Category Archives: U.S. Society

Re The Latest In The Stream Of Clinton Scandals: If Hillary Clinton Really Cared About The U.S., She’d Drop Out Now

"..and in US public officials!"

..and in US public officials!

Has any American politician voluntarily and sincerely given up power or the quest for it in the best interests of the nation? I’m searching through my American history materials, and so far, I can’t find one since George Washington, who knew he could have been President for Life, and also knew it was a terrible idea. President Nixon and Johnson both said that they were giving up the Presidency for the good of the nation, but Nixon was toast and knew it, and Johnson, the consummate politician, knew that he faced an ugly rejection by the public and the destruction of his party as a result.  I can point to one president who definitely refused to give up power in the best interests of the nation, and thus set us on the divisive and dysfunctional path we are on now: Bill Clinton.

What a coincidence!

Hillary is not Bill, but it is already clear that she is willing to reduce American politics to new lows in blood warfare and polarize the nation even more than it is now, corrupting the news media and her supporters beyond recognition if the carnage can take  her to the White House. Surely she realizes that the months between now and November 2016 will consist of a river wild of revelations, accusations, scandals,  and search and destroy operations by her opponents as well as objective supporters of honest and responsible government. She also knows that there is plenty of substance—as in evidence of her duplicity and untrustworthiness—to discover. And she knows that she will respond, as the Clintons always have and always will, with carefully worded denials, ad hominem attacks on her critics, dark theories about conspiracies, accusations of sexism, and, of course, cover-ups and lies.

Next to a terrorist attack or a national police announcement that yes, they are hunting down African Americans, this is the last thing the United States needs….which means, in turn, that the next to last thing is the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

The latest controversy is instructive. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Now THAT Was A Rape Culture…”

Blogger and esteemed commenter here Rick Jones shares my passion for theater and is also, like me, a stage director, but seldom has a chance to weigh in on that topic. My post about the troubling lyrics in “Standing on the Corner,” the best known song in Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella” gave Rick a chance to swing at a pitch in his wheelhouse, as the baseball broadcasters like to say, and he didn’t disappoint.

I want to clarify something from the original post. Having noted the lyrics, I was no way  criticizing them or the song, or the musical itself. Older shows are valuable and fascinating in part because they serve as windows on past cultural values and attitudes—that was one of the reasons for the ambitious, important and doomed mission of the theater I have been artistic director of for the last two decades. Such politically incorrect references should never be excised in performance.

“The Most Happy Fella” is a slog, however. Ambitious, sure, but too long, too sentimental, and with too many unavoidable “wince points,” as I call them, to make the show worth the huge investment in talent, money and time that it takes to produce competently. Any time the best songs in a musical are the ones that have nothing to do with the plot (“Standing on the Corner,” “Big D,” and “Abondanza!”, which in in the clip above) it’s ominous. The 1925 Pulitzer Prize-winning hit play this pseudo-opera was based on, “They Knew What They Wanted” by Sydney Howard, is much better.

Here is Rick’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Now That Was A Rape Culture…”: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Literature, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Now THAT Was A Rape Culture…

I just happened to be surfing past the  Broadway Channel on Sirius XM, and found myself startled at the tone of the lyrics of that Hit Parade smash from the 1956 musical, “The Most Happy Fella,” by the great composer/lyricist Frank Loesser, “Standing on the Corner (Watching All The Girls Go By)”—especially at the end:

Saturday, and I’m so broke
Haven’t got a girl, and that’s no joke
Still I’m living like a millionaire
When I take me down to Main Street and I review the harem parading for me there..

Standing on the corner watching all the girls go by
Standing on the corner underneath the springtime sky!

Brother, you can’t go to jail for what you’re thinking
Or for the “Woo!” look in your eye
You’re only standing on the corner watching all the girls
Watching all the girls, watching all the girls
Go by!

Nobody saw anything wrong with these sentiments in 1956. It was fun, it was cute, it was innocent! A bunch of guys hanging out, leering and ogling women as they walked on the sidewalk, with “woo”—that is, lust— in their eyes and illegal thoughts in their brains, and periodically wolf-whistling at “the harem.”

Sometimes we forget—sometimes women especially forget—that our culture’s ethics regarding sexual etiquette and respect does advance, and has, as much as self-serving activists would have us believe otherwise.

 

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

“Negative Polarization,” Bigotry, And…Hillary

destroying America

Today in the Times, last week, and over the weekend, there were numerous essays (like this onethis and this) about a recent study that examined the growing phenomenon I have previously written about here and here. The paper’s authors, Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster, use the term “negative polarization,” but what they are describing is really a kind of bigotry, citizens making important democratic decisions purely on the basis of conditioned hatred and dislike based on gross generalizations about political parties and their supporters rather than dispassionate analysis and independent consideration.

Their conclusion isn’t original; it’s not even surprising. It closely follows last year’s study out of Stanford reaching the same conclusion. Americans increasingly demonize one party or the other and all their representatives and members, thus automatically rejecting policy initiatives, arguments and positions not because of their content, but based on their origins and the identity of their supporters—pure, blind cognitive dissonance. As a result, they will choose candidates and policies irrespective of any rational analysis, based solely on the assumption that the opposing candidate and policy come from a vile and intolerable source.

These studies indicate that Americans now discriminate more on the basis of party than on race, gender or any of the other great divides— and that discrimination extends beyond politics into personal relationships and non-political associations. Americans increasingly live in neighborhoods with like-minded partisans, date and marry fellow partisans and disapprove of their children partying with members of the other party. They are, the data says, more likely to choose partners based on partisanship than physical beauty or personality.

The Stanford study concludes (the Emory study concludes similarly),

“Unlike race, gender and other social divides where group-related attitudes and behaviors are constrained by social norms, there are no corresponding pressures to temper disapproval of political opponents. If anything, the rhetoric and actions of political leaders demonstrate that hostility directed at the opposition is acceptable, even appropriate. Partisans therefore feel free to express animus and engage in discriminatory behavior toward opposing partisans.”

Naturally, this has set off the usual round of finger-pointing by pundits and the media, which itself shares much of the blame. I know who and what have seeded these dragon’s teeth, and the list is long, beginning with Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levine, Bill Press, the Clintons, Lanny Davis, Matt Lauer, Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, the idiots who made out Florida’s 2000 ballot, Al Gore, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Paul Begala, Jerry Falwell, Mary Matalin, James Carville, David Axelrod, Chris Matthews, Ted Cruz, the Congressional Black Caucus, Fox News, Donald Trump, Truthers, Birthers, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, MSNBC, Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Eric Holder, the New York Times editorial board, Charles Blow, the Daily Kos, David Brock and Media Matters, Move-On, Breitbart, Michael Moore, Al Sharpton, Pat Robertson, Harry Reid, Tom DeLay, Nancy Pelosi, the Tea Party, Michael Savage, Salon, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and many others, a majority of whom made a conscious decision to exacerbate the divisions in our nation for their own gains in power, influence and wealth. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society

Oh Fine, Now Candy TV Commercials Are Getting Smutty

Reeses

At 8:46 AM, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercial popped on TV. “Women want like to make it last,” bold type told us. “Men are done in seconds.”

“Typical.”

Who decided that gratuitous sexual innuendo is inherently hilarious and appropriate in every context, at every moment? Well, no one yet. Again, it is the boors in ad agencies and clods in corporate boardrooms who are pushing us down this uncivil, impolite, needlessly sleazy path.  We can remind them that there are limits dictated by taste and decorum, or we can just shrug it off, part of the irreversible ratchet process called “defining deviancy down.”

Of course, we can’t expect advertisers to display respect to their audiences if their audiences prove they deserve none.

How long do you think it will be before we see a Reese’s ad featuring a kinky couple mid-sexual romp, and the naked male points to his erect penis, crying, “Hey! You got peanut butter on my chocolate sauce!” Then his partner, after, ah, checking it out, cries, “Mmmmm! But it tastes great!”

At this rate, not long at all.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: The Obituary Campaign Pitch

Oh, heck, let's see how Larry polls against the GOP field...

Oh, heck, let’s see how Larry polls against the GOP field…

In Colorado’s Cabarrus County, the family of Larry Upright, 81, concluded his on-line funeral home obituary with this…

“Also, the family respectfully asks that you do not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. R.I.P. Grandaddy.”

I can’t resist this one, and so your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is:

Is it ethical for a family to include a political message in a family member’s obituary? Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Family, Government & Politics, Marketing and Advertising, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunces: Ten Prominent Doctors, Surgeons and Med School Professors Who Want Columbia To Kick “Dr. Oz” Off Its Faculty

Dr Oz

Perhaps they tried this because Columbia has been having a bad ethics year so far… that could be it, I guess.

For the record, here are are the ten prominent individuals in the field of medicine who called on Columbia University to kick Dr. Mehmet Oz, better known to Oprah fans and junk TV addicts as “Dr.Oz,” off its medical school’s faculty:

Henry I. Miller, M.D.
Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy
& Public Policy
Hoover Institution
Stanford University
Stanford, CA

Scott W. Atlas, M.D.
David and Joan Traitel Senior Fellow
Hoover Institution
Stanford University
Stanford, CA

Jack Fisher, M.D.
Professor of Surgery (emeritus)
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA

Shelley Fleet, M.D.
Anesthesiologist
Longwood, FL

Gordon N. Gill, M.D.
Dean (emeritus) of Translational Medicine
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA

Michael H. Mellon, M.D.
Pediatric Allergist
San Diego, CA

Gilbert Ross, M.D.
President (Acting) and Executive Director
American Council on Science and Health
New York, NY

Samuel Schneider, M.D.
Psychiatrist
Princeton, NJ

Glenn Swogger Jr. M.D.
Director of the Will Menninger Center for Applied Behavioral Sciences (retired)The Menninger Foundation
Topeka, KS

Joel E. Tepper, M.D.
Hector MacLean Distinguished Professor of Cancer Research
Dept of Radiation Oncology
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Chapel Hill, NC

And here is their letter. They are troubled because “Dr. Oz” has embraced dubious products and health promotion techniques on his TV show. Indeed he has. On TV, Dr. Oz is a quack. He uses his medical credentials to, as the letter says, show “disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine” and to display  “baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops.”  And no one can deny that  “he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.”

None of which is justification for taking him off the faculty, where his teaching duties are unrelated to his lucrative TV persona, and are the direct result of his recognized expertise in cardiothoracic surgery.

Could it be that all of these doctors—including Professors Tepper and Fisher, and Dean Gill— have never encountered the sacred educational principle of  academic freedom? Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Health and Medicine, Professions, U.S. Society