Tag Archives: Rep. John Conyers

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/6/17: An Ambush By John Oliver, An Insult From John Conyers

1 It’s a tradition, but  still an embarrassment to democracy...Why isn’t this res ipsa loquitur, as in “so indisputable it ought to be embarrassing”?  Rep. John Conyers, whose proclivity to engage in sexual harassment in full confidence that neither left-leaning reporters in the know (like Cokie Roberts ) nor his party’s leaders nor the victims themselves, would blow a whistle on a “civil rights icon” like him, is finally announcing a forced retirement. But he is attempting to anoint his oldest son, John Conyers III, as his successor. III has no special qualifications for elected office. He is a hedge fund manager and a business consultant whose  famous father is part of his appeal to clients. The original John Conyers was used  as a stepping stone to power by another unqualified family member using his name, III’s’ mother, former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, was sentenced to 37 months in prison for bribery. She was released in 2013.

In a profanity and vulgarity-laced video III posted last year, he said in part,

“Third and fourth generations of Conyers running for office. It’s really crazy. My grandfather did an incredible job, man. Fuck. A lot of people stand on the sidelines of their own lives. It’s like you just watch that shit go by like, no, I don’t think I’m going to get in the game – that shit is short, man. Whatever you do, make sure you vote….Voting feels so good, like even if your person doesn’t win, like, it feels good. The craziest part about it all is that my dad really walked with Martin Luther King and got arrested for this shit, like, damn this shit is deep fam. I casted my vote and I was hype as shit, like, I voted, like, this is awesome and I am really thankful for people that died for that for me. Any race, whatever, it’s important to vote but I mean, like, especially African-Americans man, go vote because people really died for this shit. If you don’t know shit about a candidate, man, and you just want to vote like you can write your own name in there, but like the action of going to vote is so important.”

Or just vote for someone with a last name you recognize! He sounds like a winner to me! One hurdle: Democratic Michigan State Sen. Ian Conyers, the congressman’s great-nephew, announced his intention to run for the open seat.

This is a long, long blight on American democracy that makes me wonder if we’re really up to it. The number of voters in both parties who are so shallow, lazy, and foolish as to assume that merely being related to a famous or popular leader is sufficient reason to elect him or her is disgraceful, but it has always been thus. Among those who never would have made it into a high office without this factor are Mary Bono, Jesse Jacskon, Jr. (currently in prison), Lindy Boggs, Lurleen Wallace, Margaret Chase Smith, Robert Taft, George W. Bush,  Bobby Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Robert Kennedy Jr,  Joseph Kennedy III,  Joe Kennedy II, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend—anyone named Kennedy, really—current Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Cal.), Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton. There are many, many more.

A last name is not a qualification for office. Why should that even have to be pointed out in a nation founded upon the rejection of royalty?

2. Unethical virtue-signalling via ambush. I admire John Oliver’s intellect, verbal dexterity and talent, but as with Stephen Colbert, David Letterman and others, he is so clearly a mean-spirited jerk that I find it difficult to watch him. Signature significance arrived for Oliver this week when he ambushed actor Dustin Hoffman  during a panel discussion commemorating the anniversary of the film Wag the Dog.

The topic of the evening was fake news and government manipulation of it, as the Clinton era film about a phony war being launched by a President to distract from a scandal is a fascinating one to ponder through the rear view mirror. Hoffman, one of the stars of the film, recently became one of the few dubious victims of a #MeToo-er, as he was accused of groping and sexually harassing a 17-year old woman on the set of another film in 1985. Unlike most of the celebrities and power-brokers run over by the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, Hoffman has not had other accusers surface. He denies the woman’s characterization of what happened, and so have others, like the director of the movie in question, the filmed version of Hoffman’s Broadway turn as Willie Loman in “Death of  Salesman.”

I have read fans of Oliver saying that Hoffman should have assumed that Oliver would grill him on the allegations, to which I say, “Only if Hoffman realized what a knee-jerk progressive creep Oliver is.” I think the actor assumed that Oliver was an honorable professional, and as a moderator wouldn’t hijack the discussion to embarrass Hoffman and burnish his feminist creds.

To Hoffman’s credit, he stood up to the abuse of position by Oliver and defended himself. At one point, there was this exchange:

HOFFMAN: “Do you believe this stuff you read?

OLIVER: Yes. Because there’s no point in (the accuser) lying.”

HOFFMAN: Well, there’s a point in her not bringing it up for 40 years.

OLIVER: Oh Dustin…

I would have said,

“Don’t “Oh, Dustin” me, you arrogant, posturing ass. The fact that a complaint isn’t made for that much time automatically makes it dubious. It places the accused in an impossible position; evidence has evaporated, and memories have faded. There are many reasons to lie. To get publicity, To get revenge for some real or imagined slight. To bring down someone famous or powerful. To join a mob—and regardless of the fact that the post-Weinstein focus on legitimate sexual misconduct in the workplace has created needed awareness and exposed long-time abusers, it is a mob, with all of the capacity a mob has to harm the innocent in its self-righteousness. You are playing to the mob right now, and willing to unjustly smear me to do it. You’re a disgrace.”

John Ziegler quoted a Hollywood writer who knows Hoffman and is convinced he is innocent, who said,

“Someone should tell John Oliver he’s the true heir to Joe McCarthy!Sex abuse baiting has replaced red-baiting. The ‘Sexual Blacklist’ reigns supreme. Guilty until ruined!”

Let me also remind readers that my hypothetical illustrating how a woman might retroactively decide that what she did not regard as sexual harassment years ago was harassment now was mocked by both the moderator and a Georgetown law professor during the NPR panel I participated in last week.

I am right, they are biased.

The more I think about that exchange, the more ticked off I get….

 

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/1/17: Moochie’s Back, And Despicable As Ever! Democratic Race-Baiting Never Went Away! And A Jury Shows Why Kate Steinle’s Shooter Keeps Coming Back To San Francisco…

Good Morning!

(Although it was reportedly a rough morning for the former Eleanor Coulouris 67 years ago_)

Or so I was told.

1. It’s NOT okay to be white? CNN Commentator Angela Rye, formerly executive director of the Congressional  Black Caucus, told CNN audiences that “white, liberal women” were the cause of the pressure on iconic Michigan Representative John Conyers to resign from Congress. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi would have never called for Conyers to resign if it weren’t  the other “white, liberal women” pressuring her to do so.  Rye, who earlier in the week said that a racist double standards was causing Conyers to be pressured to resign while white Democratic Senator Al Franken was not, said,

“I think Nancy Pelosi made a commitment to the members of the Congressional Black Caucus that she would not call for Conyers resignation before due process was allowed to take place. Now she’s being faced with the pressure of white, liberal women for the most part who have told her she needs to say something different.”

Rye echoes the reported sentiment of Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. James Clyburn, who noted that all of Conyers’ accusers were white. Doubtlessly agreeing with her is Mrs, Conyers, who told reporters staking out Conyers’ home yesterday to “Go and stalk white people’s houses.”

Observations:

  • Race-baiting and using racism as an excuse for any criticism of black politicians is still the reflex response of far too many Democrats, in part because they face no consequences for doing so, and because any whites who object are tarred as white supremacists.
  • Until the news media and  progressives have the integrity to treat this tactic for what it is, and as exactly as intolerable as white racism, the nation will continue to split hard along racial lines. I guess that’s what the Left wants.
  • How can CNN justify continuing to employ a “contributor” like Rye—it has some others, too—who is a stone-cold racist?
  • How can anyone who abhors racism in all its forms continue to patronize an intentionally racial division-promoting news source that does employ someone like Rye?
  • Here, for people like Rye—you know, stupid people—are some reasons Al Franken’s situation is distinguishable from that of  Conyers: he is thirty years younger and shouldn’t have retired about a decade ago anyway; he, unlike Conyers, hasn’t flatly denied all of the allegations against him as they keep on coming; a Senator resigning is a bigger deal than a Representative resigning; and Nancy Pelosi doesn’t oversee Senate Democrats.

Also there are no reports of Franken habitually meeting with female staffers without his pants on. It’s small thing—well, not that small—but still…

2. No, really, it isn’t OK...In related news,Texas State University student journalist Rudy Martinez wrote an article entitled “Your DNA Is An Abomination”—referring to white DNA, of course—for The University Star,  the University of Texas student publication. The piece also advocated the death of whites, which is unpleasantly close to calling for them to  be killed. If you think I’m going to point out that any student who wrote this about blacks in a student newspaper would be quickly disciplined, while the newspaper editor responsible for publishing such vile material was hounded of campus, you’re right. If the University of Texas administrators had any integrity, common sense or guts, it would, this is what would happen. At least the president of Texas State, Denise M. Trauth, said that “The column’s central theme was abhorrent and is contrary to the core values of inclusion and unity that our Bobcat students, faculty, and staff hold dear.” That’s nice. Why is Texas State graduating racists? From the column:

“Ontologically speaking, white death will mean liberation for all. Accept this death as the first step toward defining yourself as something other than the oppressor. Until then, remember this: I hate you because you shouldn’t exist. You are both the dominant apparatus on the planet and the void in which all other cultures, upon meeting you, die.”

Denise Cervantes, The University Star’s editor-in-chief, pulled the column and apologized, saying “We acknowledge that the column could have been clearer in its message and that it has caused hurt within our campus community. We apologize and hope that we can move forward to a place of productive dialogue on ways to bring our community together.”

Oh, I think it was very clear in its message. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/30/2017: Bad Tweets, Bad Rep., Bad Rap, Bad NBC…

Bad night, but…

Good Morning!

1 Straight to the top of the charts…When we put together the definitive list of President Trump’s Top Ten (Top 100? Top 1000?) stupid, undignified and self-wounding tweets, yesterday’s sequence of unsubstantiated videos–from a radical right wing British group— of alleged violence by Muslims has to be on the list. I could counter that the eruption of indignation by the vast majority of people who can comprehend what’s wrong with this is a bit annoying from the progressive side—the official Obama Administration position that Islam is a lovely religion of rainbows and unicorns and that Muhammad doesn’t instruct his followers from the grave that infidels are scum and deserve to die is far more dangerous than Trump’s hate-tweets—but that would obscure the key point. Trump’s retweeting is ugly, unnecessary, undignified, looks bigoted, and plays into the hands of the worst of his enemies, who express themselves like this.

Now we have to listen to that dishonest and contrived 25th Amendment garbage again, which never quite stopped anyway. Once again, the President has blown more wind into the sails of anti-democratic hypocrites like Ezra Klein, who argues for a Constitution and Separation of Powers-wrecking version of impeachment to get rid of Trump. No, Trump hasn’t gone crazy: he’s exactly the man we elected, and exactly as able to do his job as he ever was. Tweeting irresponsibly is not a high crime and misdemeanor. Being Donald Trump is not a high crime and misdemeanor.

But the President is playing with fire by encouraging the large political movement that would criminalize not agreeing with their world view. That’s as indefensible as it is idiotic.

2. This much is clear. It is now clear that NBC only fired Matt Lauer because an explosive Variety exposé was on the way, and it was a close call at that. It is pretty clear that the mystery of why NBC rejected journalist Ronan Farrow’s investigative reporting on Harvey Weinstein has been solved: NBC had its own lurking sexual misconduct cover-up to worry about. It is, or should be clear from Variety’s reporting that the astounding brazenness of Lauer’s conduct had to be common knowledge among Lauer’s colleagues and NBC executives, and that they unethically applied The King’s Pass, deliberately allowing Lauer to abuse and terrorize female employees, some of whom played along to get along. TMZ uncovered an old interview in which Katie Couric happily revealed that one consequence of working with Matt was that she got her butt pinched a lot. Nobody paid attention, in part because our pathetic news media buried it. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/28/2017: The Worst Defense Of Roy Moore Ever!

Good Morning!

1 The Dumbest Moore Defense Ever Told! Debating with Chris Cuomo on CNN yesterday morning, Breitbart senior editor Joel Pollak made the following argument in defense of  Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore:

“You know, in 1973 Ringo Starr hit number one on the Billboard charts with the song, ‘You’re 16, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine,. He was 30-something at the time singing about a 16-year-old — you want to take away Ringo Starr’s achievement?”

He really did.

2. Sally Yates and James Comey are happy, anyway. Leandra English, the deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, argues that the Dodd-Frank Act makes her the lawful the acting director of the agency in a lawsuit she has filed  against President Trump, who also has the law on his side. He appointed Mick Mulvaney, currently Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, as acting director to replace Richard Cordray, who appears to have resigned explicitly to foil the President’s ability to appoint his own choice to head the CFBP. Now there is mess triggered by a rare, genuine example of two statutes with authority over the same situation.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a legal opinion that says the Dodd-Frank Act does not displace the President’s authority to appoint under the Vacancies Reform Act. Either statute can be invoked. “We cannot view either statute as more mandatory than the other,” the opinion says. “Rather, they should be construed in parallel.”

Of course, employees of the Executive Branch are ethically obligated to defer to the President of the United States, but this President is handicapped by a thick muck of arrogant holdovers from the Obama Administration, who think it is appropriate to sabotage and undermine a leader whom they do not approve of. This is indefensible.

The lack of the basic deference and respect all elected Presidents should be able to depend upon that so many of the previous administration’s personnel have displayed is an indictment of the Democratic Party’s principles, integrity, fairness, patriotism and respect for process. This is how this story should be reported, too, and would be, by a competent and ethical news media. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/27/2017: Gibberish From Congress, Race-Blindness in the UK, Cruel Law Enforcement In Atlanta, And More

Mornin’!

1 “Rarrit!!” You will seldom see or hear as excellent an example of Authentic Frontier Gibberish than this word salad belched out by the leader of House Democrats on “Meet the Press” yesterday. Nancy Pelosi attracted so much negative attention with her “Rep. Conyers is too much of an icon to hold accountable” blather that this masterpiece was relatively ignored. Pelosi was asked by Chuck Todd whether she would support releasing to the public the full information behind heretofore secret settlements of sexual harassment accusations against Congressmen, even indispensable, virtuous icons like John Conyers. She said…

“Well, here’s the thing. It’s really important. Because there is a question as to whether the Ethics Committee can get testimony if you have signed a nondisclosure agreement. We’re saying we think the Ethics Committee can, but if you don’t agree, we’ll pass a law that says the Ethics Committee can, a resolution in Congress that the Ethics Committee can…. But there’s no– I don’t want anybody thinking there’s any challenge here to our changing the law and see how people– when we know more about the individual cases. Well, because you know what our biggest strength is? Due process that protects the rights of the victim, so that, whatever the outcome is, everybody knows that there was due process….”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_2Npp-euLU

If Chuck Todd wasn’t a partisan hack, he would have recognized his journalistic obligation to say, “That made no sense at all, Congresswoman. Please try again.”

Public pressure is increasing to force Congress to release the names of the members of Congress who paid taxpayer funds to settle with their accusers. Good. Democrats are obviously terrified, and presumably Republicans are as well.

2. That mean Trump Administration insists on enforcing the law. The New York Times had a front page story Sunday about the plight of illegal immigrants in Atlanta. The story, entirely sympathetic to the arrested, deported, and those afraid of being arrested and deported, saying in one headline that “immigrants” (that’s illegal immigrants, NYT editors, a material distinction) fear “even driving.”

“Even driving” without a license.

Here’s a quote to make any rational American’s head explode, about a local journalist who uses social media to warn illegal immigrants when ICE is lurking,

“Asked whether he had any reservations about helping readers evade immigration law, he said he preferred to think he was helping people with no criminal records stay in the country. “Honestly, I believe it’s an honor as a journalist if the people can use your information for protecting their own families,” he said.”

Translation: “I prefer to think of what I am doing as something other than what I am really doing.”

It’s kind of like a newspaper calling illegal immigrants “immigrants.” Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/26/17: Rationalizations And Double Standards [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1 Flat learning curve  On “Meet the Press” today, Nancy Pelosi’s defense, if you could call it that, of besieged Democratic representative John Conyers was a special display of what a total integrity void looks like. It was so obvious one has to wonder—again—if these people have that much contempt for the public, or if they are just not very bright. She called for “due process,” which presumably means a formal investigation or some kind of official proceeding, but Democrats haven’t cared about “due process” while demanding that Roy Moore withdraw because of the allegations by his teenage dream dates, or while attacking candidate Trump based on his boasting on the “Access Hollywood” tapes. Nor was “due process” a concern when they sicced Anita Hill on Clarence Thomas during his nationally televised confirmation hearing.

Pelosi then appealed to Conyers’ status as an “icon,” saying,

“John Conyers is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women – Violence Against Women Act, which the left – right-wing – is now quoting me as praising him for his work on that, and he did great work on that.”

In other words, “The King’s Pass.” Conyers should be treated differently from any regular, run-of-the mill member of Congress, because his many accomplishments should be able to offset any wrongdoing. I’m sure Pelosi endorses this anti-ethical principle; after all, she thinks that she’s an icon too. In truth, kings, stars and icons should be held to higher ethical standards, not lower. If not, they become ethics corrupters.

Pelosi also employed another cynical rationalization, saying she was sure Conyers would do “the right thing.” This is a sneaky version of Rationalization #14. Self-validating Virtue, since she never says what the right thing would be. She is saying that whatever Conyers does would be the right thing, because he’s an icon and what he does must be right.

As a final hypocritical flourish, Pelosi questioned the credibility of Conyers’ accusers. Wait–isn’t the position of the Democratic party and progressives that such women should be believed? Pelosi also spoke as if none of the alleged victim of misconduct had been identified. Naturally, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd let Pelosi get away with this, although she said, “I do not know who they are. Do you? They have not really come forward.”  An ethical and non-partisan journalist would have said, “Actually, Rep. Pelosi, government ethics lawyer and former staffer Melanie Sloan is one of the Congressman’s accusers. Since her organization, CREW, is a government watchdog that is habitually easy on Democrats, she has a lot of credibility.  Why don’t you believe her?

UPDATE: Conyers has surrendered his leadership position on the Judiciary Committee.

2. Nah, there’s no progressive media bias! The Daily Wire—just because its a conservative website doesn’t mean it’s facts are always wrong–produced this list of 24 sex scandals involving Democrats that CNN chose not to report on.

3.  Blame Senator Moore on Franken, Conyers and Pelosi…and Alabama Republicans, of course… If Roy Moore wins a Senate seat, spectacles like Pelosi’s doubletalk and spinning will be a major reason why.

4. A new rationalization! A comment in the Joe Morgan/steroid/Hall of Fame thread made me aware of a missing rationalization. LoSonnambulo wrote, in an excellent comment explaining the history of the dispute over allowing baseball’s proven steroid cheats into Cooperstown, Continue reading

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Thanksgiving Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/23/17: All About Turkeys, Metaphorically Speaking

It’s Thanksgiving Morning!

1 It’s also my wedding anniversary. I am very thankful , and proud, frankly, that I am one of the very few people among my pretty large and diverse community of friends, acquaintances and colleagues still married (after 37 years…yes, I married at 13) to the same person I pledged to make a life with “til death do us part.” It’s not easy, for anyone, and determination and commitment, forgiveness and contrition, are a large, crucial, indispensable part of it. A lot of the journey is based on ethics, in other words.

2. Surprise! More accusers of both Rep. John Conyers and Senator Franken surfaced yesterday. Conyers’ new alleged victim is Melanie Sloan, formerly the head of CREW, the left-wing D.C. ethics watchdog that somehow manages to see unethical conduct by Republicans about five times more often than it fingers Democrats. Sloan says she was not sexually harassed, but alleges that Conyers called him into his office to verbally abuse her while being dressed in his underwear. Uh, Melanie? If your boss is ever berating you in his underwear, that is per se sexual harassment. This is a hostile work environment; I don’t care if your superior is built like Batman…well, like his costume.

The predictable proliferation of accusers was why, in the hypothetical apology I authored for Alternate Universe Al, I included the part about mistreating other women. It was a sure thing; harassers harass, and if you are going to pretend that the first accuser was “just a mistake,” you might as well skip it and head for George Bailey’s bridge. In the sexual harassment training field, nothing is more certain than the fact that with the real harassers and predators, if there’s one victim, there are many. This is why the narrative about Anita Hill amounts to a Left-driven, media-driven smear of Clarence Thomas for the crime of being a black conservative.

An unanticipated horrible consequence of this leg of the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, which also includes new allegations about the Democratic Party’s keynote speaker when it was accusing conservatives of a “war on women,” as well the revelation that the GOP President who selected Thomas emulates his favorite magician, “David Cop-a-Feel,” is that it very well might elect Roy Moore, who is worse than any of them. Meanwhile, most analysts think that both Franken and Conyers will have to resign. ( I would eagerly vote for a mad scientist-make hybrid of Conyers and Franken—Frankenconyers!—before I would even shake Roy Moore’s grubby hand…and really, who knows where it’s been?)

Republicans have been incredibly lucky with their choices of foes, luckier than they deserve. Continue reading

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