Afternoon Ethics Breather, 12/11/2020: Train Wreck Free Zone, Because I Need A Break

Dog-vacation

1. Sorry, but there was and is no excuse.. The New Yorker reports that Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is in serious cognitive decline:

[M]any others familiar with Feinstein’s situation describe her as seriously struggling, and say it has been evident for several years. Speaking on background, and with respect for her accomplished career, they say her short-term memory has grown so poor that she often forgets she has been briefed on a topic, accusing her staff of failing to do so just after they have. They describe Feinstein as forgetting what she has said and getting upset when she can’t keep up. One aide to another senator described what he called a “Kabuki” meeting in which Feinstein’s staff tried to steer her through a proposed piece of legislation that she protested was “just words” which “make no sense.” Feinstein’s staff has said that sometimes she seems herself, and other times unreachable. “The staff is in such a bad position,” a former Senate aide who still has business in Congress said. “They have to defend her and make her seem normal.”

Well gee, what a surprise. Ethics Alarms criticized the Senator for having the hubris and not showing proper responsible conduct in 2018, when she ran for re-election and another 6 year term at the age of 85. That was ridiculous, and it was foolish for her constituents to vote for her. Now they are stuck with a Senator who can’t do the job, and it is their fault, plus that of the Democratic Party and Feinstein herself. They all deserve what they get.

Particularly nauseating in the New Yorker story is this section:

“Some former Feinstein aides insist that rumors of her cognitive decline have been exaggerated, and that video clips taken out of context can make almost anyone look foolish. They also bridle at singling out her condition, because declining male senators, including Strom Thurmond, of South Carolina, and Robert Byrd, of West Virginia, were widely known by the end of their careers to be non-compos mentis. “For his last ten years, Strom Thurmond didn’t know if he was on foot or on horseback,” one former Senate aide told me.”

Is this the quality of thought on Capitol Hill? A single idiot making such an argument is too many: “Hey, don’t criticize us for having walking vegetables weilding the power of U.S. Senators:we should be able to do it becaise Republicans did it!”

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“Systemic,” A Four Part Ethics Alarms Depression, Part 4: Systemic Patriarchy And Hypocrisy

feinstein Schumer

As the election draws nigh, I am thoroughly sick of writing, “If the Democrats had any integrity, they would…” and I’m sure you, faithful ethics fan, are sick of reading it. Quite obviously the current Democratic party cares no more about integrity than they do about process, the Constitution, civility, or trying to avoid dividing Americans.

But I admit, as an ethicist, the flagrant hypocrisy I have seen virtually every day since the Democrats decided that destroying a President was more important than preserving American democracy is depressing, and often frightening. Yesterday, Joe Biden raised the specter of Joseph Goebbels in reference to President Trump, when it is his party—and he—who have used the Goebbels’ Big Lie tactic repeatedly, as Ethics Alarms has documented extensively. The fact that Biden is his Party’s nominee is as gross an example of hypocrisy as ever witnessed in American political history: the same party that spent two years insisting that sexual assault and sexual harassment disqualified prominent men for positions of power in all fields, and that women had a right to be believed when they accused men of abusing them, chose a man whose habit of sexual harassment is decades long and a matter of photographic record.

Last week, it again was the feminist base of the Democratic Party that was abused, but never mind: clearly these women have no more integrity or ethical principles than the men they pimp for. They are in the right party, obviously—they one that postures without meaning what it says.

At the conclusion of the Amy Coney Barrett Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings, ranking Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, foolishly believing that statesmanship, comity and collegiality were still values the Senate was supposed to embody, commended Committee Chairman Lindsay Graham for his leadership and said it was “one of the best” hearings she’d ever been a part of. She then hugged him.

Yet yesterday, as if that was all a mirage, there was Feinstein standing submissively behind Chuck Schumer on the steps of the Supreme Court, as the Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that his fellow Democratic Senators  had boycotted the committee vote because it was an “awful, awful hearing.” Schumer had, we were told, had a little talk with the oldest Senator in the body, apparently warning her to expect a horsehead in the bed if she didn’t meekly toe the party line, even though she thought she was doing that. Remember “when they go low, we go high?” Remember all of Feinstein’s party’s blathering about Democratic norms? Restoring bi-partisanship in Congress?

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Weekend Ethics Update, 10/18/20: As The Election Nears…Seeking Contrast And Perspective

  1. Ethics movie alert. Its heart is true blue—this is an Aaron Sorkin film, after all—but “The Trial of the Chicago Seven,” now on Netflix, is excellent, as well as must-watching for the astounding number of Americans under 40—50? 60?—who know almost nothing about the previous period of liberal arrogance, political incompetence and institutional failure, the late Sixties. The cast is excellent and star-studded; whoever came up with the idea of casting Sasha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman should win a casting Oscar, for example. For me, the movie brought back memories sharp and grim: what a shitstorm that trial was. Frank Langella, whom I just watched in his remarkable performance as Richard Nixon more more than a decade ago in “Frost/Nixon,” is a memorable if unsympathetic Judge Julian Hoffman. Hoffman, I think, deserves better: like Judge Ito, Hoffman never had a chance to avoid judicial infamy once that trial became a circus, and that bwas something no judge on Earth could have stopped.

Then there is the frightening reality that the Chicago Seven (and Bobby Seale made Eight), who seemed like fringe-y, juvenile extremists at the time, look moderate and reasonable in comparison to today’s antifa, Black Lives Matter followers, and…dare I say it? … a nearly critical mass of Democrats.

2. Speaking of which…Senator Diane Feinstein is under attack from that nearly critical mass for indulging in traditional professional civility and bi-partisan responsibility by not pushing the recently completed hearings on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett nomination to turn into a hyper-partisan fiasco, like the Kavanaugh hearings. She even praised her Republican counterpart, Senator Graham, for doing a good job (it wasn’t that good a job) in chairing the hearings, unlike, to just pick an example out of the murky past, the job Senator Joe Biden did during the infamous Clarence Thomas hearings. Feinstein is nearly 90, and should not be in the Senate at that age just as the unjustly sainted Justice Ginsburg should not have been on the Supreme Court long enough to die in office. Nonetheless, she is trying to hold the line against forces in her own party that would make peaceful and functioning Democracy impossible.

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Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/26/2020: Having Flashbacks To When Saturdays Were Fun

That’s the late, great, Vito Scotti as “Pasta.” He played Italians in drama, comedies, stage plays, movies and TV shows, but he also played Mexicans and other ethicities  when required.  Was he in “The Godfather”? Of course he was. “Columbo”? Sure. Did he drop in on “Gilligan’s Island,” “I Love Lucy,” and “The Addams Family.” Absolutely. He was on “Batman” twice as one of The Penguin’s henchmen.

And he really was a professional caliber chef. “Andy’s Gang,” meanwhile, was completely chaotic, just as kids like it. No educational value, no political indoctrination, just lots of running jokes and nonsense.

Sublime.

I had a rubber “Froggie the Gremlin” bath toy. “Twang your magic twanger” was a catch phrase for years after “Andy’s Gang” went of the air.

1. Professional incompetence. One almost certain casualty of the lock-down will be live theater, in part because the people who run it, on average, just aren’t very smart. I have been reading about how New York theaters are or will be streaming plays. Morons.

Theater that isn’t shown in a  theater with people sharing the experience isn’t theater, it’s crude TV. The problem has always been to get people into a  theater to experience what is so dynamic and unique about a live performance. If the theater community promotes video versions of theatrical performances as a viable substitute, and that’s exactly what it’s doing, they have surrendered.

Well, at least we’ve probably seen the end of $500 Broadway tickets.

2. Maybe they’ll appreciate Citizens United now. Showtime is featuring an anti-Trump screed disguised as a movie called “The Comey Rule.” I wonder if those who, like all the Democratic candidates for President during the primaries that played to the crowd by promising to get the Citizens United case reversed (as if they could), understand its significance. They condemned the SCOTUS ruling upholding the First Amendment, and  Showtime’s bit of campaign agitprop is exactly what the overturned campaign contribution law would have allowed the government to ban.

Since the film at the center of the original case, however, was a conservative attack on Hilary Clinton, Democrats were (are?) all for censorship. Continue reading

Religious Bigotry Ethics: Kamala Harris’s Attack On The Knights Of Columbus

Sounds like monsters to me!

Here is another embarrassing story the mainstream media is shrugging off, presumably because it exposes one more ugly side of the preferred (by many in the media) candidate for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination, California Senator Kamala Harris. In truth, journalists do Democrats no favors when they cover for them like this: it makes the Democrats being shielded careless, it makes them reckless, it makes them stupid and unable to disguise their extremism and  ruthlessness.

Yes, it makes them into Hillary Clinton.

In recent judicial nominee hearings, Harris teamed up with Sen. Mazie Hirono–she’s the Certified Silly Person who said that Democrats have a hard time connecting with voters because Democrats are too “smart” and “know so much,” you know, like Mazie—but she couldn’t be elected dog-catcher outside of Hawaii, so I’m not going to bother using this episode to further prove what is already proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Yes, she is an idiot. Harris, however, is supposed to be brilliant, plus she’s a lawyer, she’s black, and she’s woke.

Before Christmas, Harris, along with Hirono, attacked judicial nominee Brian Buesche for belonging to the Knights of Columbus, the venerable Catholic social and charitable organization founded in 1882. Senator Harris  demanded that Bunche, seeking confirmation for  a U.S. district court judgeship, end his membership in that organization and recuse himself from cases in which it has taken a position. In other words, being Catholic disqualifies individuals for federal judgeships. Strange, I thought we put this bigotry to bed when Jack Kennedy made a campaign speech promising that he wouldn’t take orders from the Pope.

The Knights, say the two Senators (but let’s concentrate on the Woman Who Would Be President, Harris), assert that the Knights have taken “extreme positions,” meaning that they follow the Catholic Church’s doctrinal opposition to abortion and gay marriage. I don’t see how anyone can interpret the Senators’ position as anything but anti-religion bigotry.  Writes Ramesh Ponnuru,

Support for the traditional definition of marriage is not an extreme position; it is held by roughly a third of all Americans. It was certainly not an “extreme position” at the time of Proposition 8: The initiative won 52 percent of the vote in one of the most liberal states in the country, the same day that state voted overwhelmingly to make Barack Obama president…If Harris and Hirono want to maintain that all judicial nominees must support abortion, beyond just saying that they will respect existing law, then they should just say that there are scores of millions of Christians they would never allow on the federal bench on account of their beliefs.

In 2017, Senator Diane Feinstein hinted of rising Democratic anti-religious hostility, or perhaps more transparent hostility, when she seemed to look askance at Judge Amy Coney Barrett membership in the Catholic Church, observing darkly, “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s a concern.” Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/6/18: As “The Bad Guys” Throw A Tantrum Because Their Plot Blew Up In Their Smug Faces

Good Morning!

Wish I was there!

In this post, and later this one, I directly stated that the Left, “the resistance,” progressives, Democrats, had increasingly embraced objectively wrongful conduct and unethical means and objectives as routine, and that the Kavanaugh confirmation fiasco proved it. The commenter here who goes by the handle of “Chrissy Boy” accused me of being openly partisan, which is demonstrably false: I would write exactly the same thing about the Republican Party if it were trying to eliminate due process, the presumption of innocence, fairness, decency, respect for elections, respect for dissent, a competent and objective press, and the integrity of national institutions. But you see, the current strategy of the Left is to make it crushingly clear that you are either with them, or “the other.” They certainly don’t like being “othered” themselves, but when you set out to topple an elected government and a Constitution, that’s what you deserve. In one of its Sunday Reviews—they all run together, since it it is really “The Resistance This Week” under a deceptively neutral name—the New York Times led with an essay in which the writer wrote that the term “resistance” was unfair and untrue, since they were trying to “create a new nation” and the Trump administration was resisting the inevitable. That new nation, the last few weeks proved, would reject the values I just listed.

This is why, though I have a backlog of ethics issues on a variety of topics, as well as some excellent Comments of the Day that require posting, I have to use the limited time I have right now to chronicle the carnage of the Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck, which, it appears though I am afraid to hope, includes dramatically reduced public support for the “resistance,” the news media, and the Democratic Party. President Trump’s approval ratings (whatever they mean) are way up. Approval of the Democratic Party is crashing, and with it the likelihood of a “blue wave” that might allow the Democrats to execute that coup they’ve been attempting. I have been counting on the historical, cultural reality that in the United States of America, we don’t like Bad Guys, and don’t want to support them. I am still hoping that this prompts the Left to have its Michael Douglas epiphany, and start being the Good Guys again. So far, however, the signs are not good.

Ann Althouse flagged this tantrum from Matt Yglesies at Vox  yesterday (several self-exiled Ethics Alarms progressives insisted Vox was an objective commentary site–suuuuure), neatly summing up:

When the Supreme Court gives lefties outcomes lefties like, they want conservatives to stand down and accept that the Court is doing proper, even brilliant, legal work.

Yes, this is a quality of Bad Guys: they have no integrity. Remember that same sex marriage decision that the evil old reloigious right claimed was “illegitimate” because it opposed “God’s law”?

1. It’s Hate Senator Collins Day! I’m not a Susan Collins fan, as I have always found her annoyingly wishy-washy, equivocal, pandering and a poor role model for women in power whose manner and speaking style illustrates why it is that more women aren’t in positions of power. However, she gave a ringing speech yesterday explaining why she would be voting for Kavanaugh’s confirmation, verbally nailing the coffin shut that contained the Democratic schemes to defeat him. My Facebook ffed is filled with people writing that she is a coward, a traitor (to her gender! to #MeToo!), an idiot. Althouse also flagged this comment (with over 1000 “likes”) to the Times piece, “Collins and Manchin Will Vote for Kavanaugh, Ensuring His Confirmation”:
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Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up: The Bad Guys, Continued.

“Good morning,”

…he said through grimly clenched teeth…

1 My pledge. That’s it. I’ve had it. Every single time I read or hear a reference to how women accusing men of sexual assault or harassment have a “right to be believed,” and anytime I read or hear someone quoting such a reference with approval, I’m going to point out in the strongest possible terms how sinister, unethical, and certifiably stupid this is. If you want to believe Dr. Ford’s dredged up memories of a party—somewhere—where she was jumped and groped by two drunk teens, go ahead. You do have a right to believe anything, including in the Hindu elephant god,  the brilliance of Sean Hannity, and the virtue of Bill Clinton: I don’t care. Be gullible. Asserting that women have some special chromosome-based right to be judged 100% reliable when they make damning and destructive accusations against men violates all standards of logic, ethics, equal protection, fairness , justice and common sense, and threatens tangible harm to innocent citizens and society. It needs to be condemned, and those making it must be condemned until this insidious, ideologically-spawned Big Lie is killed, squashed, burned and vaporized for all time.

For some reason, the tipping point for me was not the nauseating conduct of the Democratic Senators yesterday, which included a dramatic multi-NO! from perhaps the worst of them—well, after Diane Feinstein—Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, the one who told Jake Tapper that the very fact of being a conservative is sufficient to disqualify Brett Kananaugh from any presumption of innocence. Stalin reasoned like that. That Hawaii would elect such an un-American, totalitarian-minded fool—she is more ignorant than evil, I think, but I could be wrong—to represent the state is enough to make me resolve to vacation elsewhere when the tropical breezes beckon. What a disgrace she is, and any voters who would allow someone like that to have access to power.  But no, what made me snapo was a small note in today’s paper about how Rep. Leonard Nance’s race to be re-elected to his New Jersey Congressional seat was seen as threatened because he “seemed to cast doubt on Ms Blasey’s allegations” in remarks to a group of college Republicans.

What the hell? Her allegations are over three decades old, she never spoke of them until a SCOTUS nominee she opposed was about to be confirmed, she has no corroboration or evidence whatsoever, and the man she accused uncategorically denies her story under oath. There is nothing but doubt in this controversy. If you don’t see doubt, then you are a bigot, a hopelessly close-minded ideologue, or incapable of rational thought. Continue reading

KABOOM! Diane Feinstein’s Statement Before The Judiciary Committee This Morning

Well, thanks, Senator Feinstein: having my head explode was is such a wonderful way to begin the day.

This was not the first post I intended this morning, but I made the mistake of listening to the Senator’s brazen, dishonest, self-contradictory, hypocritical ,cynical and insulting statement. It’s amazing her own head didn’t explode out of embarrassment at being used this way. It was in defiance of logic and awareness. It was, in fact, like an intentional imitation of Claude Rains in “Casablanca,” which would have been very funny if it didn’t signal tthe end of any doubts that a major political party had abandoned decency.

Feinstein was shocked–shocked!—that Judge Kavanaugh would call the Democrats’ political hit job a political hit job. Shocked–shocked!–that Kavanaugh would say the the process of advise and consent had been turned into “search and destroy,” which is exactly what the Democrats did, and were not even sly about doing so. Shocked–shocked!–that Kavanaugh would express anger at being subjected to mass humiliation as he was denigrated in public as a sexual predator based on the completely unsubstantiated accusation of 35-year-old high school misconduct. Senator Feinstein had never seen anything like it in all her years in the Senate, and was shocked–shocked!

Never mind that no human being had ever had rumors, insults, innuendos and unsupported accusations heaped on him in a hearing like Judge Kavanaugh, who was Borked, and when that didn’t work, was Anita Hilled. If Kavanaugh had not expressed anger, outrage and indignation toward Feinstein and her thugs, I would have lost any respect for him. He not only had every right to go on the offensive in his own defense, he had an obligation to do so. But men, in the era of #MeToo being weaponized to ruin careers without evidence, are supposed to meekly submit to their new feminist masters, and withdraw into shame and ignominy, grovelling and submissive. Feinstein was shocked—shocked!— that Kavanaugh didn’t know his place.

“Incredible!” said Feinstein. Then, incredibly, she went on to apppeal to emotion, jerking at the heartstrings by quoting the most intense sections of Dr. Ford’s testimony, concluding that her intensity and emotion was enough, in the absence of any evidence or corroboration at all, to prove to Feinstein’s satisfaction that her accusation was true.

Oh, Feinstein was shocked–shocked!—at so many things. How could anyone accuse her of deliberately withholding Ford’s letter for two months so she could leak it after the hearings and demand an FBI investigation that would just coincidentally delay the vote on the nomination until after the election when her party has been demanding for months that the vote be until after the election? I’m trying to think of an analogous scene in a move where the pathetic villain expresses hilarious outrage at being suspected of wrongdoing as smoking gun after smoking gun is revealed. I could, I’m sure, if my head were intact. But it’s not.

The Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck has become both an integrity and an IQ test for progressives and Democrats, but with a surprising easy final challenge. Anyone who isn’t insulted or mordantly amused by Feinstein’s channeling of Captain Renault is either completely corrupted or an idiot.

Noonish Ethics Warm-Up. 9/27/18: “You’re The Bad Guys,” Cont.

Hi!

1. Unethical in its simplicity. An esteemed commenter insists, “Any witnesses who allege that Kavanaugh assaulted them should be allowed to testify.” This is either naive (incompetent) or intellectually dishonest. The Democratic Party’s stated objective is to delay a confirmation vote until after the Fall election, in the Hail Mary hope that the Senate will flip to them. There should be no question that the party, now thoroughly corrupted by a mindset holding that anything—lies, character assassination, perjury, misrepresentation, defiling of due process—is justified if it will protect abortion rights and its own power, would manipulate such a rule for political benefit, would recruit an endless series of politically motivated accusers if it could accomplish the objective of running out the clock.

The “any witnesses” flaw was amply demonstrated by yesterday’s fiasco. “New Kavanaugh allegations!” my late TV news screamed. By this morning, the entire story had fallen apart, and yet that ridiculous account (an anonymous woman claimed she was assaulted on a boat in Newport by a drunken “Brett” and friend, so an anonymous man beat them up) added to the designed false impression that multiple, verified, credible witnesses were confirming that Brett Kavanaugh is, as that same esteemed commenter has suggested, a serial sexual predator.

A witness whose claims are raised in a timely manner (that is before hearings begin allowing time for investigation and a response from the accused), whose account meets minimum standards of plausibility, whose accusation involves conduct relevant to a nominee’s fitness to serve, and whose story did not occur so long ago that verification or rebuttal is impossible, should be allowed to testify.

Those qualifications eliminate all of Kavanaugh’s accusers, as well as Anita Hill. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/20/2018: Trying To Get All Of The Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck—Or Is It The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck?— Debris Cleared So I Can Write About Something Else [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

[Actually, it’s late at night. Somehow today’s original warm-up vanished; not sure how. It’s back now. Sorry for whatever it was...and my apologies for the confusion. Luckily, the comments were preserved.]

1. #MeToo, ethics corrupter. The Kavanaugh hearing fiasco shows that #MeToo, like Black Lives Matter, has become an ethics corrupter. It has handed women the power to destroy men without fairness, proportion or due process, and because power does, in fact, corrupt, the results have been predictable. Since it involves tribal divisions and victim-mongering, Democrats have benefited from the movement, while acceding to making misandry fashionable and acceptable, just as the party embraced Black Lives Matter with its promotion of anti-white racism and the vilification of police.

Once #MeToo started being about partisan political gain rather than recognizing the serious problem of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace and elsewhere, it compromised its objectives and eroded its credibility. If Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser refuses to appear before the Judiciary Committee, her motives and those of her supporters will be in plain sight.

They should be anyway. Were it not for the news media’s near complete abdication of its duty to inform the public without regard for how facts will affect elections, Democrats would already be thoroughly exposed as hypocrites. How in the world can leaders of the Democratic Party demand a futile FBI investigation of a 30-year-old incident at a high school party while the party’s own co-chair, Keith Ellison, has been credibly accused of domestic abuse, a current, provable crime that #MeToo cares about, and he has not been suspended, investigated, or even widely criticized?

#MeToo power is also being used to censor dissent. Ian Buruma, the editor of the New York Times Review of Books has been forced to resign because he approved an essay by a #MeToo-targeted journalist who was eventually acquitted in court. His essay described how public accusations alone, without verification or confirmation, are enough to destroy a mans’s life and livelihood. “There has indeed been enough humiliation for a lifetime,” the author, Jian Ghomeshi wrote. “I cannot just move to another town and reboot with a pseudonym. I’m constantly competing with a villainous version of myself online. This is the power of a contemporary mass shaming.” The #MeToo social media mob was so outraged that it drove Burama to resign.

And he was so good at making sure almost every book review included some Trump-bashing, too! Continue reading