Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/16/2019: Plan T?

Great. I’m sick again.

It’s psychological, I’m sure of it. I dread the Whitewaters of Life period from November 17 through New Years, encompassing the anxiety of Thanksgiving, the anniversary of my father’s perverse decision to kick-off on my birthday, the annual 10-hour prickle-fest of decorating an eight-foot live tree to meet family traditions, maneuvering around the Christmas season while trying to make it special and feeling deep inside that those days are long gone, struggling with the rotten timing of wanting to spend without penny-pinching on thrilling loved ones while one’s own small ethics business is at its cash-flow nadir, and fighting off the ghosts of more carefree times with the missing, including my dad and especially my mother, who was a Christmas fanatic, and now Rugby, whose trick of sniffing out his presents and unwrapping them, and only them, with typical elan was always a Christmas morning highlight. This year, I have the extra burden of not one but two multi-day ethics road trips, one to carry musical ethics down the metaphorical chimney in Las Vegas, and to by car to New Jersey, where Paul Morella, alias Clarence Darrow, and I have two dates. Both trips are guaranteed to leave me feeling like I have been run over by a reindeer.

Ho-ho-ho.

Shut up, Perry.

1. Plan T watch. Note that the ethics Alarms home page finally has a link directly to the growing list of 19 attempted removal plans that have been launched to various degrees by the Democratic Party/ “resistance”/mainstream media soft coup alliance against President Trump. This version is slightly revised, including a reference to a consist statement of what is going on that echoes what I have written, but is nicely turned: “Donald Trump daring to serve as President is itself impeachable.”

Bingo.

Meanwhile, Plan T might be imminent. The tortured logic of Plan S, the basis of the current inquiry, is convincing no one, in part because the average American doesn’t know impeachment from a pear tree, and mostly because Plan S is dishonest and bats. To their shame if they had any, the impeachment mob has been  polling and using focus groups to determine which accusation will stick.

The Washington Post reports  that Democrats are easing out the term ‘quid pro quo,’ instead using “bribery” as the favored term to describe Trump’s alleged impeachable conduct: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/10/19: Omar, Warren, Clinton, And Urinals

Good morning!

Yesterday I had completed a 3-hour Ethics CLE program for a distinguish national law firm’s D.C. office, aided by my sister, retired justice Dept. and HHS attorney Edith Marshall. (This time, her role was to lead the attendees in the chorus section of my legal ethics parody of “Trouble in River City” from “The Music Man.”) I knew that I should have gotten some posts done when I returned, but a) I was exhausted and b) there were two Game Five play-off games to watch. Sometimes, baseball comes first. Priorities! Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for an upset win over the Braves, whose horrible fate of giving up ten runs in the first inning I wouldn’t even wish on the Yankees. Imagine knowing you have lost before your team even gets up to bat, and that you’re in front of the home team fans who will have to suffer through three hours of slow, inevitable humiliation. Ugh. The Braves lost with as much dignity as possible in such a hopeless situation. And congratulations to the resurgent Washington Nationals, who came back from a late  deficit to tie the game in the eighth, and then won on a grand slam in the tenth. They are now headed to the seven game play-off to determine who represents the NL in the World Series, the first time a Washington, D.C. team has been this close since 1933. D.C. really needed this.

1. Should it matter? Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar, she of “The Squad” fame (or infamy)  has filed for divorce from husband Ahmed Hirsi, whom she only married last year, though he is the father of her three children. Omar’s petition for dissolution of her marriage has been posted online here. Our sole Somali Muslim House member previously was married to  Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, who appears to be her brother and whom she married to perpetrate a citizenship fraud in 2009. Omar legally dissolved that marriage in 2017. There appears to have been a period where she was married to both men. Omar has never given a straightforward explanation for her tangled domestic affairs.

Should any of this matter? These things really do constitute “personal, private conduct,” unlike the workplace misconduct that the enablers of Bill Clinton tried to defend by using that term. If Omar did perpetrate a fraud, however, or was married to two husbands, those are very relevant to her fitness to serve as a law-maker. Continue reading

The New York Times Reveals That It Will Move On From Its Three-Year “Trump Stole The Presidency By Colluding With Russia” Strategy For Undermining Him To A “Trump And Republicans Are Racists” Strategy For Defeating Him In 2020

How else can we interpret the opening statement by Times editor Dean Baquet in a recent staff meeting? Someone surreptitiously recorded the 75 minute question and answer session and leaked it to Slate, which put it all online. It begins with this (emphasis mine):

Dean Baquet: If we’re really going to be a transparent newsroom that debates these issues among ourselves and not on Twitter, I figured I should talk to the whole newsroom, and hear from the whole newsroom. We had a couple of significant missteps, and I know you’re concerned about them, and I am, too. But there’s something larger at play here. This is a really hard story, newsrooms haven’t confronted one like this since the 1960s. It got trickier after [inaudible] … went from being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character. We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well. Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story. I’d love your help with that. As Audra Burch said when I talked to her this weekend, this one is a story about what it means to be an American in 2019. It is a story that requires deep investigation into people who peddle hatred, but it is also a story that requires imaginative use of all our muscles to write about race and class in a deeper way than we have in years. In the coming weeks, we’ll be assigning some new people to politics who can offer different ways of looking at the world. We’ll also ask reporters to write more deeply about the country, race, and other divisions. I really want your help in navigating this story.

But I also want to [inaudible] this as a forum to say something about who we are and what we stand for. We are an independent news organization, one of the few remaining. And that means there will be stories and journalism of all kinds that will upset our readers and even some of you. I’m not talking about true errors. In those cases, we should listen, own up to them, admit them, show some humility—but not wallow in them—and move on. What I’m saying is that our readers and some of our staff cheer us when we take on Donald Trump, but they jeer at us when we take on Joe Biden. They sometimes want us to pretend that he was not elected president, but he was elected president. And our job is to figure out why, and how, and to hold the administration to account. If you’re independent, that’s what you do. The same newspaper that this week will publish the 1619 Project, the most ambitious examination of the legacy of slavery ever undertaken in [inaudible] newspaper, to try to understand the forces that led to the election of Donald Trump. And that means trying to understand the segment of America that probably does not read us. The same newspaper that can publish a major story on Fox News, and how some of its commentators purvey anti-immigrant conspiracies, also has to talk to people who think immigration may cost them jobs and who oppose abortion on religious grounds. Being independent also means not editing the New York Times for Twitter, which can be unforgiving and toxic. And actually, as Amanda Cox reminds me, doesn’t really represent the left or the right. [inaudible] who care deeply about the Times and who want us to do better, we should listen to those people. But it is also filled with people who flat out don’t like us or who, as Jack Shafer put it, want us to be something we are not going to be.

The transcript is long, and while I recommend reading the whole thing,  not everyone has sock drawers they can neglect. The unavoidable take-away is that the Times and its staff, mirroring the American Left of which it is bulwark, is obsessed with race as well enamored of the tactical advantages race-baiting it confers in the ideological struggle for control over the levers of government power.

Later, there is this revealing exchange: Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Catch-Up, 8/11/2019: Cape Cod Dreams And Nightmare Jerks

Sigh.

This would be the week that my dad typically took his vacation. At this moment, when I was 10, I would be on a beach in Dennisport on the Cape, sampling the sandwiches my mother packed,  sitting in bathing trunks on my father’s army blanket that he carried all over Europe during the war, and listening to Curt Gowdy describe the Red Sox game on mt transistor radio  . Nothing could have been farther from my mind than ethics. Those were the days…

1. Once again, 7-11 ethics in Alexandria, VA.. I’ve written about several ethics encounters at my  local convenience store. This time I was patiently waiting for a space to open up (eventually I am going to tell one of the jerks who have finished their errands and sit in the space texting and surfing on their smart phones while others are desperately seeking parking spaces that he or she is an antisocial blight on the community) when a car backed out almost in front of my vehicle. before I could slide in around him from the right, an SUV that just entered the parking lost quickly moved into the space. The driver had seen me; he just did it because he could. As the young black male moved toward  the store, I got out of my car and shouted: “Classy. You knew I was waiting for the space, and you jumped in ahead of me anyway. You’re an asshole.”

Two thirty-something African American women exited the car in the space next to the one I have just lost. “Sir?” one said. “My girl friend just said exactly what you did. He is an asshole. Some black men just don’t care abut anybody, and I can say that, because I’m black. It really pisses me off. Look—take my space. I can park across the street. Please.” I told her that really wasn’t necessary, but she insisted.

My wife came back to the car after she had purchased the items we came for, and as we drove away, I could see the Good Samaritan giving hell to the young man who had snatched my space.

2. Hollywood ethics, confused as usual. Universal is temporarily cancelling the release of “The Hunt,” an R-rated satire in which progressive elites hunt “deplorables” for fun.  The film was scheduled to open in September. The reason for the cancellation was apparently the recent mass shootings. “While Universal Pictures had already paused the marketing campaign for “The Hunt,” after thoughtful consideration, the studio has decided to cancel our plans to release the film,” the studio said in yesterday’s statement. “We stand by our filmmakers and will continue to distribute films in partnership with bold and visionary creators, like those associated with this satirical social thriller, but we understand that now is not the right time to release this film.”

Interesting question: what is the “right time” to release a film like that? The answer, I would think is either “never,” or “now is as good a time as any.” It’s an ugly, tasteless, offensive idea for a film, but Ethics Alarms will defend to the death Hollywood’s right to make ugly, tasteless, offensive films. On the other hand, maybe releasing this film while the antifa is roaming the fruited plains and Democrats are encouraging people to harass and attack anyone wearing a MAGA cap is a tiny bit irresponsible. On the other hand—there I am with three hands again—if we are going to go down the road of speculating what bad behavior movies and TV might trigger, we’ll end up with Care Bears, Smurfs, and not much else. Continue reading

Lunch Time Ethics Appetizer, 7/16/2019: Funny But Wrong, Important But Incompetent, Too Hungry But Still Employed, And Right But Irrelevant

Yum!

It’s ethical dilemma time for a Red Sox fan. I have an opportunity to get two excellent seats for Sunday’s game in Baltimore. It will be about 99 degrees, and the seats are without any protection from old Sol. Loyalty and dedication demand that I go and support the Sox, whom I have not watched in person for two years. Survival and common sense—non-ethical considerations—argue that this would be nuts.

As Jack Benny said when a robber stuck a gun in his ribs and said, “Your money or your life!,” 

1. Funny! Revealing! But still wrong. Campus Reform utilizes a James O’Keefe- inspired wag named  Cabot Phillips whose signature stunt is to get college students to reveal their ignorance and unthinking social justice warrior ways. He typically does this by lying to them, as when he gives them quotes from Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton and tells them that the speaker was Donald Trump. Outrage and hilarity ensues.

This time, he traveled to the University of Miami and presented students with a fake petition demanding that the college remove its famed mascot and team name, “Hurricanes,” because the name might be  offensive and hurtful to students who’ve been “negatively impacted by hurricanes throughout their lives.” Sure enough, many of the students he spoke with agreed withe the premise. Phillips then posted the video of the students making fools of themselves.

Human beings are wired to trust other human beings, and these stunts take advantage of that. Trust is essential to a healthy and cohesive society, and any exploitation of trust, be it for political purposes, financial gain or amusement, damages society.

It’s not worth it. In this case, the same point could be made by asking, “Would you a support an effort to ban the “Hurricanes” nickname as being potentially hurtful to the victims of tropical storms?”

2. “Spinquark” A helpful reader sent me a link to this website, which purports to expose “big tech companies that don’t respect your privacy..that aren’t transparent and consistent in their algorithms and policies or who use their platforms as a type of privatized online government, a government without recourse or representation.” Continue reading

Stop Making Me Defend President Trump! Those Stupid Tweets Are Many Things, But They Aren’t “Racist”

CNN called them racist yesterday (so did Huffpo, but you know—Huffpo.). That’s not journalism. You tell the public about a statement, and you let others of note or credibility characterize it. It is particularly unethical journalism to cross the line into characterizing a statement and to characterize it falsely to conform to a false narrative or “big lie,” which the “Trump is a racist” assertion is.

Ann Althouse, bless her, saved me the time of explaining why yesterday’s stupid tweets, which I posted about here, are not racist in her first blog post this morning. No one should have to explain that the tweets weren’t racist, since they weren’t, and have no characteristic of racism whatsoever. Critics who choose that cheap route should have to explain why the tweets are racist, using the actual definition, which the accusation defies. Here is Althouse, after repeating the original set of tweets: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, June 5, 2019: Ethics Corrupters In The House, The Senate, The White House, The Times….

The next morning was going to be a crucial one, but not exactly “good”…

Good Morning!

1. How to expose a demagogue. Senator Elizabeth Warren is near the bottom of my ethics rankings of the various Democratic Presidential candidates, and not just because of the way she handled her crisis of color. She’s a pure demagogue, and a particularly dangerous one, as she is a stirring speaker and apparently shameless.

It takes clarity of thought and rhetoric to expose demagogues, especially Warren’s breed, which carry the trappings of authority—after all, she’s a Harvard professor, so she must be smart (or so those who did not attend Harvard seem to think.) The President’s favored tactic of name-calling is of limited value for this purpose, but Rep. Dan Crenshaw, the veteran mocked by Saturday Night Live because of his war wounds,  is providing an ongoing seminar on how to expose Warren’s dishonesty.

When Warren tweeted this high-sounding sentiment…

…Rep. Crenshaw  zeroed in on its deception.

Note also the gently mocking imitation of Warren’s flip use of “thing,” so much more rhetorically effective than calling her “Pocahontas.”

Here is how Crenshaw eviscerated another typical bit  of Warren pandering…

Then there was this expert take-down….when Warren grandstanded with this…

Crenshaw pointed out exactly what was wrong with it…

Why, yes, that’s exactly what it is.

2. Censorship and keeping the truth from the public is not ethical, nor is it a legitimate way to address problems in a democracy. Continue reading