Tag Archives: competence

Unethical Quote of the Week: Sen. John McCain, and also “WHAT????”

U.S. Senator John McCain gestures as he arrives to address the third session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa

“It was kind of a very rapid process. Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm. I think we probably should have had more discussion about it, given the blowback that there is.”

—- Sen. John McCain (R-Az) to Politico, explaining and making excuses for 47 Republican Senators injecting themselves into sensitive U.S. negotiations with Iran over nuclear weapon development..

1. I am speechless. Luckily, I can type.

Well, sort of.

2. The silver lining: at least the Senator just made those regretting President Obama’s election in 2008 feel better. We were spared embarrassing moments like that of President McCain, asked why he sent missiles to destroy Toronto, explaining, “Yeah, I was watching “Family Feud,” had to run to the can, and was distracted. Hey, it happens.” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership

Comment of the Day: “The President’s Irresponsible And Untrue ‘One in Five Women Are Raped’ Claim”

numbers_statistics_stats

Rich (in CT) adds a superb and learned enhancement to the day’s post about President Obama’s dubious rape claims during the Grammy Awards.  It raises a question I hadn’t considered before: is part of the problem that researchers are as clumsy in their understanding of language as liberal arts types are in their use of statistics and numbers? The word “rape” has meaning; this is no place for Humpty Dumpty’s habit of using words to mean whatever one pleases. [“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”—― Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass” ] Rich writes, “This data is important, as mental health and sexual disease propagation is affected by such contact, even if the traditional criteria imaged for “rape” is not met. ” I’ll concede that the data is important, but shouldn’t important data be clearly and accurately described? The data isn’t about rape! It’s about a variety of conduct linked by the researchers that they chose to call “rape,” knowing, presumably, that people who never read the data will take the misleading “rape” description and use it to confuse, persuade, deceive, and engage in scaremongering for political gain.

Rich writes that “not enough evidence is given to suggest that either study is unethical in and of itself.” Isn’t using vague, overly broad and misleading terminology for a study that is going to be made public intrinsically unethical—irresponsible, incompetent, untrustworthy?

Here is Rich (in CT)’s enlightening Comment of the Day on the post “The President’s Irresponsible And Untrue ‘One in Five Women Are Raped’ Claim”: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Research and Scholarship

The President’s Irresponsible And Untrue “One in Five Women Are Raped” Claim

In a video that aired during the Grammy Awards on Feb. 8, President Obama stated, as President of the United States and a certifiable hero to the kind of citizens who watch the Grammy Awards, this:

“Right now, nearly one in five women in America has been a victim of rape or attempted rape.”

Let’s begin with the fact that this is false, or at least, there is no reason to believe it is true, or even close to true. (More about this in a minute.) Was the President’s statement a lie? We can’t tell. If the President believes that rape is so common that 20% of all women are raped, then what he said is not a lie (a false statement knowingly made by the speaker in order to deceive), which leads to some uncomplimentary conclusions:

a. He has a remarkably low opinion of his own nation and culture…but then we knew that, didn’t we?

b. He believes what he is told without challenging it or examining an assertions’ origin, methodology and assumptions. Really? This guy is supposed to be brilliant. I would think such a jaw-dropping and frightening statistic would mandate some examination, but see a.

c.  Why hasn’t this been a major focus of his administration? Isn’t the President alarmed about this? Why is the Attorney General running around the country holding the hands of parents of dead kids who attack police officers and fighting attempts to make voters prove who they are at the polls if women are being raped like The U.S. is the Congo? Why is the Presidentusing his time to make faces on videos to sell Obamacare? Isn’t this clearly a reason to make one of his “I will not rest” speeches, in this case not resting until the rape frequency in the Land of the Free is lower than that of a Columbia ghetto? He believes 20% of the women in the country under his stewardship  being raped in their lifetimes doesn’t rate mentioning in his “if wishes were horses” State of the Union, and relegates this horrendous health and crime emergency to…the Grammys?

If Obama doesn’t know if the stat is true, but said it anyway, then he was irresponsible. He’s President of the United States; people believe him, even after the shattered pledge of transparency and “If you like  your health care plan…” and the “red line” and all the rest. He can not fairly, honestly, ethically state that something is true when he doesn’t know whether it is true or not. That is a lie, then: not the statistic itself, but the implication that he believes it.

Or he knows the statement is false, and made it to deceive, because the ends justifies the means.

In the discussion following last week’s post about the persistence of the false narrative that Bush’s 2000 electoral vote victory was “stolen,” I briefly referenced the now mostly abandoned fake “1 in five” statistic  on campus rape, the one that prompted the 2014 Unethical Quote of the Year from Senator Claire McCaskill when it was debunked. This prompted blog warrior Liberal Dan to re-state the President’s proposition, since he is one of those people who continue to believe the President despite all evidence to the contrary. “One in 5 women are raped,” he wrote, unequivocally, linking to a 2011 New York Times study.

I wish I had the time and space to muse about what it says about an intelligent American when a stat like that one, whether it is used by the Times, the President, or Lena Dunham, doesn’t set off his or her ethics alarms, Fake-Stat-O-Meter and bullshit buzzer. This is what happens, though, when the President makes a factual assertion. I knew the stat was crap; I just don’t have the time to prove it’s crap to people who want to believe it. I assumed someone would pretty quickly, and sure enough, the Washington Post’s hard-working, liberal-biased but diligently trying to compensate Fact-checker Glenn Kessler came through.

In his Washington Post column today, Kessler gives us the results of his research into Obama’s lazy/irresponsible/dishonest claim. His findings? Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

Advice Malpractice: Good Advice Columnist, Bad Advice Columnist

"Go jump in a lake!"

“Go jump in a lake!”

I cannot imagine being so bereft of wisdom, friends and mentors that I would ever be moved to ask a stranger to advise me regarding an important decision based solely on a letter describing my problem. Nevertheless, a lot of poor souls apparently do, and because they do, many of them probably act on the advice they get from Beth, Abby, The Ethicist and the rest. This means that anyone with the ego and chutzpah to hold themselves out as qualified to give such advice is ethically obligated to be able to do a competent job at it, and at very least to “do no harm.” Yes, unlike the law, advice columnist is one of the professions where the traditional ethical mission of medicine is not just appropriate, but essential.

Most advice columnists in the media are not competent, and some are dangerously reckless. The worst thing an advice columnist can do is to use the trusting and needy stranger as a potential recruit to steer toward the columnist’s ideologically-driven goals. The question being asked by desperate advice seekers, after all, is not “What would you do?” but rather “What should I do?” If the columnist answers the question presuming that the advice-seeker does or should see the world as the advice columnist does, then doing harm is the likely result.

Carolyn Hax ( Washington Post) is a wonderful advice columnist, and Emily Yoffe (“Dear Prudence”) is the other kind. Two recent responses by them illustrate the distinction between competent, skilled and ethical advice, and advice column malpractice. Continue reading

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Filed under Daily Life, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Love, Romance and Relationships, Workplace

Five Ethics Observations On The US’s Paris March Snub

world-leaders-paris-march

In case you didn’t catch it, more than 40 world leaders joined the start of a Paris march for unity against terrorism and for freedom of speech, linking arms in a demonstration of solidarity. Even Netanyahu and Abbas were there! The Paris march may have included more than 1.6 million marchers before it was done, reportedly the largest demonstration ever. More than three million have now marched across France in response to the deaths of 17 resulting from extremist attacks in Paris last week, beginning with the executions of the staff of the satirical newspaper, “Charlie Hebdo.”

You would expect, and I am sure that the world expected, that the United States of America, reputedly the leader of the free world and the nation that most symbolizes the human right of free speech, would have participated in the event with enthusiasm, conviction, and prominence. But no. President Barack Obama did not come to Paris to join with his fellow world leaders. He did not send Vice President Biden either. Though Attorney General Holder was in Paris, he was not directed to attend the march, and did not.  The United States was only represented by its ambassador, who is not a world leader, and whose job it is to attend routine functions large and small.

Initially the criticism of the obviously intentional snub was muted, with the toadying mainstream news media, as has been its standard operating procedure since 2008, acting and speaking as if there was nothing amiss. Fox News, also as usual, was the exception, but since that network is isolated and pigeon-holed as a reflexive Obama critic “no matter what he does,” this was initially ignored as more right-wing carping. Then, to his great credit, CNN’s Jake Tapper took to Twitter to say  that he was “a little disappointed personally” at the lack of a strong U.S. presence, and in a later statement, escalating to saying that he “was ashamed.” He then wrote in an opinion piece…

“I find it hard to believe that collectively President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Attorney General Eric Holder — who was actually in France that day for a conference on counterterrorism — just had no time in their schedules on Sunday. Holder had time to do the Sunday shows via satellite but not to show the world that he stood with the people of France?

There was higher-level Obama administration representation on this season’s episodes of “The Good Wife” on CBS.”

Good for Jake Tapper, one of the few relatively objective broadcast journalists who is worthy of public attention and trust. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Ethics Quote of the Week: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)

President Obama's leadership education progress: no change. Sorry.

President Obama’s leadership education progress: no change. Sorry.

“Now, that’s just not the way you do legislation. It’s not the way a democracy works. And it’s not the way the … three branches of government should work.”

—- Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat who supports the stalled Keystone Pipeline, referring to President Obama’s preemptive announcement that he would veto the bill before he knew exactly what the final bill would be.

President’s Obama’s supporters should pay attention to this episode: even if the President has a flat learning curve, perhaps they are more teachable. Manchin is right. Anyone with a passing familiarity of how Presidential leadership has worked in the past, is supposed to work, and is well understood by both scholars and practitioners to work, recognizes that this is a sparkling example of the obtuse refusal of Barack Obama not merely to master the skills of his job, but even to acknowledge them.

I really don’t care a fig about the pipeline. I think the President’s opposition is foolish—this is a bone thrown to the most extreme climate change activists, for there is no reliable research that shows that the pipeline will “accelerate global warming”—but my understanding of all the  factors involved is an inch deep. I really don’t care about it. I do care that the President doesn’t know how to do his job, and would prefer to make sure that Democrats can keep saying that he would have accomplished so much if Republicans hadn’t blocked his every brilliant plan.

A veto is a bargaining tool. Only Obama, of all of our Chief Executives, has failed to grasp that. The opposoition wants something. This means that you, as President, have an opportunity to get something you want. You negotiate. You horse trade. You bluff. Maybe you can’t come to an agreement. Maybe you can’t trade the pipeline, with some further limitations, for, say, your extravagant plan to make community college free for all, which otherwise has no chance whatsoever of ever happening. But you try. it’s called “being President.” It’s called “leadership.” It’s called “competence.”

And yes, it’s also called Democracy and the three branch system.

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Filed under Character, Environment, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership

Unethical Quote of the Week: Ampersand on “Alas! A Blog”

Into the Woods

There is no reason in the world, other than Hollywood’s endless racism and lack of imagination, for this movie (or the original play, alas) to have an all-white cast. Why do movies feel like they’d rather die than show us a diverse cast? (And please don’t say “they cast the best people for the roles.” I thought the whole cast was good, but Streep was the only one who turned in a performance so unique that you couldn’t imagine anyone else doing the role.)

—–Ampersand, a.k.a. Barry Deutsch, opining on the assets and deficits of Rob Marshall’s film adaptation of “Into the Woods” on his blog

I hate to pick on Barry—OK, that’s not true, I enjoy it immensely—but this statement could stand as the distillation of knee-jerk liberal thinking on race, and it is wrong in so many ways that I hesitate to start counting. The sentiment, however, poses a nice counterpoint to the discussion here about the black James Bond controversy, so I can’t resist taking aim at it.

1. So casting a mega-million dollar film—-in a dicey genre (Have you heard? Big budget Hollywood musicals died in the Sixties…) and a limited audience—with actors who comport with that audience’s expectations of the musical the film is based on is racist, eh? More unfair words and inexcusable race-baiting were seldom uttered in word or written in ink. If a director had a vision that supported casting African American actors in traditional Grimms’ fairy tale roles and could make it work, I would salute him, but Rob Marshall had other priorities. He knew that every cut would be scrutinized and attacked by the Sondheim fanatics (which, by the way, are as white as a dove convention in a blizzard); he knew that the show itself was seriously flawed; he knew that every single adaptation of a Sondheim musical (“West Side Story” doesn’t count) has been a critical and box office bomb. He had every reason to keep his casting choices as close to the traditional images of the characters and the way they were portrayed on Broadway, and none of those reasons were racism.

2. It’s impressive how casually a race-obsessed progressive will accuse a professional of racism as a first response. Irresponsible, unfair, disrespectful, and in this case, ignorant of both commerce and art. Continue reading

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