February 2006"Easy Calls"
  • Can one's otherwise blatantly unethical conduct be less so because the individual behaves this way so frequently that that the harm is minimal? This question arose in connection with kamikaze conservative Ann Coulter, who recently told an audience that "someone needs to put rat poison in Justice Steven's crème brulee" in order to ensure a rock solid conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. She quickly emphasized that her comment was a joke, and quite a knee-slapper it was. Lawyers, and Coulter is one, are not supposed to threaten or intimidate the judiciary, and some in her official profession (oddly, or maybe not, those who would prefer to see rat poison put in Clarence Thomas' crème brulee) expressed the opinion that Ann had gone too far, and needed to be disciplined, disbarred, and publicly humiliated. Well, Ann Coulter always goes too far. That's her shtick, and she's done well with it, at least as far as selling liberal-bashing books and getting on the tube with Geraldo is concerned. It's not civil, it's not fair, it's not respectful, and worst of all for a supposed political humorist, it's often not even funny. But is the suggestion about the Justice's dessert threatening? Naaa. Not when it's made by Coulter, any more than a parallel comment by Al Franken about Bill O'Reilly should send Fox's resident bully to a food taster. Liberal lawyers who want to use professional discipline to muzzle Ann Coulter are little different from rabid Conservatives who suggest that Harry Belafonte, Al Gore or Cindy Sheehan should be tried for treason. It's the political opinion that rankles, not genuine fear for the purity of Justice Stevens' dessert. Coulter needs to tell funnier jokes, and liberals, as always, need to lighten up. [2/28/2006]
  • Was it a sign of evil intent, bad conduct and a desire to deceive that led Vice- President Cheney to withhold a timely and thorough briefing on his hunting accident? Of course not, though you would never get this impression reading the indignant howls coming from the editorial pages and news reporters. "This reminds me of Ted Kennedy's actions after Chappaquiddick!" one commentator was quoted as saying. Really? The controversy surrounding Kennedy's failure to report his automobile accident that fateful night arose from the fact that while he and his advisors were polishing their accounts, a young woman was lying dead in a car at the bottom of a river. Cheney's accident victim wasn't dead, he was taken to the hospital immediately, and the accident was reported to the local sheriff. Oh…and it doesn't appear that Cheney was cheating on his wife with his friend before he shot him in the face with bird shot. Another genius compared the incident to President Clinton's escapades with Monica. That's an even greater stretch (if possible): Clinton's conduct related to his false testimony under oath, and took place in his workplace, while he was on the job, with a subordinate. Cheney was involved in an unfortunate accident during a period when he was indisputably off the job. It was only of national interest in the sense that Democrats, anti-gun advocates and late night comedians wanted to have the story as quickly as possible to make the Vice-President look ridiculous, callous, or criminal. They were going to do this eventually, and probably do less of it if Cheney had been more forthcoming. His delay, politically ill-advised though it may have been, was not unethical. The attempt by Cheney's detractors in the press and elsewhere to turn an unfortunate accident into something sinister was. [2/22/2006]
  • Two reverends who have done their best to distort the civil rights ideals of Martin Luther King decided to use the funeral of his widow Coretta Scott King to attack President Bush, who was attending as a guest and a mourner. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton took turns condemning the Administration on its social policies, Iraq, and Hurricane Katrina. Their conduct was indefensible. The funeral was not about Bush, nor should it have been an opportunity to make cheap partisan political points. Bush, along with three former presidents, attended the funeral in recognition of both Martin Luther King's historic role in the civil rights movement and his wife's role in continuing his work. He also had no choice in the matter; it was mandatory that he attend. Astonishingly, Jackson and Sharpton had the gall to imply that his attendance was a cynical attempt to use King's funeral for political gain, when this was exactly what they were doing. Their disgraceful comments were disrespectful to both Bush and Mrs. King, no matter how well they may have been received by the president's detractors in the audience. They also were designed to widen the racial divide, an objective that benefits both of these race-baiting hustlers, but one that could not be more distant from the ideals of Reverend King. [2/8/2006]

  • The Scoreboard has never had anything positive to say about Michael Moore, and, come to think of it, still doesn't. But it rises to his defense in this case, as the usually civil and witty Wall Street Journal blog "Best of the Web," another frequent critic of the satirist and documentary film maker, recently referred to him as "porcine propagandist Michael Moore." It is not political correctness to point out that the fact that Michael Moore is fat has absolutely nothing to do with his relative merits. John Adams, Orson Welles, Thurgood Marshall, Babe Ruth, John Wayne and Winston Churchill were over-weight too; so were Barbara Jordan, Shelley Winters and Rosemary Clooney. Abe Lincoln was ugly, and Steven Hawking is twisted and emaciated by illness. None of these physical characteristics tell us anything about the abilities, accomplishments or character of the individuals who possess them. The Journal blog's use of "porcine" is doubly wrong: employing a pejorative synonym for fat as a substitute for a substantive explanation of why it doesn't like Moore, it implies that the condition itself is inherently just cause for disrespect; and the intended insult is a playground-level cheap personal attack. This is the third time I have condemned this kind of name-calling (Whoopie Goldberg and John Kerry's spokesperson were the other offenders…it is a bi-partisan tactic), but I get the point: both conservatives and liberals think that being thin confers moral superiority. Their words prove them wrong. [2/06/06]

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