Tag Archives: New York Times

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 9/19/18: Conditional Authoritarianism, Fake Reparations, And Profitable Harassment

Having a good and ethical day?

1. Here’s a useful definition…that I formulated while reading another issue of the increasingly and inexcusably anti-Trump propaganda obsessed New York Book Review section. This past weekend’s addition was more obvious than usual. “Democracy at Risk!”  (Not by an opposition party setting out to topple a Presidency with the assistance of the news media—no no no! The risk justifies the opposition party doing this!) “Is Donald Trump a Fascist?”  Hey, what’s Bob Woodward reading, just to pick a celebrity out of a hat? (The interview highlights the lack of self-awareness among the Trump-haters: Bernstein points out how intolerance and hate destroyed Richard Nixon as the Times allows and promotes hate in its war against the current President.) There’s an essay about…white nationalism! A Times reporter has written a book that pronounces the United States as “DOOMED!” And here’s Andrew Sullivan extolling an American revisionism exercise while referring to the current “spasm” of authoritarianism, and Doris Kearns, my old presidential power prof in college, with a new book about her faves, Lincoln, Teddy, FDR, and LBJ. These were great leaders.

The definition: Authoritarianism is when a President you don’t like exerts strong leadership within his powers to accomplish policy goals you disagree with. When a President you do like stretches and exceeds his Constitutional powers to achieve policy goals you approve of, that’s not authoritarianism. That’s great leadership.

As an aside, Andrew Sullivan tells us in his review that “the 2008 Heller decision rejecting a D.C. handgun ban is quite obviously bonkers.” All righty then! I guess that settles it!

2.  Speaking of Bonkers: Emmys Ethics. Michael Che appeared in a pretaped bit in which he handed out “reparation Emmys” to  black performers who supposedly were overlooked by the voting academy. These included Jaleel White (Urkel  on“Family Matters”), Marla Gibbs (nominated five times for her role as Florence on “The Jeffersons”), Tichina Arnold (“Martin,” “Everybody Hates Chris”) and Kadeem Hardison (“A Different World”).
Continue reading

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The Facts Are In: Surprise! Serena Williams And Her Defenders Were Dead Wrong In Every Respect

It is rare that a public controversy that breaks down ideological lines actually has a resolution. The uproar over the sexist “double standards” a tennis umpire supposedly used against Serena Williams as she lost the U.S. Open championship (fair and square) to Naomi Osaka is just such a rarity. Although it should have been obvious on its face (Yes, it’s legal jargon, but I love it) that Serena was grandstanding to distract from her loss and posing as a gender rights crusader when she was really being an entitled celebrity jackass, social justice warriors fell all over themselves rationalizing her outburst, with columns titled, “Right message, wrong timing” at best,  and demands that the umpire and the U.S. Open owe Williams an apology for enforcing the rules at worst.

There’s no longer any valid  justification for debate. Williams was wrong; her defenders were biased, and it is they, not match umpire Carlos Ramos, who are obligated to apologize.

The New York Times isn’t always spinning for the Left. In a thorough article yesterday, it revealed that when the rampaging tennis diva protested to Brian Earley, the tournament referee, “There are men out here who do a lot worse than me, but because I’m a woman you are going to take this away from me? That is not right,” she was perpetrating a falsehood.

The Times actually looked at the data, something that should have been available to the public immediately after the Williams tantrum, but let’s be grateful for responsible journalism even when it’s suspiciously late. The conclusion: Serena’s accusation notwithstanding, “men appear to be fined proportionally more often than women for a variety of offenses.”

Here’s the Times chart:

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The Hitler Joke, Our Rights, And Our Nation

Prologue

When I was a junior in high school, I played Ko-Ko in  the Gilbert and Sullivan Club’s production of “The Mikado.” The head of the music department directed, a Jewish teacher named Mr. Einsig. He had the staging notes for all of the Gilbert and Sullivan works from the director who had gained great acclaim from his work with the Boston Light Opera Company, and I must admit, I cribbed many of that director’s ideas myself, through Mr. Einsig.One effective  staging concept was for the encores to “The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring.” Each one was performed as a different ethnic parody, with Ko-Ko singing translated lyrics. It began with Japanese, of course, then French, a Brooklyn dialect, and the biggest hoot of them all, German. I performed it, in my kimono, with an over-the-top Hitler imitation, complete with mustache, ending with an emphatic “Heil” gesture.

It brought down the house. Ten years later, at Georgetown University Law Center, I played Ko-Ko again, did the same Hitler parody again, and brought down the house again. Nobody complained. My late father, crippled for life in the fight against Hitler, detected nothing wrong with the routine. He also loved “Hogan’s Heroes,” with the show’s reluctant, inept, heiling Nazis, and the other Heil-filled spoofs of Hitler by Chaplin, Mel Brooks, and even the Three Stooges.

Now here is what happened to a private school teacher: read the whole, awful thing here. The short version: he was gesturing while explaining something in class, and noticed that his arm was raised Nazi-style, and said, “Heil Hitler,” jokingly. There was no question whether he was serious or not: everyone knew he was joking, and why he was joking. He even stopped and explained to the class that Once Upon A Time, in less enlightened eras, it was considered amusing to mock Hitler and the Nazis.

Ben Frisch, the teacher, a practicing Quaker  whose father was Jewish and who had two great-grandmothers  killed at Auschwitz, was fired by the private school anyway. The school principal who fired him explained his reason to the New York Times magazine  by saying, “One of our pledges is to make all of our students feel safe. And that is something that I take very, very seriously.”

Says the Times reporter in part in reaction to this: Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On “I Am Part Of The Resistance In The Trump Administration” [UPDATED]

You can find the instantly sensational op-ed here, as well as the New York Times’s various and predictable articles exploiting their own “scoop.”

“I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” says this alleged “senior official.” “…Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back….The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House…. It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t….

Observations:

  • It doesn’t, or shouldn’t to fair and rational readers, matter what the author claims. He, or whoever he, she or it is, is inherently without credibility, just as all anonymous hit pieces are.  By his own admission and the evidence of the essay, the author is a liar, a coward, a spy, a mole and a saboteur, and an individual who is deliberately attempting to undermine democracy. There is no justification for trusting any aspect of his representations. Of course, those who want to believe the worst  about the President will believe everything he writes, because they want to, and because confirmation bias is strong. Nonetheless, the piece is untrustworthy on its face. It would not be admissible as evidence in any investigation or formal proceeding. No manager or leader would treat such a document as useful or probative.

The essay is less credible and less worthy of discussion or serious consideration than the inflammatory claims of Omarosa, the hearsay/speculation/ fantasies of Michael Wolfe in the generally debunked “Fire and Fury,” orthe latest hearsay and anonymously sourced Bob Woodward “tell-all.” And none of those are respectable either. At least, however, those authors have the decency and courage to reveal their own identities.

  • Despite all the hype and horror, this could have been written by an Ethics Alarms commentator—in fact, I could name some likely candidates— as one more familiar, standard statement of why any Trump-hater is determined that he should be impeached. It is a generic brief on the theory that “Donald Trump is unfit to be President and must be removed,” the first assertion of which was rejected by the electorate, and the second of which is legally unsustainable at this point.

The only aspect the op-ed arguably newsworthy is that the author claims to be a Trump administration official.

  • It should be unnecessary to point this out, because it is obvious, but I will anyway: such an op-ed could be issued by any arrogant, self-anointed “savior” who disagreed with the policies and character of any and every President. Every White House has enemies who would write essentially the same words and accusations. Why has this White House been the first to vomit out such vile stuff in the pages of the Times? My guess is that the vicious culture of the anti-Trump Left has created confidence that there will be a critical mass of journalists and others who will represent this inexcusable conduct as not just excusable, but laudable.

The conduct would never have been regarded as anything but despicable coming from a senior official (if he actually is one) of any other administration.  Democrats, “the resistance” and NeverTrumpers have jettisoned all ethical norms in their hatred of this one man who dared to foil them, who is in fact no different from any other President in the most important respect: he was elected, he holds the office, and he should be allowed to do his job.

  • If the op-ed is not a hoax, and if there are, as the writer says, highly placed members of the Trump Administration who are pretending to be loyal government employees but who are actually trying to undermine the President and his policies from within, then the assertions by conservatives and Trump supporters of the existence of a “deep state,” much mocked by the news media and Democrats, have been accurate all along.

This was apparent, or should have been,  before the op-ed, of course.

  • Should the Times have published this? If they confirmed to their satisfaction that it was genuine, and really came from a senior official who revealed to them his identity, sure. The public should know that there are pompous, lying, unethical saboteurs in their government. And it should scare the hell out of them.

We knew this too, though, before the op-ed.

  • President Trump is not blameless here. He and his staff have shown absurd incompetence in vetting staff high and low. It should surprise no one that a President who would allow the likes of Omarosa, Steve Bannon, Anthony Scaramucci and others to have places of trust within the administration would blunder into admitting other moles, spies and turncoats as well.

The fact that a manager or leader takes inadequate measures to ensure ethical conduct does not justify or mitigate the unethical conduct that results, however.

  • I assume that we will eventually learn who wrote this. Besides firing, what is the  appropriate punishment for someone who deliberately betrays the trust of elected leaders and who sets out to undermine the efforts that he or she is obligated to support? Such conduct flagrantly violates federal regulations, as promulgated by President George H.W. Bush’s Executive Order 12674. issued on October 1990. That EO begins,

By virtue of the authority vested in me as President, by the Constitution and the laws of the United States  of America, and in order to establish fair and exacting standards of ethical conduct for all executive branch employees, it is hereby ordered as follows… To ensure that every citizen can have complete  confidence in the integrity of the Federal  Government, each Federal employee shall respect and adhere to the fundamental  principles of ethical service as implemented in   regulations promulgated under sections 201 and   301 of this order:

The “Principles of Ethical Conduct” following that the anonymous writer has violated and is violating include,

(a) Public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private  gain.

(e) Employees shall put forth honest effort in the performance of their duties.

(h) Employees shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individua

 (j) Employees shall not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or  negotiating for employment, that conflict with official Government duties and responsibilities.

(k) Employees shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities. [NOTE: The New York Times is not an appropriate authority.]

(n) Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards promulgated pursuant to this order.

  • Of course, the President is taking the bait, and now fulminating in his usual clumsy and childish way against the writer and the New York Times. In this he again falls into the trap being constantly set and re-set by those who are engaging in the slow-motion coup.

I wish he’d let me ghost write his tweets.

  • The conduct the writer extols and claims to be engaged in would be unethical and indefensible in any organization, large or small. The ethical responses to opposing ones’ superior’s conduct or the policies of one’s organization are to resign, or not to take the post in the first place. Joining an organization and actively working against the authority of superiors is never justified or justifiable except in wartime or as part of a law enforcement exercise.

Reactions to the op-ed from around the web:

Althouse:

“If I didn’t maintain rudimentary trust in the basic integrity of The New York Times I would think that there is no real person behind the famous anonymous op-ed. I’d think it was a concocted composite based on the Woodward book and motivated by the Woodward book. Look how that little thrown together collection of paragraphs is now drawing more attention than the book Woodward labored over, which dominated headlines on Tuesday. Wednesday, this column comes out. What is in the column that couldn’t have been extracted from the book and worked up into an op-ed purporting to be from a senior official in the White House?”

(Why does Althouse have any trust in the integrity of the New York Times?)

She also writes,

“This person is singing about his own heroism. We just don’t know his/her name, because he/she has got to stay hidden to continue sabotaging the work of the President the deplorables elected”

Bingo!

The LA Times:

“If you’re reading this, senior White House official, know this: You are not resisting Donald Trump. You are enabling him for your own benefit. That doesn’t make you an unsung hero. It makes you a coward. “

Liz Shield:

“How does it feel to learn that there is a powerful self-interested bureaucracy asserting itself above and against the will of the people?”

Byron York (Washington Examiner):

“Early in the piece, the author admits that the Trump administration has had significant success on the issues most important to American voters. “Many of [the administration’s] policies have already made America safer and more prosperous,” he writes. Later, he makes a list: “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.” Perhaps the author doesn’t see it that way, but peace and prosperity are any president’s two most important accomplishments. Conceding Trump’s achievement undercuts the broader theme of the article.”

Glenn Greenwald:

The irony in the op-ed from the NYT’s anonymous WH coward is glaring and massive: s/he accuses Trump of being “anti-democratic” while boasting of membership in an unelected cabal that covertly imposes their own ideology with zero democratic accountability, mandate or transparency

Professor Reynolds: 

“The more they tell us Trump’s crazy, the crazier they act. Meanwhile lefties are starting to push the 25th Amendment again — it’s like they’re cycling now — and I have to say, if you think removing Trump will leave you in a better position, well, it won’t. Getting rid of Trump won’t return things to “normal.” It will make sure things are never normal in our lifetimes. But why do I bother? These people are crazy.”

Nick Gillespie (Reason):

There is no question that Trump was a uniquely unqualified candidate to run for president and he seems to have virtually no expertise in anything other than Twitter trolling. He clearly understands nothing about trade deficits, for instance, and his policies clearly don’t add up to anything particularly coherent (then again, they didn’t on the campaign trail, either). He is not a traditional Republican, but since when is that an impeachable offense? The author genuflects to John McCain, a well-respected public figure but also one whose incoherent and grandiose economic, social, and foreign policy positions were hardly worth emulating, and concludes

“Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.”

With all due respect: What the fuck does that even mean?

Few outlets have been more stridently #NeverTrump than The New York Times, a fair stand-in for the legacy media which also has nothing but contempt for Donald Trump and sympathy for Hillary Clinton (it was her time!) and a broad Democratic agenda of more-active government. The anonymous op-ed can only be read through that light and thus discounted.

To sum up, the Times op-ed is just one more manifestation of the horrific mass misconduct that the entire left side of the political spectrum has persuaded itself is responsible, fair, rational behavior when it is in fact dangerous, undemocratic, and reckless. I am bored with pointing out this fact, but this President was faced with impeachment demands before he took office, was not accorded the minimal election spoils of united acceptance of his election traditionally symbolized by a peaceful, joyous celebration of our system and history at his inauguration, and he has continued to be undermined by behavior that never would have been tolerated by the public or the news media if focused on any other Chief Executive.

There is no question that it is wrong. The only question is how much damage it will do to the United States of America before it has run its course, and whether that damage will be permanent.

 

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Wait…Condemning A Pope’s Mass Cover-Up Of Sexual Abuse Of Children By Priests Is Partisan Now? [UPDATED*]

I saw a hint of this when I noticed this week that my 90% leftist Facebook friends scrupulously avoided commenting on my cross-posted article about the current Pope’s likely complicity in the ongoing Roman Catholic Church child sexual abuse cover-up while metaphorically foaming at the mouth because the White House flag wasn’t at half mast. Then the New York Times started spinning. An article by Jason Horowitz titled “Vatican Power Struggle Bursts Into Open as Conservatives Pounce”  argued that conservatives were “weaponizing” the scandal in order to minimize the influence of Pope Francis, who has aroused the Right’s ire by “going soft” on homosexuality and by becoming a shill for climate change. Horowitz wrote,

“Just how angry his political and doctrinal enemies are became clear this weekend, when a caustic letter published by the Vatican’s former top diplomat in the United States blamed a “homosexual current” in the Vatican hierarchy for sexual abuse. It called for Francis’ resignation, accusing him of covering up for a disgraced cardinal, Theodore E. McCarrick.”

What? Heaven forfend that someone suggest that a hypocritical homosexual factor at high levels of the Church might be partially responsible for a policy of allowing male priests to continue to rape little boys! That’s minor, however, compared to the triple “What?” earned by the writer and the Times for implying that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s  a letter accusing Pope Francis of covering up Cardinal McCarrick’s abuses while also taking his counsel on appointing bishops was merely a political ploy. This is one more example of the tactic of using alleged mixed motives to delegitimize an ethical act. So what if Viganò is a Vatican dissident? The evidence is overwhelming that the Catholic Church has facilitated child abuse for at least decades (See: “Spotlight”), that this continued on Pope Francis’s watch (See: the recent grand jury report), that the Pope is accountable, that his statement was a weaselly mess of accountability-skirting platitudes, and that Viganò’s accusations appear to have validity. Continue reading

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This Is An Ethics Story. More Than That, It’s Hard To Say…

Read this story, please.

Then consider the 10 questions below.

A summary of the main points…

  • Luke Gibbs’ wife, Rachel, mother of two,  was rendered permanently vegetative after a go-kart accident at a Michigan amusement park, the Family Fun Center, near Grand Rapids.  A long scarf she was wearing got caught in one of the go-kart’s axles, snapping her windpipe.

  • She is now in a long-term care center southwest of London. Her husband is certain that this would never have occurred in England, because the country has more regulations. “There’s no agency in the United States that can say to my children, who are American citizens, this is the way in which we worked to protect your mother and keep her safe,” he said. “I’m confident that accident would not have happened here, part because I think we have more stringent regulation,” he added.

  • Parks are exempted from federal regulation, leaving supervision to the vagaries of the states, and six have no oversight: Alabama, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah. In the early 1980s, park operators successfully lobbied to shield amusement parks from federal oversight by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Starting in 1999,  Senator Edward J. Markey sought to mandate federal oversight, but Disney successfully lobbied against it, along with its competitors.

They argued that the federal regulation was not necessary.  Industry studies say there is only a one in 17 million chance of injury at fixed-site parks. The safety commission estimates there were 29,400 amusement ride injuries requiring emergency treatment last year at all types of parks, including  inflatable attractions and even coin-operated rides at shopping malls.

Mobile parks with rides that can be moved, like carnivals and state fairs, are not exempted from federal regulation.

  • When Rachel Gibbs wife was injured, the park appeared unprepared for an emergency. The ride’s operators panicked, and momentarily couldn’t recall the park’s address so emergency vehicles could be called, and could not provide the injured woman with a defibrillator

A 2007 internal memorandum from the park admonished employees to “never admit fault for accidents,” adding, “our common phrase is ‘AJ’s is an at your own risk Fun Park.’” Continue reading

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Afternoon Ethics Pick-Me-Up, 8/14/2018: Fools, Knaves And Hypocrites

Good afternoon!

1. Unethical tweet of the week, right wing nut division: Jerry Falwell Jr, who heads Liberty University. The acorn that didn’t fall far from the tree tweeted:

Are there any grownups w/ integrity left in the DOJ? When I was a kid, I watched Repubs join Dems to force Nixon out. Now Dems won’t join Repubs to lock up Comey, Lynch, Ohr, Rosenstein, Strzok, , & maybe even despite damning evidence!

Here’s an ethics tip for college age students and their parents: if the leader of a school has this tenuous a grip on basic Constitutional law, pay tuition to some place, any place, else.

2. Then we have the left-wing Pro Publica, which is trying to fuel the desperate Democratic efforts to find dirt on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and thus issued this…

3.  Which political party is more deranged today? Well, an  Ipsos public opinion survey claims that 43 % of self-identified Republicans agreed that “the President should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.”  Only 36% of surveyed Republicans disagreed with giving a President the power to shut down news outlets like CNN and The Washington Post.

First of all, this primarily raises legitimate concerns regarding the educational level and intelligence quotient of Americans.  99% of those polled could advocate repealing the First Amendment, just as a majority could proclaim its belief that the national language ought to be Finnish. It’s not happening. Professor Turley’s take-away is that “Trump has truly and irrecoverably changed the party and much of the country . . . and, in this case, not for the better.” Baloney. The fact that journalists have exposed themselves as being partisan operatives uninterested in conveying facts to the public in a fair and unbiased manner has changed the public perception of the value of the news media, and not for the better. Whether the change is “irrecoverable” depends on whether American journalism sees the dangerous error of its path over the past several decades, and becomes trustworthy again. Continue reading

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