Morning Ethics Wake-Up, 7/17/2018: Swans, Nazis Kids, Rand Paul, And More Freakouts [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1. And today’s anti-Trump freakout topic is…The complete media/”resistance”/Democrat social media meltdown over whatever President Trump thought he was doing yesterday was typical of what we were talking about in the threads on Monday’s Warm-Up. It’s all so boring and predictable. It’s predictable that the President will say things he shouldn’t; it’s predictable that the people who have already made it clear that they hate is guts will erupt with over-the-top condemnation; it’s predictable that the social media echo chamber will adopt whatever unscrupulous Democratic Party talking point that is launched—yes, yes, Facebook Friend, yesterday proves that Putin “has something” on the President like Nancy Pelosi says. Did she call him “Bush” this time?—and that anyone who tries to point out that the reaction is wildly out of proportion to reality is a Trump-loving racist Nazi. I seriously don’t know how a responsible commentator who isn’t out of his mind is supposed to react. Ignore it, because some new hysteria will be right along, like Leo Slezak’s swan. (Don’t you know this story? It’s one of my favorites! Leo Slezak, a famous Austrian opera singer in the Thirties, was playing the role of Lohengrin in Wagner’s opera, which ends with the hero being carried off to Valhalla on the back of a giant swan. In one performance, the swan, pulled by stage hands on tracks, just swam right by him up stage, leaving the hero stranded. Slezak turned to another singer on stage and asked, loudly enough so the audience could hear him, “What time’s the next swan?” His son, Hollywood actor Walter Slezak, made the line the title of his autobiography.)

2. Obligatory freakout notes: a.  All that matters is what, if anything, comes of the summit. The President (obviously) has his own theories of negotiation. Sometimes they work. b. John Brennan’s statement that the Putin-Trump press conference was “treasonous” was two things: 1) the most ridiculous thing said yesterday by anybody, including the idiot who lives down the street here who said, reportedly, “Rpeterbokle?“, and 2) immediate confirmation of why the President said that he doesn’t trust American intelligence agencies any more than he trusts Putin. c. If anyone can point me to an unbiased authority who can explain how leaders holding joint press conferences help their nations by insulting each other, please do. d. John McCain should either show he can do his job, or he should resign and let someone able do it. Right now, apparently his only role is to snipe at the President. e. Gee, I wonder why President Trump doesn’t trust the FBI, after watching a smug FBI agent who texted about insurance policies against his Presidency and how “we” would “stop” him lecture Congress about his lack of bias? f. Nixon said much nicer things about China and Chou En Lai when Dick made his famous visit. FDR affectionately called mass murderer Stalin “Uncle Joe.” President Bush (absurdly) said that he had seen Putin’s soul, and pronounced it pure. JFK feted the Butcher of the Ukraine and Hungary, Nikita Khrushchev, during a visit to America without condemning him in a pres conference. President Obama whispered to Putin that, in essence, he was going to play tough but would be accommodating after the election. Conclusion: As usual, this President is subjected to a double standard, and it is wildly hypocritical. g. Yes, Trump’s comments were unpresidential and inappropriate. This, however, is no longer news.
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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/26/17

Bvuh.

[I was up until 3 AM watching a Red Sox game in Seattle that went 13 innings and five hours—they lost– and this doesn’t feel like morning, it feels like Hell. I’m dictating this to my dog, and hoping it warms ME up…]

1. The American Psychoanalytic Association told its 3,500 members that they should not feel bound by the so-called “Goldwater Rule,” which the rival American Psychiatric Association announced in 1964, prohibiting its members from diagnosing political figures from afar without the benefit of actually examining them. It’s an ethics rule, an obvious one, and shouldn’t be controversial. As I have documented here, however,  professionals of all kinds have allowed anti-Trump bias, panic and fervor to dissolve their ethical standards. The groups afflicted include college presidents, teachers, scientists, lawyers, judges, historians, legal ethicists, journalists and artists. Nobody should be shocked that psychiatrists are eager to do the same. As with the other professionals, all they will accomplish is an erosion of public respect and trust. I thought Ann Althouse’s response to the announcement was spot on:

Let them speak, and then the rest of us will speak about whether they are professionals deserving of deference or human beings like the rest of us who can’t keep our political preferences from skewing whatever it is we might think about some pressing issue of the day.

Go ahead, expose yourselves. Let us see all narcissism, impulsivity, poor attention span, paranoia, and other traits that impair your ability to lead.

2. I’m not devoting a solo post to the ridiculous Trump Boy Scout speech controversy, because despite all the efforts of the news media to maintain otherwise, it was not a scandal, was not a big deal, was not an enduring scar on the Boy Scouts of America, and is mostly significant as demonstrating how distorted the perception of those who are verging on being physically allergic to the President has become. Some points that have arisen in the thread about the speech are important to note, however. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day (2): “Public Servant Ethics, Employment Ethics, Baseball Fan Ethics, And Senator John McCain”

The post about John McCain’s troubling performance during the Comey testimony inspired this thoughtful comment by dragin_dragon, a self-professed senior citizen (although I had no idea), on the related topic f officials knowing when age and/or infirmity create an ethical obligation to step down and retire in the interests of society. 

The confounding factor, and one that becomes a powerful rationalization for those who want to stay on in important positions long after their metaphorical pull-date, is that many of them can truthfully argue that their age-ravaged abilities are still better than most of the younger alternatives. Or, as my sister said during a discussion on this topic, “I’d rather have Justice Ginsberg with half her marbles than anyone Trump would nominate.”  I bet that’s how Justice Ginsberg is thinking too. Then there was that attorney with a drinking problem who everyone in the firm agreed was twice as good as any attorney in the firm when sober, and 50% better when drunk as a skunk.

Does that mean the firm should be satisfied if he’s drunk all the time? Isn’t this the same as the age diminished once-brilliant judge?

A topic for another time. Meanwhile, here is dragin_dragon’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Public Servant Ethics, Employment Ethics, Baseball Fan Ethics, And Senator John McCain”:

There comes a time in anyone’s life when it should be obvious that it is time to “Hang up the guns”. In my own life, I am but 71, and I am seeing numerous anomalies in my behavior (walking into a room and wondering why I am here) and in my rational thought (I suspect most who have read my comments sometimes have the same question). I am getting to where I lose debates to my wife on a regular basis (she’ll tell you I’ve always done that). More to the point, I am AWARE of the beginning deterioration. I am wondering if John McCain and Ruth Ginsberg are.

Another thought had occurred to me, however. After realizing that there was some slippage, I have refused an opportunity to run for Alderman and for Mayor of our little newly-incorporated city, because I honestly did not feel I would be able to do the job, either of them, justice, either mentally (what’d you say my name was again?) or physically. I’m winded some mornings after tying my shoe-laces. However, I am reasonably certain that narcissism plays little part in my personality. I suspect it is a BIG part of most elected officials (city, county, state, national) personalities. The idea being “Nobody but ME can do this job properly”, or in some cases, “Nobody but me can do this job, period, well or poorly.” Continue reading

UPDATE: More Ethics Notes On The Comey Firing Meltdown

In this matter, at least, President Johnson was right…

1. In 1867, the Radical Republican dominated Congress passed The Tenure of Office Act, an unconstitutional breach of the Separation of Powers that took away the President’s ability to fire his own Cabinet members without the legislature’s approval. President Andrew Johnson, extremely unpopular in the victorious North and more so with his own party (Johnson was a Democrat, added to Lincoln’s ticket as Vice-President to bolster Lincoln’s desperate bid for re-election in 1864), deliberately defied the law by firing War Secretary Edwin Stanton, a Lincoln appointee and an ally of the Radicals. In response, Johnson’ own party led a n effort to impeach him, and he was narrowly saved from conviction by a single vote in the Senate. The Act was soon ruled unconstitutional, as Johnson said it was. As lousy a President as he was, Johnson had every right to fire someone who served at his pleasure, and doing so was not an impeachable offense.

2. The Democrats and journalists who are—absurdly, irresponsibly, embarrassingly, hysterically—calling for President Trump’s impeachment for firing James Comey neither know their history  nor respect democracy. Just check off the names of anyone, including your friends and colleagues, who make this argument, as hopeless, deranged partitions without perspective or integrity. I’m making my own list, with early entries like Maxine Waters and Vox, which beclowned itself by writing that a President’s lawful firing of a subordinate who clearly deserved it raises the  possibility of impeachment. At least the Radical Republicans had an unconstitutional law to back that theory: Vox has nothing but, of course, the Left’s hate campaign against the President of the United States. Then there are Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Mark Pocan (D-WI)  who also think a firing for cause is grounds for impeachment. Gallego:

“We are certainly moving down that path. There is a lot of runway until we get there, but the president is not helping himself by firing the person investigating him. … We don’t have the numbers to do something right now, but when it comes to a point when we feel there is no other recourse, you’d have — I think — we’d have the full support of the Democratic caucus.”

Pocan said that impeachment might be possible “if there was obstruction of justice by firing [the] FBI director … We’re seeing Democrats and Republicans concerned with timing of this decision … We would first need a majority in Congress or some Republican votes … but we need to keep every tool available to make sure the President follows the law.”

Ethics alarm: who elects idiots like these? I have searched for any situation, anywhere, in which a legal and justifiable firing of an official was prosecuted as “obstruction of justice.”  Nor is an act that is neither a crime, nor a “high crime or misdemeanor,” nor something a President isn’t clearly empowered to do “moving down” the path of impeachment.

3. This is public disinformation, aided and abetted by the news media. The primary ethics issue in the Comey firing is that it is just another stage of an unethical, dastardly effort by Democrats, progressives, the left-leaning news media and their allies to veto a Presidential election that they lost by their collective arrogance and incompetence, and to undermine the United States’ elected leader no matter what harm comes to the nation as a result. The firing itself was legal, ethical, and responsible, indeed overdue. Representing it as otherwise is designed to cause fear and confusion among the public. Responsible citizens are obligated to counter this in any way they can. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “In Search Of A Tipping Point: Trump, The Microphone, And Thomas Dewey’s Ghost”

Trump mic

Ed Moser, a sound designer, technical director and all-around theater pro (he produced and designed sound for my recent staging of “Twelve Angry Men”…he’s also a friend), enlightens us with some insider observation relevant to Donald Trump’s recent denigration of a sound tech. It also reveals an unattractive side of an earlier GOP presidential candidate. Here is Ed’s Comment of the Day on the post, In Search Of A Tipping Point: Trump, The Microphone, And Thomas Dewey’s Ghost:

I have a friend who engineered the sound for a large church back when McCain was a candidate. He visited the church for a “town meeting”.

My friend locked all the unused gear away, and for the event distributed only freshly batteried hand held wireless mics for the event with screw on caps on the bottom. Such caps are specifically designed to prevent clumsy performers from accidentally touching the controls on the bottom of the mic– where one could turn the mic off, change the battery, or worst of all, change the frequency. Then color coded the mics with bright spike tape, so that while he was at the sound board he could instantly tell which mic/channel he was dealing with.

The plan was for McCain to give a speech, then take questions from the floor. Runners would carry one of three hand helds to the person with the query, so the question could be heard throughout the house. There was a fourth back up.

If all of this sounds pretty standard for people who know what they’re doing and have done many such events before: well, it is.

That evening, during the event, the question and answer session occurs. The first mic, it develops, is dead. A quick check reveals that ALL FOUR are dead. Irked at having to come the the edge of the stage and get close to an actual person to hear an actual question, or perhaps just trying to infuse humor at an awkward moment, McCain points to the back of the house, right at my friend, and says to the crowd, “Fire that guy!”

He gets a laugh. Except from my friend, of course.

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The Ted Cruz Eligibility Controversy

Cruz birthSenator Ted Cruz was born to an American citizen mother in Canada. The Constitution says that to be eligible to be President, a citizen must be “natural born.” Donald Trump, who also challenged the birth place and eligibility of President Obama, has raised the possibility that the circumstances of Cruz’s birth might be a “problem.” Cruz laughed the issue off saying that it is “settled law” that a citizen born of an American citizen abroad qualifies as “natural born” under the Constitution, following the definition in the British Common Law.

What’s going on here?

Weeeelll…

1. Trump is being a jerk, but as has been the case before, somebody needs to be one, because it is not—exactly—“settled law.” It is way past time that this controversy was settled once and for all. Continue reading

Hail Trump, King Of Signature Significance!

Because Senator Lindsey Graham properly said that Donald Trump needed to stop acting like a jackass and should get out of the Presidential race, Trump gave out the Senator’s cell-phone number.

Of course he did.

I almost wrote a post yesterday about how some right-wing pundits apparently have no concept of right and wrong, crippling them in matters like the Donald Trump campaign. I listened in amazement–I actually had to pull off the road, so as not to crash—as Sean Hannity and another right-wing fool (I didn’t catch his name) went on and on about how if only Trump could avoid “mistakes” and “self-inflicted wounds” what a great candidate he would be, and how impugning the courage of a war hero like John McCain was such bad strategy, because it distracted from his message. These people really understand nothing, not ethics, not common sense, not character, and certainly not signature significance, even though Donald Trump is the living embodiment of the term.

Signature significance, which is used often here, means that a single instance of conduct can be so remarkable that it allows an accurate assessment of the character of the individual engaging in it. It comes from the world of baseball statistical analysis, and the example is a starting pitcher allowing no runs, striking out 15, not walking a batter and giving up less than five hits in a complete game, 9 inning performance. Doing this just once is enough evidence to conclude, decisively and validly, that the pitcher involved is a superior one. Why? The reason is that the history of baseball shows that literally no pitcher who isn’t great can pitch even one game that good.

In ethics, signature significance refers to an act so blatantly wrong and yet intentional that no ethical individual would ever do it, even once, or a statement showing such complete ethics ignorance that it alone justifies withholding trust from anyone who would say it, even once. Ethics dolts like Sean Hannity really think that public figures who have shown beyond all doubt that they don’t know what ethical behavior is will suddenly be able to act ethical if they just try a little harder.  Donald Trump is the perfect example of why that is ridiculous, yet here Hannity was, yesterday, applying that logic to Donald Trump.

Trump is the epitome of signature significance. Again and again he has done and said things that if they were the only thing we had ever heard about the man, it would be sufficient to conclude with near 100% confidence that this guy is 1) untrustworthy and/or 2) dumb as a brick. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Sen. John McCain, and also “WHAT????”

U.S. Senator John McCain gestures as he arrives to address the third session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa

“It was kind of a very rapid process. Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm. I think we probably should have had more discussion about it, given the blowback that there is.”

—- Sen. John McCain (R-Az) to Politico, explaining and making excuses for 47 Republican Senators injecting themselves into sensitive U.S. negotiations with Iran over nuclear weapon development..

1. I am speechless. Luckily, I can type.

Well, sort of.

2. The silver lining: at least the Senator just made those regretting President Obama’s election in 2008 feel better. We were spared embarrassing moments like that of President McCain, asked why he sent missiles to destroy Toronto, explaining, “Yeah, I was watching “Family Feud,” had to run to the can, and was distracted. Hey, it happens.” Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Sen. John McCain

waterboard1

While other Republicans are attacking the Senate report on torture as a political hit piece by Democrats—which, in part, it is, but that doesn’t diminish its significance—the one Senator who has experienced torture is supporting the report’s conclusions and criticism, saying…

I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good. Most of all, I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguished us from our enemies.”

Exactly.

My position on this topic is unchanged from what I wrote in 2006, which you can read here.

Sen. John McCain And Critics of “The Handshake”: The Pain Of Obama Derangement Syndrome

The Horror.

The Horror.

There are many, too many,  aspects of President Obama’s conduct of his office that deserve to be singled out for legitimate criticism. Shaking hands with Raul Castro at a non-political gathering of world leaders is not one of them. It’s not even close.

The fury with which Republican and conservatives large and small, prominent among them Sen. John McCain, have attacked the President for this obligatory, unremarkable and  essentially meaningless nod to civility shows that they are in full fever with Obama Derangement Syndrome, a crippling malady with antecedents in the Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and Bush 43 administration. Rapid psychiatric intervention is called for. In this instance, President Obama is blameless. He did what any responsible President would do, and what many before him have done. Continue reading