Category Archives: Around the World

The Ethics Alarms “Take Down Monica Brennan!” Contest Finalists

mushroom-cloud

Early this month, I wrote a post about Christiane Amanpour’s bizarre commentary on Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech before Congress. She said,

“It was a very dark Strangelovian speech painting the picture of a dystopian world, raising the spectre of a genocidal nation, a genocidal regime spraying nuclear weapons to annihilate the whole world and the whole region. Now, obviously many people are very concerned about Iran and there is a deep lack of trust, but surely the same was said of the Soviet Union all those years ago.”

I made her analysis the “Ethics Quote of the Week” on the grounds that it was so rife with bias and logical fallacies. The main thrust of the post:

Amanpour’s quote is, not to be overly blunt, stupid, ignorant, and disturbingly lacking in historical perspective. It raises ethics issues, but does not rise to the level, quite, of an unethical quote. It does raise the ethics issues of incompetence in the media, political bias robbing us all of IQ points, irresponsible journalism, and what happens when one is incapable of placing oneself behind another individual’s eyeball.  She is trying to be descriptive, so I would not term the quote itself unethical, just shocking. She has long been respected as a reporter on international events, but this statement is so devoid of its proper context that I think her credentials need to be reconsidered.

The second comment on the post came from a newcomer to Ethics Alarms, Monica Brennan, who entered this provocative defense of Christiane:

Christiane Amanpour is a highly-respected veteran foreign journalist, who has undoubtedly forgotten more about the region than you will ever know. She was born in Tehran, and educated in a Catholic school in England. She covered the Iran-Iraq war, the fall of European communism, and Gulf War I, and unlike Bill Oh,Really?, her boots were on the ground. Your hero Netanyahu was caught out as a liar, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/23/leaked-spy-cables-netanyahu-iran-bomb-mossad, according to leaked cables from Mossad (the Iranians have enough U-204 to make a few bombs, but are neither ready to nor apparently interested in taking the next step). His apparent self-interest is in his own political future, and maintaining control over American foreign policy. And of course, he would overlook facts that do not suit him. But Amanpour knows the facts, and Bibi’s game.

The cost of yet another needless conflict in the Middle East would be Saudi oil, as one shore of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iran. Worse yet, continuance of the status quo strengthens Iranian hard-liners, whose grip becomes more tenuous with every passing year owing to demographic changes (remember the Green Revolution?). Moreover, the Iranians could build a nuke in a few years, especially with Pakistan’s help (don’t forget that they have nukes, and are only a little less crazy). And can we even AFFORD another multi-trillion dollar boondoggle in the Middle East?

The same thing WAS said of the Soviet Union. Have you seen the video of Nikita Khruschev, banging his shoe?

The art of negotiation is in knowing when to take half a loaf. This might be one of those times. Hysteria is Bibi’s stock in trade, and his speech should be seen in that light. Amanpour knows of what she speaks, and deserves to be taken seriously.

Now, I am not in the habit of siccing the articulate, sharp-elbowed and occasionally merciless regulars here on the throats of misguided commenters; I think this was only the second time I have done it.  I think it was the combination of the “your hero” crack, as if I have some kind of bias in favor of the Israeli Prime Minister, and the historically obtuse inference that the Soviet Union was just bluffing and that whole Cold War thing was a big farce that set my teeth on edge. For whatever reason, I announced a contest:

Ok, a prize for the best takedown of Monica’s historically jaw-dropping, ad hominem appeal to authority, defense of Amanpour’s bizarre take! A CD of a film, ethics classic, my choice.

There were many excellent entrees, punctuated by increasingly obnoxious retorts by Monica, who I am guessing is a grad student at some middle-tier university that is stealing her money while indulging her liberal-talking point fueled proclivities. (I ended up banning her, since she never engaged any of the rebuttals and just ranted without substance.)

I have selected the finalists, ranging from the concise to the encyclopedic. Some commenters arguably had more than one eligible comment that was prize-worthy, but I have limited the field to one per individual. Seven made the finals:

Isaac:

Well, this isn’t going to win any prizes, but…sorry…she’s also an idiot.

“Genocidal…dystopian regime” exactly describes the Soviet Union “all those years ago.” And the only reason they didn’t get to “spray nuclear weapons all over the region” is because the United States had more of them. She’s acting as if the entire Communist nightmare of the 20th century didn’t actually kill 100 million people; it was all just some red herring cooked up by McCarthy. People who aren’t idiots don’t say things like that.

Iran may not be a superpower like the USSR was, but they’re dangerous enough if your country is the size of New Jersey and they want you dead.

Inquiring Mind

When it comes to national survival, there is no such thing as “half a loaf” – are we saying that it would be okay if Iran wiped out only 49.99999% of Israel? Netanyahu knows that is a foolhardy notion at best, as should most any rational person.

Incidentally, why did the Soviets become more reasonable? Because Reagan was building up the American military – and making it a priority. He also put tons of pressure on the Soviets in other ways, like getting the Saudis to ramp up production (which killed Soviet oil exports).

Read the book Victory by Peter Schweizer for some of the real history behind the Reagan strategy that won the Cold War. Many of Obama’s political persuasion back then said the Soviet Union couldn’t be taken down. Yet Reagan did it without firing a shot in anger.

So why is it that Obama’s defenders on this react to strongly to efforts to replicate that strategy against Iran, which is no Soviet Union? Granted, this theocratic regime’s leadership may be less mentally stable/sane, but Iran presently has far less that can hurt the United States or its allies.

So, why can’t they do the responsible thing and take down this regime?

Texagg04

“Christiane Amanpour is a highly-respected veteran foreign journalist”

Brian Williams is was a highly-respected journalist. Highly respected, honestly, in those types of circles, doesn’t really mean much. It just means, you’ve done your time, shmoozed with the right people, and said the right America/Western Culture denigrating things to the right people. Great. By those standards, half the Sandimas High School Theater Club are highly-respected journalists…

“who has undoubtedly forgotten more about the region than you will ever know.”

So, probably not qualified to speak on the topic?

I’m guessing…

But either way, this is hardly a qualifier either, and if anything reveals a likely bias. Something a journalist should fight, which no doubt she doesn’t. Remember, she’s highly-respected, and in modern journalism, you have to grossly biased to be respected. And trust me, in her circles, anti-Israel bias is the norm.

“She was born in Tehran,”

Biased.

“and educated in a Catholic school in England.”

Wasn’t the author of the James Bond novels also educated in one? That’s a pretty cool factoid. I wonder if she had to wear one of those short plaid skirts…retch.

“She covered the Iran-Iraq war, the fall of European communism, and Gulf War I,”

Nifty resume. But all rounding out your appeal to authority.

“and unlike Bill Oh,Really?, her boots were on the ground.”

Bill O’Reilly has something to do with this?

“Your hero Netanyahu was caught out as a liar, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/23/leaked-spy-cables-netanyahu-iran-bomb-mossad, according to leaked cables from Mossad (the Iranians have enough U-204 to make a few bombs, but are neither ready to nor apparently interested in taking the next step). His apparent self-interest is in his own political future, and maintaining control over American foreign policy. And of course, he would overlook facts that do not suit him. But Amanpour knows the facts, and Bibi’s game.”

You should probably educate yourself on the nuances of Geopolitics. These little things called Geopolitical Imperatives hinge exclusively on Survival. They follow a very rigid pattern, followed by EVERY SINGLE NATION, customized of course by the constraints of geography. Rule Number 1 of Geopolitics: When facing an Existential Threat, the only appropriate option is to overreact.

Let me say that again:

The 1st Rule of Geopolitics: When facing an Existential Threat, the ONLY appropriate option is to OVERREACT.

Just for Effect:

When facing an Existential Threat, the ONLY appropriate option is to OVERREACT.

When Iran says they want to wipe Israel off the map, that isn’t a joke. WORLD LEADERS do not joke. What they say is their Vision for the world. Only fools discount what World Leaders say….

Wait, let me clarify, Only fools discount what *Serious* World Leaders say…and there is no reason, none whatsoever, to believe the Iranian leadership isn’t serious. Now, in case you aren’t familiar with what an existential threat is, a nation with the capability to destroy you that declares an intent to destroy you is what we call an “existential threat”. You’ll note the root word for “existential” is “existence”.

Now, right now, Iran doesn’t possess the capability to destroy Israel. But that is Obviously what is in question. Isn’t it?

So IF Iran gains the ability to destroy Israel, what must Israel do? Refer to Rule #1. Overreact. The only option.

Well, in a game of nuclear holocaust, overreaction means that if Iran can get a bomb in 20 years, Israel has to act like it can get a bomb tomorrow. Plain and simple. He may have “lied”, but that is part of his overreaction. And he must. It is that cut and dry. It is that serious.

The one variable in all of this that can change? Iran’s hatred of Israel. Stop indicating a sincere desire to destroy every last Jew on the face of the planet (as Iran’s proxy communicated), then perhaps Israel won’t have to overreact to your desire to become a nuclear power. Funny how getting over genocidal hatred can really lead to more world peace.

Now Iran isn’t completely irrational. It probably wouldn’t nuke Israel. But one of Iran’s challenges is keeping control over it’s wildly diverse interior…one of those methods of control is Islam, what better way to inspire the faithful than to hate Jews. So they popped off about annihilating Israel. Well, Israel has ZERO reason to assume that whatever Iran says to keep control over it’s interior shouldn’t be taken seriously.

As long as Iran does not backtrack on it’s commentary about Israel’s existence, Israel must take all action to forestall or stop Iranian capability.

“The cost of yet another needless conflict in the Middle East would be Saudi oil, as one shore of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iran.”

Are you serious? Are you f-ing serious? You’re entire tone on this topic derives straight from Leftist talking points and now you are going to say we need to worry about our sources of oil? Geez… here I thought we hated wars over oil…

You have noticed, that as of late, the Saudis aren’t our primary source of oil, right?

“Worse yet, continuance of the status quo strengthens Iranian hard-liners, whose grip becomes more tenuous with every passing year owing to demographic changes (remember the Green Revolution?).”

Geopolitical rules apply just as much internally as externally. Dying creatures become desperate and do desperate things. A dying vicious creature that doesn’t want to die should be trusted even less than while it was thriving. Your comment only undermines your conclusion.

“Moreover, the Iranians could build a nuke in a few years, especially with Pakistan’s help (don’t forget that they have nukes, and are only a little less crazy).”

Does this not undermine your previous commentary about Netanyahu not needing to worry about how quickly Iran can get a nuke?

“And can we even AFFORD another multi-trillion dollar boondoggle in the Middle East?”

1) I’m not sure invasion of Iran is necessary. So this is a fallacious argument.

2) I’m not sure the invasion of Iraq was a boondoggle…well at least not until Obama royally screwed the pooch.

“The same thing WAS said of the Soviet Union. Have you seen the video of Nikita Khruschev, banging his shoe?”

Hindsight bias. Back to Geopolitics. We had no reason not to believe the Soviets when they stated their vision for the world and we had no reason to wait until they had the capacity to fulfill that vision. Another rule of Geopolitics: Wait until it is too late to act, and it will be too late to act. Therefore you must act when it may seem to early.

“The art of negotiation is in knowing when to take half a loaf. This might be one of those times.”

There’s no reason to negotiate. The West still has MIGHT…if it would just friggin care. But it doesn’t. So between War or Dishonor, it picks Dishonor. Only it will still get War.

“Hysteria is Bibi’s stock in trade, and his speech should be seen in that light.”

Geopolitical Rule #1.

“Amanpour knows of what she speaks, and deserves to be taken seriously.”

And yet, you still haven’t made a single argument for why she is right other than saying she is Christiane Amanpour.

johnburger2013

At first I wasn’t sure if this was a response from Christiane Amanpour’s PR group. I then thought about what I was taught about geopolitics during college and the comment falls right into the ‘a bad deal is better than no deal’ position in negotiations. Christiane Amanpour’s positions are striking, though not unexpected from the prevailing main stream media. The general review of Netanyahu’s speech concluded that it was over the top and full of bravado. The views expressed by Amanpour and her defenders drip with condescension and naivete. The Iranian government doesn’t care about world perceptions. In fact, the Iranian government scoffs ah the West with the highest contempt and ridicule.

I think Texagg04 sums it up with his take down, especially considering his comment about “Rule Number 1 of Geopolitics: When facing an Existential Threat, the only appropriate option is to overreact” and Jack’s many comments that a country’s prime minister or leader has a moral and ethical obligation to protect its citizenry.

History seems to suggest that genocidal thoughts shouldn’t necessarily be dismissed at the delusional ravings or a mad man. “Mein Kampf” outlined Hitler’s plans. What was the result? I recently saw a documentary called “Night Will Fall” on HBO, documenting the making of two World War II documentaries about Nazi genocide. Powerful and gut-wrenching imagery. I fully appreciate Israel’s hard-line stance with its adversaries in the region. Israel’s position is: “Well, we waited for the world to help the Jews in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, and look where that got us. We aren’t doing that again. If Iran, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, or other groups openly declare their intent to destroy the state of Israel, we are going to take them at face value, believe that is their intent, and respond accordingly. Proportionality is a pipe dream. We will hit them and hit them hard.” I cannot find fault with that position.

Steve-O-in NJ

Christiane Amanpour’s credentials as a “highly respected” journalist were tarnished years ago in Bosnia when she said, when accused of being pro-Muslim (and overly emotional in her delivery) that it wasn’t important to be neutral because when you are neutral you become an accomplice. No, Christiane, when you are neutral you become a fact and truth teller, which is the job of the journalist, not to be some kind of adventurer trying to sensationalize one side or the other in a fight, whichever you might think is right. She’s also half-Iranian, hmmmmm, does anyone else here think that might at least give the appearance of bias to the point where she should be extra careful NOT to appear biased, not the other way around? The mention of her credentials vs. Bill O’Reilly’s is irrelevant to this discussion and a cheap shot to blunt or silence expected conservative criticism.

Netanyahu, a twice-wounded and decorated Special Forces captain, whose brother was killed in Operation Thunderbolt, might also know something about having boots on the ground. He also authored “Terrorism: How the West Can Win,” in or before 1988, which touched on every single issue that came to the forefront here only after 9/11. In other words, he was out ahead of the curve on Islamic terror. He also has access to a fair amount of classified material, both from the Mossad and probably other agencies, that Amanpour will never get near. Saying she knows the facts, implying she knows them better than the prime minister of one of only two democracies in the region is bare idiocy. “Control over American foreign policy?” That verges dangerously close to the old chestnut “that all the problems in the region are because of the JOOOOOOS!” Do you really want to go there?

The hard-liners’ grip becomes more tenuous each year? How tenuous can it be when every candidate for high office must have the imprimatur of the supreme leader, himself an Islamic hard-liner, unaccountable to anyone and incapable of being removed without a coup? Even in the Communist countries the leadership wasn’t THAT untouchable, witness Nikita Krushchev being pushed out by his own party when his policies became erratic and the Cuban Missile gambit failed to net him the complete win he wanted. Pakistan and Iran cooperating to build a nuke? The Pakistanis and their leaders might be a little erratic, but they know which side the bread is buttered on, and they know the US will put up with a lot from them, but they won’t put up with that.

Jack already got it precisely right as to the comparison with the USSR, and I’d argue Iran in some ways could be even more dangerous than Nazi Germany, which had similar policies aimed at the destruction of particular peoples. The Nazis and the Communists were both unspeakably evil, but they worshipped power only. Power is no good to anyone who is not alive to enjoy it. That’s why when the Germans were beaten, for the most part they surrendered, save Hitler, Goebbels and a few other extreme ones. That’s also why the USSR stepped back when they saw Reagan, Thatcher, and the other NATO leaders deploying cruise missiles that could whack them in 20 minutes and Trident submarines that they could never seriously hope to find at sea. Suicide was not high on their list of things to achieve. I would make a comparison with Imperial Japan, where it was all about dying for the divine emperor and going to meet your ancestors in the great beyond, whereas defeat meant eternal shame. It was this toxic brand of religious fanaticism that made Japanese soldiers make banzai charges until they were all dead, and pilots crash explosives-laden planes and even manned missiles into US aircraft carriers. The Iranian leadership is dangerously close to being this level of fanatic (I hesitate to use the word zealot because I think fanatic is more appropriate) and MIGHT be crazy enough to risk the horrible damage a nuclear attack on Israel might do for the sake of Allah and 72 virgins. Only a fool takes a chance on a roll of that level of dice.

Of course sometimes you take half a loaf when the whole loaf can’t be had…when you’re divvying up resources or port access or something mundane like that. Israel is dealing with a potential existential threat, and there is no such thing as half existence or half sovereignty. Faced with destruction or Finlandization any nation worth its salt will fight, and rightly so.

Monica, I don’t know you. I can’t say whether you are looking at the world through the blue lenses of the Democratic Party and therefore can’t see how anyone associated with the other side might have a point, or if you are looking through the rose-colored lenses of the pacifist and dismiss anyone who stands up to evil or tyranny as a cowboy or dangerous because he might make the tyrant angry. What I can say is that you are looking at this situation with a very incomplete set of facts, enough to be dangerous. I will also say that you are putting your faith completely in the wrong person and the wrong type of people. Journalists have their place, and it’s a very important one, but essentially scoffing at a speech from an elected national leader who’s trying to keep his nation safe while accepting a criticism from a known biased reporter with no special expertise tells me you are not looking for truth, you are looking for confirmation wherever you find it. In this case your confirmation source is dead wrong, and I am sorry to say so are you.

Michael R.

Why is she a respected reporter on foreign events? Because she has an accent and she always speaks contemptuously of the American people.

The liberal mainstream has certain facts that must be held no matter the evidence. If you just listen to them and join the correct side of history, you too can understand the wisdom of Christiane Amanpour.

Israel is wrong. They must be held to the same moral standard as European nations who aren’t facing constant terrorist attacks. By this standard, the Israelis are oppressors and need to be treated as a hate group.

Muslims can’t be held to the same standard as Israel because they are the underdogs. No Arab nation has ever attacked Israel, all those wars were wars of conquest by a brutal Israel.

The Israelis have no valid complaints about their Arab neighbors.None of them were ever stripped of their property and citizenship and forced to move to Israel.

All Israel is Palestinian territory. Jews have no business in the middle east. If they would just leave or die, the Middle East can have peace.

Iran is an ancient, civilized nation. They have a superior culture to the US and we should follow their lead in foreign affairs. They would never engage in a bitter war with a neighboring country and they super special definitely wouldn’t use any weapons of mass destruction. at their disposal (like chemical weapons). Ask the Iraqis if you doubt. They would never do anything brutal or barbaric like kidnap and hold hostage an entire embassy staff. Iran only threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map because they are Jews and Jews deserve no better. You can always trust the Iranians to abide by any nuclear treaty. They would never build giant, secret, underground nuclear facilities that the US would be forced to disable with an advanced computer virus.

The US is always wrong. We are the most backward, most racist, most imperialistic country in the history of the world. We have built our entire country by robbing, conquering, and oppressing other countries. That is why everyone in the world hates us and no one ever wants to immigrate to the US. We need to give other countries what they demand from us, then they will like us. This is what President Obama says and our standing on the world stage has greatly improved under his guidance.

If you just submit to the unquestionable rightness of the points above, you too can be as correct and sophisticated as Mrs Amanpour.

Cal Brizzi

Jihad is not Nikita Khruschev shoe banging. Religious fanatics openly advocating blowing Israel off the Earth is not saber rattling. Couple this with the fact that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism – this point even our apologist President concedes and we all have reason to worry. But reason and logic are trumped by soundbites in the romper room of modern day political discourse. Netanyahu is a spoiled child because he concludes that once Iran has a nuclear weapon it wont be long before Hammas, Hezbollah, Al Queda or ISIS will have a nuclear weapon (credit to the prior poster). Netanyahu further reasons that once this occurs; Tel Aviv will be first in the crosshairs. The nerve of that brat!

At the risk of waxing too dramatic, the future of our nation, and maybe the planet, depends on the ability to appreciate and address the danger of militant Islamic states possessing nuclear weapons. Israel understands the threat because they are surrounded by it – this ain’t their first rodeo. We should listen more and swagger less. American politicians should save the vitriol and name calling for the machete wielding murderers who deserve that and much more. We owe the Prime Minister an apology. This is no way to treat friends.

Sharon

You know who deserves to be taken even more seriously than the CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour regarding the crisis in the Mideast?

The Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei. And I think he would disagree with the idea that Netanyahu’s speech was Strangelovian or that Netanyahu was engaging in hysteria. I don’t think he would want anyone to imply that he is soft on Israel. And from what he has said, Israel has quite a bit to be worried about. I’m going to take his word for it. Even though Amanpour is a very respected reporter.

It is, as you can see, a strong field. I was initially going to make the selection myself, but have decided to get input from readers as well. I have given a 10 vote head start to my own choice, but will submit to the will of the assembled if another entree surpasses it when the votes are tallied. The polls are open until midnight Monday, March 30. Good luck to all!

 

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Filed under Around the World, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Boycotting Dolce And Gabbana: Gays Becoming What They Once Hated Most

After centuries of oppression, Gays have finally achieved the right to openly be who they are as long as they don't piss of Elton John.

After centuries of oppression, Gays have finally achieved the right to openly be who they are as long as they don’t piss of Elton John.

Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are Italian fashion design superstars, meaning that I pay no attention to them whatsoever, and don’t understand the priorities of anyone who does. Nonetheless, they have a rich and famous international clientele.. The two men were once romantic partners, but no longer; how they are just business and artistic partners, and continue to thrive.

Their thriving, however, has suffered from a self-inflicted setback. In an interview with the Italian magazine Panorama, the pair declared their lack of support for same-sex families with children created by in vitro fertilization.  “I am not convinced by those I call children of chemicals, synthetic children,” Dolce told the magazine. “Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog.” Gabbana added, “The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.”

The Horror: a non-conforming opinion from prominent gay fashion icons! Can’t have that! Lapsed pop superstar Elton John, who has two sons through in vitro fertilization with his husband, David Furnish, took the remarks as a personal attack and proclaimed a boycott of the Gabbana & Dolce label. “How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic,’ ” Mr. John wrote on social media. “Shame on you for wagging your judgmental little fingers at I.V.F. Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce & Gabbana ever again.” Thus was born the hashtag #BoycottDolceGabbana.”
Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Bioethics, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Gender and Sex, Marketing and Advertising, Romance and Relationships, Science & Technology

I Suppose It Is Comforting To Know That I Wasn’t Unfair To Starbucks And Howard Schultz

Starbucks Quiz

If the Starbucks “Race Together” campaign had turned out to be carefully thought out, intelligent, sophisticated and responsible, and not  a facile, condescending and cynical effort to promote a brand while creating static and white noise in the midst of an important cultural discussion, I would be obligated to apologize for doubting CEO Howard Schultz’s wisdom and ethics. It would also have been an apology I would have enjoyed making.

Sadly, I was not only correct in my assessment that this was a fiasco in the making, I was more correct than I suspected. Above is the “Race Relations Reality Check ” quiz that Starbucks has reportedly been distributing. The questions indicate a bottom-of-the-well level of comprehension about race and racism, not to mention demographics, culture and the human species. It appears that Starbucks favors some kind of affirmative action program on personal friendships, and believes that one can measure racism or incipient bias by how many individuals of other races one has regular contact with. I don’t even want to have a discussion with someone this shallow. A whole corporation this shallow is a nauseating thing to contemplate. A corporation this shallow that presumes to lead a national discussion on race is, oh I don’t know—Risible? Sad? Dangerous?

Starbucks seems to be thinking like George Costanza, during the period where he was trying to acquire black friends and managed to annoy and insult every African-American he met. The presumptions here are staggering, and so directly contrary to life, logic and the realities of human existence that i get angry just reading them. I was at an ethics conference in Nigeria, and met some of the most intelligent, charming, passionate people I have ever encountered in my life. I would be honored and enriched to have any of them in my life, and would hope that I could develop close friendships with them—but I can’t, because I live in the U.S. and they live in about 15 African nations, and it’s just too darn expensive to dine at each others’ homes. I live in an area, Northern Virginia, that is overwhelmingly white, not because it is white, but because it is convenient to my work and we found a great deal on a house. I work in two fields, theater and ethics, that do not afford a lot of contact with African Americans. The last time we had anyone other than immediate family to dinner was a decade or more ago; the last time anyone other than family, black or white, had us to dinner was longer ago than that—and I am a delightful dinner companion. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Marketing and Advertising, Race, U.S. Society, Workplace

Flat Learning Curve Update: Yet Another Jaw-Dropping Leadership Fail From President Obama

curve-flat

In the midst of yet another flashing neon display proving beyond all reasonable doubt that Barack Obama has the worst grasp of the Presidential leadership of any POTUS in over a century, a cheerful CNN/ORC poll found that 50% of those polled assert that Obama tenure has been a success, and 53% believe that things are peachy in the United States. It is beyond comprehension.

WARNING!

IMPULSIVE RANT FOLLOWS! SKIP TO MAIN BODY OF POST FOR RETURN TO RESTRAINED ETHICAL ANALYSIS! Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership

The Unethical French Animator, the Mammalian Duck, Dysfunctional Ethics Alarms

“Oggy and the Cockroaches” is a French animated comedy series produced by Xilam and Gaumont Film Company. Its future on the Nickelodeon children’s TV cartoon channel NickToons is in doubt, however, after the channel was thrust into an unwanted controversy by an unknown French cartoonist’s practical joke.

A recent episode that aired on NickToons featured a brief view of a framed wall hanging showing a cartoon female duck sporting a pair of bikini briefs, sunglasses and bouffant hair-do, and most significantly, naked torpedoesque breasts of a variety more familiar to afficionados of “Fritz the Cat” than the target audience of eight-year-olds. Naturally, the station was deluged with complaints from parents.

The NickToons  website now appears to have removed the show from both its schedule and its homepage. Good start. It should also end any relationship it may have with Xilam and Gaumont.

I know cartoonists are not known for an excess of maturity, but a network needs to be able to reside a modicum of trust in its contractors, suppliers and partners. If an animator would think it’s funny to slip a topless, sexy duck into a kid’s show, then who is to say the next “joke” won’t be a giant talking penis or Adolf Hitler having sex with a cow?

Far more disturbing than the prank itself are the rationalizations and justifications being offered for it in online comments to the story and in social media: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, Professions, U.S. Society

Iran Letter Ethics Q and A: Senate Heroes, Blame, Trust And Captain Queeg

Question:  Are the seven GOP Senators who did not sign the Iran letter Ethics Heroes?

Answer: I almost designated them as such, but that would have been a mistake. There are too many non-heroic and even unethical reasons Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Senate Foreign Relations Chairman might have chosen to refuse to go along with their colleagues. Based on the explanations I’ve read, that seems to be the case. Collins, for example, says that she didn’t think the letter would work. Wrong answer: the reason to reject the letter is because it’s a flat-out violation of legislative limits imposed on the Constitution. Similarly, Flake says that he didn’t think the letter was necessary, whatever that means. It is also likely that some of the seven felt they could have their cake and eat it too: they want the letter to undermine U.S. diplomacy, but don’t want to take the criticism that goes with signing it.

Question: Do I blame President Obama for the letter?

Answer: A friend who is such a knee-jerking Obama enabler and excuser that it’s a miracle he can walk posted yesterday’s  Thirteen Ethics Observations On The GOP’s Letter To Iran on his Facebook page, and one of his knee-jerking friends wrote, “Typical: blame Obama.” I did not and do not blame Obama for the fact that the Republican Senators engaged in a foolish, dangerous and bright-line violation of the separation of powers, and anyone who could read the post otherwise is so deranged by bias that their faculties are impaired…or they just aren’t very bright.

I did write, and it is true, that the President shares significant responsibility for the poisonous and dysfunctional relations with the Congress that led to this fiasco. He is at the top of the government; it’s ultimately his job to make the government and the system work. Obama and his enablers reject accountability at every turn, but the unavoidable facts are that he is in charge, he took the job voluntarily, and whatever doesn’t work, including the government itself, is on his record. He never made a good faith, sincere, dedicated effort to work with the Republicans in Congress; he never worked to develop the negotiation, compromise, horse-trading, cajoling, quid pro quo skills that successful, competent Presidents have used to deal with the same levels of political opposition that he has found impossible to cope with. He took no steps to build trust in Congress, and engaged in serial conduct that was guaranteed to destroy trust, and has.

Finally, his illegal immigration executive order (the illegal accurately modifies both “immigration” and “order”) and his unilateral alterations to his own, incompetent and sloppy, health care law showed exactly the same contempt for constitutional limits as the Senate letter.

Obama is not to blame for the letter. He is absolutely and ultimately accountable for the conditions that prompted the letter and the decision to send it.

Question: Is there an ethical justification for sending the letter? Continue reading

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Thirteen Ethics Observations On The GOP’s Letter To Iran

Letter to IranFrom the Washington Post:

“An already heated battle between the White House and Republicans over negotiations to curtail Iran’s nuclear program grew more tense Monday when 47 Republican senators sent a letter to Iran designed to kill any potential deal.

The White House responded by accusing the Republicans of conspiring with Iranian hard-liners, who oppose the delicate negotiations, and suggesting that their goal was to push the United States into a military conflict.”

Observations:

1. The letter cannot be defended as anything other than an effort to sabotage sensitive international negotiations. As such, it is direct interference with the President’s ability to do his job. The fact that Republicans, like Israel, have abundant evidence that President Obama is likely to do that job, in this case, badly and even dangerously is no justification for this unethical, unconstitutional, arrogant and offensive act. The American people elected Obama president, and with that came the authority to conduct foreign affairs and oversee negotiations with foreign governments. The letter is wrong in every way.

2. It does not matter, and should not matter, to any American whether or not they believe that a breakdown in negotiations with Iran would be preferable and safer than the kind of deal this President is likely to produce. It does not matter. The letter is per se a breach of the separation of powers, and as precedent, endangers the nation’s entire governance structure.

3. Anyone who defends this atrocious, reckless and unprofessional conduct is fully embracing “the ends justifies the means” as a principle of democratic government.

4. If he was not aware of it and did not approve it, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell is obligated to condemn this action, and punish all signatories,  stripping them of committee assignments related to foreign affairs.

5. He won’t. Continue reading

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