Monthly Archives: January 2018

Comment Of The Day: “The Obama-Farrakhan Photo”

I don’t think I agree with this comment regarding the post about how a  photograph of Senator Obama smiling next to Louis Farrakhan came to be hidden from public view until now, and how its reappearance has launched speculation on the Right that Obama was elected by a public unaware of his radical, anti-white proclivities. It is a very interesting comment, though, and raises several excellent issues about how actions, motives and truth interact. I may author a detailed rebuttal in the comments, but the core question this raises is this: To what extent does the fact that an action was taken to hide something serve as material evidence that there that something that needed to be hidden?

The results of the Ethics Alarms poll asking what the photo proved, incidentally, was that 86% of those voting believed that it proved nothing regarding Obama’s feelings to toward Farrakhan  at all.

Here is johnburger2013‘s Comment of the Day on the post, The Obama-Farrakhan Photo:

Methinks our faithful ethics blogger is being, according to our friends across the pond, a bit “cheeky”, hoping to inspire a lively debate, knowing fully well that a photo of Trump with David Duke would be conclusive evidence that the present Chief Executive Officer of the US is merely waiting for his hood to come back from the cleaners so that he can don it and go out for a fun night on the town.

For me, the real ethics issue is not the photo, but that Congressional Black Caucus leaned on a journalist to kill its publication and the journalist capitulated. Other Bill, VPJ and Charles Marschner are correct: publication of the photo (probably) would not have changed the 2008 election results.

But, let’s ask the bigger question: Why kill it?

First, who is Askia Muhammad? According to Wikipedia, he is a poet, journalist, radio producer, commentator, and a photojournalist. He has served as the editor of Muhammad Speaks and as the head of the Washington office of The Final Call, the official newspapers of the Nation of Islam, which incidentally, is the organization headed by the right-honorable Louis Farrakhan, from Chicago, IL. (Who else was from Chicago? Might it have been a little-known senator but rising star in the Democrat party? Hmmm.) Continue reading

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Trevor Noah’s Critics

Trevor Noah, the current Daily Show host who is more thoughtful than funny, made the same points Ethics Alarms did regarding Hillary Clinton’s weasel-like response to the New York Times exposé revealing that she protected a top adviser of hers, Burns Strider, Clinton’s faith adviser and founder of the American Values Network, when he was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing one of Clinton’s young subordinates during her 2008 campaign.

“Hillary’s Grammy cameo came at a weird moment for her,” Noah said, referring to the “Fire and Fury” skit at the Grammys Sunday that featured  Clinton reading excerpts from the book. “Because last night’s theme was #MeToo, Time’s Up, which is a message Hillary found herself on the wrong side of over the weekend. Look, there’s a few areas where I don’t necessarily expect Hillary Clinton to nail it,” Noah continued, “managing emails, visiting Wisconsin, you know, weaknesses. But I won’t lie, I expected standing up for a woman on her staff to be one of her strengths. So the story is disturbing.”

“It’s possible that Hillary Clinton had a good explanation for why she kept this guy on over the objections of her top campaign advisers but instead of an explanation, all we got was this,” Noah said, regurgitating Hillary’s nauseating tweet,

“A story appeared today about something that happened in 2008. I was dismayed when it occurred, but was heartened the young woman came forward, was heard, and had her concerns taken seriously and addressed…I called her today to tell her how proud I am of her and to make sure she knows what all women should: we deserve to be heard,”

“Yeah, ‘women deserve to be heard,’ and then quietly reassigned,” Noah said in reaction to this. “‘Thank you for speaking up — now into the closet…It feels like Hillary’s not only trying to dodge all the blame, she wants to present herself as having always been on this woman’s side, which doesn’t fly, because not only did the woman get reassigned, but this guy, Burns Strider, he went on to get another job in Democratic politics, where he got fired for doing the same thing to other women,” Noah said, correctly. “So you could argue that if Hillary had fired him, she would have been protecting many women, instead of just herself.”

I almost gave Noah an Ethics Hero for this, but thought better of it. The fact that none of his All-Trump-Bashing-All-The-Time comic colleagues, like Colbert, Kimmel, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher and Saturday Night Live lack the integrity to criticize Clinton doesn’t make him a hero. It’s a little like giving a medal to the only soldier who doesn’t run away as soon as the shooting starts. We should respect consistent standards and integrity instead of hypocrisy, not treat them like they are qualifications for sainthood.

However, the criticism Noah received on Twitter for stating the truth was an education in how people delude themselves and pollute their values with rationalizations to avoid facing uncomfortable facts: Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On MSNBC Host Joy Reid’s State of the Union Tweet

I would like to ignore MSNBC’s racist, vicious African-American host Joy Reid. She deserves to be ignored. Sometimes, however, I can’t help myself, as with the her tweet above from last night. If someone respectable wrote that, my head might explode. The tweet’s not so far from Reid’s usual warped point of view that it prompts that reaction, thankfully. Still, I am forced to observe and ask…

1 Who is she tweeting to? What kind of Americans regard religion, family, law enforcement, the military, and love of country outdated and obsolete values?

2. This increasingly appears to be to be the attitude of the majority of the Left. If it isn’t, then Democrats certainly gave the impression it is, based on their studied contempt when such institutions and values were evoked in the President’s speech. If they were communicating what they don’t really believe, then they were lying. If they really oppose those values that they scowled about, then Republicans should remind voters of who is running against them this year: people who think like Joy Reid.

3. Since when is “nationalism” a sinister word and concept, especially when it is defined as Reid defines it: religion, family, rule of law, national defense, and love of America? Reid labeling those Fifties values is just false history: Every President up to Obama made those same values essential to the vision of America they projected.

Wrote Ann Althouse in part on her blog, regarding the New York Times Reidish critique,

Was Trump’s SOTU theme “nationalism”? Was it devoid of values?…Individualism is a value, and the whole speech was expressive of the value of individualism….
Freedom is a value. Trump spoke of it in connection with our kinship with freedom-loving people in foreign countries: We “stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom”… Freedom is a universal value that we share with good people all over the world and that “gave birth to a special place called America.”…Self-government is a value. The “yearning… to live in freedom” led to “a revolutionary idea: that [Americans] could rule themselves.” By instituting a system of self-government, Americans “light up the world.”

All old-fashioned, irrelevant, defunct, discredited values from those racist Fifties, right, Joy? Continue reading

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The Emotional Support Peacock And The Tragedy Of The Commons

The Tragedy of the Commons is a term originating in ancient economic theory describing a situation in which a shared-benefit system is destroyed by individual users who selfishly behave contrary to the common good by depleting or spoiling the resource involved. Ignorance or denial of this principle, which is based on centuries of observing the human race, is core to progressive and liberal ideology, unfortunately. Another way of expressing the tendency is the old adage, “Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile.”

Federal regulations over the last decade–I’m assuming under Democratic auspices, but I don’t care to check,  it doesn’t matter to the post—have required airlines to accommodate passengers with not just seeing eye dogs but “therapy animals” and “emotional support animals” that supply the passengers who own them with relief from anxiety. These creatures must fly at no cost and uncaged, and so far, no discrimination regarding species have been set.  It’s a nice regulation, don’t you think?  I think its nice.

However, if there ever was a policy that guaranteed the Tragedy of the Commons, this was it. Many passengers exploit the rules by calling their pets “therapy animals”—and really, aren’t they all?—to save money and hassle. The number of animals flying in the cabin with passengers doubled, and doubled again.  Some passengers were bitten by dogs. Some animals defecated in the aisles. Some of the passengers  flew or attempted to accompanied by  comfort turkeys, goats, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, reptiles, spiders, and even more exotic companions. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/31/18: The State Of The Union Speech Didn’t Stink Edition

Good Morning.

1 About the President’s speech. In yesterday’s Warm-up, I yearned for the honesty of Gerald Ford, who had the courage to by-pass the usual State of the Union happy talk and admit that the nation was not in a good place. Now that President Trump has delivered his first State of the Union message, I have to admit that being positive, or as my late father would have said, quoting his favorite poem, keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, is a good approach too.

The President has managed to find an excellent speechwriter. That is an admirable and responsible thing. These were not, unlike his Inaugural speech was, Trump’s own words, but he gets credit for them, or should, just as much as Ronald Reagan got credit for Peggy Noonan’s soaring rhetoric and  Jack Kennedy deserved the accolades he received for Ted Sorenson’s justly famous scripting. [The full text of last night’s speech is here.] The SOTU was also well-delivered. I know a lot of people would say that any speech this President delivers was horrible and he looked like an ass even if it was the equivalent of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and delivered with the skill of Tom Hanks, but that’s their problem. Not to be repetitive, but  such people need to understand the effects of confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance if they are going to venture outside their little bubbles and echo chambers.

In fact, this is a good test of your Trump-hating friends’, or your own, integrity. If you can’t concede that the speech was at least pretty good, then you are no longer able to perceive reality where this President is concerned. In no way can that be a good thing. Fix it. Continue reading

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The Obama-Farrakhan Photo

A  photo has emerged showing former President Barack Obama, then a U.S. Senator,  posing with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the black nationalist Nation of Islam. Obama and the anti-white, anti-Semitic demagogue are beaming at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting in 2005. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls his organization a hate-group, but then they call a lot of organizations hate groups. I’d call the Nation of Islam a racist group that peddles hate.

Journalist Askia Muhammed, who took the photo, is publishing it in a new book called “The Autobiography of Charles 67X.” He says that after the event,  the Congressional Black Caucus contacted him and demanded to have the disk. “I gave the original disk to him and in a sense swore myself to secrecy because I had quietly made a copy for myself,” Muhammad told Fox News, adding that the CBC was concerned that a photo with Farrakhan could hurt the Obama’s Presidential prospects.

The conservative news media is writing about this, while the mainstream news media, with a few exceptions like the New Yorker, is ignoring it. Writes Vinson Cunningham, in that publication,

“[Askia] Muhammad, that anonymous C.B.C. functionary, and Farrakhan, with that faux-harmless smile, all knew it: if that picture spreads in 2007 or 2008, a whole different history ensues.”

If that’s true, then the fact that the photo was buried is news, right? But is that true? Why should it be true? Why would such a photograph mean anything at all? Continue reading

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Now THIS Is An Unethical Judge! (Plus An Important ProEthics Announcement…) [UPDATED!]

 

Judge Jack Robison,  a state district judge in Comal County, Texas, interrupted jury deliberations to announce that God had informed him that a woman accused of trafficking a teen girl for sex should be be found not guilty. Robisonapologized to jurors for the interruption, but explained “when God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it.”  To their credit, the jury found Gloria Romero-Perez guilty of  trafficking anyway.

Mysteriously, 12 perfect pillars of salt were later discovered outside the courthouse.

Kidding!

Judge Robison recused himself before the trial’s sentencing phase, for which he deserves some credit. Says a local news source,  “Robison’s actions could trigger an investigation from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.” COULD trigger? COULD TRIGGER??????

This, following the unethical sentencing performance by the judge in the Larry Nasser trial,  is the tipping point for me. Although I have an excellent and constantly updated judicial ethics seminar that I will customize for different jurisdictions (I will soon be adding, “Don’t take messages from God mid-trial to the Texas version, for example), I almost never have the opportunity to teach it. Judges, unlike lawyers, don’t have ethics requirements other that the local Codes of Judicial Conduct. They don’t have to take regular classes in judicial ethics either, and many of them—like,oh, just to pull a name out of the air, ROY MOORE–couldn’t tell a tenet of judicial ethics from a cross-eyed echidna.  Most judicial organizations don’t budget for ethics training.

Thus I am announcing, here and now, that henceforth my ethics training and consulting company ProEthics, LTD., will provide me, my judicial ethics course and the extensive materials it includes for any judicial group of any size anywhere in the country at no cost, save for my travel and, if necessary, lodging.

This will be offered as a public service throughout 2018, and we will evaluate the policy at the end of the year.

___________________________________

UPDATE: This, from the ABA…

Few federal judges face consequences as a result of misconduct complaints, and few of the complaints become public, according to a CNN analysis.

CNN reviewed nearly 5,000 judicial orders related to misconduct complaints and found that the documents “are remarkably short on details.” Since 2006, fewer than 10 cases a year were referred to a special committee for a closer investigation, and in six of the past 11 years no judges were sanctioned for misconduct. In some high-profile cases, judges facing misconduct complaints retire, putting an end to the investigation and preserving access to their pensions, the CNN investigation found…

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