Ethics Warm-Up, 4/16/2019: The Wide, Wide World Of Ethics

1. Notre Dame fire ethics:  Michael West, whose rare (of late) comments are valued as pearls, offered a proposed poll regarding the proper response to the destruction of the ancient cathedral’s spire. Here it is, with a few tweaks from me:

At the risk of tainting the voting, I have a pretty strong opinion about this. The structure  should be left as it is. Did they repair the Great Sphinx’s nose? Did they cover up the crack in the Liberty Bell? Once a part of an ancient structure or monument us gone, it’s gone. Replacements and restorations are ersatz and deceptive. The fire is part of the cathedral’s history, and what remains should reflect it. There are far better—and more ethical– uses for the many millions it will take to restore the spire.

2. Thanks for all the kind comments in light of Ethics Alarms hitting two major milestones on the same day. In commemoration, the blog will launch a new series, Ethics Alarms Retrospective (EAR), focusing on one or more of the  10,000+ posts I have immodestly placed here, most of which even I have forgotten.

For the first installment of EAR,  I offer “The Unethical Humiliation of Sister Rita X”from August 10, 2010. The topic was Sean Hannity’s practice of allowing clearly deranged progressives to have extended exposure on his radio call-in show, so he could engage in cheap mockery with the implication that they are representative of the Left generally. The comments are especially fascinating, almost all of which were Hannity fans who concocted all manner of distortions and rationalizations to justify what was the equivalent of exploiting the mentally ill for laughs. Comment highlight? This:

Again- I don’t expect you to respond- because you already said you would cut this conversation off.
Again- typical lib.
And I have facts.
What have you got besides a hollow ideology and kool aid?

That’s me, all right: a typical lib! By the way, that (minor) post was shared 4 times on Facebook, where as the last several hundred or so have received none. Continue reading

From The “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files, Cultural Illiteracy Section: Nike’s Gaffe

Pop quiz,  Ethics Alarmers: if you worked for Nike, and learned that it was about to launch a new campaign promoting the brand’s  Trail Running collection with this—“The Lost Cause…Because the lost cause will always be a cause worth supporting”—what would you do?  I assume that most of you would immediately recognize that the Lost Cause, in American historical context,  refers to the sentimental, romantic and  troubling interpretation of the Confederacy’s defeat, in which slavery is recalled as a benevolent institution and the Civil War as a noble effort by the South to protect a civilization now “gone with the wind”—the title of the film which, coincidentally, I am watching as I type this.

But as The Washington Post reported, it took historians blowing whistles at Nike to alert the company that the campaign was an epic gaffe, causing Nike to pull it within hours. Continue reading

Aaaand THEY’RE OFF! The Week’s Ethics Race Begins, 4/1/2019: No, Ethics Is Nothing To Fool About…

Good morning!

(and I’m not fooling…)

1. Why is this result considered good news? McLaughlin & Associates, a research firm, conducted a poll online March 18-25 asking the question, “Would you favor or oppose an executive order ensuring that free speech would be protected on all college campuses?” With 1,000 likely 2020 voters thus polled, the results showed 73% in favor of protecting free speech on campus, 18 % opposing, and the typical 9% of slugs who said they were “unsure.” McLaughlin and Associates found “no statistically significant difference by education level, with college graduates favoring the executive order 72 percent to 21 percent and non-college graduates favoring 74 percent to 16 percent.” Similarly, men and women both favored  the executive order at a rate of 73%, and there was no significant difference by party affiliation either.

The fact that less than 75% of American citizens whole-heartedly support freedom of speech in higher education is no less than horrifying, and shows how badly the ahte speech and thought-control termites have gotten into our foundation.

2. Speaking of those inherently untrustworthy polls a Washington Post-Schar School poll found that nearly two-thirds of registered Democrats reject special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding of no collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It’s a “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up!” classic, and also demonstrates how believing the mainstream news media agitprop because their biases fit neatly with yours—except you’re not paid to be objective and indep…oh, never mind. Why do I bother?—eats your brain. What in the world to these alleged (poll assertions are always alleged at best) skeptics base their beliefs on, other than the fact that, like Rachel Maddow, they so,so,so want our President to be an impeachable traitor? Mueller spent three years shaking down people and crushing them with his  prosecutorial boot to get evidence of Trump collusion that would stand up in court, and failed. And those Democrats know better? Continue reading

Lunch time Ethics Warm-Up, 3/19/19: Madea, Plan C, And More.

Yum yum!

Winging off to San Diego in a couple of hours, so be on the alert for an Open Forum while I’m in the air. It’s amazing: I’m going to spend two and a half days of air travel and hanging around a hotel and airports to give a 75 minute legal ethics presentation, albeit to a mob of over 600 lawyers.

1.  From the Ethics Alarms double standards files…

Let’s see: this film has gross black stereotypes and a man in drag, but not in a good, transgender way. I assume nobody will disagree that if this film was made by a white man, it would be received with horror and declared racist, and the white filmmaker would be apologizing to everyone and everything in sight.

2. The return of Plan C! As most recently noted here, Plan C is the obscure and outdated Emoluments Clause. In a series of tweets reviving the specious accusation  President Trump is violating the Constitution by owning businesses while he is President, something never anticipated by the Founders and an issue that was barely discussed by the news media during the campaign, Walter Shaub, a former director of the Office of Government Ethics who long ago declared himself a “resistance” ally,condemned the Embassy of Kuwait’s decision to celebrate its National Liberation Day at the hotel on Feb. 27. He wrote,

 “Kuwait got the message. Turkey got the message. Saudi Arabia got the message. The Philippines got the message. The question is: Which of our allies will stand with the American people, and which will seek to enrich our corrupt President? We will watch. We will remember.”

Oh, eat a bug. Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 9, Paragraph 8) stipulates that no federal officeholders “shall receive gifts or payments from foreign state or rulers without the consent of Congress.” But payments obviously means pay-offs, and payment for services isn’t a gift. Not are Trump organization receipts payments to the President. I note that Shaub is now a fellow at The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which I used to write about more before I got sick of it. It is the political equivalent of Media Matters, posing as an ethics watchdog when it’s agenda and biases are flagrantly partisan. I regard Shaub using his prior position as authority a breach of ethics: he’s posing as an objective analyst, and he’s not. Indeed, resorting to the silly Emoluments Clause to attack Trump is signature significance. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/17/19: March Ethics Madness!

Good morning!

Any week that starts off with John Belushi’s immortal reflections on March just has to be a good week.

1. Connecticut: Judicial ethics and guns. Anti-gun fanatics are cheering this week’s ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court  reversing  a lower court judge dismissing a lawsuit by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting against Remington Arms Company, allowing the case to proceed. In the 4-3 decision the court  possibly created a path that other mass shooting victims can follow to get around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, known as PLCAA, which has protected the manufacturers of the AR-15 assault rifle from lawsuits, thus setting the stage for a sensational “Runaway Jury”-type trial. The court’s reasoning is that the Sandy Hook families should have the opportunity to prove that Remington violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) by marketing what it knew was a weapon designed for military use to civilians. The problem is that the ruling ignores the law, as John Hinderaker explains (but he’s not the only analyst trashing the decision):

“Firearms of all kinds have been ‘designed for military use.’,” he writes. “The 1911, designed by John Browning, was the standard U.S. military pistol for many years and remains one of the most popular pistol designs today. So what? There is no such exception in the Second Amendment…Under the Supremacy Clause, federal law will govern over state law. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is intended to avoid precisely the result reached by the Connecticut Supreme Court. The PLCAA puts firearms manufacturers on the same plane with all others. If their products are not defective–if they do not malfunction–they are not liable. If someone stabs a victim to death with a knife, the victim’s heirs can’t sue the knife manufacturer. It is the same with firearms.”

Hinderaker correctly concludes that significance of the ruling is not that it opens a road for the Second Amendment to be constrained, or for ruinous liability to applied to gun-makers, but that it shows how courts will deliberately ignore the law to reach political goals. Continue reading

President Trump Reportedly Will Not Cooperate With The House Democrats’ Effort To Keep Investigating Him Until They Can Find Something To Impeach Him With.

Good.

On one of Sunday’s talking head shows, Rep. Gerald Nadler (D-NY), whom you might remember pre-diet as one of the most vociferous defenders of President Clinton during the House impeachment hearings, said that there was no question that President Trump had obstructed justice. Asked why, then, the House wasn’t seeking impeachment, Nadler said, “We don’t have the facts yet.” Yes, it’s that again: “the resistance” is positive that the President broke the law somewhere, some how, without any evidence that he broke the law. They just know, that’s all. I’ve been reading Trump-deranged commenters making the same set of arguments for three years now, usually followed by, “If he’s innocent, what’s he afraid of?,” a statement that sounds more comfortable in German, Russian, or Chinese.

This is not how our justice system or our political system is supposed to work, nor is it a proper use of Congress’s investigation and oversight powers. As as been typical of the Democrats’ Bizarro World reasoning, Rep. Elijah Cummings called the President’s defiance an attack on the Separation of Powers. No, it is an attack on the Separation of Powers when Congress cynically sets out to interfere with the ability of the Executive to discharge his Constitutional duties by launching endless, unjustified investigations. In particular, the President is performing a national service by refusing to allow Congress to demand his tax returns. The tax returns of all American must be confidential and private. If Congress can demand and acquire anyone’s tax returns based on speculation alone, then no citizen’s tax documents are safe.

Obama Whisperer David Axelrod inadvertently spoke the truth in a tweet that said, Continue reading

A Jumbo! One More Time: If You Trust PolitiFact, You Are As Biased As They Are

“Airplanes? I don’t see any airplanes!”

There are no good political factchecking organizations. Some are more ethical than others. Snopes is terrible, biased, and unreliable unless it is really checking urban legends. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler tries, but he works in the progressive bubble of Democrats who run the place, and he is corrupted. The Annenberg Foundation’s Fact-Check.org claims to be non-partisan and often succeeds, but of late it too has entered political advocacy into a category that is supposed to be only about objective facts.

As a general proposition, it is fair to call the  exercise of “factchecking” inherently misleading and so ripe for abuse that any fact check by a media organization should be viewed with extreme skepticism.

This goes double for PolitiFact; indeed, someone saying that this is their favorite fact checker has triggered signature significance. Nobody who is properly sensitive to partisan bias and committed to objectivity can possibly trust PolitiFact, a feature launched by a Democrat newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, and recently taken over by the Poynter Institute, which I once respected as a voice for ethical journalism. Like its industry, however, it is corrupt. Either that, or Poynter isn’t providing oversight for PolitiFact.

This is res ipsa loquitur. PolitiFact, like many other media hacks from the Left, meaning almost all of them, is trying to provide cover for the “Green New Deal” that the Democratic Party has foolishly embraced, by throwing up dust, word-salads and lies. The current approach is pure Jumbo, the Ethics Alarms category for a lie in the style and scale of Jimmy Durante’s classic, trying to steal an elephant and upon being stopped by a constable and asked what he was doing with a pachyderm on a rope, exclaiming, “Elephant? WHAT elephant?”

Here’s Politifact, lying: Continue reading