Evening Ethics Update, 11/7/2019: Dr. King Is Un-honored, Virginian Republicans Are Non-Functional, Fox News Is Pro-Darkness, And Joy Behar Is Still An Idiot [CORRECTED]

Good evening…

1 . The progressive deterioration of the ridiculous Joy Behar. It’s clear the stress of engaging in issue debates for which she lacks the temperament, the education or the necessary data is stressing out Joy. On today’s edition of The View, some studio audience members who hadn’t received the memo that they were expected to only endorse the “views” of  the correct side of the political spectrum applauded guests Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle as they supported the President. Behar snapped at them, “This is not a MAGA rally!”  In such places there may be technically free speech, just not free non-conforming speech without abuse.

2. This makes no sense at all, nor is it ethical. Eric Ciaramella is the so-called whistle-blower who gave Rep. Adam Schiff the wisp of an excuse he needed to manufacture Plan S for removing the President, the supposed “quid pro quo” deal to make the Ukraine look for “dirt” on Joe Biden and his son. Lots of sources have published this—heck, I have—and no one has credibly denied it. In schoolyard terms, the cat is out of the bag. Nor is it in any way illegal for a news organization to publish what is increasingly public information. Okay, say he’s the “alleged” whistleblower.

Nonetheless, a Fox News executive sent out an email ordering Fox personnel, including hosts like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, not to mention the name on the air because the network “had not confirmed it.”

Fox News, as you know, is always so careful about the accuracy of what its talking heads say.

Fox News media ethics watchdog Howard Kurtz defended not releasing the name of the whistleblower, saying it would send a “chilling message” to whistleblowers in the future. What “chilling message?” That if you decide to fulfill your partisan goals and help your pals by trying to bring down a President with rumors and hearsay, you should have the guts to do it publicly and accept the consequences? It’s not the news media’s job to make things easy for whistleblowers, and it is especially not their job to pretend that information already being publicized is a mystery.

The background and professional connections of this “whistleblower”—he’s really a leaker—are relevant to his credibility and the legitimacy of the current impeachment push. The public has a right to know, and democracy dies in darkness. Continue reading

You Are No Doubt Reading About How Yesterday’s Election Gave Democrats Control Over The Virginia Legislature. Here Is A Notable Component Of That Accomplishment.

Be proud, Democrats!

Former Virginia lawmaker Joe  Morrissey  won the state Senate seat for the 16th District in the Old Dominion last night, defeating Independent Waylin Ross.  Morrissey got more than 60% of the votes, showing an enthusiastic  electorate. He will now represent parts of Richmond, Chesterfield County, Petersburg, Hopewell, Prince George County, and Dinwiddie County.

Who is Joe Morrissey? Let me refresh your memory using this post, from 2014. The first half of it was about revolting Republican House member Blake Farenthold—the guy wearing the duck pajamas—

who was, thankfully, finally forced out of office in the wake of #MeToo.  The second half was about Joe: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Eye-Opener, 7/22/2019: Boycotts, Bushes, And Weenies

Mornin’!

Just trying to think about ethics while I sit calmly by the phone…my doctor wants to tak to me about something. I’m hoping it’s the Red Sox…

1. There is hope: the latest cable ratings show that CNN’s  Brian Stelter’s slot “Reliable Sources” has lost more about 42% of its audience in the last six months. This indicates people must recognize a fake ethicist when they see one. Unlike his predecessor, Howard Kurtz (who had his own problems), Stelter refuses to focus any media criticism on his own network, which is one of the prime journalism ethics offenders extant, and his obsession with Fox News is nearly Media Matters-like. In short, he’s a biased, partisan hack, highlighted by his risible claim that the news media (and sainted CNN, of course) covered the Mueller investigation objectively.

The rotting American mainstream news media desperately needs  objective, credible qualified critics. What it does not need is a fake authority like Stelter, and it is encouraging to see that the audience is reacting accordingly.

2. A Party of Assholes. This is nice: Here’s the statement issued by Virginia Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw, Senate Democratic Chair Mamie Locke, House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn, and House Democratic Chair Charniele Herring regarding the upcoming commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement.

We will not be attending any part of the commemorative session where Donald Trump is in attendance. The current President does not represent the values that we would celebrate at the 400th anniversary of the oldest democratic body in the western world. We offer just three words of advice to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation: ‘Send Him Back.’

There we see the priorities of the great mass of the Democratic Party since the 2016 election, in which marginalizing the elected President and insulting him (and, not incidentally, his office) at every opportunity for illusory political gain has taken precedence over the best interests of the nation.

I also strongly doubt that the President’s recent deliberately provocative tweets changed anything, as Democrats have been boycotting events where he was scheduled to participate for three years, beginning with his inauguration. They would have found some reason to do this, even without the tweets.

In contrast, at least one Virginia Democrat understands her duty. US Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat representing Virginia’s 2nd District, said

I will attend the Jamestown 400th anniversary of the founding of democracy in America because our democracy is not about the President or Congress—as President Lincoln said, “it is a government of the people, by the people, for the people and it shall not perish from this earth.”

I guess they’ll be calling her a racist now…. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/12/2019: Sorry, An All “Bad Left” Post. Just The Way It Worked Out, I Swear….

Good morning…

A good and long, LONG-time friend whom I forced to abuse his legs through years of bruising choreography comes home from knee replacement surgery today, and I’m feeling guilty. So I need to watch Gene, Donald and Debbie hoof it up, even if you don’t…

1.  This is New York Times punditry. Over the weekend, Bret Stephens, the Trump-loathing token conservative on the Times op-ed team, wrote of the Presient’s generally well-received remarks on D-Day that “he didn’t mean the words he mouthed.” How does Stephens know what the President does and doesn’t mean? It’s the biased news media Catch-22: If the President says something outrageous, they criticize him. If he says something admirable, he doesn’t really mean it.

2. Why is John Dean a witness in the Democrat’s faux-impeachment hearings?  He has no direct knowledge of anything that occurred in the Trump Administration. He’s a disbarred lawyer who has made his living accusing other Presidents—all Republicans—of impeachable offenses.

His appearance as the very first witness to testify signals that this is not a serious inquiry. Continue reading

Rueful Observations On The Latest Development In Virginia Governor Northam’s Blackface Scandal

Well, let’s see: my college has embarrassed me, my law school’s professors continue to make me wish I had earned a law degree by drawing “Skippy” from the cover of a matchbook, black students were apparently insulted in my home city’s famous art museum, my baseball team allowed itself to be split by “the resistance,” and my adopted state of Virginia has the most ridiculous governor since Rod Blagojevich was making Illinois residents consider moving to Tierra del Fuego.

To refresh your memory regarding  the Ralph Northam Ethics Trainwreck, since it’s been stashed in the news media memory hole for a while: the same week  that he appeared to casually explain how post-birth abortion works while showing all the passion of someone describing how to replace a carburetor, Northam’s med school yearbook surfaced showing the governor-to-be either dressed as a Klansman or wearing blackface, unless you subscribe to the theory that the photo of two men in such get-ups was just randomly planted on Northam’s page.

In a dizzying sequence, the Governor 1) apologized for the photo and wearing blackface in it, apparently admitting that it was him 2) said that he didn’t think either figure was him, and he could “tell by looking at it” 3) admitted that he did once wear blackface to look like Michael Jackson in a talent show 4) said that he had to have someone explain to him recently that blackface was considered offensive.

The short version: he’s a babbling, untrustworthy idiot. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 4/25/19: Hypocrisy Edition

Having a delightful afternoon I hope?

1. “Ethics Bob” is back! After what I gather have been extensive world travels with his wife, Ethics Bob  reanimated his blog this week, and I am hoping that Bob, who kindly credited me with inspiring him to write his ethics book, and who teaches ethics himself, will begin commenting again on Ethics Alarms. He is that rarity around here, a committed liberal who plays fair in debates. Unfortunately, Bob’s return post is wrong—and I distinctly remember a lunch with Bob in which he insisted that Bill Clinton shouldn’t have been impeached—but that’s OK.  He’s ethical, thoughtful, and open-minded. Check in with him, and hope along with me that he starts checking in here.

2. How much hypocrisy can Democratic voters stand? In Virginia, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has been hit with multiple allegations of rape and sexual assault. Despite the lip  service the national party has given to “believe all women,” and its position during the Kavanaugh hearings that accusations alone were enough to disqualify a judge for the Supreme Court,  Virginia  Democrats refused to join Republican efforts to sanction or remove Fairfax, who is black and the #2 official ins a state where #1 has admitted to wearing blackface. In order to show that they don’t approve of Fairfax (while not having the integrity to make him hew to the standards they have been advocating for years) the Democratic Party of Virginia rejected his $2,500 donation for the party’s Blue Commonwealth Gala in June.

“We were not comfortable accepting the Lieutenant Governor’s PAC’s contribution and we let his team know that when they reached out,” party spokesman Jake Rubenstein told the  The Washington Post .

“The Lt. Governor’s We Rise Together PAC was planning to have a group of African-American pastors and other supporters sit at his table,” Fairfax spokeswoman Lauren Burke told the Post. “He is innocent and has passed two polygraphs and repeatedly called for an investigation. DPVA has assumed he is guilty of a violent criminal act with no investigation or even a conversation to ascertain his version of events.”

But if the party believes Fairfax is guilty of violent crimes and #MeToo outrages, why is he still in office? Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Day: “Reston Now”

“Unethical, sketchy, and uncomfortable behavior among Herndon officials are some of the main reasons behind the push to strengthen the code. The councilmembers shared stories of unnamed former town officials who publicly berated staff, grabbed a staffer in a sexual manner, and solicited jobs from other elected officials in the performance of their official duties.”

—From “Town of Herndon Grapples with How to Revamp Ethics Code,” an article in Reston Today, describing the classic and unresolvable problem with Ethics Codes.

Herndon, Virginia, isn’t too far from where I live.

The problem the article encompasses is as old as the hills. Simply passing laws, or regulations, or rules prohibiting wrongful conduct doesn’t do anything to make the people subject to these laws, regulations and rules better human beings. It simply tells them that there are specific consequences to their bad conduct. Maybe that will discourage them, and maybe it won’t. After all, they have to be caught first.

The conduct described in the quote is unethical, and anyone with functioning ethics alarms knows its unethical. Abusing subordinates? Sexual assault and harassment? Using official duties to barter for career advancement? If an official knows this conduct and others equally blatant are wrong, then they don’t need a code. If they don’t know they are wrong, no code is going to help them, and individuals that ethically clueless shouldn’t be government officials.

That doesn’t mean that codes of conduct aren’t essential tools of creating an ethical culture in a local government or tree house clubs. They are, but they are just a starting point, putting in place external standards that have to be internalized, which is to say that they are then used to fix the settings on everyone’s ethics alarms in that culture. By themselves, codes do nothing, and they may even cause more misconduct. Unethical people who are also smart love the Compliance Dodge, from the Rationalizations List: Continue reading