Sunset Ethics Round-Up, 2/2/2021: The Narrative That Refuses To Die, The Weenie Who Whines From A Safe Distance, And Other Tales

setting sun

Pop quiz! What’s the significance of the photo above?

It’s official: last month, February 2021 was the worst in Ethics Alarms traffic in five years, and last week was the worst non-holiday week in longer than that. I am at a loss to explain it, and I am going to stop obsessing about it. The comments are among the best and most erudite on the web, and I am confident that the quality and variety of content remains as high as ever.

1. Never give up that narrative! Over the weekend the Times had a puzzling news article telling us that the FBI had “zeroed in” on a suspect in the death of Brian Sicknick, the Capitol police officer who was falsely and repeatedly cited by mainstream media sources and the Trump prosecution in the impeachment trial as being “killed” in the riot or by rioters. The great discovery was that of a video showing someone in the crowd spraying pepper spray or bear spray on officers during the melee. However, as the article itself states, neither irritant is known to be fatal, and both the officers and the crazies were using it that day. Sicknick died of a stroke after the riot, and no link between his death and what occurred while he was trying to control the crowd has been established.

The usual course is to first establish that there has been a homicide, then to look for suspects. “Let’s see if we can pin this on someone” is not considered ethical. I predict that no one will be prosecuted for Sicknick’s death—not ethically, anyway.

2. Speaking of predictions: In yesterday’s post about Governor Cuomo’s apology, I wrote,

[T]he acid test for sexual harassment (and worse) is whether there are additional victims who come forward after the first one breaks the silence. Cuomo is now up to two. It’s a safe bet there are more.

Yesterday a third accuser came forward. Three usually is the tipping point at which even the most protective mainstream media hacks will finally turn on a Democrat. For example, I doubt that Justin Fairfax, the Lt Governor of Virginia, would have survived three rape accusers, but he’s a black Democrat, so the formula is a bit different. The Babylon Bee has it exactly right. Meanwhile, Jim Treacher writes,

Late night liberal “comedians” are finally jumping on the bandwagon to criticize formerly beloved New York governor, Andrew Cuomo. Taking the media’s lead, “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert suddenly found the scandal-embroiled Democrat was an easy target, after several women came forward alleging sexual harassment from the governor.

On his Monday night show, Colbert spent roughly three minutes mocking Cuomo as an “old man” pervert for his alleged creepy comments and behavior towards young women. This after, he spent 2020 grossly promoting the Democrat’s leadership and sex appeal.

These are awful people. They were prepared to ignore the thousands of nursing home deaths Cuomo caused and covered up while praising him as a brilliant pandemic leader (unlike President Trump.) Indulging in the kind of sexual harassment and assault that Joe Biden engaged in regularly while cameras were shooting is too much to bear, however. Now Cuomo is a monster.

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Regarding Governor Cuomo’s Apology…

Schodengers douchbag

[I’ve been looking for a chance to use this expression for a while. It derives from the quantum mechanics paradox called Schrödinger’s Cat in which a hypothetical cat in a closed box may be considered simultaneously both alive and dead as a result of being linked to a contingent subatomic event that may or may not occur. I’ve really never understood the cat, but Schrödinger’s Douchebag I get.]

He was cornered, so the Governor of New York, already being buffeted by one serious scandal, decided to try to talk his way out of another one. Two staffers have gone on the record to accuse him of sexual harassment, and one of them related two instance of sexual assault (a kiss and a stroke on the legs). The Gov’s initial vague denials didn’t work, so yesterday the falling Democratic star tried a sort-of apology. Here is the statement:

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Another Media-Protected Democrat Is Accused Of Sexual Misconduct By One Of Those Women Who Must Be Believed

This time, it’s Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, who wasn’t exactly in the best of shape politically to start with—you know, all those dead nursing home residents and a his cover-up and everything.

But we have seen how this usually plays out, have we not? Keith Ellison, formerly co-chair of the DNC, was accused of abuse by two exes, but managed to get elected Attorney General of Minnesota. Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax also has been accused of sexual assault by two women, one claiming rape. Fairfax swears the encounters were consensual, and maybe they were…but then that’s what they always say, isn’t it? Then, of course, there is Joe Biden, whose former staff member accusing him of rape didn’t stop the vast majority of American women, those progressive, feminist warriors, from voting for him.

Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Cuomo, came forward with detailed allegations of sexual assault and harassment against the governor yesterday, adding to the accusation she had made last December. Boylan accused Cuomo of kissing her on the lips and asking her to “play strip poker” on a plane ride on his official jet. “Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right,” Boylan wrote. “He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.”

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Ethics And The Never-Trumpers…

Lincoln Project

The Lincoln Project may have helped defeat Donald Trump; who knows? From the beginning it appeared to be a spiteful backlash by sore losers, class bigots and establishment bitter-enders who, like fellow Never-Trumpers George Will, the Bushes, Jennifer Rubin and Bill Kristol, made cutting of their noses to spite their faces into a declaration of virtue. Better to see the policies and principles one had spent a career opposing be inflicted on the nation for who-knows-how-long than to put up with a conservative President whom they couldn’t bear rubbing elbows with at a wine tasting.

The ethics of the Lincoln Project seemed shakier the more we learned about their founders and supporters. The most prominent of them, lawyer George Conway, felt it was acceptable to publicly insult and attack his wife Kellyanne Conway’s boss, for example, displaying the spousal concern and loyalty of a praying mantis. Not surprisingly, this public disloyalty combined with absentee parenting tore the family apart, leading to the Conway’s teenage daughter publicly insulting both parents and playing out her emotional crisis on social media. This, in turn, resulted in both Conways removing themself from political life in the middle of the campaign when they were needed most by their respective warring GOP factions. Good job!

Ah, but as Al Jolson liked to say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” The Lincoln Project’s leaders, who supposedly objected to Donald Trump because of his deficits of character, soon entered the Pot-Calling-The-Kettle-Black Masters in ethics hypocrisy.

First: John Weaver,a co-founder of the Lincoln Project, was accused by 21 men of sexually harassing them for years with unsolicited and sexually provocative online messages. His creepy solicitations included those he sent to a 14-year-old boy, asking salacious questions about his body while he was still in high school, then more suggestive comments after he turned 18.Weaver, who is married and has children, sent overt sexual solicitations to at least ten of the men, offering professional and personal assistance in exchange for sex. Last month, Weaver admitted his “inappropriate contacts” while playing the “deeply closeted” gay man card, and announced that he would not return to the Lincoln Project. Weaver had helped run Trump-Hater John McCain’s Presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008 and Never Trumper John Kasich’s campaign in 2016.

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From The Ethics Alarms “What Were They Thinking?” Files: The Weiner Virus

Blockhead

I don’t understand this kind of thing at all. I didn’t understand it when Anthony Weiner nuked his career; I haven’t understood it in similar cases before and since then. The current episode comes from the world of baseball, which apparently had a vote or something last year that all news about the sport had to be embarrassing until the stars turn cold.

Jared Porter, who labored in the trenches for the Boston Red Sox from 2004-15 (there was obviously another vote that all of the worst stories had to be connected to the team I’ve rooted for like a fool since I was 11) and finally scaled the metaphorical ladder and got his dream job, becoming general manager of the New York Mets last month. But the team discovered yesterday that in 2016, while he was was working for the Chicago Cubs in their front office, Porter sent graphic, uninvited text messages and images to a female sports reporter, includingso-called “dick-pics.”

Mets owner Steve Cohen said Porter was fired this morning. “We have terminated Jared Porter this morning,” Cohen wrote on Twitter. “In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it. There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”

Ya think?

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An Activist Writes, “Instagram Censored One Of These Photos But Not The Other. We Must Ask Why.” Isn’t It Obvious Why?

Instagram censorship

Why did Instagram censor one photo and not the other? Easy-peasy:

1. Social media is constantly engaged in mind control. It doesn’t understand satire, and it is especially hostile to any satire of its core market, in the case of Instagram, young, heterosexual women.

2. Human beings and their societies favors the young and beautiful over the not young and less-than-beautiful, and no amount of complaining and protesting is going to change that. Call it “systemic lookism.”

3. Trusting social media to be fair or intelligent is naïve and foolish.

The back-story: Last week Australian comic Celeste Barber posted a parody images of her imitating a post from former Victoria’s Secret model Candice Swanepoel.  Instagram censored it, saying that it “goes against our community guidelines on nudity or sexual activity” The identical pose of the conventionally alluring Swanepoel, however, was deemed just fine when it was posted. The Horror!

The “gotcha!” worked;  Instagram  apologized and restored Barber’s version.

Observations:

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Sunset Ethics, 9/30/2020: Conflicts Of Interest, Sexual Harassment, Movies And Lies

1. Conflicts of interest on my mind. I narrowly averted a disastrous conflict of interest yesterday out of pure moral luck, so the topic is much on my mind; I’m still distracted by the near miss. Professionally, it was the equivalent of almost being picked off by a bus.

NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg reacted to the death of Justice Ginsburg with an essay on her 48-year friendship with RBG, saluting Ginsburg’s “extraordinary character.” That’s funny: Totenberg never told NPR’s listeners, nor did  NPR, that she had a personal relationship with the Justice, despite being charged with covering the Court and critiquing its decisions.  Kelly McBride, NPR’s public editor and senior vice president of the Poynter Institute, threw a metaphorical ethics foul flag,

“In failing to be transparent about Totenberg’s relationship with Ginsburg over the years, NPR missed two opportunities,”she wrote on the NPR website. “First, NPR leaders could have shared the conversations they were having and the precautions they were taking to preserve the newsroom’s independent judgment,” McBride said. “Second, having those conversations in front of the public would have sharpened NPR’s acuity in managing other personal conflicts of interest among its journalists.”

Ginsburg, who officiated at Totenberg’s wedding in 2000. Nonetheless, the correspondent,  who wears her progressive bias on her sleeve as it is, denied that the conflict compromised to her journalism, telling  the Washington Post that NPR’s listeners benefited from ther friendship because it gave her greater insight into and Ginsburg’s  thinking.

And that justifies keeping the relationship secret from listeners how, Nina?

2. From the “When ethics alarms don’t work” files: Lawyer Phillip Malouff Jr. of La Junta, Colorado, was censured for a series of episodes of unprofessional behavior and sexual harassment.

In November 2016, Malouff  winked at a magistrate judge and said, “When you get back from your vacation, I better be able to see your tan lines.” When he visiting the same magistrate’s chambers to discuss scheduling matters, he  said, according to the female judge,: “Ask your husband a question for me when you get home tonight. Ask him what it’s like to have relations with someone who wears the robe. It has always been something I’ve wanted to do, but there have never been any women judges until now.”

Malouff  was informed that his comments were unprofessional and a violation of the Colorado Judicial Department’s anti-harassment policy. Ya think?

In July 2019, Malouff asked a judicial assistant to check whether the mother in a parental rights hearing had an outstanding warrant. When the assistant replied, “She is good.” Malouff  responded, “Her husband told me that she is good.

Wink wink, nudge nudge. Continue reading

Joe Biden, The Human Lawn Chair

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States…”

I’ve been thinking about what would be the fair and expository Ethics Alarms nickname for Joe Biden, and I’ve settled on “The Lawn Chair,” or TLC for short.

In 2016, I wrote repeatedly in posts and comments that I would vote for a lawn chair over Donald Trump, using the same standard that I had applied in the past to first term Presidents who I had found unacceptably incompetent or untrustworthy (Nixon, Carter, Bush I, and Bill Clinton). Joe Biden, in his drastically diminished 2020 model, is the closest thing a U.S. Presidential contest has had to an actual lawn chair, and it is clear that those preparing to vote for him to lead the nation at this critical time would literally vote for a lawn chair over President Trump. In this there is epic hypocrisy.

Feminists who once proclaimed that sexual harassment and sexual assault, determined on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations, were sufficient to disqualify a man for high public office are supporting Biden, who has been photographed numerous times engaging in sexual harassment as Vice-President, and has been accused “credibly” (as they said about Brett Kavanaugh’s less than credible accuser) of sexual assault. Heck, one such feminist is his running mate. Soft coup proponents who have argued that President Trump is sufficiently cognitively handicapped that the 25th Amendment should be employed to remove him are supporting Biden, who is obviously more mentally impaired now than Trump has ever been even in the fever dreams of progressives.

Then there is the lying. Continue reading

Now THIS Is The Streisand Syndrome: The Strange Saga Of Professor Bruce Hay

You have to go to the links; I can’t do justice to this story without giggling. Primarily, I want to highlight this epic mess because it’s the best example of the Streisand Effect ever, a situation where an attempt to seek redress for an alleged smear brings more publicity to negative details about the supposed victim far beyond  anything the original conduct could have. To make the fiasco more juicy still, here is a Harvard Law professor revealing himself as an utter fool, and engaging in a frivolous—that is, unethical— attempt to use “sexual harassment” to apply to “you used your feminine whiles to manipulate me, and I fell for it.”

Sexual harassment doesn’t mean that.

The hilariously baroque story involves… Continue reading

Sorry, Gandhi: Hunger Strikes Are Unethical, And Organizations Should Not Respond To Them

Maha Alshawi, a Dartmouth graduate student in the computer science department, accused computer science professor Alberto Quattrini Li of multiple incidents of sexual misconduct. She also accused science department chair Prasad Jayanti  of unfairly failing her on an exam and giving her a “low pass” as a teaching assistant as retaliation  after she raised concerns about Li. The student has called on Dartmouth to conduct a “clear and fair investigation” of the alleged harassment. The College, however, has stated that it has concluded evaluating the allegations through all applicable procedures.

On July 14, the first-year Ph.D. student began a  hunger strike , publicly posting on Facebook that she would not eat  “because the Title IX office conducted [an] unfair assessment” of her case. Seven days later,  Dartmouth announced that it would conduct another review of Alshawi’s claims if she agreed to end her protest and seek medical attention. She would not agree.

This week, on the 22nd day of Alshawi’s hunger strike, Dartmouth announced that it will launch an external investigation into her harassment allegations.  Alshawi says  she will not stop her hunger strike and will  begin a “thirst strike,” refusing to eat or drink until the external investigation has officially begun.

The College wrote in its statement that “in the interest of [Alshawi’s] safety and in keeping our commitment to Ms. Alshawi,” an external investigation would be opened “in addition to the extensive assessment and multiple reviews Dartmouth has previously undertaken.”

Dartmouth’s capitulation is irresponsible and incompetent.  The school has done nothing to jeopardize Alshawi’s safety. She is threatening herself. In fact, this “Blazing Saddles” scene comes to mind: Continue reading