Wednesday Ethics Windstorm,11/11/20: Liars, Knaves, Fools And Birds

Great Tit

1. Incompetent headline dept. Someone at a newspaper has to be alert enough to catch a risible headline like this:

Great tits

A Great Tit is the pretty bird above.

2. Who believes that MSNBC didn’t know this? (I don’t.) MSNBC was shocked—shocked!—to discover that the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jom Meacham, who had been a regular on MSNBC’s 24-7 anti-Trump barrage, never told them that he was working for the Joe Biden team. on speeches, including his victory address. Meacham appeared on MSNBC following the speech to comment on the speech he had written but didn’t disclose to viewers that the speech he loved cane from his own laptop as he said,  “Tonight marks — the entire election results mark — a renewal of an American conversation where we’re struggling imperfectly to realize the full implications of the Jeffersonian promise of equality,” said Meacham. “It’s taken us too long, our work has been bloody and tragic and painful and difficult and, Lord knows, it is unfinished, but at our best we try.”

MSNBC announced that due to this “discovery. Meacham would no longer be a paid contributor, but he would be welcome to appear on future panels, thus showing the high regard for integrity for which the network is famous. If Meacham lied to MSNBC and its viewers while withholding a crucial conflict of interest, why would he be allowed back on the air in any capacity? Why would anyone trust him?

I believe that MSNBC knew that Meacham was working for Democrats while he was bashing Trump. And this is yet another example of how unprofessional the profession of historian has become.

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“Systemic,” A Four Part Ethics Alarms Depression, Part III: Higher Education’s Systemic Rot

Not excused.

I promised not to pile on to ridicule the CNN legal analyst who for some reason only known by him and Priapus decided to—you know—while in the middle of a well-attended Zoom meeting, on camera. This presumably rendered the lawyer a permanent laughingstock whose career as a respected—well, not by me, but by progressive ideologues—commentator on law-related current events is probably kaput. It certainly should be kaput, but many have marveled that he has not been fired, just suspended, and some even are betting that after a “cooling off period,” he may be welcomed on CNN again.

I’ll take that bet.

Progressives and pundits are working so hard to spin his outrageous conduct that you would think he’s Bill Clinton or Joe Biden, worthy of the King’s Pass because of some unique value to the public, or at least to left-biased news coverage. He’s not; if there is one kind of expert that is as fungible as jellybeans, it’s legal pundits like…the guy whose name I promised not to mention again. But never mind that: any high placed employee of a company requiring public trust would be fired after an incident like this….including, I presume, a university professor.

Yet here comes University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education professor Jonathan Zimmerman to argue that masturbating on camera in a Zoom meeting is a “pseudo-scandal” rooted in Americans’ “collective unease with masturbation.”

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High Noon Ethics Shoot-Out, 10/21/2020: Religious Bigotry Vs Anti-Gay Bigotry! “Whitewashing” Vs Anti-Semitism! Google Vs Trust!

As you may (and should) know, the classic Western “High Noon” was and is regarded by some conservatives as anti-American. I think it is, as excellent as it is. The ending, where the heroic law man (played by Gary Cooper in an Academy Award-winning performance) throws his star in the dirt in disgust (imitated by “Dirty Harry” for very different reasons in that conservative film years later), is widely seen as a rejection of American society as hypocritical. (The fact that the screenwriter, Carl Foreman, was a Communist doesn’t help.)

My favorite scene in the movie, where Cooper begs the church congregation to help, plays like a “Twilight Zone” episode, with the whole town rationalizing furiously to avoid helping the desperate law man minutes away from having to face, alone, vengeful thugs determined to kill him. (The whole scene is not on YouTube; I searched.) “Rio Bravo,” one of the best John Wayne Westerns and a personal favorite, was devised by director Howard Hawks as a direct rebuke of the selfish and craven America “High Noon” posits. In the Duke’s movie, the lawman, Wayne, constantly rejects the offers of help he receives, though he knows hired killers are massing to free his prisoner. Yet people go out of their way, at great personal risk, to help him anyway, time after time. “High Noon” is a better movie (maybe), but “Rio Bravo” is a fairer depiction of American values and history.

1. This is why I tell lawyers and government employees that it’s unethical to use Google for professional communication and client matters. Mac programmer Jeff Johnson has discovered that if you set Google Chrome to eliminate all website cookies and site data when you close the browser, the data remains un-erased for YouTube and Google itself.

What a coinkydink!

“Perhaps this is just a Google Chrome bug, not intentional behavior, but the question is why it only affects Google sites, not non-Google sites,” Johnson says. “I’ve tested using the latest Google Chrome version 86.0.4240.75 for macOS, but this behavior was also happening in the previous version of Chrome. I don’t know when it started.”

Bottom line: Don’t trust Google. Like I’ve been saying….

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OK, I Just Have To Do An Afternoon Ethics Potpourri So I Can Write About The Jeffrey Toobin Exposing Himself On Zoom Story…..

 

Toobin

I wake up from a nap and have to think about this???

1. Zoom ethics?  I don’t understand this story at all.

The New Yorker suspended legal reporter Jeffrey Toobin because he—wait, WHAT?—exposed himself during a Zoom call last week between members of the staff and WNYC radio.

Huh? Toobin has long been one of Ethics Alarms’ least favorite legal commentators dating back to his excuse-making for Bill Clinton during the Monica madness, but I thought he was just despicably biased, not insane. What’s going on here?

Toobin said in a statement: “I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers. I believed I was not visible on Zoom. I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me. I thought I had muted the Zoom video.”.

See you doing what, and why??? Was it a bathroom Zoom call? The New Yorker says: “Jeffrey Toobin has been suspended while we investigate the matter.” What’s there to investigate? If he exposed himself accidentally, it’s a Zoom mistake, and it should have been ignored and forgotten, because Zoom is evil. EVIL!!!! On the other hand—okay, bad choice of metaphors—If he whipped it out and ran around the room on camera singing “My Ding-a-Ling,” Toobin needs to be hospitalized.

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Prof. Jonathan Turley

“The sordid history of White House pardons makes this commutation look positively chaste in comparison.”

—-George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley, responding to the wildly exaggerated indignation of pundits and Democrats over President Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence.

Turley, who is always courtly and, for my tastes, excessively restrained even when pulling apart the most irresponsible positions, was clearly irritated by CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, a grand hack, who declared that the commutation was “the most corrupt and cronyistic act in perhaps all of recent history” (“cronyistic”?) and  Senator Mitt Romney’s characterization of it as “unprecedented, historic corruption.”

Turley took to The Hill to give Toobin, who should know better, and Romney, who was just exercising his Trump-bashing muscles without concern for such trivialities as facts, a lesson in American Presidential history, saving me the time and trouble: Continue reading

The Democratic Party’s Unethical And Irrational Obsession With Diversity, Part Two: Amazingly, It’s Even Worse Than I Thought

On December 14, 2019, I posted “The Democratic Party’s Unethical And Irrational Obsession With Diversity” at a point where I concluded that the Left’s diversity con had reached res ipsa loquitur dimensions, at least for Americans still capable of hearing what this res was loquituring despite years of pummeling by consultants and diversity seminars. That would be that “diversity” is a cover word for “quotas and affirmative action.”

I’ve been in some of those seminars; to my undying shame, I’ve even taught a couple for a fee. They are intellectually dishonest to the core, resting on the Bizarro World  argument that more diverse groups and bodies are necessarily better, wiser, and more effective than  homogeneous groups with more ability and talent. This is manifestly nonsense, except that it is not politically correct to say so. Is President Trump’s Cabinet better in any way because Ben Carson is Secretary of HUD? He’s a dolt, as anyone who watched the GOP Presidential debates knows beyond a shadow of a doubt. Is the Supreme Court better because Justice Sotomayor is on it? Read one of her opinions and then try to say that with a straight face.

The proof that diversity activism is a rationalization-based scam is everywhere, with the fact that it is only applied in one direction the smoking res. Nobody argues that NBA and NFL teams would be better of they had demographics closer to the nation’s. The Oscars were attacked because there aren’t “enough” black performers or female directors nominated this year, but no one complains about the lack of diversity in all-black awards shows. The impetus for December post was all the Democratic and mainstream media flesh-rending over the fact that the erstwhile Presidential candidates “of color” had been so weak and feckless that even Democrats had rejected them. “But…but..diversity!

Pointing to the Washington Post’s assessment of the top 13 people with the best chance of being on the party’s ticket as Vice President—all are women, minorities or both—I wrote, “What subliminal message are Democrats sending to the world when they exclude straight, white men as qualified candidates for Vice-President? That’s easy. They are saying that the party cares more about diversity than it does about leading the nation.”

Diversity without rigging the result can be a valuable measure of how race, ethnicity and gender-blind the culture has become, but the fact that any group or body happens to appear diverse is itself no indication of excellence. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying or deluded.

I thought the bloviating about the Democratic debate line-up was as ridiculous as this sham could get, Boy was I wrong. Continue reading

Signature Significance (Again) From the New York Times: A Trustworthy Newspaper Does Not Do This [CORRECTED]

That would be a more useful rule, of course, if there were any trustworthy newspapers.

The most recent Ethics Alarms filing under “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” appeared yesterday.  A story headlined Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not appeared in the Sunday Times, with the sub-head, “Deborah Ramirez’s Yale experience says much about the college’s efforts to diversify its student body in the 1980s.” And why were Yale’s efforts to diversify in the Eighties suddenly worthy of a Times feature in September, 2019? Because the real purpose of the article was not to talk about Yale, but to smear Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh —again.

Ramirez was Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate  who had told The New Yorker last year during the justice’s confirmation hearings that she’d been severely inebriated at a party at Yale in her freshman year when “something” had happened. She said that “a male student pointed a gag plastic penis in her direction” and  a “third male then exposed himself to her.” The assumption is that the flasher was Kavanaugh, though Ramirez never directly named him. New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly tried to verify the story, and could not. Never mind: they wrote a book anyway.

In “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation,”  they quoted the same individuals the New Yorker had tracked down who said that they “heard about” the incident, as well as Ramirez’s mother, who says—now this is a smoking gun if there ever was one—that  she was told at the time that “something happened” at Yale.

Nevertheless, the Times reporters are convinced that Ramirez’s claim is correct. They wrote,

A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. 

Not “fit to print,” apparently, was the that Stier was not only a non-profit executive but also had served as one of Bill Clinton’s defense attorneys. Heck, why should that be relevant to his credibility? But I digress… Continue reading

The Left Is Going Nuts Over The Alabama, Georgia And Ohio Abortion Bills. It’s Hard To Like Them (Or Respect Them) When They Are Going Nuts

Last week, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who was once a respectable, perceptive commentator  but who has apparently been driven over the edge by Donald Trump,  claimed that the Alabama Human Life Protection Act will end Roe v. Wade. As I have written here, the law is 100% unconstitutional based on existing law. I doubt that it will even reach the Supreme Court. It will be struck down in lower Courts, and SCOTUS will decide that there is no legal controversy. Toobin, however, decided to use his perch to fearmonger, and shamelessly:

Roe v. Wade is gone and every woman in Alabama who gets pregnant is gonna be forced to give birth soon. And that’s gonna be true in Alabama, it’s gonna be true in Missouri, it’s gonna be true, probably, in Georgia. And that’s what the law is because that’s what the Presidential election was about, in part, last time.”

Let’s see: false, highly unlikely, false, false, and false. Nor can anyone seriously argue that the 2016 election was “about” abortion. The Pew Research Center polled voters about their top concerns, and here were the results:

I count abortion as 11th on the list. Toobin’s statement is fake history and fake news. It is simply false. He blathered on…

“This is what this fight has been about, for years. I think the legislators were very smart, they waited until they got five votes on the Supreme Court and now they’re gonna push this thing through. And Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch are gonna be joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, and this is a victory that Rick (Santorum) and others have been fighting for decades and they’ve won and they should celebrate.”

I don’t know why Toobin just didn’t scream, “ARRRRRGH! WE’RE DOOMED! DOOMED!” and leave it at that. He has no idea how the justices will vote, and since he has proven himself of late to have become an hysterical, partisan hack, there is no reason to take his analysis seriously.

More seriously, however, than model Emily Ratajkowski, whose protest of the Alabama law involved  posting a nude photo of herself on social media, which she has done before when there wasn’t an abortion bill to protest. I think she just likes posting nude and near-nude photos of herself, not that I can blame her. This isn’t quite nude, but you get the idea…

Boy, THAT will punish those men who don’t respect female autonomy!

Emily wrote this to accompany her “punishment”:

“This week, 25 old white men voted to ban abortion in Alabama even in cases of incest and rape. These men in power are imposing their wills onto the bodies of women in order to uphold the patriarchy and perpetuate the industrial prison complex by preventing women of low economic opportunity the right to choose to not reproduce. The states trying to ban abortion are the states that have the highest proportions of black women living there. This is about class and race and is a direct attack on the fundamental human rights women in the US deserve and are protected by under Roe vs. Wade.”

Our bodies, our choice.

Well, you just have to do better than that, and if you can’t, then  shut up. (And remember, I do not advocate overturning Roe at this point.)

  • Attacking legislators for their age and gender marks the model as a hypocrite and a bigot, though a common variety within the current American Left.
  • I’ve discussed the “incest and rape” fallacy here many times. If the issue is human life and when it begins, incest and rape are irrelevant to the discussion. A life is a life, and how or why it begins doesn’t change the value of the life. When someone signals that they don’t comprehend this, that tells me, and should tell everyone, that they haven’t thought very hard about what they are protesting, or that they aren’t very bright. Either way, if an advocate on either side of the debate goes in that dumb direction, I’m disregarding them. It’s static and ethics pollution.
  • “Uphold the patriarchy” is another bit of nonsense cant, about as serious or persuasive as the lyrics of “Imagine.” It is a buzz phrase for anti-male bigotry, nothing more, nothing less.
  • These men are asserting the government’s duty to protect the lives of citizens. Their position is that when women use their bodily autonomy to kill an unborn child, that should be considered a crime, just as when they use their autonomy to shoot someone. The only way someone like Ratajkowski can claim that the objective of such laws is to oppress women is to completely ignore the other life involved in this ethical conflict. Doing so  is intellectually dishonest or stunningly ignorant.
  • If these laws are rooted in racism, why would they seek  to protect the disproportional number of black fetuses aborted in those states?
  • Women can choose not to reproduce, completely effectively, right now. Nobody is telling any woman she has to reproduce. See, Emily, “The Handmaiden’s Tale” is fiction, just like “The Walking Dead.” The idea is that if you have created a living human being, you can’t then kill it or delegate killing it to someone else, no matter how much hardship avoiding the murder option might mean. Starting that prohibition from conception is unworkable, but later? That’s a utilitarian necessity.
  • The fundamental human right that must take precedence over all others is the right to live.

 

Unethical Quote Of The Week: PBS Commentator Mark Shields…Or Is It This Unethical Tweet By CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin?

The “resistance’s” freakout over the Mueller report is deep, wide and epic. So many journalists, pundits, celebrities and Democrats are making utter asses of themselves by  throwing  public tantrums, uttering or writing emotional nonsense, and making claims that just aren’t true, and obviously so, except to those in the grip of the Orange Man Bad Fever.

Yesterday gave us two throbbing examples.

#1.

Here’s long-time PBS commentator Mark Shields, in a panel discussion about the Mueller report. I’ve met Mark, and used to listen to him regularly. He’s a nice guy, a Red Sox fan, and the kind of old-style Boston liberal–Ted Kennedy, Tip O’Neill, Kevin White, Ray Flynn—that I grew up surrounded by. But this is hysteria:

“[I]f there’s an imperative that comes out of this whole sordid tale, it’s for a new 9/11 Commission…to investigate what happened. How do we avoid it ever happening again? What do we need to do, statutorily, collectively in the country? And the Russians did — they subverted and sabotaged our election. And the Obama administration was remiss in its response in 2016. And President Trump has chosen for two-and-a-half years to deny what Russia did. And the most public of sacraments that we have as a people, a presidential election, was subverted and sabotaged. And they’re about the same evil mission again with no — we ought to have that. It ought to be bipartisan. It ought to be Republicans and Democrats. And we ought to just demand that American elections be only — involve Americans. And it has to bring in all of the Silicon Valley and all the companies, and we have to do this to preserve our democracy and to restore some sense of public trust.”

Shield’s outburst  has to be categorized as clinical, indeed pathological denial, but a helpful variety, since it provides a window in the mid of the deranged, kind of like the hole in a Canadian trapper’s gut that allowed Dr. Beaumont to study the workings of the human stomach.  You can see that the problem hearkens back to November 2016. Amazingly, Democrats still cannot accept that they lost the Presidency to someone like Donald Trump. It has driven them literally crazy. Imagine: Mark Shields, who was once as sane as you or I, is really arguing that after a two and a half year, 20 million dollar investigation of Russian interference in the election, what we really need now is…an investigation of the election. No, we really don’t, and Shield’s ridiculous comparison of the piddling Russian disinformation campaign designed to confuse and confound American morons and sow discord (though that objective has been advanced far more effectively by the news media and the “resistance”) with a terrorist attack that killed more than 3000 Americans in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania shows how conspiratorial and, to be blunt, whacked-out the Left has become. Continue reading

Unethical Proposal, But The Reaction Was Worth It…And Maybe That Was the Idea

“Mr Gallagher, are you that smart?”
“You’re damn right he is!”

Once again, President Trump brings us utilitarianism at its best and most brutal, and perhaps trolling at its most refined.

The White House apparently has discussed sending illegal immigrants  and dubious “migrants” to sanctuary cities. A Washington Post story described this as “targeting political foes” :

White House officials have tried to pressure U.S. immigration authorities to release detainees onto the streets of “sanctuary cities” to retaliate against President Trump’s political adversaries, according to Department of Homeland Security officials and email messages reviewed by The Washington Post.

Trump administration officials have proposed transporting detained immigrants to sanctuary cities at least twice in the past six months — once in November, as a migrant caravan approached the U.S. southern border, and again in February, amid a standoff with Democrats over funding for Trump’s border wall.

If true, and since the Post is reporting it, who knows if it is, the proposal is unethical, however diabolically amusing. The national government cannot and must not pick and choose among the states, cities and citizens: all must be treated equally, even those, like the sanctuary cities, that are asking to be slapped down. The idea is redolent of Chicago local politics. or the prime of Washington’s Mayor Barry, who somehow managed to see that the roads in Republican districts stayed snow-bound long after Barry-supporting districts got plowed.

However, nothing about the fact that the White House may have wanted to play games with illegal immigrants in the face of Democratic refusal to help him enforce our laws is either surprising or substantive. The reaction of the President’s foes, however, is useful intelligence. If this was ploy launched to make Democrats and others reveal their real attitudes and monumental hypocrisy, boy, did it work. Continue reading