Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/15/2019: Starring Two Of My Favorite Unethical Websites!

WAKE UP!

Oh, great: started this post at 7 am, hell broke lose at ProEthics, and now it’s after noon. Well, the hell with it: I’m not going back to change the headline or the intro, and I like Lenny’s version of the Stars and Stripes at any time of day.

So there.

1. Unprofessional and dangerous stuff from  Above the Law….as usual. The legal gossip and snark online tabloid is run and written by lawyers who are not practicing law, so they feel free to engage in conduct that lawyers are forbidden from engaging in, like misrepresentation.  Lately the cyber rag has been cyber-ragging on Jones Day, a long-time, distinguished D.C. mega firm. Why are they doing that? Come on, it should be obvious.

ATL takes the position—and it has company— that Jones Day is eeeevil and must be shunned because it represents the Trump campaign. Hence you get headlines like “IF YOU HAD TO GUESS WHICH FIRM WOULD DO THIS:New allegations claim Jones Day lightened the skin and narrowed the nose on the picture of one of their lawyers.” Continue reading

Addendum: To Be Fair, Elizabeth Warren Wasn’t The Only Democratic Presidential Candidate Who Lied About The Death Of Mike Brown Last Week. She Was Just The Worst…

Last week, on Friday and Saturday, Democratic Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Tim Ryan,  Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio all tweeted out deliberately false statements about the shooting of Michael Brown in Fergusen, Missouri 5 years ago, all apparently doing so to pander to African Americans, especially those who don’t read newspapers.

Ethics Alarms focused on Warren, being the biggest and most shameless demagogue of the group, in this post, which concluded,

“Warren isn’t intellectually lazy, or flummoxed by a false narrative. She is pandering. She is lying. She is doing what she evidently thinks will gain her power and the Presidency: saying what she thinks will attract needed support, even though she knows, knows, that it is false. Warren is a law professor and a litigator, and from all reports skilled in both roles. She knows that the facts made it obvious that Brown wasn’t murdered. She knows that competent, fair citizens must not call other citizens murderers when not only have they not been charged, tried, or duly convicted, but when authorities have concluded that there is insufficient evidence for an official accusation.The tweet isn’t a mistake or an opinion. It is a deliberate lie, a public and a defamatory one. I see no reason why Darren Wilson could not sue Warren and win.”

That is still accurate and true. Several Ethics Alarms readers pointed out that Kamala Harris also advanced the long de-bunked narrative that Mike Brown was a nice, friendly, “gentle giant” heading for college who was gunned down by a racist cop while holding up his hands and pleading for his life. Continue reading

Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 8/12/2019: Invasion! Exaggeration! Extreme Injustice!

Did you have an ethical day?

Ethics are cool, you know.

(So was Bing…)

1. The New York Times this morning, apparently determined to double down on the deliberately dishonest assertion that El Paso’s Walmart shooter was channeling the sentiments of “right wing pundits” and the President, plastered a tiny print excerpt from the manifesto—which, last I checked, it has still refused to publish in complete or readable form—on the front page, with the word “invasion” highlighted every time it appeared. As I wrote in Part Two of the Ethics Alarms’ post about the screed (and the news media’s unconscionable conspiracy to withhold it from the public while journalists misrepresent its contents…)

“Yes, it is true that both President Trump and the shooter use the term “invasion,” and to many critics this single convergence is sufficient to claim that the President is “responsible” for the El Paso shooting. “Invasion” is a word, not a theory or a philosophy, and the two apply it differently. President Trump has used it to describe illegal immigration, for which it is a defensible, if inflammatory, description.

Describing legal immigration as an invasion is not defensible—invasions are not legal—and is materially different. Ironically, it is the President’s foes, who intentionally refuse to distinguish between the validity of illegal and legal immigration—just like the shooter!—who have spread the lie that the President has called immigration itself “an invasion.”

Invasion is a loaded and pejorative term, but still a fair and accurate one. Illegal immigration advocates don’t like it because the term frames the unlawful migration as destructive and wrong, which it is. The word is not misleading, as the illegal immigration apologists ‘ use of “immigration” to describe illegal immigration, and “immigrants” (or “migrants”) to describe illegals is. Nor is it deceptive, like calling support for ending the lives of unborn children support for “choice,” or calling the President’s statements “racist: when they meet no definition of racism, or calling thge standard law enforcement procedure of separating children from law-breaking parents when the parents have brought their children along as they breached the law, “putting children in cages.” The obsession with “invasion” is both hypocritical and petulant: it’s a more powerful and more accurate framing of an issue than the progressive cover-words. Yesterday a Level-5 Trump-Deranged Facebook friend started using the word “inaction” as a substitute for “The Second Amendment,” “individual rights,” and the refusal to pass useless, symbolic, incremental laws in hopes of eventually reaching gun confiscation—the real objective. Continue reading

“Unethical” Is Too Mild To Describe Elizabeth Warren, And “Gullible” Is Too Nice To Describe Her Supporters

Above is what Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who presumes to tell us that she is qualified to be President of the United States,  tweeted to her followers last week. This deliberate and disgraceful lie could be presented on Ethics Alarms as evidence that Warren is an Ethics Dunce. It would easily qualify as an Unethical Quote of the Week (Month…Year…). It is fully qualified as an Unethical Tweet of the Week, in a category that is becoming increasingly contested. None of these, however, quite capture the miserable, cynical, disgusting nature of Warren’s statement. Continue reading

Be Honest Now: Does Anyone Believe The Latest Explanation For Why The Democrats Want The President’s Tax Returns?

I guess it is kind of funny, when you think about it…

On the old Ethics Scoreboard, I had a monthly feature called The David Manning Liar Of The Month Award, “honoring” utterly transparent lies from prominent organizations and people that they obviously didn’t expect anyone to believe. The subpoena issued yesterday by Representative Richard E. Neal (D-Mass) to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Charles P. Rettig, the I.R.S. commissioner would get this month’s award if I was still giving it out.

Quick, now: why do Democrats want the President’s tax returns? Is there any doubt whatsoever? Have they been ambiguous about it in the least? They are convinced, because, as we all know, the Orange Man is BAD, that somewhere in his returns is sufficient evidence of serious wrongdoing—that the IRS never noticed nor flagged, mind you, and that occurred before Donald Trump became President—that they can use to concoct a viable impeachment case, or at least use to embarrass and attack him in the coming election.

For a long time the theory was that the returns would provide decisive evidence that the President was involved in an election-stealing plot with Russia, but since that phony premise was thoroughly exploded, Democrats had to find another excuse. The current theory is that since he refused to reveal the returns during the 2016 campaign, he must have something nefarious to hide. This is the totalitarian’s approach to justice, of course. That the Democratic Party and its supporters so easily resort to it ought to give everyone pause.

So we all know why the Democratic House majority is trying to get the President’s returns. The problem is that Donald Trump has the same right of privacy as every other taxpayer. The fact that he broke with recent tradition by not releasing his returns, if Occam’s Razor means anything to you, is best attributed to the fact that no other Presidential candidate of a major party since income taxes were introduced has been an international businessman, with the extraordinary number of transactions and tax maneuvers such status inevitably requires. Pop Quiz: Did H. Ross Perot, when he was running his third party challenge to Bush and Clinton in 1992, release his tax returns? Continue reading

Comment Of The Day from The 4/10 Open Forum

This is a Comment of the Day by Michael R. on what amounts  to a provocative stand-alone post by JimHodgson. He wrote,

Yesterday I taught an ethics course for a group of thirty corrections officers at a local sheriff’s office detention facility, and will teach the same class tomorrow for a second group. The attendees ranged from veteran staff, with ten or more years of service, to recent hires just out of basic training. Ages ranged from early 20s to mid 50s. Due to medical/surgical issues I have recently been “out of the saddle” as a trainer for two years and had not taught this particular course for nearly four years. As we discussed ethical considerations in the corrections context, I was struck repeatedly by one thing: The older, more experienced officers, who one might have expected to be quite jaded about their role, duties, and in their outlook toward professional / occupational ethical issues, were instead the most thoughtful and consistent in their ethical logic as we dissected various scenarios and case studies involving the application of ethics -or the lack thereof, and they displayed the greatest understanding of ethical concepts and principles. Conversely, the younger and less experienced officers’ reasoning was tilted toward ethical contingencies and excuse-making, and in some cases the idea that “what is acceptable to my peers is ethical.” As I always do, I posed Michael Josephson’s somewhat rhetorical question, “How many times do you get to lie before you are a liar?” To my consternation, some of the younger people seemed to think that the answer could be quantified!

Of course, I have no delusions that any instruction by me can correct an adult’s ethical deficiencies, but I always endeavor to at least provide a fairly comprehensive summary of ethical decision-making principles and processes, the legal and ethical duties of the job, the standards of the institution, and the likely consequences for failing to meet those ethical and legal standards. Based on their responses, I was not encouraged about the future of many of those younger officers. I recalled my own daughter’s experiences with “character education” in school, and our many related discussions about character and ethics, and wondered if these young officers hadn’t shared that educational experience, being of about the same age. If so, I saw little residual evidence of it.

This particular detention facility is seriously overcrowded (nearly 25% over designed capacity), chronically understaffed (no staff positions added since the facility was at 60% of capacity), and has about a 40% annual staff turnover (mainly newer hires leaving for better-paying, less stressful jobs). A round of retirements about five years ago decimated the ranks of the most experienced staff. Over 50% of staff have less than four years experience. The corrections officer’s duties include a multitude of low-visibility discretionary decisions that often involve the use of coercive authority, and making ethical decisions is essential.

Here was Michael R.’s Comment of the Day in response: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/20/18: I Promise, I’m Looking Hard For Uplifting Ethics Stories For The Holidays. And Failing….

Good morning!

(If I don’t get the lights on the tree  today, I’m hurling myself into a pit of rabid reindeer…)

1. Open Forum report: Another intense, varied, and impressive performance by the Ethics Alarms crew in my absence yesterday. 23 different commenters raised and debated the following issues, many of which I haven’t touched yet, because I am wholly inadequate to my task. Among them:

  • The ethics of fighting a specious criminal charge,
  • Texas’ school districts for making employees sign a pledge not to boycott or advocate against Israel?
  • The bump stock ban
  • The plea deal of Jacob Walter Anderson
  • “The Innocent Man”
  • The Xmas package-snatcher trap.
  •  Stepha Velednitsky
  • “Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times” by Joel Richard Paul.
  • The yellow vest protests and the meager US coverage of them
  • Prada Monkey
  • Trump’s decision to  pull out of Syria

2.  Favorite dishonest and manipulative note out of many in the 12/18  Times:   Reporters Carl Hulse and Julie Davis write in“Tennessee Senator, A Proven Deal-Maker, Won’t Seek Re-election”…

Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee and one of the last bridges to bipartisanship in the Senate, announced on Monday that he would not seek re-election in 2020…His decision to leave is more evidence that Washington has become less attractive to legislators interested in steering a middle course on seemingly intractable issues such as education and health care….

Fake news, and deliberate distortion. In fact, Alexander’s decision may have nothing to do with the job becoming “less attractive to legislators interested in steering a middle course,” and his own words, meaning his own stated reason for leaving, don’t suggest that at all. Alexander is 78. In 2020, he would be 80, meaning that by the end of a new term he would be 86, or sick, or dead. “I’ve had my turn,”  Alexander is quoted as saying. “Everything comes to an end sometime, and it is good to know when that should be.” He also said that he wants to leave the Senate “at the top of my game.”

The current U.S. news media is untrustworthy, dishonest, incompetent and despicable, and frankly, I am beginning to regard anyone who continues to deny this the same way. Continue reading