Category Archives: Around the World

From The Ethics Alarms “Blathering Makes You Incoherent So That Those Who Bias Has Made Stupid Think You Are Stupid, Making Them Look Stupid” Files: The Sweden Affair

Here is something apparently nobody noticed from the past two years: Donald Trump doesn’t speak in linear fashion, use words with precision, or think about what he’s saying until it has already left his mouth. Did you not know that? I’ve been complaining about it here for, oh, about five years. (That YouTube video above is Exhibit A) Yet every time he says something garbled and seemingly confused,  journalists and bloggers instantly take what he said literally, and go on a spree. Now, when most politicians say something that makes no sense, as when President Obama’s tongue slipped and he said there were 57 states or Joe Biden, who makes head-scratching comments almost every day, announced at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner on March 17, 2010, “Barack Obama is the first African-American in the history of the United States of America!” ( Joe forgot that key word, “President”)  it prompts a brief mention, if at all. With politicians whom the news media has decided to take down, however, like Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin, and now the President, there is no such break. Of course these conservative fools meant what they said to express the most senseless thought imaginable.

Now Trump is President, so he is obliged to choose his words especially carefully, and be clear in his meaning. Well, he can’t. He’s communicated in this slovenly, stream-of-consciousness word cloud all his life, and its made him rich, famous, and President. He’s not going to stop. Now, by all means criticize him for this, but not for alleged statements that are bad guesses at what he might be trying to say.

This brings us to The Sweden Affair. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership

From The “It’s No Fun Being An Ethicist” Files: I Offend Some Seminar Attendees…

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I facilitated a professional ethics seminar a while ago for a scholarly institution, (The locale, names and client have been changed to protect the guilty.) The discussion came around to rationalizations and my favorite on the list, #22:

22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”

If “Everybody does it” is the Golden Rationalization, this is the bottom of the barrel. Yet amazingly, this excuse is popular in high places: witness the “Abu Ghraib was bad, but our soldiers would never cut off Nick Berg’s head” argument that was common during the height of the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal. It is true that for most ethical misconduct, there are indeed “worse things.” Lying to your boss in order to goof off at the golf course isn’t as bad as stealing a ham, and stealing a ham is nothing compared selling military secrets to North Korea. So what? We judge human conduct against ideals of good behavior that we aspire to, not by the bad behavior of others. One’s objective is to be the best human being that we can be, not to just avoid being the worst rotter anyone has ever met.

Behavior has to be assessed on its own terms, not according to some imaginary comparative scale. The fact that someone’s act is more or less ethical than yours has no effect on the ethical nature of your conduct. “There are worse things” is not an argument; it’s the desperate cry of someone who has run out of rationalizations.

In this case I did a sarcastic riff that is usually well received, about the common example of #22, “It’s not like he killed somebody”:

“Well, you can’t argue with that logic, can you? And if he did kill somebody, it’s not like he killed two people. And even then, that’s not as bad as being, say, a serial killer, like Son of Sam, who, when you think about it, isn’t nearly as bad as a mass murderer like Osama bin Laden. But he’s not as bad as Hitler, and even Adolf isn’t as bad as Mao, who killed about ten times more people than Hitler did. And Mao’s no so bad when you compare him to Darth Vader, who blew up Princess Leia’s whole planet…”

It made the point, and the audience laughed. Then, quite a bit later, I received an e-mail from a participant, complaing about this section. Can you guess what the complaint was?

Think about it a bit…

Time’s up!

Do you have an answer? Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Professions, The Internet

TV Critic Neil Genzlinger’s Absurd Quote, Samantha Bee, And The 9th Circuit’s Travel Halt Decision]

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First, a quote…

“There is a lot of bravado in this series about how comics are society’s truth-tellers. As Keegan-Michael Key puts it: “The comic has become the person who pulls back the curtain to show the world that: ‘Do you see that this is happening? We didn’t make this up.’”Of course, we’ve just been through a period in which comedians of all sorts joked about one possible outcome of the American presidential election as if it could never actually come to be, and it came to be anyway. Now, the comics holding that curtain may be realizing that, sometimes, the world isn’t listening or doesn’t care.”

—New York Times TV reviewer Neil Genzlinger, in his conclusion to the review of CNN’s documentary on the history of television comedy.

Ugh.

The reason, Neil, that the world “isn’t listening or doesn’t care” is that with very, very rare exceptions, the political pronouncements of comedians are simple-minded, ignorant, juvenile or worse. Unfortunately, comics are increasingly laboring under the delusion that their junior college degrees, narrow life experiences and success at making drunks cackle imbues them with some genuine authority to pass judgments on complex policy issues. This is manifestly untrue. The clowns are on TV because they are, or were, allegedly funny, not because they have anything more sophisticated to offer regarding foreign policy or tax reform than the average guy on a barstool.

I have now seen an ad for Samantha Bee’s comedy show “Full Frontal” approximately a million times, or so it seems. If she is really this  ignorant, her show should be banned by the NEA. All of her featured riff is about how horrible the President is—well, at least that’s original—and it ends with her statement, complete with “any idiot should know this” facial mugging, that “lawyers call” Trump’s temporary immigration halt from seven nations “unconstitutional.”  Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Comment of the Day: “Esquire’s Ridiculous Book List Smear”

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My position on British celebrities who attack our elected officials via snotty tweets and interviews is simple: I’ll give a damn what you think  when your own country gets rid of the hereditary monarchy and stops sinking ever deeper into socialism, economic decay and international irrelevance. Spout off after the number of artists and performers moving to the U.S. is offset significantly by U.S. artists moving in the other direction.  Great Britain has become the Beach Boys of nations; still croaking the same old tunes, but a depressing shadow of what it once was.

Besides that, it is rude. If there is one nation that deserves Great Britain’s lasting respect, it is this one.

Steve-O-in-NJ scored another Comment of the Day with his discussion of one of the British anti-U.S. tweeters most loved by the Angry Left, “Harry Potter” creator J.K. Rowling. Here it is, in reaction to “Esquire’s Ridiculous Book List Smear”:

Fantasy author J.K. Rowling took it upon herself to troll Vice President Pence and criticize the President, sneering at those fans who have chosen to make contrary opinions known, even condescendingly saying you can lead someone to books about the rise and fall of an autocrat, but not make them understand.

I have to say I am particularly unimpressed by that latter statement, and the attitude it conveys – an attitude that this author is smarter than anyone who disagrees with her, and, more to the point, that she had some profound lesson about human nature to teach the world in the lengthy prose of seven books that were, while they were fun, popular, and very profitable, ultimately only fantasy novels. Their primary purpose, like all novels, is and was to entertain.

Oh, Ms. Rowling drops a profound-sounding thought here and there between the fantastic creatures, faux-Latin spells, potboiler plots, and hairbreadth escapes: that those who seek power often seek it to abuse it, that what you do is more important than who your father was, that being powerful is less important than how you use what power you have, and of course, that racism is bad.

However, none of these are particularly original thoughts. JKR didn’t come up with any of these herself. She might have packaged them up nicely, but no one changes their approach to life because some principle came from the mouth of a plucky young hero or a wise, traditional- looking wizard. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Popular Culture, Professions

About the “So-Called” Judge’s TRO

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Ethics Alarms had a revealing comment on the post about the grandstanding and unethical ex-acting-Attorney General’s  breach of her duty to represent her client regarding the President’s Middle East immigration Executive Order. Following Judge Robart’s temporary restraining order (or TRO), the reader said, in essence, ‘See? She was right! The order was illegal, just like she said it was!’ The comment was idiotic on its face on many levels, yet it was also a fair summation of how partisan citizens have viewed the controversy. The various TROs validate the criticism of the Executive Order in their minds. They don’t, however. Judge Robart’s order particularly doesn’t. In fact, it is infuriatingly vague.

Now, a TRO doesn’t necessarily have to explain in detail what is wrong with a law, regulation or order. The purpose of this judicial act is to stall a measure that has the potential of causing a lot of disruption, unhappiness or expense from going into effect until there can be a decisive determination that it is legal, constitutional and within the power of the government entity that issued it. A judge issuing a TRO must conclude that the objection to the act is substantive, that the party applying for the TRO has a substantial chance of prevailing on the merits, and that the party has standing to object. The judge does not have to conclude that the party asking for the order is right, just that the party may be right.

However, reading Judge Judge Robart’s order, one can glean no clue as to why the TRO was justifiable, and why it is so sweeping. Although the judge writes in his conclusion that…

The work of the court is not to create policy or judge the Wisdom of any particular policy promoted by the other two branches. That is the work of the legislative and executive branches and of the citizens of this country who ultimately exercise democratic control over those branches. The work of the Judiciary, and this court, is limited to ensuring that the actions taken by the other two branches comport with our country’s laws, and more importantly, our Constitution. …

[T]he court is mindful of the considerable impact its order may have on the parties before it, the executive branch of our government, and the country’s citizens and residents. The court concludes that the circumstances brought before it today are such that it must intervene to fulfill its constitutional role in our tripart government.

…the order never states what is illegal or unconstitutional in his view.  This omission has led many analysts to conclude that there isn’t anything. He just doesn’t like the order. Much has been made of the fact that Robart was a Bush appointee, so the order isn’t “partisan.” Of course, the same people making this argument, in other settings, would maintain that a Bush appointment is just a bad judge. Many, many, many Republicans  and conservatives detest the President, and especially, one should remember, the Bush family. It is far from unlikely that bias against the President caused Judge Robart to employ poor judgment. Democrats cite the fact that Rorart is a conservative as part of a wonderfully convenient construct: if a conservative judge opposes them, the fact that he’s a conservative means he’s wrong, and if a conservative judge agrees with them, the fact that he’s a conservative means he’s right.
Some of the exchanges in the hearing that led to his order directly contradict his written statement that he is not questioning the wisdom of the order rather than challenging its legality.

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

The Easy Ethics Verdict On Trump’s Middle East Immigration Suspension

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There are three steps to evaluating the ethical nature of any law or government action. The first is what was done. The second is how it was done. The third, and usually most difficult to assess, is why it was done, and whether the measure’s objectives are ethical, including whether the measure can reasonable be expected to accomplish them. . What President Trump’s controversial Executive Order temporarily halting immigration from seven Muslim nations is was covered in the previous post on the subject. Thanks to the fact that our mainstream journalists are incapable of reporting some news events without allowing their biases to distort or confuse the facts, the what was misrepresented to the public, and that misrepresentation is reflected in most discussions of the relevant issues on the web.

How the measure was implemented is an ethics  issue, as this involves competence, responsibility, accountability, diligence and leadership.

The Executive Order was incompetent and irresponsible.

There, that was easy.

It’s nice to be able to post an analysis here that nobody will disagree with. Usually I don’t even bother posting such verdicts.

The sudden order (you can read it here) caused world-wide confusion. Passengers were barred from flights to the United States. Customs and border control officials received notice and instructions in the wee hours of the morning, and many began work without knowing what they were supposed to do.  The order  blindsided Trump’s cabinet—what there is of it so far—including Homeland Security chief John Kelly and, incredibly, “Mad Dog”  Mattis, the new Secretary of Defense, who was not consulted by the White House during the preparation of the order and was not given an opportunity to provide input while the order was being drafted. Mattis did not see a final version of the order until a few hours before President Trump arrived to sign it at the Pentagon. Now he really has reason to be be mad. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

The Media’s Unethical Reporting On Trump’s Refugee Pause Order: Does Telling The Whole Story Fairly And Accurately Even Matter To These Hacks Any More? Does Their Trump-Hating Audience Even Care?

How many of these protesters have read the Executive Order they are protesting? My guess; none of them.

How many of these protesters have read the Executive Order they are protesting? My guess: none of them.

I didn’t intend this to become Outrageously Unethical Journalism Sunday, but that’s how it is turning out. Not my fault. Don’t blame the messenger.

Here, for the sake of organization and clarity, are some things that you may not have been told about the Trump refugee order that all the Sunday Morning TV shows are and the news sources yesterday were going nuts over. I couldn’t watch all of the former, of course, and some are going on as I write this. Maybe some responsible journalism snuck in, and if it did, please let me know who was responsible, in both senses of the word. So far, however, the mainstream news media is doubling down on its determination not to allow facts to get in the way of its 24-7 effort to demonize President Trump, and my increasingly bats Facebook friends, and yours, I assume, are taking it all as the Utter Truth…

I. Calling the Trump Executive Order a “Muslim Ban” is a lie. Nothing less.

II. In 2011, President Obama ordered a halt to the acceptance of refugees from Iraq for six months (that’s twice the three months of the Trump order yesterday) with no adverse reaction from the news media whatsoever.

III. The seven nations targeted in Trump’s order were not his administration’s collection, but Obama’s, with the addition of Iran.

IV. All of this had to be included in any competent, fair and truthful report about yesterday’s order. As of yesterday, none of it was, at least in major news sources, or the information was buried deep in the reports under hysterical headlines.

Got all that?

It is 100% true. If you were not aware of it before, you are misinformed. If you or your family, friends or acquaintances were on social media proclaiming that the order proves Trump is Hitler, just as you suspected, without knowing the above, you are spreading fake news. If you did this while knowing the above, you are deliberately misrepresenting reality to press your misguided false narrative. Or, in the alternative, you are a rationalizing fool.

Remember, no ethical analysis can proceed without accurately establishing the answer to the question, “What’s going on here?” If one does not have the facts, one cannot perform the analysis. Answering the question incorrectly, as in “What’s going on here is that a xenophobic madman just violated the Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion!!!! ARGGGHHH!” also guarantees a flawed analysis.

You will note that the best sources for establishing the shockingly biased and unethical reportage of this event are conservative sources. This is because this right-biased alternative to the left-biased news media developed specifically for situations like this, in which the truth is deliberately skewed by political bias from the exact same people the public has been taught to trust to keep it informed. As the previous post also demonstrates, that trust is no longer warranted.

Right up front, I want to credit Prof. William Jacobson of Cornell Law School. Every single news source had an obligation to include the information he researched and posted on his blog, but none did.  Now, some details:

1. Read the order itself. Scroll past it if you want to my commentary, but as the professor says, “You should read the actual EO, because most of the media and leftist pundits either have not or are lying if they have.” It is long; I have formatted it for easier reading, but it is long. Nonetheless, the news media have proven beyond, not just a reasonable doubt but the shadow of a doubt that its journalists cannot be trusted to digest this kind of document and relay it truthfully.

Res ipsa loquitur: CNN, from which I obtained the text, headlines the order,

Full text of Trump’s executive order on 7-nation ban, refugee suspension

But there is no ban! That headline is fake news. If you don’t read the order yourself, and yet start ranting on Facebook about the suspension of freedom of religion or some other non-factual nonsense, then you are irresponsible, and you are spreading disinformation. Read it yourself, ascertain what it means if you are uncertain, or shut up about it.

And welcome the era of biased, untrustworthy, partisan journalism.

Here is the EO: Continue reading

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