Tag Archives: trust

Playing Dangerous Cognitive Dissonance Games With U.S. The Supreme Court

The cognitive dissonance scale, now being used to weaken a crucial U.S. institution for political gain.

The cognitive dissonance scale, now being used to weaken a crucial U.S. institution for political gain.

Of all government institutions, the U.S. Supreme Court has traditionally only trailed the Presidency in public trust and esteem. There are several good reasons for this. One is that being appointed for life, the Justices are presumed to be less subject to the personal and political agendas that make the positions of politicians suspect. Another is that the Court has often taken heroic stances that made the United States a better nation and more just culture. A third is that unlike elected political offices, that of a judge requires an education and technical expertise that the average citizen does not possess. The Justices are traditionally accorded the deference given to experts. Perhaps the most important reason we trust the Court is because we need to do so. It was made the third branch to protect the Constitution against violations of core rights, as well as to be an objective mediator when the other branches, or states, or courts, reach an impasse. Of the many ingenious devices the Founders put in place, the U.S. Supreme Court is one of the wisest.

That the Court is accorded inherent respect and trust is essential to the stability of our government. What the Court says, goes, and the culture and society, including the most furious dissenters in political parties and interest groups, must follow a ruling and constrain its efforts within those boundaries. There have been times when the Court recognized that its unique credibility obligated it to intercede in dangerous conflicts that might otherwise escalate to social unrest or worse. The 2000 Presidential election was a potentially dangerous situation because the result in Florida rested on a margin of error that the available technology was incapable of resolving with certainty.  Unlike the similarly dubious results in the 1960 election, the initial losing candidate and his party decided to plunge the nation into an electoral morass, in this case one complicated by politicized state courts, vague local statutes, confusing ballots, partisan media reports and varying standards of what constituted a vote, with the rotten cherry on top being a rare situation (it had happened only three times before)  in which a popular vote loser was  the apparent electoral vote winner. The Supreme Court stepped up and stopped it from spinning out of control, in essence declaring a winner. It was a courageous and responsible act, one that many (including me) predicted, and though it came at a high cost, one that exemplified why the Court’s public acceptance must be high—so it has some room to fall when it has to take a controversial stand.

This crisis was not the beginning of the effort by parties and activists to discredit the Court by impugning its motives and undermining the public’s trust, but it caused a permanent escalation. It was when the insinuation that a Justices nominated by Republican Presidents (or Democratic ones, depending on who’s leading the chorus of critics) see their job as bolstering that party’s policies and interests became routine. Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

The Case Of The Trash-Talking Doctors, And The Price Of Trust

So, did you hear the one about why surgeons wear those masks?

So, did you hear the one about why surgeons wear those masks?

When I first heard about this case, I thought the jury award of $500,000 was ridiculous. The more I think about it, the more I begin to think it was appropriate.

Before his colonoscopy, a Vienna, Virginia patient pressed record on his smartphone, not intending to record everything that was said but ending up with the entire proceedings anyway. That was a half-million dollar stroke of luck for him, and the confirmation of dark suspicions for the rest of us. The resulting recording revealed that the surgical team amused itself by insulting and demeaning the semi-conscious anesthetized man throughout the procedure.

The anesthesiologist, Tiffany M. Ingham, was the ringleader and the primary offender.  Among her inspired bon motsContinue reading

65 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

The Most Unethical Prosecutor Of All: Baltimore’s Marilyn Mosby

Mosby

In a legal ethics seminar I taught this week for government attorneys, the vast majority of them voted that Marilyn Mosby’s vainglorious announcement of charges against six officers in the death of Freddie Gray was prosecutorial abuse, and a blatant violation of professional ethics rule 3.8, which directs that (this is the Maryland version)…

The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:

(a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause;


(e) except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent an employee or other person under the control of the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6 or this Rule.

Of course it was a breach of ethics, and an outrageous one. Her statement, which I discussed here, not only overstated her justification for bringing the charges, which were rushed and announced before a careful investigation was completed, it also stated that the officers were guilty, and worse, that the charges were being brought because the demonstrating and rioting protesters has demanded it. Mosby’s words suggested that she stood with the mob. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Race

Warning: The Companion Rule To “Bias Makes You Stupid” Is “Immunity To Bias Makes You Dead”

terrorist

The picture above shows Denis Cuspert, a German rapper and the enterprising creator of the T-shirt he is holding in the shot on the left. The photo on the right shows Denis in his current incarnation, Abu Talha Al-Almani. He formally joined the Islamic State sometime in April 2014. It is believed that he has become the Islamic State’s chief propagandist in the German language, inspiring disillusioned young Germans to become jihadists. In November 2014, he appeared in an Islamic State video holding a severed head.

I saw the photo above online this morning, and it reminded me that I have never made an important point about bias explicit here. Bias causes a lot of problems, in society and in the life of individuals, but those who furiously condemn bias  and demand that we should eradicate it from human nature are reckless and ignorant, and often dishonest as well. Bias is a crucial evolutionary feature that allows human beings to avoid making the same mistake twice, or a hundred times. It is linked to trust, and leads to wariness. Without the ability to form biases, every one of us would be fatally naive, and a victim waiting to be harmed. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Character, Daily Life, Ethics Scoreboard classics, Ethics Train Wrecks, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Give Credit Where It’s Due: Bill Clinton’s Mastery Of Deceit Is Awe Inspiring And Unequalled

best-of-the-best-award_MCSAsked by CNN’s Jake Tapper about Hillary Clinton’s lack of trustworthiness according to a recent poll, Bill Clinton replied, solemnly, “I’d trust her with my life.”

Brilliant deceit. His response is completely irrelevant to the question, misleads the audience, bolsters Hillary and may even be true, but it in no way either refutes the proposition that Hillary can’t be trusted, nor contributes any useful information for those who would like to examine the issue.

Whether Bill trusts Hillary is as useless to those not engaged in mutually beneficial enterprises with her as the fact that Clyde trusted Bonnie, Wyatt Earp trusted Doc Holiday or the Godfather trusted Luca Brasi. There are very few people whom nobody can trust, even such trusted Clinton henchmen as Dick Morris and Paul Begala. The public wants to be able to trust a leader to do the right thing even when it doesn’t benefit his or her interests, to tell the truth, and to have integrity. None of these character traits apply to Hillary Clinton, or Bill, for that matter. Sure he probably trusts her “with his life,” because he knows his life is useful to Hillary. “I’d trust her with my life” sounds like a ringing endorsement to the easily misled and confused voter, which is the Clinton base. As Bill knows well, the statement doesn’t mean anyone else can or should trust her.

You just have to tip your hat to him. Nobody makes the truth dance like Bill Clinton. He can even make an endorsement from someone more untrustworthy than Hillary—him–sound persuasive.

Wow.

10 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics

The Unethical Job Of Hillary’s Paid Public Deceiver

liarWe were definitively introduced to Karen Finney when she delivered a vile concoction of deceit, misrepresentations, rationalizations and double-talk as Hillary Clinton’s surrogate to respond to the then emerging State Department e-mail scandal. Prepare to see and hear a lot of her, and since everything about Hillary involves deception, pretense and sleight-of-word, prepare to bang your head on the floor…that is, prepare if you care about ethics and transparency, or if you are not gullible, ignorant, or already a victim of Clinton Corruption.

Yesterday, CNN’s Jake Tapper tried to ask her a direct question regarding her position on the Pacific Partnership bill, a reasonable question since Congress just delivered a blow to its prospects of passage by voting down President Obama’s bid for fast track authority to negotiate its terms.

JAKE TAPPER: First I want to ask you about this breaking news in Washington D.C. today and about Secretary Clinton’s position on the President’s trade bill. In a 2012 speech in Australia, Clinton who was a big proponent of the Pacific Partnership bill said quote, “It sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free transparent fair trade. The kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.” It sounds to me like she is a big supporter of it but as a candidate she said nothing about it.

KAREN FINNEY: Well, but what you just read, that was from 2012 and we are now in 2015 and this deal has gone back and forth between the House and the Senate and then it sounds like we are going back and forth again another couple of times so that is part of why as you played earlier on your show, Hillary has made it very clear that she has her two kind of standards. Any trade deal has to meet those two tests and she has voted for trade agreements that she thought were good and she has voted against those that she thought were bad.

TAPPER: Okay so she opposes this one?

FINNEY: Well, no, that is why she has said that though that she really believes what’s really important from a policy perspective, not the political conversation, she really believes that the final language is really what is important. Because we can talk about currency manipulation but how do we get there? How do we accomplish that?

TAPPER: But Karen I am talking about policy because Democrats in the House and Senate have now voted on this. This is an issue that every single Democrat who has announced that they are running for the presidency has taken a position on except for the one who helped push it and did she even help write it? I believe she helped write it.

FINNEY: I can’t speak to that because I wasn’t at the State Department. But again I just go back to the bigger picture and that is what she has really been focused on. And I hear what you are saying and I know that there are people who, you know, they have things that they want her to say about this but she and, you know, you played her own words. This is how she has laid out her position on this issue in terms of does it protect American workers, does it keep America safe, what is the final language? I mean again you have seen the ping-pong back and forth…

TAPPER: But Obama says it does. Pelosi says it doesn’t. I don’t think. I’m not asking her about her personal life…

FINNEY: Do you really think we are at final language at this point? I don’t think we’re done at this point given the game.

TAPPER: Karen, isn’t this exactly what people hate about politicians? That they won’t take a position because as soon as they take a position they are so fearful what the response is going to be from voters? Like she was part of this administration. This administration supports this trade bill. Okay, what I don’t understand is why you just won’t say we oppose it now in its current form. We oppose it. We don’t support it anymore.

FINNEY: You know what Jake, I hear you. And again my point is I think when she has talked to voters what they have wanted to talk to her about is the economy and jobs and college affordability so…

TAPPER: This IS about the economy and jobs! This is the little switcheroo people do sometimes. Like as if I am asking about her hair or her clothes. I’m not. I’m asking about a trade deal.

FINNEY: I didn’t say that you were saying that. My point is she has made it very clear where she is broadly on ths deal. I don’t think we are at the final language…

TAPPER: So generally speaking she supports it?

FINNEY: Generally speaking any trade deal has to meet her two tests and that is where she is at.

TAPPER: I can see I am getting nowhere..

Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Search Engine Ethics Bulletin: Google’s Not Perfect, And That’s Not Unethical

Adam and Eve being thrown out of Eden hit the dinosaurs HARD...

Adam and Eve being thrown out of Eden hit the dinosaurs HARD…

Late last month, someone discovered, probably in the wake of all the pre-release publicity for “Jurassic World,” that the search “What happened to the dinosaurs?” turned up this site as its top result. This is a fundamentalist Christian site that is hilarious in its misinformation and ignorance, along with the inevitable smugness that routinely accompanies this kind of stubborn immunity to fact and logic. Here’s my favorite passage:

Representatives of all the kinds of air-breathing land animals, including the dinosaur kinds, went aboard Noah’s Ark. All those left outside the Ark died in the cataclysmic circumstances of the Flood, and many of their remains became fossils.

Boy, that must have been some boat. Today there was news of a controversy over whether the recently discovered “heaviest dinosaur” was only 40 tons rather than the earlier estimate of 65 tons. Since the beasts boarded the Ark two by two, this is  about 80 tons for just one species of dinosaur, Dreadnoutus, to go with 84 tons of Futalognkasaurus, 78 tons of Brachiosaurus, and 32 tons of Diplodocus, and that’s without the other 700 or so dinosaur species, which are estimated to be about a tenth of the actual total. Then Noah had to fit all the other animals on the ship…green alligators and long-necked geese, some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees, some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you’re born, he didn’t take along no unicorns.

But I digress. Continue reading

22 Comments

Filed under Animals, History, Literature, Religion and Philosophy, Science & Technology, The Internet