Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Ca)

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.

During a hearing on the practices of  the nation’s biggest banks, Waters pointed an accusing rhetorical finger at a panel of seven bank CEOs  because, she said, “more than 44 million Americans that owe … $1.56 trillion in student loan debt…Last year, one million student loan borrowers defaulted, which is on top of the one million borrowers who defaulted the year before.” Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/26/19: A “Who’s The Most Unethical?” Poll

Good Morning!

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

Rainy Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/24/18: Bad Habits Edition

1. A bad habit, like picking your nose in public, but more harmful. At some point, when I’m back to feeling strong,  spiffy, and more or less immune to nausea, I am planning on posting an overview of the 2016 Post-Election Ethics Train Wreck, the major feature of which has been the Angry Left-sparked acceptance of denigrating our nation’s leader in personal terms on a daily basis. As I have found on social media, refusing to participate in this divisive and self-destructive national pastime gets you attacked, and calling attention to how wrong and stupid it is gets you accused of being a racist, a xenophobe, or worse, someone who takes orders from Sean Hannity.

Of late I’ve been randomly calling various social media fools on their bad habit; some are “friends,” some are “friends of friends.”  The news media literally presents a “let’s hate President Trump for this” item every day, and yesterday’s was that the President, indulging his peculiar trolling obsession, said that he was thankful for himself. ( I thought that was pretty funny, myself. If I were President and the news media refused to give me credit for what I was doing right and the policies that appeared to be working, I might make a similar assertion just to show that the barrage of endless, often unfair criticism wasn’t getting to me.) One Facebook friend posted the article, and the predictable pile-on transpired, with one creative soul writing, searching for a wave of “likes” so she would know that she had signaled her virtue sufficiently, wrote, “He is a self-centered boor!” I replied,

Why do you feel it is necessary to spew out ad hominem insults to the President of the United States on a regular basis? Are you just fishing for favor from the large majority of angry Trump-haters on Facebook? Yeah, he’s a self-centered boor, and this was evident, oh, ten years ago at least. The necessary number of your fellow citizens decided to elect him him President anyway, and the process is that those who disagree nonetheless respect the process and their fellow citizens and extend at least a minimal level of respect for the office. I’m not a Trump fan, to say the least, and I am a lifetime student of the Presidency and its occupants: in my assessment, Barack Obama was an utter failure as POTUS and a very damaging one as well. He was (and is) also an arrogant narcissist. This was also obvious early on, but I didn’t go on Facebook repeatedly to call him names.It has no positive effects to do so, and just unnecessarily makes civil discourse difficult.

2. Progressives are trying to do the same thing here through social media. From Bloomberg: Continue reading

Wait: Does President Obama Consider THIS A Scandal? Because, You Know, It Is…

Every time either ex-President Obama or one of his slavish acolytes—you know, journalists?—make the statement that his tenure was “scandal free,” honest Americans who have been paying attention grind their teeth down a few more millimeters.

Of course, Obama had plenty of scandals, serious ones—at least they would have been serious in any other administration. The fact that the news media chose to minimize them or ignore them doesn’t make them less scandalous…in fact, that’s a scandal itself.  To name one example that especially rankles me, the IRS, an Executive Branch Agency, eventually admitted that it used its power to meddle in the 2012 Presidential election, against Obama’s opponent. However, the formula of lying, covering up, stalling, and having allies in the press call everything negative under Obama a “nothingburger” carried the day. This was SOP for eight years.

When Obama personally lied—20 times? 30?— about how his signature health care plan would work (All together now: “If you like your plan…”), somehow this Nixon-Clinton level of intentional dishonesty was shrugged off as “the ends justify the means.” The fact is that it was a real, calculated, intentional lie used to trick the American people, not just a case of a President being wrong. Bush didn’t know that Iraq didn’t have WMD’s. Obama had to know what his own health care bill would do.

Blecchh!. I can taste the tooth powder!

This week, another genuine Obama scandal was uncovered that would have had Democrats seeking impeachment votes if it had occurred under Reagan or Bush. The Obama administration secretly gave Iran access to the U.S. financial system, defying the sanctions still in place after the 2015 nuclear deal, despite repeatedly telling Congress and the public that it would not and did not do anything of the sort.

What would you call that?

After striking its bone-headed, constitutionally-dubious nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration wanted to give Iran the promised access to its freshly unfrozen overseas reserves, including $5.7 billion stuck sitting in an Omani bank.  Iran wanted to convert the money into U.S. dollars and then euros, but that would require our giving the rogue nation access to the U.S. financial system. Obama officials had  promised Congress that Iran would never gain such access. As was the usual solution for Obama when law, the Constitution or established procedure stopped something he had decided in his Wisdom was Good and Just, Obama had his Treasury Department issue a license in February 2016 that would have allowed Iran to convert $5.7 billion it held at a bank in Oman into euros by exchanging them for U.S. dollars. The scheme failed, for the Omani bank blocked the transaction, but this is just moral luck, and does not make the secret end-around the sanctions less wrong.

The license issued to Iran’s Bank Muscat made lies of public statements from the Obama White House, the Treasury and the State Department denying that the administration was contemplating allowing Iran access to the U.S. financial system. After the nuclear deal was announced  in July 2015, Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified under oath—lying to Congress is still a scandal, unless Obama officials do it, and they did it a lot—that even with the sanctions relief, Iran “will continue to be denied access to the world’s largest financial and commercial market.” A month after that, another Treasury official, Adam Szubin, testified that  “Iran will be denied access to the world’s most important market and unable to deal in the world’s most important currency.”

“The Obama administration misled the American people and Congress because they were desperate to get a deal with Iran,” said Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio).   Verdict: Fair and accurate. And what is the rebuttal by the Obama-ites?

Ooooh, lame. Lamer than usual, in fact. Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/19/2018: Thinking About Things That Matter While Ignoring The Royal Wedding Hype Edition

I can’t say it’s a good morning..

…since it’s been raining for three days already, with no end in sight..

1. I wonder how long before he’s fired? Instead of renewing his earlier call to repeal the Second Amendment, resurgent lone conservative New York Times op-ed columnist Bret Stephens spoke truth to abused power by condemning the news media in today’s column. He writes in part,

When Donald Trump takes his swipes at the “disgusting and corrupt media” and tens of millions of Americans agree, it’s not as if they don’t have examples in mind. Consider this week’s implication by major news organizations that the president described all illegal immigrants as “animals” during a White House roundtable with California officials. That would indeed be a wretched thing for him to say — had he said it. He did not. The Associated Press admitted as much when it deleted a tweet about the remark, noting “it wasn’t made clear that he was speaking after a comment about gang members.” Specifically, he was speaking after a comment about members of the Salvadoran MS-13 gang, infamous for its ultraviolent methods and quasi-satanic rituals. To call MS-13 “animals” is wrong only because it is unfair to animals….We have a president adept at goading his opponents into unwittingly doing his bidding. They did so again this week. Those who despise him for his deceits should endeavor to give no impression of being deceitful in turn.

Bingo.

2. Briefly noted…Today’s Times editorial is a graphic about how “Congress has dithered as the innocent get shot,” despite the fact that no “sensible gun control measures” would have prevented yesterday’s shooting in Texas…just gun confiscation, if that were possible, which it isn’t. Two letters in the letters section make the same contradictory, yet probably sincere, point. “Another day with the reality that sane gun control is a national emergency.” Continue reading

Rare Species, Previously Believed Extinct, Sighted: A Balanced Analysis Of The Iran Nuclear Deal

On a matter of as much significance and complexity as the Iran nuclear deal, it is depressing to see that almost all commentary in the news media begins with a partisan bias, a “team” mentality, and the typical talking-point orientation that makes genuine public understanding unattainable today. People choose the position that already aligns with their friends and their loyalties, and adopt it uncritically. As a result, public discourse is useless.

This is no way to run a democracy.

Elliot Cohen is a prominent Never-Trump neo-con and foreign policy scholar, writing in the Atlantic, a generally “resistance”-favorable progressive publication. His analysis of the current contretemps involving the Iran deal is the closest I have seen yet to a fair and balanced one. That doesn’t mean I think he is right on all counts, especially ethically. The second half of this statement, for example is as  troubling as the first half is refreshing:

“The Iran deal was, in truth, a very bad one. It did nothing to inhibit Iranian behavior in the broader Middle East, did nothing to stop its ballistic programs, and opened the path for a resumption of the nuclear-weapons program in a decade or so. Some of us said so at the time. Walking away from it, however, will make matters worse not only because success is unlikely, but because this shredding of an earlier presidential agreement further undermines the qualities that those who look to American leadership have come to value—predictability, steadiness, and continuity. Even when American allies have doubted the superpower’s wisdom, they usually felt they could count on its constancy.”

They also have to be able to count on its competence, courage, and ability to change course when a current course is disastrous. It is unethical to make policies that are careless, expedient and dangerous in a setting where there is no recourse once the course is set.  Leaders have to undo mistakes and take new directions even when it means future distrust and present anger.  The previous President took unseemly joy in declaring previous Presidential policies wrong-headed, and reversing them forthwith. True: this is a bad habit, and all leaders should respect previous decisions and commitments by their predecessors, except in extraordinary circumstances. The standard should be similar to the Supreme Court’s rule of stare decisus, which means that previous SCOTUS rulings have the presumption of permanence, unless they are sufficiently bad for law and the nation. I am satisfied to move the Iran debate from the Obama-Kerry mythology to “it’s a bad deal.” The question is then whether it is sufficiently bad to justify a variance from the general rule that Presidents ought to leave agreements made before their election stand if at all possible.

To his credit, Cohen displays almost equal contempt for the Obama administration and President Trump. Some notable excerpts: Continue reading

Mid-Day Ethics Warm-Up, May 1, 2018: Generally Disgusted

Good day to all, I guess.

Me, I feel like quitting.

1.  Basic ethics blindness regarding the White House Correspondents Dinner. The ethically obtuse responses I am reading in columns and blogs regarding the self-defining journalism ethics event–you know, as in none—doesn’t bother me too much. I assume these people have the ethics of jackals. The similar responses I am reading here from intelligent readers who have been supposedly paying attention, however, discourage me greatly. Really: why bother writing a couple thousand words a day about ethics when  your readers react to a high profile, unequivocal act of disrespect and rudeness by resorting to “I don’t like the guy, so I’m glad,” “he started it!” and “they had it coming”?

Or, my personal favorite, “this one insult everyone is talking about isn’t one if you spin it hard enough, so the other 30 insults don’t matter”?

There is no ethical defense whatsoever for inviting individuals to a formal dinner and intentionally making them feel like they are being singled out for abuse. Ever. Period. No exceptions. This is so obvious and uncontroversial that it prompt debate in a civilized society.  That anyone is trying to defend the association, and its hired gun, Ms. Wolf, simply validates my two years-and-running correct prediction that electing Trump as President will turn this into a nation of assholes, though I was expecting those transformed to be primarily young, shallow and easily influenced. I did not expect so many professionals to re-enact the donkey-scene in “Pinocchio.”

And yes, as far as I’m concerned, Wolf, with the journalists’ consent, insulted the President of the United States and his daughter to their virtual faces. It is just moral luck that Trump did not attend, and there is no reason to believe that Wolf changed her act one iota because he wasn’t there. She was prepared to call the President of the United States a pussy, a monster and a Nazi to his face, with him a captive audience member. The ethics-free, rationalized justification I am reading on this blog is , “Yeah, well he made fun of a disabled man in 2016!”  Wow. I really am wasting my time, I guess. How else can I interpret that?

Off the blog, some other ethically dim justifications have surfaced, like today’s New York Times column absolving Wolf from all responsibility because she performed the same kind of anti-Trump material that she always did. Funny, nobody gave Don Imus, the briefly ascendant shock-jock, that easy out when he embarrassed President Bill Clinton by calling him a “weasel,” among his less offensive terms, when he entertained the same group. Hey, protested the I-Man, I call Clinton a lying weasel every day on my show, why would anyone expect me to do any differently at the dinner? Why? Because professional entertainers have calibrated the appropriate content of their performances to their audiences’ tastes and sensitivities forever, that is why, and professionals are expected to be professional, which includes responsible. Go ahead, look me in the eye and tell me that Wolf would have made equally denigrating jokes if Obama was the President. Jokes about his flirtation with being gay. Jokes about eating dog. Jokes about him being a weenie with Putin and the “red line.” Jokes about the most “transparent” administration ever. Jokes about Joe Biden feeling up women during photo ops. About the IRS. About “you can keep your plan.”  No, the association always assumes that its entertainers would keep their material appropriate to the venue and the event. The argument being used to excuse Wolf would be like excusing infamous “blue” material comics like Buddy Hackett, Redd Foxx and David Brenner if they made dick jokes on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” No, they toned down their material, out of respect for the audience. Respect. What a concept. And this was an audience of middle class Americans, not the President of the United States.

Of course, Wolf easily could have assumed that she was expected to be uncivil, cruel and offensive, since she knew that her hosts, like her and her fellow professional Trump-bashers, constituted the “resistance’s” Agents of Presidential Destruction. That doesn’t relieve her of ethical responsibilities, though. The association was irresponsible to hire someone with her proclivities, and she is accountable for her own disgusting, divisive conduct. Continue reading