Category Archives: Government & Politics

Ben Carson’s Apology

Prison rapeOn “New Day” yesterday, Dr. Ben Carson, who is inexplicably favored by some as a 2016 Presidential nominee (perhaps because electing someone with virtually no leadership experience has worked out so well), was asked by host Chris Cuomo whether being gay was a choice, Carson replied: “Absolutely.”

“Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question,” Carson said.

This, as anyone who has been conscious over the past 20 years or so should have been able to predict, caused great consternation among the gay community and thoughtful people generally. It was approximately as ignorant as Mets’ infielder Daniel Murphy’s comments yesterday about Billy Bean, a former major league baseball player who is the sport’s “ambassador for inclusion.”  Murphy said,

“I disagree with his lifestyle.I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”

The difference is that Carson may be running for President, whereas all Murphy has to do is get on base and turn double plays, so Murphy saying utterly stupid things like claiming that being gay is a “lifestyle”isn’t all that relevant to his career choice. Actually, I’m not certain Carson’s statement isn’t worse, especially since he’s an educated man. I haven’t seen any surveys in which former prisoners say they have been “turned gay” in prison. We know that a lot of prisoners are raped, and we know that mane confined for long periods with other men and no women may resort to homosexual sex, but no research has suggested that this experience turns such men gay. Perhaps Carson believes that engaging in homosexual sex means a man is gay, which is like believing that a man stranded in the wilderness who survives on mushrooms and nuts is a vegan.

Carson, or whoever is trying to make this sow’s ear of a candidate into a Presidential purse, quickly decided that a retraction was in order, so Carson issued, on Facebook, a long apology, saying in part:

In a recent interview on CNN, I realized that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues. I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended.

I’m a doctor trained in multiple fields of medicine, who was blessed to work at perhaps the finest institution of medical knowledge in the world. Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality.

He concluded, Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Research and Scholarship, Rights

Attack Of The Ethics Dunces: No, There Is Nothing Wrong With North Carolina’s State Ethics Commission Ruling On Sex With Lobbyists

gumbies2

Ah, how close I came to writing, “No, you morons…”!

The headline nearly was “Unethical Website of the Month: Addicting Info.” This pathetic site surely deserved it. It’s headline was:

North Carolina Legalizes Call Girls For Politicians

After a few smart-enough-to-know-better-but-apparently-having-an-off-day Facebook friends posted links to this crap with expressions of horror, I checked it out, assuming it was a hoax. Well, it wasn’t a hoax, exactly, just a dishonest, misleading, sensational bit of link bait. That’s not what the story is about.

Equally dumb but not quite as dishonest was the Daily Beast, which headlined its incompetent story...

North Carolina Lobbyists Can Officially Screw Politicians Legally.

What’s wrong with this one? It also has nothing to do with the facts of the story, and if you think about it, is as reasonable a headline as Annie Says The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow. There is no place anywhere in the United States of America where it is illegal for adults in any occupation to have consensual sexual relations with any other adult regardless of his or her occupation. So, to put it in the crude, also link-baiting terms of the Daily Beast—stay classy, you left wing hacks!-–all of these are also accurate: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Romance and Relationships

Ethics Quote of the Week: Christiane Amanpour

“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.”

—-CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, commenting to Wolf Blizter on Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial address to Congress.

That's funny...he doesn't LOOK Jewish...

That’s funny…he doesn’t LOOK Jewish…

This is a propitious opportunity to clear up a question I have been asked a few times, namely, “What is the distinction between the Ethics Alarms “ethics quotes” as opposed to the unethical and ethical quotes of the week or month. Sometimes, it’s a close call, like now. An ethics quote either illustrates, in a positive or negative fashion, an ethics principle or raises an ethics issue. Unethical quotes are those that are themselves harmful, dishonest, or that promote ethics misconceptions and unethical conduct. Ethical quotes are those that display ethical values or accomplish something that is objectively good.

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. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media

Hillary’s E-mail Ethics Breach: The Only Questions Are 1) “How Can Anyone Trust Her?” and 2) “Is there Nothing Her Supporters Won’t Excuse?”

hillary-clinton-pointing2The ethics issue here is very straightforward and uncontroversial. As the New York Times put it:

“Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record. Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.”

I don’t know why the Times says “may have violated.” Her exclusive use of personal e-mail does violate the rules, and in fact the law, as the Times correctly states in the final sentence. Moreover:

1. This is a blatant example of Clinton again refusing to abide by rules and laws other officials are required to abide by. As the Washington Post notes, it was intentional: Clinton’s personal account was established on the same day that Clinton began her confirmation hearings to be Secretary of State., and the expiration on the domain is shortly after the 2016 election. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership

The Ethics Of Netanyahu’s Speech and the Consequences Of Lost Trust

netanyahu

One of my knee-jerk progressive Facebook friends is addicted to terrible analogies. Here is his recent attempt to frame the controversial appearance by Benjamin Netanyahu before Congress today:

“At the invitation of Speaker Yuli Edelstein, President Barak Obama will appear before the Israeli Knesset on Thursday to give a major speech on the Netanyahu adminstration’s bungling of the Palestinian conflict, territorial abuse to build settlements, and allocation of US foreign aide…”

What’s wrong with that? You have three seconds.

Time’s up. That is a lousy analogy, because the positions of the U.S. and Israel are not accurately reversed as a good analogy would demand. If Netanyahu was appearing before Congress to lecture it on U.S. policies regarding illegal immigration over the Mexican border, that would justify my friend’s hypothetical. What Netanyahu is here to talk about, however, is the future of his people and his nation, not ours.

As I wrote here about a month ago, there is no question that this is a breach of diplomatic protocol, nor is there any doubt that Congress is defying tradition, separation of powers and probably the Constitution to invite the Israel Prime Minister to, in essence, lobby the public regarding the President’s conduct of foreign policy. Congress’s actions are objectively unethical, a calculated tit for the President’s equally unethical tat of using executive orders to circumvent the lawmaking process. This episode is ethically more complicated than that, however, and when the criticism is doled out, other ethical considerations and principles are relevant.

Here is the chief one: Netanyahu does not trust the judgment, motives, negotiating skill and competence of the Obama Administration. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership

Painter Nelson Shanks, Art Fick

Shanks. (The photographer hid a tiny image of an asshole in the photo, Nelson. He knew you'd approve.)

Shanks. (The photographer hid a tiny image of an asshole in the photo, Nelson. He knew you’d approve.)

A “fick” is an individual isn’t just unethical, shamelessly unethical, or openly unethical. Fick is the Ethics Alarms term, created in honor of the horrible Leroy Fick, who is proudly and cheerfully unethical. Fick sightings are mercifully rare, but we have a true giant of the species: Philadelphia portrait artist Nelson Shanks. Shanks, who was the artist commissioned by the Clintons to paint the portrait of Bill that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, just gave an interview to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and without a gun pointed to he head, told them this:

“Clinton was hard. I’ll tell you why. The reality is he’s probably the most famous liar of all time. He and his administration did some very good things, of course, but I could never get this Monica thing completely out of my mind and it is subtly incorporated in the painting.

If you look at the left-hand side of it there’s a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him.”

Fick.

Bill Clinton chose Shanks for this prestigious task, paid him, patronized him, posed for him, and trusted him. And Shanks not only does this trick with the dress shadow, which is bad (making a disguised uncomplimentary reference to a career scandal in an official portrait is a betrayal of the subject whether it is discovered or not —See Rationalization #10, The Unethical Tree in the Forest, or “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” ), but then makes his conduct public, instantly transforming the portrait from an honor into an indictment. He was not hired to paint an indictment.

Fick

He is using this now to his own advantage, gaining fame and name recognition, possibly enhancing the value of his work, definitely increasing interest in the painting itself. He knows there will be TV interviews and controversy; he knows enemies and critics of the Clintons, Republicans, and many of those–like me— who find Bill Clinton’s continued currency among Democrats, women and feminists infuriating will applaud him, defend him, and even reward him in various ways.

Fick.

He knows what he did was wrong, and knows announcing it is wrong. He’s still pleased with himself.

Fick.

________________________

Pointer: Tim Maher

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History

Case Study In Unethical Journalism And The Unethical Editors Who Spawn It: Jezebel and Editor Natasha V C

Natasha. Jezebel must be so proud.

Natasha. Jezebel must be so proud.

It is obvious that the mainstream media is determined to shoot down Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by any means possible, because Democrats a) hate him to pieces and b) fear him. The primaries aren’t even underway, and they are already outing their own bias with over-heated criticism of his refusing to be drawn into gotcha questions about evolution and President Obama’s religion (to which he gave essentially the same answer as Hillary Clinton did in 2008: he has no way of knowing for sure), dropping subversive reminders that he never got a college degree, and already are breaching Journalism Ethics 101 principles by running bogus accusations without checking the facts. This will continue—it worked with Sarah Palin and Romney, after all—until the American public figures out what’s going on. I’ll try to help the best I can.

New York Times star columnist Gail Collins, who detests Walker with a passion that apparently obliterates all professional ethics, wrote two weeks ago that Walker was responsible for Wisconsin’s 2010 cuts to education, resulting in teacher layoffs. Walker didn’t take office until 2011. The Times retracted—six days later!—but you know how it works, and so does the Times: a fraction of the readers who read the mistake—this was a reckless, biased, embarrassing mistake—see the correction. The Times is better than Fox News…barely. Collins and her editor should have been disciplined.

Then  the progressive feminist website Jezebel printed this:

“Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget—which would cut $300 million dollars out of the state’s beloved public university system—has a non-fiscal bombshell tucked in between its insane pages.Under Walker’s budget, universities would no longer have to report the number of sexual assaults that take place on a campus to the Department of Justice. Under Walker’s plan, university employees who witness a sexual assault would no longer have to report it.There are no policy recommendations in Walker’s budget how or what would replace these reporting mechanisms. The Governor simply instructs that they should be deleted.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the bewildering force that is Scott Walker, know this: he is a small-time guy who is having a big-time moment by playing the conservative werewolf, a role Chris Christie and Jeb Bush are so far unwilling to play in their presidential bids.”

[Translation: “Small time” means “no college degree.” Ad hominem, naturally.]

The Daily Beast, which bleeds blue and has its own stable of wildly left-slanting commentators, uncritically picked up the story, as did many others. They kept it around, too, well after this was revealed: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, The Internet