Category Archives: Etiquette and manners

Wow! Trump Tries a JUMBO!

Elephants from the Ringling Bro. and Barnum and Bailey Circus perform a nine-trunk salute.

Donald Trump is apparently testing yet another piece of political conventional wisdom. Having already conquered such long standings assumptions as “A Presidential candidate shouldn’t talk and act like a sixth grader” and  “A candidate shouldn’t embarrass his party every time he opens his mouth,” Trump is now setting his sights on the classic, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up,” but with an impressive extra challenge.

He is now trying to cover up the fact that he grotesquely mocked the disability of a New York Times reporter in a public appearance that was videotaped.

Trump actually is denying that he did what he was obviously doing. Very bold, very intrepid. It will be fascinating to see if he can pull it off.

Here’s Trump, after the Times excoriated him for ridiculing reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has arthrogryposis, a malady that  limits flexibility in his arms:

“Serge Kovaleski must think a lot of himself if he thinks I remember him from decades ago – if I ever met him at all, which I doubt I did. He should stop using his disability to grandstand and get back to reporting for a paper that is rapidly going down the tubes.”

Odd that Trump didn’t remember him, since before doing his “man with weird arm movements” bit he said quite clearly, “Now, the poor guy — you’ve got to see this guy…” One doesn’t normally call a reporter “a poor guy” for no reason, nor does one say, “You’ve got to see this guy” if you aren’t going to show the crowd what it is they have to see.”

Never mind, Trump is going for it: the full “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”, or as Jimmy Durante put it, in the show that gave the Ethics Alarms category it’s name, “Elephant? What elephant?” Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Jumbo, Leadership

And Speaking Of Turkeys, Here Are Random Observations On Donald Trump’s Handicapped Times Reporter Impression

1. Stay classy, Donald.

2. Yes, I agree, it is refreshing to have a politician on the scene who does not hide his true self, does not calibrate his words and opinions to what people want to hear or what journalists and pundits will approve, does not suddenly speak in a Southern accent in front of crowds south of the Mason-Dixon line or pose as a lifetime Yankee fan in the Big Apple. Okay, it’s a novelty to have an asshole who has the integrity to openly behave like the asshole he is.


How are people missing this?

3. One theory is that Trump has chosen this week to go all out to see if there is anything he can say or do so beneath the dignity of the office he is seeking and so repugnant to core American values that the idiots supporting him will finally wake up and say, “What was I thinking?”

If so, his experiment is working well.

And yes, it is fair to identify anyone who supports Donald Trump at this point as an idiot.

4. Please ask the Donald Trump fans at  your Thanksgiving dinner whether this is really how they want to see their President behaving in public. If #2 above is correct, I assume that he’ll eventually don a Hillary mask, glue a herring to his forehead, and recite dirty limericks while riding on the Spinning Teacups ride in Disneyland nude.  Hell, why not?

5. Imagine:Democrats decided that they didn’t want Howard Dean to be President based on this…

Donald Trump makes Howard Dean look like Henry Higgins. Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Leadership

When A President’s Words Are So Unethical There Is An Obligation To Condemn Them…And Him

obama-angryI have previously referenced President Obama’s outrageous—and I know I may use outrageous hyperbolically at times, but this really was outrageous—twice in recent posts without focusing on it specifically. However, since I believe it might be the single most petulant, unfair, dishonest, un-Presidential public statement ever uttered by any U.S. Chief Executive—certainly abroad—attention must be paid. Obama’s statement reflects directly on his character and leadership.

It is signature significance regarding Obama’s arrogance and narcissism, and more important for those analyzing what went so horribly wrong in his quest for “Hope and Change,” it is decisive evidence rebutting the default excuse offered by Obama’s unshakable supporters that he has been the innocent victim of a Republican Congress that would not work with him. It is the President’s duty to work with Congress, which means that while individual members may say impolitic things about him, it is counter-productive and incompetent for the President to issue blanket insults to the opposition party that he must negotiate with. Every effective President has understood this. Obama has never understood it, and the nation has suffered as a result.

It must have felt good for Obama to say, in a press conference in France…

“These are the same folks who suggested they’re so tough that just talk to Putin or staring down ISIL [will work] … but they’re scared of widows and orphans… First they were worried the press was too tough on them in the debates, now they’re worried about 3-year old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me.”

A competent President knows when his personal, inner asshole must be switched to silent, however. Such a statement would set off an ethics screening alarm in the brain of any non-totalitarian leader—you know, the kind who doesn’t have to care what anyone else thinks—while it was still being composed  and before it vomited out of the mouth….anyone but Obama, apparently. This really is going rogue, and nothing Sarah Palin ever said in public was as inappropriate, in part because she wasn’t the President at the time and could afford to mouth off.

Let’s identify  the internal ethical breaches here as well as the macro one, which is that Obama was in a foreign country, and it is always wrong to use a foreign stage to attack other elected officials from the U.S. (He has done this before.) Moreover, Obama’s political opposition was not the topic at hand nor what he was supposed to be focusing on. Paris and France had just suffered a devastating tragedy at the hands of ISIS terrorists, but what Obama was really upset about was that his refugee resettlement plan was being attacked at home. This wasn’t about him, in other words, but with pathological narcissists, everything is about them.

As for the statement itself.. Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Leadership

The Mizzou Meltdown: Unethical Quote, Perfect Answer

Anyone who believes this doesn't understand the concept of "free speech." Fortunately, one of the purposes of a liberal arts education is to teach students what...oh. Right.

Anyone who believes this doesn’t understand the concept of “free speech.” Fortunately, one of the purposes of a liberal arts education is to teach students what…oh. Right.

There is no way, I have suggested, that the actions and rhetoric from the protesters at the University at Missouri clamoring for “safety” and an end to incidents of upsetting speech have any place to go except campus censorship by force. To the extent that the African- American students’ conduct has wider aspirations that extend beyond the campus to U.S. society, they threaten free speech, communication and thought in our society as well. Of course, it must have these aspirations: college is supposed to prepare one for the real world, not to render you more vulnerable to its challenges.

Since the defining character of progressive rhetoric in 2015 is double-talk and ambiguity (for example, “immigration reform,” which really means “no illegal immigration enforcement,” or “mass incarceration,” which means “blaming criminal activity on laws and law enforcement rather than too many people choosing to break laws”), it has been hard to get an explicit statement out of sympathizers that confirm my conclusion. Their intent has been clear, as in the episodes where journalists have been muscled away from “safe” places. Others have interpreted the students’ complaints and demands to require censorship by threat of sanctions, as shown by the Mizzou police e-mail telling students to report “hateful or hurtful speech or actions” and their perpetrators, laying the foundation for an elite, racially-based group of campus inquisitors who have the power to define the hate and haters and send them to a metaphorical stake. The students’ words, however, have remained oblique.

Fortunately, here comes Mizzou student body VP Brenda Smith-Lezama to clarify. She was talking to MSNBC about the declared “safe spaces”—which means, for those who need another translation, this means “places on campus where the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply”—and spat out this:

“I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here. I think that it’s important for us to create that distinction and create a space where we can all learn from one another and start to create a place of healing rather than a place where we are experiencing a lot of hate like we have in the past.”

Fortunately, Brookings Institute (That’s the liberal one, remember) Senior Fellow Jonathan Rauch, and the author of “Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought”,  had just offered the rebuttal to Smith-Lezama confused view of education in an op-ed the day before. He wrote in part… Continue reading


Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Leadership, Marketing and Advertising, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: Bloomingdale’s


Can you read that?  Bloomingdale’s catalogue, just in time for the holidays, urges young men to drug their dates’ drinks. All the better to rape them later when they are too out of it to consent to sex. Or maybe, for the especially enterprising, sell them into white slavery while they’re in a stupor. Ho Ho Ho!

Here, this is a clearer version:


The feminist blogs and websites were all over this one, so after somebody explained the outrage to the collection of Mad Men throwbacks, pigs and felons who work in Bloomies’ marketing department, they came up with an apology. “In reflection of recent feedback, the copy we used in our recent catalog was inappropriate and in poor taste. Bloomingdale’s sincerely apologizes for this error in judgment,” the retailer told Tech Insider.

Here’s the problem: If you can’t tell that an ad like that is creepy without someone telling, you are creepy, and so are all the people who let the ad get into print.


Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Marketing and Advertising, Romance and Relationships

Unethical Maybe, Unprofessional Definitely: Saturday Night Live With Host Donald Trump

donald trump larry david snl

Last night, Saturday Night Live was terrible, even for Saturday Night Live. The skits were flat and desperate, the performances were slack and lacking energy. My reaction from the almost joke-free cold open (if an actress can’t do a better impression of Rachel Maddow than that, it’s time to hang it up) was, “They are intentionally tanking this!”

My impression got stronger as the show went on. If anything, SNL’s current young cast usually tries too hard. The key to live comedy performing is radiating energy and control, as well as communicating that you are having fun. Last night it was the mostly opposite: no energy, no enthusiasm. An off night that just happened to fall on the night that Donald Trump was hosting? Maybe. You can say my suspicions are born of confirmation bias, but I was surprised. These are supposedly pros. They should be able to deliver if they had to perform with Satan.

Trump wasn’t phoning it in. He was doing his best, and it wasn’t bad by the standards of a non-performer. The SNL cast acted as if it didn’t want to associate with him. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Week: My Progressive, Rational, Educated and Gay Facebook Friend”


Unlike most Comments of the Day, this one by Penn/Same Penn, who has two aliases here due to WordPress’s inexplicable habit of eating his posts, requires some back-reading to fully appreciate…but it is worth the effort.

The original post is about a Facebook friend’s mass condemnation of the Lone star State as a frightening, bigoted and  violent place where he would never set foot, in part because of his anger over Houston’s rejection last week of a bill that would expand LGBT civil rights in the city. My post noted that painting Texas with such a broad and harsh brush is itself bigotry—a position that cannot be rebutted, I believe—and reader Neil protested that the anti-Texas and Texans sentiment was just.

This inspired P/SP to one of the most eloquent and thoughtful posts Ethics Alarms has ever received, on any topic, and his is complex here, far ranging from its inspiration.

Here is Penn’s Comment of the Day on the post, Unethical Quote Of The Week: My Progressive, Rational, Educated and Gay Facebook Friend: Continue reading


Filed under Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society