Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/20/2019: Fake History, Fake Photo, Fake Assassination, Fake Native American

A dramatic good morning to all.

1. Let’s see which news media outlets report this. Because, you know, the President is the one encouraging violence…State senator Martin Sandoval, who represents Illinois’ 11th District, had a  fundraising event last week that included a mock assassination of  President Trump for the enjoyment and edification of Sandoval’s supporters. Photos posted by a woman at the event show someone pointing a fake machine gun at a man wearing a Trump mask. “Trump” is acting as if he has been shot, grabbing his chest and leaning back. In another photo, Sandoval can be seen standing next to the person holding the gun.

Thus busted, and under fire from officials of his own party, Sandoval released a statement over the weekend apologizing for the incident, which he called “unacceptable.” “I don’t condone violence toward the President or anyone else,” Sandoval said. “I apologize that something like this happened at my event.”

Oddly, he didn’t take any action indicating those sentiments at the event.

2. Now THIS is police misconduct! Wow. Portland police suspected Tyrone Lamont Allen of robbing four banks and credit unions. Yet none of the tellers noticed Allen’s  facial tattoos, and he was not wearing a mask. To address that problem, the police photoshopped out the tattoos on Allen’s face before including his picture in a photo line up.

Then the witnesses identified Allen. Continue reading

Let’s Give A Big Ethics Alarms Hello To New Rationalizations 25B, “The Irresistible Impulse,” And 38B, “Joe Biden’s Inoculation”!

These are the 98th and the 99th rationalizations to join the Ethics Alarms List of Rationalizations And Misconceptions, an ongoing project here. I initially didn’t think that the listwould ever reach 100, but now that looks likely, and we have Joe Biden to thank for it. Thanks, Joe!

The strained logic of both new rationalizations were evoked in a recent New York Times article airing the desperate spin attempts by Biden’s campaign staff to try to minimize the significance of their candidate’s apparently incurable tendency to butcher his attempts at communications. While I realize these two mitigating arguments employed by Joe’s team were not being used as rationalizations for unethical conduct (exactly), that is often the use others find for them.

Rationalization 25B, The Irresistible Impulse, or “I can’t help myself!”
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Will CNN Have The Integrity To Fire A Partisan, Incompetent, Black, Gay Host?

Of course not. But if it comes to a point where that is the dilemma, attention must be paid.

From Fox News (you wouldn’t expect CNN to report this story, would you?):

The former boss of a bartender who earlier this week filed an explosive lawsuit against CNN host Don Lemon, accusing the newsman of a strange, sexually charged assault, told Fox News he witnessed the incident and corroborated his onetime employee’s claim.

In an exclusive interview, George Gounelas, who managed Dustin Hice at the Old Stove Pub in July of 2018, detailed what allegedly occurred on the night of the bizarre encounter at Murf’s Backstreet Tavern, which is located in the prestigious Hamptons area east of New York City. Gounelas is named in the suit filed by Hice.

Lemon, through CNN, has vehemently denied Hice’s allegations.

“Dustin worked for me as a bartender [and] we went out after work one night. We were standing there and he said, ‘Hey, that’s Don Lemon,’” Gounelas said. “Murf’s is a place you go to drink after you’ve been out drinking. We had just gotten off of work. So that’s why we ended up there, because we worked in the restaurant business. So by the time everything is done, we can only hit a late-night spot.”

Hice approached Lemon to strike up a conversation but the newsman declined, according to Gounelas, who said he and Hice then offered to buy Lemon a drink, which the CNN host also declined.

Gounelas said that a few moments later, Lemon came up to them. “Don Lemon has now come around the corner and is standing face to face with us. There is a beam, a pole, in the place. Don’s standing up against the pole, face to face with Dustin, I turn around and I’m standing right there between the two of them,” Gounelas said. “He’s saying, ‘So you like me? Is that why you’re bothering me?’”

Hice responded, “Nah, man, I just wanted to say, ‘What’s up?’” according to Gounelas.

Gounelas told Fox News he couldn’t recall what Lemon said verbatim, but it was “along the lines of, ‘Do you like me? Is that why you’re bothering me, because you wanna fuck me?’” Gounelas said Lemon appeared “pretty drunk” when he confronted the duo at the wee-hours watering hole.

“He put his hands down his pants, inside his board shorts, grabbed his [genitals], and then came out with two fingers and, like, clipped Dustin’s nose up and down with two fingers asking ‘do you like pussy or dick?’” Gounelas said….

Gounelas said he isn’t sure if Lemon, who is openly gay, was being confrontational or simply flirting. “I guess it’s a little of both. If someone had done that to me, I probably would have punched him. But I think it might have been flirting. I think Dustin was more in shock… If someone was flirting with me like that I’d say, ‘alright man I’m not gay,’” Gounelas said. “I wouldn’t go up to a girl like that. It could be his way of flirting.”

Hice continued to work for Gounelas at the now-shuttered Old Stove Pub for the duration of the summer, where his former boss said the bartender was regularly teased about the incident.

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Actor Peter Fonda (1940-2019)

“I believe that one is only truly free when learning, and one can only learn when one is free.”

—-Actor Peter Fonda, Henry’s son, Jane’s brother, and Bridget’s father, who died yesterday.

Memorable ethics quotes come from unexpected places sometimes, and this is a striking example. It’s also important, wise and true. I have never heard or read of anyone putting that thought quite that way.

Fonda’s observation focuses nicely on the roots of today’s existential cultural peril. A vast segment of the population has grown to adulthood with insufficient or defective knowledge, making them easy prey for power-seekers, demagogues and charlatans peddling theories and nostrums that a basic comprehension of history would instantly undermine. Instead of being imbued by their teachers and parents with intellectual curiosity, a healthy and intrinsically American suspicion of authority, and a reluctance to follow mobs of any kind, they lack the intellectual defenses to fend off ideological cant, the most dangerous of which holds that society will only be made virtuous by the unthinking acceptance of approved doctrine. That requires locking in dogma early, and creating a public that is inoculated against learning by being cut off from non-conforming information. Continue reading

Assorted Ethics Thoughts In The Throes Of Insomnia, 8/17/2019: The Foot-In-Mouth Edition

Started as a Morning Warm-Up, then it was a Mid-Day Update, then a Late Night something or other.

1. From the “Steve King is an idiot” files: Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa whose avocation is sticking his foot in his mouth, told the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa that the unborn who result from rape are no less lives that other fetuses, and should not be subject to any “exception” to principled exception to abortion. “It’s not the baby’s fault,” he said.

So far, so good: King is right. Then he had to go and say this:

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that? Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that’s taken place, and whatever happened to culture after society, I know that I can’t certify that I’m not a product of that. And I’d like to think every one of the lives of us are as precious as any other life.”

So when you really think about it, rape and incest are a good things, right, Steve?

That’s certainly how Democrats and progressives took his comments, and to be fair, his infuriatingly ham-handed rhetoric made it easy.  The position that unborn children are just as deserving of life regardless of how they were conceived is a powerful and greatly misunderstood ethical argument. It is not necessary to rationalize rape to make it; in fact, King’s dumb argument just muddles the issue. It’s also bad history and anthropology.

NBC has an article up claiming that King’s words show the “misogyny” at the heart of white supremacy. No, they just show that King is a moron, and we already knew that.

2. Nice. Here’s the title of a Gail Collins op-ed in yesterday’s Times: “How to torture Trump.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Primal Scream, 8/13/19: Democratic Senators Tell SCOTUS, “Nice Little Court You Have Here. Be A Shame If Anything Were To HAPPEN To It…”

1. Lance, Lance, Lance...Is this the most obnoxious and desperate virtue-signalling tweet of all time?

“I can’t drop many people on a bike these days but I just blew the fuckin’ doors off Mike Pence on a Nantucket bike path. Day. Made.”

Because Lance thinks everyone hates the Vice President, he boasts about beating a 60 year-old politician as if he’s rendered some symbolic humiliation. You’re the one who should be humiliated, Lance. You. I’m no fan of Mike Pence, but he’s not a sociopathic  fraud, cheat and villain like you are.

The fact that this tweet got 108,000 “likes” shows how much damage an ethics corrupter can do.

2.  A perfect example of ignoring a real problem to avoid having to admit it exists and then deal with it...while making the problem worse in the process.U.S. Commission on Civil Rights member Gail Heriot, a lawyer and frequent protester about how her overwhelmingly Democratic colleagues on the committee  engage in “woke” insanity, attacks a new government report in her op-ed in the Washington Times. Herriott attached her dissent to the report, a routine she has become accustomed to. She writes,

Shoddy work is not uncommon for government commissions. But with its awkwardly-titled new report — “Beyond Suspensions: Examining School Discipline Policies and Connections to the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Students of Color with Disabilities” — the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights goes beyond shoddy. Its unsupported claims threaten teachers’ ability to keep control of their classrooms. No one disputes that African-American, Native American and Pacific Islander students get disciplined at school at higher rates than white students. Similarly, white students are disciplined at higher rates than Asian-American students, and boys are disciplined more often than girls. Not surprisingly, students with behavioral disabilities get in more trouble than those without. Sometimes the differences are substantial. Suspension rates, for example, have been about three times higher for African-Americans than for whites in recent years.The commission purports to find, however, that “students of color as a whole, as well as by individual racial group, do not commit more disciplinable offenses than their white peers.” According to the commission, they are simply punished more. Readers are left to imagine our schools are not just occasionally unfair, but rather astonishingly unfair on matters of discipline.

The report provides no evidence to support its sweeping assertion and, sadly, there is abundant evidence to the contrary. For example, the National Center for Education Statistics surveys high school students biennially. Since 1993, it has asked students whether they have been in a fight on school property over the past 12 months. The results have been consistent. In 2015, 12.6 percent of African-American students reported being in such a fight, while only 5.6 percent of white students did….Because minority students disproportionately go to school with other minority students, when teachers fail to keep order out of fear that they will be accused of racism, it is these minority students — stuck in disorderly classrooms — who suffer most.

What accounts for the differing misbehavior rates? The best anybody can say is, “We don’t know entirely.” But differing poverty rates, differing fatherless household rates, differing parental education, differing achievement in school, and histories of policy failures and injustices likely each play a part. Whatever the genesis of these disparities, they need to be dealt with realistically. We don’t live in a make-believe world.

As Joe Biden so sagely pointed out for us, Democrats care about their official truths, not facts. Continue reading

“Fredo” Ethics And Chris Cuomo

 

In case you too missed this enjoyable and revealing story, Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor with a former New York governor father and a current New York governor brother,  erupted into a string of fucks and fuckings (I’ll fucking ruin your shit. I’ll fucking throw you down these stairs like a fucking punk!”), other insults, and also threatened  to throw a man down some stairs after he called Cuomo “Fredo.”

One of the lessons of this incident is that you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time when everything you do in public is likely to be captured by a smartphone. The fact that Cuomo, who works in the news media,  has yet to grasp that principle is one more bit of evidence in a long, long convincing chain that the nickname “Fredo” is apt.

The incompetence, arrogance, ignorance and bias of Cris Cuomo is what finally drove me away from CNN as my early morning news source. The horrible, smirking Carol Costello couldn’t do it, as openly partisan and obnoxious about it as she was. At least Carol had some apparent intelligence and arguable qualifications for being a newsreader. Cuomo’s “qualifications” are only that he’s what passes for beefcake in the news business, had a famous father and has a powerful brother. I would say that his law degree is a qualification, except that he has proven repeatedly that something funny was going on with that, because he has tweeted out and recited many howlers that no real lawyer or D+ law student would ever think, much less broadcast.

Here’s the Ethics Alarms Chis Cuomo file. Here are representative excerpts from my commentary on Cuomo’s various adventures in idiocy:

  • May29, 2019: “We know—there is no doubt about this, and Ethics Alarms has documented the fact—that Cuomo is really, truly, a dolt. He is the poster child for affirmative action for celebrity and politician offspring. An alleged lawyer, his every other reference to the law is incorrect. …He is the perfect example of that horrible species, the stupid person who thinks he’s smart. CNN keeps him employed because 1) he’s cute, 2) he seems to be a nice guy, and 3) he’s a typical knee-jerk progressive. Reading his twitter feed is profoundly depressing. He is at once glib, earnest, and incoherent.”
  • August 18, 2018: “CNN cannot be taken seriously as a news organization as long as it continues to employ Chris Cuomo. I have concluded that Cuomo was only admitted to law school because his father was a popular governor of New York. No other explanation makes sense. Even after allegedly completing his three years, he doesn’t comprehend basic law or the Constitution. He has, for example, advanced public ignorance by stating that “hate speech” is not protested under the First Amendment. On another occasion, he said that it would be illegal for citizens to read leaked classified material available on the web, but that journalists could read it and then tell the public about it. The man is an idiot. He constantly utters legal and logical nonsense, and with the certitude that only a true idiot can muster. As a journalist he is biased and sloppy; as a pundit he is pompous and unqualified.”

You get the idea. Apparently Rush Limbaugh has adopted the habit of referring to Chris Cuomo as “Fredo” as if that were really his name. That sounds like Rush. The man who was the target of Cuomo’s tirade swears that he really thought that was Cuomo’s name—he is a loyal Limbaugh listener—and tells Chris that on the video. I believe him; there are people named Alfredo who go by the nickname “Fredo”; I worked with one a long time ago. Obviously the “Godfather” movies have made the name less popular.  The claim still isn’t so farfetched,  and if Cuomo was the nice guy he’s supposed to be—I retract that statement, incidentally—he would have given the stranger the benefit of the doubt.

Even while blowing his top, Cuomo couldn’t avoid spreading disinformation—it’s what CNN journalists do, after all— claiming that “Fredo” was an ethnic slur, like calling an African-American a “nigger.” Right. When did THAT happen? I think Chris may believe this  so he doesn’t have to process the real reason he’s called “Fredo”—like the pathetic John Cazale character, he’s weak and stupid, doesn’t know it, and demands respect.

Poor Fredo. Poor Chris.

The outburst tells me that Chris is beset with feelings of inferiority from a lifetime of being compared to his father and brother, and “Fredo” strikes a nerve. Would any self-confident, genuinely competent and intelligent professional react so violently to being called “Fredo”? In my family, evoking Fredo and his “I’m smart!” lament is a running joke, and it’s funny because there are no Fredos among the Marshalls. (My mother’s family was another story…)

Some random points: Continue reading