Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/4/18: The Good And The Bad, And If Janus Had A Third Face, It Would be Ugly

Good morning!

1. Looking for biased but reliable progressive news aggregators! I have a long secret list of story sources, but my online leftist news aggregator supply is drying up. That’s where I can find the stories that reflect badly on the Right but that the conservative news sources choose to ignore. The key problem is “reliable.” Sites like Raw Story, ThinkProgress, the Huffington Post and the Daily Kos have all violated Ethics Alarms standards of basic honesty, fairness and trustworthiness—much like Breitbart, Red State and the Gateway Pundit, none of which I will  read or cite unless directed to a particular post, from the other side of the spectrum. The Daily Beast was long my favorite online leftist source, but now it requires a subscription, and I’m certainly not going to pay for biased analysis—beyond what I already get from the Washington Post and New York Times.

Memeorandum remains the most balanced and non-partisan online news aggregator, by far.

2. Retire, Pat. It isn’t just Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein who try to hold on to power long after their advancing age makes it unethical to do so. The GOP has its irresponsible geezers too. Today Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Ks) will announce whether he plans to end his political career or run for another term in 2020, which would take him to his 90th year if he survived it. The man is 82: he should not have run for his current term.

Of course, it doesn’t help that 85-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is providing an unethical role model for all elected officials and judges by ostentatiously refusing to retire and obviously resolving to leave the Supreme Court feet first.

3. Slapping down Big Brother in Oregon.U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman issued a permanent injunction against the Oregon Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying that tried to fine Mats Järlström, who has a degree in engineering and years of experience in the field, $500 for describing himself as “an engineer.”

The judge ruled that this was a violation of the First Amendment, which it clearly was. This wasn’t a case where the First Amendment right to lie came into play, because Järlström wasn’t lying. He was fined for going on television to talk about public policy issues while describing himself as an “electronics engineer” and writing the phrase “I am an engineer” in a letter. The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying claimed he was practicing engineering without a license.

As government regulations proliferate without end,  they inevitably strangle individual liberty, expression and enterprise. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/13/2018: Trump And Strzok

Good Morning, London!

1. Trump Trump Trump. You know, I was on a political Facebook page in 2016 where an idiot kept posting “Trump Trump Trump” despite everyone, including the moderator, telling him to cut it out. Eventually he was banned from the site. Unfortunately, there is no similarly simple solution to this problem when a combination of the Trump-hostile news media and the President himself forces a variety of ethics issues on me, when I would rather be musing about baseball, old sitcoms, and guys in lobster hats.

  • The pardons. President Trump  pardoned Dwight L. Hammond, now 76, and his son, Steven D. Hammond, 49, a pair of Oregon cattle ranchers who had been serving out five-year sentences for arson on federal land, which had sparked the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in 2016. Naturally these pardons were attacked, because anything Trump does will be attacked. The resulting conflict brought widespread attention to anger over federal land management in the Western United States,and that’s a good thing. How can the federal government justify owning almost half of Western land?

As for the pardons, both men have served most of their sentences already, and not only were the sentences unusually harsh for their offenses, the cases had the whiff of political prosecutions about them. They were perfectly legitimate objects for Presidential pardons, but then so are hundreds of thousands of other cases. Presidents should issue as many pardons as possible, which means eliminating a lot of the red tape. So far, Trump has sucked the tape by cherry-picking beneficiaries in his own, eccentric, biased way, using his unique, unassailable Constitution-based power to court supporters, celebrities and particular constituencies—not that there’s anything wrong with that, as long as other deserving citizens also get pardoned, and really, all but the most unrepentant, vile and dangerous felons deserve mercy and compassion eventually. Unless the pardon power is used broadly and constantly, its blessings too often depend on who you know. In the case of the ranchers, for example, a large donor to Vice-President Pence lobbied for the pardons. Again, that doesn’t mean the pardons can’t be justified. It does mean the process is skewed by factors not related to justice or fairness.

I found this to be the most ethically intriguing paragraph in the Times story about Pence pal, tycoon Forrest Lucas, and his likely influence on the pardons:

“While other presidents have also gone ahead of Justice officials to pardon apparent allies, they have often waited until their final days in office to do so. Mr. Trump, by comparison, has issued high-profile pardons early and comparatively often — seemingly unconcerned by the appearance of leaning his ears toward those at the top.”

So is Trump being unethical in a more ethical fashion than his predecessors?

  • Bad host, worse guest. The President’s derogatory comments about the British Prime Minister were indefensible, of course. We know how he thinks: Great Britain, as he has said, with justification, has made him feel unwelcome—that insulting “Trump baby” blimp over London is a real diplomatic low—and thus, in Trump’s rudimentary ethics system, akin to that of a lizard, the proper response is tit-for-tat. None of this is unexpected, and nobody who voted for Trump can say that they didn’t give him license to behave this way by electing him.

I do wonder now why I ever thought that he would react to being elected by moderating the very conduct that, in his mind and probably in reality, got him where he is today. My role model for him was President Arthur, who was about as different in character and background from Donald Trump as a human being could be.

I’m an idiot. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/20/17

Good Morning, everyone!

Good Morning, General!

Good morning, Traveler!

1. Sensing that there is now a new approach to undermining Donald Trump’s presidency with propaganda, today’s New York Times Sunday Review sports a front page almost completely occupied with a giant graphic of the President’s head without a face. In place of a face is a photo of the Charlottesville torchlight demonstration. suggesting that he approved of the demonstration and its primary participants’ white supremacy views. This is a complete lie, of course, and meets the definition of Anti-Trump porn. The rest of the supplement follows the front page’s tone.

2. An impeachment and conviction of President Trump absent the kind of offenses the Constitution specifies would be nothing less than a coup, and an illegal over-turning of an election for partisan gain. Please observe the individuals, professionals, pundits and elected officials advocating this: they are the ones treading close to treason, defined as “the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to…overthrow the government.”

3. Of course, the cowardly, chaotic and anarchistic juveniles calling themselves “Anonymous”—you can’t get more chicken that that—are all-in with the phony impeachment drive, and have published what it says are the private cell phone numbers of 22 GOP Congressmen to bully them into supporting the movement. I would give you a link, but the one sent to me has crashed my browser twice: apparently a story about Anonymous even makes my computer throw-up.

4. Then there is this Incompetent Elected Official, Democratic Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen, who announced this week that he will introduce articles of impeachment against President Trump “based on his defense of the white supremacists who participated in a deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.” While we’re at it, let’s call out The Hill for that slanted and misleading description.

First Cohen, who said,

“Instead of unequivocally condemning hateful actions by neo-Nazis, white nationalists and Klansmen following a national tragedy, the President said ‘there were very fine people on both sides.’ There are no good Nazis. There are no good Klansmen.”

Cohen is a simple-minded ignoramus with the historical perspective of a lump of granite, and you can quote me. Sure there were good Nazis. Is he really claiming that every German citizen who didn’t have the courage to risk liquidation by defying Hitler was evil? That every child indoctrinated in Hitler youth groups were beyond redemption? Here’s a good Nazi: Henri Salmide. Here’s another: Albert Goering.

And wait, didn’t Stephen Spielberg direct a movie about another good Nazi, one who is honored in the Holocaust Museum here in D.C.? I’m sure I recall something about that. Huh. I’m sure the name will come to me.

There have been good Klansmen too. Legendary Democratic Senator Robert Byrd was once a member of the Klan. So was Hugo Black, one of the greatest judicial minds ever to enhance the Supreme Court.  Yes, and even Harry Truman, a much-admired Democratic President, found it politically expedient at one point in his career to join the Klan.

Is Cohen ignorant and stupid, or does he just want to make sure Democratic voters who believe their elected representatives are ignorant and stupid? Those attempting to benefit politically by dividing the nation and sowing discord want to represent every issue as black and white, good and evil, with no acknowledgement that there are important nuances to consider. Cohen is an especially nauseating example, arguing that if a President doesn’t accept misleading progressive half-truths and jump through the hoops they set set up, he is a criminal. Nor can Cohen defend his double standard, embraced wholeheartedly by the anti-Trump’s gotcha! brigade, that if you march with the white nationalists against the purging of American history (which should be marched against, as it is ethically despicable) you are innately  bad, but if you march with hooded, violent thugs of the antifa movement in favor of Soviet-style historical editing and in an attempt to silence protected speech, you can still be the salt of the earth.

Nor can anyone.

5. Ah, yes, the Hill. It described the President’s remarks as a “defense of the white supremacists.” In fact, Trump never defended white supremacy. He defended the cause they claimed to be marching for, which was allowing Robert E. Lee’s statue to stand.  I also defend that cause, as well as the right of anyone to march in protest against the current orgy of statute-toppling, that virtuous activity that sometimes must be undertaken in the dead of night. Moreover, the Hill says that one side”participated in a deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend,” as if there was not another side that also participated, one that included hooded individuals intending violence…or perhaps the hood were to hide bad cases of acne. This was exactly why it was appropriate for the President to level blame on both the demonstrators and the counter-demonstrators.

As always of late, the news media, like Cohen, wants to keep the public misled and divided.

_______________________

Pointer: Neil Dorr

Comment of the Day: “The ‘So What?’ Follies”

My brilliant friend, lawyer/writer/actor/singer/dancer Loarraine McGee, scores with a  Comment of the Day that it probably takes a Broadway musicals buff, Stephen Sondheim worshiper, Mandy Patinkin lover or “Glee” fan to fully appreciate, a lyrical comment to the melody of Sondheim’s “Buddy’s Blues” from the second act of his great, troubling 1971 musical “Follies.”  Here is the song (Bronson Pinchot is no Mandy, but he’s OK), and then Lorraine’s Comment of the Day, to the today’s post “The “So What?’ Follies,” follows.

“Did you sayFollies”????”

I’ve got those

“Gotta keep the numbers up-Find something!-I can make it Neeeews” Blues!

That

“Long as there are photos I can make it seem important” feeling!

That

“If you’re slightly famous all you do is enough,
As long as there’s a talking head involved it’s good stuff,”
And “Bring the camera closer, gotta make the public buy this!” feeeeeeling!

Those

“Everything is ad sales so I gotta make the nonsense neeeews!” blues!

The “So What?” Follies

So what?

So what?

Reluctant to report actual news, in many cases, that makes their favorite politicians and elected leaders look bad, or perhaps as they really are, our sad, inept and juvenile news media attempts to balance its lack of diligence by promoting other stories as brewing scandals that have no legitimacy whatsoever, and are similarly fueled by bias. Two particularly offensive examples: Continue reading