Thanksgiving Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/23/17: All About Turkeys, Metaphorically Speaking

It’s Thanksgiving Morning!

1 It’s also my wedding anniversary. I am very thankful , and proud, frankly, that I am one of the very few people among my pretty large and diverse community of friends, acquaintances and colleagues still married (after 37 years…yes, I married at 13) to the same person I pledged to make a life with “til death do us part.” It’s not easy, for anyone, and determination and commitment, forgiveness and contrition, are a large, crucial, indispensable part of it. A lot of the journey is based on ethics, in other words.

2. Surprise! More accusers of both Rep. John Conyers and Senator Franken surfaced yesterday. Conyers’ new alleged victim is Melanie Sloan, formerly the head of CREW, the left-wing D.C. ethics watchdog that somehow manages to see unethical conduct by Republicans about five times more often than it fingers Democrats. Sloan says she was not sexually harassed, but alleges that Conyers called him into his office to verbally abuse her while being dressed in his underwear. Uh, Melanie? If your boss is ever berating you in his underwear, that is per se sexual harassment. This is a hostile work environment; I don’t care if your superior is built like Batman…well, like his costume.

The predictable proliferation of accusers was why, in the hypothetical apology I authored for Alternate Universe Al, I included the part about mistreating other women. It was a sure thing; harassers harass, and if you are going to pretend that the first accuser was “just a mistake,” you might as well skip it and head for George Bailey’s bridge. In the sexual harassment training field, nothing is more certain than the fact that with the real harassers and predators, if there’s one victim, there are many. This is why the narrative about Anita Hill amounts to a Left-driven, media-driven smear of Clarence Thomas for the crime of being a black conservative.

An unanticipated horrible consequence of this leg of the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, which also includes new allegations about the Democratic Party’s keynote speaker when it was accusing conservatives of a “war on women,” as well the revelation that the GOP President who selected Thomas emulates his favorite magician, “David Cop-a-Feel,” is that it very well might elect Roy Moore, who is worse than any of them. Meanwhile, most analysts think that both Franken and Conyers will have to resign. ( I would eagerly vote for a mad scientist-make hybrid of Conyers and Franken—Frankenconyers!—before I would even shake Roy Moore’s grubby hand…and really, who knows where it’s been?)

Republicans have been incredibly lucky with their choices of foes, luckier than they deserve. Continue reading

Further Notes On “Stuff Happens,” “DO SOMETHING!!!” And The Dishonest, Hysterical And/Or Delusional Anti-Gun “Position”

1) In the clip above, the National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke asks MSNBC analyst Mark Halperin and “Morning Joe” house progressive Mika Brzezinski to explain what kind of measures would satisfy the hysterical calls of a Morning Joe panel to “DO SOMETHING!!!” about gun violence. Cooke referenced the President’s angry (irresponsible, partisan, useless) attack on Congress’s failure almost immediately after the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, and accused ant-gun forces of acting as if they had solutions to gun violence (that don’t involve trashing the Bill of Rights) when they don’t. [I pointed out in yesterday’s post that they don’t because there aren’t any.] He said to Halperin:

“Joe Biden doesn’t know how to fix this problem. I don’t know how to fix this problem. I think it’s fair to say you don’t know how to fix this problem. It’s a very complex question in a country with 300 to 350 million guns on the street. The way they talk is as if they have the answer and there are these recalcitrant forces in the country that say ‘no, no, no,’ even though deep down they know their legislation will work. That’s simply not the case. It’s far more complicated than that.”

As you will see, Halperin had no actual proposals, ducking the issue by saying that he’s “not an expert in the field.” But he said that he wanted leaders to “have a thirst and hunger and passion to try to come up with solutions.”

I will accept this as a legitimate argument as soon as I hear any plausible solution that does not involve banning guns, making it excessively difficult for law abiding citizens from arming themselves, or engaging in pre-crime measures against citizens who have had episodes of mental illness or who are suspected of having such episodes. The proposals I have heard are incremental and will not accomplish the goal, ergo more obtrusive measures will be proposed and pushed by identical arguments and hysteria, until…we end up banning guns, making it excessively difficult for law abiding citizens from arming themselves, or engaging in pre-crime measures against citizens who have had episodes of mental illness or who are suspected of having such episodes.

Either anti-gun “DO SOMETHING!” advocates like the President, Mika and Halperin know this, intend it and are not being honest about it, or they are naive.

2) Jeb Bush responsibly addressed the impulse to stampede support for ill-considered solutions in the wake of tragedy…

The text:

“Yeah it’s a — we’re in a difficult time in our country, and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s just, it’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion, I had this challenge as governor, because, look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

You will note that Bush did not shrug off the Oregon shooting by saying “stuff happens.” Nonetheless, the completely principle-free Debbie Wasserman Schultz mischaracterized what Bush said with a fatuous tweet:

“A message for Jeb Bush: 380 Americans have been killed in 294 mass shootings in 2015 alone. “Stuff” doesn’t just “happen.” Inaction happens.”

Inaction regarding what, you shameless hack? What action are you proposing that would actually prevent a shooting like this week’s? Or the Norfolk shooting of the TV reporter? Bush is absolutely correct: bad stuff happens, and that does not mean that the government can or should rush to “DO SOMETHING!” Continue reading

See How They Spin: Justifying Hillary Clinton Fans’ Ignorance

Anything to avoid admitting the truth...

Anything to avoid admitting the truth…

Apparently Mark Halperin still has a job with Bloomberg after his atrocious interview with Ted Cruz, since he is back in the news. He held a discussion with some Iowa voters who think Hillary Clinton is just wonderful—you know, morons—and when he asked them to name her accomplishments in the one job she has held requiring leadership and management, Secretary of State, they couldn’t come up with anything. None of them. This has caused comment among pundits and consternation among Democrats.

Well, what did Halperin expect them to say? Clinton was a disaster as Secretary of State, as evidenced by the fact that President Obama’s foreign police has reaped the wild wind. Hillary’s tenure left the U.S. with ISIS, a failed state in Libya, chaos in Iraq,  a more nuclear Iran, Hamas attacks on Israel, a North Korean government that felt it could threaten a U.S. corporation with impunity, Russian incursions into the Ukraine, continuing violence in Syria, and, of course, a Mexico that encourages its citizens to have contempt for the laws of the United States. Meanwhile, she used her office to attract foreign and domestic interests to give large amounts of cash to her foundation, while paying her family large amounts of money through speaking fees that look suspiciously like access fees. Of course, it’s doubtful that these classic low information voters knew anything about her failures and misdeeds, either. The incident was nothing more nor less than supplementary proof that Hillary Clinton’s supporters have turned their brains and/or consciences off, and want her to be President in the absence of evidence or in defiance of it, not because of any rational analysis.

Nonetheless, the Hail Hillary team in the news media rushed to explain what needed no explanation, using a lot of rationalization and spin. In the Washington Post, Hunter Schwartz does himself proud with his skill in rationalizing and changing the subject:

“[N]ot being able to name specific things politicians have done isn’t that unusual for the average voters.  Quick, name something that John Kerry has done as Secretary of State. Right. Think Iowa Republicans could do much better naming significant things Jeb Bush did as governor or Marco Rubio has done in the Senate? So, yes, while the stumped Democrats’ response might be short-term vindication for Republicans, it not necessarily that damaging for Clinton.”

Ugh. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce (and Ethics Hero REVOKED): Sen. Ted Cruz

revoked

Uh-uh, Senator. You can’t have it both ways, not on Ethics Alarms. You can’t be gracious and forgiving and then turn around a couple days later and say what your red meat supporters want to hear. I call that an “Al Gore,” who gave a magnanimous and statesman-like speech conceding after the Supreme Court stopped the 2000 Florida recount, and then slammed the legitimacy of his defeat ever after.

Ethics Alarms gave the Republican rabblerouser an Ethics Hero designation for coming to pundit Mark Halperin’s defense when he was being pilloried all over the media for a demeaning interview of Cruz based on the assumption that he needed to prove that he was really Hispanic. After Halperin was battered into apologizing, Cruz said, in part,

“Mark Halperin is a serious and fair-minded journalist. Today he kindly issued an apology for some silly questions he asked me in an interview. The apology was unnecessary — no offense was taken, nor, I believe, intended — but is certainly appreciated.”

That was classy, and also apparently, a ploy and insincere.In comments about the episode to the conservative IJReview at an  American Conservative Union event, Senator Cruz essentially recycled the same Halperin critic complaints that his earlier comments were supposed to deflect, saying,

“Imagine if [Halperin] had asked Obama these same questions? He would have been run out of the industry.”

But no offense was taken, right, Ted?

Not cool, not kind, and definitely not consistent. The fact that he is absolutely correct about the double standard is beside the point. Cruz couldn’t help himself. He knew the right way to act (that is, his ethics alarms work and he can follow the Golden Rule), but he didn’t have the self-restraint or integrity to resist taking a shot at Halperin anyway. Now we know what he really thinks, and now we know that what he said initially was just a smart politician taking a high road that he didn’t want to be on.

Got it.

Fool me once, Ted…

Ethics Hero REVOKED

Ethics Hero: Sen. Ted Cruz

[UPDATE: Sen Cruz’s Ethics Hero designation has been REVOKED by Ethics Alarms. Details here.]

One of the Republican party’s most demonized  conservative politicians, Tea Party idol and Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, just challenged his progressive critics to concede that he has the character of a President, at least.

Cruz stood by politely as familiar TV pundit Mark Halperin cross-examined him on Bloomberg TV as if the Cuban-American was suspected of being born in Kenya. The demeaning interview (to both Cruz and Halperin, who disgraced himself) consisted of  Halperin pressing the Republican firebrand to prove his Hispanic bona fides with  cringe-worthy questions about his favorite Cuban food and what his tastes in Hispanic music were. (A Hispanic journalist quipped that Halperin had Cruz confused with Ricky Ricardo.) It all came to a nauseating climax when Halperin said: “I want to give you the opportunity to directly welcome your colleague Sen. Sanders to the race, and I’d like you to do it, if you would, en español.

The fiasco of an interview took a while to register (apparently nobody watches Bloomberg), but when it did, Halperin was excoriated left, right, and center, called a racist, called a fool, called biased against Cruz and determined to trap him into a “Gotcha!” Mostly he was called an inept and unprofessional interviewer, and Halperin, who is playing talking head somewhere that actually has viewers almost every  day, had to issue an attempted career-salvaging apology.

Ted Cruz surprised everyone by coming to Halperin’s rescue. He wrote: Continue reading

The President’s Unstatesmanlike and Revealing Pettiness

So the President will schedule around this, but won't extend the same courtesy to the effort to determine who will challenge him for leadership of the United States. Got it.

It is worth recalling that back in March, President Obama altered the schedule of his address to the nation on Libya to avoid conflicting with the finals of “Dancing With the Stars.”  That, of course, was absurd, a diminishment of the office of the President and an act that trivialized the human tragedy occurring in Libya. But Obama made his priorities clear, or, as I interpreted it, his leadership instincts, which is to say his lack of them. The President chose to accommodate the Americans who care about reality dance competitions first, and the overthrowing of a terrorist dictator last. No point in trying to lead them to think otherwise.

Then, yesterday, supposedly in search of bi-partisan solutions to the employment problems in America that will not wait until November, 2012, the President scheduled his speech laying out his jobs program to conflict with the Republican candidates debate….a thoroughly small and petty gesture, unworthy of a President and disrespectful of the democratic process. Continue reading

Wanted, Desperately Needed, and Lacking: Professionals, Adults and Values in the Media

What? Is there something wrong?

There is not a lot to say about the graphic above, other than:

  1. It is crude.
  2. It is funny.
  3. It is intentional.
  4. It is inappropriate for a general audience newspaper
  5. A competent editor should have caught it, and
  6. The graphic artist needs a warning and a reprimand.

The media, its staff, celebrities and assorted vulgarians and boors seem to be determined to make public square America as uncivil as a locker room, as crude as a peep show, and as juvenile as a junior high school farting contest. Professionals, including USA Today editors and publishers, can either do their duty and discourage this intentional rudeness in their products and services, or shrug it away. Similarly, our culture needs to decide if we are going to just define our deviancy down some more, and accept gratuitous sexual innuendo that will gradually make the whole population into a bunch of snickering Beavises. Continue reading