Seeking An Ethics Verdict On Rafi Eitan [Updated]

“In principle, when there is a war on terror you conduct it without principles. You simply fight it.”

So said Rafi Eitan, the legendary Israeli spymaster and Mossad operative in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz in 2010. Is that the credo of a hero or a villain?  When he died last week at the age of 92, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Mr. Eitan “among the heroes of the intelligence services of the State of Israel.” Is “hero of intelligence services” an oxymoron? Eitan’s credo certainly justifies murder, torture and extra-legal activities; indeed, it justifies almost anything. That’s not ethics, it’s the opposite: the ends justify the means, tit for tat, vengeance, and  scorched earth warfare without the inconvenience of a formal declaration of war. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert eulogized Eitan as “a smart, cunning and sharp person, who remained capable until his last day”, and praised him as one of “the most intelligent, competent, responsible and creative ministers in the government.” Boy, he sounds like a great guy, if you forget about all the killing.

Eitan, his various obituaries tell us, counted among his more spectacular exploits in support of his nation such operations as  the surgical strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, the systematic assassinations of the Palestinians responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972, and the theft of at least 100 pounds of  enriched uranium from a nuclear fuel plant in the Pittsburgh area to assist Israel in its atomic bomb program. Eitan was the handler of Jonathan Pollard, the traitorous American Navy intelligence analyst who turned  over thousands of classified documents to Israel as its spy, and architect of  the operation that has been most celebrated in the various articles in the wake of his death, the capturing of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1960. Continue reading

The Ethics Incompleteness Theory, The Bigot Doctor,”The Hader Gotcha,” And The Apology Scale

Yes, she actually has both arms. She’s also photogenic: the Democrats should nominate her for Congress.

I christened the Hader Gotcha last year after several athletes were forced to apologize for youthful social media comments that suggested a bigoted or insensitive state of mind. The ethics Alarms position on people looking through old social media posts to embarrass public figures and force them to grovel apologies to which ever group their comments offended was summarized in this post in the moderate, calm manner for which I am justly praised:

As I have written here before, searching for lingering social media idiocy that an athlete authored before he could drink or vote is despicable conduct, as is anyone making an issue of  what the deep Twitter dives expose. First, what a baseball player said or thought—they are often not the same thing—in the past has nothing to do with his job, which is playing baseball and not making social policy, and second, nothing anybody says or even does before their brain has matured should be held against them in adulthood, unless it is criminal, and even then the law urges us to be forgiving. I know that a lot of social justice warriors think that any racist, sexist or homophobic comments made post birth should be treated a crimes, but they are anti-democratic nuts, and hostile to free thought and speech, so to hell with them.

That post was largely ignored, because too many readers here still fail to grasp that ethics issues arising in baseball often, indeed usually, have broader wisdom to convey. Since I wrote it, the employment of the Hader Gotcha has been expanded outside the realm of sports, most notably the recent example of Kevin Hart, the popular comic who was attacked the very day he was designated as the host of the upcoming Oscars. Hart was forced to withdraw because a Hader Gotcah exposed old anti-gay tweets. This time, however, I agreed that the tweets mandated his withdrawal, writing, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/18/2018: One Week To Christmas Edition (Including Nothing About Christmas, Almost)

Good Morning.

A beautiful, naked Frasier Fir is standing in my living room like an unpaid debt.

1. Speaking of Christmas...The first installment on the Ethics Alarms ethics guide to “Miracle on 34th Street” went up late yesterday, and was immediately blocked on Facebook for violating community standards. Nice. It appears my Facebook “friends” took revenge for my chiding their juvenile and unending “Orange Man Bad” posts.

2. Speaking of being ticked offProfessor Turley:

In a surprising admission, the author if the controversial dossier used to secure the secret surveillance on Trump officials admitted that it was paid for by Clinton campaign as a type of insurance to challenge the election.  At the same time, the reporter who helped break the story, Michael Isikoff now says that many of the specific allegations remain unproven and are likely false. 

The Washington Times reported that Steele stated in a declaration in a defamation case that the law firm Perkins Coie wanted to be able to challenge the results of the election based on the dossier.  In an answer to interrogatories, Mr. Steele wrote: “Fusion’s immediate client was law firm Perkins Coie. It engaged Fusion to obtain information necessary for Perkins Coie LLP to provide legal advice on the potential impact of Russian involvement on the legal validity of the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election. Based on that advice, parties such as the Democratic National Committee and HFACC Inc. (also known as ‘Hillary for America’) could consider steps they would be legally entitled to take to challenge the validity of the outcome of that election.”

In his typical fashion when he is in mealy-mouth mood, Turley says this is “concerning,” since this document was used to get judicial leave to spy on the Trump campaign. The news is only surprising if you had your fingers in your ears and were shouting “Nanananana” for the past year. This issue, you will recall, is what led a previously well-regarded commenter from the Left here to noisily withdraw as a participant because I was, he said, obviously in the throes of irrational Right Wing conspiracy mania because I posted this.

Certain exiles, if they have any integrity at all, owe me a large, effusive, groveling apology—and I still might not accept it.

Concludes the Professor: “The Steele admission only magnifies the concerns over the purpose and the use of this dossier, but has received little media attention.”

Gee, I wonder why THAT is!

3. “And now for something completely stupid” Department. I guess former “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” star Alfonso Ribeiro’s  career isn’t going so well. He is suing the makers of the video game Fortnite for allegedly stealing his “Carlton dance.” You know, this…

It was a big deal at the time because Ribeiro’s character was a geek, and ignorant viewers didn’t know that the actor was professional dancer who had starred in “The Tap-Dance Kid” on Broadway as a child. The fact that a video character does similar moves…

…is no basis for a lawsuit. Choreography copyrighting is a murky intellectual property area, and suing because of an animated figure’s moves is pathetic, as well as an abuse of the civil justice system. The has-been star is angling for a nuisance suit settlement. He should try “GoFundMe” instead. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: CNN And Marc Lamont Hill

I nearly mentioned Marc Lamont Hill’s anti-Israel speech at the U.N. yesterday into this afternoon’s pot pouri, but ran out of space. It’s a good thing, because the story wasn’t over. CNN reacted to the speech late today by firing him as a regular contributor.

While condemning Israel and calling for strong international support of Palestinians and a new Palestine, he said in part,

“Contrary to western mythology, black resistance to American apartheid did not come purely through Ghandi and nonviolence. Rather, slave revolts and self-defense and tactics otherwise divergent from Dr. King or Mahatma Gandhi were equally important to preserving safety and attaining freedom. If we are to operate in true solidarity with the Palestinian people, we must allow the Palestinian people the same range of opportunity and political possibility. If we are standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, we must recognize the right of an occupied people to defend itself. We must prioritize peace, but we must not romanticize or fetishize it. We must advocate and promote nonviolence at every opportunity, but we cannot endorse a narrow politics of respectability that shames Palestinians for resisting, for refusing to do nothing in the face of state violence and ethnic cleansing….We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grass-roots action, local action and international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea.

The last part was the tipping point, it seems: the phrase “from the river to the sea” has long been used by those who advocate wiping  Israel off the map. The Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center responded to Hill’s comments by calling them open support for the elimination of Israel. From Jewish Journal:

Sharon Nazarian, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) senior vice president for international affairs, told the Journal in an email, “Those calling for ‘from the river to the sea’ are calling for an end to the State of Israel.”

“It is a shame that once again, this annual event at the United Nations does not promote constructive pathways to ‘Palestinian solidarity’ and a future of peace, but instead divisive and destructive action against Israel,” Nazarian said.

Similarly, Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in an email, “Justice requires a ‘Free Palestine from the River to the Sea’? Marc Lamont Hill is a confirmed anti-Zionist ideologue. His extremist, anti-peace views merit coverage on CNN, not as a paid pundit but as a supreme propagandist unfettered by facts.”

Hill furiously argued on Twitter that he was being misinterpreted, but to no avail.  He is a Professor of Media Studies and Urban Education at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Hill would have had a stronger defense if he was not an open admirer of anti-Semite and routine Jew-hater Louis Farrakhan. I would have fired him years ago for being an outrageous race-baiter who sells anti-white bigotry and racial division on CNN using his  academic credentials as false authority. A typical moment: when a Baltimore Court correctly threw out the politically and racially motivated indictment against one of the officers involved in the Freddie Gray death, Hill tweeted, in defiance of the evidence and law, “The acquittal of the Baltimore Officer is yet another reminder that Black life isn’t worth much in this nation.”

Let’s ignore all of the many other good and long-standing reasons to fire Hill however, and pretend he had previously been responsible, fair, and professional. Or we could pretend he was a mongoose. No, let’s just stick with responsible, fair, and professional to keep it simple…

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Should Marc Lamont Hill have been fired for his speech at the United Nations?

Continue reading

Incompetent UNelected Official Of The Month: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The new darling of progressives and Democrats, New York Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is uninformed and currently, if not permanently, unqualified for office, and not just because she embraces the proven fraud of socialism. Two recent quotes suffice to make the case:

“Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs. Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their family.”

This is redolent of Yogi Berra’s famous line about nobody going to a famous restaurant any more because it was too crowded. Does she really think that if one person worked 327 million jobs, the stats would show full employment? Apparently so. Aw, unemployment, underemployment, what’s the difference? Capitalism BAD!

Now this ominous exchange… Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/15/2018: Alito Gets One Right, Ellison Deceived, And An Ancient, Unethical Tactic Works Once Again…

To a glorious morning, Ethics-Lovers!

1. Bad Alito, Good Alito.  As I briefly noted yesterday (and hopefully will do in detail today), Justice Alito authored an unethical and embarrassing dissent defending a lawyer who deliberately betrayed his client by telling the jury that he had killed someone his client denied killing. Bad Alito. However, the arch-conservative jurist also authored the majority opinion in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, in which the SCOTUS majority struck down a virtuous but unconstitutional law, and did so clearly and well.

These are, I think, my favorite Supreme Court opinions, where the Court ignores the motives and objectives of a law and simply rules whether the legislature is allowed to behave like that. I don’t know, but I would guess that most of the majority feel the way I do about organized sports gambling: nothing good can come of it, and a lot of harm is inevitable. One they get the green light, I’m sure that as many states will take over sports gambling for its easy revenue as now prey on its poor, desperate and stupid with their state lottery scams. Everyone involved–sports, fans, athletes, states, the public’s ethical compass—is going to be corrupted by letting the sports betting genie out of its bottle: just watch.

Nevertheless, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992  law known as PASPA, should have been struck down decades ago; I’d love to know why it took so long. No, it did NOT ban sports betting, though this is what far too many news reports tell you. Congress can ban sports betting directly if it chooses to, as it is interstate commerce. This isn’t in dispute. What it did in 1992, however, was to order states not to pass laws states have a constitutional right to pass. The distinction matters. From SCOTUS Blog, which is usually the best source for analysis of these things:

The 10th Amendment provides that, if the Constitution does not either give a power to the federal government or take that power away from the states, that power is reserved for the states or the people themselves. The Supreme Court has long interpreted this provision to bar the federal government from “commandeering” the states to enforce federal laws or policies. [The] justices ruled that a federal law that bars states from legalizing sports betting violates the anti-commandeering doctrine…

…In a decision by Justice Samuel Alito, the court began by explaining that the “anticommandeering doctrine may sound arcane, but it is simply the expression of a fundamental structural decision incorporated into the Constitution” – “the decision to withhold from Congress the power to issue orders directly to the States.” And that, the majority continued, is exactly the problem with the provision of PASPA that the state challenged, which bars states from authorizing sports gambling: It “unequivocally dictates what a state legislature may and may not do.” “It is as if,” the majority suggested, “federal officers were installed in state legislative chambers and were armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals. A more direct affront to state sovereignty,” Alito concluded, “is not easy to imagine.”

…The court also rejected the argument, made by the leagues and the federal government, that the PASPA provision barring states from authorizing sports betting does not “commandeer” the states, but instead merely supersedes any state laws that conflict with the provision – a legal doctrine known as pre-emption. Pre-emption, the majority explained, “is based on a federal law that regulates the conduct of private actors,” but here “there is simply no way to understand the provision prohibiting state authorization as anything other than a direct command to the States,” which “is exactly what the anticommandeering rule does not allow.”

Got it.

Good decision. Continue reading