Unethical Website Of The Month: JoeBiden.info, But Not For The Reasons Cited By The New York Times

We haven’t had an Unethical Website Of The Month here since 2018! Once upon a time, I had at least one desiganted every month, over at the currently-down-but -will-get-back-on-line-as-soon-as-I fight-with-the-cheap-hosts Ethics Scoreboard. This is an area where reader tips would help a great deal.

The home page you see above is that of Joe Biden.info, the most trafficked Biden website on the web. Despite the glowing text and cheery photo, however, it is not a pro-Biden project, but a Biden attack site, concocted by Patrick Mauldin, a Republican political consultant and who makes videos and other digital content for President Trump’s re-election campaign. With his brother Ryan, Mauldin, he runs the Vici Media Group, a conservative consulting firm in Austin, Texas.  (Mauldin has also set up parody campaign websites for at least three other Democratic candidates: “Millionaire Bernie,”  “Elizabeth Warren for Chief,”and “Kamala Harris for Arresting the People.” These, however are different in kind, for nobody except an idiot would confuse them with actual campaign sites.)

Now, I read through the site, and you may well ask, “What’s unethical about it?” The answer is very basic: taking a domain name designed to fool people into thinking the site is something it is not is unethical, that’s all. It is also unethical—though legal—to take another individual’s or organization’s name to make a deceptive URL. In my view, this should be illegal, or treated like a copyright infringement: Joe should be able to send a letter demanding that website using his name in a deceptive fashion be taken down.

Under current law however, the site is legal though unethical. It is  more transparent, in fact, than most parody sites. At the bottom of the first screen, and not buried deep in the site, we can see,

This site is political commentary and parody of Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign website. This is not Joe Biden’s actual website.
It is intended for entertainment and political commentary only and is therefore protected under fair use. It is not paid for by any candidate, committee, organization, or PAC. It is a project BY AN American citizen FOR American citizens. Self-Funded.

Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/30/2019: Post Rugby Edition

This just has to be a better day than yesterday.

And I’m not even referring to the Yankees beating the Red Sox 17-13 in the first MLB game ever played in Europe.

Also, much thanks to the many readers who sent their condolences to me and my family. It helped.

1. Keepin’ a-goin’!  Believe it or not,  having to say farewell to our sweet, vocal and witty Jack Russell terrier  was not necessarily the worst part of our Saturday. This makes today another ethics challenge, that being the theme of the intentionally simple-minded poem used by comic actor Henry Gibson on “Laugh-In,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and later as a country music song in Robert Altman’s “Nashville.”

The ditty was “Keep A-Goin,” and Gibson, unethically, left the impression that he had written it. He hadn’t: the poem was written Frank Lebby Stanton (1857-1927), now forgotten, and Henry (who died  in 2009) bears some of the responsibility for that, though the poem was ripe for stealing since the copyright expired long ago.. The “Nashville” credits claim Gibson was the author of the song. Wrong. Here it is:

Ef you strike a thorn or rose,
    Keep a-goin’!
  Ef it hails, or ef it snows,
    Keep a-goin!
  ‘Taint no use to sit an’ whine,
  When the fish ain’t on yer line;
  Bait yer hook an’ keep a-tryin’—
    Keep a-goin’!

  When the weather kills yer crop,
    Keep a-goin’!
  When you tumble from the top,
    Keep a-goin’!
  S’pose you’re out of every dime,
  Bein’ so ain’t any crime;
  Tell the world you’re feelin’ prime
    Keep a-goin’!

  When it looks like all is up,
    Keep a-goin’!
  Drain the sweetness from the cup,
    Keep a-goin’!
  See the wild birds on the wing,
  Hear the bells that sweetly ring,
  When you feel like sighin’ sing—
    Keep a-goin’!

Since around 4:30 pm yesterday, I have felt like doing absolutely nothing other than grieving and helping the rest of my family deal with the sadness that engulfs us. But, as another poet memorably said, I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

So do we all. Continue reading

When Bad Ideas Grab The Culture By The Throat: San Francisco Gives A Demonstration

In my one lucky private audience with genius and futurist Herman Kahn, he mused about how societies periodically forget important lessons of conduct that had been that absorbed by the culture over decades or even centuries. The result, he said, can be disastrous, even fatal to a civilization.

At the time he was talking about the Sixties-sparked cultural amnesia about the reasons sexual promiscuity and having children out of marriage were societal poison–forgetting THAT has worked out well, don’t you think?  Yet I have thought about Kahn’s observation a lot lately, as for the second time in my life the nation I live in appears to be suffering from a cultural nervous breakdown.

As toxic as it is, the embrace of historical airbrushing is far from the most dangerous of the  examples of this phenomenon that threaten the U.S. today, but it is one of the flagrant. Not for the first time, San Francisco is giving us a vivid demonstration of what happens when, as Herman put it, “whole cultures go stupid.” If the right lesson are learned  before it is too late, maybe the ultimate effects will be positive.

I am not optimistic.  After all, San Francisco’s peculiar version of social justice has led to a city culture that regards human feces on sidewalks and public places as acceptable. Continue reading

Rugby’s End

For the first time since my son was about to turn 9 almost 16 years ago, our home is without the extraordinary sweetness and aggressive unconditional love of Rugby, my son’s (but really the whole neighborhood’s) extraordinary Jack Russell Terrier.

He peacefully expired after an injection, as he was held tightly by my son Grant, whom he loved beyond explaining, wrapped in the tattered baby blanket that a toddling Grant himself once held for comfort, and that had lined Rugby’s dog bed in my son’s apartment.

In the end, these decisions always come down to ethical values. We received from our vet the not entirely unexpected news that our dog’s sudden lack of energy and stability as well as labored breathing was almost certainly caused by progressive heart failure. Dickens, his more flamboyant and occasionally diabolical predecessor of the same breed, had perished of the identical malady just short of 15 years of mischief. The first question— Is there anything you can do?— was met by an answer we have heard before in earlier animal companion tragedies: “Maybe, but even under the best circumstances, the time will be short.” Continue reading

Two-Day Ethics Catch-Up/Warm-Up, 6/28/19 and 6/29/19: Racists, Bigamy, And Jimmy Carter

Good evening and good morning…

I tried so hard to get to the office and the keyboard last night to complete the Warm-Up, but video shooting, exhaustion and sick dog complications made it impossible. I don’t know if slow and steady win anything, but they do make progress…

1. Racist comments poll results: I’m surprised. The overwhelming majority—about 92%— is anti-racist comment censorship. Let’s read the one in question, and tell me if it makes you rethink your vote. How much stuff like this do you want to read?

but ethics..?…in general, doesn’t the word, ‘ethics’ pertain to – things that are helpful or things that are helps or a thing or things that help and/or are helpful ? You can call me a racist, if you like but I don’t hate niggers because of the color of their skin – isn’t that what a racist is ? oh no, no, no, no, no, contraire mon frere…l hate niggers like I hate stepping in shit, as I’m apt to slip and fall and hurt myself. I would have to strongly disagree about your terming of chimpmania and other similar sites as being, ‘unethical’ – chimpmania – specifically, helped me to make my decision, in regards to staying as far and wide and clear and away from niggers, as I possibly can. Whether you can comprehend or not : I’ve seen enough – visually, first-hand to know better than to have anything to do with them. I don’t hate niggers because they’re black, l hate niggers because they’re niggers – my daddy didn’t teach me to hate niggers – niggers taught me to hate niggers. And let me clue you in on the simplest of FACTS about niggers…they come in all shapes and sizes and colors and disguises.

I live in a city that’s 89% White and 4% black and the rest ? – whatever the hell else. Now, which do you think the ethnic group or racial group is that supplies the greatest number of niggers in this city – blacks ? nope… …you figure it out and yes I AM a WhytAy !

  • What do you learn from this?
  • Is it fruitful or worth the time to rebut it?
  • Does a comment like this contribute anything to public discourse or comprehension of relevant issues?
  • Do you want someone capable of writing this to be participating in other discussions?

2. Ethics Dunce: Jimmy Carter. Yes, the former President decided to choose now to announce that Presient Trump would not have been elected without Russian interference. “There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election, and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated, would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” Jimmy said. Jimmy is and has always been something of an arrogant jerk. “Although not yet questioned” is a euphemism for ” there is no evidence of this whatsoever, but I believe it anyway.” It is exactly as valid a statement as the President’s statement that illegal immigrant votes cost him the popular vote, which is to say that it has no validity at all. Yet look at all my Facebook friends and yours, citing the failed President as proof that Big Lie #2, “Trump is not a legitimate President” isn’t a lie after all.

This is not just appeal to authority, a logical fallacy, but appeal to a proven-unreliable authority, a stupid logical fallacy. Jimmy’s various fact-free pronouncements since his ejection from the white House by Ronald Reagan have been marked by their fealty to confirmation bias. My favorite was his conclusion that he has been the most accomplished ex-President in U.S. history. William Howard Taft (who went on to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), John Quincy Adams (who had brilliant career in the House of Representatives after he lost to Jackson), and Herbert Hoover, whose humanitarian accomplishments post-Presidency dwarfed Carter’s, would beg to differ. Continue reading

Poll: The Racist Comment

Ethics Alarms received another one of its periodic racist comments today. As with most of them, it was generated by this post, about the racist site Chimpmania.

Unlike most of the comments I get of this ilk, this one is reasonably well-written: the writer probably has most of his teeth and would beat the kid who plays the banjo in “Deliverance” handily in Scrabble.

I routinely spam these kinds of comments, even the articulate ones. For a while I would allow the first one in, with a warning, but for more than a year I’ve just refused to publish them. Is that both ethical and wise, though? I am liking all forms of viewpoint censorship less and less of late, especially since Ethics Alarms is a victim of it. If there are substantial numbers of people who think like this bigot, shouldn’t the rest of us know about it, and learn what we can about their reasoning and motivation?

The contrary view is that this comment and the others like it are res ipsa loquitur, inarguable examples of uncivilized discourse that society reasonable and legitimately refuses to tolerate for its own safety The problem with this construct is that there are no clear standards to block the slide on the slippery slope. If it is legitimate to put racism, anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and misogyny in the category of the properly censored, why not, according to another censor’s sensibilities, climate change skepticism or support for President Trump?

I’m interested in how you respond to this poll:

Ethics Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate #2

1. Eric Swalwell literally pressed the ageist position, using the tired cliche of “pass the torch.” The old Democrats like Sanders, Biden and Warren LOOK so old it is hardly necessary to point it out; Swalwell’s harping on “the new generation” reeks of bigotry. What has Swalwell done, other than to be younger than dirt, to justify anyone trusting him with executive power?  Let’s see: he’s been an assistant DA and a House member. He’s never run anything in his life.

2. Every candidate on-stage raised their hands to indicate they are in favor of U.S. health care covering illegal immigrants. All but one want illegal immigration to be only a civil offense. The “Think of the Children!” lies about “children in cages” and evil ICE were treated as fact all night. Biden endorsed the fatuous position that only illegal immigrants who commit ‘major crimes” should be deported. KABOOM. 

So anyone can illegally come here, especially if they are dragging a kid or three, and force Americans to pay for their health care. Under what ethical system other than free-floating altruism is that a fair or responsible position? The Democratic Party wants open borders, and worse, wants to achieve it while denying that this is its position.

3.  Pete Buttigieg unethically and cravenly threw his own police officer to the wolves under the bus by essentially pronouncing South Bend Sergeant Ryan O’Neill guilty of shooting Eric Logan out of racist animus. Buttigieg said that he tried to eliminate racial bias—aka bigotry—by police but couldn’t, and blathered, “I am determined to bring about a day when a black person driving a vehicle and a white person driving a vehicle, when they see a police officer approaching, feels the exact same thing: a feeling not of fear, but of safety.” The problem is that the investigation of the shooting has not been completed, or even begun.

South Bend Sergeant Ryan O’Neill responded to the Central High School Apartments parking lot around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 16, investigating a tip that someone with a flashlight was breaking into parked vehicles. O’Neill was alone when he pulled into the parking lot;  six vehicles had been broken into and had items stolen.

The officer said he saw Eric Logan with his legs sticking out of a vehicle, and that Logan stepped out of the car holding a knife and refused to drop it when O’Neill repeatedly  ordered him to do so. The officer claimed Logan lunged at him with the knife, and in response, fearing for his life, O’Neill fired two shots, fatally striking Logan in the abdomen.

Logan’s family says O’Neill’s version  is inconsistent with Logan’s personality—you know, like Michael Brown was a “gentle giant.” Logan did not have a violent criminal history, he had only  previously served time in prison for drug distribution and had a prior conviction for carrying a handgun without a license—a model citizen, in other words.

The white officer is being convicted of racism and murder on the basis of his occupation and color, and the Mayor of South Bend is helping. Continue reading