“What Senator Schumer was saying was that he was upset. He was alarmed, he was concerned at the prospect that justices would reverse decades of a well-established fundamental constitutional right in our country. What he did not say was let’s go attack them.”
—–Sen. Chris Coons on Fox News, explaining why Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s direct threat to Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh that they “have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions” was not a call for violence, while President Trump’s address to supporters on 1/6/2020 was inciting an “insurrection.”
Yes, I’ve decided to establish a separate sub-category of Unethical Quotes of the Month until the despicable January 6 Committee blight on ethics and democracy has run its course. Virtually every utterance by a member of that committee is a lie, a veiled partisan attack, or a pretense of legitimate Congressional process in the midst of a disgraceful show trial. The contemptible Rep. Adam Schiff, just as he did (falsely) regarding the Mueller investigation, has promised that he has seen “conclusive” and damning evidence without ever producing it. Liz Cheney is unethical almost every time she opens her mouth, and even when she doesn’t open her mouth: for example, the committee has subpoenaed Bill Stepien, a former Trump campaign manager, who is currently advising Cheney’s opponent, Harriet Hageman, for the Wyoming primary in August. As George Costanza would say, “Worlds are colliding!” Cheney has a direct interest in undermining a political opponent, and that conflicts with her duty to serve on the committee objectively and…oh, what am I saying? The whole J6 effort is a obvious partisan effort to smear Republicans in general and Terrifying Trump in particular. Never mind.
It’s Murphy’s Law: This had to happen so soon after I wrote (somewhere around here) this week about how I felt those who spoke extemporaneously should be given the benefit of doubt when they say something stupid, offensive, or inflammatory. It does not apply in this case, however.
Senator Schumer (D-NY) was attacking Republicans in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, as is his wont, on the upcoming battle over Joe Biden’s affirmative action SCOTUS nominee who hasn’t even been chosen yet. Chuck pointed out that the Court had only white male justices until 1981. “Until 1981, this powerful body, the Supreme Court, was all white men. Imagine. America wasn’t all white men in 1981, or ever,” Schumer said. “Under President Biden and this Senate majority, we’re taking historic steps to make the courts look more like the country they serve by confirming highly qualified, diverse nominees.”
Wow, over two hundred years without a black Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. That is outrageous. Weird too, because I have this funny memory about a black guy being on the old Warren Court before I got out of high school. The mind plays funny tricks! Continue reading →
To remind regular readers who may have forgotten, and newer readers who have not taken the time to review the list of Concepts and Special Terms (Shame! SHAME!!!), ethics train wrecks are “chains of unethical conduct created by a central unethical action. As the event becomes more complex and involves more participants, it becomes increasingly difficult to sort out right from wrong, and all parties who become involved with the episode in any way are at risk of engaging in unethical conduct themselves, intentionally or inadvertently.”
In no particular order:
It’s not called The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ethics Train Wreck for nothing. The individual responsible for this ethics train wreck is, aptly enough, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was irresponsible for her to stay on the court well past her shelf date, as it is irresponsible for any judge to deny the unavoidable effects of age on their acumen and ability. This would have been true if she were completely healthy, but the Justice had cancer, and that also had to sap her energy.
This was arrogance, and any harm to the nation that comes from her refusal to retire ten years ago is part of her legacy.
Everyone is a hypocrite. If Mitch McConnell is a hypocrite for treating the SCOTUS nomination by a sitting Republican President differently from his treatment of a Democratic President’s nomination under similar circumstances, so are Democrats for insisting that he should again do what they claimed was unconscionable in 2016, because this time they think it will benefit them.
Althouse points out: “The strongest argument for Trump to go right ahead and immediately nominate someone is that President Obama made a nomination in the election year of 2016 when Antonin Scalia died. Obama’s nominee was not confirmed, but that was because the GOP controlled the Senate. There was nothing about Obama’s lack of support in the Senate that made him more willing to put forward a nomination in an election year. He made the nomination in spite of the lack of support. Why should Trump refrain when he has Senate support?”
Oh, you know: Because he’s different, and what other Presidents do or did is automatically outrageous when he does the same thing. Continue reading →
I’m working on Part III of the Wuhan virus ethics series, so I’m going to try to keep related matters to a minimum here. A couple links you can check out to relieve me of the necessity of commenting on them: Here’s Ann Althousewriting about her “social distancing” without, apparently, any awareness that the average American is not retired, financially well off, with a spouse, with grown children, who are happy blogging and reading all day. And here’s Ruth Marcus, long one of the more blatantly biased (and dim) members of the Washington Post’s editorial board, authoring an op ed with the head exploding headline, “Why Joe Biden is the antidote to this virus.” I intend to keep this utter crap on file for the next time someone argues that degrees from elite institutions are evidence of intellectual ability. Marcus has a Yale and Harvard Law degree.
1. Rich people have a right to their wealth; it’s a shame, though, that their riches can’t buy IQ points, or the wisdom to know when to shut up. Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve , told the New York Times,
“It’s not right for individuals to accumulate a massive amount of wealth that’s equivalent to millions and millions of other people combined. There’s nothing fair about that. We saw that at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries with the Rockefellers and Carnegies and Mellons and Fords of the world. That kind of accumulation of wealth is dangerous for a society. It shouldn’t be this way….I inherited my wealth from my husband, who didn’t care about the accumulation of wealth. I am doing this in honor of his work, and I’ve dedicated my life to doing the very best I can to distribute it effectively, in ways that lift up individuals and communities in a sustainable way. I’m not interested in legacy wealth building, and my children know that. Steve wasn’t interested in that. If I live long enough, it ends with me.”
What a stupid, ethics-challenged, smug and selfish person. The tell is offering the non-argument that people being able to make as much money as they can and want isn’t “fair” and that it “shouldn’t be that way.” How articulate and persuasive! Continue reading →
“I want to tell you [Justice] Kavanaugh, I want to tell you [Justice] Gorsuch: You have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price.You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions!”
—–Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, sounding like Sonny Corleone, in front of the Supreme Court.
How many ways was this demagoguery wrong, as in spectacularly unethical? Let’s see:
Schumer threatened Supreme Court justices, by name. What does “pay the price” mean, if not, “Just you wait, you’re gonna regret this!”
There is no possible justification for such ominous rhetoric
It is an attempt at intimidation as well as encouragement to others to follow through on Schumer’s threat. This prompted Chief Justice Roberts into a making an unprecedented protest, as he wrote, “Statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”
Even addled Larry Tribe, the former Harvard Law School icon turned mad anti-Trump tweeter and conspiracy-monger, called Schumer’s outburst intolerable, tweeting,
These remarks by @SenSchumer were inexcusable. Chief Justice Roberts was right to call him on his comments. I hope the Senator, whom I’ve long admired and consider a friend, apologizes and takes back his implicit threat. It’s beneath him and his office.
Last evening, I posted an Unethical Quote allegedly made by Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer that “Donald Trump’s impeachment acquittal will be meaningless because we never accepted the results of the 2016 election in the first place. Anyone who accepts an acquittal is a danger to our democracy.” I originally titled it the Unethical Quote of the Day, and later, as I read it again while responding to the predictable shocked comments, I upgraded the comment to Unethical Quote of the Century, a designation I was prepared to defend.
This morning, momentarily awake and planning to go back to sleep, I decided to check the Ethics Alarms comments, and saw this, from frequent commenter Here’s Johnny.
Re: Unethical quote: I would think that, for the unethical quote of the century, I would be able to find a few references to it in the news media. My best Google search efforts have turned up reports from Ethics Alarms and The Sacramento Brie. The Brie does not appear to be a legitimate news site, and their reference to this quote appears to show a Fox News screen grab. Searching at Fox News did not turn up the quote. The quote does not appear in the Senate Democrats text of Schumer’s comments at the press conference where he supposedly made the comment. So, what is going on here? Is there evidence that Schumer actually said what is in the quote? I could not find it.
This was disturbing. The post had no link, which is unusual, and I couldn’t tracj down where I got it from, though I believe the pointer came from a Trump Deranged friend on Facebook who quoted it approvingly. I’ve checked my browser history to no avail. After reading HJ’s comment, I listened to every YouTube clip I could find from Schumer yesterday. He made a number of disingenuous and hyperbolic statements about a trial with no witnesses not being a trial (The Clinton impeachment had no witnesses, and Democrats seemed to be happy with that), but nothing as outrageous as the alleged quote I posted.
Like Johnny, I cannot believe that if Schumer said something that irresponsible, it wouldn’t have been widely reported. Thus I am suspending the post pending verification, and as of this moment, assume that it was false. I also deleted the tweet that the blog generates for every post. I will continue to look for the quote and the source, and to identify exactly how this happened.
To some extent I know the latter: the news media and other Democrats have been foaming at the mouth for days, and many of the quotes are no less head-exploding than Schumer’s, except that they were not made by the leader of the party in the Senate. Assuming that there was no such Schumer quote, I was bitten by fake news that triggered confirmation bias. I have written for years that the Democrats/”resistance”/ mainstream media alliance have denied the legitimacy of President Trump’s election, and that conclusion is objectively unavoidable. Though I was stunned to see Schumer say so out loud, it was not as if what the quote indicated was out of line with reality. The second part, about “the danger to democracy,” echoed many of the irresponsible statements made by Rep. Schiff and others during the House impeachment managers’ presentation, and similar rhetoric by pundits and other Democrats. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), for example, tweeted yesterday,
“The Senate’s abdication of responsibility to the rule of law represents a much deeper threat to our democracy, our institutions, and our republic. The GOP knows that its agenda is incompatible with democracy, so their larger project is to dismantle it.”
That statement is as inflammatory and absurd as the alleged Schumer tweet, but not as shocking because OAC is, after all, an idiot. Schumer, however, is not.
I cannot apologize sufficiently for this. My attention has been even more divided than usual this past week—that’s not an excuse, but a partial explanation—and I’ve been bouncing around two computers and two many news sources to count, and, apparently, keep proper track of. I should never post a story or commentary with out verified links to the source, and, frankly, I don’t know why I didn’t this time.
Facebook is unreliable; I know that. There were plenty of aspects of the quote that should have set off my own ethics alarms, but I let my emotions take over: the quote really infuriated me, because as I suggested by noting the Schumer was “playing with fire,” that kind of rhetoric—and there has been a lot of it— rips at the connective tissue that holds this republic together. However, publishing unverified inflammatory rhetoric is just as wrong as saying such things.
Readers here have to be able to trust me; an ethics blog without trust is like a—oh, you can make up your own metaphor, I’m too upset to be clever—and this time I failed their, your, trust by not following my own procedures, and apparently being fooled because I didn’t heed my most important rule, to avoid bias making me stupid. I apologize to everyone reading this, everyone who passed along what appears to be Ethics Alarms fake news, and everyone who might have been misled by the fact that the invalid quote was passed along. I apologize to the commenters whose reactions are vanishing with the essay: I’m so sorry. I wasted your time. I also apologize to Senator Schumer.
I am going to have to do better, and I will.
I could say that I hope I can find that the quote was accurate after all, but I don’t. I am relieved that it appears to have been fabricated. I felt, when I read it, and foolishly believed it, that this was a tipping point, and a dangerous one.
Now, before I go back to bed and dream of self-flagellation, I am going to add the portion of the banned post that I know was accurate, because it had value. Indeed, another reason I accepted the quote impulsively, I think, is that it gave me a pwoerful lead-in to content I had already written. That will teach me.
Here’s the remaining section of the now zapped post, and one more time, I am so sorry: Continue reading →
I heard this song yesterday for the first time in many years, and immediately wondered how many people my son’s age (he’s 24) or even older would know what “Spanky and Our Gang” referred to. Then I made the mistake of briefly watching HGTV’s “A Very Brady Renovation” and saw to my horror that all the “Brady Bunch” kids are senior citizens. “Who’s that old lady? OHMYGOD It’s JAN!!!!”
1. Well, it was nice while it lasted...Traffic here increased by about 30% over three days last week after Facebook slipped up and allowed a link to one Ethics Alarms—it violates Facebook community standards, don’t you know— post to be circulated on among users.
2. Here’s a poll on the previous post, about a controversial joke related to the Texas governor’s disability that was made by a female judge. Governor Abbott has been in a wheelchair ever since he was struck by a falling tree almost 40 years ago. Noting that Texas Republicans have opposed proposed environment-minded legislation, “even local tree ordinances,” the judge quipped to her partisan Democratic crowd, “Governor Abbott hates trees because one fell on him.”
While we’re on the subject of polls, the Ethics Alarms readers were strongly opposed to the course of action discussed here, here, and here, with about 88% holding that a Swedish man should not have allowed a doctor to euthanize his sister despite her past consent to the procedure, because she was resisting.
It was exactly 12:45 pm when I was informed by NPR that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer had issued a joint statement claiming the Attorney General Barr’s four page summary of the report released today had misled Congress. The report had been released at 11:00 am, and was over 400 pages long, as well as extremely dense, full of detailed legal arguments that even lawyers…like me…would have to read slowly and maybe more than once. What are the chances that Chuck and Nancy had read the report by 12:45? I think “none” is a fair answer. It’s highly unlikely that any of their staff had read the report by them either. The accusation against Barr was a lie.
See that graphic above? That’s the dishonest fundraiser Democrats sent out almost immediately to inspire indignation from Democrats who haven’t read the report. If there are any ethical Democrats whose reaction to this isn’t “How dare my party treat me like I’m an idiot and give me false and misleading information and analysis to separate me from my money?” I’d like to hear from them. Maybe there just aren’t any ethical Democrats at all. At this point, I’m willing to entertain that possibility.
By the way, I’m about 40% through the report, though not in sequence. It is thorough, professional and appears to be fair. Continue reading →
It is disgraceful, embarrassing, and dangerous, and only two or three steps away from Charles Sumner being physically attacked by Preston Brooks on the Senate floor.
It emerged during the proceedings that Senate Democrats planned to disrupt the orderly process of the hearings as a strategy. Nice. I guess that’s their replacement for the filibuster. I think I prefer the device used by Lilly Tomlin’s character in the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie”: when she can’t rebut an argument, she starts singing “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” as loud as she can, so nobody else can talk.
“The hearing began with protesters breaking in, and continued with serial efforts by Democratic Senators to postpone the hearing. To the credit of committed chair Chuck Grassley, he bulled on through. As he did so, the Democratic side degenerated into a contest regarding which putative candidate for the Democratic 2020 nomination could pander to the base more. Here is how the day began:
GRASSLEY: “Good morning. I welcome everyone to this confirmation hearing on the nomination of —“ HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman.” GRASSLEY: “— Brett Kavanaugh –” HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman.” GRASSLEY: “— to serve as associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.” HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized for a question before we proceed. Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized to ask a question before we proceed. The committee received just last night less than 15 hours ago —“ HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman, regular order.” HARRIS: “— 42.000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to review or read or analyze.” GRASSLEY: “You are out of order. I will proceed.” HARRIS: “We cannot possibly move forward, Mr. Chairman. We have not been given the opportunity to have a meaningful hearing with Congress nominee–“[cross-talk] GRASSLEY: “I extend a very warm welcome to Judge Kavanaugh, to his wife Ashley, their two daughters –[cross-talk] UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, I agree with my colleague, senator Harris. Mr. Chairman, we received 42.000 documents tat we haven’t been able to review —” GRASSLEY: “— And everyone else joining us today.” UNKNOWN: ” and we believe this hearing should be postponed —” GRASSLEY: “I know this is an exciting day for all of you here and your you’re rightly proud —” UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized I move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn.” GRASSLEY: “— From Judge Kavanaugh —” UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, we have been denied real access to the documents we need to advise —” (Audience cheering) BLUMENTHAL: “Mr. Chairman, we have been denied the real access to the documents we need —[cross-talk] which turns this hearing into a charade and a mockery of our norms and, Mr. Chairman, I therefore move to adjourn this hearing.” AUDIENCE: “This is a mockery. This is a travesty of justice. Cancel Brett Kavanaugh, adjourn the hearing. [ indecipherable].” BLUMENTHAL: “Mr. Chairman, I ask for a roll call vote on my motion to adjourn.” AUDIENCE MEMBER: “‘[indecipherable]'” GRASSLEY: “Okay.” BLUMENTHAL: “Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. I ask for a roll call vote.” GRASSLEY: “We are not in executive session. We will continue as planned.”
A recurring theme was the disingenuous complaint that Democrats, who have received over 400,ooo pages of materials relating to Trump’s nomination to fill Justice Kennedy’s seat on the Court, as well as all of his judicial opinions which are what really matter, did not have time to read the most recently released batch of about 40, 000 pages. Everyone knows that what is in those documents doesn’t matter one bit, because the entire group of Democratic Senators have already made it clear that they are going to vote against Kavanaugh as a bloc. They are going to do it to express their outrage over Merrick Garland; they are going to do it to pander to the resistance narrative that Trump is an “illegitimate” President, they are going to do it because the party increasingly seeks to demonize conservatives, they are going to do it because they are afraid of their base. Oh, there are lots of reasons. All of the Democratic Senators, maybe most, don’t seriously believe their party’s own scare-mongering that Kavanaugh will lead the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade, but there is the rapidly pro-abortion—not just pro-abortion rights but pro-abortion—feminist segment of the base to pander to as well.
Essentially, we are watching an entire political party embrace mob-style interference as an alternative to process, because they don’t like what the likely results of the established process will be. Of course this is dangerous to the nation and the Constitution. It is also a tantrum, just like the party’s reaction to President Trump’s election itself.
It was predictable that if the funeral of a Senator was exploited as an opportunity to attack the President, the hearings on his Supreme Court nominee would certainly be. (I am not finished looking, but so far I can find no comparable direct attacks on Barack Obama during the hearings on his two nominees.) Here, for example, is the reliable demagogue Dick Durbin (D-Ill), doing his best Keith Olbermann imitation:
“You are the nominee of President Donald John Trump. This is a president who’s shown us consistently he’s contemptuous of the rule of law. He’s said and done things as president which we’ve never seen before in history. He dismissed the head of the FBI when he wouldn’t bend to his will. He harasses his attorney general on almost a daily basis in the exercise of his office, and I didn’t vote for Jeff Sessions, but I have to tell you there should be some respect at least for the office he serves in. And it’s that president who’s decided you are his man. You’re the person he wants on the Supreme Court. You are his personal choice. So are people nervous about this? Are they concerned about it? Of course they are.”
As in the hypocritical remarks by the McCain mourners. Durbin is hilariously self-indicting. Durbin’s party has been contemptuous of the rule of law in areas where the President has been committed to enforce it, as with illegal immigration. Durbin and his party have undertaken direct assaults on the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments. The way Democrats are conducting themselves in this very hearing has never been seen before in history. Continue reading →
1. So, so predictable. Yesterday was fun: I assumed that the post about the undeniable pettiness, incivility and hypocrisy at Senator McCain’s funeral service in D.C. would prompt multiple exclamations of “But…but…Trump deserves it!”, “He’s worse!” and “What about what Trump does?” I was not disappointed. Each one of these desperate efforts to avoid facing the issue discussed and admit reality is signature significance for having crippling flaws in one’s ethics analysis abilities, gaping holes in one’s basic understanding of right and wrong, and a victim of stupidity-inducing bias. Nothing in the post excused or referenced the President’s own conduct in any way.
2. Baseball ethics. No, it is not unethical for pitchers to carry crib sheets. During the top of the eighth inning in Saturday night’s Phillies game against the Cubs in Philadelphia, third base umpire Joe West noticed the Phillies pitcher looking at a card he had pulled from his pocket, and confiscated it. The card contained scouting reports on how to pitch a Cubs batter. The advanced analytics baseball teams now use to devise how to position fielders and pitch to batters are too detailed for the typical player to commit to memory. Lots of them carry little cheat sheets, sometimes in their hats. Although lots of old school players and tradition-loving fans hate the development, it’s here, and there are no rules against it.
Never mind: Joe West, who is one of the more arrogant and autocratic umpires, felt that the piece of paper constituted a “foreign substance” under the rules, and thus surmised that it was prohibited by the provision designed to stop pitchers from making the ball do tricks by surreptitiously applying K-Y Jelly or slippery elm. Yup, ol’ Joe thought the pitcher, Austin Davis, was going to use the card to doctor the baseball. Good thinking, Joe! MLB quickly set him straight the next day, announcing that West, as he often is, for he is an awful umpire, was mistaken.
The fact that West couldn’t figure that out himself, and that he is the longest tenured MLB ump, tells you why we will have robo-umps calling strikes within five years or less.
3. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Today’s nauseating example of mainstream media’s refusal to report and comment on the news objectively comes from the New York Times—Surprise!—which writes sympathetically about the Democratic Party’s dilemma as it tried to derail the Supreme Court nomination of Bret Kavanaugh. There’s no filibuster any more! Multiple Democrats tell the Times how unfair this is. Guess whose name is completely absent from the article? Why, former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who resorted to the so-called nuclear option to pass Barack Obama’s judicial nominations over Republican opposition. “They are making a mockery of the process, and that is because the No. 1 goal …. is to stack the bench with ideologues, because they know they cannot achieve their goals through the elected branches,” said the Republican leadership at the…no, wait, that quote is from Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the current Democratic leader. He doesn’t mention that his predecessor is the reason the system is “broken.” At least the Times, in one brief sentence , acknowledge that “Democrats” eliminated the filibuster for federal judges below SCOTUS level. They do not make it clear that this shattered a long-standing Senate tradition, and that it made the GOP follow-up of killing the device for Supreme Court nominations both politically feasible and inevitable.
The Times also does not remind readers that its editorial board applauded Reid’s move at the time. Continue reading →