Evening Ethics Night-Cap, 1/18/2021: What A Terrible Bunch Of People!

nightcap

1. Wow. Now that’s a sex scandal even in France! Olivier Duhamel, a prominent French political scientist, radio show host and television commentator has quit his media and university posts after being accused of committing incest with his teenage stepson more than 30 years ago. His resignations included the Sciences Po university, where Duhamel, now 70, headed the body overseeing the renowned Paris institution. A book called “La Familia Grande,” just published and written by one of his stepchildren, revealed that Duhamel abused her twin brother beginning when he was 14. The brother told the news media, “I confirm that what my sister has written about the actions of Olivier Duhamel toward me is correct.”

Addressing her step-father directly in the book, Camille Kouchner wrote: “I am going to explain to you who sound off on the radio, you who offer the gift of your analysis to students, and strut about on TV stages. I am going to explain that you could, at least, have said sorry.”

Now there is a #MeToo-style incest movement in France, #Metooinceste, with over 20,000 tweets so far posted on accounts of people who say they had been sexually abused as children by adult family members.

2. This would be pretty embarrassing, if only the news media had the integrity to point it out. DC AG Karl Racine pronounced himself outraged that anyone would compare the Black Lives Matter riots to the Capitol riot. Last week, Racine called comparisons (accompanied by accusations of double standards and hypocrisy), “shocking and outrageous.”

Right. The BLM riots resulted in at least 8 dead, hundreds of wounded officers, and over $2 billion in damages. The D.C. installment of the riots attacked the White House and injured 150 officers. 60 members of the Secret Service’s Uniformed Division were injured holding off the mob while President Trump and his family were taken to a bunker. 65 Park Police officers were wounded and 11 had to be hospitalized, as compared to the January 6 toll of 60 Capitol Police and 58 D.C. cops injured.

One difference is that Democrats and the media accused police of violently assaulting “peaceful protesters” instead of condemning the BLM mob whose members threw bricks, bottles, fireworks, and bodily fluids at law enforcement officers. The BLM rioters set the White House gatehouse and the Church of the Presidents on fire. D.C. Democrats responded by demanding law enforcement leave and naming a plaza “Black Lives Matter.”

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Worst Ethics Role Model Of The Week: Hillary Clinton

Hillaryshrug

I have no desire to magnify or dwell on Hillary Clinton’s failures and character flaws. She has reason to be miserable, just as Al Gore did; I really can’t imagine what it must be like to be either of them.

However, as Hyman Roth memorably said, “This is the life we have chosen!” Politics involves regular defeat and victory, compromises and disappointments, all under public scrutiny, with plaudits and jeers a routine part of the experience. If you can’t handle it, you’re in the wrong business. While I can be sympathetic to the stresses of the life, I also expect those who try to persuade us to bestow extraordinary honors, power and trust upon them to display extraordinary character or at least adequate character.

This Hillary Clinton has shown, repeatedly, she cannot do. The character is not there to  display.

Here is what she said in part in a guest appearance on Kara Swisher’s New York Times Opinion podcast, “Sway,” after  Swisher asked Clinton if she thought a woman president would handle the coronavirus pandemic more ably. [What an idiotic question, but that’s Kara Swisher for you…]

“I have no doubt, especially if it were me. I was born for that. I mean, that’s why I knew I’d be a good president. I was ready for crises and emergencies, and I would have done what you see these women leaders doing. You listen to the science. You bring in people in an open, inclusive way. You communicate constantly, you make the case by explaining why what you’re doing is in the long-term interests, not only of health, but also, of the economy. Yeah, I have no doubt in my mind at all that I would have stepped up to that crisis.”

Regarding the possibility of the President’s re-election, Clinton said,

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Observations On An Op-Ed Botch And Its Aftermath

New York Times snarkmistress Maureen Dowd wrote an op-ed  bemoaning the fact that no women have been on a Democratic ticket since 1984, when everyone was so sexist and mean to Geraldine Ferraro. Will everyone be so sexist again, now that Joe Biden is trapped into choosing a woman, whether there are any qualified or not?

Ann Althouse was among the early online pundits to point out Dowd’s gaffe–I would say obvious gaffe, but it apparently wasn’t obvious to her editor, or anyone else who saw the piece before it was published.  Uh, Maureen, does the name “Hillary Clinton” ring a bell? How quickly they forget! The Times eventually rushed out a correction, and the online version of the op-ed now says, “It’s hard to fathom, but it took another 36 years for a man to choose to put a woman on the Democratic ticket with him.”

There’s a lot more wrong than that… Continue reading

Hump Day Ethics Hunches, 4/29/2020….There Must Be An Ethics Analogy For A Five-Headed Shark

1. Idiotic movie ethics. Last night I watched “Five-Headed Shark Attack,” hoping to discover a new all-time bad horror movie. First, it wasn’t that terrible, meaning that it was a total waste of time. Mainly, however, the title was a shark bait-and-switch. The preview (and the posters) said the shark had 5 heads and was shaped like a starfish. No, it had four heads, and looked exactly like a Disney cartoon character’s glove.

Late in the movie, we saw that the monster’s tail had a mouth (once we saw it gobble a foot that slipped by the four heads), but it had no eyes, guided the shark like a tail, and no character in the film ever saw it, so the creature was never once called a “Five-Headed Shark.” My wife and I had an argument over my contention that just because a tail has teeth, that doesn’t make it a head.

2. I think we can fairly conclude now how serious progressives and Democrats are about standing up for women and fighting against sexual assault and harassment: They’re not . #MeToo and #TimesUp are clearly political weapons to be used against conservatives, Republicans and abortion opponents, real or otherwise, and certain groups, like black Democrats, are immune, even from adverse opinion.

Nice. A lot of women are going to suffer because of this, and they can blame their own alleged advocates.

In Maryland, right next door to Virginia where African-American Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax is still in office despite having been credibly accused of rape and sexual assault , Democrat Kweisi Mfume easily won a special election yesterday to finish the term of the late Elijah Cummings, retaking a Maryland congressional seat he held for five terms before leaving to lead the NAACP.  Mifune had to leave the NAACP after it was revealed that he dated one staffer while its president, and another alleged she had been sexually harassed by him and was passed over for a promotion after she rejected his advances, according to the Baltimore Sun. She then threatened to sue the organization, so the NAACP paid her a $100,000 hush money payment in 2004 to avoid the lawsuit. This was the sort of scandal that drove Bill O’Reilly off Fox News. Continue reading

A Brief But Significant Addendum To “I’ve Looked And I’ve Tried And I Believe In Civility, But The Only Fair Descriptive Word For These People Is ‘Asshole'”

Nice!

Mollie Hemingway, editor at the National Review, had an admirably understated reaction to this tweet from Mrs. Clinton, saying,Fully acknowledge I’m biased here, but my advice would be that if your politics are giving the impression that you’re rooting against your fellow Americans and for a deadly virus attacking them, you might want to reassess.”

My observations are not quite as understated:

  • What an asshole! But we knew that. By “me” I mean everyone who has observed this awful, awful human being’s behavior and statements since at least 1992.
  • The actual form of assholery that the spectacularly failed aspiring  first female President models here is not a variety examined in the post referenced in the title above, but in this post, item #4, in which I noted, “You can mark down any pundit (or Facebook friend) who gloats about the official U.S. tally of Wuhan virus cases making it the most infected nation in the world as fitting neatly into the topic of this recent post.” She’s not a pundit, of course (nor my Facebook friend, thank god); she is, by about 20 laps, the most ungracious, unethical, whiny, nasty, divisive and pathetic losing political candidate for national office in American political history…and she just happens to be the only woman to be on the ballot for President. Continue reading

It’s Time Again For The Ethics Alarms Mailbag! The Question: Wait, What? Your Vote In 2016 Was A Write In?

Here I was, all set to write a substantial post  updating the newly launched Coronavirus Ethics Train  Wreck, and I encountered this question in the comments to today’s Warm-up, in reaction to my reply to another commenter:

“Wait…at the time you were lecturing all the commentariat about how it was unethical to “throw away your vote” by not voting for one of the two major political party candidates? When did you change your mind on that a do a write-in?”

The questioner was Tim Levier, one of five active Ethics Alarms regular commenters who date back to the old, still off-line (but coming back!) Ethics Scoreboard, so attention had to be paid. If he could have missed my late campaign reversal of the position he described–I would describe my stated logic a bit differently, as “the lesser of two evils is still the lesser of two evils—then that critical moment could have been missed by anyone, or even everyone.

Thus I went back into the October and November 2016 archives, which was fascinating.:

  • As always when I do this, I start wondering what became of some previously active commenters. Whither THE Bill? Where have you gone, wyogranny, T Bird, carcarwhite, joed68?

I know I take this too personally, but it still bothers me.

  • You know, this is damn good blog: thorough, extensive, unpredictable, well-written, diverse, funny, educational. I like it! The only one that comes close to being as interesting without descending into periodic eccentric weirdness or ideological rigidity was the old Popehat, and that’s gone now.  I worked hard on it that year, and have ever since. It should have a lot more traffic and influence than it does, but that’s a reflection on the inadequacies and bad taste of those who don’t come here. I’m proud of the product.

There. I said it.

  • The first time I expressed doubt in my position that I would have to hold back my gorge, defy my principles, and vote for Hillary Clinton was earlier than I thought. It was here, on September 25, 2016. The subject of the post was Clinton’s campaign manager, Robbie Mook, saying that  debate moderators should run interference for her and intervene to contradict and rebut Trump’s assertions, “unlike every other Presidential debate and every legitimate and fair debate of any kind, where that responsibility rests with the debaters.”

I responded to his  Unethical Quote Of The Month by writing, in part, Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Rachel Maddow

“If Hillary Clinton can’t win when she gets the nomination and you can’t get the nomination and neither can Kamala Harris, and neither can Amy Klobuchar, and neither can Kirsten Gillibrand. I mean, I think part of what’s going on today is women around the country are like, ‘OK, honestly!’ If it’s not going to be any of them, let’s get real. Is it just that it can’t be any woman ever?”

——The allegedly intelligent MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, making a statement with stunning disregard of facts and logic, indeed reality, in order to advance a divisive and false narrative.

This was an irresponsible argument in the midst of a generally irresponsible and dishonest discourse by Maddow while interviewing Elizabeth Warren following the end of her campaign. She was attempting to bolster Warren’s ethically bankrupt claims that it was sexism that doomed her campaign, just as Hillary Clinton claimed the same, among all the excuses and rationalizations she assembled (and is still assembling) to duck accountability for her own upset loss to Donald Trump, who was generally dismissed as a pushover.

If she wanted to educate her viewers, which Maddow does not—she wants to push an ideological agenda—she would explain that none of the women she mentioned were successful state governors, and that state houses and military command, not Congress, have been the launching pad for the majority of Presidents.  She could explain that the failed candidates she mentioned all had thin resumes for a White House run, including Warren, who is a former university professor and lawyer barely into her second term as a U.S. Senator.

Hillary had the most impressive experience of the group, but there is no avoiding the conclusion  that the only reason she was in a position to get the nomination was by coasting on her husband’s resilient popularity. She had not been an especially outstanding Senator, and her tenure as Secretary of State was marred by many dubious episodes, not the least of which was the email scandal that she persisted in lying about. Moreover, Clinton disproved Maddow’s theory by getting a plurality of votes cast in 2016, an achievement that will elect a candidate President approximately 90% of the time. She was unlucky, that’s all. Hillary  nearly won despite more adverse baggage and dubious character than any Presidential candidate other than  Richard Nixon. Continue reading

Elizabeth Warren, The Presidency, And The Female Leadership Problem

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for President is reportedly running out of money, and the other woman in the race for the Democratic nomination is counting on prevailing as the “none of the above” candidate, a long-shot at best. Meanwhile, the party that pronounced itself “the party of women” in 2012—with Bill Clinton as its star convention speaker!—now seems to be looking at a battle among three white men in their late seventies. This is not where progressives thought they would be at this point in the giddy summer of 2016.

Naturally, feminists and the news media are determined to explain this as the result of plain old, typical, anti-female bigotry.  The explanation is simpleminded, hypocritical and incoherent. From the Times:

[I]n dozens of interviews with Democrats over the past several months, at events for Ms. Warren, debate watch parties and polling places, many professional, college-educated women say they have been enraged by the obsession with electability in the 2020 race. These are women who see themselves in Ms. Warren and argue that simply by asking whether a woman can be elected, pundits and voters who fancy themselves as such, are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. For mothers, this moment includes the difficulty of speaking about gender to school-age girls who do not care about the finer points of policy details, but are happy to declare, “I want a woman president.”

Let’s look at the components of that statement, from a piece about how women allegedly feel that her gender has kept Elizabeth Warren from being a strong contender for the nomination.

  • It is the Democrats and progressives, specifically the “resistance,” who have made “electability” the primary factor in choosing the blue party’s nominee in 2020. Such minor items as policy, experience and character have been thrown aside by constant repetition of the myth that anyone, literally anyone, would be preferable to having President Voldemort in the White House. The members of the Facebook Borg constantly say that they will vote for whoever the Democratic Party nominates, which means that they have surrendered any discretion regarding qualifications for leadership. All they care about is winning. In that context, of course electability is essential.

Saying so isn’t sexist. Continue reading

Evening Ethics Catch-Up, 2/26/2020: Goodbye Baby Peggy And Baby “Whoops!”

Sorry, this is later that I intended…

I’ve been working on accounting ethics, which always slows down my metabolism to Galapagos tortoise levels…

1.Worst lie of the year (so far)…In Winter Park, Florida, Jorge Torres was found dead , zipped into a suitcase. Suspect Sarah Boone insisted that it was all a tragic mistake. They  were playing hide and seek, she said, and he just hid too well. A cellphone video, however, caught his cries for help from inside the suitcase, as she said, “That’s what I feel like when you cheat on me!” Boone, however, told police that the wacky couple thought it would be funny if he got inside the suitcase. They were drinking at the time and who hasn’t zipped up a loved one in a suitcase when spirits run high? Unfortunately, Sarah passed out on her bed, and when she woke up hours later, poor Jorge was dead.

That’s her story, and she’s sticking with it.

2. Remember “Baby Peggy”? Probably not, but she was probably the last living link to the silent movie era, and she died this week at 101. She was also one of the earliest examples of the child abuse that became routine in Hollywood. Baby Peggy, real name Peggy-Jean Montgomery, had made about 150 movies by the time she was five-years-old, and was a multi-millionaire at four. As has been the norm with child stars from Peggy through Jackie Coogan to Gary Coleman, Peggy’s parents stole her money and spent it all. They also let her risk life and limb in pursuit of her “art” that she was too young to understand. During her silent-film career, “Baby Peggy”  was thrown from a speeding pickup truck, narrowly escaped a horse trampling and survived near-drownings and incineration. Continue reading

Oh, This Will Be Fun! How Ignorant And Misleading Was David Frum’s Vicious Attack On President Trump’s Physical Condition? [PART I]

Answer: Spectacularly ignorant and misleading.

As you know, I love fake history about the Presidents, a specialty on CNN. Add to this the feature that Atlantic contributor and former Bush speechwriter David Frum–he’s also a prominent NeverTrumper, as are virtually all former members of the Bush camp—had his gratuitous ad hominem attack outburst on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” fake media ethicist Brain Stelter’s reliably unreliable bias-fest, and debunking Frum’s blather is  like Christmas morning for me.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Here’s what Frum said:

“One of the ideas that Donald Trump tried to spread in 2016 is that Hillary Clinton was somehow physically incapable of managing the presidency. It’s audacious, Donald Trump was the oldest presidents ever, one of the fattest presidents ever, the least physically capable president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in a wheelchair…He can’t pick up a ball, never mind throw it. But he was able to put in the minds of tens of millions of people the idea that Hillary Clinton, who is a very vigorous woman in good health, was somehow too sick to be president.”

First up, Frum’s mischaracterization of Hillary’s health issues. She had episodes of uncontrolled coughing fits throughout the 2016 campaign, and actually collapsed during a 9/11 event in New York while suffering a bout of pneumonia. Then she lied about it, until video made it necessary to admit she was ill. When a candidate tries to cover up the truth about her health, her health becomes a legitimate issue. This would be true no matter who the candidate was.

Another easy one is Frum’s absurd remarks about how Trump can’t pick up or throw a ball, wherever that came from. This is the kind of statement that would be defamatory if it wasn’t about the President—I’m up on my defamation law after having to defend myself against a defamation suit for the past two years. That’s the kind of inherently slanderous  allegation that suggests unrevealed sources or evidence that the listener has no access to, when in fact such evidence doesn’t exist, because the claim is malicious and false. The President is constantly criticized for playing golf—and he cheats at it, according to Mike Bloomberg’s billboards—but he can’t pick up a ball? What proof does Frum have that Trump, who played baseball as a young man, can’t throw a ball now? Frum made all that up.

Now comes my favorite part, Frum’s claims about where Trump fits in the spectrum of Presidential health. As a starting point, all that matters is that a President is healthy enough and able enough to do his job, and by the evidence of the results so far, that’s not a problem. The health of other Presidents have been a problem for them in discharging their duties, as we shall see.

The oft-stated point that Trump was the oldest President at the time of his election is true, but misleading. He was 70 when he was elected, but the significance of age is relative, as well as what constitutes “old” in our society. The average life expectancy of a white male in the US today (and in 2016) is just under 80; if you make it to 70, your life expectancy jumps into the mid-80s. Many Presidents before Trump were well over the nation’s life expectancy for their demographic group when they were elected, including all of the 19th century Presidents, who were relatively “older” than Trump.

In fact, it wasn’t until 1920, when Warren G. Harding was elected, that a President wasn’t over the average mortality age, and Harding was right at it: 54. He also died in office, three years later. Herbert Hoover became the first US President to be elected at a younger age than the average age of death for white males,  in 1928. After that, no American President has been elected after he reached the average morality age.

Is Trump one of the fattest Presidents? No doubt about it, but he’s also in a group of hefty Presidents who were all about the  same degree of obese. Here is a chart of the fattest Presidents as measured by their body mass index, which admittedly is a blunt instrument, not distinguishing between muscle mass and fat:

So it is fair to say that Trump is in the top 25% of overweight Presidents, and who cares? Of the porky POTUSes on the list, only Zachary Taylor wasn’t able to complete his term, and there is no evidence that his weight had anything to do with his demise.  Among the Presidents ahead of Trump on the fat list is Theodore Roosevelt, who nobody ever dared call “fat” when he was running amuck across the political landscape, not while he was climbing mountains and seemingly in perpetual motion.  In short, that part of Frum’s rant is pure cheap shot.

I’ll debunk the best part of Frum’s garbage in Part 2.