethics tenet that journalists cover stories but do not create them.

3. President (and candidate) Trump is certainly at fault for handing his enemies sticks to beat him with. I put this is exactly the same category with a voluptuous woman walking into a bar full of drunken, rowdy men and doing a provocative dance to the jukebox as they hoot and drool. She should be safe, but she isn’t, and she should know that she isn’t. The drunken dogs should be trustworthy not to sexually assault her, but they aren’t,   When she ends up like Jodie Foster in “The Accused,” it is her sexual assailants who are guilty, but it is not blaming the victim to ask, “What the hell were you thinking?”

4. Of course, as has been proven at nauseating length here and elsewhere, President Trump does not think, at least in the professional sense of the word. It was stupid to throw out compliments to Vladimir Putin. It was stupid to make defensive-sounding comments about the Russian hacks because he didn’t want to admit that any factors led to his election other than his essential brilliance. One  indication that there are no sinister connections between Trump and Russia is that if there were, it would be mind-numbingly moronic for Trump to do anything but show hostility to the country and its leaders. It is only slightly less moronic for him to say these things when he has nothing to hide regarding “Russian ties.”

[An aside: a recent commenter on another thread repeated the oft-cited nonsense that Trump must be smart (like he says) because he has an IQ of 160. If Donald Trump scored 160 on an IQ test, then IQ tests should be thrown out and never used again. However, that claim is imaginary. (IQ tests don’t prove you are “smart,” either, but that’s a different issue.) A researcher once estimated Trump’s IQ based on his admission to Wharton and the gross average IQ of Wharton grads, which is itself a phony number. Then this  (incompetently) estimated figure was used by other hacks in some of those “Who was the smartest President?” articles, which estimate the IQs of the Presidents using the same kind of bad reasoning as the process that arrived at the figure for Trump (it was 156, not 160). In truth, nobody knows what Trump’s IQ is. Everybody knows, however, or should, that he does and says an astounding number of dumb things, many of which mostly have the effect of harming him, or his ability to do his job.] Continue reading

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UPDATE: More Ethics Notes On The Comey Firing Meltdown

In this matter, at least, President Johnson was right…

1. In 1867, the Radical Republican dominated Congress passed The Tenure of Office Act, an unconstitutional breach of the Separation of Powers that took away the President’s ability to fire his own Cabinet members without the legislature’s approval. President Andrew Johnson, extremely unpopular in the victorious North and more so with his own party (Johnson was a Democrat, added to Lincoln’s ticket as Vice-President to bolster Lincoln’s desperate bid for re-election in 1864), deliberately defied the law by firing War Secretary Edwin Stanton, a Lincoln appointee and an ally of the Radicals. In response, Johnson’ own party led a n effort to impeach him, and he was narrowly saved from conviction by a single vote in the Senate. The Act was soon ruled unconstitutional, as Johnson said it was. As lousy a President as he was, Johnson had every right to fire someone who served at his pleasure, and doing so was not an impeachable offense.

2. The Democrats and journalists who are—absurdly, irresponsibly, embarrassingly, hysterically—calling for President Trump’s impeachment for firing James Comey neither know their history  nor respect democracy. Just check off the names of anyone, including your friends and colleagues, who make this argument, as hopeless, deranged partitions without perspective or integrity. I’m making my own list, with early entries like Maxine Waters and Vox, which beclowned itself by writing that a President’s lawful firing of a subordinate who clearly deserved it raises the  possibility of impeachment. At least the Radical Republicans had an unconstitutional law to back that theory: Vox has nothing but, of course, the Left’s hate campaign against the President of the United States. Then there are Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Mark Pocan (D-WI)  who also think a firing for cause is grounds for impeachment. Gallego:

“We are certainly moving down that path. There is a lot of runway until we get there, but the president is not helping himself by firing the person investigating him. … We don’t have the numbers to do something right now, but when it comes to a point when we feel there is no other recourse, you’d have — I think — we’d have the full support of the Democratic caucus.”

Pocan said that impeachment might be possible “if there was obstruction of justice by firing [the] FBI director … We’re seeing Democrats and Republicans concerned with timing of this decision … We would first need a majority in Congress or some Republican votes … but we need to keep every tool available to make sure the President follows the law.”

Ethics alarm: who elects idiots like these? I have searched for any situation, anywhere, in which a legal and justifiable firing of an official was prosecuted as “obstruction of justice.”  Nor is an act that is neither a crime, nor a “high crime or misdemeanor,” nor something a President isn’t clearly empowered to do “moving down” the path of impeachment.

3. This is public disinformation, aided and abetted by the news media. The primary ethics issue in the Comey firing is that it is just another stage of an unethical, dastardly effort by Democrats, progressives, the left-leaning news media and their allies to veto a Presidential election that they lost by their collective arrogance and incompetence, and to undermine the United States’ elected leader no matter what harm comes to the nation as a result. The firing itself was legal, ethical, and responsible, indeed overdue. Representing it as otherwise is designed to cause fear and confusion among the public. Responsible citizens are obligated to counter this in any way they can. Continue reading

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