The Know-It-All’s Dodge has been hanging around waiting for me to add it to the Rationalizations List for a long time. I should have added it when President Barack Obama exploded my head with this exchange, in 2015, regarding his pathetic and disastrous handling of the Syrian civil war.
In an interview with CBS’s Steve Kroft, who had earlier in Obama’s administration stated outright that his questions to the President would not be confrontational ones, there was this:
KROFT: You have been talking a lot about the moderate opposition in Syria. It seems very hard to identify. And you talked about the frustrations of trying to find some and train them. You had a half-a-billion dollars from congress to train and equip 5,000, and at the end, according to the commander of CENTCOM, you got 50 people, most of whom are, are dead or deserted. He said you’ve got four or five left.
OBAMA: Steve, this is why I’ve been skeptical from the get-go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside of Syria.
I have been asked this by a couple of friends, all resolute Trump Deranged, card-carrying, “I’d vote forJoe Biden if he shot someone in Times Square while sexually harassing a teenage girl, wearing a duck on his head and screaming, ‘I am Captain Midnight!'” Democrats. It shouldn’t matter, and indeed doesn’t change my answers, that they are the ones asking the question: it’s a valid question.
But it’s also like the “Trump Lies” issue. Ethics estoppel kicks in. I don’t care to hear outrage over Trump’s various torturing of facts from the same people who smile and applaud while Michelle Obama and others repeat the “fine people” lie at the Democratic National Convention, or the Bizarro World accusation that the President is responsible for the riots. These hypocrites don’t care about political dishonesty except when it is being wielded by an adversary, and they are really trying to recruit me in their partisan efforts as an “appeal to authority.”
My macro reply to the Republican National Convention’s various dents, nicks, sideswipes and out-right trampling of ethics rules and principles is this:
“Many of the decisions regarding the content of the Convention were made in defiance of law, regulations and tradition. This was unethical. The President of the United States should not be unethical, and being so flamboyantly unethical undermines the culture.”
I admit—perhaps you could tell?—I was very irritated at the former commenters here who treated me like I was Alex Jones because early on it became clear to me that the Russian Collusion coup attempt was a partisan plot, carried out by entrenched members of federal law enforcement agencies in the U.S., enabled by the Democratic party, and perhaps even Barack Obama. I remain very troubled by that experience, and am waiting for one—just one would be satisfying—to come back and have the courage and decency to write, “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to believe it. You were right.”
I have a couple of candidates who might show such integrity, and I still have hope. I will not, however, hold my breath,
I have been reluctant to write about the obvious (it seems to me) conclusions recent declassified documents point to regarding Obama’s overt and sinister efforts to undermine the Trump administration and seed the beginnings of the collusion narrative before the President had even been sworn in. The fact is, I have neither the time nor the skill to follow all those breadcrumbs and be a reliable analyst—at least not reliable enough. I have been waiting for a thorough investigation to be launched by a news organization, like the Post did on Watergate, or the Indianapolis Star did to expose the Larry Nasser/ Michigan State/U.S. Women’s Gymnastics scandal. Those things win Pulitzer prizes and enhance reputations, don’t they? Why hasn’t there been a thorough, published indictment of Obama’s perfidy? Wouldn’t there be, if the evidence is what it seems to be? Maybe I’m wrong.
It is suspicious, I have to say, how the major mainstream media outlets have been almost silent on the clear indications that Obama and Biden met with various Justice Department and FBI personnel and discussed how to “get” Michael Flynn. For one thing, the notes taken by Peter Strzok tell us that Joe Biden is lying. Don’t they care? Isn’t that important? Doesn’t democracy die in darkness? Oh, the Daily Caller and the Federalist and other “conservative” news organizations have written about it, but you know, they’re conservative. It’s all lies The claims are being fabricated by “Trumpers.”
The reactions of my Facebook friends tell me what the wider reaction would be to my connecting the dots publicly. These people are supposed to be my friends, and it is astounding how vicious—and irrational–most of them are any time I, or anyone though few now are so audacious, challenges “resistance” Big Lies and the “likes”-fertilized cant that metastasizes in their cyber-bubble. I’ve just about reached my limit, in fact. Some of these people really are friends, or I thought they were, and they are acting like, to be crude, assholes. I’m about ready to de-friend about 400 of them, including some relatives. Not only are they being crummy friends, they are bad citizens too.
Which is much worse.
I have a measure of sympathy, I suppose, because they are being misled by propaganda and the news media’s complete corruption, and are reacting to the natural human impulse to be with the “in-crowd,” like gang members and “mean girls.” But just a measure, and I’m about out. These people are smart; I don’t have many dumb friends—some, more than I thought, definitely, but not a lot.
I was musing early yesterday about whether calling the current reaction/over-reaction/ exploitation/ “Hey great now we can do all kinds of stuff because nobody will dare say no to us!” to the George Floyd video a “freakout” was excessively denigrating it, trivializing or misrepresenting it. I decided it was all three. By the end of yesterday, I realized I was wrong.
I’ll still use the “George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck” tag on posts emanating from this madness, but ethics train wrecks, situations where virtually anyone who gets involved instantly engages in unethical conduct, are more rational than ethics freakouts, which are almost entirely fueled by emotion, hysteria, hate, present time perspective, and mob mentality.
I haven’t used the description often here, but looking back through the lens of history, I’d list among past freakouts the Salem witch trials, the French Revolution and “The Terror,” World War I, the Holocaust, and the U.S.’s ” Red Scare.” There are others; I’m not looking to compile the definitive list. The definition of a freakout, as opposed to a an ethics train wreck, is partially that once the fever has passed, virtually everyone looks back on the event and thinks, “What the hell? How did that happen? What was wrong with those people?” The other distinguishing factor is that while wise members of a society will contend with each other during an ethics train wreck and try to stop the runaway train, the tendency of the un-freaked during a freakout is to try to keep their heads down, avoid making eye contact, and if confronted with one of the raving, just nod and mutter, “Sure. Whatever you say.”
THAT, as the partial list above demonstrates, is a dire mistake. Ethics freakouts get people killed, and do damage to lives and society that can take decades to repair. Continue reading →
Continuing with the observations regarding this remarkable document…
4. I was once involved in an anti-trust lawsuit triggered when all of the competitors of the company I was working for gathered together and conspired on ways to sink my employer’s business. Before the minutes of the meeting, the group’s lawyers prepared a statement that that the group absolutely intended to obey all anti-trust laws, and the meeting would embody the ideals represented in those laws. Then they went ahead and, based on a recording of the meeting, planned ways to conspire against our business in direct violation of the laws they claimed to hold in such high esteem.
It was really comical; these idiots though that by having everyone sign a statement that they weren’t doing what they obviously were doing, this would provide some plausible deniability.
5. We now know that Rice’s bizarre memo was written upon the advice of the White House Counsel’s Office. Rice says she waited 15 days because it was her first opportunity to do so, since she had been so darned busy. It would be a more likely srory if Rice had any credibility at all, which she does not.
6. Let’s let Andrew McCarthy try to explain what’s going on here. The anti-Trump news sources will never give him a forum, so he’s related to Fox News, but McCarthy was spot-on in predicting the course of the Mueller investigation, as is as knowledgeable on the machinations of the Deep State as anyone. He explained in part,
….Rice has gone from claiming to have hadno knowledge of Obama administration monitoring of Flynn and other Trump associates, to claimingno knowledgeof any unmaskings of Trump associates, toadmitting she was complicitin the unmaskings, to — now — a call for the recorded conversation between retired general Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to be released because it would purportedly show that the Obama administration had good reason to be concerned about Flynn (y’know, the guy she said she had no idea they were investigating).
Naturally, we have now learned that Rice was deeply involved in the Obama administration’s Trump–Russia investigation, including its sub-investigation of Flynn, a top Trump campaign surrogate who was slated to replace Rice as national-security advisor when President Trump took office.
Dr. Tisha Rowe, an African-American family physician from Houston, was pulled off a recent American Airlines flight and required to cover herself with a blanket before being allowed back on the plane, which was traveling from Jamaica to Miami. You can see above what Dr. Rowe was wearing, thanks to her angry tweet about the episode.
I have no idea why this outfit was found so objectionable; I’ve seen much worse on many flights. On the other hand, a little taste and decorum while flying in close quarters with strangers is basic manners and civility.
Yesterday she said that she had been humiliated in front of her 8-year-old son, and asserted that racial bias was behind the incident. “Had they seen that same issue in a woman who was not a woman of color, they would not have felt empowered to take me off the plane,” Dr. Rowe said. “In pop culture, especially black women with a body like mine, they’re often portrayed as video vixens. So I’ve had to deal with those stereotypes my whole life.”
Last night we managed to watch both “The Longest Day” and “Saving Private Ryan,” which especially amused me as I recalled the places my father shouted at the screen. Especially after “The Longest Day,” the complete absence of any sense of what the D-Day invasion was about or why we were fighting at all is particularly irritating, but then that’s Spielberg all over.
I also recalled the story about John Wayne’s participation in “The Longest Day.” (The Duke is really good in it, though if there is a star of “The Longest Day”, it is Robert Mitchum as Brigadier General Norman Cota, Assistant Commander, 29th Infantry Division, the man who was also a primary hero of D-Day itself. )
You who else is surprisingly good? Paul Anka, in his small role. He was only in the movie because he wrote the title song, but the singer shows a genuine talent for projecting his character on screen.
[Correction note: I originally wrote, “As far as I can determine, it was Anka’s only film appearance.” Wrong, Ethics Breath! Reader VinnyMick points out that Anka has several other, less successful, screen appearances. I regret the error.]
This was a passionate, emotion-and-patriotism- driven project by Darryl F. Zanuck, and he was betting everything on its success: the studio, his personal finances, his love life (Zanuck’s girlfriend at the time had the only female role in the movie), everything. The producer realized that he had to have Wayne in the film for credibility, as the Duke had been the Hollywood face of the American fighting man in World War II. Wayne knew it too, but was angry with Zanuck, who had mocked Wayne’s equivalent project of the heart, “The Alamo.”
He refused to do the film for scale (then $25,000) like the many other Hollywood stars in the film, and insisted on receiving $250,000 as an expensive crow-eating exercise for Zanuck. (That was what Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger, Red Buttons, Richard Burton, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert, Jeffrey Hunter, Robert Wagner and Robert Ryan received combined. ) Even though the producer had Charlton Heston lined up to play Wayne’s role if no deal could be struck, he agreed to the punitive fee, as well as giving Wayne special billing in the credits, an out-of-alphabetical order “and John Wayne” at the end.
Yes, that was revenge…but Zanuck didn’t have to agree to it. The lesson is worth remembering: don’t spite anyone gratuitously, or make an enemy casually. You never know when you might need them.
1. Biden flip-flops, but at least he flipped in an ethical direction. Joe Biden is not modelling a lot of integrity as he desperately tries to appease the radical Left in his party so they might hold their noses and vote for an old, sexual harassing white guy to run against President Trump. His latest reversal was to repudiate the Hyde Amendment, which he had once supported and indeed voted for in the Senate. That’s the law that forbids any taxpayer funds from being spent to fund abortions.
The Hyde Amendment never made any sense. If abortion is a right, and it has been one for decades, then government support for access to that right ought to be no less a requirement than with any other right. The Hyde amendment stands for the proposition that if enough Americans don’t agree with government policy, they should be able to withhold financial support of it. That, of course, wouldn’t work as a universal principle, so the Hyde Amendment is an ethical and legal anomaly. I doubt Joe’s flip-flop is one of principle rather than expediency, but it’s still the right position to have.
2. Nevertheless, Joe’s not going to make it. The New York Times—it wants someone else to get the nomination, so it is reporting negative things about Biden that it might bury with another candidate—revealed once again that Biden repeatedly lied about participating in 1960s civil rights marches, despite being warned by aides not to do it. Such straight-out falsehoods are debilitating for a candidate who will be claiming to be the champion to elevate the Presidency beyond the incessant petty lies of Donald Trump; this was one reason Hillary Clinton was unable to exploit candidate Trump’s mendacity. She’s a habitual liar too.
When did you first realize Maxine Waters was an idiot? I remember when I did. She was involved in the Block For Bill efforts by House Democrats during the hearings on potential impeachment for then-President Bill Clinton. Maxine made many jaw-droppingly stupid statements but the best was when she said that we had to do something about “all these young women” tempting male law-makers and leaders, referring to Monica Lewinsky.
You know, the people of Watts have enough problems. They don’t need the added burden of a fool as their representative in Congress. On the other hand, who keeps voting for Maxine, term after term, decade after decade?
But I digress.
The latest display of Maxine’s intellectual limitations and lack of diligence and seriousness occurred to tried to engage in some anti-bank grandstanding sure to cheer the anti-capitalist Democratic base. Waters is the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee , which regulates banks. Nancy Pelosi gave her the post. Think about this next time your favorite Democrat mocks one of Donald Trump’s appointments.
Let’s play “Who’s the Most Unethical?” Today’s contestants…
1. About that missed call. In last weekend’s NFL play-off game won by the Rams over the Saints, the refs missed blatant pass interference that all agree should have been called, but wasn’t. Most also agree that the officiating botch probably cost New Orleans a title the team deserved to win, as well as a trip to the Super Bowl. Some fans are even suing the league, demanding that the game be replayed from the moment of the infraction. Of course, in the age of TV replays, there was no excuse for any of this. An official watching the game on video in a booth somewhere had to know there was interference, as did everyone watching the game in bars and living rooms around the nation. NFL rules, however, don’t permit reversals of calls on that particular kind of play, at least until Locking the Barn Door After The Horse Has Gone, NFL-style, kicks in after the season, and the rule is changed.
I’m always thrilled to see pro football embarrassed, especially when it has significance for baseball. All season long, in discussions among broadcasters, ex-players and sportswriters about whether Major League Baseball should computerize ball and strike calls as they easily can, I kept hearing the fatuous argument that human error was “part of the game.” The point is ridiculous, and thank you, NFL, for graphically illustrating why. In a sports competition, the team that has played the best and deserves to win after all the vicissitudes of the game—the bad bounces and lucky breaks—have taken their toll should triumph, and fans of the game should be able to trust that it will. For the wrong team to win because a non-player makes an error of omission or commission that is obvious to everyone cannot be tolerated by a sports organization with any respect for its sport or its followers. Allowing a championship to be wrongly decided because of an official’s error isn’t charming, it’s horrible. If it can be prevented, and it can, then it is unethical not to. Continue reading →
I’m embarrassed that I didn’t come up with “Fu Manchu Flu”…
Yesterday, Chris Marschner set an Ethics Alarms record with two Comments of the Day in a single day. His riff on (yecchh!) “Imagine’ was #1, this more traditional COTD is #2. I’m equally grateful for this one, because I had eschewed mentioning the small matter of the Obama response to the 2009-2010 H1N1 virus and the press coverage of that response. Why? Well, I get tired of being accused of mouthing conservative talking points, even when they are only conservative talking points because the left-wing mainstream media unethically ignores them. It also seems like whataboutism, though it is not: if resistance-allied pundits are going to tell the public that President Trump’s response to the Wuhan virus pandemic is deadly and incompetent, then they are obligated to explain why the previous President’s unquestionable worse response to his virus challenge was considered just fine, thanks. Nonetheless, the “Wait, how can you square your criticism of Trump with your Obama cheerleading?” refrain has become a cliche, even though it has done so because it has been a legitimate question so often.
Thus, twice in a single day, Chris Marschner saved me from a task I was not eager to complete. His starting point was the note in my post about Joe Biden planning on a regular feature online second-guessing the President’s response to the Wuhan virus.
Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/21/20: I See Terrible People.”