I know this is unfair, but in almost every non-posed photo I found of Burr, he looks like he’s hiding something.
The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr, sold off between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his stock holdings on February 13 in 33 separate transactions. At the time, Burr had received the government’s most highly classified Wuhan virus briefings. About a week after Burr unloaded stocks that figured to be affected, the stock market began its dive and has lost about 30% of its value since
Today NPR revealed a secret recording from February 27 in which the Senator gave a GOP group at an exclusive social club a gloomy preview of the economic impact of the approaching pandemic. According to the NPR report, Burr told attendees of a business executives group luncheon held at the Capitol Hill Club:
“There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history … It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”
I subscribe to the Times, but I stopped routinely reading all of the editorials, op-eds and letters to the editor once I realized the stultifying and depressing sameness of it all: narrow viewpoints, deranged columnists, and ugly bias, day after day. This Christmas Eve-day dawned with my wife in a panic, the tree decorations still incomplete, and a recognition that I was going to have to get Ethics Alarms posts done in the midst of other tasks so the 30 or so readers likely to tune in here today wouldn’t be disappointed. I grabbed the wrong section of yesterday’s Times during a tree-breather, and had to consume the editorial section.
For once, the main editorial was not an anti-Trump screed.
Appropo of the Democratic candidates’ mantra of corruption (though the editors somehow never saw the connection), it was about the persistent insider trading and conflicts of interest that have made Senators and Representatives unethically rich for ages, and that surpass in genuine corruption anything President Trump has been accused of. (Ethics Alarms covered the issue here, and here.) The Times editors began with the saga of former Rep. Chris Collins, who had to resign his office and also went to jail for breaking the insider trading laws. His crime was tipping off his son about a stock likely to go bad based on his early notice of pending legislation, The Times found it convenient to use Collins, a Republican, as the stand-in for all of Congress, but everything he did before crossing the line of the law is, if not routine, disturbingly common among Democrats and Republicans alike:
[H]e served on various congressional committees that played a role in directing federal health care policy. Mr. Collins was the company’s largest shareholder. He served on the company’s board. He solicited investments in the company, including from other members of Congress. (Tom Price, who served as a Republican representative from Georgia and then as secretary of health and human services in the Trump administration, was among the buyers.) Mr. Collins wrote legislative language to expedite drug trials, potentially benefiting Innate, and he pressed a staff member at the National Institutes of Health to meet with the company about its clinical trial.He also invested in other health care firms, some of which held federal contracts.
1. Fight racial hate with cognitive dissonance. It is apparent that the Left’s battle plan depends on making sure that minorities hate and fear white people, and it’s up to whites and all the shades lumped in with them—I’m kind of olive colored, or as an old girl friend used to say, “green”—to foil it. It’s simple cognitive dissonance: the more positive experiences minorities have with whites, the more the cognitive dissonance scale works in favor of racial respect and comity.
Yesterday, in a rush, I arrived in the line to pick up my drug refills simultaneously with an African-American man who was probably about my age, and looked pretty grim. I asked him if he wanted to play paper-stone-scissors to see who got to go first. He appeared genuinely startled that I spoke to him, then smiled and told me to go ahead. “You sure? ” I asked. “I really like playing paper-stone-scissors !” He waved me ahead of him, and I noted that I was rushing to pick up a carry-out order from my favorite Chinese restaurant.
“That’s a good reason to be in a hurry,” he said. I asked him if he liked Chinese food, and he nodded, so I asked if he had eaten at The Peking Gourmet Inn nearby. (It really is the best Chinese eatery in the D.C. area, and except for a little hole in the wall we stumbled into in London, the best I’ve ever encountered.) He hadn’t, so we got in a long conversation about the menu, how to get there, why he really owed it to himself and his family to check it out. I also learned that he and I both favored the same local Thai restaurant. Great guy.
After I got my pills and started to leave, he crossed over to me with his hand outstretched. “Thanks for the tip,” he said, with a big smile. “It was nice talking with you.” “Same here.” I said, as we shook hands.
One down, about a hundred million to go. Of course, if he had been much younger, I never would have been able to talk to him because his eyes would have been glued to smartphone screen…. Continue reading
Isn’t it a beautiful morning?
1 Another mind-blowing Hillary Clinton note: in an interview on MSNBC, she said that women who supported candidate Trump publicly disrespected themselves, and expressed amazement that any women would be so foolish as to associate themselves, even distantly, with such a sexist.. I’d love to know what internal editing, re-casting of reality, obliteration of integrity and massive lack of self-awareness goes on in Hillary’s head to allow her, of all women, to say things like this, and even more remarkable, assume that nobody—rather than virtually everybody— would find it laughable.
I’m not even going to elaborate on why Hillary Clinton saying women disrespect themselves by supporting a sexist and misogynist is astounding, even for her. I respect my readers’ intelligence. I bet you can figure it out on your own.
2. Senator John McCain is suddenly a hero, twice, for again announcing that he will not support another apparently lousy, GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. While I have my doubts about the nobility of the Senator’s motives—I think his bitterness at Trump goes deep, and that bias affects his professional actions—but it is worth reading McCain’s arguments for why he will not support the bill, which are solid and ethical, and hardly an endorsement of the ACA: Continue reading
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
At the conclusion of yesterday’s post in reaction to the violent protests in Chicago that shut down a planned Donald Trump rally, I wrote, as my final observation…
8. Ethics test: Let’s see if Bernie Sanders, without prompting, has the integrity to condemn the conduct of his fervent fans.
Bernie Sanders has escaped much scrutiny of his character thus far, in a crowd of frighteningly flawed competitors. He’s not as corrupt or dishonest as Clinton, nor as ruthless as Cruz, nor as weak as Rubio, nor lacking any redeeming qualities of character at all, like Donald Trump. Here, however, Berrnie betrays the moral rot of the leftist revolutionary, willing to excuse violence to overturn the established order for “the greater good.” We saw this during the last Democratic debate, in which he refused to condemn the Castro regime in Cuba nor repudiate his past praise of Fidel’s accomplishments. Hillary Clinton, given an under-hand soft-ball pitch to hit out of the park, swung from then heels and launched it into the stands:
“You know, if the values are that you oppress people, you disappear, you imprison people, even kill people, for expressing their opinions … that is not the kind of revolution of values that I ever want to see anywhere.”
Bingo. But Bernie Sanders, like the Communist totalitarians he admires for their health care and distribution of wealth, is willing to put up with some violence to achieve his revolution, and he proved it here. Abetted in some respects by the biased news media that were thrilled to blame an example of violence squelching political speech on the victim rather than the true offenders—because they don’t like the victim, you see, and if journalists and pundits don’t like someone, they discard the basic standards of decency and fairness that they will rush to demand for their political favorites—Sanders released a telling defense of the actions of his supporters, even though his supporters had admitted their deliberate mounting of a near riot to silence Trump: Continue reading
Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, the longest serving GOP Speaker in history, has been indicted for lying to the FBI and elaborately evading reporting requirements on large cash withdrawals for payments he allegedly made to a male former student whom Hastert sexually abused while he was a high school wrestling coach over 30 years ago. If you want to read what is known about the unfolding Washington scandal s far, as well as partisan attempts at spin, you can try Politico, The Week, Talking Points Memo, OpenSecrets.org, Washington Post, Bloomberg Business, The National Memo, NBC News, Washington Monthly, Outside the Beltway, The Hill, Daily Mail, Patterico’s Pontifications and The Daily Kos.
1. This is a personal and professional tragedy, no matter what else may be true. Hastert has a family, and once had a career and a relatively solid reputation. The family is still there, though wounded; the rest is gone, presumably forever.
2. Assuming that what is coming out as the reason Hastert was paying millions in hush money is in fact true, he abused his position of trust as a teacher and committed a heinous crime. Nothing that he did subsequently as a public servant, or endured as a consequence of his actions, mitigates the seriousness of that misconduct. Continue reading
The best I can figure is that when the exposure of outrageous corruption will devastate power politicians in both parties, neither party, nor their partisan herds, nor their lackey journalist allies, see it as advantageous to look under that rock. Does anyone have a better theory? Because the fact that almost all Senators and members of Congress, and often their staffs, enrich themselves using their knowledge of what laws are about to be passed, and the fact not only is nothing being done about it, but that most of the public doesn’t even know about it and no one is working very hard to tell them, is maddening.
The latest chapter is typical of the hypocrisy and dishonesty in this long-running ethics fiasco.
In 2012, Congress passed the STOCK Act, a bill that was supposed to stop insider trading for lawmakers and their staffs. Of course, the laws making insider trading illegal should have already stopped the practice, and the ethics rules prohibited it as well with such phrases as “conflicts of interest” and “appearance of impropriety.” Lawmakers aren’t supposed to break laws, you see. No, really. They’re not!
Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at the University of Arizona decided that hosting an African-American stereotype party on Martin Luther King Day was a cool idea, and soon thereafter posted photos of the bash on various social media, showing drunk students posing like rappers,wearing baggy pants around their knees and drinking liquor out of watermelon cups. The college community was appropriately horrified, and many are calling for the fraternity to be expelled for the incident and the students who attended the party punished. The Detroit Free Press story about the incident is headlined, “Racism or Free Speech”? This is the equivalent of a headline saying “Stupidity or Freedom of the Press?” It’s both. That’s the conundrum. Continue reading
Sportswriter Michael Wilbon, Tony Kornheiser’s African-American foil on the fluffy ESPN show “Pardon the Interruption” and hardly a rabble-rouser, shocked his audience this week when he announced that he is an aficionado of the word “nigger” (but not in public), and objects to being told that there is something wrong with that, especially by white folks. The issue came up regarding an uproar over a tweet, since deleted, from an NBA player using the word to criticize his team mates. [ Aside: It is funny how frequently a single post on Ethics Alarms about a topic—say political correctness, word censorship, civility and the morass of related ethical issues—seems to trigger an explosion of news stories in the same area. Undoubtedly it is because the proximity of the post itself influences my judgment regarding which events deserve comment, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. This is similar to the phenomenon where you think you have heard a word or phrase for the first time, and suddenly you’re aware of it everywhere.] Wilbon said, unapologetically,
“People can be upset with me if they want, I, like a whole lot of people, use the N-word all day, every day, my whole life … I have a problem with white people framing the discussion for the use of the N-word.”
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz this weekend is this:
Is Wilbon’s defense of using the word “nigger”ethical? Continue reading