Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Times Op-ed Of The Week?”

Timothy Egan’s spectacularly dishonest op-ed for the Times, The Founders Would Gag at Today’s Republicans: The cult of Trump has embraced values and beliefs that Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln abhorred,” was one more conservative- and Trump-bashing exercise disguised as a history lesson, albeit for Americans who know little about history and foolishly assume that they can trust pundits like Egan to enlighten them. Of course, all such exercises in time-traveling appeals to authority are inherently dishonest. 18th century minds, even those as sharp and creative as the Founders possessed, would go into shock at most of what they saw today if somehow provided the opportunity, and would take a while to understand why things have evolved as they have.

Frequent commenter JutGory sat down and treated Ethics Alarms readers with an analysis of developments the Founders would have had trouble with without indulging in the sort of cherry-picking and distortion Egan did to pander to the Times’ progressive readership. The result of what Jut called his “retro-prognostications” is a genuinely educational post, and a distinguished Comment of the Day.

Here it is:

If we are doing retro-prognostications, I bet I could do better:

Disclaimer: the Founders would probably be a bit mystified at the technological advances in general.

They would not be surprised by the abolition of slavery. They would be half-surprised that it took a war to do it (“We put in an amendment process for pretty much this reason, people!”)

They would probably be surprised at how much power the Supreme Court (the weakest branch) wields. Of course it only wields that much power because the other branches have gotten more powerful. To wit:

They would be surprised by the 16th Amendment (income tax), as it is a direct tax of the individual by the Federal Government, but okay (“Yay, Amendment process).

Of course, money is power, so, with more tax money comes more power.

They would be completely baffled by the 17th Amendment (direct election of Senators). That opens the Senate up to national influences, instead of influence from a small group of state legislators. That was kind of the whole point of the Senate: to represent the States, not its citizens.

But, you can’t pass a farm subsidy bill if Senators answer to their legislatures.

Can’t get universal healthcare if Senators stand in the way.

But, you change the Senate selection process, you get popular candidates, supported by national appeal and no specific understanding of the needs of the State (Hello, Al Franken!)

The power grab of the Commerce Clause would puzzle them. Continue reading

Unethical Times Op-ed Of The Week?

Incredibly, they were all great believers in same sex marriage, a massive federal bureaucracy, and banning coal…

That’s always a tough call, but reliably biased and dishonest Timothy Egan, one of the New York Times deep bench of shameless left-wing ideologues, has a likely winner with his essay, The Founders Would Gag at Today’s Republicans: The cult of Trump has embraced values and beliefs that Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln abhorred.”

To begin with, the trick of claiming that the Founders’ approval or disapproval of any modern day policy or position is intellectually dishonest on its face, unless one is as historically ignorant as a brick, which is what con-artist pundits like Egan is counting on. It reminds me of when Bill Clinton (speaking of con artists) told a crowd that Thomas Jefferson would be shocked to find that Americans today didn’t have national health care. That was the moment I realize that Bill would say literally anything, no matter how ridiculous, if he thought he could reap short-term gains and get away with it.

Needless to say (except that I do need to say it because of fatuous liars like Egan), the Founders would gag at the values and positions of  both Democrats and Republicans,  because they lived in a largely agrarian society 250 years ago. Washington executed a soldier who was caught engaged in homosexual activity. Same sex marriage? Abortion? Transgender rights? The Founders didn’t believe that women should be able to own property or vote: how does Egan dare play the game of cherry-picking the Republican beliefs that they would consider “un-American”? Continue reading

Rushing Out The Door Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/11/2019!

Hello, I Must Be Going…

This will be quick…

1. Hoping it was a mistake, fearing it was not. When I wrote about how David Ortiz’s post-baseball life before his near-fatal shooting was full of nothing but promising options, I was not including “having an extra-marital affair with a Dominican crime boss’s wife” among them. Yet that’s the story coming out of Santo Domingo: Big Papi was the target of a hit. Ugh. Maybe it was all a big misunderstanding….

2. I could have written two separate posts about these ridiculous and ethicallyiaddled New York Times op-eds, but I’ll leave it to you:  first up is this thing, as an illegal immigration advocate uses the tit-for-tat and Sicilian ethics rationalizations to argue that letting foreign nationals cross our borders illegally is just reparations for what the United States owes “to other countries for their colonial adventures, for the wars they imposed on them, for the inequality they have built into the world order, for the excess carbon they have dumped into the atmosphere.” By all means, take your best shot at explaining why this theory is nuts, and then explain to me why any respectable newspaper would think it is worth publishing. Then Jamele Bouie, the former Slate race-baiting specialists whose extreme rants were so absurd, the Times decided to make him a regular columnist, issued this, in which he argues for sinking Marbury vs Madison and stopping the Supreme Court from blocking unconstitutional laws, because, you know, the people know best, even though most of them couldn’t name three entries in the Bill of Rights. It would make it easier to Leftist totalitarian regime to take over, though. Or, you moron, a conservative one.

Let’s have a poll!

3. I see fat people...As I’m sure you have noticed, more and more ads and TV commercials are featuring actors who range from chunky to obese. This is in response to the long-standing complaints that the media causes eating disorders and poor self-esteem by promoting unrealistic standards for female bodies. Now, we have a deadly obesity epidemic, and ads are sending the message that it’s normal to be fat. Is this really an improvement?

Ugh..late. Gotta run..back soon!

Four Unethical Post-Mueller Report Op-Eds (Part II)

The previous post continues with the worst of the worst…

3.  Charles M. Blow (New York Times): It’s Bigger Than Mueller and Trump”

18 out of Charles M. Blow’s last 20 columns have been anti-Trump screeds, his ratio since the election is about the same. Not only is this res ipsa loquitur for Trump derangement, it’s also mind-numbingly repetitious. In addition to being consumed with hate and anger over the election of America’s President for nearly three years, Blow was an established  pernicious race-baiter before that, when he assigned that label to anyone who criticized Barack Obama, among others.

Why does a highly-respected newspaper feel that “race-baiting hateful hyper-partisan”—Blow hates Republicans, though not as much as he hates the President—is a niche that needs filling on the op-ed page is a mystery.

In his latest anti-Trump column, Blow, as usual, is absurd as well as misleading. He writes,

“The report did not, however, exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice. I submit that we witnessed that Trump obstructed justice in open view, from the White House and on social media. And while Trump waged a two-year battle of slander and misinformation to defame the Mueller investigation, the majority of Democratic leadership did nothing to make the case that he had already reached the threshold of accountability, even without the report.”

I submit that Blow is a hack, writing to deceive the dim and the biased. Trump’s tweets constitute obstruction of justice? Good luck with that theory, Bozo: why don’t you ask a second year law student—or even George Conway— who would set you straight? And for any member of the news media to complain about slander when so many of his colleagues—and he himself—have routinely stated as fact that the President was a traitor and a criminal when no such facts existed…well, Blow has always excelled at gall.

This time, however, he found a way to combine his two passions in a single rant, while adding several “resistance” Big Lie talking points for good measure. Good job, Charles! Be proud, New York Times!

The best case against Donald Trump and the age of Trumpism has always been, and remains, the moral case. Criminality is only one facet of that, although it is the one that the courts and Congress can use to punish him….

As for the people, the voters, it is the moral abomination of having a racist, sexist, child-caging, family-separating, Muslim-hating transphobe as president that must remain front and center. That is the only way to move beyond Trump in 2020….

The very symbols of Trumpism — the MAGA hats, the wall, etc. — are more than merely physical objects. They have long since transcended their original meaning and purpose. They are now emblems. They are now the new iconography of white supremacy, white nationalist defiance and white cultural defense.

They are a form of white pride credentialing.

In much the same way that the Confederate flag became a white supremacist signaling device, wearing the MAGA hat and self-identifying as a “Trump supporter” now serves the same purpose. The symbols are tangentially connected to Trump, but they also transcend him. They are a way of cloaking racial hostility in the presentable form of politics….

In America, this recent rise of white nationalism follows a historical pattern: Whenever black people make progress, white people feel threatened and respond forcefully.

If you say so, Charles. Count the lies, Big and small, everybody, if you want an ethics tune-up That last bit is Blow’s default cover for Obama’s failure as a leader and a President: it isn’t Obama’s domestic and foreign policy ineptitude voters objected to, or his sanctimonious cons, it was the fact that he was black.

4. David Brooks (New York Times) We’ve All Just Made Fools of Ourselves — Again.”

Continue reading

Four Unethical Post-Mueller Report Op-Eds (Part I)

 

I guess the mainstream news media and its pundits aren’t going to take responsibility for the last three years of fake news and attempts to poison the nation against the President after all.  Are you shocked?

I. George Conway (Washington Post): “Trump is guilty — of being unfit for office”

George Conway is Kellyanne Conway’s husband. The Post just says he’s a lawyer in New York, which is another form of fake news: does every Trump-hating lawyer rate place on the op-ed page? Conway has been unethically and obnoxiously exploiting his wife’s prominence in the Trump administration to get undeserved attention for his own unremarkable “resistance” sentiments, and to embarrass her and her boss. Nice.

In most workplaces, a spouse who continually tried to undermine his or her spouse’s work would spark a simple demand from management: either get Lovey-Dovey to cut it out, or else. The fact that Conway femme can’t ask her husband to find a another hobby and be respected is interesting, but there is no reason the President should put up with it. I wouldn’t.

The Washington Post just proves once again its unethical complicity with the resistance by giving  the likes of Conway a forum to attack the President while adding nothing new or original to the debate whatsoever. As I repeatedly tell my hopeless Facebook friends when they post, as a non-rebuttal to any reasoned debunking of the latest impeachment hype, “He’s an X,Y, and Z and is unfit to be President,” the  public  found him fit to be President when they elected him. This is the central anti-American betrayal of the system and our institutions that Democrats , the news media and people like George have been flaunting since November 2016. He’s fit to be President because the electorate says so, and that’s the end of that discussion.

Constantly saying “He’s unfit to be President!” is now in the category of an ad hominem attack. It’s sour grapes and divisive without legitimate purpose; it’s an endless tantrum.  Barack Obama was as managerially and philosophically unqualified to be President on the last day of his tenure as the first, but the Post wasn’t publishing any “Obama’s not qualified to be President” op-eds after 2008 election, or before it, for that matter. (Only John McCain and Sarah Palin were unfit to be President). The people who wouldn’t let go of that conviction while refusing to shut up about it were the ridiculous birthers, a justly derided fringe sub-species. Those like Conway who won’t stop screaming about Trump’s well-established character traits now as if they are sudden revelations deserve similar treatment.

2. Michelle Goldberg (New York Times): No Criminal Collusion. Lots of Corruption.”

I don’t believe that agenda driven ideological propaganda should be accepted as respectable punditry, which is what op-eds ought to be. The idea, I should think, is to have a variety of people who have different views of complex issues make good faith efforts to explain why they have concluded what they have. Hard-left agitprop like what Goldberg routinely submits should be returned to sender by ethical editors with instructions to try them out on the narrow-minded readers of their usual platforms, like The Nation, The Guardian, and other leftist mouth pieces. This piece of hacker shows why that is the right course. Here is her main point, as various Trump-hating figures compete for new talking points to undermine him (In the essay, Goldberg says she “despises” the President. Of course she does—and that makes all of her arguments suspect.):

“The biggest thing this affair has uncovered is that throughout much of the presidential campaign, Trump was seeking to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The deal had the potential to make hundreds of millions of dollars for the Trump Organization, and Trump’s lawyer solicited the Russian government’s help to get it done. After the election, Trump lied about the deal to the American people. Vladimir Putin knew the truth, giving him leverage over Trump. Is that the only leverage he had?”

What a despicable smear. Trump was a business man, and there was and is nothing illegal about his organization pursuing business deals in Russia, nor was there anything untoward abut making hundreds of millions of dollars for Trump’s organization and its investors. Seeking assistance from the Russian government is SOP for such projects, and again, not illegal or inherently suspicious. Goldberg, we find out by following the links, has been claiming that the President was “lying to the American people” when he tweeted “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” Her assertion is the lie.  Trump is not his organization, the Trump Tower deal wasn’t to be with “Russia,” and Putin had no “leverage” at all, since what the business negotiations weren’t illegitimate in any way. “Is that the only leverage he had?” is classic conspiracy theory rhetoric, suspicion without substance.

[Part II, covering the unethical columns of Charles Blow and Davis Brooks, is on the way…]

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/13/2018: A Strange Philanthropist, A Redeeming Cadet, A Good Idea, And An Obvious Observation

Good Morning!

(This was definitely the oddest LP in my Dad’s Jimmy Durante collection….And good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are…)

1. Ethics Hero, I guess. A sad one…The Henry Street Settlement , a community charity, was shocked to receive $6.24 million donation, the largest single gift from an individual in its 125-year history, from the estate of the late Sylvia Bloom, a legal secretary from Brooklyn worked for the same law firm for 67 years until she retired at age 96 and died  in 2016. When one of the wealthy lawyers she worked for bought a stock as she made the transaction for him (or her; I don’t know), she bought the same stock for herself, in a smaller amount. The woman amassed all this money, which she could have used while she was still breathing to assert some beneficial influence over society, help others, or just to expand her own experiences and life opportunities, but instead delegated the responsibility to a non-profit organization to handle after her death. She spent a lifetime in thrall to a law firm, and never could take the initiative to be free.

I view this story as a strong argument for feminism.

2.  Progress: For the first time in The Citadel’s 175-year history,  the Corps of Cadets command was awarded to a female cadet, Class of 2019 Regimental Commander Sarah Zorn. This was no affirmative action or gratuitous diversity moment, but an honor well-earned. In addition to her academic record and demonstrated leadership abilities, Zorn can do 70 pushups in two minutes (I’ve done 7 push-ups in two decades) and has three martial arts black belts. This triumph finally eradicates the humiliating beginnings of the South Carolina military academy’s gender integration, when Shannon Faulkner won a lawsuit against the school’s strict male-only admissions policy, became the first female cadet admitted, then showed up out of shape and irresolute, washing out after five days, four of which were spent in the infirmary. I have always regarded Faulkner as the anti-Jackie Robinson, the perfect example of how a trailblazer without sufficient character can make the trail worse than it was before.

3. An ethics inspiration from Europe. 15,000 European 18-year-olds will be able to travel free of charge in Europe this summer, using special free travel passes valid for 30 days. The European Parliament initiative was passed “to enhance a sense of European identity and European values.” . The cost will be about $14.2 million dollars in American currency.

Great idea, and better, in fact, for the United States to try than Europe, since the United States actually has a national culture and one that a majority of young people are neither learning about nor understand. The U.S. version should include tickets to a baseball game, of course.

4. Duh. Imagine my surprise when, after opening the Sunday New York Times Sunday Review section, I found leading off the insert that has been dominated by anti-Trump hate and hysteria since last November an essay that dovetails nicely with this Ethics Alarms post from yesterday.  Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think” by Gerard Alexander, professor of political science at the University of Virginia, was given the front page of the section to make a point, a full year and a half into President Trump’s administration, that has been a theme on Ethics Alarms for all of that time, and should have been screamingly obvious to anyone whose own ethics alarms still had functioning clappers. Alexander writes in part, Continue reading

Ten Points Regarding The Rob Porter/White House/Domestic Abuse Scandal…

1 We know that the FBI had told the Trump White House about allegations from Porter’s two ex-wives that he had been physically abusive. Apparently, the FBI did not confirm, or could not, that the accusations were true. The allegations were still sufficient to prevent Porter from getting security clearance, whether they were true or not. There are good reasons for this. That does not mean that it is fair that someone’s career can be derailed and his reputation smeared without proof of wrongdoing, but it is necessary.

2. The position of an employer that has its own integrity and reputation to protect when an explosive allegation of personal and criminal misconduct regarding an employee arises is an ethics conflict. The Golden Rule suggests that such an employer should not jettison such an employee absent due process and sufficient proof of wrongdoing. However, the greater duty in this case is to the administration.

3. Porter should have resigned. In fact, that he did not resign was the best reason to fire him. This was his domestic problem, and he had no right to  inflict it on the White House, even if he was innocent.

4. There was nothing inconsistent about President Trump’s tweets condemning domestic violence and regretting the lack of due process and fairness in the current #MeToo witch hunt environment. He is right on both counts. As usual, he was not as articulate as he needs to be when opining on such delicate topics. He is not going to become more articulate, however.

5. Porter’s denials of wrongdoing, absent more, should carry no more nor less weight than the accusations against him.

6. Nobody who does not know Porter, the women involved or the intimate details of their relationships should be saying things in public like “I believe the wives” or “I don’t believe them.”  This flips us back to “I believe Anita Hill but don’t believe that slut Paula Jones” territory. People believe who they want to believe. Women who accuse men of abuse have no more claim or right to be believed without evidence than any other accuser, including those who accuse you.

7. Domestic disputes are infamous for the frequency with which previously honorable combatants will use false or exaggerated accusations to gain legal leverage or for old-fashioned revenge. It is possible that Porter’s two wives want to destroy his life. They seem to be doing a good job of it, if that’s their objective. Continue reading