Morning Ethics Warm-Up,3/8/18: “What Can I Cover Before I’m Late For My Seminar In Atlanta?” Edition

Good morning, from another ProEthics road trip!

1 A life in a lie, or delusion? Today’s obituaries mark a rare variety of hoax that I had somehow missed: Alan Gershwin died, after a virtual lifetime of claiming that he was the illegitimate son of the famous composer, who never made it to  his 39th birthday. Read the Times story: it’s amazing. Alan essentially lived on that claim after he was discharged from service after WWII, based primarily on an uncanny resemblance to George. Was he a con man? If he believed his tale, he was not lying, just deluded. Gershwin recalls the more famous story of the American woman who said she was the Princess Anastasia.

2. Stormy weather…The most important lesson of the ongoing tabloid story involving the porn satr who is now suing President Trump is not the obvious ones. The major take-away is that this is what happens when an unholy alliance between the news media, political opponents and the Presidents themselves strip away the traditional and vital shield of public appreciation of the honor and respect the office of the Presidency has had in the past, since George Washington. Does anyone honestly believe that other Presidents did not have shady people in their personal lives who could have come forward with claims and tales embarrassing to them? Why didn’t they play the game the Stormy Daniels is engaged in? Again, the answer was simple cognitive dissonance scale reality. Traditionally the President has been so high on the scale that any gratuitous, publicity seeking attacker would fear the fury of public opinion, and correctly so. The idea of someone as low on the scale as aa porn star facing off against the President would have been unthinkable, and the news media would have left it to the National Enquirer to emblazon on its front page along with “Boy trapped in refrigerator eats foot!”

This is no longer true. The news media has treated the President and the office—no, they cannot be separated—with contempt since 2016. The President’s own boorish character has made it easy to do. Bill Clinton and his cigar had already taken out a big chunk of the Presidency’s force field, and now it is almost completely gone. The Presidency has been lowered in status so much that it will always be vulnerable now. Reagan restored much of the office’s sheen after Watergate and Nixon had muddied it, but I doubt the Presidency can ever recover its status. That will harm the United States in many ways going forward. For one thing, it means that individuals whose past personal conduct and character would have disqualified them from running when Presidents were measured against Washington, Lincoln and Eisenhower will only have to be seen as the equal of a President who had public pissing matches with pornography actresses. Stormy is just the beginning.

Good job, everybody!

3. Finally..This is a cute scam. Getting my seat assignment on line on American Airlines, I was told that I could pay a premium for an aisle seat, because records show I will do anything to avoid a middle seat. I paid it. But American had not shown me the plane lay-out. This flight had no middle seats.

I will be requesting a refund.

37 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

37 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up,3/8/18: “What Can I Cover Before I’m Late For My Seminar In Atlanta?” Edition

  1. Chris

    2. I see it as a good thing that politicians can no longer count on their power to shield themselves from the truth or intimidate those who wish to expose it. (And it’s beyond argument at this point that this affair did happen.) Trump is the most powerful man in the world, and he still might get taken down by sex workers. That’s almost inspiring. But you’re right; the damage to the presidency is done. We just have different ideas of who is primarily responsible for that damage.

    • Oh please. Bill Clinton paid a seven figure hush payment to his rape vict.. I mean… paramour. Presidents have been having affairs damn near since the American presidency existed. I’m not sure where I fall on how important such affairs are, but pretending that this phenomenon is new, or that Trump’s transgressions are uniquely bad isn’t just revisionist, it’s ignorant.

      • Chris

        I’m not sure why you think what you wrote contradicts anything I wrote.

        • Oh? I suppose I could be wrong, I happens. Tell us then; Who is it that you think is primarily responsible for the damage to the presidency?

          • Chris

            Trump. And if the media had been as harsh on Clinton as they are on Trump, and his affairs had sunk him and damaged the presidency more than they already did, then the primary culprit for that would still be Clinton.

              • Chris

                You haven’t even made your case.

                • Look, you have to get over your massive hate-boner for Trump and ask some basic questions of principle, things like: “Is having an affair a problem that should effect public policy?”. And to be fair… It might be! I’m not going to tell you what your principles are… But you have to apply them consistently. It’s why I’m not sure exactly where I fall on this, but I am VERY sure it’s been overblown.

                  Trump wasn’t a family values candidate, and he wasn’t a law and order candidate, so unlike the anti-gay candidates dragged out of their closets or the family values Catholics caught balls-deep in a hooker, there’s no hypocrisy here. All we have is a sex scandal. What do you think the outcome should be for a sex scandal?

                  Trump isn’t responsible for the overreaction of the media. He has to deal with it, and I sure wish he’d do a better job, but the fact of the matter is that the media thrives on taking things that aren’t news, blowing it up into news, and then running with their manufactured narrative for weeks longer than is appropriate.

                  • Chris

                    I don’t know how you missed this, the first line of my first comment:

                    2. I see it as a good thing that politicians can no longer count on their power to shield themselves from the truth or intimidate those who wish to expose it.

                    I’m not sure why you’re calling me inconsistent. I guess 8-year-old me should have spoken out more strongly against Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

                    Trump isn’t responsible for the overreaction of the media. He has to deal with it, and I sure wish he’d do a better job, but the fact of the matter is that the media thrives on taking things that aren’t news, blowing it up into news, and then running with their manufactured narrative for weeks longer than is appropriate.

                    I can respect the idea that a president shouldn’t be impeached for a sex scandal, especially one that happened before he was president. I cannot respect the idea that a president having a sex scandal isn’t news. Of course it is. It was news when it was a Clinton sex scandal, and it’s news when it’s a Trump sex scandal.

                    • “I see it as a good thing that politicians can no longer count on their power to shield themselves from the truth or intimidate those who wish to expose it.”

                      Yeah.. .but that’s so far away from the current fact pattern that I barely know what the hell you’re talking about. Trump had a consensual affair with a porn star and she threatened to tattle on him, so he paid her $130,000 through a proxy, and then it came out anyway. We’re not talking about hooker empowerment here, we’re talking about blackmail.

                      If you think that having an affair is a problem, then sure… This is a problem. But if, for instance, you’ve spent your life carrying water for Bill Clinton, who had non-consensual sexual encounters with women, and paid seven times the amount of hush money were talking about here in a single instance, then you’ve forever lost the credibility to take this stand, here, now. I’m not saying that’s you, but that’s a whole lot of people standing beside you.

                      “I cannot respect the idea that a president having a sex scandal isn’t news.”

                      Granted. And perhaps I put this poorly… I didn’t expect them not to report. Of course it’s news. But this is no different than a whole lot of other sex scandals, much more tame than some, and I expect… No expect is the wrong word… At this point I expect the media to shit itself and present it’s soiled nappy as a virtue…. No, I’d like for people to treat this with something approximating measured restraint.

                    • Chris

                      “I see it as a good thing that politicians can no longer count on their power to shield themselves from the truth or intimidate those who wish to expose it.”

                      Yeah.. .but that’s so far away from the current fact pattern that I barely know what the hell you’re talking about.

                      No, it’s exactly the fact pattern. Jack’s whole argument was that in an earlier era, this affair would have never come to light because journalists had too much respect for the president to report on it. Which is…a really weird argument for him to make, since I thought journalists were supposed to report the unbiased facts, rather than be cowed by power and bias for any one man or institution.

                      And you can’t argue that Trump and his attack dog lawyer haven’t tried to intimidate Daniels.

                      Trump had a consensual affair with a porn star and she threatened to tattle on him, so he paid her $130,000 through a proxy, and then it came out anyway. We’re not talking about hooker empowerment here, we’re talking about blackmail.

                      Where did you read that Daniels “threatened” Trump before the hush money was offered? That’s not my understanding of the facts.

                      If you think that having an affair is a problem, then sure… This is a problem.

                      Of course it’s a problem. The bigger problem is the cover-up. Neither are impeachable, but I don’t see very many people arguing that it is. Just that we should know about it, and the White House should stop lying about it.

                      But if, for instance, you’ve spent your life carrying water for Bill Clinton, who had non-consensual sexual encounters with women, and paid seven times the amount of hush money were talking about here in a single instance, then you’ve forever lost the credibility to take this stand, here, now. I’m not saying that’s you, but that’s a whole lot of people standing beside you.

                      I do not judge your arguments based on the views of other conservatives and I really wish you’d stop doing that to me.

                      Granted. And perhaps I put this poorly… I didn’t expect them not to report. Of course it’s news. But this is no different than a whole lot of other sex scandals, much more tame than some, and I expect… No expect is the wrong word… At this point I expect the media to shit itself and present it’s soiled nappy as a virtue…. No, I’d like for people to treat this with something approximating measured restraint.

                      Your expectations aren’t matching reality. I don’t see the media “shitting itself” over this story. If anything, it’s been pretty much in the background until recently, largely because Trump is involved in so many other scandals and chaotic stories going on simultaneously. This would have been a way bigger story under any other president. The reaction from most people I’ve seen to this is “Well, duh, of course Trump had an affair.” I’m more surprised he tried to cover it up given his previous record of bragging about his affairs, but he must have realized that wouldn’t help him with his campaign. Huh–maybe he is capable of learning.

                    • Jeff

                      Jack’s whole argument was that in an earlier era, this affair would have never come to light because journalists had too much respect for the president to report on it. Which is…a really weird argument for him to make, since I thought journalists were supposed to report the unbiased facts, rather than be cowed by power and bias for any one man or institution.

                      I think his argument isn’t so much that journalists would have covered it up out of respect, but that shady hangers-on wouldn’t bother to come out of the woodwork with salacious-but-largely-irrelevant tales, because the general public wouldn’t believe them anyway. Thus such accusations traditionally were the domain of less-reputable, more partisan, and more trashy publications, not the mainstream media of the day.

                      The relentless grinding away at the last few guys who have held the office (none of whom are blameless in the lowering of respect for the president, it should be noted) has knocked the presidency off whatever pedestal previous generations may have placed it on, and rancorous partisanship, the 24-hour cable news cycle, and the ravenous, insatiable Internet Outrage Machine work to prevent any attempts to rebuild that pedestal, and will probably hijack the truck with the cement before it even gets to the jobsite.

                    • “I think his argument isn’t so much that journalists would have covered it up out of respect, but that shady hangers-on wouldn’t bother to come out of the woodwork with salacious-but-largely-irrelevant tales, because the general public wouldn’t believe them anyway. Thus such accusations traditionally were the domain of less-reputable, more partisan, and more trashy publications, not the mainstream media of the day.”

                      You win the reading competition contest, not that it was very hard…

                      “Does anyone honestly believe that other Presidents did not have shady people in their personal lives who could have come forward with claims and tales embarrassing to them? Why didn’t they play the game the Stormy Daniels is engaged in? Again, the answer was simple cognitive dissonance scale reality. Traditionally the President has been so high on the scale that any gratuitous, publicity seeking attacker would fear the fury of public opinion, and correctly so. The idea of someone as low on the scale as a porn star facing off against the President would have been unthinkable…”

                      Pretty clear to me, and apparently, you. The National Enquirer not that followed was precisely as you said: this would be, if reported at all, regarded as crackpot, non-news.

                      Chris reads things so that he can take the easiest cheap shot.

                    • Chris

                      The cheap shot would have been pointing out that you are once again using the media to deflect from Trump’s unethical and possibly illegal conduct.

                      https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/legal-landmines-could-complicate-trump-lawyer-cohen-s-130-000-n848106

                    • Keep all those fingers and toes crossed, Chris! Nothing in this story whatsoever has any relevance to the Presidency. Eventually the not so difficult concept that pre-election indiscretions are irrelevent will sink in: I have faith in you.

                      This wasn’t illegal, and if the woman were an accountant rather than a busty porn star, nobody would care. Cohen may be in trouble, but Cohen has always been an unprofessional sleaze.

                    • Chris

                      The article describes exactly how the payment may have been illegal. We don’t know if it was, or whether Trump even knew about it; I would like to know. You don’t, for some reason.

                    • No, because I’m not desperately trying to come up with a tortured theory to impeach the President. It is, as I have said, a side show that with most Presidents would be ignored.

                      The argument that this is a likely FEC violation is beyond forced. Why would it have to have anything to do with the election at all? Like 90% of these articles, the reporter’s approach is, “Let’s see, is there any way these facts can be manipulated to make it look like Trump is in trouble?” so people like you will keep clicking and sharing.

                      Cohen has every reason to be loyal to Trump, and pay off this bimbo without involving Trump while ensuring his deniability. I’m not even sure I can find anything unethical about it. He’s not covering up a crime.

                    • Chris

                      Who said anything about impeachment? You brought that up, not me, and not the writer of that NBC article. Illegal conduct prior to the election wouldn’t necessarily be impeachable—even if it were designed to influence the election, as the pay-off may have been. This is hardly a “high crime.”

                      I’m not even sure I can find anything unethical about it. He’s not covering up a crime.

                      So paying someone hush money to cover up an affair isn’t unethical?

                      Dead ethics alarms.

            • Emily

              Honestly, I think it’s unfair to blame either of them entirely. Since JFK, the news cycle has grown to 24+ hours (as the internet demands each outfit supply multiple streams of news, constantly updated,) first cable and then the internet provide international soapboxes to anyone with a axe to grind and encourage people to partisan extremes, and the entire government, from presidents to congress to our security agencies, have spent the past 60 years getting caught by those people in every kind of lie and dirty deal they can think of. I don’t think there have been more than a handful of presidents in our history who could have survived this mix with the honor of the office intact, and I don’t see the enviroment changing any time soon.

      • Chris

        Also, what are you talking about here?

        Oh please. Bill Clinton paid a seven figure hush payment to his rape vict.. I mean… paramour.

        Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who accused Clinton of rape, never received a settlement or “hush money” of any kind from Bill. Paula Jones did receive a settlement, but calling her a rape victim would be wrong, because she never claimed to be raped, she claimed to be sexually harassed. I’m sure you can see the problem with conflating rape with sexual harassment, since you’ve complained about liberals doing that before, a lot.

        I’d also point out that it was a six figure settlement, but I feel we’ve already established you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • It was a million dollars Chris. I know, I know, it was actually only $850,000, and $150,000 is a lot of money, but let’s be real… It was closer to a million dollars than anything I’ll ever see in my savings account. And sure, maybe Jones was one of the lucky women Bill didn’t actually rape, but I don’t know how likely it is that someone pays someone a million dollars to shut up after they’ve already filed allegations publicly, if all he did was harass her. I can’t prove Bill raped her, but I think it’s likely.

          • Chris

            And sure, maybe Jones was one of the lucky women Bill didn’t actually rape, but I don’t know how likely it is that someone pays someone a million dollars to shut up after they’ve already filed allegations publicly, if all he did was harass her.

            This is a horribly unethical sentence on a couple of levels.

            1) You are saying that you think a woman who has never claimed to have been raped was actually raped.

            2) You are suggesting that Bill Clinton has raped numerous women based on one rape allegation against him.

            Since we’re talking about hypocrisy and how certain people are estopped from making certain arguments based on their past arguments, I hope I won’t see you ever calling #MeToo a hysterical movement that makes tenuous and unfair rape allegations.

            • Look, Bill Clinton has a history of sexually abusing the women around him by abusing his power and position… And I think it’s naive to assume that every allegation that could be made has been made. I mean… Do you really believe that every Cosby and Weinstein victim actually came forward?

              No, I don’t know that Clinton had more rape victims than just (just) the one, but I think it’s likely, and I think it’s reasonable to think it’s likely.

              • Chris

                I think that’s fair. I also think that’s a very different thing from claiming that he raped a specific woman who never even claimed that he raped her.

                No, I don’t know that Clinton had more rape victims than just (just) the one

                You don’t know that he raped Broaddrick, either, though of course you’re free to believe her, and there is reason to do so.

    • Chris wrote, “I see it as a good thing that politicians can no longer count on their power to shield themselves from the truth or intimidate those who wish to expose it.”

      The questions that Chris needs to ask himself are;
      1. Is innuendo equivalent to truth?
      2. Are all accusations now considered truth?

      Chris wrote, “…it’s beyond argument at this point that this affair did happen.”

      “Beyond argument…” Seriously? What facts are you basing that on?
      Were you a fly on the wall watching the penis penetrate the vagina? Chris needs to pay attention to question #2 above.

      Chris wrote, “Trump is the most powerful man in the world…”

      Thanks to the Progressives and those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) in the United States that is now debatable.

      Those that are psychologically consumed by their TDS are actively doing everything they can to strip Trump, and therefore the office of the Presidency of the United States, of it’s power and prestige. I’m seriously worried about the sanity of people who are willing to destroy a nearly 250 year old traditionally world-respected and world-leadership position because they literally hate the person currently occupying the position and want him to literally fail, nice job. Fucking idiots.

      Chris wrote, “…and he still might get taken down by sex workers.”

      “Taken down by sex workers”? Seriously?

      Chris needs to understand just how absurd that statement is and how it directly reflects on his own intelligence (or lack thereof) and shows a complete lack of logic. That kind of statement shows exactly how American’s have been dumbed down, with constant propaganda, into non-logical thinking political hacks, in other words, ignorant fools.

      Chris wrote, “That’s almost inspiring.”

      It’s only “inspiring” to a political hack consumed with TDS. Chris, Bias Makes You Stupid.

      Chris wrote, “But you’re right; the damage to the presidency is done. We just have different ideas of who is primarily responsible for that damage.”

      Of course you’re too damned stupid to truly understand, or even acknowledge, this sentence written by Jack; Jack wrote, “The major take-away is that this is what happens when an unholy alliance between the news media, political opponents and the Presidents themselves strip away the traditional and vital shield of public appreciation of the honor and respect the office of the Presidency has had in the past, since George Washington.” It’s fine Chris, we’re getting used to you spouting bull shit innuendo because you can’t comprehend what’s written.

      • Chris

        The questions that Chris needs to ask himself are;
        1. Is innuendo equivalent to truth?
        2. Are all accusations now considered truth?

        No, but I am not the person in this thread claiming that a man is a rapist based on nothing more than an accusation.

        It’s interesting that you’ve chosen to direct these questions to me, and not to the person claiming that a man is a rapist based on nothing more than an accusation. Why do you think you’ve made that choice?

        • Well “genius”; it’s because your comment was the very first in this thread and it was not a reply to anything but Jacks blog post. Thanks for your ignorant innuendo.

          Do you have any more stupid questions?

        • Hey Chris, do you have the knowledge to tell me why you felt the need to go beyond just answering the two questions and dive into two separate and unique deflections?

          Based on your initial comment I simply do not believe your answer of “no” to my questions; I think you’re lying to yourself and everyone else.

  2. 2. We knew what Clinton was when elected and he lived up to his reputation. So has Trump. Do I believe the high priced hooker? Damn, right I do! Do I care? Not a bit. Maybe he’ll get a vase tossed at him? Anyways, I have a real issue with prostitution. Should be legal. Seems like an expensive business transaction.

  3. Inquiring Mind

    3. Jack, asking for a refund is unfair to American Airlines. They didn’t say you had to pay a premium for not having a middle seat, they simply said, “you can pay more for an aisle seat.”

    The next time you book a flight, you can always ask about the seating layout. Online, there are some airlines that have the layout.

    This is a lesson learned – for the price of that premium.

    • Pennagain

      I guess Jack could reply to this if he cared to, but since he hasn’t, I’ll step into the that personal-info-cyberspace we would like to believe doesn’t exist, but we know in our hearts does, that Jack wasn’t being careless when he wrote I was told that I could pay a premium for an aisle seat, because records show I will do anything to avoid a middle seat. In my own paranoid universe, I can see an airline pulling up someone’s frequent flyer records and trying it on (perhaps not meaning to say so) just like that.

      I had a considerable kerfuffles with AT&T and a hospital last year when they revealed they had data on me they had previously specifically said they did not and wouldn’t keep it if they did! Both corporations (the hospital was part of a huge one) had used that information to make assumptions about my needs and desires. I couldn’t have cared less about the content, but all their conclusions were incorrect. There were other things I’d rather have been doing than spending hours, mostly on hold, straightening it out . . . but then I figured they now know that I’m on to them. Which of course makes me come out on top. I don’t think. Viel Glück, Jack.

      • Targeting buying and using habits is relatively simple as the data acquisition becomes far more sophisticated and shared. The dirty secret is the internal data collection done by ethically challenged employees for sale to others. Been there and seen that.

  4. Matthew B

    #3 – Check out the website http://www.seatguru.com. They look up the expected airplane to fly the route and have a very good accuracy in predicting the seat layout.

    I had a similar experience. I paid to avoid the middle seat. I was then offered an upgrade to business class, then had it rescinded. Since I had “given up” my seat, they plopped me in the middle of 5 seats. At least I got my refund and it wasn’t a really long flight.

  5. 3. Be careful how and when you ask for your refund. I would be leery of doing so in person, at least without witnesses. Remember the images of the fellow being dragged out of the plane from not so long ago!

    Only half snark: Airlines have gotten entitled, and view their customers as edible sheep.

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