Tag Archives: hubris

Ethics Takeaways From Donald Trump’s Reply To Jake Tapper’s Question About “Traditional Marriage”

TrumpBoorish, arrogant blight on the American landscape that Donald Trump is, he has his uses.

Trump is that amusing if tragic anomaly, the low information Presidential candidate, kind of like Michele Bachmann. On Friday, right after the SCOTUS gay marriage decision was announced, he sent out a tweet blaming Chief Justice John Roberts for it, even though Roberts was one of the dissenters. Today, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked him to explain his stated support for “traditional marriage” by explaining Trump’s own non-traditional marital conduct in that context:

“What do you say to a lesbian who’s married or a gay man who’s married who says, ‘Donald Trump, what’s traditional about being married three times?’”

Trump’s marvelous response….

“Well, they have a very good point. But I’ve been a very hardworking person. And actually, I have a great marriage, I have a great wife now. My [first] two wives were very good..I really don’t say anything. I’m just, Jake, I’m for traditional marriage.”

….is a cornucopia of ethics-related information:

1. “Well, they have a very good point.” Translation: “I haven’t actually thought about this issue very much, I’m just asserting a position that seems to the one I think Republican voters who have thought about this as little as I have will agree with. Don’t expect me to be consistent or profound.”

Take-away: Trump has no respect for the public, his party, the office he purports top be running for, or the people who care deeply about the gay marriage issue, so he has literally devoted no time or effort to understanding the issues of the day, including this one. That attitude is, of course, an insult to all of us.

2. “But I’ve been a very hardworking person. “ The King’s Pass! Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Me, On the Presidential Candidacy Of Donald Trump

uncle-sam-suicide

From my post in 2011 titled, Unethical U.S. Presidential Candidacies: Is Trump’s the All-Time Worst?, which suddenly became green again in the wake of the horrifying news that The Donald is running for Presient again, for real, this time, or as close to real as Trump ever gets. I wrote:

“Donald Trump is perfectly happy to make a mockery of the presidential nomination and election processes while distorting them too. If he manages to convince enough fools to vote for him, hell, sure…he’d have a blast running for President. If his run peters out, it’s still worth lots of publicity, and increases the value of the Trump “brand.” Even the most unethical of the previous candidacies were based on a sincere, if misguided belief that the country’s welfare would be served by it. Does Trump have that belief? I wonder. No, his can’t be called the most unethical candidacy. But it is reckless, and it is intentionally appealing to the worst in 21st Century American character: fear, celebrity worship, ignorance, and materialism. Meanwhile, every second of attention his candidacy distracts from serious consideration of our nation’s leadership reduces the chances of the public doing its hardest and most important job carefully and competently.”

More heartfelt and truer words have never been composed in my brain.

You can read some selected examples of Trump’s miserable character here, and I have only scratched the surface. Every other candidate for President, including Hillary Clinton, was just elevated in stature by Trump’s announcement.

Anyone, indeed anything, looks good compared to him.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Leadership

Lincoln Chafee’s Batty Ethics Argument For The Metric System

Lincoln_Chafee_official_portrait

Ugh. I can’t let this pass.

Yesterday I happened upon Lincoln Chafee on one of the Sunday shows, giving his elevator pitch for why he should be President. You may recall that Chafee, former Republican Senator and Governor of Rhode Island, turned independent after being defeated for re-election and now is following Bernie Sanders’ example, declaring himself a Democrat for the purpose of getting nominated. Chafee is another politician, like the Bush bothers and Hillary Clinton, who owes his initial political prominence to being related to a popular political figure rather than his own innate abilities. As he made obvious the more he spoke…

His two primary campaign positions were 1) “Wage peace”—whatever that means. This is right up there with John Lennon songs as serious policy discourse,  though I’m sure ISIS is fascinated by the concept, and 2) Adopt the metric system. Chafee borrowed this from the idea machine known as the Andrew Johnson administration, as Andy was the first President to officially acknowledge the benefits of the U.S. adopting the less eccentric measurement system used by Europe. I’m sure we all can agree that this is one of the most pressing issues facing the country today.

However, Chafee really got my attention, and sparked this post, when he attempted to combine his two prime objectives, which is no mean trick. I tried to find a transcript, video or a news report to document this, but so far I have failed: maybe everyone is trying to be nice. I swear I am not making this up, though I wish I were.

Chafee argued that the United States should adopt the Metric system because it invaded Iraq and didn’t find the weapons of mass destruction.

He really did. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Family, Government & Politics, History, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, U.S. Society

Should Google Be Trusted To Censor Websites According To What It Determines To Be “True”?

Here's irony for you: when Google says it can develop software to decide who's not telling the truth, it's lying.

Here’s irony for you: when Google says it can develop software to decide who’s not telling the truth, it’s lying.

Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil.” It’s well-debased by now: agreeing to help China censor the internet modeled  a non-existent distinction between “don’t be evil” and “don’t assist evil.” I’m not ready to call Google’s looming truth algorithm “evil,” but it is certainly sinister and dangerous.

Google’s search engine rose to dominate the field by using the number of incoming links to a web page to determine where it appears in search results. Pages that many other sites link to are ranked higher. “The downside is that websites full of misinformation can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them,” says Newscientist.

Now a Google research team is altering the system to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its web popularity. Instead of counting incoming links, the proposed new system would count the number of “incorrect” facts within a page. “A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy,” says the team. Each page will get its computer-determined Knowledge-Based Trust score, which the software will derive by tapping into Google’s  Knowledge Vault, a repository of what Google’s claims is Absolute Truth based on web consensus.  Web pages that contain contradictory information will be bumped down the rankings, so fewer minds will be warped by non-conforming information.

Naturally, the Left, assuming that its view of the universe is the unassailably correct and virtuous one, loves this idea. That should put that”climate change denialists” in their places–at the bottom of web searches. Says Salon, which never met a conservative argument that wasn’t a lie (NEVER met? Oh, oh. There goes Ethics Alarms down the search results!), “Even though the former program is just in the research stage, some anti-science advocates are upset about the potential development, likely because their websites will become buried under content that is, well, true.” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, The Internet, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Nobody Should Be Cheering The Poll Showing President Obama As Regarded As ‘The Worst President Since World War II'”

ObamaVeteran Ethics Alarms commenter Glenn Logan scores his fourth Comment of the Day, but his first in two years. (He’s been busy.) Here are Glenn’s observations on the recent post regarding a poll showing widespread public disappointment in President Obama’s performance, and the conservative gloating about it in some quarters. The post was Nobody Should Be Cheering The Poll Showing President Obama As Regarded As “The Worst President Since World War II”

Two things strike me about this:

1. The problem is, we put too much on Obama’s shoulders. We (collectively) asked him to change the culture of Washington in return for our vote. Failing to do that was inevitable, and our seeing is as his personal failure is more a reflection of our own incompetence as voters (we are the only ones who can change Washington) and the imputation of superhuman status to an iconic (i.e. “post-racial” president) than Obama’s.

2. There is a heck of a gap between failure and excellence. The problem is, Obama’s hubris, which is at the root of all his problems, has produced in his presidency exactly what it usually produces in other walks of life: Misjudgment, tone-deaf partisanship, arrogant dissimulation, and a complete failure to lead. This is objectively where he went wrong, rather than merely running afoul of unfairly elevated expectations and partisan infighting.

We asked Obama to do what we are charged with doing. That was our failure. President Obama failed to execute his office with even minimal competence, and then blamed everyone but himself. Not only that, the American people invested so much in the idea of “change” that his allies felt could not afford even a semblance of disagreement.

So collectively, they did what people almost always do in that situation — circled the wagons and acted like the failure was success in hopes of convincing as many people as possible. They are still certain (because they think they can’t afford not to be) that Obama’s presidency is fully dressed, despite the evidence of their own eyes.

It’s always bad for us when our leaders fail, and schadenfreude is an inevitable, if unfortunate reaction. The irony of celebrating failure and the concomitant lessening of our country is tragic comedy worthy of Shakespeare.

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Ethics Quote of the Week: Prof. Robert Kolter

"Miss me? I'm baaaack!!!"

“Miss me? I’m baaaack!!!”

“The scientists doing this work are so immersed in their own self-aggrandizement, they have become completely blind to the irresponsibility of their acts.”

Robert Kolter, professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School, condemning the work of Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his research team, which managed to recreate the Spanish Flu virus that killed an estimated 50 million people in 1918.

The reincarnated 1918 virus was recreated from eight genes found in avian flu viruses isolated from populations of wild ducks. Using a technique known as “reverse genetics,” Kawaoka’s team rebuilt the entire virus so that it was 97 % identical to the 1918 strain, identified from viruses recovered from frozen 1918 corpses.  Said Kawaoka: “The point of the study was to assess the risk of avian viruses currently circulating in nature. We found genes in avian influenza viruses quite closely related to the 1918 virus and, to evaluate the pandemic potential should such a 1918-like virus emerge, identified changes that enabled it to transmit in ferrets.”

And, in order to assess that risk, the research created a completely unnecessary one that if mankind proves fallible again, could, as various Stephen King and Michael Crichton novels and movies have shown, kill us all.

Eventually, one of these hubris-warped and ethics-free fools might just eradicate humanity…all in the interest of scientific inquiry, of course.

 

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Filed under Character, Environment, History, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

Ethics Dunces: The Buncombe County (North Carolina) Republican Party.

"Who would have guessed that he would look so bad in that interview?"

“Who would have guessed that he would look so bad in that interview?”

If a Republican affiliate has to force its chairman to resign after he proves to the nation that he is 1) so racially insensitive that he might dress up in blackface, tell the AP that Steppin Fetchit was ‘hilarious,’ and call President Obama a “jigaboo”on “Meet the Press” and he 2) doesn’t see what the fuss is, such an affiliate is not responding swiftly to newly revealed crisis. Such an affiliate has a much bigger problem. It has a surfeit of racists, incompetents and idiots. True, Don Yelton, the recently sacked two-term chair of the Buncombe County Republican Party in North Carolina, didn’t quite go that far in his jaw-dropping interview on Comedy Central, but he still spouted enough offensive comments for Match.com to pair him with Michael Richards. Watching the interview, which one can see here, the first impulse might be to ask, “What was he thinking?” Upon reflection, however, the proper question is “Is this man capable of thought?” Continue reading

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