January 7, 2021 Ethics Nightcap, The “Everything Is Spinning Wildly Out Of Control” Edition

spinning-out-of-control

Well, the national mood is clearly infecting Ethics Alarms. First a self-banned commenter from the past starts sending me private hate mail for no discernible reason. Then another banned commenter sends an attack comment while I’m sleeping. THEN a previously rational commenter of some note proclaims his exit because, he says, all I write about is politics, and because he said I excused the President for inciting a riot (which I did not). Then another commenter started calling participants here Nazis,and yet another commenter, whom I trust to use more restraint, also used a Nazi analogy to describe the Hill riot yesterday.

I expect better here, frankly; better, fairer, and more civil.

I get it: readers aren’t immune from being freaked-out during freakouts, but please, read “If,” (my father’s favorite poem, and a lifetime credo for him and his son) and calm the hell down:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

(And if you let Rudyard’s 19th Century male bias dissuade you from paying attention to his message, you’ll be a fool, my friend.)

I’ll only address one of the commenter upsets I described above: the accusation that Ethics Alarms has been writing about politics and neglecting ethics. I resent that, because I have been killing myself trying to find non-political ethics stories that are worth writing about, at a time when almost everything has been politicized. At the same time, I cannot in good conscience fail to explicate the unethical and unprecedented effort to sabotage an elected US President and all that has involved and corrupted since 2016, so this has necessarily involved many posts, more than I would have liked. It is the most significant U.S. ethics catastrophe of the last hundred years at least, and attention should be paid. What happened yesterday was a direct and predictable consequence of this.

Yet even so, Ethics Alarms has been and continues to be about all topics and all spheres of ethics. There are four or more posts most days, and four or five mini-posts in the “warm-ups.” Find another website that includes more diverse material on the topic of ethics; go ahead, try.

I will also note that the complaining commenter has not availed himself of the open forums, which exist specifically to invite readers to raise issues related to ethics that I may have missed or neglected. This is a participatory forum.

Annoyingly, the commenter who made this complaint also said that he had mostly “skimmed” posts here for the last year or so. Well, Ethics Alarms is not for “skimming,” and if one cannot read all of what I write, I’m not very interested in your opinions on what you have only half-comprehended.

Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Corrupt And Cowardly Colleges Files: Marquette And Penn State

I’m sorry. I really am. These stories get worse and worse, far beyond anything I could have imagined just  a few years ago. I am so relieved that my son decided long ago that for him, college would be a waste of money and time. This has spared me the chore of explaining to him that it would be a waste of his values and mind as well.

First, let’s look at the latest chapter in the Marquette debacle involving Samantha Pfefferle, the incoming freshman who became an object of revulsion and terror because she dared to post a harmless, infantile video proclaiming her support for President Trump. The first part of the story dawned on Ethics Alarms this morning, here. Now we know that Mike Lovell, the president of Marquette, sent an email to Marquette’s Board of Trustees about the incident. The email was a dishonest, dastardly misrepresentation that would fully justify his firing for cause if the trustees had the curiosity and integrity to investigate the facts. Here I’m going to send you to John Hinderaker’s blog, Powerline, to read his expert vivisection of Lovell’s slimy machinations. I’m leaving it to him for two reasons. First, Hinderaker is a a skilled legal mind, and he does a superb job. Second, his blog is specifically mentioned, and denigrated, in in the president’s email.

The last time Marquette was mentioned critically here was in 2015, through the attentions of MIA Ethics Alarms commenter Rick Jones, aka “Curmie.” Rick, who used to give out his annual “Curmie Awards” for outrageous conduct in academia, nominated Marquette for firing a tenured professor who wrote a blog post that criticized a graduate student teaching assistant for telling a student that his opinion opposing gay marriage was homophobic and would not be permitted in her class.

Curmie was right and Marquette was wrong: a court later reinstated the professor and held the university liable for breaching his  “contract’s guarantee of academic freedom.”  The latest episode show that the school’s progressive intolerance for non-conforming view has metastasized since Curmie’s nomination.

John Hinderaker  titled his latest post “Marquette Weasels.” If that conduct was weaselly, what do we call this, from Penn State? Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Clothing Manufacturer Dhavani

It has come to this: the above image currently appears on a Dhavani billboard in Times Square. The company proudly tweeted it out, writing,

As you know, we’re extremely passionate about creating high-quality, fashionable and innovative products in the most sustainable and ethical ways possible.But the state of the world weighs heavily on us. There is a palpable tension in the air, an untenable clash of ideals, and we can no longer just sit back and watch….hat’s why we’ve decided to #StandForSomething and become the world’s first and only Activ(ist)Wear™ company. DHVANI is a brand for people who are committed to making the world a better place. As of today, with each purchase, we will donate to a featured nonprofit partner.

Yes, fomenting hate and denigrating the elected leader of the United States is the way to make the world a better place. That’s the message. Now run out and put money in their pockets.

It is increasingly clear to me that the future of our nation, government and culture depends upon how many Americans eventually realize that no matter what they may think of President Trump, those who shamelessly employ these tactics and this kind of rhetoric are a far, far greater threat to our values.

Commenting on this phenomenon, conservative commentator John Hinderaker writes, Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/17/19: March Ethics Madness!

Good morning!

Any week that starts off with John Belushi’s immortal reflections on March just has to be a good week.

1. Connecticut: Judicial ethics and guns. Anti-gun fanatics are cheering this week’s ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court  reversing  a lower court judge dismissing a lawsuit by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting against Remington Arms Company, allowing the case to proceed. In the 4-3 decision the court  possibly created a path that other mass shooting victims can follow to get around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, known as PLCAA, which has protected the manufacturers of the AR-15 assault rifle from lawsuits, thus setting the stage for a sensational “Runaway Jury”-type trial. The court’s reasoning is that the Sandy Hook families should have the opportunity to prove that Remington violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) by marketing what it knew was a weapon designed for military use to civilians. The problem is that the ruling ignores the law, as John Hinderaker explains (but he’s not the only analyst trashing the decision):

“Firearms of all kinds have been ‘designed for military use.’,” he writes. “The 1911, designed by John Browning, was the standard U.S. military pistol for many years and remains one of the most popular pistol designs today. So what? There is no such exception in the Second Amendment…Under the Supremacy Clause, federal law will govern over state law. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is intended to avoid precisely the result reached by the Connecticut Supreme Court. The PLCAA puts firearms manufacturers on the same plane with all others. If their products are not defective–if they do not malfunction–they are not liable. If someone stabs a victim to death with a knife, the victim’s heirs can’t sue the knife manufacturer. It is the same with firearms.”

Hinderaker correctly concludes that significance of the ruling is not that it opens a road for the Second Amendment to be constrained, or for ruinous liability to applied to gun-makers, but that it shows how courts will deliberately ignore the law to reach political goals. Continue reading

The Unprepared Judicial Nominee [Updated]

 

Matthew S.] Petersen, a lawyer serving on the Federal Election Commission, was one of five President Trump judicial nominees to be questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Senator John N. Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, subjected Petersen to questions regarding basic litigation law, such as the Daubert standard, which has to do with qualifying expert witness testimony, the definition of a motion in limine, and several other bits of information a junior litigator would have to have in his memory banks. The potential judge told the Senator that he had never tried a case or argued a motion in court. He said he last read the Federal Rules of evidence in law school. “I understand that the path that many successful district court judges have taken has been a different one than I’ve taken,” Petersen said.

Naturally, being a Trump nominee, Petersen is being widely mocked in the news media and by Democrats. Some legal experts have been more sympathetic, like Judge Wayne R. Andersen, who was a federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois for nearly 20 years. He told reporters  that there was a continuing debate within the legal profession about the qualifications required of a trial judge, saying, “Anyone who steps to the federal bench lacks a huge amount of federal experience necessary to do the job,” and that Senator Kennedy’s questions, while fair, “would eliminate 80 percent of the nation’s lawyers and many of the most talented lawyers.”

Lawyer/Blogger John Hinderaker wrote in part,

The lawyers who have the most thorough understanding of substantive areas of the law–real estate, taxes, corporate governance and so on–are generally not litigators. Do we really want to say that all of these non-litigators–the majority of lawyers–are unfit to be trial judges?…does it mean that one of my non-litigator partners would be disqualified from such an appointment, no matter how good a lawyer he or she might be? I don’t think so.

… Newly-appointed judges attend “judge school,” where they are taught the finer points of the rules of evidence….Most lawyers who are appointed to the bench in both federal and state courts have backgrounds in litigation. No doubt that is appropriate. However, it is by no means rare for non-litigator lawyers to be appointed, or win election, to the bench. In my opinion, that is a good thing. I don’t see why a minority of lawyers–litigators–should have a monopoly on the bench. I don’t know whether Matthew Petersen will make a good judge or not. But in my view, he doesn’t deserve to be ridiculed because his highly-successful law career has been conducted outside of the courtroom.

I agree; he shouldn’t be ridiculed for that. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/14/17: Reed College…Fired For Mentioning Grits?…Stupid Protests…The DNC Lies To Democrats…And The Times Clarifies Its Double Standards

Hi there!

1 There is another one of those hybrid ethics stories coming out of Oregon. Cross oppressive political correctness with racial-offense hypersensitivity with Lena Dunham-like totalitarian-minded progressives itching to report “wrong-thinkers” to authorities with organizations punishing individuals for private speech they did not intend to make public and what monstrosity do you get?

This: a white conductor and festival artistic director fired by a music festival after he was overheard talking to a black friend in a fake Southern accent and saying, “Do you want some grits?” or words to that effect.

I’m not going to explain in any detail what and who are unethical in this fiasco, because I shouldn’t have to. Halls is a victim. The woman who reported him after eavesdropping is worse than merely unethical: she is an evil-doer, someone who sets out to hurt other people to feel powerful. She either never heard of the Golden Rule or doesn’t accept it. (Maybe she IS Lena Dunham!) The festival’s conduct is unfair, uncaring, cowardly and irresponsible. It deserves to have its artists boycott the festival in support for Halls, but since artists tend to be leftists of the knee-jerk variety, addicted to virtue-signaling and with the depth of analysis exhibited by the typical dachshund, I wouldn’t expect any colleagial  support if I were the conductor.

If you have functioning ethics alarms, it will be obvious that the episode was disgusting and unjust, and why. If the festival’s conduct  makes sense to you, then I’m afraid you’re hopelessly corrupted.

2. Morning Warm-Up may yet morph into “stories that are so irritating I can’t stand writing full posts about them.” Take this one, for example: at small liberal arts school Reed College,  a mandatory humanities course on ancient Mediterranean civilizations was canceled after student protesters kept  interrupting the class to protest “Eurocentrism.” Western culture has been, like it or accept it or not, the beacon of world civilization, and even those who (idiotically) choose to deride or reject it need to understand the history and forces that brought us to where we are today—where we are today being a time when weak and incompetent college administers refuse to assert the indispensable fact that students are there to learn, not dictate to their elders.

My favorite part of this story: to accommodate protesters, the Reed administration agreed to allow adverse students to stand surrounding lecturers in the course. “The general understanding was that the protesters would be allowed to continue as long as they didn’t interfere in the lecture period”…as if forcing lecturers to teach under such circumstances isn’t inherently interfering, as well as intimidating to the teachers and other students.

Colleges and universities that cannot respond more effectively and professionally to such unethical bullying by extremists don’t deserve to exist at all. If you don’t want to learn about Western civilization, go to another school, probably in California. If you disrupt the learning experience of other students, you should be expelled. Continue reading

U.S. Journalism’s Continued Unraveling, And CNN’s Unprofessional, Unethical, Destructive Disrespect For The President Of The United States

And the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck’s carnage continues…

The degree to which the Post 2016 Election Ethics Train Wreck has engulfed the news media has shocked even me, and readers know that Ethics Alarms had  swamp-level regard for U.S. journalists long before the 2016 campaign. It has obliterated any legitimate trust a citizen could have in the mainstream media’s news judgment, objectivity and competence, and with the exception of tiny pockets of professionalism here and there (Jake Tapper comes to mind), has declared itself a partisan foe of the electoral system, and the Presidency. The double standards applied regarding Democrats and Republicans as well as the smug shamelessness with which the media has applied them cannot be condemned too harshly. Naturally, the equally corrupted members of the so-called “resistance” see none of the harm and betrayal in this, since it suits their own ends.

Ethics Alarms  can’t catalogue all of the worst examples of this; there isn’t time. Last month, for example, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who once had a conscience and a mind even as you or I, authored one of the ugliest and most disgusting pieces I have read in any reputable publication. In the disgrace titled “There’s a Whiff of Treason In The Air” Kristof issued a conspiracy theory that would be at home in the archives of Alex Jones,  Mike Cernovich, or Donald Trump in his birther days, except that so many hopeful Democrats endorse it. The column is one long, vicious smear, claiming that President Trump engaged in treason, while citing absolutely no evidence whatsoever that supports such an inflammatory accusation. I considered flagging all of the slimy, dishonest, hypocritical rhetorical techniques Kristof brings to his efforts to undermine his nation’s President, but I decided to do so would insult my readers’ intelligence: it is so obvious, particularly when one considers the Russian “ties” the Clinton campaign had to Russia. Why do the business dealings of Trump campaign personnel with Russian figures spell TREASON to the Times columnist, and the more ominous ties between Russia and the Clintons get a pass? Simple: he wants Donald Trump to be proven a traitor; his readers want it; and he, the Times and the Democratic Party that has sold its integrity and soul intends to push the accusations as long as they can cripple and delegitimize the government they oppose. Continue reading

Ben Carson’s Stories

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The prevailing political foofaraw right now involves Ben Carson’s account, in his 1990 autobiography, regarding a phantom “offer” to attend West Point. Before some analysis, a word or two..

Ben Carson has no business running for President. His supporters are irresponsible and deluded. I was just on WGAN (Maine) on Arthur King’s show, and Carson was discussed. A Carson supporting caller took issue with my statement that he was flat out unqualified for office whatever had been said to him about West Point, and protested that he was a brilliant surgeon, and successfully managed his surgical team. We ran out of time, and I didn’t get to say, “So what?” Is Ned Yost a potential President because he successfully managed a baseball team to a World Series victory? Yost’s training and experience have as much correlation to political leadership as Carson’s, and arguably more. Carson has no qualifications for high office. He is easily the least qualified candidate in either field, with no management experience, no political talents, weak speaking skills, negligible presence, irrelevant education and training, and terrible political instincts. You could throw a rutabaga  into a crowd and have a good chance of hitting someone who would be a more promising President.

Wrote J. Christian Adams succinctly about the current controversy,

“[T]he incident reveals a recurring and perhaps unrecoverable trait of candidate Carson.  He just doesn’t seem to know what he is talking about, whether it be Cuba, the Voting Rights Act, or how West Point works.”

Yes, and that too.

So if this typical example of the news media blowing a relatively minor incident out of proportion because a Republican poses a threat to Democratic domination should result in Carson’s demise, good. Something has to. It is wrong, another example the double standard we are all used to; and the news media should be called on it hard. Still, if it ends the embarrassing distraction that is Ben Carson, I’m not weeping. The ends don’t justify unethical means, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the ends anyway.

Let us pretend that Carson is a competent, qualified and deserving candidate for President, just to try to strip the bias away. How significant and serious are Carson’s various misrepresentations?

These all arise from what Carson wrote about his youth and early years in 1990, 25 years ago, when running for President wasn’t a twinkle in his eye. He…heck, we can’t pretend, because a competent candidate would be smart and experienced enough to say,

“You know, I didn’t expect anyone to read the book, I wrote most of it off the top of my head, my memory was faulty, I didn’t check the facts and I should have. The West Point story is typical. To me, it sounded like I was being told that I could get into West Point if I wanted to, and that I wouldn’t have to pay tuition, which to me meant a scholarship. I wasn’t trying to fool anybody then or now. I’m sorry. I’ve learned a lot in 25 years. I know most of our personal memories are distorted over time, and cannot be relied upon; mistakes like these turn up to varying degrees in all personal accounts. Bill Clinton says he remembered lots of church burning in Arkansas when he was growing up. Hillary Clinton said she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who didn’t become famous for climbing Mount Everest until six years after was born. The difference between my memory flawa and theirs was that mine can’t be attributed to political dissembling. Next question.”

If he had said that, then his other statements that didn’t check out could be explained the same way, and reasonably so. Instead, Carson and his defenders are denying, accusing, double-talking and parsing words like the Clintons. This is foolish because

I) Carson’s not as practiced at it as the Clintons,

2) …The truth is always better, and,

3) Unlike when the Clintons lie, most of the news media are looking for justifications to destroy him as it did Herman Cain. Reporters do not want to not be fair or reasonable with Carson, and certainly not complicit in deception as regularly is for Hillary. Continue reading

Harry Reid Hatred And The Tit-For-Tat Addiction

mob enforcer

Once again, the ethically disabled in conservative punditry are forcing me to come to the defense of one of the most loathsome politicians extant. Senator Harry Reid’s announcement that he is leaving the Senate after his current term expires in 2016 has inspired a spate of baseless speculation that the serious facial injuries he sustained on New Years Day were not the result of an exercise equipment mishap, and may have been the souvenirs or a beating by Vegas mob goons to teach “Dirty Harry” to deliver the goods when the Godfather ask a favor.

As Basil Fawlty would say, “Oh, thank you! Thank you so VERY MUCH!” I love wasting a good hour of sock drawer organization explaining why its wrong to mistreat the likes of Harry Reid. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Case Of The Fabricating Anchorman

The key question in any ethics problem is usually “What’s going on here?” With Brian Williams’ bizarre admission that he had been telling a false story involving his experience covering the Iraq War for over a decade, it’s impossible to say with confidence what is going on.

We know this: Williams told viewers on his evening news broadcast last week about an incident when he was covering the Iraq war, saying that a helicopter he was flying in was hit and forced down by an RPG. After the broadcast, soldiers began complaining on Facebook:

Screen-Shot-WilliamsScreen-Shot-Williams 2

“Stars and Stripes” noticed, investigated Williams’ account and found it to be false. Williams quickly apologized, both on Facebook and in his Wednesday broadcast. Here is his Facebook recant:

“To Joseph, Lance, Jonathan, Pate, Michael and all those who have posted: You are absolutely right and I was wrong. In fact, I spent much of the weekend thinking I’d gone crazy. I feel terrible about making this mistake, especially since I found my OWN WRITING about the incident from back in ’08, and I was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG in the tail housing just above the ramp. Because I have no desire to fictionalize my experience (we all saw it happened the first time) and no need to dramatize events as they actually happened, I think the constant viewing of the video showing us inspecting the impact area — and the fog of memory over 12 years — made me conflate the two, and I apologize. I certainly remember the armored mech platoon, meeting Capt. Eric Nye and of course Tim Terpak. Shortly after they arrived, so did the Orange Crush sandstorm, making virtually all outdoor functions impossible. I honestly don’t remember which of the three choppers Gen. Downing and I slept in, but we spent two nights on the stowable web bench seats in one of the three birds. Later in the invasion when Gen. Downing and I reached Baghdad, I remember searching the parade grounds for Tim’s Bradley to no avail. My attempt to pay tribute to CSM Terpak was to honor his 23+ years in service to our nation, and it had been 12 years since I saw him. The ultimate irony is: In writing up the synopsis of the 2 nights and 3 days I spent with him in the desert, I managed to switch aircraft. Nobody’s trying to steal anyone’s valor. Quite the contrary: I was and remain a civilian journalist covering the stories of those who volunteered for duty. This was simply an attempt to thank Tim, our military and Veterans everywhere — those who have served while I did not.”

Research has revealed that Williams has been telling various versions of the story for over a decade, sometimes saying he was in a helicopter behind the one hit by fire, sometimes saying, as he did on the David Letterman show last year, that he was actually a passenger on the helicopter forced down. Thus his Facebook apology is misleading, and the one he gave last night even moreso. At Powerline, John Hinderaker explains:

This is the statement that Williams read on-air tonight:

“After a groundfire incident in the desert during the Iraq war invasion, I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago….”

No: Williams has been telling the false story since shortly after the incident occurred. He told it for the last time, not the first, last week.

“It did not take long to hear from some brave men and women in the air crews who were also in that desert….”

Not since last Friday, but it took a decade or more since Williams first told the false story.

“I want to apologize. I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by [rocket-propelled grenade] fire. I was instead in a following aircraft. . . .”

Again, Williams tries to mislead: his “following aircraft” landed an hour after the one that took the hit from the RPG.

“This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and, by extension, our brave military men and women, veterans everywhere, those who have served while I did not…”

A bungled attempt last Friday evening at the Rangers game. Williams implies, once again, that this was the first time he has told the false story. But he is on video telling the same story at least 13 times since 2003.

Williams’s on-air apology, like the Facebook version, was disingenuous. I doubt that it will help him in the long term.

Hinderaker, a prominent conservative political blogger, believes that Williams is certain to be fired as a result of the controversy, the convoluted details of which you can read about here, here, and here in addition to the Washington Post story linked above.

I’m not so sure that he will. Should he?

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is…

“Can Brian Williams be trusted after this?”

Continue reading