Category Archives: Ethics Train Wrecks

New Category: “This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President”…And The DNC Chair Candidates Forum Earns It First

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Obviously the Ethics Alarms “This will help elect Donald Trump”  category is outdated now. The ongoing inquiry of why he was elected is not. When I launched the old category late in the campaign, I never thought any of the stories so categorized, alone or in concert, actually would elect Trump; I just was trying to flag how the unsavory Clinton campaign and the divisive and inept Obama administration were giving the chaotic Republicans more of a chance than they deserved. Still, the cumulative effect of the entries in the category persuaded me that my earlier resolve to swallow a lot of Dramamine and vote for Hillary Clinton was professionally untenable, though not as untenable as voting for our new President.

It became clear to me that Republican voters last November were voting against something, just as Democratic voters in 2008 had voted for something, and in both instances, the man their votes brought to power was a beneficiary of a significant emotional release in American society, sparked by events and the conduct of elected officials.  Ethics Alarms could not have been more definite in its verdict, stated often, that voting for Donald Trump was an irresponsible and unethical act. As a believer in democracy, American character and ideals, I have to somehow reconcile that conclusion with the shocking results. The Democratic Party’s conclusion that racism, sexism and stupidity explains it all is not valid, and is in fact a big part of why Trump was elected. Also among the major factors, we have learned, are the deeply entrenched undemocratic attitudes that have led so many on the Left to behave disgracefully since the election, and the attitudes in the news media that have led journalists to increasingly abandon whatever shreds of professionalism they had remaining.

Learning and understanding what so many Americans voted against is an unfinished and ongoing inquiry. The new category, launched today, should assist the learning process.

The first episode to earn the new marker is yesterday’s forum for candidates to lead the Democratic National Committee, featuring a group including  Boynton Brown, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), former secretary of labor Tom Perez, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, Democratic strategist Jehmu Greene and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  It lasted about an hour and 45 minutes, and covered many topics.

This was a perfect event for a reporter to choose which aspect of the discussion to feature, conveying to the public a distortion of reality like that experienced by the proverbial six blind men and the elephant. Politico, a prominent Democratic Party-supporting political news source, scrubbed its report of any substance that might harm the cause: it told us merely that the candidates “agreed to agree.”

The Washington Post, reporting on the session held in its backyard at George Washington University and presumably reliable, described a session that focused on “diversity and racial justice,” and concluded with Rep. Keith Ellison’s call for action that will show that “the Democratic Party is on the side of inclusion and empowerment.” Another source, Grabien News (this site rates it one of the least biased news sources; I would call it a conservative-biased  news site), reveals a bit more:

Early into the event the candidates gravitated toward a particular scapegoat for the party’s poor showing in November: Political consultancies owned by white people.

“We have to stop, particularly with the consultants,” said the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Jaime Harrison. “You cannot come to the DNC and get a contract and the only minority face you have is the person answering the phone.”  Minority consultants “need to get the same resources that the white consultants have gotten,” said a Fox News analyst and candidate for the chairmanship, Jehmu Greene. “The DNC did a piss poor, pathetic job” attracting minorities, she said.

Democrats must provide “training” that focuses in part on teaching Americans “how to be sensitive and how to shut their mouths if they are white,” urged the executive director of Idaho’s Democratic Party, Sally Boynton Brown, who is white. 

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring (Or Were Disconnected): Now THIS Is An Unethical Airplane Passenger….

A Trump-deranged woman on a Baltimore to Seattle flight went bananas when she learned that a fellow passenger was not similarly inclined, and was so abusive that she was kicked off the flight.

Good.

The object of her scorn, Scott Koteskey, described the confrontation on Facebook, writing in part…

I’m boarding my flight from Baltimore to Seattle and approach my seat…As I approach my row I smile and motion to the husband and wife sitting in the aisle and middle seat that my seat was next to the window. I put my backpack in the overhead and the wife with a very stern voice says to me:

“Did you come here to cheer or to protest?”

“I came here to celebrate democracy ma’am”

She then proceeded with: (somewhat paraphrased as my memory allows):

Her: “You put a crazed man in charge of the nuclear codes! You should be ashamed!”

Me: ‘Well we’re all entitled to our opinions here ma’am.”

Her: “And I’m entitled to get drunk and puke in your lap! I’m going to throw up right in your lap! You make me sick! Don’t talk to me! Don’t look at me! Don’t you dare even put your arm on that rest. You disgust me! You should be ashamed of yourself! You put a maniac’s finger on the button” (assuming she’s means nukes). You are a bigot. You should get off this plane!”

Me: “Ma’am, by definition, bigotry is disparaging someone prior to knowing them simply by their beliefs and opinions. Thank you for being the very thing you preach against.”

She then proceeded with other various rantings such as my lack of critical thinking and other insults. Finally a flight attendant came over as you will see in the video followed by a supervisor informing that she would have to de-board the plane per captain’s orders….

Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, U.S. Society

Inauguration Cake Ethics (No, I Can’t Believe I Wrote That Either)

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THE LATEST PROOF OF PRESIDENT TRUMP’S DEPRAVITY!

He specifically asked for an exact replica of Barack Obama’s 2013 Inauguration cake! The HORROR!

Apparently nothing is too trivial to use to attack Donald Trump. Focus, guys, focus!

The scandal:

Trump asked the baker who made the official Inauguration cake—until today, I hadn’t given any thought to the Inauguration cakes of either Trump of Obama. and I was a happier man for it—to make an exact replica of one of Obama’s cakes. Why, I have no idea. I think both the original and the copy are tacky. Don’t you?

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Celebrity baker Duff Goldman of TV’s “Ace Of Cakes” then tweeted that the cake at one of Trump’s Inauguration balls was a rip-off of his design. Social media Trump-haters immediately pronounced this as “100% plagiarism.” Donald Trump is plagiarizing cakes now! Is there anything he won’t do? I bet Hitler plagiarized cakes.

Whether this really is plagiarism is an interesting, if stupid, question. A design made for one-time only use commissioned by the White House was duplicated and used again by the White House, though with new occupants, four years later. Was it a derivative work? Homage? Fair use? Does the White House own the design, having commissioned it originally? All we have is a two-dimensional representation, and there is no definitive evidence since both were, you know, eaten. I’d say a copyright infringement claim would be futile, and petty. Here, you try to figure it out. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Sean Spicer, The Great Crowd Size Controversy, And A New Ethics Train Wreck

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Today the talking heads’ heads couldn’t stop talking about the Great Crowd Size Controversy.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer called a special press conference yesteray evening to berate the news media for, he said, misrepresenting the size of Friday’s Inauguration crowd. He said, 

“[P]hotographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall…This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration—period —both in person and around the globe.  These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”

This was gleefully pounced upon by Spicer’s targets, who then ran story after story showing that 1) the 2017 Inauguration crowds were smaller than the previous two Inaugurations, 2) Spicer was lying, and 3) hence Trump was lying, so 4) Trump had berated the news media for simply telling the truth, and 5) Spicer had forfeited all credibility on his first day on the job, the fool.

Points of ethical clarification and exposition:

1. The news media had already destroyed its own credibility regarding the Trump administration before Day One, with its unfettered hostility and bias against the incoming President. No assessment of the Great Crowd Size Controversy can commence without understanding that context. Everything the mainstream news media prints or says about Trump from here on–unless the journalistic establishment changes course—will be interpreted in that light by fair-minded, non-gullible  people. In addition, nobody sane, or not determined to diminish Trump in any way possible no matter how petty, gives an urban rodent’s derriere how the crowd at Trump’s Inauguration compared to Barack Obama’s. Quick: was Truman’s crowd bigger or smaller than the assembled at FDR’s second swearing-in? Was Polk’s throng larger or smaller than Lincoln’s? Was Wilson’s larger than Taft’s? I’m a Presidential trivia nut, and I don’t know or care. it just doesn’t matter. At all. Ever.

2. Other “scoops” from last week prove how derangedly anti-Trump the news media has been.. The New York Times intentionally misrepresented facts to make Secretary of Energy Rick Perry look ridiculous, when one hardly has to misrepresent anything to make Rick Perry look ridiculous.  TIME published a demonstrably false story about Trump removing the bust of Martin Luther King from its place in the White House. Why did it do this? Why do you think? The average reporter has adopted the Democratic narrative that Trump is racistxenophobicmisogynisthomophobic, so TIME’s reporter believed bad information without checking it, because it reflected badly on Trump, and TIME’s editors did the same. Is this crappy journalism? Yes. Fake news? Yup. Did Trump have every reason to resent this? Sure. Does it reaffirm his own biases against the news media? Bingo. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Women’s March Ethics: Now THAT’S Ad Hominem!

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Ashley Judd, indulging her inner Trump.

I often have to correct commenters on Ethics Alarms who accuse me of engaging in the argument fallacy of ad hominem after I pronounced them jerks, fools, or idiots based on their comments. (I shouldn’t do that, but sometimes I can’t help myself, and if it stops me from going crazy from all the stuff I have to  read every day to decide what gets published, we all benefit. well, I do, at least.) No, I explain, with more or less patience, that’s not ad hominem. It would be ad hominem if I wrote, “Your argument can be safely ignored because you are an idiot.” Then I would be using an author’s presumed character, intelligence or acumen to discredit his or her opinion. That’s unfair and illogical. An argument derives its value and persuasiveness from its contents, not its messenger. It would also be an ad hominem attack if I responded to a comment with a stream of vile insults.

If, however, I read a comment, determine it to be based on bad facts, bias, poor reasoning and faulty logic, I may justly conclude that only a dolt would express such an opinion in public, and say so, as in, “You are a dolt.” That is a diagnosis—an insulting one, to be sure, but still just a diagnosis.

Now, thanks to actress Ashley Judd’s performance today at the Washington, D.C. version of “The Women’s March,” I can use her as an illustration of what an ad hominem attack is, and why it should be avoided.

Judd read a poem by an angry 19-year-old, that contained the lines..

“I am a nasty women.’I’m not as nasty as a man who looks like he bathes in Cheeto dust…I’m not as nasty as your own daughter being your favorite sex symbol, your wet dreams infused with your own genes…”

Stay classy, Ashley.

You see, mocking someone’s appearance—it is a cardinal sin if it is a woman’s appearance that is being mocked, of course, adding hypocrisy to the mix—is pure, unadulterated ad hominem. It is also gratuitous meanness that has no communication value other than to say, “I hate you.” “I hate you” is not an argument. In fact, “I hate you” is a statement of bias. I can’t trust the assessment of an individual regarding what another individual says or believes if the critical individual hates him.

Additionally, the denigration is pure tit for tat, Rationalization 7.  That’s Donald Trump’s favorite rationalization. Stooping to Trump’s favorite method of debate, name-calling, isn’t persuasive or helpful. I’m sure it feels good, though. I guess that’s enough for Ashley and all the protesting women who clapped and cheered.

Morons.

See, now that isn’t ad hominem, because by behaving like this, Judd undermines the whole protest. And that’s just plain stupid. Continue reading

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Inauguration Day Ethics Scorecard

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They did not. Which party is the civil party?

  • If only it could be a harbinger…Nah. For all the network’s transgressions during the campaign and after, CNN’s coverage throughout the day has been remarkably upbeat, factual, and fair.

The sourest note in the media commentary that I caught was on Fox News, where Juan Williams pronounced Trump’s speech as the likely work of advisor Steve Bannon and described it as far from unifying. I have to wonder about anyone who would listen to that speech and call it divisive, but I’m sure Williams will have company. The speech sure sounded like 100% Trump to me.

  • The Address.  It is refreshing to hear a major political speech from a President that isn’t full of soaring language that obviously is a speechwriter’s creation. I was initially dubious of Trump’s reported decision to write his own Inaugural address, but now that I have heard it, I realize that a President who presented himself to voters as unfiltered and genuine had no other choice, lest he appear false and hypocritical. The speech wasn’t eloquent, but it was, as CNN commentators said, historic. Trump didn’t use “I” but “we.” The speech was non-partisan, equally indicting both parties. One could imagine Bernie Sanders giving the same speech with few changes. The pledges Trump made will be hard to keep: If he knows that, then he was courageous to make them.

If he doesn’t know it, he is frightening naive. We shall see.

  • Praise is due to Senator Roy Blunt for producing a tight, professional event that every American can be proud of. He did this despite the despicable efforts of the show business community and others to discourage and intimidate talent so that the Inauguration and related events would not be worthy of nation. They failed, he succeeded. Thank-you, Senator.

Like so much of the bitter, nasty, un-American conduct of beaten Hillary supporters, the efforts to harm the event only harmed Trump’s opposition, and alienated everyone else.

  • Ethics Hero: 16-year-old Jackie Evancho, who gave a heartfelt rendition of the National Anthem after a month of  social media abuse and death threats. She sang in a slightly immature but lovely soprano, and unlike Beyoncé four years ago, actually used her own voice, eschewing lip-syncing. At its launching, at least, the Trump Presidency didn’t begin with deception. A young teen tackled a difficult composition under challenging conditions, and pulled it off without resorting to fakery, like the superstar who had the job before her.

Perfect. Continue reading

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Ethics Alarms Inauguration Day Musings

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In preparation for this post, I just read over the post from December 5 titled “Reasons to be Happy About the Election of Donald Trump?” I wanted to see if any of those reasons on the list, beginning with three that I endorsed from the Glenn Reynolds essay with the same name, without the question mark. Here are the ten:

1.  “Killed off dynastic politics, at least for now.”

2. “Kept Hillary out of the White House.”

3. “Crushing the media’s sense of self-importance”

4. His election, and Clinton’s defeat, pushes back against group identification politics.

5. It demolishes the propaganda that Barack Obama was a successful President.

6. It might spur more citizens to vote next time.

7. Trump’s victory showed that cheating to win, and behaving as if the ends justify the means, still don’t go down well with a lot of the public.

8. The entire Clinton saga has been predicated on their belief that you can fool enough of the people enough of the time, along with a well-practiced regimen of deny-deny-deny. lie, obfuscate, stonewall, accuse and delay, to get away withe all manner of unethical conduct while achieving wealth and power. Finally, it didn’t work. Hooray.

9. Trump’s election exposed, and is exposing, the hypocritical, anti-democratic, bitter, ugly, hateful side of progressives and Democrats.

10.  It is the kick in the teeth of political correctness that this restrictive, arrogant, smug and stifling cultural trend had been begging for.

The post concluded,

I have not changed my analysis that the price we will pay for these boons is likely to be exorbitant and painful at best. Nonetheless, they are still things to be grateful for, and not insubstantial.”

Almost two months later, having experienced the Trump transition and observed the horrifying 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, which of these ten bear amendment or repeal? All but a few are as accurate now as then. #9, relating to the Democratic and progressive freak-out and what it represents, has intensified since December 5 and has been longer-lasting and more outrageous than anyone could have expected. Reynold’s item #3 about the election crushing the news media’s sense of self-importance was clearly wishful thinking, for it joined the embarrassing and destructive Democratic reaction to the election rather than learning anything. Fools.

Finally, there is #5. Trump’s election should have demolished the mythology that Obama has been a successful President, because he obviously has not been, and if he had been successful, Hillary Clinton would be about to be sworn in today.But Barack Obama, who like Donald Trump lives in his own narcissistic fantasy world, exited with a series of self-lauding propaganda lines—some issuing from the mouths of his team, like John Kerry—that the news media and punditry have treated as if he were a burning bush. No, Obama improved race relations! His was a scandal free administration! He did most of the things he wanted to do, and if it wasn’t for obstructive Republicans, he would have done much more! Citizens who weren’t happy and voted against Democrats just didn’t understand how well off they are! America’s standing in the world is terrific!  He is proud of his handling of Syria, and those 400,000 dead don’t prompt any regrets! This has been followed by jaw-droppingly dishonest puff-pieces by writers who should know better.

Here are  additional observations on Inauguration Day: Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, History, Journalism & Media, Race, U.S. Society